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Public input: Formality or genuine concern?

(Soapboxes are guest commentaries from our readers, and anyone is welcome to write one. Karen D. Randolph is a resident of Portland who works in downtown Beaverton.)

On Sept. 7 at 7 p.m. the Beaverton City Traffic Commission 'heard' public input regarding proposed changes of time limits for downtown city-owned parking lots. Testimony, presumably by those affected, was solicited by the commission - or so the reader boards suggested. At issue was 'maximization' of use of city-owned parking lots.

At the hearing I presented a petition from employees of the USPS Beaverton main office signed by approximately 40 employees and staff, and I personally testified in favor of the proposed changes. In addition, testimony in favor of the proposed time changes regarding the same two lots - Chapman, and Betts and Farmington - was given by another downtown Beaverton employer. Importantly, I suggested a change from the proposed blanket removal of time limits to allow some number of parking spaces to remain under the current two-hour limit to facilitate use by others in the community, particularly during the December holiday rush at the post office.

After Traffic Commission 'public input' was closed I learned that employees of downtown businesses are second-class citizens who take up precious parking space. Those of us who work downtown are an imposition, a burden, and a parking space drain on 'the vibrant new downtown.'

As yet, nonexistent shoppers stand in line to give downtown Beaverton a new lease on life, but only if they have all of the parking.

Pardon me. Employees are the basis of any vibrant downtown community. We are your best spokespersons and your best consumers. For years now Beaverton has been my home away from home. I may be an employee eight hours a day, but I and my compatriots shop in downtown Beaverton every day, both before and after work. I currently spend 95 percent of my disposable income for food, clothing and sports equipment in Beaverton - in downtown Beaverton.

My experience: seldom have I felt so humiliated. I urge interested parties to read the traffic commission hearing notes of Sept. 7. Specifically, commissioners Crocker and Troute made direct comments that I believe were arrogant and rude. It was clear to me that 'public input' is unwelcome and does nothing more than to allow a council to jump through regulatory rule requirement hoops. In addition, I believe that some commissioners have their own goals and the means to accomplish them, regardless of the needs of their burdensome public.

My concerns: civility is a cornerstone of a successful representative government. Hearing and actually listening to public input is another cornerstone. Lack of professionalism in the Beaverton city commissioners, including disdain, arrogance and rudeness, is inexcusable. I urge all readers who have testified before a Beaverton city commission to relate their experiences to Mayor Drake and name names, good and bad.

Unless citizens continue to be involved, our representative government exists in name only.