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Lake Oswego requires well-managed change

“Good judgment comes from experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgment.”

— Will Rogers

We have had a full-term of experience with our current council and its direction. The past few years have given us a chance to evaluate the direction, the priorities, and the effectiveness of our local government.

Good councilors effectively act as “change agents” on our behalf. They make a very real difference in our community.

Many have struggled with the current council’s ongoing direction, and that’s produced a unique divisiveness. Perhaps our council just doesn’t understand the priorities of the citizens? That’s been mentioned by a few residents who believe Lake Oswego needs a balance to preserve our community character. That balance is a delicate process that requires input from citizens, listening skills and representatives with strong values aligned with the community.

It’s a delicate relationship and our current representative government has been somewhat unresponsive to input from its citizens. This may be due to the group dynamic, rather than specific individuals, but it has clearly shown us something that’s unsettling to the community.

Our city needs well-managed change, by professionals, who can ensure expenditures will add maximum value over the long run. Why? Because residents are under real financial stress and their resources are limited. We can no longer afford to do everything for every special interest; we must begin to focus on the core services, which clearly benefit everyone.

COLA believes that some candidates bring real fiscal discipline with innovative solutions to their endeavors. Clearly, unique solutions are required in a resource limited environment.

Our council has been operating under a paradigm of “do everything” and “reduce nothing” in terms of expenditures, taxes, fees, programs and utility rates. This isn’t uncommon in the public sector during a recession and that’s why candidates with both public sector and business experience provide valuable perspective.

Local government should not operate without the “informed consent” of the entire community. It’s essential to not only ending divisiveness, but also sponsoring managed change in the right direction.

It’s clear that past councils have operated without the informed consent of the community (West End Building, streetcar, etc.) and that’s left a poor legacy including less trust in local government.

Lake Oswego is just beginning to experience the costs, the priorities and the direction of the “tax and spend” agenda of the past councils and the bill is staggering. While there were some benefits, the costs easily exceed the benefits, as represented in our water bills, our debt and the condition of our streets. How can we attract educated younger families when the cost of living is too high for our senior residents?

The only way is to get the cost of local government under control, while also ensuring funding for core services, such as public safety.

The “blank check” is now gone and we need a council that is exceptional in managing change, while also preserving our community, with less resources. That capability will retain the exceptional LO character we all know so well and truly cherish. Let’s ensure we continue to return to good governance in 2013.

Feel free to visit COLA LO at commonsenselo.blogspot.com or commonsenselo.org to review our posts and articles over the past several years.

Dave Berg is a 21-year resident of Lake Oswego and a board member of COLA LO.