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Lake Oswegans 'should be concerned' about project

To the Editor:

The article about the Lake Oswego sewer project in The Oregonian once again demonstrates the lack of experience which the city council has in handling projects of this magnitude.

Why weren't contract issues signed and finalized long before the council decided to authorize the spending of $100 million?

Mayor Judie Hammerstad was quoted as saying, 'We've done the right thing up until now.' How can this be right when the council decided upon the amount to be spent when they didn't have a binding contract with specific language spelled out? Are there project engineers involved with the experience and knowledge necessary to supervise it, or is the city council alone in this?

I would hope the citizens of Lake Oswego would require a complete study of this project before allowing inexperienced people to make decisions and possibly move the city into more debt. If a private business operated this way, it would probably be bankrupt, or the employees responsible would be looking for new jobs.

This complicated and unique sewer system being proposed has the potential for huge financial overruns and many problems. Whoever is in charge of the project should proceed with caution.

The vice president of Barnard Construction Company says, (The project) 'would require us to assume an unacceptable high risk profile relative to the cost.' This red flag says there are too many unknowns for the company to give a price quote. Has a sewer system like this one been done anywhere else?

Beyond the financial issues, why weren't logistical problems such as storage and movement of materials resolved before this?

(Councilor) Donna Jordan said, 'In the end, we figured this was just too big a project to proceed in the manner we were doing it.'

How did they get this far into the whole thing without coming to this conclusion earlier? Inexperience and lack of business sense. People of Lake Oswego should be concerned. We need to know the exact cost and all the details about this sewer project.

Larry Cartwright

Lake Oswego

Hooley commended for her vote on highway funding

To the Editor:

On behalf of a great number in Oregon's business community, we would like to thank Rep. Darlene Hooley for an important vote she took on July 23. She joined her other Oregon colleagues in the U.S. House of Representatives to dedicate $8 billion to the Highway Trust Fund that ensures our highways and public transportation systems are maintained and improved over the coming year.

Many in our community may not know that the federal government provides, on average, about 40 percent of the funding for our highway and public transportation construction and maintenance efforts - efforts that are vital to keeping our families safe, our businesses thriving and Oregonians working.

Increased investment in transportation stimulates the economy and reduces congestion, pollution and fatalities. Unfortunately, the main source of this funding is expected to have a significant shortfall over the coming year and that could result in a 34 percent cut in federal funds for our state highway program. The passage of this bill is an important step in preventing such drastic cuts.

In a day when partisanship seems to get all the attention, it is good to see Oregon's delegation setting an example of which we can be proud.

Jay M. Clemens

President and CEO

Associated Oregon Industries

Associated Oregon Industries represents the interests of business throughout Oregon. With a membership that employs more than 200,000 Oregonians, AOI is their voice for shaping a public policy that results in a strong economic climate.

'Officials should do their duty' on energy policies

To the Editor:

Why are the Democrats stonewalling increases in energy supplies? They are even stalling wind and solar farms on BLM land. There is something wrong with this picture. Can they be responding to their constituents? If so, why won't they let their Congressional members vote? Why won't Nancy Pelosi even open a session for debate? Clearly she knows a majority of House members favor opening offshore areas for drilling. Everyone acknowledges there will be a few years delay before new oil can flow.

Very likely the oil futures markets would be strongly influenced by a Congressional action to permit more production. Just the anticipation of future supply increases would decrease the prices of contracts for future deliveries.

We know that Democrats preponderantly buy into anthropogenic causes of global warming. However, they don't seem to mind buying all of the oil that foreign suppliers will sell us. Don't they want energy independence? Why do they want to export our capital to foreigners who dislike us?

The current high fuel prices may accelerate efforts to develop 'alternative' sources. However, there will be great suffering among the poor on the way to perfection. Just wait until the wails arise about home heating this coming winter.

Mr. Obama, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and their fellow Democrats are complacent with high prices. Who are they trying to please? It's a very mysterious and alarming situation. They are not responding to normal constituent input. Why? Could it be they don't want Mr. Bush, Mr. McCain or any other Republicans to get credit for anything this year?

Mr. Bush should call the Congress back for a special session on energy. He has the constitutional power to do that. He can't make them vote, but he can keep them in Washington until they do vote. There is a political problem. It demands a political solution. Officials should do their duty or get out of the way.

George E. Edens

Lake Oswego

Time to reassess the city's earlier decision

To the Editor:

Mayor Hammerstad's comment in the Review (July 31), 'The council and staff are attempting to make very deliberate decisions that we feel are in the best interest of our city and of our taxpayers' should be commended.

The in-lake sewer project appears to be more expensive and complex than originally thought when the city council voted back in July 2007. The council's vote was to move forward with a one-of-a-kind in-lake sewer versus a far more common underground pump system. In July 2007, both sewer solutions were approximately the same cost.

In light of the numerous legal, financial and design issues that have surfaced with the in-lake sewer proposal over the past year, it is important for the mayor, staff and city council to reassess their earlier decision for an in-lake over pump system.

A thorough re-evaluation process of both solutions, at this time, would truly enable our city leaders to make the best decision for the city, residents, taxpayers and lake ecosystem.

Karen DeStefano

Lake Oswego

Support Jeff Merkley instead of Gordon Smith

To the Editor:

Instead of offering election-year platitudes on high-speed Internet access, Sen. Gordon Smith should address some substantive issues ('Better broadband is needed,' Lake Oswego Review, July 24).

One, who will pay to build broadband infrastructure? And two, how will we make it affordable to low-income Americans?

The investment necessary to build broadband access will come from the government. There is no incentive for private companies to build infrastructure in low-density rural areas. But government investment in infrastructure has dried up.

Smith supports Bush's tax breaks for the wealthy and the oil companies, and votes to fund Bush's war in Iraq. We need $200 billion a year just to service the debt. Smith should tell us where the money would come from to build broadband access for all. Does he propose we borrow more from the Chinese?

And the number of low-income homes with broadband actually fell in the last year (www.pewinternet.org ).

While Smith marvels at consumers who carry 'affordable wireless devices in the palm of their hand,' low-income Americans struggle with job security, lack of health insurance and the rising costs of gas and groceries.

The nation will never be connected while we continue the fiscal policies of Bush and Gordon Smith. Let's open a new window, and send Jeff Merkley to the U.S. Senate.

Steve Mayhew

Portland

Questions raised about timing and funds

To the Editor:

In light of all of the problems surrounding the sewer interceptor plans, the following expense-related issue has come to my attention. Back in October 20, 2003, the minutes for a city council study session reveal an interesting statement by Mayor Hammerstad in response to the personal testimony of an irate citizen questioning the addition of a $4.50 street maintenance fee to the utility bills.

Her answer indicated that the city increased the rates in order to build up a reserve to pay for the new $20 million sewer lake interceptor, and not have to bond the money for pay off over time. She indicated that they could not move money around between the sewer, water, and surface water funds.

She spoke of the council's decision to follow a 'pay as you go' policy, as opposed to bonding.

First, this demonstrates that Ms. Mayor was apparently aware of the needed interceptor replacement some five years ago and apparently little or no action was taken until the mayor was ordered to act by the state of Oregon, some $80 to $90 million later. Secondly, where has all of the money gone that was taken in by this fee .. since the mayor made it quite clear in that session that they 'could not move money around between the sewer, water, and surface water funds?'

Denny Hageman

Lake Oswego

Editor's note: Mayor Judie Hammerstad replies: 'Five years ago we did recognize the sewer problem and initiated rate increases that we hoped would cover the costs. With more extensive studies, however, the full extent of the sewer problem became known. The reserves were then applied to the immediate needs and engineering prior to our work on the interceptor replacement. All fees are dedicated to the purpose for which they are raised, including the monthly $3.75 for street maintenance.'