Visionaries on the council misled the local residents
- John Surrett
- Lake Oswego Review - Opinion
I am intimately familiar with all of the issues facing our community, having spent the past three years researching them in depth and attending a large percentage of council meetings from which my opponent was conspicuously absent.
Safeco is only one of many issues the next mayor and council will need to resolve. But it is an important example of coercive government spending and I believe it is symptomatic of what ails our city government.
For almost a decade, there has been a governance style of exclusionary decision making in Lake Oswego. You, the taxpayers, have been shut out of major policy decisions. Our city charter offers wide latitude and city officials have enjoyed liberal spending authority that allowed them to indebt us without our approval.
Representative government only works well if the representatives can be relied upon to consistently exercise good judgment, but we have seen the city council make some costly mistakes with our tax dollars. If we hold them to a high standard, it is because they invited it by boasting of being 'visionaries.'
These visionaries misled us about the extent of public support for a community center. They overturned the safeguards that would have prevented them from raiding the tax reserves. They shut the taxpayers out of the decision-making process and indebted us with a $20 million interest-only loan without our approval.
Worse still, they put this speculative real estate acquisition before the more urgently needed sewer interceptor upgrade. They made the community center their number one priority for 2006 and left the lake interceptor off their goals list entirely, relegating it to a 'staff work program' as time allowed. http://www.ci.os
Only nine days (Jan. 11, 2006) earlier, the council had received a pre-enforcement notice from the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ). Citing a 10-year history of sewage leaks, first identified in the late nineties, it notified them that the city is in Class 1 (the most serious) violation of the Federal Clean Water Act ORS 468B.080 and mandated them to address the interceptor problem. 'Though an upgrade of the lake interceptor has been identified as a necessary and anticipated project for a number of years, to the department's knowledge, that has not been scheduled.'
But even a mandate failed to convey urgency to our council, and, because visionaries know best, they left the interceptor off the goals list for 2006.
Councilor Jack Hoffman, along with his peers, approved the 2006 goals.
We need a mayor whose spending priorities make sense considering the new financial realities in which we now find ourselves.
If you elect me, there will be no more real estate deals 'behind closed doors.'
I will serve the taxpayers' interests, ask for early citizen input, manage money prudently, and restore trust in city government.
It should be of concern to you that Jack Hoffman served on the council that gave priority to a speculative property acquisition financed with non-voter approved public debt and put public health and safety concerns on the back burner until they became critical.
It should be of concern to you that with Safeco our tax reserve account is now depleted to $16 million (the bank requires a $20 million balance, and we still deplete the reserves $100,000 a month). We spent $506,000 on a Community Center report that was discarded and are now spending a further $186,000 for more studies to find a use for the property.
The public record shows that Hoffman opposed holding a public hearing on the Safeco acquisition. Furthermore: 'He did not feel that there were seven members in the community who had as much knowledge on the topic ...'
Respect for your opinion? Clearly, not. http://www.ci.oswego.or.us/cal
As your mayor, I will respect your opinion and give you a full-time commitment of my time and energy. I will work to keep our city affordable and preserve our quality of life.
I appreciate your vote.
John Surrett is a candidate for Mayor of Lake Oswego.