West Linn recovering

STATE OF THE CITY ADDRESS: The year 2006 saw the city's financial woes corrected and many goals achieved

Decrying several special interest groups, West Linn Mayor Norm King described the state of the city with mixed emotions.

While describing a city that is in better order than it was a year ago, he condemned the actions of a vocal few, who he said have knowingly made false statements to the city council.

'Politics in this city and in this nation has become a blood sport, dominated by those that polarize and divide to win,' he told members of the West Linn Chamber of Commerce - assembled at a luncheon Tuesday to hear the annual 'State of the City' speech.

'Personal attacks are not uncommon. Participation in civic activities at all levels is in decline because of public distaste for the negative and vindictive.'

But the majority of King's words were on a positive note.

The mayor expressed pride in the nearly 6,700 West Linn registered voters who turned in their ballots on time for the March 13 police levy election, showing more than 72 percent approval from those voters.

'This election is proof,' King said, 'that the people of West Linn are determined to maintain West Linn's reputation as one of the safest and most livable places in Oregon and in America.'

Unfortunately for those who worked to support the measure's approval in the election, the double-majority rule caused the vote to be cancelled. Only 45 percent of registered voters cast ballots.

King gave credit to Dennis Ritchey and the Keep Our Cops Committee for turning out nearly twice the usual number of voters in an off-year election.

But he also denounced the voting law that requires so much participation when an election does not have a natural drawing card such as a national president or state governor.

'We have disenfranchised the very people who take the time to vote,' he said.

Among items on King's laundry list of accomplishments and work tasks for the city over the past year, straightening out the financial affairs of the city has taken much effort.

The citywide effort to assist the victims of Hurricane Katrina in Pascagoula, Miss., was a humanitarian effort that did not go without notice. Councilor Mike Gates made a number of road trips to Mississippi to deliver the monetary and merchandise gifts that West Linn area residents and businesses had donated.

King also pointed to the city's efforts to mediate the problems suffered by a number of long-time West Linn residents when a manufactured-home park was set to close. The city helped secure payments to the homeowners when they were forced to move.

Among the list of projects that the city began or completed during the year, King mentioned the following:

n Revised city boards and commissions

n Completed or working on four separate master plans

n Charter amendment created four-year overlapping councilor terms

n Improved public access to information on what's happening in city government

n Created a Sustainability Task Force and adopted a master plan

n Neighborhood plans finished by four neighborhood associations

n Revised residential design standards, especially for older neighborhoods

n Resolved the Wilderness Park waterline issue

n Added a traffic signal to the 10th Street Corridor

n Continued the development of city parks

n Earned CLG designation, enabling the city to qualify for historic preservation grants

n Took steps to protect wetland and riparian areas

n Started a program to fund public art when new public facilities are developed.

The council has adopted an ambitious two-year list of goals that King said was too long to describe in his speech. But he did distribute a handout that itemized each goal for the next two years.

Highlighted from that list is the 'ReImagine West Linn' visioning project and the perennial problem of how to deal with development of the Stafford Triangle.

'West Linn has a very important stake in this,' King said of the Stafford area, 'and it would be ill-advised of us not to participate in a discussion with our regional partners on the future of this area.'

Concluding his speech on the negative side, King invited everyone to join the debate on issues that face the community but admonished those who would try to 'tear down the community.'

'They would rather create problems than search for solutions,' he told the audience at the Oregon Golf Club. 'They would rather be exclusive than inclusive. They choose to polarize and divide the community.'

While encouraging chamber members to participate in the community, King said the community 'deserves better than to be led astray by the words of some of these people.'

King ended his talk by thanking all in attendance for all they are doing to 'build a better and brighter future for the community we love.'