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City at risk over rivalries

The West Linn City Council is heartened by the 72 percent approval of those who voted for the police levy last week, and will continue to lead the effort when the measure is on the ballot in May.

Those who chose to exercise their franchise overwhelmingly recognized the worth of a safe community, a vibrant community.

Among those who did not vote were some who were so busy the measure never came onto their radar. Others didn't vote because they assumed the measure would pass anyway, not realizing the effect of the double-majority requirement. Some just lost track of the calendar.

As usual a few names of the dead, divorced/ separated and recently moved were inadvertently kept on the rolls. There were supporters who gave up hope because of the thermometer displays, and never sent in their ballots.

I can understand any and all of these situations.

What I do not understand is the coordinated effort of a particular group claiming to support a 'livable' West Linn working to defeat the levy. In doing so, this same group is dedicated to dismantling the police force, closing the library for days at a time and reducing West Linn residents' ability to use our parks.

How does that make West Linn more livable?

Our society has the equivalent of the purple finger that became a symbol of freedom in Iraq. It is called the voting record. Every citizen who votes has the fact that they cast a ballot duly recorded on Election Day, as well as those who are registered but fail to cast a ballot.

Yes, a double-majority election means that throwing your ballot away is a powerful method of possibly affecting the outcome. But, if someone claims lofty ideals in public and then acts in private to destroy this community they need to be exposed, especially anyone who claims to be working for a livable community.

If you take the time to check the voting records you will find some fascinating results.

As hypocritical as that group has been, I am equally dismayed over the non-performance of some of our neighborhood association officers, those who come to this council demanding a police officer at every meeting and then turn around and campaign to defeat the funds to get it done.

Some neighborhood association leaders recognized the importance of continuing the police funds, and took a leadership role in trying to pass the levy.

The Willamette Neighborhood leaders spent long hours getting out the vote. You would normally expect other neighborhood leaders to be doing the same.

The city council is tired of hearing complaints about neighborhood associations taken over by individuals who try to shout louder, intimidate more or fan higher flames of dissension to achieve a narrow goal. It is time for the more sensible and mature citizens to take back their neighborhood associations.

I will encourage this city council to back you with every legal thing we can.

For example, the residents deserve the option of replacing their elected neighborhood officers mid-term, which should be incorporated into any final version of changes adopted by this council.

Neighborhood associations in West Linn usually strive to work with the city staff and other neighborhoods on issues such as emergency preparedness, beautification programs and the most vital issue of public safety. For any neighborhood association leader to work against the best interests of the residents of their neighborhood by reducing police protection is unconscionable.

One last comment: I don't care how much someone has a personality conflict with a council member or disagrees with the policies of the entire council, it is never appropriate to place the entire city at risk over a rivalry.

I ask everyone, friend and foe alike, to work to protect our families. On May 15, be sure to vote, and I would ask you to vote yes for the police levy.

Mike Gates is a West Linn resident and president of the West Linn City Council.