There were reasons for not voting
- Roberta Schwartz
- West Linn Tidings - Opinion
In a statement at the March 19 city council meeting, West Linn Councilor Mike Gates attacked those who did not vote in the police levy election and made accusations of a 'coordinated effort of a particular group claiming to support a 'livable' West Linn working to defeat the levy.' Not one council member voiced a dissenting opinion.
My husband and I are proud to be the founders of Neighbors for a Livable West Linn (www.NLWL.org) and feel that Gates' comments were directed at us.
Our group was also singled out by name in an e-mail from Gates to the keepourcops.org Web site mailing list. Gates offers no proof of this 'coordinated effort.' He can't - because it didn't happen.
Gates also accused us in last year's council election of defacing campaign signs. When we asked him for proof that we had done this, he offered none. That is because we had no part in it.
We have serious concerns about Gates' unfounded accusations towards those who disagree with him.
What also concerns us is the fact that Gates has been researching the voting habits of West Linn citizens to determine who did not vote in the police levy election. Not voting is akin to a loud 'no' vote as it makes it more difficult to get the 50 percent of registered voters needed in a double - majority election.
We didn't vote because: 1) we feel that the current levy amount with its built-in safeguards is sufficient and 2) the police should be funded from the city's general fund. The council was asking for more, and we disagreed. We chose not to vote, and now our decision is being trumpeted around the city by Gates as a 'coordinated effort.' Again, there was no coordinated effort.
How would you feel under these circumstances? This was, after all, a vote on funding police. Admitting that you voted 'no' or didn't vote could be portrayed as not supporting the police, just as Americans are being accused of not supporting our troops if they oppose the war.
Chilling, isn't it?
Further, our entire council has now gone on record as opposing the double-majority law as it now stands in Oregon. They did this without any citizen input or public hearing. Oregon's double-majority law was passed for very good reasons and should not be weakened because of a 'knee-jerk' reaction to the results of one election.
Gates' intimidation tactics bring shame to this council and our city. We can only hope that, in the future, he will refrain from making accusations that have no basis in fact.
Roberta Schwarz is a resident of West Linn.