Don't short circuit the process
I want to vote on the acquisition of the former Safeco site and the creation of a community center. Mr. Gordon Umaki and friends seem intent on preventing that very thing and doing so in the most destructive way possible.
The purchase by the city of the former Safeco site was a very bold move. It opens some very positive possibilities for this community, but it comes at a high dollar cost. Bold moves tend to generate strong feelings, both pro and con.
A group of very dedicated citizen volunteers has been working long and hard to put together a plan for the use of that site to place before the voters as a complete proposal. I am looking forward to seeing that proposal so that I can judge for myself the wisdom of this course of action.
Mr. Umaki and friends, on the other hand, have decided from the outset that Lake Oswego does not need this site, nor do we need anything that might go into that site. Having made up his mind early on, he and his friends are now working very hard to prevent a complete proposal from being placed before the voters. (Some people are) doing this by proposing an amendment to the Lake Oswego charter that would require any land purchase in excess of $2 million be approved by the voters before the fact, regardless of whether or not the city has the funds on hand.
(This group's) proposal also has the added benefit to land developers of forcing a fire sale of the former Safeco site to meet an artificial deadline. This almost certainly guarantees that the city will lose money on this deal, which (opponents) will use as further justification for this misguided crusade and which forces citizens to pay the bill.
One of the constant refrains we hear about government is that it needs to operate more like a business. Certainly that is something we often heard (and appropriately) from two of my former colleagues on a previous city council. Those colleagues have now signed on to the crusade, despite the fact that the proposed charter amendment will very specifically prevent the city from operating in a business-like manner. What business requires a positive vote of every shareholder before making major decisions? That is why businesses have boards of directors and why cities elect city councils. If we are unhappy with the conduct of our city councilors, there are ways of addressing that without crippling our city now and forever.
As I said, I am looking forward to voting on a complete proposal for the former Safeco site. I do not appreciate efforts of those in our community who are attempting to short circuit that vote by proposing a poorly designed and short-sighted charter amendment that will do irreparable harm to our community.
Craig Prosser, Lake Oswego, is a former Lake Oswego City Councilor.