We have a policy here at the Lake Oswego Review regarding the word length we allow on political letters to the editor. It simply states that 'political letters are limited to 250 words with preference given to citizens in the Review's coverage area. Tone of the letters must be civil and letters with any type of negative or accusatory comment about a political candidate will not run in the paper in the week prior to an election.'
That 250-word limit is shorter than the limit we set on regular letters to the editor.
Furthermore, our policy says that 'only candidates themselves will be allowed to write citizen's views and no citizen's views are allowed on ballot measures with the exception of measures that are Lake Oswego specific.'
That is all well and good, but the policy needs clarification or discussion.
You see, we have one issue that seems to be on the minds of many Lake Oswegans - the city's purchase of the Safeco building (now called the West End building), the plans for that building and the Ask Lake Oswego group's Ballot Measure 3-269, which is on the Nov. 6 ballot. That measure is a proposed amendment to the Lake Oswego City Charter that would prohibit the city of Lake Oswego from purchasing property worth more than $2 million without voter approval.
The charter amendment is supported by Ask Me First political action committee and opposed by Our City, Our Future PAC.
Additionally, local voters face Ballot Measure 3-273, which was placed on the ballot by the city council and asks voters whether Lake Oswego should keep the Safeco building. That advisory vote is supported by Our City, Our Future and opposed by Ask Me First.
One of the interesting things about this issue is that it morphed from simply being a contentious one that generated plenty of comments in the Review's editorial pages and on the newspaper's Web site (www.lakeoswegoreview.com) to an electoral one, complete with two ballot measures. In essence, it went from being a political hot potato to a focus for voters in November.
Because of the shift, which sees some letter writers singing the pro's or con's of the Safeco purchase and others trying to influence a yes or no vote on the two ballot measures, we have tried to grant a little flexibility within our editorial policy.
It's time to rein in the comments, however, and enforce what our policy says. Starting with the Oct. 4 Review and continuing through the rest of October, letters about the Safeco building-West End building-possible community center-and the two ballot measures (3-269 and 3-273) will be limited to 250 words.
We will continue to accept citizen's views on the issue, but will be on the lookout for repetitious commentaries.
We are positive that enforcing our policy on political letters, while not necessarily popular with all citizens, is the right thing to do. The topic has been written about extensively and we feel it's time to set the bar for any additional expressions at the 250-word limit.