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Divisiveness caused by city leaders, not initiative

I am writing in regards to Sam Bennett's column in last week's Review about the results of the voting on Measures 3-269 and 3-273. Mr. Bennett noted that Lake Oswego Mayor Judie Hammerstad said that it's time to mend the divisiveness and work together. He quoted her: 'Now we need to start healing from the divisiveness caused by this election. We simply need to work together toward common goals.' Huh?

The divisiveness she refers to stems not from the election but from the actions of the mayor and city council in the two years before the election. The mayor talks as if she were far removed from the source of the problem when she IS the source of the problem. Those who initiated the petition to put Measure 3-269 on the ballot wanted to work together toward common goals but were excluded from the very process that would have ensured this. The time to start working together was before they purchased the Safeco property. Well, better late than never.

Then Mr. Bennett quotes Councilor McPeak: 'Let's get back to more unanimity.'

The way to do that is to involve the citizens in the debate and not make unilateral decisions without their input. Then, in one of the all-time great examples of Washington-speak, McPeak says: 'mistakes were made' in the planning process for converting the Safeco property into a community center and at the same time 'other projects came onto the radar screen.'

'Mistakes were made' is a euphemism for 'We screwed up badly.' Notice how conveniently the passive voice distances the speaker from the mistakes in question and relieves her of any responsibility. And to say that other projects came onto the radar screen while they were planning the community center is, at best, disingenuous. Those projects were on the radar screen well before they bought the Safeco property. The sewer interceptor problem, for instance, is well documented and existed years before the purchase of Safeco. In fact, just a few days before declaring the community center to be her #1 priority at the 2006 council goals meeting, the mayor had received a January 2006 citation from the DEQ for violating the Clean Water Act. Though very much 'on the radar screen', the interceptor did not make it onto the 2006 goals list because the community center was top priority. I thought these people were supposed to be 'visionary.' Maybe not.

The mayor and city council, not the election, were responsible for creating the divisiveness and the subsequent launch of the initiative, which resulted in Measure 3-269. Let's be clear about that. Likewise, they are now responsible to 'mend the divisiveness.'

The closeness of the voting shows that the citizens want the city council to conduct an open, inclusive, public process to determine what to do with the Safeco property. It is within their power to do so. Intelligent people learn from their mistakes. I hope that our elected officials can do just that.

Greg Nelson is a Lake Oswego resident.