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And the readers say:Safeco is 2007's top local story

by: File Photo / Vern Uyetake, The West End Building, formerly known as the Safeco Building, was the clear winner amongst responders to a Review survey about the top local news story for 2007.

As we look back at 2007 in Lake Oswego, one news story definitely rises to the top above all others.

In an e-mailed, non-scientific survey of Lake Oswego Review readers, the going-away choice for the top local news story of the year was the fallout over the city of Lake Oswego's purchase of the Safeco Building (now called the West End Building) and the November election that included two ballot measures about the facility. Two-thirds of those responding to our survey questions picked Safeco as the top story.

No other story even came close to Safeco among respondents.

While the Safeco response was not a surprise to Review staff, the answers to some of our other questions did create some interest. Responding was a wide range of people selected by newspaper staff. They included politicians, school administrators, businesspeople, retired citizens, chamber of commerce leaders, city and school district employees, activists, sports figures, Realtors, church leaders, homebuilders and volunteers.

Here's what we asked them to select:

n Top local news story of the year.

n Top local newsmaker.

n Biggest local surprise.

n Biggest local disappointment.

n Unsung local hero.

n Likely biggest local story for 2008.

Results were all over the board.

Sharing top honors for newsmaker of the year were Lake Oswego Mayor Judie Hammerstad, closely followed by former Lake Oswego High School basketball standout Kevin Love (now a freshman standout for the UCLA mens basketball team).

The biggest surprise for local residents was the resignation this summer of city Manager Doug Schmitz, who now holds the same position for Los Altos, Calif. Schmitz's departure barely edged out concerns over the cost for Lake Oswego sewage project repairs.

Many respondents said they were most disappointed by the tone of opinion pieces about the Safeco building. That was the leader in the category, beating the Schmitz departure and the Lake Oswego Little League team's elimination in the Little League World Series.

There was no clear-cut winner in the hero category. Elevated slightly above some 20 nominees were Bill Warner, one of the catalysts in the Lake Oswego Flower Bas-ket program, and Cyndie Glazer of the Lake Oswego Library who plays a key role in the Lake Oswego Reads program.

Finally, respondents were asked to gaze into their collective crystal balls and envision what 2008 might deliver in terms of a top news story. A clear favorite was the upcoming mayor/city council elections followed by the ongoing saga of the sewer system, including the interceptor for Oswego Lake and the costs associated with the overall project.

Here's a breakdown of how our survey participants responded (not all responses are included):

Top local news story of the year

'The election.' - Judie Hammerstad, mayor, city of Lake Oswego.

'The voters' retention of the Safeco property' - Peter Glazer, a Lake Oswego attorney and prime minister of the Royal Rosarians and incoming president of the Clackamas County Bar Association.

'The two ballot measures on the West End Building with its steady coverage by the Lake Oswego Review and the campaigners telling their stories both for and against the two ballot measures' - Mary Puskas, director of Lake Oswego School District Foundation.

'The battle over the charter amendment' - Jerry Wheeler, CEO of the Lake Oswego Chamber of Commerce.

'Lake Oswego beats Jesuit. People statewide are still marveling over this, but I knew we'd do it!' - Linda Brown, Lake Oswego, chair of the Lake Oswego School Board and a candidate for House District 38.

'We think the biggest story of 2008 will be what proceeds now with the West End building' - Susan and Chuck Mansfield, former Lake Oswego residents now living in West Linn. She retired this year as the Review's office manager; he is a former Milwaukie police chief.

'For me, the top news story in Lake Oswego in 2007 was the article on the results of the November vote on whether to hold city council to a $2 million spending limit for purchasing land without voter approval and the results of the vote on whether to keep the Safeco property. These were very important issues for the citizens and the future of the city. Whether you liked the results of the vote or not, it felt like the whole city took a big sigh of relief when the citizens were finally able to cast their vote and let a direction be formed - Brenda Suteu, manager of the Lake Oswego Adult Community Center.

'All 13 district schools are rated exceptional, an achievement that reflects the extraordinary efforts of school district staff and the entire community's commitment to education.' - Bill Korach is the superintendent of the Lake Oswego Public School District.

'Retention of the Safeco Property and the division it caused in the community. How the city of Lake Oswego Leadership will handle the largest infrastructure project in our city's history. (Sewer Interceptor Replacement) - Lisa Shaw-Ryan, chairs both the First Addition Neighborhood Coordinating Committee and the Downtown Business District Association and co-owns (with her husband) Chuck's Pacific Coast Cookies and Coffee. She lives in the First Addition.

'Acquiring and keeping the West End Building in (the) city's portfolio. Fortunately there were enough visionaries to realize the tremendous need and value this magnificent property yields to the city.' - Anni Miller is the director of tennis at the Lake Oswego Tennis Center. She coached Lakeridge High School tennis for 24 years. She has lived and worked in the Palisades area for 32 years.

'Sewer connector under the lake. It is no secret that the sewer connector has been a problem for years. They have drained the lake for years to maintain and repair the system. Now the Lake Corp won't drain the lake biannually for service and repair? Go figure. The thing is falling apart. Run the thing under the roadways like all of the other services. They should have been saving for years for this project.' - Mark Grimm has managed Grimm's Service Station on McVey for the last 25 years. The Grimm family has owned and operated businesses in Lake Oswego since l929.

'After a national search for a new Lake Oswego Library director, Lakeridge High School '74 graduate, Bill Baars was selected. Excellent choice for our library.' - Cyndie Glazer, Lake Oswego, works at the Lake Oswego Public Library and is a manager of Lake Oswego Reads and is coordinator of Volunteer Services and Fundraising.

'(Safeco issue, which was) no tempest in a teapot this showed the best and worst sides of people as some felt their pocket books threatened as well their right of self determination threatened. Arguments on both sides were extremely well thought out but the acrimony was not called for and should have been beneath us.' - Phil Barr is a Lake Oswego resident and a Realtor with Prudential Northwest Properties.

'Acquisition of Safeco/West End Building, including 1) all the communications pro and con, and 2) discussions on how best to utlize the building.' - Barbara Jellen, Lake Oswego, is a member of the Lake Oswego Adult Community Center and is the organizer of the Jottings authors .

'I think that the biggest news story was the Safeco Building.' - Shannon Leach, rector at Christ Church Episcopal Parish.

'The Lake Oswego Little League Team going to the World Series.' - Shawn West is a Lake Oswego resident.

'Without a doubt, the charter amendment ballot measure was the top news story of the year - beginning with the creation and filing of the petition with the city, the signature gathering process and qualification for the ballot, and the campaign for its passage. This entire process, spanning over 18 months, required enormous volunteer effort, and performed a great service to the community' - John Surrett is spokesperson of Ask Lake Oswegans.

'The November election was the top news story of the year. The election was more than the two issues, it also served as vote of approval for the direction our community has taken in the last 8 years.' - Debbie Craig, Lake Oswego, co-founder of Our City Our Future.

'Defeat of limitation ballot measure.' - George Benson, Lake Oswego, former school superintendent, long-time community activist and currently on the board of Elders in Action.

'The controversy regarding the purchase of the Safeco Building.' - Bill and Diane Savage, Lake Oswego, she was a former teacher and he was formerly with Bank of America. They both are volunteers with World Vision working to bring clean water to Zambia.

'It has to be the 'building with possibilities,' the West End Building. It was a bold decision, followed by public doubts, and ultimately a second chance at survival, but other chapters remain to be written.' - Jane Heisler, director of public affairs, city of Lake Oswego.

'Safeco. The positive aspects of the city purchase becoming divisive because of the flawed process and costs associated with a community center. - Paul Graham, Lake Oswego, is co-owner of Graham's Stationery.

'I would say the top news story is the city purchasing the Safeco Building controversy.' - Barbara Sue Seal lives and works as a Realtor in Lake Oswego.

'The distrust of city government, particularly in the controversies with the West-End building and the sewer pipe.' - Paul Trompke, Lake Oswego, president of Lake Oswego High School's Associated Student Body.

'The Review's profile of former resident Meacham Taiblum, WWII resistance fighter. His courage and his life of dignity and study is an inspiration to others.' - Alexander E. Ben-Israel, is the executive director of the Stafford - A Boutique Retirement Community.

'Vote on Safeco purchase rejected.' - David Berentson, Lake Oswego resident and a Rotary member.

'June 2007 Senate Bill 479 is signed into law by Gov. Kulongoski protecting children in Oregon schools from metal halide lights.' - Kellie La Follette is a teacher with the Lake Oswego School District whose eyes were injured after sitting under a broken metal halide light at a district in-service training session.

Top local newsmaker

'Mayor Judie Hammerstad.' - Peter Glazer.

'The Little League team that represented Lake Oswego so attractively both locally and nationally. As well as Kevin Love's recognition as the top high school basketball player in the nation. - Mary Puskas.

'Mayor Judie Hammerstad for 'taking the heat' with dignity, yet remaining true to her vision for Lake Oswego's future.' - Jerry Wheeler.

'The purchase of the Safeco property and discussions around how to use it, what to use it for, and whether it needed to be remodeled and redesigned or sold.' - Brenda Suteu.

'City manager Doug Schmitz retiring' - Anni Miller.

'In our house, my husband Peter Glazer installed as Prime Minister of the Royal Rosarians and President of the Clackamas County Bar Association.' - Cyndie Glazer.

'Judie Hammerstad - a leader who in every interaction displayed the character that defines leadership. She made news because she was willing to take the stands that she felt were best for the community.'- Phil Barr.

'Our mayor, Judie Hammerstad for what I perceive as underhanded finagling re: finances involved in West End building purchase.' - Barbara Jellen.

'The top newsmaker was Kevin Love.' - Shannon Leach.

'Mayor Judie.' - George Benson.

'The ballot issues concerning the West End /Safeco Buidling and city purchases.' - Shawn West.

'In Lake Oswego, I will remember the stories about the Safeco building. I have attended a meeting by the city of LO and appreciate what they are trying to accomplish at the building ... ' - Jaice Leonetti, a Lake Oswego resident and volunteer with Title 1 schools and Clackamas County CASA.

'Probably Jeff Parker.' - Barbara Sue Seal.

'John Surrett was the top newsmaker in 2007 as he questioned our city's direction and successfully brought the issue to a full vote of the citizens.' - Debbie Craig.

'The sewer interceptor. It doesn't have the makings of the cover of Time, but it impacted many community discussions about funding, infrastructure condition, rainfall, the lake, the beautyof the laws of gravity (it will still flow downhill).' - Jane Heisler.

'West End Building.' - Judie Hammerstad.

'Lynn Peterson. Applying her talents so quickly to the Clackamas County Commission in getting the measure passed to increase it from three to five members.' - Paul Graham.

'The top newsmaker(s) is the grassroots citizens group 'Ask Lake Oswegans.' The group and its activities were covered almost weekly in the Lake Oswego Review news and its members contributed countless 'citizen view' and letters to editor that provided useful in formation to the community and helped shape public opinion.' - John Surrett.

'The school board, for applying permission to build lights and stands at Lakeridge, so that they will be able to play home football games.' - Paul Trompke.

'(LOHS) basketball player Kevin Love and the LO Little League all-stars, whose athletic abilities earned broad recognition at the local, state, and national level.' - Bill Korach.

'Lake Oswego entrepreneurs Bruce Studer and attorney Matt Rossman want to put a casino and resort at the Multnomah Kennel Club.' - Alexander E. Ben-Israel.

'Kevin Love (sorry, Mayor Judie).' - Linda Brown.

Biggest local surprise

'The relatively strong support for the anti-Safeco Building forces' - Bill and Diane Savage.

'The community's solid support for the retention of the West End Building. I don't think that the community's vote necessarily supports expensive improvements to the building at this time, but citizens certainly want the building retained for the city's future.' - Debbie Craig.

'The sewer interceptor that runs the length of the lake, will be able to be replaced without a summer drawdown in the main lake or bays.' - Judie Hammerstad.

'LO Reads the 'Shadow of the Wind.' The first book for our community read was amazingly successful with huge readership and a large number community tie-in events.' - Paul Graham.

'Not only a surprise, but it is a sobering revelation concerning the amount of potential new city, and therefore increased taxpayer debt, that is in Lake Oswego's future. When considering the new bonded indebtedness over the next few years is it any wonder that enrollment in the schools and now the city's population is in a steady decline due to the lack of affordability to continue to live in Lake Oswego, let alone very few new people moving in? This is very onerous and worrisome for the remaining taxpayers who must shoulder a disproportionate higher debt burden and it may cause them to decide to leave, exacerbating the problem.'- John Surrett.

'Although beating Jesuit at football wasn't a surprise, the complete shut-out (21-0) was unexpected.' - Paul Trompke.

'The departure of city manager Doug Schmitz, who played a key role in countless community improvements over 15 years.' - Bill Korach.

'That the lake will not need to be drawn down during the summer as work is done on the sewer interceptor.' - Mary Puskas.

'The potential cost of the sewer interceptor project.' - Jerry Wheeler.

'That the Sellwood Bridge was deemed OK for continued use by cars after the Minneapolis-St. Paul bridge collapse.' - Susan and Chuck Mansfield.

'Doug Schmitz resigning as city manager. I think he was a brilliant business man, visionary, and leader.' - Brenda Suteu.

'Retention of the Safeco Property.' - Lisa Shaw-Ryan.

'The sewage overflows that continue to be issues! How can we be such an intelligent community and have inadequate infrastructures?' - Anni Miller.

'The Lake Oswego Little League All Star Team going to the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pa. Made me proud.' - Cyndie Glazer.

'The resilience that out local housing market has shown in the face of a national melt down. I did not predict it would hold up as well here as it has and it appears to have weathered this storm. (A second choice is) our Little League team's performance in the series.' - Phil Barr.

'After 27 years, finally solving the murders of Casper and Tillie Volk - entirely unexpected after all this time.' - Barbara Jellen.

'The biggest surprise for the year was the 10th Street/First Addition renovation.' - Shannon Leach.

'The opposition to Safeco and hostility by opposition toward the mayor and city council.' - George Benson.

Biggest local disappointment

'The loss of our city manager, Doug Schmitz, who has directed the last years of change in Lake Oswego.' - Debbie Craig.

'Doug Schmitz leaving Lake Oswego as city manager.' - Judie Hammerstad.

'The tobacco tax defeat. Health care improvements for children being denied through tobacco money and the bogus argument that our constitution would be impaired as a result.' - Paul Graham.

'The city council's governance style and decision-making process takes the top award on this one. It's repeated rejection of criticism by the citizenry concerning its $20 million purchase decision of Safeco using property tax reserve fund money (and which it continues to use for $1 million annual loan interest payments).' - John Surrett.

'Biggest disappointment: No major disappointments, although I would have liked to have seen more state championship trophies, considering how close we have been.' - Paul Trompke.

'The tone of the debate surrounding recent ballot measures, which set a poor example for our youth and the respectful culture we seek to instill.' - Bill Korach.

'Despite daily challenges from uv radiation burns, I choose to focus on the many blessings and joys in my life.' - Kellie La Follette.

'Willamette River and other water issues as Lake Oswego grows in population.' - Alexander E. Ben-Israel.

'The cost of sewer repairs.' - David Berentson.

'The number of repetitive negative letters to the editor written by opponents of the Safeco purchase.' - Peter Glazer.

'I was truly disappointed with the lack of civility by some citizens regarding the debate over the West End Building.' - Mary Puskas.

'The unbelievable breakdown of civility and respect displayed during the entire controversy over the Safeco purchase and subsequent efforts to pass the charter amendment.' - Jerry Wheeler.

'The interceptor didn't just fix itself and let us off the hook.' - Brenda Suteu.

'How the retention of the Safeco Property might affect our downtown redevelopment and the civic heart of our community.' - Lisa Shaw-Ryan.

'Disappointed that the steering committee for the Safeco site facilities did not include indoor tennis courts after decades of data supporting the needs and desires of tennis players of all ages.' - Anni Miller.

'Lakeridge football. Someone please help this program!' - Mark Grimm.

'City Manager Doug Schmitz leaving to manage Los Altos, Calif. He truly made a positive difference for our city in many, many ways.' - Cyndie Glazer.

'That our community did not manage the Safeco controversy in a more civilized tone. Disagreement is healthy and I know the community is better for having aired the issues but the name calling and false accusations were a blemish that we did not need.' - Phil Barr.

'The pro-Safeco Building 'side' won out. I am extremely worried about increased taxes, what with Safeco and interceptor line and water issues.' - Barbara Jellen.

'The biggest disappointment was the caustic vitriolic manner by which the citizens treated each other during the Safeco debate.' - Shannon Leach.

'Opposition to Safeco and hostility by opposition toward the mayor and city council.' George Benson.

'The relatively strong support for the Anti-Safeco Building forces.' - Bill and Diane Savage.

'Drop in home sales. Lack of affordable housing for the elderly.' - Shawn West.

Unsung local hero

'Jim Boland. A resident of First Addition, Jim has been a tireless advocate for what he sees as best for our city. Jim has probably annoyed many, but he is thoughtful, hard working, and pure of heart' - David Berentson.

'Bill Warner. He gets things done.' - Peter Glazer.

'Collectively, the Lake Oswego School District Foundation Board has worked tirelessly to support the school district's teachers and individually, Erin O'Rouke Meadors.' - Mary Puskas.

'Bill Warner has been involved in so many local activities and always behind the scenes making things happen.' - Jerry Wheeler.

'Pearl Gross, who died recently. In spite of her serious physical problems and many teetering-on-the-edge-of-death experiences, she still strived to be all that she could be and never forgot the needs of others ...' - Susan and Chuck Mansfield.

'My unsung hero of 2007 is Cyndie Glazer who brought the 'Everyone Reads' program to Lake Oswego and made it very successful ...'  - Brenda Suteu.

'Chris Shetky.' - Lisa Shaw-Ryan.

'My unsung heroes are the men and women who volunteer daily for our local, sick, elderly, disabled and needy neighbors. They collectively give of their time and resources to make our community outstanding.' - Anni Miller.

'Mike Lehman, principal at Lakeridge. Can't say enough good things about him. Just ask the students.' - Mark Grimm.

'Fred Baldwin. He is the driving force as the sponsorship chair for library events. Lake Oswego Reads would not have happened without his involvement and generosity.' - Cyndie Glazer.

'The local economy and the little guys behind it.' - Phil Barr.

'My neighbor Julie Klum, as she and husband Jim have raised six fine kids. One daughter told me at age 12 that her mother was her best friend. How often do you find a 12 year old saying that?' - Barbara Jellen.

'The unsung hero(s) are the LOPD/FD who seem to work very hard at knowing their constituents and making every attempt to handle difficult situations with as much compassion and humor as they can, contributing to a small town aura.' - Shannon Leach.

'Libby Boatwright (associate pastor Lake Grove Presbyterian Church), for sponsoring the Low-Income Senior Housing Project.' - Bill and Diane Savage.

'My personal unsung hero is the 'wind beneath my wings' ... who is my husband Bill ... battling with Parkinson's and still involved with boards including Good Will and the Foundation at the University of Oregon while being a terrific husband, father, brother, grandfather, uncle, friend.' - Barbara Sue Seal.

'Cyndie Glazer who envisioned and executed our first 'Lake Oswego Reads' in February with Carlos Ruiz Zafon's 'The Shadow of the Wind.' The event included hundreds of citizens, merchants, and readers' - Debbie Craig.

'The city's maintenance department. They don't have capes or tights, but they protect city residents every day from the vagaries of nature by keeping the infrastructure running.' - Jane Heisler.

'Kathy Kern for making all the city-sponsored events such great opportunities for our community.' - Judie Hammerstad.

'Those more than 140 volunteers of the Ask Lake Oswegans organization who, in 6 weeks time, gathered over 5000 signatures to place Charter Amendment 3-269 on the November ballot. This initiated a community discussion which was greatly needed and the beneficial effect of which will be remembered and useful for years to come.' - John Surrett.

'The teachers at Lake Oswego High School. They put their hearts into what they do.' - Paul Trompke.

'Marilyn Langsdorf, who is a steadfast, caring, and enthusiastic advocate for many of our students as they work through the college application process.' - Bill Korach.

'Lake Oswego resident William Wetmore, at 84 he works full-time advising local residents to make sound investments for a secure retirement.' - Alexander E. Ben-Israel.

'Voters. They really paid close attention, thought things over carefully, and acted with vision.' - Linda Brown.

Biggest local story for 2008

'It will probably be the election of a new mayor in November. Again, this election will closely examine the direction of our city.' - Debbie Craig.

'That's a tough one. The start of planning for the Lake Oswego Centennial in 2010? Or Water conservation? Or the Interceptor?' - Jane Heisler.

'General election in November that will elect the new mayor and three city councilors along with the president, a senator, our congressional representative and state officers and ballot measures.' - Judie Hammerstad.

'Community planning. The dialogue for the future of the city hall, library, adult center, Lake Grove plan, Safeco property, Foothills and downtown property development.' - Paul Graham.

'Rivals for biggest story will be a general obligation bond measure vote to fund the Safeco purchase, and the sewer interceptor replacement project. Major chapters of these stories will be written in 2008.' - John Surrett.

'Most likely the election for mayor. Although no one yet has formally announced candidacy, it could be a good race.' - Paul Trompke.

'November elections, which will include renewal of the district's local option levy and which will bring many leadership changes to our community.' - Bill Korach.

'I predict more stability than anticipated in the real estate world in which I live.' - Barbara Sue Seal.

'The stories you don't have to write because the children of Oregon have been protected thus leaving room for more joyous reporting.' - Kellie La Follette.

'Lake Oswego debuts new type of senior living, The Stafford Boutique Retirement Community, the first retirement resort in Oregon. A model is now open, official opening Feb. 4.' - Alexander E. Ben-Israel.

'New sewer goes over budget.' - David Berentson.

'Likely biggest local story for 2008: Mayoral election - who replaces Judie Hammerstad?' - Peter Glazer.

'The change of guard that will occur in our city's leadership. The mayor, three city council positions and a new city manager will take the helm.' - Mary Puskas.

'Mayoral and city council races.' - Jerry Wheeler.

'It seems, in an election year, the biggest story would likely be who the new leaders are. I wish I had a crystal ball!' - Brenda Suteu.

'Foot Hills redevelopment, new city manager, election.'- Lisa Shaw-Ryan.

'Public and private resources unite to construct a state of the art indoor tennis / multi athletic / scholastic training center for all ages.' - Anni Miller.

'Lakeridge football plays first home game ever.' - Mark Grimm.

'Lake Oswego Reads 'Three Cups of Tea,' the library bringing the co-authors, Greg Mortenson and David Relin, to speak in Lake Oswego on Feb. 6.' - Cyndie Glazer.

'Budget - we can do that, we can do that, we can do that, how are we going to pay for all that? Community center, interceptor, road improvements, school needs etc.' - Phil Barr.

'Decision on how best to utilize the Safeco Building. I can hardly wait for the fur to start flying!' - Barbara Jellen.

'The biggest story of 2008 will be a local populace who looks beyond themselves to care for the poor and suffering.' - Shannon Leach.

'What the city decides to do with the Safeco Building.' - Bill and Diane Savage.

'Lake Oswego tax increases will effect home sales and school enrollment.' - Shawn West.