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Letters: County commission focus of reader interests

by: PHOTO COURTESY: CLACKAMAS COUNTY - During the April 9 State of the County, commissioners answered questions on transportation, health care, jobs, public safety and economic development. Watch the video recording at clackamas.us/bcc.The recent process used by the Clackamas County Board of Commissioners to replace the county administrator is of great concern to the League of Women Voters of Clackamas County. While we might understand the desire of newly elected officials to hire their own people, we disapprove of the lack of transparency and disregard for Oregon’s public meetings law in this instance.

The League “believes that democratic government depends upon informed and active participation at all levels of government. The League further believes that governmental bodies must protect the citizen’s right to know by giving adequate notice of proposed actions, holding open meetings and making public records accessible.”

For the future, we urge our county commissioners to be fully aware of the laws governing public meetings, to understand why these laws are in place, and to act in accordance with their provisions.

Luana Luther, president

LWV of Clackamas County

Support county appointees

Clackamas River Water District commissioners Kenneth Humberston, Hugh Kalani and Larry Sowa deserve our support in the upcoming May 21 special-district election. These newly appointed commissioners have brought a fresh perspective and sanity to this troubled district’s governing body.

The 93 percent recall vote that removed Patricia Holloway should be followed with a similar rejection of her allies, Grafton Sterling and Warren Mitchell. The Holloway group’s antics have cost my water district untold thousands in legal bills and traumatized the district’s hardworking staff. They have embarrassed all of us in Clackamas County.

To see for myself, I attended a Clackamas River Water District board meeting. What I observed was Holloway and Sterling making frivolous motions and disrespectful comments towards staff. The other commissioners at the time (who have since graciously resigned) struggled to keep the focus on the issues at hand. That alone was enough for me to enthusiastically support the recent citizen effort to recall Holloway and Sterling.

As an executive director for a state board and a board member myself (Clackamas Fire District), I know a few things about well functioning boards (as described in John Carver’s book, “Boards That Make A Difference”). The boards I work with are respectful to the public and focus on broad policy, oversight and do not attempt to micromanage every smallest detail.

Kenneth Humberston, Hugh Kalani and Larry Sowa are good people who are serving us well as our new Clackamas River Water District commissioners. I urge your support.

Dave McTeague

Clackamas

View letter with skepticism

While I hesitate to engage in a lengthy discourse with Mr. Molinari, several comments in his letter last week are misleading and need to be addressed.

He states that because Measure 3-401 passed, he and his group now speak for the majority of residents in stopping the light-rail project. I would point out again, that neither the wording of the measure nor the accompanying official explanation make any reference to light rail or to the measure being retroactive. So if any group sold the measure on the basis of going back on specific commitments and contractual obligations of the sitting Clackamas County Commission, then they were misleading the voters. Even had it contained such wording, it is doubtful that it would have prevailed against current contract laws. Which is why TriMet is confident that its pending lawsuit will be successful, and will likely cost our county dearly. This is after all a country that is governed under law, not he who can shout the loudest.

With regard to the union issue, even the most cursory reading of labor-movement history would show that trade unions fought for decades for many of the workplace conditions we enjoy today, until they became the law of the land. And it is because they are the law that both union and non-union organizations are required to comply with them. The sobering fact is that the drop in union membership in the past 30 years that Mr. Molinari seems to revel in, has been paralleled by one of the sharpest increases in income inequality in the industrialised world, to a level that rivals the worst of the 19th-century “banana republics.” The persistent economic recession and unemployment we are now suffering — driven by lack of demand — are directly related to the stagnation of middle- and working-class incomes.

I am disappointed that lack of imagination and forsight would undermine an economically viable and energy-efficient addition to this county’s infrastructure, an improvement that could benefit the community for decades. But I am sure that thoughtful Clackamas County residents will view Mr. Molinari’s misguided demonstration with the skepticism it deserves.

Peter Bellamy

Oregon City

Effectively a tax increase

I hope that state Rep. Brent Barton keeps me and the rest of District 40 voters and homeowners in mind as he considers any legislation that would reduce or cap the home-mortgage interest tax deduction. Specifically, HB 2456 is most alarming to me.

While I fully appreciate the hard job that he has in trying to get more resources into education, I also do not believe it is fair to balance the state budget by making housing and homeownership more unattainable. Being able to deduct the interest payments on my home mortgage is what allows me to afford my home. Reducing it is, in effect, a direct income tax increase on homeowners.

I hope that Rep. Barton can find other budget savings, and not just increase income taxes.

Mark Meek

Gladstone

Let’s get the facts on the CRC project

The Columbia River Crossing (CRC) is embroiled in continual controversy.

When the Board of County Commissioners (BCC) took up the issue on Jan 16., I strongly advocated taking a position, the BCC agreed and directed staff to request the Oregon Department of Transportation to make a presentation to the BCC. ODOT agreed, and it was a matter of Chair Ludlow scheduling it on the agenda for a Study Session.

However, on Feb. 2 Chair Ludlow placed his single page CRC resolution on the BCC’s Feb. 7 regular business meeting agenda without any of the requested documentation. Without the ODOT work session or our staff’s input, it was both surprising and premature as to why this was seemingly rushed through. At the Feb. 7 regular business meeting, we had substantial public comment, and unanswered questions were posed. Consequently, I abstained from the vote. My vote was premised by saying, “I am not going to make an uninformed decision.”

I read the letter to the editor from a misinformed citizen, printed in this newspaper last week, that was loaded with errors, including that I voted no on the CRC resolution when I actually abstained. Rushing into an up or down vote without information would neither be clear nor sound. My intention following that vote was again to schedule the work session as approved on Jan. 16.

The question that people apparently want to know is why has the BCC not taken a position on the CRC? Many of our citizens expect transparency and it is clear they deserve just that. On Feb. 12, I raised the CRC work session and once again I asked that it be scheduled soon and that we take a position. Oddly enough there was no support to do so? I persisted by making a motion to direct staff to schedule the work session on the CRC. The motion failed 1-4, I was outvoted which meant that no work session would occur and no position would be taken. It is still a mystery as to why, but I have honored the decision of the BCC.

At our State of the County event on April 9 a citizen requested that we take a stand on the CRC. Chair Ludlow responded with his experience and I responded with mine. I am fulfilling a responsibility to answer the questions from the public and clarifying any misinformation. All of our meetings are recorded for those who wish to validate my summary.

The citizens should not get the wrong impression and the commissioners should have the facts on the CRC.

Paul Savas

Clackamas County commissioner



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