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Letters for May 17

Gladstone resident obtains evidence of nothing, other recall notes; Successful ivy pull in OC; Roads profit at public's expense

Elected public officials do not stop being private citizens when elected to office, and there are no laws preventing people from meeting socially. Anyone who has ever attended a public meeting has witnessed the post-event meet-and-greets. Open meeting laws do not prohibit social meetings such as the one that was photographed. Additional information can be found on the Oregon Attorney General's website at doj.state.or.us/pdf/public_records_and_meetings_manual.pdf.

Greg Alexander is the son of Sharon Alexander, who was evicted from a hair-cutting station that she didn't own, but rented from a business that was located on the property purchased by the city of Gladstone earlier this year. The eviction was an acrimonious process resulting in many allegations that were never substantiated. His outrage is obvious, but his point is not. The photo he included in his opinion piece last week doesn't show shamed people hiding from a camera.

The "Jerry Springer-esque" headlining of his Clackamas Review op-ed last week notwithstanding, Mr. Alexander's photo shows Councilors Mersereau, Sieckmann, McMahon and Johnson seated at a table after a City Council meeting. Nothing more.

Moments after photographing city councilors, Mr. Alexander made an inappropriate obscene gesture and flipped them off.

PHOTO BY STEVE JOHNSON - To meet this newspaper's decency standards, recall opponents provided a digitally altered version of Greg Alexander's obscene gesture to city councilors on April 25 at Vogies Bar.It's disheartening that our city is currently going through a recall effort. It brings the absolute worst out in people. It divides the city and its citizens, false insinuations/allegations are made that impact personal lives and businesses, it causes damage to everyone. I strongly urge you to read a study that was conducted by the League of Oregon Cities regarding the causes and effects of recalls. Here is the link: orcities.org/Portals/17/Premium/RecallReport2004%20new%20cover%2011-2011.pdf

Natalie Smith


Wild claims in Gladstone recall

Recently I've read and heard numerous claims in Gladstone that trouble me and those I've shared them with. Fortunately, the Clackamas Review provides a great way for me to share them with the community.

Many will remember that in November of last year the citizens passed a measure to require a public vote before the city may sell any park property. Mindy Garlington and many volunteers worked hard to gather signatures for the new ordinance. They understandably feared Gladstone Nature Park would someday become another out-of-scale apartment complex mandated by Metro's density requirements, an apartment complex that would mirror the one under construction next to the city's 10 acres.

In November of 2007 the site was designated as the Nature Park, with a portion devoted to a library. In March of 2009 the council resolved that the property would be the site for a 19,000-square-foot library. Some park features were included in the plan. I have spoken about the property during two recent council meetings, because there is much confusion over its legal status, and that cannot be allowed to continue. What does this have to do with the recall?

The city originally condemned the property in 1999 to prevent the development of an Albertson's store. The top layer of rock was going to be removed in order to lower the grade closer to the level of Webster Road. Mining the rock required blasting that would have affected neighbors' homes and peace of mind for almost two years. When the library district was approved by the voters in 2008, the concept of a library on the property was quickly embraced by the city. While a smaller project than the Albertsons, construction of the library required several hundred thousand dollars for blasting and excavating the solid bedrock that is Gladstone's trademark, and would have destroyed the aesthetics of the Gladstone Nature Trail.

In 2015, long after voters rejected the high-priced library, the council discussed the option of selling the property, or a portion of it. Mayor Jacobellis and other councilors considered the potential of allowing some mining in the future. At this time park advocates started ridiculous claims that the property was destined to become a "gravel pit," and the claims are now being used to discredit Councilors Sieckmann and Johnson. The property would be worthless for future development, if that occurred. There are seven votes on our council, and I doubt any of the councilors would vote to sell any of the 10 acres without restrictions, including that a portion be retained as a park, and the trail be preserved. In addition to claims about the park becoming a gravel pit, we recently learned that the Chief Petitioner Bill Osburn is the subject of a criminal investigation for making untrue statements in the official documents he filed with the secretary of state.

Over the past five years I've watched Kim Sieckmann volunteer like no one else in the city. He's served on the Planning Commission with Mayor Stempel, donated hundreds of hours to the August festival and car show, and has previously been named Gladstone Citizen of the Year. You can thank Steve Johnson for contributing his business skills to the city's budget process, and for his efforts to preserve the parking area in Meldrum Bar Park that is frequently used by handicapped fishermen. He has lived in Gladstone for about 25 years, and Sieckmann has been here for over 20.

Aside from running for the council and then launching a recall, I have seen little involvement or contributions to the city by Mr. Osburn. His justification for recalling two councilors is based on too many vague claims, and I encourage Gladstone citizens to vote no.

Les Poole


No illegal contracting; vote no on recalls

The Gladstone recall election is a waste of time and tax dollars with many false claims. But it is too late to change that. The best option is to vote no on the recall and to send a message: This is not what residents and taxpayers want their time and money spent on. Help send that message by voting no on the recalls.

The person behind the recall effort claims illegal contracting. City councilors Steve Johnson and Kim Seickmann have never approved a contract, individually or together on behalf of the city, nor do they have the authority to do so. Contracts are approved by a City Council vote. It required a majority to approve or deny authorizing the city to enter into a contract. You can't hold two councilors responsible for a board decision of a seven-member council.

In order for the claim to be factual, a document would need to be produced that demonstrates Sieckmann and/or Johnson solely approved a contract without the support of City Council. If you comb through all the "stuff" on the pro-recall website claiming to be justification for a recall, you won't find such a document.

Illegal contracting would be a great justification for a recall. But without being able to show something, anything, it is a false claim to manipulate public opinion.

Vote NO on the recalls (norecalls.com).

Gwen and Dennis Marsh


Successful ivy pull

On behalf of the Oregon City Parks Foundation (OCPF), thanks for publishing the news article about our ivy-pull event in the paper May 3. I'm sure it helped add to our crowd!

OCPF would like to thank the over 30 participants who took part in our May 6 event at Waterboard Park. We had a very successful event thanks to everyone's hard work. You can now begin to see the amazing geology of Waterboard Park in the area where the ivy and other invasives have been removed.

Special thanks to Phil Lewis, Jonathan Waverly and the Oregon City Parks Department; Jerry Herrmann and the Rivers of Life Center; the McLoughlin Neighborhood Association; and to SOLVE Oregon and their events coordinator Monica Gunderson for their support.

OCPF plans more events at Waterboard Park and throughout our city's park system. Check out our website at oregoncityparksfoundation.org.

Mike Mitchell

OCPF president

Roads profit at public's expense

Anti-government Libertarian John Charles weighed in with an April 25 op-ed on House Bill 3231. Contrary to Charles' goofy endorsement, this bill would simply create more of the problems it purports to solve. His support could be due to the fact that a large chunk of his funding comes from libertarian dark-money group, Donors Capital Fund.

Charles ridiculed opponents' arguments as "comical" and "used for decades." However, our arguments have indeed been used for decades, because they are based upon facts and evidence, rather than snarky bumper-sticker reasoning and misleading statistics. It is simply true that (1) new highways threaten farmland, (2) increased auto traffic will indeed undermine Oregon's climate change goals and, as has been proven all over the world for decades, (3) we can't build our way out of congestion.

Even the mayor of road-building mecca, Houston, Texas, recognizes that the "traditional strategy of adding capacity, especially single-occupant-vehicle capacity on the periphery of our urban areas, exacerbates urban-congestion problems."

PriceWaterhouseCooper, a fairly credible research source, opines: "Over the past several decades, brute construction to meet the needs of drivers has been the default approach for many cities and emerging nations. Yet this strategy has merely generated more traffic, and instead of one congested route it has created two."

Charles goes on to either deliberately or carelessly misuse statistics. He claims "after a 20-year spending binge of $3.7 billion for new rail lines, TriMet's share of daily commuting in Portland actually dropped from 12 percent in 1997 to 10 percent in 2016." Gosh, wouldn't the relevant statistic be the total number of riders? Last year, total TriMet ridership was 110,985,034 a 42 percent increase since 1997 (and resulting in over $8 billion in new development), twice the rate of population growth, which has been substantial.

Charles goes on to claim that vehicle emissions are "so minor" and that "vehicles sitting in gridlock have per-mile emissions of infinity." Well, it is also true that vehicles sitting at home in the garage, while the owner rides the train to work, have per-mile emissions of zero.

On the other hand, there really is no reason to have this debate in the first place. Examples abound of effective ways to move our stuff and ourselves around, all over the world in cities both much older and far newer than Portland, Oregon. We can stop speculating about what works and what doesn't. And mass transit provides the highest quality of life. HB 3231 is just another attempt to profiteer off of public property and revenue.

Sorry Mr. Charles, but large scale cooperative efforts (AKA "government") are more efficient and effective when it comes to many things, but especially mass transit.

Gary Duell

Happy Valley