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Troutdale mayor among furloughed federal employees

Meanwhile, Fairview Mayor Mike Weatherby says government shutdown is hurting people


by: OUTLOOK FILE PHOTO - Doug DaoustWith the federal government shutdown heading into its third week, local mayors are weighing in on the trickle-down effects.

Troutdale Mayor Doug Daoust is feeling the pinch personally.

As an employee of the U.S. Forest Service — assistant director of state and private forestry for Oregon, Washington and Alaska, to be exact — he's on furlough.

“This is a well-practiced government exercise,” Daoust said. “Come every Oct. 1, Congress doesn’t get their budget act together, and we deal with that continuing resolution almost every year."

But this year, Daoust said the government actually shut down for the first time in 17 years.

“We don't know what Congress is going to do,” Daoust said. "This is a different Congress than we've experienced in the past, in their way of behaving and the comments they make."

Like most people, Daoust doesn't know how long the furlough will last.

“My gut feeling is it will continue through this week, with the debt ceiling discussion not hammered out,” he said.

The longer it goes on, the more difficult the situation becomes for people like Daoust.

“I have a little bit in savings I can rely on," he said. "If this goes on for a couple more weeks, I'm going to be in a difficult situation because my mortgage is due Nov. 1, and that's a hefty bill.”

Daoust recognizes he isn't the only federal employee in east county of Portland personally affected.

But as one of them, he said, “People are discouraged with their government.”

While he is not in the position to lobby Congress and must be cautious about what he says, Daoust said, “I just wish they would get past this rhetoric and finger-pointing and empty, blank statements that are pretty much meaningless and get down to constructive meetings together.”

As each day goes on, the pressure will build, Daoust said.

“There will be a new story every day, like veterans not getting benefits, that will put more heat on Congress to come to a resolution,” he said.

The effect on the city of Troutdale is a little more vague, Daoust said.

While largely unaffected by the shutdown, it only seems to come into play with federal grant money the city may receive for projects.

“If the government's not out there to process payments to cities, it's not happening,” he said.

Such is the case for the city of Wood Village. Mayor Patricia Smith said the city plans to receive federal funding through a METRO grant for the Arata Road project.

"If this drags on for any length of time, we'll miss the deadline on that, and we will not be able to continue with improvements on Arata Road," Smith said.

In dealing with his time off work, Daoust said he's been glued to the news channel and working out his frustrations every day at the gym. It's also given him more time to invest in Troutdale and “plug myself more into city stuff.”

Fairview, Wood Village mayors weigh in

Mayor Mike Weatherby said the shutdown — or what he calls “somewhat of an adolescent bravado” by those in Congress — hasn't affected Fairview and it'd be awhile before the city felt the trickle-down.

“We are not reliant on government resources,” Weatherby said, “because we get tax money from property taxes and some money from the state.”

But while the city hasn't felt much sway, Weatherby said it is a problem for everyone else.

“It just hurts the people,” he said. “It hurts the country, and it's going to affect the stock market."

“They should have reached some kind of accord already and been done with this thing.”

A problem Weatherby sees with politics in Washington, D.C., is “they don't really educate people.”

As the debt ceiling deadline approaches Thursday, Oct. 17, “We hear the sky is falling” from the media, he said. But, he added, “I don't think many people understand what that means.”

“We don't hear much in the way of facts, figures, history and future,” Weatherby said.

“When people don't know something, then they can be preyed upon by people of either side without warning,” he said.

Mayor Smith, employed as a dispatcher for construction services company Lovett Inc., said, "We should keep party differences out of it and work for the good of people — that's what we do in Wood Village."

"We don't even know who's a Democrat or Republican because people are the important things, not our party standings," Smith said.




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