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A wise choice for future prosperity; Fairview council losing sense of community

Back in December 2012 when Gov. John Kitzhaber convened a special session to extend tax protections for Nike, we agreed that this was one of those so-called necessary evils.

Like the lawmakers who voted for this measure (even though they didn’t like it), we understood that Oregon’s sputtering economy couldn’t risk the consequences of saying no, whatever those risks may have been. And especially not with Nike promising hundreds of new jobs if the tax protections were enacted.

The Legislature’s group hug with Nike produced a predictable outcome: Complaints of robbing from the poor to give to the rich. That’s what you get when you extend tax protections that don’t apply to everyone, and in this case to a multi-national corporation. Still, it was the right thing to do. Sometimes the right choice is the unpopular choice.

Closer to home, it also was the right thing for the Gresham City Council to approve an agreement with Boeing for $12 million in local tax savings over three years and partial abatements for another two years. In exchange, Boeing will finish an expansion of a shipping and receiving building and replace aging equipment.

The council also approved a tax abatement for ON Semiconductor, which plans an expansion and increased employment.

This makes sense for Gresham over the long haul because both of these businesses will use the tax savings to increase their assessed values, leading to increased tax collections once the abatements expire. That translates into an improved ability for Gresham to fund the services upon which the public depends.

More importantly, these tax savings will improve employment opportunities in East County. That alone is enough reason to support these tax savings.

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The most disturbing aspect of the news coming out of the city of Fairview last week had little to do with the City Council’s decision against funding the Chili on the Green festival.

Actually, that decision may suggest the council has its priorities in the right place: public safety, water, sewer, streets, development and planning. Given that the city of Fairview has decided to get out of the chili business, it would seem to open the door to another organization to pick up where the city left off.

It happens in every community where volunteer groups and civic organizations work together to offer these types of events, often with in-kind help from their city governments. There’s only one reason Chili on the Green will cease to exist; because nobody picks up the chili pepper and runs with it.

But like we said, that’s not the most disturbing news coming out of the Feb. 20 Fairview City Council meeting. What people should be disappointed with is the acrimonious political posturing on the council that likely will continue long after the Chili on the Green debate fades from memory.

We find no fault with people of differing points of view seeking election to city councils. But there is an expectation that city councilors will collaborate despite differences. This is not the Legislature, or the U.S. Congress. This is a City Council of neighbors in what amounts to a small community. The tone of the debate over Chili on the Green suggests the Fairview council is disintegrating into a paradigm of us vs. them.

That negative relationship will not well serve the residents of this community. And the residents of Fairview should contact each member of the council and tell them they expect better from their elected leaders in the future.




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