Mayor: Bring back civility
Mayor Jack Hoffman said Lake Oswego must improve the tone of its civic discourse in order to achieve its vast potential.
In his State of the City address Monday at Lake Oswego Rotary Club, the mayor gave a stirring portrayal of what Lake Oswego is and what it can accomplish in the coming years.
'This city is in great shape. It is a strong city,' he said. 'It is in a great position to move forward.'
However, Hoffman said Lake Oswego must move beyond the acrimony that characterized public discussion of issues over the past year, especially on such topics as the streetcar project.
'The challenging part of being mayor has been the intensity of conflict,' Hoffman said. 'There has been great tension between self interest and the community good.
'I don't mind diversity of opinion. What is not healthy is the lack of respect. It lowers the standards of our city. We can do better, and I believe we can get back to a civil tone.
'In this election year of 2012, I urge us to find a better way. People are staying away from public service because they are putting themselves at risk.'
In his participation at area meetings, Hoffman said, 'I always hear the comment, 'Lake Oswego is so divided.' That is our reputation.'
Hoffman also had strong examples of public servants being discouraged by the negativity of public discourse in this city.
'We recently lost three city staff members who were most closely affected by the political climate in Lake Oswego,' he said. 'It's not a coincidence that they left.'
In addition, Hoffman himself has announced he will not seek re-election as mayor in 2012. This year will likely put a cap on Hoffman's long service in city affairs, including 12 years working with the city council as councilor and mayor.
Although the mayor is upset by Lake Oswego's hostile political atmosphere, he is greatly enthusiastic about Lake Oswego's future. As an example of Lake Oswego's ability to accomplish great things, Hoffman noted that in 2011 the Lake Oswego Interceptor Sewer project was not only completed on schedule but at a cost of 25 percent under the original estimate. LOIS was the largest city project in history.
On the horizon, Hoffman said, are other projects that will be just as important to Lake Oswego's future, especially the Lake Oswego-Tigard Water Partnership.
'Our children should never fear not having a fresh glass of water,' Hoffman said. 'The water project is something we can't afford not to do.'
Also of great importance are the city comprehensive plan, the parks master plan, and the Luscher Area Master Plan. Of these issues, Hoffman said he was confident that great strides would be made in 2012.
He guaranteed, 'The Luscher plan won't just gather dust at some forgotten corner of city hall. We'll be building on the action of the past to build for tomorrow.'
Hoffman added that citizens should not worry about having Luscher Farm moved into the city boundaries.
'There is fear that if Luscher Farm is moved into the city it will develop without community values,' Hoffman said. 'Nothing could be further from the truth. Luscher Farm will flourish under city management.'
Hoffman had a big agenda for his address. He touched on subjects like improving the business environment in Lake Grove ('The potential of Lake Grove and Boones Ferry is potentially unlimited'), putting 'color' into the shopping atmosphere of downtown Lake Oswego, and the North Anchor project of First Street and B Avenue, potential site of the new city library.
'It's poised to be a special place,' Hoffman said.
Of the current library, he said, 'It's small and old and doesn't fit with Lake Oswego any more.'
Hoffman will no doubt experience much more political controversy in his final 10 months as mayor. But he is anticipating a rejuvenation of the kind of civic spirit that resulted in great progress in the past.
'It just takes leadership for this to happen,' Hoffman said.