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Is it the night before Christmas in Lake Oswego?

“Things in our country run in spite of government, not by aid of it.”

— Will Rogers

Our community is bursting with anticipation; it’s an exciting time with new councilors and mayor arriving in January. Residents are expressing hopeful optimism as they wonder if our new council will quickly enact their mandate for change. It sure seems like “the night before Christmas” in Lake Oswego. Berg

The year 2012 may have been the most decisive election in Lake Oswego’s modern history. For a second consecutive time, newcomers achieved a stunning upset, with voters selecting a majority of fiscal conservatives for our council.

If you spent any time at all with voters this election, you know their overwhelming concern was the cost of living in Lake Oswego, given rapidly escalating water rates, city fees and our debt.

Voters clearly sent a message to get these issues under control immediately and defeated the bond measure for a new library. It was voted down by the largest number of voters participating in the 2012 local election.

This was a major reversal of their historical support for the library and also a vote of no confidence. How? It not only rejected the current administration’s redevelopment plans through public private partnerships (urban renewal), but also its overwhelming focus on “downtown” versus our population center, which is the west side of Lake Oswego.

Residents have simply had enough of “visionary plans” and subsidizing them with taxpayer funds.

Voters on the west side believe they are underserved in terms of city services as was confirmed in this election. They narrowly passed a bond measure for “safer streets” but this bond measure only provides a small fraction of the total cost for the project. Were expectations actually much higher? What happens if voters don’t see the new “safer” streets appearing after its passage? It’s clear that the support for new taxes is minimal, even for key services that were considered unanimously approved by residents.

Yet, our existing council approved a new alarm fee (“tax”) this month. It’s just another “lump of coal” parting gift from our “tax and spend” representatives (4-3). Lake Oswego is unique as it has historically supported our schools, our streets and the library with consensus approval. However, the decisions of recent administrations have made us lose faith in our local government. That is a tragic situation in a community that prefers a sense of balance around its common values.

Yet, optimism still prevails in our Lake Oswego. The voters proved that in 2012 by voting for substantive change. Let’s see what happens in 2013 and give our new council support.

Ironically, more change may be on the way. How? Lake Oswego School District has a majority of its board up for election and a vote for the existing operating levy (tax) in 2013. What will voters say about LOSD, which has a larger budget than the city of Lake Oswego? Will they ask for real change, before approving the tax levy, like they did with our city council?

Let’s see if voters continue to establish a mandate to control costs, eliminate waste and redirect taxpayer funds — one that efficiently supports the core areas we all believe in, as our community matures. Happy New Year!

Feel free to visit COLA at our blog at commonsenselo.blogspot.com.

Dave Berg is a 22-year resident of Lake Oswego and a board member of COLA LO.




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