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Previous administrations will force tough decisions in Lake Oswego

“I bet after seeing us, George Washington would sue us for calling him ‘father.’”

— Will Rogers

Our new council has been struggling with a project many of us identified as the key issue facing Lake Oswego several years ago. We realized in 2010 that the LO-Tigard Water Partnership (LOTWP) had turned into a major expenditure, which overwhelmed anything the city had done in its history. Those of us that read the agreement several years ago realized it was another Hammerstad debacle. One (that) would poorly leverage our unique resources. It was not hard for citizens with technical training to realize LOTWP was going to be much more extensive than originally disclosed. Dave Berg

Once again we are dealing with a Hammerstad-negotiated and Hoffman-sponsored project. One that has a serious financial impact where Mayor Hammerstad had initiated an agreement and Mayor Hoffman limited debate and disclosure. It has snuck up on the new council (2013) when citizens realized the true cost of the LO-Tigard Water Partnership and its impact on our utility rates. By then it was too little too late as planned by prior administrations.

This gives us a good example of the real cost of the “tax and spend” majority which has dominated Lake Oswego politics for 12 years. The cost is hidden and when it surfaces we often have a WEB on steroids. Citizens still don’t realize the full impact of water rate increases hasn’t ended. That’s a tragedy and not only violates our ethical sense of “trust” but challenges the current administration’s efforts. Unfortunately, previous administrations represented special interests and an ideology of bigger government influence, financed through debt and increased fees, at the local level. That’s fine if you believe in this philosophy, but not OK, if your decisions force a community of 37,000 to pay for it without a vote.

In just two decisions (WEB and LOTWP) successive administrations have forced nearly $150 million in new debt onto a city that has had historically very low levels of general obligation debt. Neither of these decisions were voted on by the public and neither were supported by property taxes (making them tax deductible). They came from the “tax and spend” political elite that believed they knew better than we did as citizens. It’s a very unfortunate situation but a lesson to learn for those of us that just want to have a wonderful city, one (that) we can all afford and share.

Let’s hope this new council addresses the mistakes of the past and clearly identifies them to citizens. It can correct them and take a direction that supports not only our community character but also preserves some measure of affordability. That is up to the new council. Citizens know what’s good for the city and given enough information they will make the right decisions. That’s been shown in successive elections and we now need to “encourage” our representatives toward good governance. How? By holding them all accountable for their decisions.

Most of us want to see our councilors working together to address our “self-inflicted wounds.” Let’s all continue to evaluate, support, criticize and assist all administrations to ensure they do what’s needed to preserve our community character.

Feel free to visit COLA LO at commonsenselo.blogspot.com or commonsenselo.org.

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




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