A new political organization called The Coalition had its kick-off meeting (on April 3). The defeated councilman from the last election, Bill Tierney, opened The Coalition (no affiliation with the Lake Oswego Neighborhood Action Coalition) meeting by displaying his displeasure with the newly elected city council advocating that they had taken a “hard right.”

He called for the replacement of the current mayor and the city council because of their changes to the direction of the previous council, specifically on Foothills, sensitive lands and the comprehensive plan. Mr. Tierney seems to forget that the new mayor and council were elected because of the community’s concerns about the direction of the former council of which he was a member.

Mike Kehoe and Mary Olson (who were not present) were harshly criticized by him for being “dysfunctional,” and he was specifically critical of Mike Kehoe for Kehoe’s recent motion that provided direction to city staff to move forward with the completion of the city’s comprehensive plan, the 800-page uncompleted state-required document that is the platform for our city. This document has been an expensive total re-write process for three years when all that was required was a review of a couple of chapters. Mr. Tierney also criticized the new mayor, Kent Studebaker, for supporting the water project when in fact the mayor has publicly said that he has grave concerns about the water project and would like to change it but the contracts created by the prior council left no choice but to continue the project.

The Coalition has positioned itself as a liberal alternative to the balanced city council by advocating the removal of those who do not agree with The Coalition mission and compared the Arab Spring with their Lake Oswego Spring Forward theme. They are also affiliated with the Keep Lake Oswego Great (KLOG) political action committee founded by some of the same people. KLOG endorsed Greg Macpherson for mayor, and it was interesting to see that the Clackamas County Democrats promoted The Coalition meeting and that a well-known Democratic party political activist was helping to facilitate the meeting with claims that our democracy has been taken from us. However, The Coalition claims to be “non-partisan.”

The Coalition also claims its mission is to support citizens who promote thoughtful investment in Lake Oswego schools, parks, businesses, arts and culture, recreational programs and natural resources. While that sounds like something we can all support, schools are funded with bond measures separate from city government, and businesses cannot expect government to meet their financial needs. Unfortunately, expanding the funding for the other programs will be difficult since the previous city council has burdened the city with huge debt and deferred maintenance of much of our city facilities and infrastructure.

With the speakers at the meeting implying an “us vs. them” attitude, emotions ran high. If The Coalition and KLOG really care about our community, maybe they should embrace the results of the election and rather than direct personal attacks and partisan rhetoric that hides behind soft issues, they could help with the solutions instead of being a divisive problem for our city.

Dave Sengenberger is a resident of Lake Oswego.

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