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'This was a "study session" in the same way a lynching confirms justice'

One thing is crystal clear after (April 2’s) city council meeting. When Mayor Kent Studebaker pleasantly thanks you for your work, it is a sure sign that work is about to be trashed.

I prefer my live theater on stage, knowing I will return to reality. This new council of NO! has been staging quite a three-month retrograde play with no exit. First act, our new overlord, I mean mayor, summarily removes our professionally trained city manager and replaces him with his ... lieutenant, Tom Coffee, the author of plan deconstruction. Next scenes include the piece-by-piece dismantling of each short-term planning effort to bring Lake Oswego into the new millennium. Only those pesky and legally binding contracts prevented a reversal of the LOT Water Partnership.

(April 2’s) “study session” charade on the comprehensive plan update added another egregious example of this absurd theater; this time the target was our long-term future. First, holding a “study session” within a normal council meeting is highly unusual. Study sessions are typically conducted separately and never produce motions. Under Mayor Studebaker’s leadership, missing public input, courtesies and whacky procedures are fast becoming the norm.

This was a “study session” in the same way that a lynching confirms justice. The council barely mentioned, much less deliberated upon the slipshod comprehensive plan council report prepared by our new acting planning director, Ron Bunch, Tom Coffee’s minion. (This report is a completely separate play of underhanded bias). Before any “study session” could possibly take place, Councilor Mike Kehoe abruptly introduced a canned and detailed five-part surprise motion (author, Tom Coffee?), which eviscerates three years of comprehensive plan update work. Welcome back to 1994.

Other bizarro performances were spotlighted in this “Through the Looking Glass” production. Two planning commission members appointed to the Comprehensive Plan Citizen Advisory Committee were at the table to respond to the council and to the Bunch report. However, in an outlandish twist, their legitimate testimony was suspended in favor of primary input from two Lake Oswego Neighborhood Action Coalition representatives; these two citizens are not CAC appointed and completely lacked standing. Nonetheless, at the angry insistence of Mayor Studebaker their unwarranted opinions were given equal weight over strong objections from Councilor Donna Jordon. Immediately after all participant statements and without any semblance of study, Councilor Kehoe dropped his bombshell.

Let’s stop this farce. The new mayor, new city manager and a regressive council clutch simply do not like the outcome of the extensive outreach process which now comprises the comprehensive plan content. This is the same process, which has received national recognition. To deliberately undermine this content, Mr. Coffee directed Mr. Bunch to (put together) a council report advancing the indefensible premise that there were “... concerns (raised) about the need for a broader citizen perspective.” Then a sham council “study session” was scheduled as a prop to kill the plan. End of story.

Councilor Kehoe’s motion was thankfully delayed for two weeks by Councilors Jeff Gudman, Skip O’Neill, Jordon and Jon Gustafson. I am working to see that it is defeated or withdrawn. I urge each of you to play a part in the reversal of this tragic motion. Make your voices heard directly to the council in writing or by attending the next city council meeting on April 16 to prevent this injustice.

Tom Brennan is a resident of Lake Oswego.



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