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Elected officials: Do they represent us or rule us?

Did you know that the city of Lake Oswego owns 566.46 acres of parks and natural areas? You may say 'great, I love our parks.' But (we) bet you didn't know that by the city's own 2011 assessment, 48 percent of these properties are considered in 'poor' or 'fair' condition because of invasive species?

Just drive around and it is easy to see the steady destruction of our city's beautiful trees due to lack of care and maintenance. What is our city doing instead of maintaining the parks we have paid so dearly for with our taxes?

Well, perhaps if city employees were not so busy finding new ways to control our lives through, for example, the draconian sensitive land overlay and the overzealous tree regulations, we might not have 48 percent of our city-owed parks and open spaces in 'poor' or 'fair' condition. The hypocrisy is galling.

The following is taken from their own planning documents where they describe their job as follows: 'protecting its (Lake Oswego's) urban forest through a combination of regulations, programs and incentives. Maintenance and operations is the key to a sustainable parks, recreation and natural area system. The Parks and Recreation Department is responsible for the maintenance of the city's developed park sites, specialized playgrounds, natural areas and open spaces, special facility areas and classes.'

(We) wonder if Parks and Rec ever even read this mission statement or were they too busy policing private property owners.

The vast majority of our neighbors take pride in keeping their properties tidy and environmentally clean. We do this because we want to protect our investment in our homes and properties and we believe in being responsible citizens. Our city government, whatever their motives, seems to believe that we citizens are not to be trusted with this responsibility. Their heavy-handed regulations assume that without firm control from the city, property owners would wildly (and at great personal expense) chop down beautiful trees and destroy our own environment. I disagree and would say that there is no government official who could possibly care more about our own property than the private owner does.

Do we appreciate information and guidance? Yes. Do we need the heavy-handed laws and regulations that insult our integrity and intelligence? No.

The basic question (we are) addressing is whether we elect our city officials to represent us or to rule us? Clearly, they would have more than enough on their plate if they actually focused on their own responsibility and maintained our precious parks and open spaces.

'Do as I say, not as I do' should not be tolerated by citizens from our government employees, but that is what is so obviously going on. And just for the record, 'budget problems' is not an acceptable knee-jerk response to this appalling double standard. More money does not fix misplaced responsibilities.

Our city government should run on our founding principles of by the people, for the people, not in spite of the people!

Marilyn and Wally Helm are residents of Lake Oswego.



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