There were two exchanges at the Lake Oswego City Council goal-setting meeting at Mountain Park on Jan. 20 that illuminate the mindset of two of the four pro-streetcar, pro-Foothills city officials. We had always maintained cordial relationships despite disagreements on the issues.
Prior to the start of the meeting, Bill Tierney approached me. We shook hands and he stated, 'I'm not afraid of your recall.' I replied I was not leading any recall efforts. He retorted, 'You're the one talking about them.' As I began explaining that I wasn't the only one who had talked about them, he abruptly walked away.
I believe Bill is perturbed about a number of my offerings in the Review. In December there was a comment submitted that was given the title 'Recall talk seems to be on the rise.' Though the subject was the recall, it was made clear that neither I, nor COLA-LO would initiate it. I think he was more upset with a (column) I wrote more recently, given the title 'Streetcar support: Why the change now?' In that submission, I analyzed the reasons behind the switch in the streetcar vote by Bill and Sally Moncrieff. I actually stated their actions probably put an end to the recall efforts. Why did Bill bring up the recall in his short conversation with me? Because a potential recall is still weighing heavily on his mind is the only logical conclusion. It would have made more sense for him to confront me about my allegations he switched his vote to save his council seat. But he brought up the recall instead.
Another encounter occurred at the first break. Jack Hoffman came up to me and we shook hands. After some small talk, he blurted, 'You have to realize that no matter what, you still aren't going to get your backyard back.'
To explain, my first contact with the mayor was regarding sensitive lands and the designation of a small section of my property as coming under that ordinance (which of course affects my entire property, its value and its sales possibilities). My reply was that I was more optimistic than he. But I should have explained that my interests in the community had long before ceased to be confined to my backyard.
While many of us were awakened from our citizen slumbers by one of two topics (the West End Building and sensitive lands), it is the streetcar that became the galvanizing issue that created interest in long time residents and newcomers alike. That was the focus of the 2010 election and (coupled with fiscal responsibility considerations), the primary reason for the election of councilors Mike Kehoe and Jeff Gudman and the defeat of a sitting councilman and another candidate both of whom were staunch streetcar supporters. Donna Jordan wisely did not take a strong promotional position on the streetcar during her campaign or she too may have been defeated. She won narrowly over another streetcar opponent, Dan Williams.
Pro-streetcar individuals continue to claim only a 'vocal minority' and a 'well-funded Dunthorpe group and their lobbyist' has created this vast divide in the city. These claims need to be put to rest. The issues and their direction are divisive themselves. We must face it and work through a change.
Gary Gipson is a Lake Oswego resident and board member of COLA-LO.
Editor's note: Both Mayor Hoffman and Councilor Tierney respond:
Hoffman: 'I wish Gary well. But his recollection of our encounter was factually incorrect. What I told Gary at the council's goal setting meeting at the Mountain Park Recreation Center was that no matter who is the mayor in 2013, and no matter who is on council then, his backyard will still have the same restrictions it has now because of his homeowners association rules. What I told Gary, and what he omitted in his latest letter to the editor, was that the creek in his backyard is regulated by his homeowners association more than by the city. The restriction was there when he purchased his home many years ago. He nodded in agreement and walked away. If he has a complaint, Gary should contact his homeowners association board. I have told Gary this same thing on prior occasions.'
Tierney: 'My comment to Mr. Gibson was that a possible recall never entered my mind as I made my streetcar decision. I made this comment because Mr. Gibson stated such in an opinion piece and it was simply not true. I felt it important to stop, talk to him and clarify. Also, I did not say I am not afraid of a recall. Rather I said he should either do a recall or stop talking about it.'