On Tuesday, March 13, I attended the Columbia River Fire and Rescue board meeting in St. Helens and saw two men walk to the podium and ask both Fire Chief Jay Tappan and Bob Braud, the vice president of the board, to resign.
Mr. Braud had written a letter to the editor in which he used his official title 'fire board vice president.'
Mr. Braud stated that Craig Melton, who is currently a candidate for the board, would only be considered for the position if he distanced himself from critical questions another citizen had raised about Tappan at the previous fire board meeting.
The presupposition of the men who asked for Tappan's and Braud's resignations must be, 'What right does the fire board have, in its official capacity, to deny a candidate because he is an acquaintance of an individual who asks questions?'
Tappan, the same who headed the hospital board that lost us millions, is not a registered firefighter, so he cannot help put out fires or command the extinguishing of fires. The job title 'fire chief' comes with a list of requirements, such as: 'Must be able to put out a fire.' Tappan is missing requirements needed to be a real fire chief.
Mr. Tappan's friends who sit on the fire board explain his lack of credentials by referring to his title as 'administrative,' as in he handles the money, even though I'm aware of no other cities that have fire chiefs who are 'administrative.'
Acting as fire chief last month, Jay wrote into his budget a raise for himself until public outcry forced a reversal of his decision.
Tappan and friends borrowed several million dollars to build a new training facility behind Wal-Mart, without the authorization of the taxpayers who will pay it back over the next 30 years.
Then, because of the reduction in property values, the bank holding the loan is demanding that it be covered by a bond in case the district defaults, which is driving annual costs skyward. We are already paying $200,000 per year on a 30-year note.
Now, the fire board is talking about allowing Columbia County government to use a portion of the training facility property as collateral in exchange for a FEMA grant.
Our leaders obligate us to pay for massive, impractical infrastructure, never planning or saving for the future. And when the economy goes south they keep writing checks while licking their lips and planning the next round of taxation.
No wonder the coal trains have tacked a target on Columbia County.
Transparency, sharing of information, honesty? Some people call Columbia County the most corrupt county in the state.
Katie Cason, St. Helens