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Recommit to participate, not recall

In my two terms on the West Linn Planning Commission, I have come to know a few of the people involved in the current recall effort.

They have shown themselves to be diligent in monitoring the workings of the staff and city council. They serve an important role in protecting the process from abuse.

I have worked with all of the people subject to the recall as well, and I believe I have a clear idea of who they are, what motivates them and whether they are fit to serve. So let me start there. They are.

I doubt if we have four better people in West Linn to do those jobs. They are diligent, dedicated and have already given more to the city that any of us can appreciate. What is driving the recall? What can be done about it?

Regardless of the complaints, the underlying cause of dissatisfaction is the approval of Lake Oswego-Tigard Water Treatment Plant. I have heard that “the planning commission got it right.” As a participant in that decision, I want it to be clear that the PC heard a different application, one that had no real benefit for West Linn.

We did not have to worry about how the city would fund future repairs to the water system or how the decision would affect relations with other cities.

The council made a decision based on a longer view but with the best interests of the city and the citizens as their guide.

I do not feel that there is justification for a recall. Our problems run deeper and cannot be solved by simply signing a petition. The essence of the problem is that people do not feel that they are empowered in their government. When our only ability to participate is limited to a three-minute speech that may not even be acknowledged, when we see shoddy work from our staff as we did in the “Red Tape” project, when we feel that we are being “handled” rather than heard, frustration is inevitable.

Administrative procedures initiated by the commission for citizen involvement last year specify that all land use projects have to identify stakeholders on all sides of the issue and involve them in the creation of new code. This means that any citizen who is willing to commit the time can have an active role.

The recently passed master trails plan did this, the “Red Tape” project did not. The results are clear. We must insist that these procedures are followed. When stakeholders from both sides of the issues are allowed to work together, reasonable compromises emerge.

We have a lot of very gifted people in this city. Given the chance, there is little that we cannot accomplish.

I would ask that instead of a recall, we have a recommitment to accepting our responsibility to participate. The government we want has to come from us.

Bob Martin is a West Linn residents and a member of the planning commission.




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