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Look back to city's recent past for recall answers

Our city has many blessings that we often take for granted. Unfortunately it also has a few political problems that have given it a negative reputation statewide.

On the positive side, we enjoy a more relaxed pace than in the “big city.” We love our great library, our first-class school system, our abundant parks and the safety provided by an outstanding proactive police force. And there are many more intangibles that help make West Linn one of the most desirable places to live.

On the negative side, our infrastructure — water, sewer and storm runoff — systems are aged and in some areas (like mine) crumbling. Our mayor and city councilors have taken steps to address these problems with incremental steps that get the repairs done over a period of several years, so as to not overwhelm citizens with the costs.

However, we have a very small but vociferous group of citizens who seem to be against any positive steps the council takes. In this case, this group is making “much ado about nothing” by filing a recall petition against the mayor and three of the four councilors. Why? They filed a complaint against the city with the Oregon Government Ethics Commission over a minor violation of the public meeting policy. When it was remanded back to the city to correct the minor error, they were mad that no penalty was levied. The original error was actually due to a misinterpretation by the city’s attorney.

Again, why would they jump to such a major reaction over such a minor slipup? One has to look back in West Linn’s not too distant past. In 2001 this anti-growth faction, bolstered by a few residents of the Stafford triangle, got their candidates elected — including the mayor and three council members. The four years that followed saw Mayor Dodds running the city like his fiefdom. He fired the auditor and refused to hire another. Thus state required audits were not done for several years. As a result, the library director used her city credit card for personal expenses and the city bookkeeper stole more than a million dollars. Our credit rating dropped like a rock and we came close to insolvency. Many good employees were fired and many fled the city.

This small group would like to regain control to derail all attempts to fix our water problems. And they have seized upon the unfortunate situation that our councilors were placed in by the Lake Oswego water plant. The council had to weigh the negative short-term inconvenience to local residents against the possibility of West Linn being without drinking water. We have a very possible scenario of an earthquake destroying our connection to our water treatment plant that runs along the underside of the I-205 bridge. The line is not likely to survive any major shake.

As a member and past chairman of the public safety advisory committee, I have come to know and appreciate one of the strongest city councils we have had during the 20 years I have lived in West Linn. I strongly urge you to not sign this destructive petition, and to vote no if it does get on the ballot.

Dennis Richey lives in West Linn.




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