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'Public deserves higher standard'


On Monday, Jan. 13, the Lake Oswego-Tigard debacle ended as it began with a complete disregard for and shut down of the public voice. While Mayor John Kovash finally did what he should have done a year ago and recused himself, the city’s misinterpretation of this action as an excuse to refuse public comment was nothing short of blatant abuse of the democratic process. The city obscured transparency behind a wall of uncontested legal drivel.

In fact, Mr. Kovash’s recusal should be interpreted as an admission that because he so abused the public process, he was unfit to continue as a decision maker in this process

Mr. Kovash has consistently brought up the point that he and this council must make decisions based on what is best for all 25,000 people that live in West Linn. I would agree with that, but this was a very contentious issue. The mayor and the council decided that the people that opposed the project were just an angry minority, and they shut out their voice.

There was never a basis for the opinion that those in opposition were a minority. If anything, there were indications that they were anything but that. There was never in this entire process more than a murmur of support for this project outside the walls of city hall.    

I would venture a guess that had this undergone a citywide vote, it would have suffered a far more ignominious defeat than the pool issue.

The city has marginalized and dismissed the voice of opposition from the beginning, but in fact it was the voice of deserving and caring citizens of this city who simply expected their elected officials to abide by the public process and yield a fair and honest decision. Instead they got a harsh lesson in the realities of lawyers, money, political alliances and abuse of public office.

As for the bias issue, even if John Kovash had his mind made up, he owed the citizens a fair and open process. Instead he shut out what he didn’t want to hear and covered up what he didn’t want known. John Kovash decided that the success of this project superseded the open public process required for its approval.

In spite of the obvious nature of his behavior, the city council made the decision to support and defend it.

The office deserves a higher standard. The public deserves a higher standard. Integrity has been trumped by success of purpose at all cost.

Scott Gerber is a resident of West Linn.