Letters to the Editor for Oct. 15, 2013

Washougal Prop. 1 would be an expensive mistake

Proposition No. 1 in Washougal’s upcoming election proposes a new and expensive city manager position to lead Washougal’s municipal government. I believe it is a costly mistake promoted for the wrong reasons.

Based on the reasoning I have been given by my friends and acquaintances on the Council and what I read in the papers, Proposition No. 1 comes about through City Council members’ frustrations with Mayor Guard.

Some members claim they cannot get the mayor to cooperate with them in providing requested information on city operations and finances. Additionally, it is claimed by some Council members I have talked with that city staff professes to be prohibited from sharing pertinent information about municipal operations with individual council members.

Having been in the city management profession for more than 30 years, serving in seven cities, I know firsthand that a city manager position is no automatic solution for poor working relationships and disruptive politics within a city council. If the council is dysfunctional, the city manager and staff will not be able to perform satisfactorily. So, you simply shift the blame from a dysfunctional city council to a city staff which if it is not already, will soon become dysfunctional.

Instead, the Washougal City Council as a body needs to step up to its policy and governance responsibilities. It should insist on being totally informed about and having a full voice in the city’s overall operations. From what I have seen and read so far, that has not been happening over the past several years.

Rather than attempting to avoid their basic governance responsibilities by substituting a new and expensive city manager position for their own failings, the council needs to assume its proper role. If the mayor is being uncooperative, the City Council has its own authorities and prerogatives including adoption of budgets, passage of ordinances and approval of city staffing levels among other important actions.

Perhaps a council working session with the city attorney concerning the council’s powers and duties contained in the Washougal City Code (“read them their rights” so to speak) could help them clarify their rightful role. This might be a way to gain the mayor’s attention and cooperation on municipal matters.

I urge Washougal voters to reject Proposition No. 1 at this time as an expensive mistake that is being promoted for the wrong reasons. Instead, vote for a city council and mayor who will work together for efficient and lowest cost public services.

Don Weidner, Washougal

Rasmussen brings experience to ECFR

The East County Volunteer Firefighters Association urges taxpayers in ECFR to retain Commissioner Vic Rasmussen.

Vic is a lifelong local with three decades of experience serving to keep residents safe and protected by their fire district.

Commissioner Rasmussen assisted with the construction of the new Fern Prairie station, addition of bunking areas at the Sunnyside station, and opening of the new Bear Prairie Station, all without raising taxes even through the economic downturn.

Vic knows the area, the people, and how to get things done to protect your interests. Vote for experience and a track record of success. Vote Rasmussen.

Frank Billington, East County Volunteer Firefighters Association

Change to government structure would remove accountability

When I turned 18 years old, I was so excited to go down to Washougal City Hall and register to vote. Now I could have some say in issues and who was elected to be the mayor of our city of Washougal. And the first time I was able to vote, it was wonderful. And it’s been wonderful ever since.

If Proposition 1 passes, I will lose that ability. I can still vote, but I cannot elect the mayor of Washougal. That will be decided by citizens elected to our city council. And that “mayor” will be a shake hands-kiss babies mayor with no power.

That is not what I have come to expect from my city government. Proposition 1 takes away my ability to vote for the mayor of Washougal. It also removes the accountability for the administration of the city from the “mayor,” which is where it should be.

The committee for the Proposition 1 talks about a lack of stability because the mayor is up for re-election every four years. Well, the face of the council changes every two years as three to four council members come up for re-election.

Our current mayor has done wonderful things for our city for the past four years. He should be given the opportunity to continue those good works. He has worked hard, and put our city of Washougal on the map. He is also serving on a state-wide council of mayors, and it’s an honor to be chosen as part of that group.

Please join me in voting no on Proposition 1, and re-elect Sean Guard as mayor of Washougal.

Anne Guard, Washougal

Re-elect Martin for ECFR commissioner

In difficult economic times we need commissioners that are willing to ask tough questions about where our tax money is being spent.

East County Fire and Rescue Commissioner Martha Martin has questioned her fellow commissioners where each tax dollar is being spent, and is the expenditure for a good purpose.

It is hard to go against your fellow commissioners, but she has the courage to ask these tough questions. This is what the tax payers expect from our elected officials. Martin was opposed to putting a poorly researched bond measure before the citizens that she did not feel was money well spent, or needed.

Commissioner Martin is looking out for the tax payers and I urge you to re-elect Martha.

Larry Keister, Washougal

Amundson for Camas Council

Vanessa Amundson respects residents, an important quality for a Camas city councilor.

She supports the November 2012 vote against exorbitant light rail, and unnecessary Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), rejected in every city in Clark County.

Incumbent Councilor Melissa Smith serves on the RTC board and recently rushed to vote to fund BRT, dishonoring our vote. This is egregious since our current bus system handles passenger demand according to C-TRAN data. In contrast, the C-TRAN representative for Camas/Washougal, Connie Jo Freeman, and County Commissioners Madore and Mielke honored our vote, and did not authorize contracts for either light rail or BRT.

Furthermore, countywide advisory votes on light rail and BRT are on the ballot this November. Advisory votes No. 1 and No. 2 direct county commissioners to honor our vote against light rail and BRT, and not to move ahead with these outrageously costly transit modes unless voters countywide approve it, and I urge citizens to vote “yes” on both.

Amundson joined citizens at the recent C-TRAN board in protest of a contract for millions of dollars for light rail, in defiance of our November 2012 vote. Melissa Smith mocked this protest by hundreds of citizens including myself as a “hoedown,” and those who testified as “a bunch of yahoo’s!” on Facebook.

Light rail would result in bridge tolls estimated at $8 to $16, for the I-5 bridge, and also projected for the I-205 bridge. Yahoo?

Margaret Tweet, Camas

Elect freeholders who are not sitting legislators

Three sitting Legislators are running as candidates for county freeholder, one in each commissioner district. There are two Republicans and one Democrat, so my comments are strictly bi-partisan.

Drawing from my own eight years experience in the Washington State Legislature, legislators should not be elected as freeholders. They will be out of town for the first weeks of the freeholder meetings, and to honor their own electorate, they shouldn’t be dividing their attention.

The Olympia legislative session takes at least eight weeks and those are the same weeks when the freeholders begin their work. Those are the weeks when freeholders first get to know and trust each other, identify their areas of agreement and disagreement, and begin solid discussions about how to move forward. Having a new voice (or three) join the conversation two months late could be a disaster for the group. Legislators may think they can drive home for the meetings, but since they have committee meetings and floor action all week, the freeholder meetings would have to be either at night or on the weekends to accommodate their legislative schedule. That’s not fair to the rest of the freeholders.

Additionally, in even year short sessions there are often night committee meetings. To honor those who elected them to the Legislature, legislators should be dedicated to their legislative responsibilities. There are many other fine candidates running for freeholder who aren’t going to be out of town for eight weeks in a row.

Betty Sue Morris, Vancouver

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