Letters to the Editor for Sept. 24, 2013

Accusations make no sense

I need to correct some of the statement’s Marilyn Tyrrell made about me in the Post Record on Sept. 17. I’d normally let it go but she ascribes some motivations to my support of Proposition 1 that are untrue and have no factual basis and actually make no sense.

1 - She says I am behind Proposition 1 because I want to be mayor. I have never said that I want to be mayor. I have no interest in being mayor. On the same day her letter was published I outlined a plan in the Post-Record to directly elect the mayor which would involve resigning my council seat so someone else could run for mayor because my council seat gets designated the mayor’s under the council manager form of government option. This would likely involve my retirement from Washougal politics to give the city the best possible form of government. Her assertion that I am behind Proposition 1 to be mayor looks especially silly when you consider the illogic of someone wanting to decrease the powers of an office before seeking it.

2 - She calls me a recent resident of Washougal. I’ve lived here for more than ten years. My research shows that I’ve lived here longer than more 60 percent of the city’s residents. I find the notion that I am too recent a resident of the city to be on the council or to propose a change in the form of government troubling. She is not the first person I’ve heard who has a suspicion that “newcomers” are taking over and that Proposition 1 is about that. I’ve even heard that from the current mayor. That is disappointing.

3 - She thinks I’ve taken over the council. Last I checked I’m just one of seven votes who has been on the losing end of some of those votes. I do think I have played a role in uniting the council unanimously behind Proposition 1 specifically and cutting utility rates when the mayor didn’t want to. Generally I think we probably have the most collegial council in the county. Is that a bad thing?

4 - She says I have been late to some council meetings. True — two or three probably in 14 months. Not more late than 30 minutes on each occasion and I think I probably have the best or second best overall attendance record on the council. I do have a job, though, that does create minimal time conflicts sometimes. Is she suggesting that only retired persons should serve on the council? I hope not.

5 - As a matter of municipal law, she is simply wrong about my correspondence with Don English. The city attorney is not just a staff member and doesn’t work for the mayor. He represents the city as a corporate entity. If she doesn’t believe me, she can read MRSC which has analyzed this question: www.mrsc.org/publications/primer.aspx#1.

I don’t think Marilyn Tyrrell likes me very much.

Brent Boger, Washougal

Making a case for proposition 1

The council-manager form of government proposed by Proposition 1 corrects a current organizational problem with Washougal City government. It spreads oversight of city management among seven elected council members instead of concentrating it in one elected, part-time mayor. The benefits are three-fold.

First, this proposed system provides continuity of purpose. We tend not to re-elect mayors (only once in over a century), resulting in changing directions, priorities, and political agendas every four years.

The city mission is to provide a limited number of basic municipal services, like public safety (police, fire, and ambulance), water, sewers, roads and streets, parks, planning, etc.

Diving headlong into the United Nations’ Agenda 21 with its emphasis on global climate issues, or getting involved in urban redevelopment is beyond our resources and purpose. Recent administrations have indulged in such distractions. They have been able to do so because the city administrator reports directly to and takes direction solely from the mayor.

Second, Proposition 1 provides for continuity of effort. A city manager replaces the city administrator and performs many of the same tasks. The difference is his level of authority and independence. The city manager takes mission guidance from the council specifying the goals to be achieved, then exercises independence and initiative to get the job done. The council measures the city manager’s performance using performance metrics. It is this level of independence and initiative that ensures continuity of effort. The composition of councils generally changes slowly – so will the guidance. And as the council slowly evolves, the city manager will provide a continuing mission focus on basic municipal services.

Third, accountability is retained by the council members, who are ultimately responsible to the voters. By law, the council may not interfere in city operations. They may specify what needs to be done, but cannot tell the city manager how to do it. Council members are far from powerless, however.

Under Proposition 1, the council retains budget authority, the ultimate restraint on city managers. Also, if the city manager is unable to meet the council’s performance standards, the council has the authority to replace him. Few city managers in Washington State are terminated for cause. That is a good track record for the council-manager form of government.

Having studied this proposal for a council-manager form of government and found it generally superior to our present mayor-council form, I urge you to vote yes on Proposition 1 in November.

Dave Shoemaker, Washougal City Councilman