Letters to the Editor for Nov. 29, 2011

Delavar contributes to government’s dysfunction

In his Nov. 22 Post-Record guest column, Washougal City Councilman Michael Delavar says he thinks Washougal’s City Council should “ignore the conclusions of the strategic planning team” because “much of the work done so far has been based on a precariously unscientific survey.” This is his response to the strategic planning team’s second progress report at the Nov. 14 council workshop.

The strategic planning process is being conducted by two of Washougal’s most valuable staff members and is mid-way through its time line. The result is intended to be an understanding, shared by city leaders, staff, business interests and residents, of where Washougal is now and where it wants to go. This should help the city go in more of a straight line toward a vibrant and healthy community in the future. The team’s report included information on the many different ways they had sought the public’s ideas, opinions and concerns. A video of the workshop can be viewed on the City of Washougal website.

But, of all the information provided to the council at this workshop, Mr. Delavar chose to find fault with the wording of two questions on one of their surveys. Although the conclusion of this process is many months away, he makes the giant leap of using a Post-Record guest column to recommend that his fellow council members “ignore the conclusions of the strategic planning team.”

Delavar’s column demonstrates his general disdain for planning and his disregard for the voices of the citizens. Councilman Jon Russell (ironically the chair of Washougal’s Planning and Development Committee) joins in, commenting on Delavar’s column on the Post-Record website; “I didn’t realize past government work was intended to be precept for future councils.” He adds “Why have elections if every Mayor and council is supposed to carry on with the desires of the previous?”

So much for going anywhere in a straight line. Washougal has gained a reputation for being a bad partner on many past endeavors. They have backed out on agreements with East County Fire and Rescue, the city of Camas on the proposed joint community center, the Washington State Department of Transportation on our desire to improve Highway 14 in the Washougal area, just to name a prominent few.

This lack of direction is part of the dysfunction that has plagued Washougal’s government for too long. Decisions are made without, or in opposition to, the information available. Important work of the city is often ignored by council members on some personal whim. No, Mr. Delaver, it was not a scientific survey, and was not intended to be. It was information gathered from your constituents about the city you serve. It should be your job to interpret, not ignore it.

Richard Hamby, Washgougal

Support strategic planning process

I am amazed to hear that after close to a year of work Mr. Delavar has decided that the Strategic Planning Team’s results “may not be meaningful.”

At the beginning the citizens and business owners were asked how they would like to see the City of Washougal look in the future. The questions were developed and presented at a City Council meeting for approval, with Mr. Delavar present. The Council was involved in all stages of the plan and development of the survey. The public was also encouraged to share their ideas at City Council meetings. There were questions asked of the team at the council meetings and approval to continue was given. The concept was well thought out, focusing on a variety of views.

Any question or survey dealing with numbers can be interpreted in different ways.

The strategic planning team had three formal town hall meetings and three informal coffee gatherings to get citizen input and to discuss each question and share their ideas. The team visited every business in Washougal to get the business perspective as to how they saw their business fit into Washougal’s future. From these conversations a better understanding of the cityis future was developed. These gatherings to discuss ideas complement the survey.

Mr. Delavar is focusing on numbers only. The final decision and strategic plan will be developed from a result of all information gathered. Any survey can be picked apart question-by-question.

The city of Washougal is interested in the input from its citizens and business to help shape our future. Let’s focus on the results from the entire process of having citizen involvement in their community.

I support the work of the strategic planning team and encourage them to continue to develop our city with the input from the citizens that will be affected by their decisions.

Larry Keister, Washougal