We should save Tom Geil's backyard - really?
It was rather difficult to see exactly the focus of "resident of Oregon City" Tom Geil's ramblings in "Follow the money in Oregon City politics," published in this newspaper, so let's break it down.
Tom begins by insinuating that some "sitting commissioners" had illegally placed election signs. The fact is that every sign placement of Brian Shaw was pre-approved either by the property owner or Code Enforcement.
He then switches gears and asks the rhetorical question, "Why is this election in Oregon City so critical to our future?" Indeed, it is critical. But he doesn't point to all the recent successes of what he quaintly calls "modest ol' Oregon City," such as our national award-winning Main Street program; the "on-time and on-budget" completion of the addition to our beautiful Carnegie Library; the overwhelmingly successful passage of a bond to build our new police and courts facility; the great strides made in bringing our dreams of a Riverwalk to the former Blue Heron site and developing its potential with new ownership; the development of our dearly loved police force; more national recognition of our superb budget process; the steady increase of jobs and affordable housing to our fair city; the positive addressing of the homeless population; the hiring of a new position to act as public information officer to increase transparency of city activity ... the list goes on — literally.
No, rather than highlight our success, Tom directs his spotlight on those who want such success to continue. He attacks the few larger donations made and ignores the many, many more made by prominent, well-known and well-respected citizens who believe in the direction our city is headed. He even attacks the Oregon City Business Alliance, whose record shows its dedication to improving the economic climate for all our citizens — much more than Tom even pretends to do.
Tom then gets to the real reason of his ire: he contends that developers are "frothing at the bit" to do what they do — provide housing for a growing population. The truth is, without new housing, the existing housing prices would be totally out of reach for the average citizen. Let's remind readers there's property directly behind Tom's house that he doesn't own, and he doesn't want anyone else to build on it. It's been planned for new housing for decades, is within the urban-growth boundary, has been through the city's comprehensive-planning process and is exactly where the city needs to grow. But Tom says no. As a commissioner of the Planning Commission, he had to recuse himself from those discussions. That didn't stop him, however, from fighting such growth as a private "resident of Oregon City",writing editorials to this paper, encouraging people to show up to meetings to protest and posting on social media his own biased views.
Tom's not running for City Commission, but voters should take a very hard look at who he's supporting and why. "Save Tom's Back Yard" might be a good campaign slogan.
Kent Ziegler is president of the Oregon City Business Alliance and submitted this piece on behalf of the board of directors of OCBA.