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Melton: Mayor Lauer chose politican favor over community and environmental safety by ignoring dangers posed by fireworks this July.

When the city of Troutdale released that it would not follow suit of surrounding cities with a fireworks ban this July, I was enraged and disgusted. The rhetoric of Mayor Randy Lauer's statement made it clear that he made this decision to benefit his political favorability and not out of concern for safety of the town, residents or natural areas of the Columbia River Gorge.

After the record heat we've had this past week, dry conditions and Troutdale's high winds, the mayor's decision to prioritize his own political agenda is unethical.

The mayor's message that "Here in Troutdale we love the Fourth and what it represents" politicizes an issue that should not be made political. The political leanings and feelings toward this holiday should not be a factor in this decision, nor should they be a part of his statement.

If he wants to claim patriotism around this holiday in making this decision, his concern should fall toward the safety of his "proud to be an American citizens" and "the land of the free and home of the brave."

Even the most responsible person cannot be perfectly safe with fireworks under the weather conditions we have been having and the dryness they have caused. A legal firework "safely" lit on pavement still has traveling sparks.

In the windy city of Troutdale, all it will take is for one spark to blow into nearby, overly dry landscaping to cause an uncontrollable fire. There are far more factors at play here than "love for the Fourth" and citizens that can "use their best judgment."

No amount of good judgment and patriotism can control a spark that starts a wildfire.

The most irresponsible part of Lauer's announcement is that while the mayor touts safety and responsibility, the city of Troutdale has not been safe and responsible with fire preparedness this year.

Currently, many city properties still feature massively overgrown and dry grass and underbrush; city owned fields are knee-high and completely dry, trees and brush along roadways are so overgrown that you cannot see speed limit signs.

The city of Troutdale has not prioritized preventive fire maintenance and now openly encourages residents to accidentally start fires because Mayor Lauer refuses to care for the city and acknowledge these risks.

Mayor Lauer states that "The last thing anyone wants is a fire that could have easily been avoided." If that is true, he should be following the good example of surrounding cities and banning fireworks this year.

There are too many environmental factors at play this year that we cannot control. The patriotic thing to do is to acknowledge that and encourage citizens to celebrate without those risks by banning fireworks.

Mayor Lauer made a decision and chose words to make sure that he stays politically in favor, instead of making a responsible decision about the safety of the town and its residents.

This is not the kind of leadership or decision that should be made by a person in a nonpartisan position and it does not represent the decisions we should be making as the town at the entrance to the precious Columbia River Gorge natural area.

Arianne Melton is a resident of Troutdale.


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