Letters to the Editor
Make equity in schools, neighborhoods goal
Dear mayor of Wilsonville, City Council, school board and Planning Commission: I hope that we all share the importance of coordinating on issues of equity in our schools and neighborhoods.
This is why I think the Equitable Housing Strategic Plan has a major impact on all of your work.
For example, earlier this year Portland Public Schools issued a letter of support for the infill housing bill (HB 2001). In my past, I worked with the mayor and school board to establish an Education Compact, which set a quarterly meeting for the school board and the city council to meet to discuss education topics (example of an equity matrix from Roanoke, Virginia).
In following the Equitable Housing Strategy Task Force (my analysis of first and second meetings), I believe the data and discussions have been quality, but that we are lacking specificity — especially with regard to race — needed to achieve equity.
As policymakers, I am hoping that you can take bold actions to build upon Wilsonville's leadership in housing to take us to the next level of addressing historic racial inequality.
Of the options that were proposed by staff and the consultants, I would highly support the following:
1. Aggressive City acquisition of land for affordable housing development (especially in the Town Center).
2. Offering City-owned land at little to no cost to affordable housing developers. The property adjacent to the SMART/WES station should be a top priority.
3. Team with a nonprofit to offer housing rights and advocacy training to Wilsonville residents, with an emphasis on serving immigrants and People of Color. Beaverton's BOLD program is a best practice.
4. Continue to work on tax abatements and regulation/fee removal to make quality infill development and redevelopment a reality. This will be needed to realize the goals of HB 2001.
Don't put off school improvements
I support the bond and local option levy and am grateful for the foresight and fiscal planning of our school district.
The bond has been structured to bring improvements to our schools and students without raising our tax rate. We can support teachers, increase safety, add career and technical programs and much more and not increase our tax rate.
I feel the key is that if we don't make these investments now, we are merely kicking the can down the road and would face a much bigger bill with an increase in taxes in five years.
Our community is continuing to grow, and there currently is a lot of new construction in process with much more projected in the next five-plus years. We are fortunate that our district is cognizant of our tax rates and has kept them flat for the past 12-plus years.
If you look at neighboring districts like Sherwood or Lake Oswego, they have faced significant increases in taxes by not addressing facility needs as they occurred. By using the infrastructure already existing, the district is extending our investments and is doing more with less over time.
Yes for schools this November
Our district is offering our community the right solution for addressing crowding in our high schools in the November bond measure.
If you have students in high school, you know our high schools are full (WHS) and crowded (WLHS). To summarize, WHS has a current capacity of 1,345, with a current enrollment of more than 1,200 . Ten years from now, it is projected to have an enrollment of 1,886 students (586 students over capacity).
West Linn High School has a capacity of 1,730 and a current enrollment of over 1,941 students. Ten years from now it has a projected enrollment of 1,955 students (225 over capacity).
These numbers tell us Wilsonville High School is at capacity and West Linn High School has been over capacity for several years.
Attendance numbers are projected to increase over the next 10 years. The new Arts and Technology High School will expand its enrollment from 100 students to 500 students.
These 500 students will take the crowding pressure off WLHS and WHS and ensure they don't become mega-high schools. Please join me in voting yes for our schools this November.
Distortions about legal services
There is so much misinformation about the West Linn Legal Services (Ballot Measure 3-552) that it boggles the mind. I personally support this measure because I witnessed firsthand what poor legal services have done to West Linn citizens in both the LOT debacle as well as the Sunset School decision by the planning commission that was based in large part by the advice the city's staff attorney gave to the planning commission. She told them that they did not need to consider the ballot measure passed by citizens for the sale of a part of Sunset Park to the WLWV school district which was based on a specific building plan. Both led to disastrous consequences for nearby residents in those two locations. It was far too high a price to pay both literally and figuratively with long term consequences.
The current agreement with the city's legal service provider gives the city access to 31 of the best and the brightest minds pertaining to local government issues. Why in the world would our current mayor want to change or dilute that in any way, particularly when he ran on that issue? It truly boggles the mind!
I am voting for Measure 3-552. I hope you do as well.
Vote yes twice
As a longtime resident of West Linn, parent of four children in our schools, past member of MAP and current board member of the WLWV Education Foundation, I am asking for your support to pass the school bond and local option levy.Our current levy funds about 80 teachers and staff, providing effective class sizes and improving educational opportunity for our kids. The loss of this funding would create an undue challenge to the hard working and dedicated faculty and staff and jeopardize outcomes at all grade levels. The bond funds a long-range capital improvement plan that I believe is inspired and visionary.
It was thoroughly researched, thoughtfully crafted, and vetted by the community. It solves problems that we face today and effectively plans for those we will face tomorrow. It addresses safety and security concerns, adds CTE and arts opportunities for our kids, updates facilities and technology, and accommodates anticipated growth across the district.
Our schools are some of the very best in Oregon because our communities value education. I'm voting yes twice and I encourage you to do the same.
Why I'm voting yes on Measure 3-552
A recent West Linn Tidings staff editorial mischaracterized this measure by implying the citizens who now work to restore our City Charter are doing a power grab. That was woefully incorrect! People who employ the democratic process to empower the voters to correct a civic problem are not grabbing anything.
Three highly ethical Councilors have forwarded this matter to the voters. They are putting power back into the hands of the voters, empowering them to correct damage done to the Charter in 2013. Giving is not grabbing.
In 2013 Former City Manager Jordan succeeded in what I call a "power grab." This disrupted the balance of power in our city's organizational structure and damaged citizens' interests.
Former City Manager Jordan "grabbed" more managerial power by removing one section of our charter WITHOUT the voters realizing what was happening, thus changing our legal model and increasing costs. Jordan removed the Charter's Section 8(F), and with that gone, he soon took over the majority of legal services in our City and shrank the role of the actual City attorney.
Please stand up to restore the Charter and the traditional balance of power by voting "Yes." Democracy in action is no power grab.
Vote for career education
I am writing this letter to encourage a "YES" vote on Measure 3-555 and Measure 3-554!
If approved, this measure will provide funds to the WLWV School District to help maintain current class sizes, fund approximately 80 more classroom-licensed teachers, and add various other skill classes to our schools.
Smaller class sizes make a huge difference in the lives of our kids. This creates more opportunities for teacher-to-student engagement in the classroom for discussions and activities, receive timely and specific feedback on work and to be known as valuable, involved individuals.
Students' learning and emotional needs can be better understood and catered to by focused teachers who don't feel overwhelmed by large numbers of students.
These measures will also bring trade skill classes into our school district. Auto mechanic, wood shop, welding, robotics, and many more. Filling the gap for those students who are not college bound or entering into the military. These skills have been severely lacking in our current curriculum and we have a chance to change that.
If we truly believe that our children are the future, we need to finance that belief! Please join me in investing in our future by voting "YES" on the local option renewal and bond too!
District's record is good
I am a former volunteer and school board member. My wife and I are longtime resident of the school district. Our two children attended school in district from kindergarten through grade 12. They received an excellent education and now have successful careers.
The school district has a long history of passing bonds only when needed and completing those projects on time and on budget. Similar to recent bonds, the impact of the two measures now on the ballot (local option 3-554 and capital bond 3-555) will not increase the tax rate for our taxpayers.
We are blessed to have one of the best school districts in the state by any measurement. The district has demonstrated it has an excellent record of spending taxpayers' money responsibly.
I support both measures and urge our citizens to do the same.
Support career pathways
A robust education system that supports children and allows them to flourish is the cornerstone of a strong community. The West Linn-Wilsonville School District provides such a system, educating 10,000 students daily and helping build intelligent, thoughtful community members.
The Home Builders Association of Metropolitan Portland believes that we must support our children so that they can participate fully in the civic, cultural, business, and philanthropic opportunities that our region offers.
The proposed West Linn-Wilsonville School District 2019 Levy & Bond Proposal will help ensure that our students have these opportunities.
The proposal will foster economic development in the region through enhanced career and technical education opportunities. It will build on existing programs and strengthen options for students to obtain high earning jobs in skilled trades. These career pathways that offer students exposure to building sciences, construction skills, trades, and business management are best positioned to support the workforce of the future.
At a time when school safety is of utmost concern, the proposal will also enhance security and add lighting, video monitoring, and communication upgrades districtwide.
Join us in supporting 2019 Levy & Bond Proposal so that our children can continue to receive a world class education.
2018 GO bond disappoints
Did you vote for the West Linn GO Bond in 2018? I certainly did. I wanted safer streets.
I remember reading a guest editorial in the West Linn Tidings dated Thursday, April 12, 2018, which made me a believer. The article was entitled, "The new GO bond benefits everyone in West Linn."
The Citizen's View piece struck a chord with me, the number one area of improvement was going to be transportation and safety. Safe Routes to School was cited as a particular concern in a survey done by residents and was a top priority of the GO Bond.
On May 15, 2018, I voted "yes" to approve Ballot Measure 3-527. I smiled when it passed. Today as I crossed Santa Anita crossing from Churchill Downs to Horton, I wasn't smiling. I was stopped short in the middle of the road from a speeding blue car nearly missing my dog and I as we crossed.
No, I wasn't in dark clothing. I had a lime green jacket on. This is the same crosswalk that a kind, older woman once described a scene of throwing a bag of dog feces at a car, because she was so frustrated that no one stops.
In 2012 I had filled out a "Traffic Control Request Form" and attended a meeting only to be told that the city did not have the money for the RRFB (Rapid Flashing Beacon) I had requested for this crosswalk.
Unfortunately, it wasn't identified on the Safe Routes to School project list, but many other projects were, including a RRFB for the crosswalk at Hidden Springs Road and Suncrest Drive, where I have witnessed too many close calls.
Unfortunately, none of the projects that DKS presented to the city as needed improvements for walking to the primary or middle school have been completed. Now, instead of a smile, when I read about the "Go Bond" I cringe.
Measure misses target
West Linn opted not to provide voters with the text of measure 3-552 — The City Attorney Boondoggle — before asking us to vote on it. It's poorly written and only leads to less accountability.
Changes to Section 8 of the Charter appear in the Voters' Pamphlet, but changes to Section 23 do not. Changes to Section 23 eliminate all oversight that our City Manager has over the City Attorney.
But more bizarre is what the measure doesn't do. Proponents claim that changing the Charter is the only way to prevent the hiring of a staff attorney, even though that's refuted by the Council's own attorney: "The decision to authorize and fund such a position is within the discretion of the Council" (Memo from Jeffrey Condit, April 12 2019)
Even so, nowhere in the measure does it state — or even imply — that the City Manager should be unable to hire staff attorneys. Why does a measure that's pitched as necessary to "clarify" this limitation lack any such clarity?
This measure is addressing a nonexistent problem, in a wildly expensive manner, with an effort that completely misses the target. I'm voting "no" on the City Attorney Boondoggle.
No means no!
The citizens of West Linn voted "no" against changing our legal structure in 2013. The citizens voted "no" again in 2017.
Now we have three city councilors that are suggesting that the voters were not knowledgeable and for the cost of $10,000 to $15,000 to the West Linn taxpayers, they are bringing back the issue for yet another vote!
As the charter reads now, oversight of the City Attorney is shared between the City Manager and City Council. By stripping the City Manager of any oversight on the City Attorney, the City Council will have total control over the city's legal services. This proposed action does not bode well for balance of power.
Measure 3-552 is a down right power grab by Councilors Cummings, Sakelik and Relyea.
Mayor Axelrod and City Councilor Jules Walters have been clear about their opposition to this proposed measure. Their concerns have been amplified by former city councilors, including Brenda Perry and Bob Martin. Let's send a message to these three councilors that the voters of West Linn are knowledgeable and informed. Join me in voting "no" on Measure 3-552. With a resounding defeat, perhaps, Councilors Cummings, Sakelik and Relyea will get the message: NO means NO!
Keep council power in balance
I am voting NO on Measure 3-552, City of West Linn Charter Amendment, and here is why:
n Equitable access to legal advice and services is thrown out the window with this measure. It makes managing our city exponentially more expensive, much more difficult, and leaves us at risk. Would the CEO of a company with a $116M budget have to ask the Board of Directors for access to legal advisers each time it needed to make a decision? No.
Would the CEO be able to effectively manage the company and protect it from liability in this scenario? No. But as the City Manager is the CEO and the Council is the Board of Directors for West Linn, this is exactly what this measure is proposing.
n It threatens our Council-Manager structure of governance, which provides checks and balances. Political power resides with Council but oversight of the day-to-day operations of the community resides with a non-political City Manager. This oversight helps prevent strong political wills from providing favors (intentional or not), such as land-use decisions or tax abatements, to friends, family, or campaign donors. This is why 90 million Americans live under the Council-Manager Form and it is the most used by local governments.
n Finally, this measure needs to be considered in a larger context. Three of my fellow councilors see this as an important step to provide more power to the council. What I fear is the power it gives to future councils who may not share the same ideologies or ethics.
As Councilor Cummings warned Tidings readers in a letter to the editor last month, "Just three pro Stafford development councilors could change everything."And if passed, Measure 3-552 will help make it so.
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