Saturday, October 18, 2008

Take the fork in the road and pursue fiscal responsibility

I first moved to Lake Oswego 36 years ago and in that time I’ve seen this city blossom into the beautiful city that it is today. I love our city and I believe it to be the best city in Oregon.

We have strong community involvement and support for our schools, library and neighborhoods. That is something we must always maintain.

I have served on several boards and committees over the years and am still involved in other community activity. My goal is to keep Lake Oswego a great city in which to live and raise our families.

I am running for city council because I believe every elected official has a fiduciary duty to the taxpayers to ensure their tax dollars are spent prudently and thoughtfully. I believe in fiscal responsibility, an open and transparent city council and a realistic approach to the prioritization of spending.

Two years ago, before the city council, the mayor presented me with a Distinguished Service Award in appreciation of my service on the Natural Resources Advisory Board. As she presented this award she commented to the audience that the one thing she had heard about me was “I spoke my mind.” I had never thought about that before but I realized I do tend to speak my mind as well as answer questions directly without doing a verbal tapdance.

Yogi Berra once said that when you come to the fork in the road take it. We will soon be receiving our ballots and we are going to have to make the choice: Shall we elect to continue with the current city council’s direction or shall we elect to swing the pendulum back toward the center?

I personally feel in these economic times we must err on the side of fiscal restraint as to how our resources are expended and which projects, both current and future, are truly warranted. If the roof of your home is leaking is it really prudent to be focused on putting a swimming pool in the backyard? It is going to be expensive enough just to repair the infrastructure in Lake Oswego without saddling the taxpayer with unnecessary taxes and unnecessary projects of questionable utility.

The economic news isn’t the best either nationally or worldwide. Our economy may be facing the worst downturn since the Great Depression. We see the evidence every day in the stock market, housing values, our retirement accounts, bank failures, the list goes on. It is time for serious reflection as to whom we choose to manage our city’s resources and who you trust to do it. We must cast our votes for what is best for our personal well being and that of Lake Oswego, not on the desires of the individuals, organizations and PACs afraid to deviate from the current party line.

Do we want to follow the endorsements of the folks who created the dissension and angst in this city in the first place or do we take the fork in the road and begin rebuilding the trust and respect that was squandered?
Personally, I’m voting to rebuild trust and respect and I hope you will also. I believe I can meet the challenges ahead and that I am the right person at the right time for Lake Oswego City Council. I appreciate your vote.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Sustainability and what it means to me....

Webster's Dictionary has this to say about sustainability: sus·tain·able
Function: adjective
Date: circa 1727
1: capable of being sustained 2 a: of, relating to, or being a method of harvesting or using a resource so that the resource is not depleted or permanently damaged b: of or relating to a lifestyle involving the use of sustainable methods.

My take on sustainability: Sustainability is more than the latest buzz word, it is a way of life. It is how we choose to use the resources we have available to us. Fundamentally I believe in leaving as small a footprint as possible as we move through life. Here is a partial list of the choices and changes my wife and I have made:

1. I ride a bicycle as my primary form of transportation. I'll walk the mile to Palisades Market instead of using the car. I will admit that since my campaign for Lake Oswego City Council I have been unable to ride as much as I would like. Bicycling also keeps my heart healthy and the weight down.
2. We downsized from 4 cars to 1 car over the past few years. But two were old English collector cars so they may not count.
3. My wife has a garden spot at Luscher Farm where she grows a lot of our own food. She has been there for 10 years and grows everything but the garlic, which I grow.
4. When ever possible we attempt to buy locally grown food. We love our local Farmers Market.
5. We minimize the use of herbicides and pesticides at home with no use in the garden.
6. We try to support local small businesses instead of big box stores.
7. We emphasize purchasing American made products which sometimes proves a challenge.
8. We love our curbside recycling of paper, glass, cans, etc. We also recycle lumber products at Rebuilding on North Mississippi in Portland. If you haven't been there it is worth the trip. We don't compost as we don't generate enough waste to make it feasible.
9. Replaced our cracked concrete driveway with a permeable driveway made with concrete pavers. Then recycled our old concrete driveway into steps going down to our backyard.
10. We replaced our old water heater with a tankless water heater. My wife and I have a difference of opinion on that one. I feel it is best used as a point source system as opposed to a replacement for a hot water tank. She likes it.
11. Over the years we landscaped our front and backyard with indigenous and drought resistant trees and plants friendly to wildlife. We have no lawn.
12. A few years back we installed a drip irrigation system making a significant reduction in our water usage.
13. I think compact florescent bulbs are great. They are energy efficient and produce a lot of light.
These are just some of the changes we have made over the years. It may not work for everyone but it does for us.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Looking at Lake Oswego

My daughter Grace and I at
our Luscher Farm garden plot.

Many fine aspects make up the fabric of Lake Oswego such as education. A good education is predicated upon community involvement and quality schools. Lake Oswego has those qualities and I support maintaining those qualities to keep Lake Oswego great.

The varied neighborhoods within Lake Oswego are another aspect in the fabric of this city. I believe when development occurs within a neighborhood or affects a neighborhood it is imperative that it is in keeping with the characteristics of the neighborhood. We must ensure strong and viable neighborhood associations that are listened to and used as consultants in neighborhood development.

The business community that provides our basic services or the light industrial areas of this city must be given every opportunity to remain in business. We need a city council that is as interested in the existing businesses as it is in promoting the latest boutique. We need a city government that is as interested in accommodating the businesses in Lake Grove as they are in designing the Lake Grove Village Center Plan.

I believe with my extensive community involvement in Lake Oswego and my belief in fiscal responsibility, an open and transparent city government, and a common sense approach to the prioritization in spending, I am the right person at the right time for the Lake Oswego City Council.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

The Right Person at the Right Time for Lake Oswego City Council

Why am I running for Lake Oswego City Council? The short answer is: Why not, if not me who? The longer answer encompasses my philosophy of life, my experience, and my desire to serve the community. Fundamental to that is my belief that elected officials have a fiduciary duty to the taxpayer to ensure spending is prudent and thoughtful. The violation of that fundamental principal has precipitated the discord currently felt in the city. We need to elect City Councilors capable of earning the trust and respect of the residents of Lake Oswego. We need to elect City Councilors willing to listen to their constituents and who are proactive in rebuilding trust and healing the disconnect between City Government and the residents.

This election season we are going to hear a lot about fiscal responsibility and transparency in City Government. Fiscal responsibility is more than a concept, it is the main ingredient in respect and trust of the government by the governed. This also holds true for transparency, for without transparency there is no accountability. It is the aspect of accountability by government to the governed that enables us to maintain a stable representative democracy.

I first moved to Lake Oswego 36 years ago. During those early years I was very involved with issues before the City Council. It was in some respects like a court of law, for a lack of a better description. There were some contentious issues and each side presented their case and it never seemed to me that a decision was deliberated before the evening public City Council meeting. Unlike today, there were never the Tuesday morning City Council "dress rehearsal" meetings to go over the evening agenda. These "dress rehearsals" have enabled the City Council to speak with one voice (similar to speaking the party line), iron out any disagreement between councilors, and it seems to me reach a conclusion before the fact. I believe we are fast approaching having only the appearance of transparency in Lake Oswego City Government. When sausage is being made it needs to be done before the public eye. Some of us running for City Council truly take these principals to heart.

In November we must elect to City Council the candidates who believe in these principals, to swing the pendulum back towards the center. We must elect to City Council candidates who are fiscally responsible, understand their constituency, have the ability to honestly and responsibly prioritize city needs, and truly believe in a transparent City Government..

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Pulling barb wire on an untypical rainy August day at Luscher Farm

As the Treasurer of the Friends of Luscher Farm I volunteered to pull the barb wire along the fence rows. This is a prelude for the restoration of wildlife habitat and eventual creation of an oak savannah on a portion of Luscher Farm. I learned this valuable skill along with my wife several years ago volunteering with the Mazama's at Hart Mountain Antelope Wildlife Refuge. We are hopeful of receiving funding to finance this restoration project. Luscher Farm was a few short years ago a working dairy farm owned by Rudy Luscher. Mr. Luscher basically donated his farm to the City of Lake Oswego. It is being maintained as open space, community garden spaces, CSA gardens, etc. Luscher Farm is one of a series of large parcels of land purchased by the residents of Lake Oswego in the Stafford Basin to help preserve the basin's rural character.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Why I'm running for City Council

The operative word in property taxes is affordability. It is imperative elected officials understand that affordable housing begins with affordable property taxes. Residents of Lake Oswego are faced with the prospect of funding, in one form or another, several multimillion dollar projects. Of these projects some are necessary and others are unnecessary. We have no choice but to accept the increase in property taxes and/or fees associated with those necessary projects as they directly relate to the health and welfare of citizens of Lake Oswego. Of the unnecessary projects they must be relegated to the future if considered at all (at least those not already approved). Some of the currently unnecessary may in time become necessary and accordingly must be taken into account and planned for. The remainder would best be left to wither on the vine of unfulfilled legacies.

The methods by which the City Council has been undertaking these projects, both necessary and unnecessary, has created a disconnect between city government and its citizenry. The handling of the West End Building is symptomatic of that disconnect. This issue has brought to the surface palpable division and contention between Lake Oswego residents and their city government. Contentious issues have arisen before in this city and been resolved. Block 138 and Millennium Plaza Park are two examples with a resolution providing positive benefits for Lake Oswego. But at the time there were no looming infrastructure needs that the residents of this city were made aware of. That those in elected office, both present and past, should have been more cognizant and forthright regarding the issues facing Lake Oswego speaks volumes. Lake Oswego residents need to ensure they are represented by people who have their best interests and welfare at heart. It is inconceivable to expect the taxpayers of Lake Oswego to fund any ill-defined enterprise.

This November the voters in Lake Oswego need the opportunity to elect City Councilors who are fiscally responsible, understand their constituency, and have the ability to honestly and responsibly prioritize city needs. Fiscal responsibility is more than a concept, it is and has always been the main ingredient in respect and trust of government by the governed. Without fiscal responsibility we are left with the grandiose taking precedence over the necessary, the few benefitting at the expense of the many. It is of little use to dwell on the past if it can’t be used to improve the future. A new City Council must be proactive and reach out to its constituency and so avoid the current council’s conundrum. Only a new Lake Oswego City Council can bring this community together again with an agenda that reflects the economic reality the taxpayer is going to face in the very near future. Integrity, honesty, responsibility, and respect must be the watchwords for this new City Council.

This city deserves capable leadership that does not rely on consultants for everything. When consultants are hired to provide vision for what should be inherent in elected officials, it is time for change. Lake Oswego deserves to have elected officials who listen to their constituents. Lake Oswego deserves to have elected officials who are able to reach out to their constituents. Lake Oswego deserves to have elected officials who use as their consultants the citizens of this community. The taxpayers of Lake Oswego need elected officials they can afford.