Let’s Focus on the Positive in 2014

Published in the West Linn Tidings and Oregonian:

2013 was a very productive year for West LInn – ranging from breaking ground on the new police station, to celebrating our West Linn Centennial.  To be effective as a leader, one needs to work effectively on a team. I am proud to be part of a very high performing team – our City Council.

At the start of 2013, we set our sights on grants. With declining revenue and ambitious goals, it became clear that we would have to get more creative. We targeted grant opportunities to help us achieve our vision.  Working with staff, we put together a grant application to support the Arch Bridge master planning effort.   Mayor Kovash and I attended the Metro meeting and testified for our application. Surprisingly, we were awarded the full amount requested – $220,000!  

2014 should bring increased productivity to our City Council. Our goals list includes economic development, transportation, water infrastructure, and citizen engagement. We have outlined targeted, achievable milestones for our city. 

I was pleased to learn last week that the City Council’s remand decision on the Lake Oswego-Tigard Water Treatment Plan (LOT) was not appealed.  The City Council made a good decision that will benefit West Linn ratepayers for years – we continue to have a redundant emergency water supply, $5 million dedicated to the Bolton Reservoir replacement, and the continued benefit of low water rates.  Our Planning Commissioners and City Councilors were diligent in their review of the LOT application. As Commissioner Martin pointed out in a prior opinion editorial, the applications before the City Council and Planning Commission were different.  Why? Our City has the ability for any applicant to start the land use process “as-new” with the Council. It’s called de novo hearings. We are one of a few Oregon cities that allow this. What we experienced with LOT last year was the de novo process used against us. I would like to fix our land use process so we can make the best decisions for West Linn.

This is not a reason to recall anyone. I urge you not to sign any recall petition and work with us to fix our laws.  I am disappointed and discouraged that some West Linn residents are relying on intimidation and distraction, instead of focusing on our recent accomplishments and goal setting.

Communications and citizen engagement are special interests to me. Our overall goal is to increase citizen awareness and participation. The Planning Commission has been in charge of the Commission for Citizen Involvement (CCI). With limited Planning Department resources it has been difficult to effectively make progress. Elevating citizen engagement as a Council goal will give full resources of staff and have quarterly check-ins of progress. Times have changed and governments have to change as well. As hard as it is to believe, sending our meeting notices by telegraph is an accepted practice by the Oregon State statutes. Today, residents get their news by many different mediums. We need to be nimble and maximize the possibility of citizen engagement. In other words, it’s time to modernize local government! West Linn has the unique capability to break new ground and set the standard for others to follow. 

This Council sees the future and is setting the course and vision for decades to come. Our future is bright and if you don’t believe me, see all the wonderful middle school students signed up for our Youth Leadership Academy.  Attending their latest Academy was enlightening.  They have a command of the issues and they are eager and excited about the future of our city, and so am I.




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