Mural is Meaningful -- I saw the mural from the article "Off the Wall" (8/28/03) for myself in Hillyard. The Great Healer is extending his nail-scarred hand to those humans with life-destructive habits, offering them hope, healing and life.
So what the hell is wrong with that mural? Nothing! I find nothing wrong with it at all. You people who bitch about it are like the Pharisees of old -- self-righteous, stuck-up and blind. That mural stays up!
Case Against Strong Mayor -- Robert Herold's commentaries, "Save the System," "Bought and Paid For," "Government Without Politics," and "Trouble in Tacoma" (7/24, 8/7, 8/14 and 9/4), are a crusade to salvage the strong mayor system. It's pathetic, and his arguments are bolstered with fictions.
Cases in point: He asserts that the neighborhood councils will suffer if the council-manager system is restored. Does he forget that the neighborhood councils were created under that form? Mayor Geraghty and I proposed the ordinance following significant community dialogue. The council approved, and Molly Myers implemented it with astounding success under that system until her retirement. What is the likelihood of such a council/staff partnership under the current form? Nil. Simultaneously, we originated the communications office, which, under the new system, has become the sole tool of the mayor, leaving the council voiceless and powerless.
Next, Herold claims the city now has "its first professional chief financial officer." What? The mayor gutted the finance department that had enjoyed decades of national respect. The new CFO (no offense to the person) has zero municipal finance experience and is, by his own admission, learning on the job.
The city's bond ratings are up? In your dreams. The ratings dropped when the mayor vetoed a council decision that could have led to an RPS settlement once and for all. The rating agencies continue to make it clear that it doesn't matter how much is in its reserve account, the city has failed to honor its obligations. The only change is that "negative outlook" was removed. The bonds are still BBB. The recent refinance bonds were sold only because one company was willing to insure them -- at a premium.
Herold's claim that "Tacoma is the last city of any size in the state that hasn't converted to the strong mayor system" is mystifying. Of the five large cities in Washington, only Seattle and Spokane have the strong mayor form. Give it up. This is not Fantasy Island.
No Regrets -- This short letter is a response to the commentary "Making Sense out of City Hall" (8/21/03). Midway through his commentary, Mr. Stimson stated that "it was a professional city manager who advised the city council to sign off on the terms of River Park Square -- a decision even the members of the council at the time regret."
I am one of the council members Mr. Stimson mentions. How he can state that I regret the decision baffles me. I have never met or discussed River Park Square with him. I wouldn't recognize him if I passed him on the street. I do not regret the decision I made, nor do I believe that the majority of the council at that time regrets their decision.
What I regret is the millions of taxpayer dollars paid to attorneys to fight the project, and I regret the reluctance of the very small minority of this community to realize the economic impact RPS has brought to our area. Downtown vitality is flourishing, buildings are being renovated, an improved convention center is on the horizon, tourism is up, crime is down and the city's tax base is increasing.
In summary, not only do I not regret my decision, I am proud of it.
Union Rep Speaks -- Over the past few months, there have been a number of articles and letters addressing the initiative to return the City of Spokane to the council-manager form of city government and Local 270's involvement in the process. Most authors have speculated as to the reasons behind our support, and while the reasons given have been interesting, they haven't been correct.
Local 270 represents most non-uniform, non-managerial employees of the city. We are a very diverse group of employees, but we are, for the most part, a very cohesive group. We meet and we talk and we decide as a union what we will or will not support.
The membership did not support the current form of city government when it was voted in, but in fairness, the members have watched and analyzed the impact of this change for 30 months. We are now convinced that the council-manager form of government provides a more professional administration of services.
If, as some have assumed, we were solely concerned with negotiations and the monetary outcome, we would go out and buy a mayoral candidate who would promise us everything for our support. That isn't our interest or our inclination.
The union wants a nonpolitical, professional administration that delivers the highest quality of service to the taxpayers. After the past 30 months, we, as a union, looking from the bottom up, feel that better government comes from the council-manager form. Thus we support the efforts to restore it.