Tuesday, January 11, 2011/lk
Parting insult to CL
Had ex-councilor (Randy) Holmstrom listened to citizens and answered, let alone read his e-mails the past four years, he would understand why the citizens of Cascade Locks had no confidence in the council on which he served. The last meeting was an expensive insult to our citizens. We didn't need a cheerleader; we needed a city administrator, one who worked for the good of the entire city, not just the ones with whom he agreed. Bernard Seeger signed an employment contract that gives him four months' salary if let go without just cause and nothing if he resigns. The man is resigning! How can the past council possibly justify the 4-3 decision that allows Seeger to resign and still receive over $18,000? What is the mysterious liability Holmstrom believes we have with Mr. Seeger and why is that information not available to the public who will foot the cost? Why did the mayor surprise some of the council with the separation papers at the last meeting? Along with an-added-at-the-last-minute agenda item while Mr. Seeger attended by speakerphone? The reason stated by Mayor (Brad) Lorang does not meet the requirements for an executive session. How is this not an illegal move on the mayor's part? Seeger was hired to perform in the best interest of Cascade Locks. Not to turn tail and run before the new council is even sworn in. His excuse is, "I just don't feel I have their trust." How unprofessional and whiny. He was hired to work with whoever sits on council, not just the ones he wants to work with. I guess he never heard that trust is earned, not given. My opinion is: He is welcome to leave after this last deceit, but don't pay him for it. As a graduate of West Point, he should be ashamed of himself, expecting severance pay to bug out.
Divisiveness in CL, again
For the second time in four years Cascade Locks has lost good strong leadership. First Bob Willoughby, who felt he could no longer get the things accomplished he was chartered to do, due to the divisions in the city, left. He found a better job in Florence with more staff, and is greatly appreciated there. Now Bernard Seeger has been put in a situation by a new council who won't talk to him, and a new mayor who felt he didn't need to talk to him. Bernard came from a much bigger city in Washington to the Gorge area as he loved the outdoors lifestyle and the beauty of Cascade Locks. He is a positive and upbeat guy and a excellent administrator; it's a shame that one faction in town doesn't understand the difference between the professional and the political side of the city and mistakenly tries to usurp responsibilities they're not qualified to perform. Cities hire professional administrators because of the skill set they are able to bring to the job. I'll be sorry to see him leave. When you lose administrators this way and this quickly it becomes difficult to attract a new quality person. The administrators have their own professional organization and know each other and know of the situations in the cities throughout the state and region. Generally, cities hire the LOC to perform a search for administrators; it's costly in many ways and is time-consuming, in our case coming during an already difficult time of transition. At this juncture we can only hope that we can find someone of the same quality as Bernard or Bob. In the interim we can hope that we don't have anything else happen that will cause disruption to our city and its ability to provide the needed services and keep its supervisory professionals. My only regret is that I didn't say something in support of both of these fine men publicly before they felt forced to leave our city.
Need more like Walden
Congressman Greg Walden represents my values and those of many other people (Check the 2010 election results!), especially when it come to cutting government spending in order to reduce our nation's indebtedness that makes us beholden to countries such as China. Plain and simple, we spend way too much taxpayer money which goes to projects and programs that don't help us bring back a job-producing economy. Greg is also championing government reform, not only in terms of eliminating budget-busting earmarks but also making sure that before legislation comes to a vote in committee or the whole U.S. House of Representatives that there is time to read and study the legislation. No more requiring votes on important legislation like the health care bill that hasn't even been distributed to the representatives. I've known Greg for more than 30 years and he has always been honest, a keeper of his promises and he pays his taxes. I would say we need at least 50 more legislators like him. Tom Yates
Enjoy the lights
Jenelle Dennis, on the Columbia Gorge Hotel lights (letters, Dec. 29): I am quite sure that a lot of planning, time and money went into putting up the new lights. Instead of complaining, just take the time to enjoy them. I am pretty sure everyone else is. Just try to enjoy the holidays and holiday spirit, for which they are intended.
Warren Wols Hood River
Walden as Grinch?
The Grinch-Who-Stole-Christmas wears a local flavor in the City of Hood River and its environs: Congressman Greg Walden. What a considerate and timely Christmas present he offers the unemployed here and throughout our beleaguered country: termination of unemployment benefits - packaged along with the latest nationwide reports of lower figures in the rate of employment. Or, if you like it said another way, higher numbers of unemployed people. Personally, I'd like to see our Hood River Grinch in the soup lines ladling out warming nutrition to the cold and the hungry, as well as at the food bank handing out the groceries. Not once in awhile, seasonally, but once a week. I'm sure such opportunities exist in Washington, D.C., when he spends time there. Perhaps, for him, when the faces of hunger wear a personalized imprint, he will start spending his political energies to relieve distress among those afflicted - all the while that he jawbones his colleagues into making fundamental changes in those hallowed environs he chooses to work, at our nation's capitol. Turn off the heat in those marbled halls. Let those windbags warm themselves with the fires of their rhetoric. And when that flags, let 'em remember some of their campaign literature. Let 'em turn up the thermostats there, after we down here at the trickle-end-of-the-pipeline tell 'em the goods have arrived where we live and work. As they posture before news cameras with their latest wisecracks (words-of-wisdom?), I would appreciate seeing more patches at the elbows and frayed collars/cuffs among these our elected representatives-to-government. What if they demonstrated the exercise of this principle - it's an old, old one: "Strength yields" every time. And every time it does not yield it reveals the fact that it no longer is the strong one in the equation.
Gloria Krantz of Dee
There are many concerned citizens in Cascade Locks that feel you have abandoned all basic principles of professional journalism in your hastily researched and poorly written article (Jan. 1) on the "separation agreement" between Bernard Seeger and the City of Cascade Locks. With more time spent researching the facts, you would have found that Mr. Seeger is not the victim of unfounded lack of trust on the part of the incoming council, as your article would have us believe. He has more than earned whatever lack of trust that may exist between him and the new council members. The voters of Cascade Locks elected these people for good reason, and as editor of the local newspaper you should have had an interest in, and some curiosity as to why the election turned out as it did. Any time that you feel any sense of responsibility as editor to actually report the facts behind Mr. Seeger's desire to resign his position, please come on down. Or, better yet, assign RaeLynn Ricarte to cover the issue, as she is already familiar with the players. In the meantime we would appreciate not having the local paper muddying up important issues that the citizens of Cascade Locks are earnestly trying to resolve.
Gary Munkhoff Cascade Locks
Editor's Note: The Jan. 1 article erroneously stated that the Cascade Locks fire hall construction was paid for by a levy. The article should have stated that loans, city property sales, and community donations comprised the funding package. RaeLynn Ricarte is now employed by The Dalles Chronicle.
The recent report of the president's commission on reducing the deficit produced the predictable response: "Yes, we must drastically cut the national debt; yes this will entail sacrifices by everyone; no, don't raise my taxes or cut my entitlement benefits!" Now, none of us older folks like the idea of paying more taxes or taking cuts in our Social Security and Medicare benefits. But how can we insist on a level playing field if we exempt ourselves? Before Social Security was enacted in the 1930s, older Americans like myself struggled to get along on diminishing savings, meager pensions or just plain charity. Now we are among the most protected of all age groups, and yet the least willing to see our "entitlements" (as we now call them!) reduced, even to benefit the young and unborn who are scheduled to receive far less. And yet we insist on "fairness" in public policy and sharing the burdens as well as the benefits! And while we are on the subject of fairness and the sharing of burdens, why do we exempt the business world? With unemployment nearing 10 percent and everyone else taking a loss of some kind, why aren't most businesses hiring? "Because we can't risk taking a loss if demand drops," they tell us. How is this a fair sharing of burdens? So maybe it's time for us "entitlement queens," tax complainers and business leaders to step forward and take a few risks for the good of the country and our future generations.
David C. Duncombe
White Salmon, Wash.