Tolls on I-205
Rory stands against tolls that would have a disproportionate economic and livability impact on West Linn residents.
Community members are just becoming aware of the fact that the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) is moving quickly to toll our only freeway, I-205, in the next several years at the main ingress and egress points on the freeway that West Linn residents use daily for a number of reasons, whether it be to get to work, shop, visit neighboring communities and more. The time is now to have elected officials who stand up and advocate for West Linn residents to ensure that our livability is maintained. I already testified before the Oregon Transportation Commission to let them know that diversion traffic is a big concern for our community. I also attended an ODOT Tolling Presentation on August 12th. I now believe that tolling is the number one issue that could affect our livability during the next decade.
I oppose the current plan to toll I-205 at or near the West Linn entrances and exits. Public transit in our City is lacking with only two TriMet routes. Our local thoroughfares already deal with traffic jams on weekday evenings; adding tolls into the picture likely would not help. In a poll taken during an ODOT open house presentation, a question asked participants in essence how tolling would change our trips on the freeway. 64% of respondents stated that they would drive a different route that did not require a fee. This speaks to the diversion traffic and livability concerns that many of us have and that I share. If revenue generation is necessary for infrastructure projects, ODOT and the state should pursue methods that do not have a disproportionate economic impact on the West Linn community.
I will work as hard as I can to maintain the livability that we all have come to appreciate.
On tolling, I will, if elected:
- Push elected officials, ODOT and the Oregon Transportation Commission to include a "no tolling" option in their analysis of the tolling alternatives so that we can have a better idea of the cost-benefit analysis of not tolling versus tolling near our community;
- Be a voice at the decision-making table with regional partners representing the interests of West Linn to maintain our livability through negotiations;
- Emphasize the need to better prioritze the spending of existing revenue in lieu of tolling that disproportionately targets West Linn residents;
- If tolls do come to our region, press the Oregon Transportation Commission for a reduction or exemption toll rate for West Linn residents to avoid a disproportionate economic impact on our community;
- Consistently press ODOT to come up with a plan for the diversion traffic impacts that would likely come to our community if tolling is established at West Linn’s gates; and
- Advocate for better public transportation and interconnectivity in our community on Highway 43 and Willamette Falls Drive whether or not tolls are planned.
Promoting Accountability in Policing at WLPD
These are historic times in our country and in our local community here in West Linn. Nationally, the horrific death of George Floyd has sparked a movement for equality in policework. Locally, our City has dealt with its own nationally publicized instance of racial bias in policing. Michael Fesser’s wrongful arrest in 2017 and the subsequent revelations of corruption at our Police Department resulting from the Fesser case have caused residents to rise up and seek change. I know that there is still much policy work to be done to ensure that officers in West Linn can be held accountable in the event of misconduct while in uniform, and to help make our Police Deparment more just and equitable for all citizens whom it serves.
I support good, equitable and fair policing that promotes public safety, and I know that we have officers here who do good for our community. That being said, I have heard stories from and listened to community members who feel unsafe in our town. It will be my job as your City Councilor to do what I can to make sure that everyone here feels safe, regardless of the color of a person’s skin or where they come from.
I know that there is work to be done to make our Police Department more accountable to the public in the event of misconduct (e.g. the Fesser case) or corruption on the job (e.g. misdeeds during the ex-Chief Terry Timeus era) – issues that have become more important than ever lately at our Police Department. I know West Linn can do better and can implement policies to make sure what happened in the recent past does not happen again. Here are my ideas to help start us on a path to more fairness and accountability for citizens served by the WLPD:
Making the “Internal Affairs” complaint process external from WLPD and independent.
Currently, if a citizen files a complaint against a police officer or if an officer files a whistleblower complaint against another officer alleging misconduct, it is reviewed by West Linn Police Department supervisors (i.e., the Captains or Police Chief). This system enables the kind of unchecked officer wrongdoing that WLPD has experienced in the past. In any profession, misconduct complaints should be addressed independently, not by friends or colleagues of the accused.
Our City needs a robust and independent process in place for reviewing misconduct complaints against police officers. That is why I am proposing that the City contract with an independent professional firm selected via community input to conduct police misconduct investigations and investigate complaints. In the alternative, a permanent committee on police oversight could be established to hear complaints and allegations with clear policies and fair procedures in place for adjudication. At a minimum, the practice of colleagues adjudicating allegations of wrongdoing by their fellow co-workers must end.
Calling for an audit of the $9,000,000+ Police Department
Local governments across the state and country are grappling with the systemic issues of misconduct and racial bias in policing. Our West Linn PD has the largest budget of any city department, standing at well over $9,400,000 in allocated funds in FY 2020. With 34.5 FTE employees, that number averages out to be nearly $275,000 in funding per FTE. Nobody in our police department makes close to that amount. On the heels of revelations of misconduct at the WLPD, it behooves us to examine where those millions of dollars are going. I am calling for a professional and independent audit to be done of the WLPD as a supplement to the work of the West Linn Police Oversight and Accountability Task Force. How much in paid administrative leave has been paid out over the last five to ten years? How much in overtime has been paid out? Are there places where funds could feasibly be better used within the Department (i.e., for more training)? These are the sorts of questions I would like to see answered. Under my plan, community input would be taken and factored into the process for selecting an auditing firm and the results of said audit would be shared with the public.
Supporting the work of the West Linn Police Oversight and Accountability Task Force
In the wake of the death of George Floyd and the Michael Fesser litigation–which revealed a painful instance of corruption and racial profiling at our West Linn Police Department–the West Linn City Council created a task force to formulate policy recommendations to best address police accountability and better ensure oversight at our local police department. As a City Councilor, I make this simple but important promise: I will support the work of the Police Oversight and Accountability Task Force and will not seek to undermine them as they formulate policy recommendations.
Community and Regional Partnerships
Fostering and Nurturing Community and Governmental Partnerships
I believe that community and governmental partnerships should be prioritized and valued. Advocacy with our regional governing partners is essential to ensure that West Linn remains competitive for grants. In addition, being at the table for important policy discussions goes a long way to boost West Linn’s reputation in the region. Formulating working, positive relationships with our partners–whether they be municipalities or co-equal governments, community organizations such as the local Chamber of Commerce or other local groups such as the nonprofits who take care of some of our city facilities–is a priority of mine. West Linn is not an island. We need to be at the table working to better our City through advocacy with our partners. It is the only way to move West Linn forward.
Transparency and open governance are principles that are very important to me. I believe strongly in the public’s right to access the records of their elected representatives so that citizens can be informed about what their government is doing. In 1976, the Oregon Court of Appeals said it best, holding that “any privacy rights that public officials have as to the performance of their public duties must generally be subordinated to the right of the citizens to monitor what elected and appointed officials are doing on the job.” See Jensen v. Schiffman.
As one currently-elected West Linn City Councilor actively works in our courts to undermine Oregon’s open government records law as it applies to all local elected officials across the state, I make this pledge to the community:
As a City Councilor, I will:
- Answer public records requests from members of the public; and
- Openly and happily admit that as a city councilor I will be subject to public oversight and Oregon’s most important transparency law–the Public Records Law. I am not above the law.
In addition, I believe in the public’s right to attend government meetings and follow what is going on. In that spirit, absent exceptional circumstances, I will object to holding city council meetings during the middle of the work day as they currently are being held, and I will advocate for our meetings to be in the evenings when citizens can attend and participate.
The Waterfront Project
The City of West Linn has been working on the West Linn Waterfront Project for several years. It is a project that I am very excited about playing a role in. I learned about it after attending an Open House on the topic in late 2019.
From the potential for a park to view Willamette Falls and walk along the river, to the possibility of restaurants and commerce space if so desired by the community, the Waterfront Project is an opportunity to give our City a place that makes us stand out in the region even more than we already do.
I am committed to working with the community and Portland General Electric (PGE) to carry along a vision for the Willamette waterfront area that will bring an additional riverfront location to the City for residents to enjoy.
Listening to Citizens, Governance for All Pledge
As a frequent participant in West Linn City Council business over the past several years, I have seen first-hand when members of the governing body do not adequately factor citizen input into important decisions. I believe that as a city councilor, one of the primary principles that must never be forgotten is that you are elected to represent the interest and will of the people as a collective whole and cannot govern based on a personal agenda. Often times our City Council has failed to live up to the aforementioned principle. Last November, three members of the Council voted to refer a legal services charter amendment to the voters despite the fact that voters had already turned down a ballot measure with similar proposed language two years prior. Holding an election on the repeat attempt cost West Linn taxpayers at least $10,000 last year, and their attempt failed. Had the Council majority listened to voters’ prior determination of the issue, those taxpayer dollars would have been saved.
The most recent hiring of the new City Manager is another example of the Council ignoring citizen input. The Council asked citizens to evaluate the three finalists for the City Manager position, and in the citizen evaluation questionnaire submitted by citizens selected by the Council, only seven respondents recommended hiring Jerry Gabrielatos–the candidate chosen by a majority of the Council–while 14 recommended hiring Jim Middaugh, and 13 recommended hiring John Williams. I am committed to working with Mr. Gabrielatos, but I also believe that the failure of the Council to listen to and make a decision based on the desire of its own established group of citizens who took time to provide input must be noted.
If elected, I will make community-based decisions based on what I believe is best for our community as a whole. I have no personal agenda aside from a desire to see our City function better and make meaningful progress on the issues that matter. As your City Councilor, I will:
- Listen to all citizens and treat each person with dignity and respect;
- Approach each city issue that comes before me with an open mind;
- Take the time to explain the reasoning behind my decisions;
- Maintain an open line of communication for citizens to communicate with me; and
- Govern with the intent of doing what is best for West Linn as a whole after factoring in different perspectives.
Under my leadership, making our government work for all West Linn residents–and not just those who have the time to show up for City meetings–will be a priority of mine. If you have the time to show up and testify to share your thoughts, I will treat you with dignity and respect and I will listen. But I know that not everybody has the time to make it to CIty Council meetings. Rest assured that if you can’t make it, I will think about your perspective on the issues before making decisions. As a Councilor, the question of “What’s best for West Linn?” will always be at the forefront of my mind as I cast votes that impact us. I believe that is the best way to represent us all.