As of Thursday, October 20, 2016
Disagree with Harris
To the editor:
Reading the interview of Ms. [Susan] Harris, who is running for mayor of The Dalles, it became apparent to me she is not aware of how The Dalles city government operates.
Ms. Harris states Mayor Lawrence has been holding meetings behind closed doors. There are meetings behind closed doors, they are called executive sessions. They are allowed for the purpose of deciding personnel matters or real estate negotiations.
Executive sessions are held by both city council and urban renewal and they are attended by councilors, mayor, parties involved with personnel or real estate negotiations, city manager and media, both newspaper and radio.
During my time on the council/agency, there has never been an executive session that was not warranted and there was never a time when the mayor overstepped his authority.
There is nothing but transparency from the mayor or council members.
Ms. Harris should also be aware Mayor Lawrence does not have a vote when matters are voted on for the city, except if there is a tie and it needs to be broken. I have been on the council since January 2013 and there has never been a tie vote.
The urban renewal agency allows Mayor Lawrence to have a vote but it is only one vote. All council/agency members have an agenda and we all vote our conscience or how many of our constituents are requesting.
Each member has one vote. I believe we each vote for what we believe is best for The Dalles.
I do not feel any member of the council/agency unilaterally picks “winners and losers” in the development arena.
We all want a winner for The Dalles, but we do need to be realistic about the investment the agency has in the Granada Block properties.
I am sure that, when the properties were purchased by the agency, they did not feel they would be owned for six years.
The developer of the Granada Block properties has come with three different investors and has requested three different extensions to the agreement. The last extension ran out and the developer failed to request another before it was too late.
To my knowledge, there was not a single person on the agency board who did not want to see the “Hilton Garden” development happen and the developer was told this many times.
Time ran out. It was time to give other investors the opportunity to develop the Recreation, Granada and Blue buildings.