Take care of the public's money

February 25, 2008 12:00 am

To the editor:

They say we get the government we deserve. I hope that isn't so, because for some time the public interest seems to have fallen through the cracks. Washington's wars and decades of irresponsible, unregulated behavior by banks, business interests, and Wall Street cons have left us hemorrhaging blood, treasure, and jobs, while leading us into what will likely be the bleakest financial period since the Great Depression. Locally, we have all but lost County road money, there are financial irregularities at the school district, useful public assets end up in private hands, and City Hall has been taken over by economic development hucksters and megalomaniacs.

When the Council set their top four priorities, buying an over-priced building through the firm Mayor Petry works with wasn't among them.

If space has been a problem since 2004, why did local government give Carnegie Library to the arts lobby and sell Churchill for a song? The plain, masonry block building being sought for the police department, even without problems that might show up in a building inspection report, will cost half a million dollars more than what was paid for the grand old Churchill School, with its ample space and parking. Why would the City stand by and do nothing while Churchill was turned over to private interests if there was a space crisis at the Public Safety building?

Our population has been steady for decades, why is space for public employees a crisis now? Why would Andrew Bryan, and others on the Council, want to rush this through before the public has time to think about less costly alternatives or whether we even need, or can afford, the purchase at this time? To make visitors feel better?

Ms. Duman reminds us that we have important and expensive priorities to deal with, like water and sewer infrastructure. Rates and taxes keep going up. As we enter these financially uncertain times, I am grateful there are people like Gail Duman and Beverly Calder with the gumption to protect the public interest, watch over the people's money, and remind the development hucksters that this is Baker City, not Bend.

Christopher Christie

Baker City