City should listen to public

March 05, 2008 11:00 pm

To the editor:

Information sharing regarding community facilities, major expenditures, and pressing needs should be part of the job the city manager would be expected to perform. The recent unwillingness to share information and the rapid decision made at the last City Council meeting to purchase a permanent home for the police leaves much to be desired. The dire circumstances that exist for police, victims, and security of evidence has existed for three years, yet it just appeared on the public radar screen.

I support the need for adequate police and fire facilities. The building chosen may be the best choice. We don't know, because no one has given a concise list of needs. Chief Lohner gave a fine presentation to the Council and the need for adequate space seems compelling. However, it was done minutes before the decision to purchase a specific building was voted on. This is inadequate and not appropriate.

The public was never given the chance to participate, although I was later told I could have gone on tours if I had asked. I don't know how to ask for a tour I never knew existed until it was over.

Can we afford the building? The city manager says yes, and the money is available. He recommends financing the building, but isn't sure of costs. The asking price plus remodel costs were the only costs given.

Friday, I went to City Hall to pick up the staff report I had requested. After some discussion Mr. Brocato said I should leave his office as he would not be called a liar in his own office. I am still at a loss as to what he construed as such a comment. It appears that no one should ask questions or express concerns about the process that leads to important decisions in our community. Baker City is not a private business, it is government business — the difference is public dollars.

Give the public a chance for discussion and input.

Make a decision after the public has a chance to comment and respond to the complete proposal.

Vickie Valenzuela

Baker City