andquot;The city wants to move swiftly, but above all justly,andquot; interim city manager David Fine told the city's building code appeals board Nov. 15 as regards the Eltrym Historic Theatre case.

Let's see it.

The theater was closed in August. The theater owner's attorney filed an appeal Sept 11.

By Nov. 15, the city still wasn't prepared to set a date for the theater owner's appeal.

What is swift about that?

Add to that the embarrassing reality that the appeals board should have been impaneled in 1997. The City of Baker City isn't providing much grounds for confidence.

And confidence in the city is critical at this juncture.

The past two years have seen dozens of new owners and substantial new investment in old buildings.

The Eltrym case, however, has to have had a chilling effect on real estate and redevelopment in the city's historic district. How much, we can't know.

In essence, one building official gave the theater the go ahead to remodel into a multiplex. Years later, another building official decided his predecessor was wrong and closed the theater.

That's a flip-flop of catastrophic proportions.

Building owners and business people need to be able to trust that city officials are making competent decisions.

And whether you agree with the first building official or the second one, our city government failed at some point to provide trustworthy service to a citizen and his business.

Now that business, its employees and patrons are watching and waiting for that swift justice while city officials waste time dawdling on absurd points of procedure, impaneling an appeals board at a snail's pace and debating whether the Eltrym's owner even had standing to bring an appeal.

He did.

And the city has, since 1997, had a responsibility to have an appeals board in place.

It didn't.

Who is failing to uphold the public interest in this situation?

Schedule the hearing and get it done to borrow from the volunteer chair of the newly formed appeals board, Mark Johnson pretty darn quick.