Monday, April 29, 2013

How Will The Race For LO School District Board Turn Out?

To All COLA LO Members,

This year the LOSD election will grab the main stage in May as the LOSD Board has three open seats of the five members on the board.   

Its an interesting election as turnout is often low in May and in off years with rates expected in the 28-32% range.   Given the school closures of the past year many parents are unsettled about the direction of the district and its overall transparency on financial issues.   

Two of the three seats up for election are contested with candidates presenting dissimilar views on the overall direction for the district.    Only 30% of households in LO have children in the school district as opposed to 70% that no longer have school age children.    This metric also impacts voter participation.    

COLA board members and advisory board members have evaluated candidates over the last two elections for LOSD and have also evaluated financials etc. Its not widely known that the LO School District has a larger budget than the City of Lake Oswego.  Its impact on property taxes in general is quite high within the city and the district boundaries.   

COLA board members, advisory board members, and others are attending candidate forums and presentations to evaluate all the candidates and their positions.  

Please notify all members, contacts, and friends.  


Saturday, April 27, 2013

COLA Board Member Asks LOSD Candidates "How they Will Handle Fund Requests to the City"?

To All COLA LO Members,

Several COLA Board members have interviewed LOSD candidates over the past few weeks.  

The May election for school board is for 3 positions or the effective majority of the school board.  

At a recent Candidate Forum board member Dave Berg asked the LOSD candidates how they would handle the school district asking for funds form the city given the pressing needs for funding in Lake Oswego.  

Candidate responses can be found at:  Will you be asking for more?

The responses provide insight for COLA members and their vote in the May election.   

Please notify all members, contacts, and friends.  

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Citizen Provides Insight Into the Long Term Impact of Water Rates on Our Residents.

To All COLA LO Members,

This past week a citizen submitted an insightful letter on the impact of water rates on his household.   Its an interesting piece of information as the letter shows the long term costs of utility bills.  

The details can be found at How We Have Changed  but the text can be found below:

Old utility bill shows how much we’ve changed - I read with great interest (the April 4 Lake Oswego Review) cover story about the rising Lake Owego utility rates. Recently, while preparing for the Community Shred Day, I found a utility bill, dated Nov. 13, 1996, through Jan. 14, 1997. At that time, the monthly charge was $25 per month. Today, I pay $95 per month. After the rate increase in July, the monthly rate will be about $101 per month. In annual terms, my bill has gone from $300 per year in 1997 to more than $1,200 per year in July 2013. On a monthly basis, my rates have risen an average of $4.68 per month or $56 per year over the 16-year period.
Although our rates have been affected by infrastructure upgrades, such as the LOIS, perhaps it’s time for the city council and other civic leaders to examine the real costs of progress, development and population growth, particularly as they relate to the expansion of the drinking water system.  Upgrade it, don’t expand it. 

This is a fairly consistent theme we have heard from many members and residents over the past two or more years.   However the council voted for rate increases in a 6-1 vote last month.   Details can be found in Another Rise in Water Rates?

Please notify all members, contacts, and friends.   

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Why the Emphasis by Political Groups on the Comprehensive Plan?

To All COLA LO Members,

Over the past month several political groups continue to allocate their efforts to ward the council's comprehensive plan decision.    Many community members want to know why its such a major issue across the political spectrum.  

Members reported back that the comprehensive plan was the major focus for the new political group the "coalition" and the subject of a recent citizen article Negative Start.    Several groups including LO Stewards and others testified in support of the councils actions this week for well defined reasons..

So why all the concern?

After spending $1.2 million in taxpayer funds over two years the previous administration did not complete the plan update.    The reason was simple, the new plan extended the reach of potential local government beyond land use and into daily activities of residents.   

Many members and residents asked why the extension beyond the land use issue into other areas?

The reason was quite simple.   When approved, the expanded comprehensive plan would allow local government to promulgate local administrative regulations to regulate these areas under the auspices of "land use"   and could force planning decisions and council decisions toward greater regulation of daily activities.    If they did not, these decisions could be subject to legal challenge in the courts.   

Its a scary expansion of the reach of local government over our lives.    That is what has so many citizens concerned about the expansion of the comprehensive plan.  

It expands the role of government over the residents of Lake Oswego.    The comprehensive plan rather than a rewrite and update of a land use planning document has become the vehicle for a political ideology to allow for the future implementation of regulatory controls.   

So who else is supporting or opposed to the expansion of local government over our property rights and behaviors?    Councilor Gustafson supports it along with former City Councilor Ellie McPeak while it appears Mayor Studebaker and four other councilors (Kehoe,Gudman,Bowerman, and O'Neill)  oppose the expansion and have acted to clearly identify the non land use elements for review.  

Its also clear that former councilors Moncrieff and Tierney are highly involved in the effort to try to organize active support for the plan and impede the efforts of the new council.    Many members reported form the first meeting of the new coalition group that Councilor Tierney is very upset at being handily rejected by the voters last fall.   

Many suspect another influence is behind the efforts in an attempt to wrestle former control over the city back form the current council and the voters as they appeared during testimony this week.  

Its a political power struggle over not the past but future control of the city and its direction.

How?  Through planning our daily lives and exercising control over with future regulations at the local level.  Something these past administrations did very well with sensitive lands ordinances, tree codes, and other tools at their disposal.   They wont be backing off despite the results of multiple elections.  

More to come....

Please notify all members, contacts, and friends.  


Thursday, April 18, 2013

Citizen Comments Irate Over Attack On Council's Comprehensive Plan Decision

To All COLA LO Members,

Last night the council voted 5-2 to continue with their proposal to identify provisions of the comprehensive plan that were not land use related.    The council delayed the decision for two weeks to obtain more public input. 

It appears some of that public comment was rather demeaning and degrading.   Several members of the past administration and current board members testified at the council hearing.  

The Oregonian published an article today on the decision Comprehensive Plan Changes.

What is interesting is the citizen comments on line in response to the attacks on the council.   As one citizen states:  

" The small "Coalition" of people making such a fuss over every move this new council makes refuse to accept the outcome of the last two elections. They are still trying to push the Metro regional plan for Lake Oswego by bullying the new mayor, rudely questioning his authority, and making false claims that the new council is doing things underhanded. It is more than just a bunch of "hullabaloo". It's disrespectful, ugly, divisive, partisan politics PLANNED by people who can't stand that Lake Oswego voters have got their number and have elected a new mayor and council majority that care more about LO than Metro.  "

It will be interesting to see how the press covers the decision given that in large part citizens support the councils actions.   

Several COLA Members testified before council or were present at the council meeting last night.  

Please notify all members, contacts, and friends.   


Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Oregonian Blasts Portland's High Water rates. Guess where LO is On Water Rates?

To All COLA LO Members,

This past week the Oregonian came out blasting Portland for its high water rates and massive projects over the past decade.    Claiming Portland is one of the most expensive cities in the Nation for water and sewer rates.  

The article is unique and can be found at:  Portland's High Water & Sewer Rates.

Unfortunately for us many don't know that Lake Oswego is currently the second highest city in the area in terms of water and sewer rates.    That makes Lake Oswego one of the most expensive small towns in the nation for water!  Incredible!

The council voted recently to increase water rates another 12.5% effective July and the current plan is for another 12.5% next year and 5% for the following years.    At those rates LO may be the most expensive small city in the nation for water and sewer.  

Its time our new council begin to address this issue in earnest.    Can we really afford to be #2 right behind Portland in a state where it rains seven months out of the year?  

Please notify all members, contacts, and friends.  

Friday, April 12, 2013

LO City Council Begins To Exhibit "A Direction"

To All COLA LO Members,

Many members have been asking themselves "what is the direction of this new council?"   We are beginning to see an outline of the general direction of the council over its first 3 months in office.   Several of the decisions have come as a surprise to members and citizens.  

We thought it would be time to evaluate some of the decisions to give an overview of the council early on in this administration.   As most members know this administration was elected in response to the policies of the past two administrations and deep concerns within the community regarding spending, debt, conditions of  streets, and a belief that wasteful projects were attempting to change the community character.  

So lets look at key decisions:

  1. The first decision was the hiring of a new interim City Manager Tom Coffee.   The mayor made this decision early and was supported by the majority of the council 5-2.    Many believe this was a decision to promote interim change within the bureaucracy.Interim City Manager
  2. The second decision was to fundamentally change the sensitive lands ordinance and refocus its impact on public properties rather than private property within the city.   The council further agreed to meet with Metro and renegotiate the impact of this effort.  Sensitive Lands
  3. The third decision was to expedite completion of the comprehensive plan through recommendations presented by interim planning director Ron Bunch.   This project has gone on for several years eventually costing taxpayers $1.2 million for a land use plan.   Many in the community thought this effort was excessive for an update and represented a shift toward planning out the lives of residents and further restricting the community through a land use planning tool.  Comp Plan
  4. The Council voted to move ahead with the water Partnership citing no alternative given the contractual agreement with Tigard.   However it has also worked with the Tigard city council to renegotiate the agreement and participation rates to mitigate the impact on LO ratepayers.  LO Tigard Water
  5. Finally council decided to continue with the North Anchor Development effort omitting the possibility of a library after the bond measure was soundly defeated in the 2012 election.   This came a s a surprise to many citizens in the community because North Anchor had been the target of many citizen complaints regarding excessive spending on properties and lack of transparency in the process.   No Library
Overall members and citizens have noted a remarkable level of diversity of opinion on this council with members voting different ways on different issues.    Many decisions have been 5-2 in favor of the more conservative majority while others have been 4-3 with councilors O'Neill and Gudman voting with the more liberal councilors Gustafson and Jordan on specific issues. 

 While this may have rankled some conservative residents it shows a level of independent thought that is unique and clearly differentiates this council from prior administrations.  

Its too early to evaluate the performance of this council, yet it appears this council is doing what was expected on policy but isn't as fiscally responsible as the voters hoped.  

COLA will be providing an evaluation this summer on the performance of the council after six months in office.    We will be gathering input form a wide variety of residents including non-members before we publish the evaluation.   

Please  notify all members, contacts, and friends.  

Thursday, April 11, 2013

New Poltiical Group Draws Strong Response From LO Citizens

To All COLA LO Members,

The new political group which launched last week named "the coalition"  drew strong response form citizens in both the Oregonian and the LO review.   Several COAL members attended their initial meeting and reported back that the meeting seemed decidedly negative with a Strong animosity toward the newly elected council members. 

In addition members reported that the discussion was highly partisan and that the meeting included partisan activists after the meeting was announced on a county political parity web site.   The partisan nature of the new group came as little surprise to many given that the two councilors who were founders of the group accepted partisan support in their election efforts. 

Some details can be found in the citizen article Negative Start. 

The new group seems focused on the comprehensive plan, sensitive lands and other areas of policy.   Another citizen from a local group provided additional comment on the Coalition's views on the sensitive lands position of the new council.   Details can be found at Coalition Challenged over Sensitive Lands. 

Several COLA members have reported back that former Councilor Tierney seemed unusually harsh and resentful of his defeat in the 2012 election.  

General details can be found at:   Coalition.

Please notify all members, contacts, and friends.  

Monday, April 8, 2013

Local Blogger Lists COLA Blog as the One to Watch in LO

To All COLA LO Members.

This past week the prolific and iconic blogger Jack Bogdanski (  posted that the COLA LO blog is the one to watch regarding LO politics and the battle to ensure good governance in the community.  

Details can be found in Blogroll.  

Needless to say many members wish JackBog well in his new professional endeavor.    Whether we agreed or disagreed with his posts, they always had both entertainment and logical merit to them.   

Jack even went so far as to sue the City of Portland over its arts tax Blogger Sues

Many COLA LO members were often heard asking if people had read the latest post on his blog.  

Thanks for the insights Jack!!!!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

City Council Loads More Costs Onto Citizens!

To All COLA LO Members,

This past week our new City Council  voted 6-1 to increase rates an astonishing 12.5% for water despite the community "howling" over the costs of its water and sewer bills.   Only Councilor Bowerman opposed the rate increase.

Citizens and members are wondering about the direction of the new council with this vote.  

Details can be found at Water Rates  and Another Rise in Water Rates?

Its too early to tell but many may be wondering if this council really intends to reform the mistakes of the past or just "pass the buck".   Lets give it enough time to evaluate but it is clear costs are going up in Lake Oswego, even under a "fiscally conservative"  council. 

Please notify all members, contacts, and friends.... 

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