Friday, September 27, 2013

Will Council Appointment Produce an "Ethics Investigation?"

To ALL COLA LO Members,

This week under a cloud of controversy the city council voted 4-1 to appoint a new city councilor.   Several councilors complained about the process during the meeting and one abstained from the vote. 

Most of the discord was generated by allegations of "coercion & corruption"   in the final vote directed specifically at Councilor Skip O'Neill but also others.  

Councilor O'Neill's comments were published in the LO Review as:

However, addressing the accusations about coercion, O'Neill said, “There are people in Lake Oswego willing to go to new lows. And there are some that can walk with their heads high and others that can’t.”

The article can be found at:   City Council Appoints.   

The Oregonian also published details in its article Accusations of a corrupt selection process.

It will be interesting to see if the rancor over the process produces a complaint and ethics investigation similar to one conducted during the Hoffman administration and one recently conducted over disclosure of confidential information. 

Complaints are filed with the State of Oregon  at Oregon Government Ethics Commission.

It will be interesting to see what the community thinks about all of this.

Please notify all members, contacts, and friends.   

Thursday, September 26, 2013

WEB Sale Proposal Heats Up the City Council

To All COLA LO Members,

This past week the city council held a hearing on the sale of the West End Building (WEB).    There was ample testimony by citizens all evening with most asking the council to reconsider the sale.  

Why?  It seems there is concern in the community of what type of development the sale would bring to the WEB location.   The proposed sale at $16.5 million is contingent on the city rezoning the site to "General Commercial".  

Many believe the re-zoning will attract a high density commercial development complex to the site.   

Its all speculation now as the council decided to postpone a vote for two weeks until it has time to consider the testimony and alternatives.    Many citizens asked the council to develop a long term plan for the WEB. 

Unfortunately over the past 7 years such a plan has been elusive because all the options require a massive investment which at a minimum would be DOUBLE the original purchase price of $20 million.  

Details can be found at:  Council Postpones PositionReaders React to Proposed Sale and The WEB may go.

It will  be interesting to see if the council makes a final decision at their October 8th meeting.  

Please notify all members, contacts, and friends.   

Monday, September 23, 2013

Ratings Agencies Provide Insight into the Challenges Facing Lake Oswego

TO All COLA LO Members,

Last month the bond ratings agencies provided insight when they rated the $77 million in Full Faith & Credit (FF&C) bonds issued by the city to pay for the LO-Tigard Water Project. 

 In previous reviews the rating agencies asked limited questions and focused on the city's commitment to LO School District when it provided an additional $1.2 million in funds through a franchise fee increase. 

This bond review although rated AAA, clearly detailed the challenges facing Lake Oswego.   In the report the analysts stated the following:


- Slow debt amortization

- Recent stagnation in tax base's Real Market Value


- n/a


- Deterioration of financial position due to greater than expected declines in operating revenues

- Prolonged downturn in the local economy

- Substantial deterioration in the city's socioeconomic measures

In short the analysts were saying that the city must maintain its property values and its affluent resident base to maintain its credit rating over time.  

 Its a clear signal of the issues facing Lake Oswego over the long run as the population matures.  

 To maintain its credit rating the city must continue to maintain a wealthy base of citizens who will support an ever growing debt burden while it also ensures conservative financial policies are maintained.   That's no easy task in a poor economy without a very precise plan and action.   

The report can be found at the following link:  LO Bond Rating.

Basic socioeconomic information on LO can be found at:  Lake Oswego Wiki

Please notify all members, contacts, and friends.   

Saturday, September 14, 2013

City Declares There is a Buyer for the WEB at $16.5 million?

To All COLA LO Members,

Just late last week the city finally announced the terms of an offer on the WEB building.   The details can be found in the city press release WEB to be sold?

Unfortunately the price is $16.5 million and of last reporting the city owes $18.5 million on the line of credit used by the Hammerstad administration to purchase the facility.  

Its an amazing proposition that the city would sell the property and stick taxpayers with a $2 million loss.   Are they just dumping the property and hoping taxpayers will not notice?  

As the direction of the current administration unfolds its any one's guess what is driving it in these decisions.  There will be a hearing on the prospective sale at the council meeting on 9/24/13.  

How would any potential loss of $2 million be paid for?   That is a question many residents are now asking themselves.   Is the city going to be sending residents a bill for the difference?  

Nobody knows at this time.   Stay tuned.  

Please notify all members, contacts, and friends.   

Monday, September 9, 2013

LOSD Local Option On the Ballot

To ALL COLA LO members,

The LOSD local option levy will be on the November ballot.    LOSD has decided to propose the option early in case the measure fails so they will have another opportunity next spring.    While there is strong support for the option in the community its any one's guess how the vote will turn out.   

Details on the options official filing can be found here:  Official Notice of District Measure.

The school boards plans were published in the Oregonian earlier this summer LOSD Plans.

Given the fall off year election cycle its likely that voter participation may only be in the range of 28-32%   That may bode well for the success of the measure.     The previous levy election was in a cycle with a major presidential race in November 2008.     Participation was much higher and the
levy was approved by a 14% margin 

See below for the Clackamas county results. 

          Vote for  1
           Yes  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .    13,109   56.86
           No.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .     9,944   43.14

It will be interesting to see the details of this ballot measure in an off year election cycle.  

Please notify all members, contacts, and friends.    

Thursday, September 5, 2013

More Details on Sensitive Lands Loss by City

To All COLA LO Members,

The LO review published additional information this week on the LUBA appeal by the City to reduce sensitive lands on a specific tree grove.   It provides additional insight into the parties involved and their perspectives.  

The article:  State Rejects City Removal of Protections provides a response from the LO stewards group and the Mayor.

Its becoming clear to any reasonable citizen that changes to the program are not likely to be approved by METRO and other State agencies without substantial justification.     That will likely require years of effort and a large amount of public funds.   

The City is to decide on additional efforts to reign in the program this year but many wonder if those efforts will ever see the light of day now that the city has lost on two separate occasions.    Citizens will wonder how much expenditure is justified if METRO will not approve any changes to the program that was passed by the prior administration.   

Its an unfortunate situation involving property rights issues and now reasonability of spending in taxpayer funds. 

At some point residents have to wonder if a citizen group is better off making a legal challenge justified by the " economic impairment"  on their property?  

Please notify all members, contacts, and friends.   

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