Saturday, July 13, 2013
City council claims
In a letter dated June 25 this year, our mayor and city council claim that the Cascade Locks fire department is fully funded and uses that as a justification for the redirection of funds to the water department. Nothing could be farther from the truth.
Cascade Locks fire/EMS has a broken-down eight-plus-year-old ambulance well past the end of its service life that’s needed replacing for some time. The problems with this ambulance are multiple and I won’t list them here.
Another claim made is we have two full-time employees; that’s true as far as it goes, but Cascade Locks should have two paramedics on staff to take care of more than one shift.
A year ago there was an emergency services committee formed and two paramedics were one of its recommendations. That’s never been done. We need more than one paramedic and a fire chief to ensure the safety of people traveling through our area on I-84 and the citizens of Cascade Locks.
There are many other urgent needs the fire department has for equipment; they are not being filled. Misdirecting funds from public safety to the water bureau will not increase the ability of our fire and ambulance departments and give them the ability to respond to emergencies in a responsible manner.
More than guidelines
The type of government we have in Hood River is laid out in the City of Hood River Charter.
The Charter is the “Constitution” for the City of Hood River. Just as the United States Constitution serves as the “supreme law of the land” for our country, the Hood River Charter serves as the basic set of rules for our city government.
The Hood River Charter limits City officials in much the same way that the Constitution constrains the officials of the federal government. They are not allowed to pass any law or act in any way except as described by the City Charter.
The Charter establishes the boundaries that Hood River’s people have imposed upon their city government. It is the source of the City’s system of checks and balances, prescribing the relationship between the mayor, the city council and the city manager. It gives the mayor authority run the city council meeting, appoint committees provided by the rules of the council, appoint the officers of the city and may be removed by the mayor, with the consent of the council. The mayor shall sign all approved documents and records of proceedings of the council.
The Charter gives the city manager the responsibility to be the chief administrative officer of the city. The city manager shall be responsible for the direction and supervision of all activities of city departments, the execution of the budget and implementation of policy as established by the city council.
The problem we have in Hood River right now and the reason we lost the best city manager we have ever had, is the mayor and one of the council members are acting outside of the City Charter. The mayor has been meeting with city employees and interfering with the city manager.
Finally, the city manager could not take any more interference by the mayor and resigned.
Just as our representatives have to follow the Constitution, they also must follow the Charter. The Constitution and the Charter are not just guidelines; they are the law.
Monday night’s meeting (July 8) at City Hall was a demonstration of the power of words.
Used with conviction, simplicity, and a feeling for spoken language, words can produce actions that people believe in.
Used ineptly, they can produce the opposite result. A complete distrust of the speaker and the message.
Mayor Babitz and another member of the council in addressing a response to the resignation of City Manager Bob Francis used the cliché phrases of ‘process’ weasle-words in what sounded like a poorly crafted PR statement from an embattled CEO in a bad situation looking for a face-saving way to coat the acute situation without addressing the problem.
Mr. Francis heard it this way in his refusal to participate in the suggested “process.” He rightly ascribed his refusal to lack of trust in those who offered the trite words of human relations palliatives.
Mayor Babitz doesn’t seem to understand what the role of the city council or the mayor are in the Hood River City Manager form of government.
Mayor Babitz, an electrical engineer, is working with a “hot” system and has in his disregard for the management procedure necessary to our system received an “arc flash.”
Alas, the rest of us have, as well.
We have lost a truly effective, professional city manager. This was apparent to those at City Hall Monday evening. City employees, former elected city officials, drafters of the city management charter, business owners, and just-plain-residents spoke out in deplorement of the mayor and the council and in praise for Mr. Francis.
I offer these simple words. The 3 Rs: Resign or Recall, Regardless!
Rediscovering the soul
Death and dying today occurs more often in a medical location or in a care facility. Those present are usually medical or other staff so that, most people have never viewed life’s last moments when the body loses its life-force, dies, and becomes lifeless.
In ages past families and good friends actually gathered around the deathbed and many witnessed the person’s passage from life. Over time human experience came to a consensus to recognize the departing life-force as the persona’s “immortal or eternal soul.”
The advent of modern humans is often dated from the time when food, weapons and favorite items began to be buried with the dead body. Many scientists considered the custom to imply the belief in an Afterlife. That idea has also been interpreted to include the concept of a Creator-God.
In our modern, fast-paced world most of us lack the opportunity of the end-of-lfe observation mentioned earlier. In the lives we live today we have countless concerns and so many dazzling attractions that too easily distract us from considering our own dying. Some say we, as individuals and as a society, are actually in a state of denial regarding the reality that we each will one day die.
We may help improve the quality of our culture and raise the level of our individual relationships by taking a closer look at values which really matter most in the long run: faith, hope, love, gratitude, and especially honesty. Rediscover and honor the soul. We each have only one and it is forever.
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Cascade Locks brush fire
Video of a brush fire near downtown Cascade Locks which erupted Aug. 27, 2015. Enlarge