Recently, I was approached by a local citizen who was plenty upset after reading a recent letter I had written that was published in the East Oregonian. Apparently he feels that I’m too sarcastic in my criticism of some actions taken by our City Hall. I explained that I was just expressing not only my views, but also those of friends and acquaintances. That was when he set me straight, letting me know that I was hanging around with the wrong people and making comments that were dividing the city. His parting remarks were, grow up, get with it, and support the local “movers and shakers” of the community because they know what’s best for everyone.
My self-confidence was shaken to learn that since childhood, I had been associating with the wrong people. It turns out that the education I received in the Pendleton public school system regarding democratic principles was nothing but hogwash, and that real world experience, mostly military duty overseas, meant nothing. Evidently, what I needed was his strong dose of reality to set me on the right path.
Actually, after the last election I was somewhat optimistic that politics as usual was in for a change. Goals were established to correct the neglect of city buildings and infrastructure. Goals that made sense. Activities such as Pendleton Bike Week, the summer concert series, Oktoberfest and Cattle Barons Weekend were maturing on the tourism front, and the UAV program began to produce results at the airport. However, with all this new prosperity, I fear City Hall is losing its focus and drifting away from their established goals, shifting its support to expensive private or special interest projects that benefit few.
We’ve taken on a lot of debt with the infrastructure updates and airport construction projects. Projects at the airport, financed partially with a large state grant that the governor presented with great fanfare, which will most likely turn in to a loan that must be repaid for the failure to create the required number of jobs. Infrastructure loans that we, you and I, must repay directly through increased utility rates and fees. Consequently, it’s time for City Hall to refocus on those agreed-upon goals and start by saying “no” to those nonprofits and committees asking for funding of projects that have little public support.
As for those “movers and shakers?” I think I’d rather keep with the friends and acquaintances I’ve made growing up here.