Why? This is the most frequent interrogative word I’ve heard for the last three weeks. People have asked why the city decided to take out a loan from Banner Bank for the expansion of the Convention Center, is spending $166,000 for new crosswalks on Main Street, and is requiring property owners to pay for half the costs of a new street that benefits a new business. The information about these three projects can be found in a July 3 story in the East Oregonian.

First, has the convention trade in Pendleton increased so much that there is a need to spend more than $850,000 to expand the building? The fact that the city council applied for a loan from Banner Bank for $600,000 and then discovered that the project will actually cost almost $300,000 more indicates the business acumen of our elected leaders.

The EO story also states, “After they started building a tire shop and auto center on the west side of the street, owners Toby Carlson and Dusty Pace requested that each property owner share the cost of improving the road.” This business was approved by the city to start construction before the street issue was addressed? Are property owners supposed to go bankrupt because the project was inappropriately green lighted?

Finally, let’s apply the word “why” to the crosswalk project. I came downtown recently and there were no pedestrians on the 200 and 300 blocks of Main Street. This is common, especially on the weekends. Nevertheless, the city council unanimously approved the only bid that came from Pioneer Construction for $166,241. Why were they unanimous? The answer to this question was revealed in the same EO story. “Patterson said the first crossing will be done by Aug. 6, in time for the Oregon Mayors Association summer conference.” Our mayor wanted another photo op.

One of the repercussions of this project is that the next phase will be on the 300 block, the site for the Farmers Market. This could be fortuitous, as we should change the venue to one of our many shaded city parks that would provide a respite from the scorching sun. This is successfully done in Hermiston and Milton Freewater.

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