A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Albany panel includes critics

Written January 17th, 2014 by Hasso Hering


The proposed police station site on S.W. Pacific last summer.

The proposed police station site on S.W. Pacific last summer.

That’s one huge committee that’s been recruited to review the plans for Albany’s proposed new police headquarters and downtown fire station, and it includes both supporters and critics of past city council policies and spending decisions.

Former state Sen. Frank Morse and retired Sheriff Dave Burright announced the members’ names this morning (Jan. 17). There are 15 of them in addition to the two co-chairmen. When they meet for the first time, in the council chambers at City Hall at 7 p.m. on Jan. 28, they will have to jostle for space at the council table. If they all have questions or comments during their deliberations over the next few months, those meetings are going to take a while.

More significant than the size of this panel is its composition. It includes at least two members, Tom Cordier and Skeet Arasmith, who were critical of city spending in another context, the downtown urban renewal program. Both were instrumental in the citizen initiative that limited the city council’s authority to incur debt.

The panel also includes a former chairman of the urban renewal advisory board, Chris Norman, who now works for the Oregon Health Authority. He and Linn County administrator Ralph Wyatt are the only members who still work in government jobs. As intended, the panel is heavy on current and retired business representatives; I count 10 of those. Also, there’s at least one contractor, Ron Reimers; one architect, Bill Ryals, and one engineer and developer, David Reece.

After voters rejected a proposed $20.3 million bond issue last fall, the city council’s assumption and hope is that this special committee’s review of the police and fire station plans will persuade voters that the facilities are necessary and the plans sound. Perhaps the committee chairmen think that this task will be akin to pulling teeth, and maybe that’s why among the members there are Geoffrey Berg and Patrick Hagerty, dentists both. (hh)

One response to “Albany panel includes critics”

  1. Gordon L. Shadle says:

    Given the current level of tone-deafness and general lack of trust that exists with this mayor/council, the toughest job of this “independent” committee will be earning credibility with voters. Looking at some of the names on the committee list, I have some doubt that “independence” from the mayor and council is achievable. Burright and Morse have a big challenge ahead.


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