Mr. Alex McHaddad and his fellow Republican-endorsed La Grande City Council candidates present a number of ideas about city governance as their platform.
Central to their platform is the idea that city government lacks transparency. Nothing could be further from the truth. The city more than meets all requirements for meeting notification and posting of minutes. There are multiple routes for citizens to receive such notifications.
McHaddad has suggested that all committee and commission meetings should be recorded. Of course, city council and budget committee meetings already are. How much would his proposal cost? Five committees meet monthly. That's 60 meetings a year, at $600/session to Brent Clapp. That's $36,000 a year. Three other committees meet on an as-needed basis. If they each meet twice a year, that's an additional six meetings, and the total video cost would be nearly $40,000. Is this the best use of our tax dollars? I think not.
Another central point in their platform is snow removal. Currently, the city starts plowing if 6 inches of snow have fallen. McHaddad proposes plowing all arterials if 2 inches of snow falls. It takes a day for snowplows, trucks and operators to do this, and costs $20,000. A 2-inch arterial plow policy could easily necessitate 10 extra plows a year. Should we earmark $200,000 of our already stretched public works budget for 2 inches of snow? I think not.
McHaddad proposes a police commission. The number of complaints about police in La Grande is vanishingly small. Do we really need a commission? I think not. Do I need, as McHaddad proposes, to have "coffee with a cop"? I think not. I'd rather have police on the street than meeting with me. We have a great police department. Let them do their job.
The reality is Mr. McHaddad and his slate don't have much of a platform to run on. So they fabricate issues where none exist and propose unnecessary and expensive solutions without discussing where the money will come from.
Our city government functions pretty darn well. Hard choices about resource allocations have to be made, and not everyone will agree with council and the city manager's actions. But, given the economic constraints the city faces, we should be giving council and staff a big thank-you. One way of doing this is to retain our incumbents with your vote when your ballot arrives.