OP/ED: About Manzanita City Council

To: Undecided Voters
From: Julianne Johnson, Manzanita resident
Over the weekend, a friend of mine asked to talk about our races. I was surprised. She and her husband are longtime residents and close followers of City operations. I agreed and we stood outside, under a porch roof, while it rained. We were there long enough to get so chilled that I came home to take a hot bath!

She: I don’t like voting for a slate.
Me: You are voting for a slate either way. Mayor Mike Scott declared more than once that he would not run again for mayor—then Scott Galvin filed and the mayor realized they needed his vote to maintain the status quo. I think the same thing happened with Hans Tonjes—not planning to run again until he noticed those running in opposition to the status quo.

She: They don’t seem to behave in a democratic or collaborative way unless you are counting how they always agree with themselves.
Me: I agree. They seem to be offended by questions, not open to real representation. But look at their backgrounds—the majority come either from a leadership position that required conformance the military way or from a Lone Ranger leadership position where internal teambuilding and collaboration with people of differing views was not necessary.

She: I don’t think anyone on the Council got there by running a campaign.
Me: Right. They use a self-perpetuating mechanism to maintain their “club.” When there is a vacancy, the remaining Council Members appoint someone to join their “club.” After serving as an appointed Member, the said appointed Member runs for election as an unopposed incumbent. Hmmm.

She: That club mentality cuts off outsiders’ questions.
Me: Indeed it does. It reminds me of Groupthink. That is the term academics came up with to describe the debacle of the Bay of Pigs Invasion early in the JFK Administration. The long-planned-by-military-leaders invasion was set to go with dates identified for the invasion before JFK took office. In discussions in the White House Situation Room, JFK’s appointees did not challenge the military leaders even though some had misgivings. There was a feeling of intimidation purely by majority.
So majorities can carry the vote without examining challenges, without examining supporting evidence and details. The Manzanita City Council for some years has operated as a Groupthink tank. Me? I think the devil IS in the details and sometimes it is important to dig deep.

She: This whole City Hall stuff . . .
Me: A few points to make on City Hall stuff.
1. The current issue of mold and the temporary move to insufficient quarters could have been a non-issue if the Council had dug deep into some details when long-ago they were first notified of a probably mold question in City Hall. Mold develops with lack of maintenance. Lack of maintenance happens with lack of leadership. Maintenance problems don’t go away, they get bigger.
2. The new City Hall issue started with problems with the purchase. Here’s the deal—every single real estate agent I know advises purchasing clients to get their own appraisal. To take on face value the seller’s appraisal is to go with the highest price, not the accurate market value. She: But the seller was local and maybe they didn’t want to rock the boat. Me: Maybe.
3. The new City Hall issue got more complicated when the City Council bound itself to the idea of a brand new City Hall and took the word of an engineer who took a 15-minute walk through the complex and declared it a tear-down. A thorough engineering study showed a different evaluation. Now, as it sits without maintenance during these years, it may get moved into the arena of a tear-down rather than the arena of a revitalized remodel at significantly less than the cost of new build. This way the City Council “club” gets its own way again.

She: I keep getting these mailings from current Council Members for themselves or endorsing their own.
Me: I know it! Congratulating themselves for doing their jobs. Really? Congratulations for moving staff out of the moldy City Hall when they needed to take care of that issue ages ago? Really? Doing something about the pandemic only AFTER the town was in an uproar? Really? Accepting an “engineering report” after a brief walk through? Really:

Me: Look, everywhere we turn we hear someone say about political incumbents that they’ve been there too long, that there ought to be term limits, that we need new eyes and ears on the problems and the solutions. Why in the world is that not also true right here in Manzanita?

Me: I am voting for those new eyes and ears and I look forward to some deep digging into details, some challenges of each other, of city staff led by City Council Members. Remember if you vote for only two out of three, the “club” can shut down the questions, the challenges, and the newly suggested solutions.

I look forward to a City Council eager to hear from constituents—who treat us like intelligent beings who have interests in how our City is run.

She: Me, too.

Vote for Scott Galvin, Jerry Spegman , and Randy Kugler.