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May 05, 2014

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The hideous reminder of this nearly criminal act of cutting down heathy, beautiful PUBLIC trees assaults our eyes every time we move south on Commercial past Court. There, at State is the naked beneficiary of the heinous act - in all it's glory. "I have more power than You!" The bank shouts at the passing peasantry. On a scale of 1-10 little blue pills, Mr. Allbritton must still get a hit of 5 or 6 as he pulls into his executive parking spot.

And what do we get? Probably another 4 years of secret deals between City bigwigs and their faithful contributors. Peasantry need not apply.

Yes, piss on us and laugh about it behind our backs!

Bravo Brian. I think we need a fund-raising party to reimburse you for your public records request costs. If folks in Salem are smart enough to vote for Tom Andersen, Scott Bassett and Xue Lor, this kind of thing will end.

Jim, let's wait and see how my Circuit Court case goes. I'm appealing Peter Fernandez' denial of my fee waiver request. Like I said in the report, it's a strangely small world at City Hall these days.

I make some public records requests in order to learn more about how a horrible decision by Peter Fernandez to allow the killing of five healthy, large, beautiful trees that weren't causing any problems came to be.

Then I ask for a fee waiver because my requests were in the public interest. Which, obviously, they were -- as shown by the 10 outrages I describe in the report, which is based largely on information I got from the public records requests.

And who turns out to be the City staff person that decides whether I should get a fee waiver? Peter Fernandez. Not surprisingly, he denied the request. Surprisingly, and bad for the City, legally, Fernandez didn't give any reason for denying the request.

Since public records law requires that he first needed to decide if my fee request was in the public interest, this pretty much screws the City, legally speaking. Anything can happen in a court case, but I'm pretty confident that the law and facts are on my side. The City's legal arguments have been very poor so far.

Just as Fernandez' arguments supporting killing of the five trees were. At least he's consistent -- consistently making poor decisions that lack good reasons to back them up. Hopefully the judge will order the City to reimburse me for the cost of the public records requests. Then we can have a party to celebrate my winning the Circuit Court case.

I wish that Salem would preserve things such as: trees, historic buildings, the underground tunnels, parks in general, public school grounds, sidewalks in the downtown/ North neighborhoods etc.. I can go on and on... I guess it has a lot to do with shady deal-making and wasteful behavior like this.

Thank you, Brian. Your reports are becoming more relevant than what passes for news at the Statesman Journal. Good luck with your court case.

I'm backing Bradd Swank in the city council race. He's the only candidate talking about specific issues. Namely, the city council's underhanded was of trying to pass costs onto renters, homeowners, and small businesses by shifting those costs from the General Fund, to utility bill fees.

http://www.shac.net/action/US_Bank/index.html

What do the Royal Bank of Scotland, Stephens Inc., NYSE and Fortress Investment Group have in common? All are major financial institutions that severed their links with the notorious animal testing laboratory Huntingdon Life Sciences following exposure and protest pressure.

In 2013 U.S. Bank National Association (U.S. Bank) was uncovered as the latest institution to step in and provide a loan and rescue HLS from collapse. U.S. Bank is now the lab’s largest debt provider.

U.S. Bank has chosen to support Huntingdon Life Sciences knowing full well what goes on inside its horror labs. We need your help to persuade U.S. Bank to end its relationship with HLS!

Sounds like City Hall needs a good sweep. Are we not all fed up with public officials running roughshod over the public they are presumably required to serve. Deal making with vested interests is another arm of corruption. Thank you for serving the public interest. Salem's trees were beautiful and The Lord knows Salem needs all the beauty it can get.

Thanks for your in-depth reporting on this travesty. The more I learn about Salem city government and the city council, the more disgusted I become.

The city's handling of public record requests clearly doesn't comply with state law - I'm glad you're taking them to court! City officials know that charging outrageous fees to access public records will discourage most such requests and they won't have to bother with justifying their actions. Fortunately, you called their bluff!

Again, thank you for all of your work!

Is there no way to have Fernandez removed from office?

Alastair, I think the way this works is that Fernandez, like other directors of City of Salem departments, is appointed by the City Manager. And the City Manager is appointed by the Mayor (and maybe City Council). So likely it would take a change in leadership at City Hall to remove Fernandez as Public Works Director. Great idea, though.

I have a question for you, Brian. You seem to have a lot of outrage in how the city is run. You call for Mr. Fernandez's removal, you talk to displeased residents, and you "expose" all these "back room" dealings, etc. But my question for you is this: why don't you volunteer to help on a city committee? There are so many and you are retired so surely you must have a lot of time on your hands. Instead of "offering" to rake leaves or spending all your time talking to "people in the know" or worrying about problems that happen to the city (which by the way, you don't even live in the city) why don't you spend that precious time and offer your services to a cause you feel so strongly for? I look forward to your intelligent response per usual.

a concerned citizen, you're right: I don't live in Salem. I live in rural south Salem, where I've been the secretary of our community organization for over 20 years. So, yes, I do a lot of volunteer work. It just is for the neighborhood where I live, outside of Salem. My wife is the chair of our Lake and Trail Committee (the organization owns common property), and she drags me into doing other stuff -- like her crazy plan to build turtle platforms (turns out, the turtles prefer natural logs).

Also, I feel that what I'm doing blog-wise is essential, and not everybody is able to do what I do. Namely, tell the truth about what is going on at the City of Salem in a way that our so-called "paper of record," the Statesman Journal, isn't capable of doing, or wants to do.

What keeps me going, in part, is the number of people who regularly thank me for keeping them informed about Salem happenings that aren't being reported elsewhere. I've become a place where concerned citizens can tell their story -- since officials at the City and staff at the Statesman Journal are notoriously uncaring about looking into problems and misdeeds at City Hall.

As you may know, I also volunteer as an unpaid columnist for Salem Weekly and handle the web site for a fairly new organization, Salem Community Vision. So I don't worry about not doing my volunteering share. But thanks for suggesting city committees.

When I lived in Salem I served on a cat licensing committee, which was pretty darn interesting, I do have to say. Believe me, if a Salem mayor ever wants to stir up controversy, he or she can again propose to require that cats be licensed. Not an appealing idea to cat owners, I remember with great clarity.

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