The City of Salem has put up a Survey Monkey poll about the proposed $80 million, 150,000 square foot police facility -- which is vastly overpriced, threatens the vitalization of downtown, and has sucked up money needed to make the Library and City Hall earthquake-ready.
It is REALLY important that as many people as possible take the survey. Two questions are especially crucial.
Here's my highly informed opinion about how you should answer them. I've followed the New Police Facility Saga closely for several years.
Question 4 asks if you would vote "yes" on a $81 million bond measure. Say NO, because this is more than double what a properly-sized and properly-priced Salem police facility should cost. A Salem Community Vision position paper, "Salem's New Police Facility: The Best Way To Achieve It," backs this assertion up.
Question 15 asks if you'd be more or less likely to vote for the bond measure if you knew that purported savings from the $81 million construction cost would go for earthquake safety upgrades to the Civic Center and Library. Either say LESS LIKELY or NO DIFFERENCE.
This is a deeply irritating question to the many people, including me, who feel strongly about making seismic upgrades to City Hall and the Library in order to save lives when the Big One earthquake hits, which was the original plan of City officials before the cost of a new police facility doubled.
To put it bluntly, it is complete bullshit to suggest that the $15-20 million cost of those seismic upgrades can be paid for out of cost savings from a $81 million construction budget. That's a 25% cost under-run!
Yet the top Chicago consultant hired to plan the now vastly oversized/overpriced police facility recently told the Mayor and city councilors that construction costs are rising 6-7% a year in this economy. So is it really likely that $20 million can be saved from the $81 million budget?
Much better would be to markedly reduce the size and cost of the new police facility so the seismic upgrades can be paid for directly by the bond measure. Don't be tricked by this question. It is just a way to fool citizens into believing City officials have a plan to make the seismic upgrades.
Take the survey. Answer the questions however you want. I just feel a duty to say how I feel what the answers to these two questions should be.
Final gripe: I noted two typos in the survey. One is in question 4 above, two "new's."
Look: typos happen. Heck, I might have made some in this blog post, though I do my best to proofread what I write before I publish something. But come on; this is an important survey. Reading it through several times before making it live on Survey Monkey wouldn't have been a big deal.