You can read what this person said below. I share his/her skepticism.
Especially regarding Mayor Peterson's attempt at a "united" spin. Actually, no way has she presided over a collaborative, consensus-building, citizen involvement-based administration.
Instead, Mayor Peterson, City Manager Linda Norris, Public Works Director Peter Fernandez, and most city councillors have done their best to ignore public input, facts, and expert advice in favor of top-down bureaucratic policy-making.
Five notable examples:
(1) City's Shade Tree Advisory Committee and urban arborist recommend against cutting down five large healthy downtown trees. Fernandez does it anyway, after making a backroom deal with the US Bank Regional President who is incoming Chamber of Commerce president. Protests erupt, understandably. So much for "united."
(2) City establishes a task force to consider the wisdom of downtown parking meters. The task force never asks downtown small businesses what they think of the idea, and doesn't allow citizens to speak at its meetings. A quickly-organized citizen initiative gets 9,000 signatures to ban downtown parking meters. City backs off and accepts the initiative. So much for "united."
(3) City wants to build a $400 - $700 million third bridge that is unneeded, unwanted, and unpaid for. Citizen testimony at a recent bridge planning meeting was 100% opposed to this boondoggle. The Salem City Council is set to approve a new bridge design that now displaces some 60 homes and businesses without holding a public hearing. People are outraged. So much for "united."
(4) City secretively spends four years planning to spend $80 million on a new police facility and Civic Center renovations. Public officials never ask citizens what they think of the proposal until it is finally revealed last year. Right away, building experts point out ways to save $30 million on this poorly-thought-out plan. Community calls for a better way. So much for "united."
(5) City approves a Boise Cascade property redevelopment plan that requires a land grab of part of Riverfront Park. Otherwise, the developer won't have access to land on the other side of railroad tracks, where large apartment buildings are planned. Intense opposition to using the Carousel parking lot as an access road erupts. City and developer have to backtrack and come up with a different plan. So much for "united."
So those are my thoughts. Here's what the other person said about Mayor Peterson's State of the City address:
Here's my reaction to parts of this article [in italics]:
Her address this year will be built around the theme 'Salem, stronger, healthier, safer, united."
United? Really? It's hard to remember a time when Salem was less united.
City leadership and ordinary citizens seem to be on opposing sides when it comes to many important issues facing the city: 3rd bridge, new police station, street maintenance fees, cell phone towers, parking meters, etc.
It is belittling to those of us who have been "fighting City Hall" on these and other issues to pretend we aren't out there.
"We’re not like some cities. We don’t deficit spend. We don’t raid from one pot to the other. We cut back when we have to,” Peterson said.
This is a dumb comment, because cities and the state, by law, are not allowed to deficit spend in Oregon. What city is she talking about? Detroit?
The mayor said her speech will touch on the city’s budget, which she described as stable.
The five year forecast predicts the need to reduce the General Fund budget by $6 million in just a couple of years. Does that mean we ignore the problem until we reach the cliff? How are we going to cut that much from the budget when we have already closed two fire stations and reduced hours at our one branch library to 16 hours a week? Maybe she just wants the next mayor to have to deal with that.
In the annual address, Peterson also plans to discuss the diversity of Salem’s residents. She recently created a group called the Mayor’s International Council. “Cultural diversity is kind of the middle name for Salem these days,” Peterson said. The international council will examine issues, such as strengthening relationships among cultural groups and bolstering support for “Sister City” activities.
One out of five Salem residents is Latino. And the Latino population is the fastest growing segment of our population. An even larger percentage of our school age population is Latino. The other ethnic and racial groups in Salem are important, but their numbers are much smaller:
African American 1.5%
Native American 1.5%
Hawaiian/Pacific Islander 1%
For the Mayor to lump Latinos in with the other racial and ethnic groups and use the label "international" for them all denigrates the large and growing influence that Latinos and their culture have on Salem. It continues to marginalize Latinos, a group that is underrepresented in city leadership. It is embarrassing that a group making up a fifth of our population has no representation on the City Council or School Board.
Too bad the article didn't mention the $6,000 video that the Mayor commissioned to tout her success in economic development. Can't wait to see that.