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March 27, 2016

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As usual Brian you have taken a comment and tried to stretch it out into something more than it is.
It is correct, when asked about the tree removal, it was clear that it was "a done deal."
Given the state of our ordinances on this, there was nothing to be done. With that, I chose to move ahead and change the ordinance by having a citizen committee rewrite it so that there is a more objective system in place. And, that's what was adopted.
I understand you support my opponent but you can do that without making up motives for me in an old issue where you clearly are mistaken and were the first time you wrote it.

Chuck, what you said isn't true. Please read my "Outrage" report. Every page. Including the concluding opinion letter from my land use attorney. You obviously aren't acquainted with the facts in this matter.

http://hinessight.blogs.com/hinessight/2014/05/outrage-the-true-story-of-salems-us-bank-tree-killings.html

In 2013 there was nothing in the tree ordinance that allowed the removal of the U.S. Bank trees. In fact, there was no mention of tree removals at all, only plantings. My attorney confirmed this. Peter Fernandez made stuff up to justify fulfilling the backroom deal he made with Ryan Allbritton, a deal you were complicit in when you didn't protest Fernandez putting a non-binding verbal agreement ahead of the facts about the U.S. Bank trees.

There was plenty to be done to save the trees in 2013, especially by the City Council. But you and other members of the council were taken in by an email from Fernandez where he made indefensible legal arguments about the tree ordinance. You and others let the tree killings happen, while I and others were doing our best to save the trees.

Regarding being mistaken, Chuck, you need to point out specific instances where I have been factually wrong. Read the "Outrage" report. In the two years since I released the report, no one has shown me an error in it. I sent the report to you and other City officials back in 2014. I assume that if anyone had a factual problem with it, that would have been pointed out to me.

So stop with the false "you lie" accusations. Either show me demonstrable evidence about a fact I stated being wrong, or admit that you simply disagree with my conclusions about the facts, not the facts themselves. Are you really this bothered by thoughtful criticism of you? If so, you're following in the footsteps of our current Mayor.

Great Idea and interesting first post, Brian.
However, it was seriously lacking in snarkiness.
Do I need to give you lessons on snark?
:p

Good point, Harry. I need to ramp up my Snark. I'm so used to being all reasonable, factual, and logical, my Snark IQ isn't as elevated as it should be. Give me a chance. Or... give me lessons in snarkiness.

(Now that I think about it, all I have to do is read some of the comments you've left on my HinesSight blog. Damn, they could be snarky! Especially when directed at me. All in good fun, of course.)

What was the official rationale given for destroying the trees rather than pruning them? Surely they must have made a strong case, in light of the public opposition.

Douglas, actually there wasn't a strong case made by Fernandez in his order to allow the tree removals. At the time, Fernandez made the final decision, so he was able to ignore the recommendation of expert arborists and the Shade Tree Advisory Committee to prune the trees, rather than remove them.

Below the line is what I said in my report about the B.S. reason Fernandez came up with to have the trees removed. Of course, my strong opinion is that the real reason is that Fernandez wanted to honor his unethical verbal backroom deal with Allbritton to have the trees cut down. After all, Allbritton was the incoming Chamber of Commerce president, and City officials pretty much do anything the Chamber wants (the Chamber's PAC is a big contributor to the election campaigns of conservatives running for Mayor and City Council).

Fernandez claimed that wording in the tree ordinance pertaining to planting street trees so they don't obscure architectural features required him to cut down all five trees. My attorney said this wasn't true. Further, t kept arguing to Fernandez and Allbritton after three of the trees had been cut down that it made sense to keep the other two -- since even though none of the trees should be removed, given the law and expert arborist advice, now that three were gone, obviously 60% of any architectural obscuring had been dealt with.

But Fernandez and Allbritton, along with Bennett and other city councilors, thought it was more important to preserve their backroom deal than do what was best for Salem. This was a shameful moment for this town. Here's the excerpt from my Outrage report.
---------------------
On April 8, the day of a City Council meeting where this issue could have been discussed, Fernandez emailed the Mayor and city councilors, misleading them about both his decision and the Shade Tree Advisory Committee’s attempt to have the U.S. Bank trees designated as Heritage Trees.

Fernandez wrongly claimed “a review of the code clearly indicated that the bank had a right to remove the trees per the provisions of SRC 86.130(c)(1).” That’s a lie. As noted before, this part of the tree ordinance says: “Trees shall not be planted in a location which would obscure significant architectural features.”

Fernandez knew the Shade Tree Advisory Committee had concluded that this section of the Salem Revised Code did not apply to street tree removals in the downtown area.

Fernandez did not cite any legal opinion from a City attorney supporting his assertion that the code clearly indicated the bank could remove the trees. On the other hand, my land use and environmental law attorney gave me an opinion that comes to the opposite conclusion (included with this report).

Why did they even want to cut down the trees so badly? I would guess 99% of people think trees are cool and good, why did Ryan Allbritton hate them so much?

All this backroom dealing and twisting of ordinances and disregarding of expert opinion seems so dumb just to cut down trees.

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