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April 04, 2016

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God bless you Brian for sitting through this clown show so others don't have to, in order to relay some information of what is actually going on with this whole thing.

I have zero faith that Dick "Head" Hughes and his merry band of copy/pasters at the Statesman Journal will do anything more than repeat a city of Salem press release blurb 3 days after the fact.

By the end of the long meeting (it went on to 10.15 p.m.) they went full circle and ordered plans and cost estimates of the "super-sized", over-sized, $82M proposal, but adapted to the smaller size site (they confirmed that the Mill Creek Medical Plaza will not be condemned and included). So another work session is needed, in order to compare the two proposals, i.e. 125,000 sq.ft. versus 148,000 sq.ft. and their associated sky high price tags. They did decide to hold a second public hearing, after the next work session. The two Polls tell them that neither huge project bond measure will pass, but discussion of poll results was not on the council agenda for discussion, so was ignored at this meeting. Councilors seemed to reject the staff proposal for the taking of $6M in urban renewal funds to acquire the property, because those funds are needed for downtown revitalization, not for buying land for municipal buildings. A loan from the URA for the purpose of obtaining an Option (costs less than $600,000) was the preferred direction, and woud be paid back if a bond measure passed. Councilors Andersen and Bennett discussed the need for a Public Safety bond measure (like was proposed in 2014) that includes seismic strenthening on city hall and the library, that staff estimated that would cost $15M (plus inflation). Salem Community Vision wants a bond measure to pass, that includes a sensibly sized police facility plus the life saving seismic work. This super-sized proposal will FAIL.

Wow looks like I was wrong, and I am glad I was wrong. The Statesman DID cover the meeting, on the front page no less, in their Tuesday edition. Covering local news and informing the public about big/potential issues is exactly what they should be doing and that makes me satisfied. It's not that I want them to be bad, a robust and thorough reporting institution is vital to any community and vastly improves it. I just hope we can get to the point where I am not surprised that the Statesman Journal did not disappoint me.

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