Public debate on a controversial Salem police facility is on the starting blocks. Today I saw that the City of Salem has filed Measure 24-399 with Marion County Elections.
So, as expected, this November Salem voters will be asked whether they want to approve $82,088,000 in general obligation bonds to pay for a new 148,000 square foot police headquarters on the old O'Brien auto dealership site just north of downtown.
I'm urging a "NO" vote on the bond measure for a simple reason: Salem can do better.
There are very good reasons to reject the City of Salem's poorly-thought-out, overpriced, oversized police facility plan. A Salem Can Do Better web page lays out five reasons to vote "No" on the $82 million bond measure. Plus, a bonus reason.
1. Cost is too high
2. Size is too large
3. Earthquake preparedness being ignored
4. New 911 center not necessary
5. Salem has many other needs
bonus: lack of public involvement in the police facility planning process from start to finish
(click on the image below to see the full reasons why Salem Can Do Better)
I've formed a Salem Can Do Better PAC. Goal: "Enhance Salem's livability, vitality, and vibrancy"
The PAC's first political stand is opposition to Measure 24-399. Carole Smith and I have each contributed $500 to get Salem Can Do Better off the ground. If anyone else wants to contribute to the cause, email me at email@example.com, and I'll send you a contribution form.
My personal opposition to the $82 million police facility plan flows out of my active involvement with Salem Community Vision (SCV). SCV hasn't taken an official position on the police facility bond, but remains critical of the flawed plan that the bond measure would fund.
On behalf of the SCV steering committee (I'm a member), I wrote a 2016 Salem Community Vision position paper: "Salem's New Police Facility: the Best Way to Achieve It." I've maintained the SCV web site, including a compendium of every newspaper story and blog post about this issue. I've written 52 HinesSight and Salem Political Snark blog posts on this subject myself, having closely followed the police facility planning saga for about three years.
So my opposition to the $82 million police facility bond measure is well-informed.
I need to emphasize that it has nothing to do with how the Salem Police Department operates and is managed. I haven't heard anything bad about Chief of Police Jerry Moore, or any serious criticisms of his department.
To me, it's the same as being a strong supporter of the United Stated armed forces, while also being a critic of wasteful military spending. There's no reason why somebody can't do both. I want the Salem Police Department to have a new police facility. But NOT the one that'd be built if the $82 million bond passes.
Like I said on Salem Can Do Better:
The flip side of NO is YES. Saying No to one thing can open a Yes door to a better thing. Rejecting a bond for an over-sized and over-priced new Salem police facility in the November 2016 election will clear the way for a better approach — one that meets the needs of the Police Department without wasting taxpayer's money and risking lives. Here's 5 reasons to VOTE NO.
I'm available to speak or debate the police facility bond measure at civic organizations, neighborhood associations, editorial boards, or wherever. Other people knowledgeable about the City of Salem's police facility planning process probably also will be available to discuss why the current plan is seriously flawed.
Critics of the proposed $82 million police facility have various #1 reasons for opposing the current plan. Mine is "Earthquake preparedness being ignored." This is how I put it in Salem Can Do Better:
The supersized $82 million, 148,000 square foot police facility has squeezed out funds for making critical life-saving seismic upgrades to the Library and City Hall.
Until a few years ago, seismic upgrades to the Civic Center were part of a Public Safety project that included money for a new $36 million, 75,000 square foot police facility. But then the police facility doubled in size and cost after some Chicago consultants came to town.
So now plans have been shelved to save lives at City Hall and the Library when (not if) the Big One Cascadia subduction zone earthquake hits, even though a main reason for a new police facility is because City Hall is expected to collapse in the Big One, and the Police Department currently is on the ground floor of the building.
This video shows why voters need to say NO to the $82 million police facility bond — so a better plan can be developed that includes money for making the Library and City Hall earthquake safe.