Today I updated the Salem Can Do Better web page to reflect our new campaign: urging a NO vote on the $62 million police facility bond measure on the May ballot.
Because even though the rejection of last November's hugely overpriced $82 million bond measure forced City officials to reduce the size and cost of the proposed police facility -- a win for Salem citizens -- the $62 million second-try bond still suffers from some major flaws:
Notably, (1) an excessively high cost per square foot, and (2) a continued failure to realize that saving the lives of everybody at City Hall and the Library when the Big One earthquake hits is just as important as saving the lives of Police Department employees.
Click on the image below to peruse the four good reasons why Salem Can Do Better is opposing this second-try attempt at funding a new police facility.
There's lots of good information on this web page, including several videos. Here's some additional FAQ's, Frequently Asked Questions that I either get quite often, or that I'm pretty sure are in the minds of people who favor Measure 24-420.
Why do you hate the Salem Police Department?
I don't. Not at all.
In fact, I have nothing bad to say about the Department, which is ably run by Chief Jerry Moore, who I like a lot. My problem isn't with the Police Department. It is with City officials who have now proposed two plans for a new police facility that aren't worthy of being approved by voters.
Do you agree that a new Police Facility is needed?
During last year's campaign for the first-try police facility bond, Mayor-elect Bennett and I would present "pro" and "con" arguments at neighborhood association meetings. After Bennett would present the reasons why the current Police Department space in City Hall is woefully inadequate, I'd say "I agree with what Mayor-elect Bennett just said. But you still should vote NO on the bond measure."
City officials plan to put a bond for Library seismic improvements on the November ballot. Isn't this good enough for you?
As the Salem Can Do Better web page points out, there's an urgent need to make both the Library and City Hall earthquake-safe. There's no reason to force citizens to choose between Police and Library when it comes to saving lives. I and others showed City officials how easy it would be to reduce enough unnecessary costs in the second-try police facility budget to pay for the cost of seismically retrofitting the Library.
Instead, their attitude was, "What's the big deal of waiting six months for another election?"
Well, the big deal is that splitting Library seismic retrofits from building a new earthquake-safe police facility sends the message that saving the lives of Library employees and visitors (including children) is less important than saving the lives of Police Department staff. Further, it is very likely that the Salem-Keizer school district will have a large bond measure on the November ballot.
Thus voters need to reject this second-try bond measure.
Then a third-try can be voted on that does what should have done on the first- and second- tries: reduce the development cost per square foot to the cost other police facilities in Oregon have been built for recently, and make seismic retrofitting of at least the Library (ideally, City Hall also) part of a unified Public Safety bond.
Since you live outside of the city limits, why are you leading the fight against the police facility bond?
Because I care about Salem.
I've had a Salem address for 40 years, having moved here in 1977. For 13 years I lived in the city limits when my daughter was going to Salem elementary, middle, and high schools. During high school, when she and her friends said they were going to the Library to study, sometimes they actually did. At the time I didn't know that the Library would collapse when the next major earthquake hits, a matter of when, not if.
Now, I do.
Even though I've lived about five miles outside of town for 27 years, Salem continues to be my home in every way other than living in the city limits. My daughter now lives in Orange County, California, which also is earthquake country. If my ten-year-old granddaughter is spending time in buildings that aren't earthquake-safe, I hope that someone down there is pushing to have those buildings seismically retrofitted.
Which is what I'm doing here in Salem.
It deeply bothers me that City officials have known for a long time that the Library and City Hall are going to collapse when the Big One hits, yet haven't yet seismically strengthened these buildings.
When they put off seismic retrofitting of the Library once again, even though several citizen groups urged them to put a combined Library Seismic + Police Facility bond before voters this May, I knew that I couldn't live with myself unless I opposed this second-try bond measure.