Here's testimony about the Urban Tree Commission agenda item for tomorrow's Salem City Council meeting that I just emailed to the Mayor and City Council.
A few days ago I wrote another blog post on this subject, "Tell the Salem City Council we need an Urban Tree Commission." Well, I've followed my advice. I owe it to the beautiful U.S. Bank Trees, which were cut down for no good reason.
Dear Mayor and City Councilors,
She said that because the City Council hires the “right” City Manager, who chooses the “right” directors, who hire the “correct” people to work under them, “right” decisions are going to be made.
These trees were entirely innocent. They weren't diseased. The sidewalk wasn't being damaged by them. They could have been pruned rather than killed. The City of Salem's own tree expert and its Shade Tree Advisory Committee said so repeatedly. As did arborists and dozens of concerned citizens who loved the five State Street trees and wanted them saved....This is a case study of how city government shouldn't work.
Here the Public Works Director, Peter Fernandez, ignored the law, facts, expert advice, advisory committee recommendations, and lots of public testimony so he could keep a back-room verbal promise to the U.S. Bank president, Ryan Allbritton, to cut the five large, healthy, beautiful trees down.
The extra-legal promise itself is bad enough. Worse, Fernandez made that promise two years before the bank started the required process of filing an application to remove the trees.
Even so, Public Works Director Fernandez was all set to order that the trees be pruned, rather than removed, until bank president Allbritton reminded him of that "just between us" deal they'd made together. It didn't matter that Albritton was unable to give a single coherent reason why the trees needed to be killed.
After Fernandez spoke with the bank president, everything changed.
I want less live theatre on these policy issues.