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March 12, 2016


Police palace! Lol...

Oof, it is unfortunate that Larry Tokarski commissioned the Salem 2025 study. It puts even more doubt into the objectivity of the report. Since 2007 Larry Tokarski, his family, and Mountain West have contributed around ~$300,000 to area candidates, the vast majority of whom were Republican. Of course he can afford to do that when his projects get tax abatements, like the Boise Cascade site, and he is able to make huge profits on his developments.

As to the point of the blog post. This seems to be a complete mismanagement of Urban Renewal Funds. The City needs to stop neglecting downtown businesses and infrastructure in favor of their own hubristic plans. Between this and the Kubler Station South concept it is becoming painfully obvious that the city council has little regard for downtown and worse are willfully destroying it.

Alex, I agree that Mountain West has gotten some sweetheart deals from the City. Still, Larry Tokarski didn't write the Salem 2025 report. Consultants did, apparently. It has many good ideas, so the fact that Tokarski commissioned the report doesn't take away from this. Who knows? He may not even agree with some, or much, of the content of the report.

(It is curious that more than two months after Salem 2025 was completed, the report hasn't been released in any sort of official manner.)

Regardless, I felt that here is one of those times when Right and Left, Conservatives and Liberals, seem to agree on something: downtown needs to be vitalized through public/private partnerships. Leveraging urban renewal funds to promote downtown economic development can, and should, go hand in hand with making the Historic District a more people-friendly place.

I'm sorry but I am having trouble taking the study seriously based on it's contents. Lets start with the list of interviewees, without exception they are all either business people or from the City of Salem. If we are going to build a better downtown then that effort has to include all of Salem's partners, not just a small subset.

That leads me to another point. There is a lot of decrying the fact that Salem hasn't done well in the past, however the people who were interviewed are the ones who have been in charge of Salem for the past 10 years. I mean they talk about millennials in the report, but then they didn't even bother to interview any. And that is the problem, until the City starts listening to new and diverse voices, we are going to continue in the same rut that we have been in the last 10 years.

In the end this report's suggestion sounds very similar to SEDCOR, an organization whose mission statement is good, but which has questionable leadership and whose work seems to benefit a very small section of Salem.

And that is what I am afraid of. This report does have a lot of good ideas in it, but any progress in Salem's downtown needs to come from all of Salem's citizens. Too often in Salem we look at the private/public partnership as businesses/city government, but we need to include non-profits, private citizens, transit, etc. We need true creatives, not just a single mindset. And I don't see this report being used to fix anything in the future.

The report reveals perfectly the mindset of the ruling cabal, with its mutterings about "naysayers" and talking about how these "naysayers" have to be managed. People who think for themselves and don't take orders from the Chamber are the ones that they're talking about.

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