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June 18, 2020

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City Council seems to be paralyzed by fear when dealing with the antics of Peter Fernandez, a scofflaw whose contempt for the law is equaled only by his contempt for Salem's citizenry and elected officials who are so intimidated by him. His paying twice the market value for a house, a transaction whose only purpose is to begin accumulating property for option 4 of the third bridge is truly a taunting slap to Council, knowing they won't have the courage to question him.
While I'm really pleased having 6 Progressives on Council, it would be even better to have 6 Progressives with guts enough to stand-up to city staff.

This may be an example of a functional problem that has slowly evolved over the years and remains essentially unrecognized.
The proper role of staff is to study issues and report to Council in a manner that enables informed decisions. Instead, staff seems to increasing act like marketers pushing a product. Arguments that support their position are strongly promoted while those that may reflect badly tend to be overlooked or not given the attention that they deserve.
It is little wonder that Council struggles to be fully active participants in the local government. Unless this state of affairs changes, they will continue to go into the decision phase feeling a bit confused and requesting more time to study whatever issue is before them.
Do not despair. There is a real threat of competence looming in the near future.

This case is similar to the city paying 250% of the appraised price to acquire the 4 acres adjacent Riverfront Park from Coldwell Banker Mt West (CBMW). The special treatment of CBMW includes receiving Urban Renewal District designation for properties they own such as the South Park Blocks so that their property taxes pays for improvements that add substantial value to their properties.

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