Here's a 3 1/2 minute excerpt from a half-hour interview Greg Fabos and I did with Ken Adams on his Salem CCTV show, "The Valley View." After some remarks by me, Greg speaks about how he's seen Salem change for the worse over the years when it comes to rich developers being able to trample on the rights of ordinary people.
There's a real negative feeling about what's happening in Salem, and I've been here a long time. It used to be a nice well-run city with, I felt, good concern for its citizens. Right now, it's at loose ends. No one is stepping up to the plate to represent concerned citizens. And it's flipped over to the advantage or benefit of the developer.
Greg is one of the homeowners in south Salem's Cinnamon Hill neighborhood who are getting screwed over by the Sabre Ridge Estates development. I wrote about this travesty in "Salem subdivision gone wrong: City staff ignore horrendous screw-ups."
This is a disturbing tale of how City of Salem officials have allowed a subdivision developer to trample the rights of neighbors, while ignoring two women's requests to explain how repeated screw-ups keep happening.
The subdivision is Sabre Ridge Estates, off of Sunnyside Road in south Salem. The women are Lisa Basalto and her mother, Lynn. Lisa wrote to me several weeks ago, looking for someone to help with her extremely frustrating situation.
...Something sure seems to be amiss at City Hall -- especially, the Public Works Department headed up by Peter Fernandez.
I readily admit that I'm not a Fernandez fan (to put it mildly), having documented the favoritism and backroom dealmaking he engaged in with U.S. Bank President Ryan Allbritton during the 2013 State Street tree removal debacle. Since, I've heard credible reports that Fernandez meets regularly with Salem's largest developers to discuss how the City can help them achieve their money-making plans as smoothly as possible.
So when I heard about what the Basaltos has gone through, I thought "Sad, but not surprising; ordinary citizens regularly get screwed-over by City of Salem officials who care a lot more about pleasing the Powers That Be in this town than complying with governmental regulations and ethical norms."
Mayor Anna Peterson, Mayor-elect Chuck Bennett, City Manager Steve Powers, and Salem's eight city councilors need to start kicking some butt at City Hall, stopping the outrageous way Lisa has been treated by City officials, which I'm confident happens to many other ordinary citizens who don't get the white glove treatment extended to developers with lots of money and power.
Steve Powers became the Salem City Manager well over a year ago.
So even though the favoritism given to developers over ordinary citizens preceded his arrival, it sure seems like Powers now bears a lot of responsibility for how people are being mistreated by City staff when they ask perfectly reasonable questions about blatantly unreasonable goings-on involving large-scale developments in Salem.
There needs to be some housecleaning at City Hall.
My view is that so long as Peter Fernandez is Public Works Director, this shows that the Mayor, City Manager, and City Council aren't really concerned about putting average citizens on an equal playing field with Salem's Rich and Powerful.
At the very least, there should be a public, open, and extensive review of how Fernandez has been managing (and mismanaging) Public Works. Citizens familiar with the litany of screw-ups in this department should be able to have their say before a review board charged with deciding whether Fernandez should remain in his job.
The full CCTV interview can be seen here: