Letters to the Editor
On Feb. 3 the future of Bonney Lake government will be determined in a special election based on Councilman Dan Decker’s petition regarding whether or not Bonney Lake should become a charter city or remain a code city. If passed, the proposal is expected to cost the taxpayers of Bonney Lake hundreds of thousands of dollars to implement; current projects and positive improvements currently occurring in the city will likely be disrupted or delayed. Bonney Lake does not need a change, especially not another one initiated by Dan Decker.
Sadly, Mr. Decker has long been a negative participant in city government. Just a few of his notable disruptive actions, which have been compiled from Bonney Lake City Council minutes, the Voter’s Pamphlet, and The Courier-Herald follow:
• 2002 – Mr. Decker wrote a petition of no confidence against Mayor (Bob)Young.
• January 2003 – Mr. Decker complained at a City Council meeting that a chair was bought by the city in a Kent chain store. He questioned why it was not purchased in Puyallup on account instead of with a credit card.
• September 2003 – Mr. Decker was ruled out of order due to “the manner in which he was speaking.” At another meeting this month, he questioned Mayor Young regarding his educational background and his current mailing address, to which Council member (Jim)Rackley raised a point of order because Decker’s questions were personal and not relevant to the business currently being conducted.
• November 2003 – Mr. Decker’s name is included with Roger Kramer’s in the “Statement For” in the voter’s pamphlet. At that time, Mr. Decker felt that “Manager Form of Government is Best. The manager is not looking to make an image for the next election.” (Now, it seems, Mr. Decker feels that a charter city is best.)
• April 2004 – Mr. Decker indicated that he would “have some fun” with the initiative process and that he would do the council’s job if they wouldn’t. He suggested that the bond proposal for the new City Hall “ain’t gonna happen.”
• June 2004 – Mr. Decker accused then Mayor Young of theft of services. At that meeting, he also accused the mayor of being an accessory to a crime for destroying public records. He then complained about a director not willing to meet with him and that he was not given his allotted five minutes to speak.
• July 2004 – Mr. Decker accused council member (Dave) King of not wanting Bonney Lake citizens to use their right to speak at Bonney Lake council meetings.
• November 2005 – Mr. Decker unsuccessfully ran for mayor of Bonney Lake.
• December 2005 – Mr. Decker congratulated the newly-elected mayor and council members, but added that “he is contemplating one recall of a council member who has violated the law.”
• 2007 – Mr. Decker submitted a petition to change to a charter city. The petition was legally flawed and thus rejected.
• November 2007 – Mr. Decker was elected by approximately 229 residents of Ward 5 to the Bonney Lake City Council. According to Mr. Decker, there are about 1,574 voters in Ward 5. He said in his bio that he would have a ward meeting within 30 days and then again every 90 to 120 days. Have those meetings been held?
• October 2008 – Mr. Decker’s representation of his constituents came under question. At a Planning Commission meeting regarding rezoning in his ward, a representative from a group of Ward 5 citizens urged the commission to “not accept what he (Decker) is saying. I don’t think we are getting the representation we expected.” Mr. Decker was not able to attend that meeting, although later his response was, “The will of the people is wrong. They don’t know the ramifications. Their taxes will go up. R-1 creates more sprawl. That’s what I was told by a real estate woman.”
• December 2008 – Mr. Decker, who supports “home-rule power to the people,” as a reason why Bonney Lake should change to a charter city, had no comment when asked what home rule meant. Please check this Web site to find out for yourself: www.celdf.org/HomeRule/WhatisHomeRule/tabid/114/Default.aspx.
• Present – Mr. Decker doesn’t seem to be able to grasp the rules regarding decorum at city meetings. A new city ordinance outlining appropriate behavior at public meetings was passed in October 2008, largely due to Mr. Decker’s bad behavior in the past. Unfortunately, Mr. Decker continues to ignore policies and continued to shout after the workshop on Dec. 16 had concluded.
• 2008 – Mr. Decker collected 400-plus signatures so that he could again try to change the form of government in Bonney Lake.
Does anyone see a pattern here?
Bonney Lake needs intelligent people who can work together to solve our problems and to make positive decisions for our city. Dan Decker has not proven that he is a team player; instead he attacks his opponents and wastes valuable time and money for his own personal issues/agenda. He revels in his role as “watchdog,” but enough is enough.
Please vote no.
Extremism runs rampant in the world
Radical political and religious extremism around the world is rampant. Political persuasion and religious conviction are important, healthy and help us learn, grow and achieve balance. But if we become polarized and stop communicating, we, unfortunately, too often resort to violence to resolve our differences. That never works.
We’re fortunate in our safe haven here in Bonney Lake, but we still have some differing opinions on our city government. I have lived in many areas and been involved with various city and country administrations and I can tell you that Bonney Lake is as efficient, fair and well-run as any I have encountered. There appears to be a small vocal element, though, that is intent on making a radical change. Kelso is the only city in our state to have converted to the charter-code city form of government – not Seattle, Tacoma, Bellevue, Spokane, nor any of the small towns – and that change was very expensive for the Kelso community and resolved nothing.
It resulted from an impasse between the mayor and council and the voters in regard to one specific issue, but rather than sitting down and working out a solution, some members of the community who felt they were disenfranchised, just like here in Bonney Lake, were loud and persistent enough to encourage a vote for change.
We are collectively too intelligent and too wise to let that happen in Bonney Lake.
Mayor should be more of a lifting leader
Editor’s note: The following letter was directed to Bonney Lake Mayor Neil Johnson.
You and council member (Dan)Swatman have been leading a group of appointed people to form a committee against the charter. This committee has a Web site and is publishing in other media what could only be described as a “fact sheet” about the charter. This “fact sheet” has a very gloomy view about what the charter can do.
Although I understand your position on this topic and you are reacting as though this whole process is being done to criticize your work as mayor, I just don’t think it’s right that you rule the people through fear of the unknown.
I have read your documents entitled, “What Do You Want Your Future to Look Like?” and, “Impact on Commerce Statement.” And I have to say that they are more myth than fact.
I would urge you, as a citizen, to be more of a leader that lifts the people up as a community and lets them follow their hearts to the polls.
Please go to the Web site, charter-city-advantages and click on the charter myth page to read another perspective about the charter option and guide yourself accordingly.
Thank you for all of the time that you have spent for this city.
Mayor and council are doing well
When I called the city administrator (Don Morrison) to ask about the charges leveled again him in a letter to the editor printed in last week’s Courier-Herald, the city administrator laughed and said it must be the “silly season” – that period of time between candidate filings and elections. Apparently the “silly season” is in full swing in Bonney Lake.
You can always tell by the letters to the editor. Recent ones have attempted to discredit the city government in hopes of generating votes to change the form of government via a city charter. These letters may look silly to some. To me they are vicious and upsetting. I asked the city administrator about the three allegations leveled at the city.
First distortion: the city administer is doing the mayor’s job, the mayor is never around; second distortion: the city administrator sent a memo confessing the city is in the red and that the planned interim Justice Center building project is $2 million over budget; third distortion, the city is broke and broken.
The city administrator felt that all three pot shots were gross misrepresentations. He explained each of them to me, one by one.
First, a city manager or city administrator each have the same task – run day-to-day operations. The difference between the two is that the council can hire or fire a city manager and the mayor can hire or fire the city administrator. Under the general direction of the mayor, the city administrator’s job is to carry out the policy direction of the mayor and City Council, and administer the day-to-day operations of the city.
Most every city in the state over 5,000 population has a full-time, professional city administrator/manager, including Buckley, Orting, Sumner, Enumclaw, etc. In mayor-council cities like Bonney Lake, the administrators report to part-time mayors who are paid a few hundred dollars a month. Most of them have full-time jobs unless they are retired or a homemaker. He stated that Mayor Johnson is paid $800 per month, and that he works full-time for Rotary Offset Press. In addition to his regular day job, he puts in about 20-30 hours a week as mayor, spending many early mornings, lunch hours, evenings and weekends serving the city. Much of his personal vacation time from work is spent doing city business. Johnson does all this for $9,600 per year, with no city benefits except the satisfaction he gets from making Bonney Lake a better place.
Second, I asked the administrator about the damaging memo he allegedly wrote and hid from the City Council. He stated he never sent any such memo. I asked him what he wrote, if anything? He said that Quinn Dahlstrom regularly requests all e-mails from the mayor and administrator and goes through them trying to find something she can criticize to her own political advantage. She found an e-mail that the city administrator responded to in which was included a brief two sentence e-mail reply that was part of a back-and-forth e-mail chain between planning and engineering staff regarding a Traffic Impact Analysis (TIA) for the interim Justice Center (IJC). He had asked if staff could do the TIA internally rather than spend a lot of money on it since the city code exempts city buildings from Traffic Impact Fees. As for the interim Justice Building being $2 million over budget, he had initially hoped the city could build the IJC for no more than $5 million, which was his preliminary planning level estimate made before the architects were even hired. However, with the addition of the site, street and sidewalk improvements, plus the court’s, council’s and design commission’s requested features, the total project could likely cost upward of $7 million, or less given a favorable bidding environment. He stated there is $9 million available to undertake the project and there couldn’t be any cost over-runs because the building hasn’t even gone out to bid. Don’t forget the city’s ending fund balance in 2008 is over $4 million in the black. Thus, the two sentences of an internal staff e-mail chain was deliberately twisted into a flagrantly false allegation. Wow! Talk about creative writing.
Third, the city administer asked that I be the judge of whether the city is broke and broken. He confessed that we are in a serious economic downturn and that city revenues are down. But which city in Pierce County is not dealing with these issues? He stated, that fortunately the city’s general fund ended 2008 with a $4.6 million fund balance. He stated the city has been holding the line on spending for several months. He said the city is not broke but that we need to hold the line on spending so as not to use up all of our reserves. He felt that the mayor, council, and city staff has made a lot of community progress under Mayor Johnson. He said the city has secured about $3 million in various grants, mostly for sidewalks and streets. They have worked hard to improve planning, public safety, parks, community events, etc. He encouraged me to read a copy of the recent biennial report and decide for myself how this city administration stacks up to previous ones.
As for me, I think the current mayor and council are doing a good job, much better than previous years. We now get positive press, instead of being portrayed in the media as a dysfunctional laughing stock. As for me, I’m fed up with the Dan Deckers and Quinn Dahlstroms of the world. Bonney Lake is too precious to let them ruin it any more than they already have.