By LORE CHRISTOPHER
I owe our community an apology.
Since the decision was made to support police and fire hires by adopting a cell phone providers fee, I have become a zealot for public safety funding. When I was elected, I accepted my role in the collective responsibility to keep our community safe.
I believe the way to do that is with enough police officers and fire personnel to protect our citizens and property. I have been incredibly frustrated during the past several budget cycles to listen to reductions and vacancies in our police department due to lack of funding.
I have felt helpless and victimized by the actions of our state elected officials in the legislature who have kept the tax dollars we pay to fund our police officers and fire personnel. I feel we are out of options. I believe if we want to fill police officer and fire personnel vacancies it has to be with additional revenue. This is a desperate position to be in and I my recent actions reflect the desperation I feel.
I owe an apology to our city council for putting them in the position of having to speak to my request to have a councilor support a city council decision by changing his vote after the council vote and decision to move forward with the cell phone providers fee for police and fire funding was determined to eliminate the need for a second reading and three week delay in implementing the council decision to fund police and fire personnel with a new fee to cell providers.
I owe an apology to a local business for my rush to judgment regarding their role in support of outside lobby pressures and signature gathering against the funding fee adopted for police and fire personnel.
Local Keizer businesses are an excellent partner with the city staff and city council have been strong supporters and continue to be strong supporters of our police and fire personnel.
If my passionate and fierce defense of our local public safety has created extreme conflict in our community I am greatly sorry. I would never want my passion and concern to cause any actions that are detrimental or embarrassing to anyone on our city council, our city staff or to any Keizer resident. I can not defend any of my actions or words that have been interpreted as intimidation or bullying. It is said that the road to hell is paved with good intentions, and although my intentions were good and what I believe to be in the very best interests of the city I live in, I believe that I have caused hurt and concern to the very individuals who have been generous with their time and support of me and the city council.
I have heard and read of your disappointment with my actions and I understand your concern as we move forward toward an election regarding the police and fire funding fee. Each of us has some core values that we feel we must defend; one of mine is the safety and protection of my family and all families in Keizer. So while I will not back away from my strong support for this value, I will slow down and take a breath before I act or speak to ensure that I have examined all options available before moving ahead.
As such, Councilor David McKane and I have had a great deal of conversation over the past few days and he has convinced me that we need to meet with our city staff and city police department to listen and determine how many police positions we can collectively support. Once that support level is known, we can determine the cost necessary to maintain that level and identify what future changes would require additional public safety personnel. In the past, I may have relied on the opinion of our police chief regarding staffing levels without requiring a full investigation of how he reached his conclusion.
Again, I apologize for putting our Keizer in a negative light, it is not the place I want us to be and certainly not the type of issues we are known for. We are just beginning a year that has great promise for jobs, local employers and a safer community with stronger public safety; I apologize for the rocky start.
Lore Christopher is the Mayor of Keizer.