Freedom of speech is one of the most basic and prized rights the people of America have. Councilor Kim Sieckmann has this right, as do we all ("Recall targets Gladstone city councilors Steve Johnson, Kim Sieckmann," Jan. 25).
I questioned his comments, not because Kim Sieckmann, resident of Gladstone, doesn't have these rights, but to use his stamp of "Gladstone City Council president" insinuates that the City Council backed this opinion. I believe that this was done purposefully to influence the people's vote. He was also inaccurate in his exaggerations. I have to question why some would desire the power to sell our park lands and to remove the only voice that opposed his positions.
Councilor Sieckmann states he has the right to voice his opinion. When Councilor Neal Reisner did so to the very same news outlet, Sieckmann pushed for disciplinary actions. After being transparent, as the law encourages, Councilor Reisner was stripped of his liaison duties and publicly berated for his comments on the "secret meeting" to interview Jacque Betz for the position of interim assistant city administrator.
Sieckmann states that there has been a lot of heavy lifting. We feel that burden every time we pay our increasing bills, as Sieckmann and Johnson have been steadfast supporters of all these increases. Privilege tax is a new term to most; this is now a line item on all of our utilities. We have the "privilege" of paying more money into the general fund, with not one project or upgrade completed or started (that we can physically see or touch), while they spend money into the millions. Perhaps if Councilors Sieckmann and Johnson question some of the hiring and creation of "new" positions to justify the large salaries, they wouldn't need so much more of our money. The current city administrator started at a higher salary then his predecessor. Having a $5,000 raise (over 4.5 percent increase) at his six-month evaluation seems outrageous and wasteful to me. Compare this to the 2.75 percent to the men and women who keep us safe and the city operating. This seems even more absurd for someone who's biggest danger is a painful papercut while researching how to capture more money from the people of Gladstone.
We spent $25,000 to recruit a new library director who has now resigned. Rumors of threats by the city regarding the letter our Library Board wrote, in which they requested Councilor Johnson be removed as council liaison, seem to play into this. I spoke to Linda Lewis (library director at the time) and asked about the reports of threats from Eric Swanson (city administrator). She anxiously said she could not comment on that and I would have to ask the city administrator. I witnessed her walking out of the library immediately after this conversation speaking frantically and animatedly into the phone. I would have expected if these stories had no merit, her comment would have been, "There were no threats."
At the last City Council meeting when I asked Councilor Johnson why he did not resign when then Mayor Tom Mersereau didn't remove him, he self-righteously pointed out I had two minutes, 30 seconds, remaining of my allotted three minutes to address the council and did not answer the question. Reportedly Johnson has stated before, "The public is to be seen and not heard," and also in the Clackamas Review was quoted as calling the Library Board letter "an act of sedition."
These same bully-like and thuggish actions not only cost the city of Gladstone a mayor who resigned after butting heads with Sieckmann and Johnson, but also a City Council member (Len Nelson). After driving out the elected mayor, they pushed to place third-place mayoral candidate Tom Mersereau into that position. That placement worked well, as Mersereau was part of their circle. Already Sieckmann and Johnson have set out to draw a line between what they will allow and what our newly elected mayor wishes. As she tried to set right what her appointed and not-elected predecessor would not, Sieckmann and Johnson have challenged the legality of her proposals and fractured our council as to render it inoperative.
Our choice is to allow them to bully and intimidate and push their own personal agendas or remove them from power and place it back with the people. The choice was clear to me: We the people must hold those elected to serve us accountable to their actions, which is why I have initiated a campaign to recall Councilors Johnson and Sieckmann. If we allow corruption to prevail, then we all lose.
Bill Osburn is the chief petitioner of a recall effort in Gladstone.