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For city of Damascus, disincorporation is progress

Progress? What progress?

The recent “Soap Box” piece by Damascus City Councilor Bill Wehr is another perfect example of why the people of Damascus should end the nightmare of being a city. His deflection and misinformation is a desperate attempt by a politician to retain his power.

He quotes former councilor and council president Diana Helm as she warned that this year would bring lies and scare tactics. I doubt she had any idea of the accuracy of her prediction. As the vote to disincorporate the city nears, the scare tactics from Wehr and his allies have increased.

Wehr joined Mayor Steve Spinnett last weekend to hand out a brochure picturing a boarded-up, graffiti-covered City Hall, with dreaded “subsidized housing” PhotoShopped in the background. Subsidized housing likely filled with “those people.” The content of the brochure was no better. No police! Wall-to-wall apartments! Tax increases! The only scare tactic missing was Godzilla battling Mothra.

Since his group can offer no rational reasons for the community of Damascus to continue to fund the dysfunction and nonperformance we have seen, they are left with untrue doomsday predictions. Shame would cause most people to hesitate before making the claims coming from his group.

Wehr claims the council is “close to presenting a comprehensive plan to voters.” Ironically, the night before his article appeared, the Damascus City Council couldn’t agree on even how many plans to offer. Some think the council should do its job and agree on one plan. Wehr and Spinnett want two. Others think three is a great number.

Close to presenting a comprehensive plan?

Not to any honest, rational observer.

This council had a comprehensive plan before them in August and failed to put it before the voters. Wehr considers this progress. Most call it something far different.

The state’s Land Conservation and Development Commission certainly does, as it decided recently to begin enforcement action against the city if does not disincorporate. This surely will mean more attorney fees to add to the $242,257 the people of Damascus paid attorneys last year.

The focus of Wehr’s group is made clear by its Voters Pamphlet statements against Measure 3-433. The group filed 10 arguments, seven of which are signed by politicians — and a majority of them are not from Damascus. Their statements use the word “city” 500 percent more often than “community.”

The Citizens Committee for Disincorporation filed 15 arguments in favor, could have filed far more, and none are signed by politicians. Ours are by residents and neighbors concerned with the damage that has been done to this community by politicians. Politicians unconcerned with a community of decent people in turmoil and stress.

The Citizens Committee for Disincorporation made a pledge to the people of Damascus to give them a chance to take back their community from politicians. We committed to providing factual, complete information and to trust the people of our community.

Damascus voted to incorporate in 2004 with the limited information available, motivated by the same scare tactics Wehr and Spinnett use now. Our discussions with people tell us that Damascus citizens are far wiser and less easily scared than they were. They saw their taxes go up, received little and see the politicians wasting their money.

We encourage people to read the Voters Pamphlet. See what caused your neighbors to support disincorporation. Then join us in ending this mess, and vote yes on Measure 3-433.

Chris Hawes is the campaign manager of the Citizens Committee for Disincorporation and is a former city volunteer.



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