Council biased on water plan

Peter Schneider /

Now that a federal judge has been able to objectively see through the city of Bend’s spin and misinformation, she has issued an injunction against the city’s desperate attempt to ram through premature construction and even more spending commitments on the Surface Water Improvement Plan (SWIP).

The city claimed it had to rush in order to meet deadlines — which appear to be arbitrary when examined closely. Many of us that oppose the SWIP feel the city wanted to spend as much money as possible before the elections so that a new council wouldn’t dare to stop it. Hopefully, now a new council will have time to look carefully at the alternatives and arrive at an objective, carefully considered course of action that is best for the city of Bend.

I would love to see the following happen in the coming year:

1. Hopefully, the city will elect three new city councilors: Barb Campbell, Doug Knight, Sally Russell and incumbent Jim Clinton.

2. Get rid of HDR. If necessary, hire a local firm that is familiar with Bend and its environment.

3. The city manager has to control his city engineer so that the engineer works in the best interests of Bend and not as a spokesman for overly expensive out-of-state consultants.

4. Appoint a true project manager to oversee what really has to be done with our water and sewer supply.

5. Have the council create a new way for the public to be heard. The present system of unlimited access time by city staff and no more than three minutes apiece for the members of the public at council meetings must be changed.

6. Have the new City Council agree to look evenly at both sides of the argument and involve the public so that they too can hear all sides of the question.

7. Have Mark Capell stop dominating SWIP discussions by being such a one-sided advocate of the consultant and have a fully participating council that will ask the tough questions of all sides.

Capell’s brother was given a job as a vice president at HDR at the same time the city was finalizing a contract with HDR to design the SWIP. You would think that Capell would do the normal honorable thing from both a moral and ethical viewpoint and recuse himself from any and all discussions concerning HDR for as long as his brother was an officer of the company.

Instead, Capell went to the city attorney, who provided him with a legal loophole. So in the last two years, Capell has only begun to mention the conflict of interest once it became a news item in The Bulletin. He not only fully participated in all the discussions concerning HDR, he was in fact the leading cheerleader for everything the company proposed and dominated almost all discussions with his enthusiastic defense of his brother’s firm.

Since the current City Council has been repeatedly characterized as a rubber stamp group, he always seems to get his way. As an example of what a rubber stamp council means, in the last 200 votes Councilor Kathy Eckman has voted yes 197 times and no three times. This reminds me of a derivation of the line from the movies, “If you bring it, we will approve it.”

We need to have all seven members of the City Council be willing to look carefully at the major infrastructure issues facing our town. They should educate themselves independently and not rely on self-serving information provided by the city engineer or the consultants he so often represents.

It is only with all seven councilors seeking input from not only the public, but diversified experts, that we can avoid future fiascoes such as those we have seen so often in the past.

Let’s see that Bend becomes the great city it deserves to be.