Saturday, October 29, 2016

Happier Thoughts

Something nice for a change -- the annual "Empty Bowls" fundraiser for Marion-Polk Food Share, a great opportunity for you to get local artisan gifts for everyone on your, at amazing prices (because those talented artisans donate all their work), with all proceeds going to fight hunger in Salem and surroundings.

As always, the weekend BEFORE Thanksgiving at Willamette Art Center on the Silverton Road entrance to the State Fairgrounds.

Why Salem should VOTE NO on the Police Facility Bond (23-399)

Some years ago, the humor magazine National Lampoon had a memorable cover that exposed once and for all the guilt-trip method of marketing:

The companies seeking to make huge profits from building a gigantically oversized and overpriced new police facility seem to have taken their lessons from National Lampoon, running a bond campaign that boils down to "Build us a Taj Mahal police palace or the Boys in Blue get it right in the head, and you are probably being murdered right now because you called and we were all dead because you're so cheap."

The bottom line is that this campaign only reveals the cynicism and greed of the developers and contractors, because they've been perfectly happy to see the Salem PD sit in the basement of City Hall for years now after it has been known that we face a real risk of a gigantic earthquake offshore that could be so severe as to rank among the biggest quakes in recorded history (9+).

The "Salem Can Do Better" campaign is right. If the police are at risk -- and everyone agrees they are, and that we need a new police facility -- then so is everyone else who works at or uses the current City Hall facilities, so we cannot afford a police facility that breaks the bank.

So pretending to care about police safety while really just money-grubbing for a porky overbuilt project that is about twice the size as needed (for tens of millions of dollars more than required) is the height of cynicism.

What the police chief should do -- whether this bond fails or succeeds -- is tell the City Manager that the city needs to do some emergency leasing of vacant commercial structures pronto because the Chief is going to direct all officers not to enter the current facility in 2017 except to empty it out.

In other words, the police should refuse to remain where they are while the voters hash it out with the pork-seeking lobby trying to push through a supersized facility (150,000 square feet - roughly double what Salem needs). And then follow through.

After all, it's an emergency.  And so, once this iteration of the bond is defeated, we can do it again in six months.  And we should keep doing it, as many times as needed, again and again, until the city comes up with a plan that provides the money to take care of ALL the city facilities in the current City Hall complex, including the main library.

Besides -- a single huge police facility is the worst strategic move possible. In the event of a massive quake, we would regret putting all our eggs in that one huge basket. What Salem needs is multi-purpose facilities north, south, center, and west, with the main HQ functions in the center, but precinct facilities north, south and west. These can provide community meeting rooms for neighborhood groups, branch libraries, and social service satellite centers, with police integrated into them (you know, community policing).