Friday, August 5, 2011

City Council Roundup: Mayoral elections and the move of the farmer's market

The Bend City Council decides not to hold elections for mayor and the Farmer's market has to get off the grass.

Posted on Fri, Aug 5, 2011 at 5:25 PM

After weeks of discussion, a divided City Council decided Wednesday night against making the mayoral position an elected one. Minutes later, council approved a $5.6-million hydropower option that will allegedly pay for itself in only a few short years.

Clinton said he wasn’t surprised that the City Council didn’t want to give up their power of choice. The long-time councilor noted he was against a changing the position to one of a “strong mayor.”

In the end, the Council voted 4-3 against putting the elected mayor question to voters, despite the fact (as Barram pointed out), adding the measure to the ballot would cost nothing.

Councilors Jim Clinton and Jodie Barram reiterated their concerns about the present mayoral process and current Mayor Jeff Eager agreed. As it is now, members of the City Council appoint one of their own to fill the largely ceremonial “weak mayor” position.

Councilor Tom Greene disagreed.

“The timing isn’t right,” to make any changes to the city’s charter he said. Greene also hinted he had other changes in mind for the mayoral position but failed to offer any examples when pressed by Barram. Greene did speak in support of potentially changing the position to “strong mayor” – a decidedly unpopular position.

Clinton was the lone dissenting voice in a 6-1 vote in favor of a hydroelectric component that will be tacked on to the Surface Water Improvement Project. In it’s first year of operation, the city expects the hydro option to generate $580,000 from electricity revenues.

Concerned that too much emphasis was being put on future steel prices, Clinton urged the Council to wait until the Surface Water Project was completed before moving forward with the hydro facility.

Other Stuff that Came to Light in Wednesday’s Meeting:

Wednesday’s Farmer’s Market will no longer be held in the soft grass of Drake Park but on the pavement of the Mirror Pond parking lot. The minor venue change, which will not take place until Aug. 17, was decided upon in an effort to make the Farmer’s Market more accessible to all and to comply with ADA regulations.

Also, there were several complaints about the noise levels from concerts at the Century Center. A neighbor voiced his disappointment about the recent Volcanic Funk Fest, citing drunken urination and the loud music that stretched from midday until late in the night. “It shook the windows,” he added.

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