Who has the “ear” of city council? Overpaid staff and high $ consultants

Port O Call attempts to bring important matters before the city council. One is the ambulance switcheroo deal the city has worked out with Olympic Ambulance. It is not in the best interest of
the city residents but the council defends it–at the behest of city staff. Another story we published has to do with the lack of access to our public access channel on Wave Cable.

This subject was discussed at city council recently– almost. Phil Lusk, a hundred thousand dollar a year deputy director brought a goofy side show designed to scare everyone away from having an access channel even suggesting we’d have to put up with naked preachers on TV.

This was his “objective” evaluation on the merits of public access to our public access channel. Public access channels have been around four decades. We can take it. The first speaker that night at the public comment session was a practicing psychologist, Dr. Ralph Smith who has spear-headed a start-up access franchise in Boise, ID. He offered his time and expertise free of charge.

In Lusk’s PowerPoint presentation, complete with a furtive consultant, Sue Buske patched through the phone, talked about it costing $60,000 to activate our access channel. Nowhere in his act did he mention there is $60,000 sitting in an account for the asking–to set up a public access channel. This $60,000 has been sitting in that account since 2002.

Those are not the stories I want to discuss today. I want to show how difficult it is to get information to the city council.

At the last two city council meetings these stories came up for discussion–the last item on the agendas. Each time they had a $100,000 a year staff member present his “findings” on the matter.
Fire Chief Dubuc explained how it makes sense to hand over $600,000 per year to a private ambulance company when they could use that money to improve their own ranks. Medic I answers 911 calls. If the patient needs only basic support they dispatch the for profit and never tell the patient they will be billed by the private company. The citizen calls 911 and gets a bill from a contractor. The city ambulance transport is already paid for on the utility bill.

I had to ignore the mayor’s attempt to gavel me down just to ask the fire chief to get an informed consent signed by the patient before handing them off to a private corporation. The city would still get sued
if something goes south.

The way they slough you off onto the other ambulance is appalling. You never know it until you get the bill.

But that’s still not the story. The city council has a public comment period early in the session. Residents have 3 minutes to express their concerns to city council. City attorney Bill Bloor has allegedly trained the council members to not interact with the residents who come to speak.

They pretend to listen and move on. So, at the shank of the evening they bring up an important matter and allow the high priced staff to drone on and on about what a great job they’re doing. Even a learned citizen who has educated himself on the subject at hand–able to provide more information than the city just received from high priced staff– no way. The mayor and the acting mayor each gaveled
down a speaker who wanted to add to the discussion.

They said, “We have a process. No new information coming from a taxpayer. Come to the next meeting and use your 3 minutes.” That’s not the worst of it. A few weeks ago a young lady, mid 20’s came to the council, used her 3 minutes to explain to the council how rampant is the heroin culture here and they must “do something and please don’t give up on us and don’t sell us out, provide some hope.” She had tears in her voice but kept her composure. She looked at them a moment. Got nothing and left the building.

Those stuffed shirts sat there stone faced and said nothing. What has sucked the soul out of our flimsy council leadership

Why is it that only the high priced staff and high dollar consultants are the only ones who “can get to them.”

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