March 13, 2013 | LXXII, No. 50

Tightly controlled meeting typical "public" process in town

Letters to the Editor

The mayor of Coulee Dam has again defined his allegiance — that being with and for the engineer (Gray & Osborne). The townsfolk petitioned the mayor and council to roll back the ever increasing sewer rates and review other project alternatives and other options. The reply? A “public” meeting (with one day advanced notice) wherein the engineer was allowed to ramble, excuse, blame, demean, cajole … the “public” meeting was so tightly controlled that virtually no time was permitted for substantive questions and responses. Some folks just walked out from frustration. The engineer delivered a seven page “manifesto” to the town just before the meeting, but it was (strategically) unavailable to the public until the day after the meeting! This meeting typifies the “public” process that the town and its engineer have used throughout the project development and planning. It falls far short from what is typical and from what we deserve — especially given that the engineer is recommending we spend $5,200,000 on the project. The engineer’s take? That would be 21 percent, or about a million dollars. All else aside, one has to wonder!

The engineer went so far as to question the motive of anyone who would look into the money the community has spent on their services. If you are interested, we (that is each and every family) in Coulee Dam, over the past 10 years, has spent $255 every year for lackluster and unimaginative services. Almost enough to include as a line-item in our own household budgets! We have (or will) spend much more than most communities facing similar needs and problems. We have a right to know this, and questioning the motive for the knowledge simply raises another question. Why?

Now, after the “public” meeting, the mayor decided to hand deliver the engineer’s “manifesto” to each and every home, as if somehow the engineer’s uncontested words define the real issue(s) or are even historically accurate! I assure you that it is no more than a defense of/for a poorly scoped and poorly planned project. The engineer has defined, again, the reasons why the town should not look at other options, other solutions. So is the engineer really concerned about us, or is it a fear that they might be embarrassed by the findings? The bigger question is, will the mayor and town council renege on their promise to delay the project and have an “independent” look at alternatives?

As a footnote, I’ve prepared a lengthy (and boring) response to the “manifesto,” addressing each and every contention and issue. I can assure you (with a history of 45 years of experience in these matters), that the engineer’s February 27th letter to the town is nothing more than a defensive and diversionary device designed to insure a continuing presence and place at the budget trough. If you’re interested or concerned and want to read the response, call me, I’m in the “book.” Or better yet, email me at fgwilder@msn.com and I’ll email you a copy.

Greg Wilder

[Editor’s note: both Gray and Osborne’s letter and Wilder’s response to it are available at The Star online at grandcoulee.com.]

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