Opinion

Decision to cut tree wasn't easy, but it was the right call | Sound Off

By Scott Dudley

I wanted to respond to the editorial opinion in the March 26 edition.

You stated that I have “little to no regard for public opinion, nor the spirit of open government.” That could not be farther from the truth.

I ran for the office of mayor with a focus on public safety, economic development and increasing government transparency.

These continue to be my priorities.

Since being elected we have videotaped and televised all City Council standing committee meetings.

As the council did away with its standing committee meetings and replaced them with a monthly city council workshops, those workshops have been videotaped and televised.

Also, since the city council did away with the standing committee meetings, I have been videotaping and televising a series of “Oak Harbor City Updates” on four different topics per month covering government services, finance, public safety and public works.

We continue to videotape and televise our planning commission meetings. We created the ability for the public to view our city council meetings without having to attend them physically by streaming our city council meetings “live” over the Internet.

All of these tapings can be easily accessed by pulling them up on our city’s website.

We have our city’s vouchers as part of the city council packets so the public can see exactly how we are spending our taxpayer’s dollars.

Over the next month, the City of Oak Harbor will be the first city in the state of Washington to provide its citizens with a user-friendly budget tool which will allow everyone to see how the City of Oak Harbor spends its citizens’ dollars versus our budget for each and every department.

Our citizens will also be able to see every check written by the city.

I created a “Mayor’s Corner” on our website to assist in communicating with our citizens and being able to receive emails directly from them as well. We have also been communicating via Facebook.

The city has Facebook sites, including for the City of Oak Harbor and Oak Harbor Police Department. All of the above improvements to the city’s openness were adopted under my term.

Not only will I continue to communicate with our citizen’s, I will continue to communicate with our city council as well. When there are issues involving potential litigation, pending litigation or land acquisition, I will discuss these issues with our city council in executive session.

Since you report that Councilmember Almberg said, “we have had more executive sessions under this mayor than we had under (previous mayor Jim) Slowik’s entire term,” I do not deny that.

Your newspaper has covered what our city faced as a result of actions under the previous administration.

If Councilmember Almberg does not wish to be kept abreast of what is transpiring in executive session, he does not have to attend.

It has been a long, troubling process correcting the legal issues the previous administration created and, unfortunately, most of those legal discussions needed to be held in executive sessions.

The decision to cut down the oak tree was not an easy one, but it was the right one. The risk and liability to the City of Oak Harbor was significant. Making all of the information regarding the risk public prior to the tree’s removal would also significantly add to our liability.

I apologize if this action is perceived as if the City of Oak Harbor does not care about public opinion. Our number one priority, will continue to be the safety of our public.

I am disappointed that not once have you reached out to speak with me. I would welcome your call as well as anyone else wishing to discuss anything that we are doing at the city that may be raising a question.

Scott Dudley is mayor of Oak Harbor.

 

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