The registered voters of Manzanita yesterday received a two-page letter from Richard Mastenik explaining why he wants to recall me and three other members of the Manzanita city council. Starting today he will be outside the post office soliciting signatures on his four recall petitions. There is a separate petition on each one of us. Each of these public documents will require the signatures of 50 registered voters.
Mastenik says this is not about the proposed purchase of the Underhill Plaza, but it clearly started with the fact that the council met in a legal executive session to discuss the purchase of the property. The sale has not closed yet but if everything goes well we will finalize our offer and approve purchasing it at our Sept. 5 council meeting.
Mastenik was surprised to see that we had $500,000 in a city hall fund and that a new city hall had been a goal of the council for the past 10 years. He tried to get the Underhill Plaza purchase placed on a ballot so everyone could vote on the issue. But the purchase is an administrative action and we are not asking for any funds from the citizens. So he has resorted to a recall.
A municipality or a corporation cannot function if it is required to get approval from its voters/shareholders for every purchase more than $200,000 as Mastenik suggests. We have a budget committee that meets several times every spring were we discuss every dollar that is received and spent in this city. The council, mayor, and five additional members of the public serve on this committee. The City also receives an outside independent audit each year.
I have served on the budget committee for almost 10 years. Mastenik has never attended these public meetings.
Yes, we receive a large amount of money each year from the short-term rental tax. It allows the city to maintain one of the lowest property tax rates in the state — 42 cents per $1,000 assessed value. Nehalem’s rate is $1.47 per $1,000; Wheeler’s is $2.22 per $1,000.
If this proposed recall succeeds, the City of Manzanita will be governed for a short time by the County Commissioners, until they can appoint new councilors. I see no mention of a new leadership team in Mastenik’s letter. It is one thing to remove a leadership team but you must have a plan to keep the government functioning.
Tom Bender recently made a good case for buying the Underhill property. I could not have stated it better than he did. Mastenik would say Tom has no right to have an opinion because he is not a voter in Manzanita. We are a diverse community with people who may live outside our city limits or have second homes here and cannot vote. They all have a right to voice their opinions.
Mastenik and I have a civil relationship and talk to each other periodically. But we are not friends. Earlier this year, as a new mayor I asked for Mastenik’s help. I know he has a strong interest in this community and I wanted him to work with me to come up with solutions. I offered him my hand. He refused. He says politically we have nothing in common. I am not sure that is true. And he has every right to proceed with this recall effort. I am sorry we have to go through this. It makes us look like a dysfunctional city — which we clearly are not.
We have robust city council meetings that are well attended and everyone gets to engage in our discussions. Mastenik attended our August meeting for the first time in years and complemented me on how everyone was allowed to speak and engage in civil debate.
But the final decisions are made by the council members the citizens elected. I ask the voters of Manzanita to support Linda Kozlowski, Hans Tonjes, and Scott Galvin during this recall effort. They are non-paid community volunteers who work very hard for this city. They are some of the finest people I have ever known.
Thank you for allowing me to serve.
Mayor of Manzanita