I would like to respond to the allegation of “mudslinging” at Tuesday’s Snoqualmie Candidates’ Forum. There is a vast difference between mudslinging and whistle blowing. I limited my remarks to one issue: that our $1.8 million police budget is eating this city alive, and is largely the result of almost 16 years of control of the Council’s Finance Committee, and in many ways of the Council itself, by reserve police officer Councilwoman Colleen Johnson. I left out all personal mud in my statements.
Although adequate staffing of a police department is an important goal for a city council, it is also important for council members to be able to distance themselves from personal relationships with colleagues, such as Johnson’s fellow officers, when making budget decisions. Let the facts speak for themselves: as this city had doubled in size, the police department has grown from a staff of five to a total of 17, of which nearly half are senior officers. The proposed 2002 budget, recommended by the Finance Committee (council members Johnson and Lonergan), includes a chief, an assistant chief, a captain and four sergeants, making the ratio of management to officers exactly 1:1. The business-school standard for management is 1:5. The Council has also failed to contain department spending. Vehicles are issued to each officer and they are allowed to drive them for commuting and personal use. The emergency shelter originally planned for the basement of the new police station, which was intended to house victims of floods and other disasters, has been converted to a $125,000 indoor firing range.
The candidates from Snoqualmie Ridge are not our enemies. They are intelligent, educated and committed to making this community better for all of us. Nobody is proposing to do away with our local police or fire departments, or in any way threaten our safety and security. However, containing the budget of the police department is critical if we are to proceed with building and staffing a community center and other important projects.
As only one voice on the council, I cannot prevail in budget debates. It’s time for some new faces on our City Council. Please vote for Matt Larson and Greg Fullington.
Snoqualmie Councilwoman Cathy (Runkle) Reed