Last week I received an e-mail from a person I consider to be the glue behind any hopes of economic development in North Bend, Tonie Cook. She stated she had resigned her position with the city of North Bend and thanked those of us on the Economic Development Commission for our support.
The loss of Tonie is a blow to economic prosperity in North Bend. She understands what needs to be done and has the guts to point out when it isn’t being done. I cannot speak for the rest of the Economic Development Commission, but feel strongly that she was what kept us energized when our suggestions fell on deaf City Council ears.
So what would cause Tonie to depart? I have many ideas. A City Council with its own agenda regardless of what its appointed commissions may say? Turmoil in the ranks of city staff, evident with the departure of former Planning Director Larry Stockton and last week’s dismissal of City Administrator George Martinez? A hopeless feeling that any work done to improve economic development in the city will fall on deaf ears?
Whatever the reason, it’s a big blow but more importantly, it points out some disconnects in both the city staff and council.
I believe the staff situation is being resolved with the search for a new city administrator. But what about the direction of the council?
Many on the council are good friends of mine. I truly believed, when they were elected, that the old, no-growth attitude would be replaced with a balance between growth and preserving rural character (an over-used term). Many of us have been waiting to see if the new council members would really listen to the majority of their constituents and forego their own agendas to move the city forward.
On some issues, I think the council has moved forward but with regards to input from both the planning and economic development commissions, it would seem the council has tossed aside many great ideas. I, for one, don’t enjoy participating in a group that spins its wheels and gets little done. Great work has been done by both commissions, all with a great love of the community. As a council, it’s OK to admit you may not have all the answers and to trust your appointed commission members’ suggestions. If you don’t think the commissions’ suggestions are worthy of consideration, tell us up front and we can focus on other things. Heck, disband the commissions if they aren’t worthy of consideration.
Each council member brings their own unique skills to the city. There are some good people on the North Bend council, with their hearts in the right place. But from the sidelines, it appears that some self interests are being served for a few, over the benefit to the greater good. Prove that perception wrong and help everyone move the city forward.