November 6, 2013

Another View: Congress Square Park petitions respect the democratic process

But councilors who voted to sell part of the space ignored vision statements and the will of constituents.

In your Nov. 4 editorial, you made several misstatements about the petition initiative put forth by the Friends of Congress Square Park. Your response was the typical boilerplate, knee-jerk reaction that you see toward any petition, but there were some specifics that need to be clarified for your readers.

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Frank Turek of Portland is a member of Friends of Congress Square Park.

The Parks Initiative does nothing to take away the power of the City Council to vote on the sale of a public park. We specifically tailored it so that they could have first crack. It is only if they do not meet a super-majority standard that the people then get to vote on it as well.

How much more representative of a democratic process can you get? The city has in place a super-majority vote in matters that are deemed important enough, such as the city budget. We believe that as a city whose identity is wrapped up in its public parks, that there should be a similar higher bar to cross before a park can be sold off.

The six city councilors who voted in favor of the sale of Congress Square Park willfully ignored the city vision statements, which lay out the guidelines of how the city should act in such matters. They also ignored the will of their constituents who, according to polls, were in favor of keeping the park. It makes you wonder about the term “representative government” and just who is being represented.

The question remains, why is the city so keen on keeping it easier for them to sell public parks? Do they have plans they are not telling us?

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