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Cascade Locks recall ballots mailed

August 31, 2011

Ballots will be mailed Friday for the Sept. 20 recall vote in Cascade Locks.

Cascade Locks citizens will be asked whether or not they want to recall Mayor George Fischer and four members of City Council.

Council members Lance Masters, Tiffany Pruit, Kevin Benson and Don Haight, along with Fischer, have turned in rebuttals to the county elections office. The petitioners' reasons for recall will be printed on the ballot along with the rebuttals.

BALLOT FACTS

The ballots should arrive in the mail Saturday, Sept. 3, or Tuesday, Sept. 7.

There is no mail delivery on Monday, Sept. 6, Labor Day.

If you have not received your ballot by Sept. 7, call the Hood River County Elections Department at 541-386-1442.

Ballots will be due at Cascade Locks City Hall or the county elections office by 8 p.m. Sept. 20.

The "Five Alarm Recall" group behind the proposed recall of Fischer, Pruit, Haight and Benson petitions held a forum explaining their reasons at 7 p.m. Aug. 30 at the Pavilion at Port Marine Park.

Chief petitioners are Arne Kononen, Ralph Hesgard and Shawna Hasel. Charges against Fischer, Pruit, Haight and Benson are largely similar, and include:

Drastically cut Fire and EMS funds, endangering public safety, jeopardizing mutual aid agreements and increasing residential, commercial and business insurance rates;

Ignored request for town hall meeting;

Repeatedly ignored advice from professionals;

Discouraged public input by intimidating citizens at public meetings;

Terrible priorities: approved $11,165 for landscaping and flowers while severely cutting emergency medical services;

Slashed wages or eliminated valuable positions;

Demeaned and insulted city employees.

Charges specific to individual officials include:

Benson - Knowingly disregarded city and county laws, failing to secure proper approval, permits and inspection of new cabins installed at his business, the KOA (campground); avoided paying system development charges, denying city and county entitled funds; avoided getting proper land use approval;

Fischer - With a history in construction, he knowingly disregarded city and county laws and abused his position of authority by enabling Kevin Benson to install KOA cabins, while failing to secure proper permits; removed Cascade Locks from the Western Columbia Gorge Chamber of Commerce and Business Consortium without Council approval, sacrificing vital economic partnerships that promote future business growth.

Haight - Dismissed public recommendations and refused to consider viable alternatives to cutting fire and EMS; Gave the community false and misleading information about rising insurance rates and the city's budget deficit; Disregards or lacks understanding of factual events; Made unreasonable comparisons between Cascade Locks Fire and EMS department to other city's, only to forward his agenda.

Pruit - Created a hostile work environment, has treated city employees with hostility and disrespect; Votes based on her personal agenda, not in the best interest of the community as a whole; Has consistent record of voting against economic growth and prosperity.

In a separate action, a recall petition was filed Aug. 2 by chief petitioner Michael Blakley against council member Lance Masters.

Blakley's statements include that "Masters, as a member of the last council, was one of the four votes responsible for the uncontrolled and often illegal spending that ultimately drove the City of Cascade Locks toward the financial crisis we now face." Blakley also accused Masters of "manipulative and obstructive behavior" and an "increasingly hostile and arrogantly argumentative attitude."

In another charge, Blakley states, "the streets, our downtown improvements and the safety of our drinking water have all been pushed off the back burner, in order to accommodate special interest overspending."

See the Sept. 3 edition for statements from the officials' rebuttals to the recall petitions.

The comments will also be posted on the Hood River News website, www.hood rivernews.com

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