In the summer of 2010, I was sent an email marked confidential (along with Mayor Jerry Wolford, Republican members of council and City Auditor Jim Armeni) from David Johnson, Chairman of the GOP.
In this email, Mr. Johnson not only suggests the independent performance audit by the State Auditor's Office, but continues on the next page to state the following:
"Please be assured that if there are any ballot measures to increase taxes, you may also expect one to 1) reinstitute the fire district (which has already been drawn up); and possible 2) privatize the police department..both at a huge cost savings to the city. This time, professionals will direct the campaign. The voters will have a perfect opportunity to vote themselves a nice big tax increase (and the loss of reciprocity credits) OR a sensible reduction in costs that will make room in the city budget for repaving streets, improving our parks, providing needed infrastructure to facilitate new jobs, etc. I may also consider moving forward with a charter government petition either in this next election cycle or the one after it."
Everything above is a direct quote from this memo marked confidential including what is said in parenthesis - that a plan to reinstitute the fire district has been drawn up and that professionals would direct the campaign.
So there, in my opinion, you have the motive and the orchestration behind the performance audit. It is certainly possible that some of the current candidates have never seen this memo which was marked confidential. Upon request, I would be happy to provide a copy.
In the memo, Mr. Johnson was upset that he had had no communication or consultation from Republican officials. He addressed pension pick-up, health care costs, other fringe benefits, Mr. Armeni's performance audit of the Salem Police Departmen, etc.
I have always felt that the individual city employee should pick up his portion of the PERS contribution and that the city had to reduce health care costs. I refused to be a part of PERS when I was elected to the position of president of Salem City Council. And for the public's information, council members receive no health care benefits.
So, when Mr. Berlin proposed the audit, I re-read Mr. Johnson's email and felt the underlying source and the ultimate goal was to justify the elimination of the full-time Salem Fire Department and possibly outsource the police department. According to the Salem News coverage of the recent candidate forum, even though the vote to accept the audit was defeated by a vote of 4/3, Mr. Berlin clearly stated that he would ask council to reconsider the audit. I ask each of you to really consider the motive behind it all.
Further, in the fall of 2010 I did ask the residents to pay 1/2 percent additional income tax and I spelled out the infrastructure needs of the city in a presentation. That, of course, was soundly defeated by the voters. I accept that but I will not stop fighting to retain both the police and fire departments.
Probably much to Mr, Johnson's chagrin, I remain an independent Republican who is issue based. I have respect for the individual regardless of political affiliation, stance or personal wealth. I may not always agree with someone, but they also are entitled to an opinion - not a personal character assassination - as is Mr. Johnson's style. And this just happens to be my opinion.
Bullying is no longer tolerated in schools. I would like to see it stopped in local politics as well.
Mickey Cope Weaver,
Salem Council president,