It is hard for most voters to watch the “train wreck” that is North Bend City government right now without some voter remorse.  Since losing in the November 2020 general election to Jessica Engelke by a very narrow margin, I elected to stay on the political sidelines and out of the fray to give the new mayor and her majority some room to get something positive accomplished for our city. I ran on a plan to set a “new direction” for North Bend, but the majority spoke, and elected to go a different way.

So far during this mayor and council’s time in office, we continue to be dreadfully mired for over 24 months in indecisiveness over an obsession with Frisbee golf at Simpson Park. For their first act, the mayor and council called for and led passage of a pool tax levy for our community swimming pool right in the middle of an economic crisis. A pool that is now closed indefinitely due to equipment failure. The latest headline grabber details that our city council has been found guilty of illegally suppressing the free speech rights of a duly elected representative of the people of this city just because they didn’t agree with her and didn’t like what she had to say. Six members of this council have needlessly subjected taxpayers to further litigation and a potential monetary settlement that will ironically be paid deservedly to one of their very own council members. Additionally, this council has ventured head long into a folly of using taxpayer money to purchase the “Coos County Annex” building as a “fixer-upper” with the intent of flipping the property. All this on the advice of a city administrator with zero commercial real estate development experience on his resume and zero outside private developer interest – a project that has taxpayer funded failure written all over it.

We have also seen the so-called abrupt resignation of the city’s “Top Cop” and his number two. We later came to learn from their lawyers that the resignations might not have been so “abrupt” as initially characterized by the city administrator. Compounding the NBPD problem, the mayor has announced that the city is hiring a consultant and spending thousands of dollars to give them political cover on what the “new and improved” police force should be. A new “abrupt” resignation by the city attorney - whose firm represented the city for over 40 years was completed with zero explanation also just adds to the mystery of what is really going on inside city hall. Another one that slid by us all was this council’s public endorsement of a foreign owned for-profit home warranty insurance company in which the council voted to allow the company to use the city’s logo and name for three years on a direct marketing campaign to residents to sell an insurance policy that can be purchased from any one of several insurance companies actually doing business within the city. It’s one crazy thing after another and not one of which has truly made a positive difference in the daily life of the average citizen. For once, we would like to say thank you to our city government for taking something that is driving us crazy and improving it. Instead, we just get more “crazy.”

Ineffectual leadership by the few for the few is what we have all experienced since the election of the current mayor and her council. It is highly unlikely that this will change anytime soon. The incessant NB City Council “tom-foolery” will go on until voters decide that they have truly had enough. Mayor Engelke’s term as mayor of our city may well be shorter than she wants, but she has nobody to blame but herself. The theme of the day in city hall these days is disinformation, misinformation and no comment. In this case, what you don’t know is hurting you.

Those of us in opposition to the current council majority thank Councilor Bill Richardson for his momentous “foot in mouth” comment during a meeting last spring. Richardson said, “everyone has to pay their fair share… if you don’t like it here – you are free to leave.” This public commentary was the literal straw that broke the camel’s back for many voters. It’s this kind of fake righteous indignation and disrespect of citizens that has turned so many people to ask what the heck is going on in our city government? Until there’s some new and bold leadership to refocus the council’s “agenda” back on issues that really matter to all of us - and not just a few people – North Bend will continue to wander and that is bad for all of us. In November 2022, we have a chance to change the course of our city once again. Hopefully, a few great candidates will soon step forward and our city can finally get off the “crazy train.”  

James Rose

North Bend


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