Tag Archives: Redmond Spokesman

School Safety and Gun Control NOW

My opinion column to the Bend Bulletin and Redmond Spokesman was selected for publication on 2-20-2018:

Click HERE or HERE to read.

I have posted it BELOW as well:

It’s time…

It’s time – to recall the past when pencil, paper, and eraser were all a student required to be adequately equipped for school. It’s time to recall the days of practicing cursive and penmanship. It’s time to remember using actual textbooks in class – and taking those home for reference…one’s face in a book completing homework.

It’s time – to remember when the internet began to transform the teaching and learning experience. It’s time to consider when digital devices began to populate our classrooms – and appeared as appendages in our hands. It’s time to recognize that face-in-a-book has become Facebook.

It’s time – to revisit those memories when schools were adequately staffed with trained guidance counselors and staff – when students who displayed emotional and behavioral instability did not fall obliviously through the cracks of our educational system. It’s time to recognize that those who do suffer from mental health impairments, including students, require identification and treatment from qualified mental health professionals – whose caseloads are currently vastly overburdened primarily due to inadequate funding and staffing shortfalls.

It’s time to confront the reality that times change; requiring the deployment of new resources, technologies and robust strategies to protect and preserve the safety, health and welfare of students, staff and families throughout Central Oregon public school districts.

It’s time to get real.

It’s time to rally support for the Redmond School District’s upcoming bond measure for the essential financial resources designed to improve public school safety and complete fundamental maintenance improvements in the antiquated school facilities in our community.

It’s time for the U.S. government to provide the essential financial resources to deploy metal detection devices/intruder prevention technologies at all points of ingress and egress in our public schools.

It’s time to ban the manufacture, sale, transfer, modification and possession of assault rifles and high capacity magazines in Deschutes County.

It’s time to bolster the processes and personnel designed to identify, treat and monitor those who display mental health impairments who may tangibly pose threats to self or others. It’s time to confront the reality that living in Central Oregon is cohabitation with abject poverty, substance abuse, alcohol abuse, overburdened behavioral healthcare evaluation and delivery system(s), a population of at-risk individuals and families – and a per capita unbridled fetish with firearms – of all kinds.

It’s time to insure that the systems designed to identify those not legally allowed to possess a firearm are integrity tested on an ongoing basis and that they are suitably integrated to defend the public health, safety and welfare.

It’s time for elected officials to worry less about re-election and embalming the past and display actions demonstrating their commitment to  “what must we do now” to provide the fundamental safety protections for our children, students and staff who inhabit our public schools on a daily basis. Investment in this “infrastructure” must become priority number one.

It’s time for Oregon’s U.S. congressional delegation to derive the funding essential for adequately staffing the behavioral healthcare assessment and delivery organizations in Central Oregon.

It’s time – time to speak the unspoken. It’s time for uncommon courage in Central Oregon. It’s time to recognize that the times have changed and now demand we enact measures to more adequately protect our children, students and staff in our schools.  It’s time for Deschutes County Commissioners and the City Council’s in this region to lead by enacting measures now required to enhance public safety – and bolster, preserve and protect the welfare of all stakeholders in our public education and behavioral healthcare systems.

It’s time for an S.O.S. – Summit On Safety – in the public schools of Central Oregon.

It’s time to change.

It’s time to enact change.

Our children, students, families, teachers, staff and communities require it.

Now.

Redmond Oregon Needs More Police – NO FEES

Below is the Guest Opinion column I authored that was published in the Bend (Oregon) Bulletin September 29, 2017 and the Redmond Spokesman earlier in the week.

A public Hearing on this matter is scheduled for Monday, November 13, 2017 at  5:30 pm at City Hall in Redmond, Oregon:

On Tuesday evening September 19th, 2017 The Redmond City Council proposed tacking on a “public safety fee” of $6 a month to residents’ monthly utility bills ($72 per annum), raising the cash to add more Police officers to the Department. This is a terribly slippery slope. No City of Redmond resident vote is required to implement this fee.

Cities in Oregon are under siege to address increasing costs and stagnant revenues. While population growth in Redmond is projected to be flat in the near term, City law enforcement resources are, and have been, stretched beyond reason.  While a few Oregon cities have resorted to this type of fee to address resources for public safety, most have done so as a last resort – to avoid debilitating cuts in public safety and emergency services.  Yet, an aggressive leap into levying fees across the board in Redmond without voter approval, where no cuts in public safety resources are anticipated, demands dialog. A prudent person would ask the following:

Where can the City make cuts in the current budget? Have the City and the Police Department exhausted all available grant opportunities to provide funding for additional officers? Has our Congressional delegation in D.C. been consulted regarding available grant resources? What was their response? Are there other revenue streams that might be created whereby the non-resident population of the City of Redmond whose activities demand City law enforcement resources been considered and thoroughly exhausted? What percentage of City of Redmond law enforcement resources are expended on non-residents of the City of Redmond? What is the “sundown date” on such a fee? Are Redmond residents and the business community insulated from any future fee increases and/or fee levying activity by the Mayor and the City Council of this nature?

Utility fees are just that. They are also usage fees based upon actual consumption. The proposed public safety fee tacked onto utility bills is not a usage fee. Furthermore, to relegate community law enforcement staffing resources to a vehicle where wastewater and sewage fees are assessed is down right stinky…this suggestion simply does not pass the smell test.

Maybe Redmond should get out of the golf business…Redmond businesses and residents have borne City utility rate increases of 2%, as identified in the 2015/2016 budget and 3% effective July 2017. When one examines the 2016/2017 City Budget one thing jumps out: Golf Course debt at the beginning of the 2016/17 budget year was $4,812,778 with $419,611 of annual  debt service. Furthermore, the budget reveals: “Over the last several fiscal years, the General Fund has needed to cover the payments on the majority of these debt obligations. The FY 2016/17 budget assumes the General Fund will need to cover about 100% of the bond payments associated with building the golf course over a decade ago.” (p.50. of Redmond 2016/2017 Budget . 2017/2018 Budget is HERE).

Redmond, like many Oregon cities has and continues to have an addictive affection for urban renewal funds. However, there’s a downside to a fiscal focus of this nature – earmarking future property tax revenues to address the urban renewal debt already on the books. Thus, when the Police Department requires more officers to protect the community properly, City management is at a loss for where these funds will be derived. This is shortsighted.

The merit of the need for additional Police Officers for Redmond is unequivocal (although I need to be persuaded about the legitimate need for a “downtown foot patrol”). Yet, proceeding down this slippery slope of assessing fees to utility bills to provide adequate funding for the essential and fundamental public safety resources the community and the Department deserve – well – like I’ve said – demands dialog.

City of Redmond  financial resources have an uncanny inertia for expenditures designed for embalming the past (Evergreen Elementary School acquisition/renovation and ongoing expenditures attempting to re-invigorate a “downtown core,” and an urban renewal funds addiction) vs. planning for the absolute fundamental necessities of the future. The men and women of The Redmond Police Department deserve more personnel, resources, and vastly better financial planning from the City. So do the residents of the City of Redmond, Oregon.

Respectfully submitted,

Bill Dahl

A public hearing on this matter is scheduled for Monday, November 13, 2017 at  5:30 pm at City Hall in Redmond, Oregon.