Letter: You Can’t Fix Stupid

There are very good reasons most cities (including Puyallup) require that their city manager resides within the city limits of their employers. It is so that they have a vested interest in the city’s health and welfare. Puyallup has waived this requirement for its last two City Managers in order to save a few thousand dollars in relocation expenses. Well, what could go wrong anyway?

Last year Puyallup settled an ongoing lawsuit with apartment owners along East Main regarding out-gassing from an old garbage dump. By the time it was over, Puyallup taxpayers (not including the city manager or any of the department managers at city hall for that matter) were stuck with a bill in excess of $2.5M. This was to pay for the mistake of granting building permits in 2004 and 2005 for construction adjacent to an old landfill dump.  

For decades, Puyallup residents and businesses dumped all kinds of “alleged” toxic material along the riverside where the levies now stand. Very few people around have the tribal knowledge of what was dumped where in the 50s 60s and 70s.  But, some sages have tales to tell of some very “nasty stuff” in undocumented locations along the levee.  “Don’t ask, don’t tell” being the operative words on that old problem. However, as long as it’s not a current concern, Puyallup should be able to dodge any new bullets on that issue.  

Not so!

 City Hall, never ones to turn down other people’s money that could line the pockets of either employees or the “usual suspects” of consultants and lawyers have managed the incredible.  The city manager is recommending the acceptance of a ($200K) State grant from a request submitted long ago to evaluate and design a repositioned replacement levee to accommodate migrating salmon. This will turn the swampland adjacent to Linden Golf Course into part of the Puyallup River proper.  

What part of “let sleeping dogs lie” does city hall not understand?  

The city manager has insisted to some that he has had assurances from people who think it should be OK and nothing of significance is buried there. Based on city hall’s recent performance and the consultant involved, I have absolutely no confidence in that statement. Anyway, what does city manager Dannenberg have to lose?  He will probably retire in a couple of years anyway and he does not pay settlement costs anyway. It’s Puyallup citizen’s problem after all.  

Even if the probability of unearthing toxic problems in the levee is low, taxpayers and future residents cannot afford to take that volatile and expensive risk.  

As Palm Sunday is this weekend, I now know the modern value of thirty pieces of silver. It is $200K in city hall shekels.  

Dave Churchman

Puyallup

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