Posts tagged ‘Eric Holmes’

April 15, 2012

Vancouver Closes Slocum House Theater, While Calling for Creation of a Performing Arts Center (Updated)

by lewwaters

It was just this past March 16, 2012 that Vancouver, Washington Mayor, Tim Leavitt, stood before an audience in the recently restored Kiggin’s Theater and said, “Only because owner Bill Leigh pursued his dream to restore this landmark, are we today able to enjoy Mayor Kiggins vision for the performing arts” in his 2012 State of the City speech.

Also in that speech, the Mayor stated, “I pledged we would work toward redevelopment of the empty Block 10, here near the heart of downtown. In this economy, that has been difficult. But we know that reuse of this property could enhance downtown. So, I’ll soon be working with a group of stakeholders to re-energize the block. And, we will continue to explore new ideas, like a performing arts center.”

Towards the end of the speech, speaking of future possibilities for the city he listed “Establishment of an arts and entertainment district downtown, building even greater vibrancy in our historic heart.”

There is little doubt that “performing arts” is a vital core of Vancouver, especially in revitalizing the downtown district. And knowing how vital the “performing arts” are to downtown, how contradictory it is to see the city pressuring the existing and long standing “performing arts” Slocum House Theater Company out of the home they have had for decades, painstakingly moved to and restored at its decades long location by an all volunteer group of citizens in the southwest corner of Esther Short Park specifically to host the “performing arts.”

The public furor over the city’s plan to raise the Theaters rent, use fees by nearly 400% died down as the city “granted” the theater a 90 day extension on their lease early in January 2012.

Shortly after, the Theater Company issued a press release announcing the March 11, 2012 closing.

Even though the city claims ownership of the property, I am told that prior to 2002, “the only thing the city did was to paint the outside, fix a few plumbing problems and for some reason pay the water bill.”

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December 27, 2011

City Managers Should Thank Struggling Taxpayers for Their Wage Increases

by lewwaters

That our national economy remains strained in this “Great Recession” is evident almost everywhere we look. Private sector jobs remain hard to find and we see median wages falling or remaining low.

According to a chart released by Washington State, Clark County’s median wage dropped over $3,000 a year between 2008 and 2009. 2010 showed an estimated increase in median wages in the county of a paltry $200 per year with a further estimate for 2011 of just $400 for the year, hoping to see a median wage of $54,951, still $3,000 below what was seen in 2008.

Many in the county, who are lucky enough to still have a job, have seen no wage increase at all and some have actually seen a significant drop in wages while at the same time we see taxes, rates and fees increasing across the board from city and county government.

However, not all of us have to sacrifice during these dire economic times. The Columbian tells us in November, “131 OPEIU members will get a 1.5 percent raise next year and another in 2013, followed by a 2 percent wage increase in 2014” as the city and the union reached their contract agreement. A small increase, but an increase just the same.

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December 24, 2011

2011 Performance Evaluations

by lewwaters

By Professor Robert Dean

Eric H: Mr., Mayor, Council, as 2011 draws to a close I thought this might be an opportune time to present you with the 2011 Performance Evaluations for each of our key staff – along with a request for a modest 3.5% pay raise for each of them. Time constraints prevent me from detailing each one and so I’ve condensed everyone’s evaluation into the one – City Consigliere. As you know, the Consigliere is ultimately responsible for all advice, from all departments that reaches the desks of the Mayor and Council.

The Consigliere’s duties are codified in Washington State Court Rules relating to the Rules of Professional Conduct for lawyers.

RPC RULE 2.1
ADVISOR
In representing a client, a lawyer shall exercise independent professional judgment and render candid advice. In rendering advice, a lawyer may refer not only to law but to other considerations such as moral, economic, social and political factors that may be relevant to the client’s situation.

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December 18, 2011

City of Vancouver To Slocum House Theater, “Bah Humbug”

by lewwaters

For the past 45 years, Slocum House Theater has been performing community plays in the renovated Italianate villa style home since it was saved from the wrecking ball and moved to its current location in Esther Short Park by volunteers of the Old Slocum House Company in 1966. Volunteers of the Old Slocum House Theater Company with cooperation from the Fort Vancouver Historical Society accomplished the renovation of the then century old home in 1972.

Money was raised for the project by presenting plays and manning an automobile license station. Currently, the Theater shares the building with the Farmers Market, who maintains an office upstairs.

The Non-Profit Theater Company leases the home from the City of Vancouver, paying $635 a month with the City responsible for repairs to the building, an arrangement that has been beneficial to the community for many years and charges a general admission price of $13 for a play, $11 for seniors and children 12 and under.

We also know that the city, struggling during this continuing “Great Recession” is experiencing budgetary problems. Some are of their own making many feel and some due to the depressed economy. Everywhere we seem to look, taxes and fees are being raised to cover the expenses of the city and to continue pursuing expensive projects many citizens feel are unnecessary.

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August 2, 2011

Yes Mr. City Manager, Not Only Can You Do Better, You Must Do Better

by lewwaters

Reviewing a recent correspondence emailed out to city employees by City Manager Eric Holmes is an eye opener, at least for me. I’m not too sure about Mr. Holmes, Mayor Leavitt and City Council though. Then again, I am just a common sense blue collar sort of guy that has always had to live within his means and keep his checkbook balanced.

While running a multi-million dollar city is undoubtedly a difficult and challenging prospect for any one overflowing with complicated matters, someone needs to open their eyes and realize Vancouver is in trouble, big trouble.

Mr. Holmes begins his letter, a copy of which is HERE, with the usual, “I’d like to take a moment to thank you, for your hard work, your expertise and your commitment to community. Together, we make a difference. Serving the greater good is why we are here. You are the City’s most important resource and we appreciate your partnership in the journey ahead, navigating a sea of change.”

Deeper in his letter though, we find, “About 70 cents out of every dollar we spend goes toward our workforce. Our relationship with employees is a key to our long term success, in more ways than one. Wages and benefits have grown significantly faster than revenue and contribute to our current unsustainable business model. We are negotiating with all twelve unions, representing roughly 70% of our employee base. We’re also continuing to make changes to stabilize the costs of health care benefits. Aligning employee costs with our ability to pay remains a top priority- and is a cornerstone to a more solid foundation for all of us. Our goal is to preserve jobs, especially since we’ve already made significant cuts.”

Just before that he acknowledged, “In 2009, the City’s financial condition deteriorated amidst the Great Recession. Revenue growth, historically bolstered by development growth, had plummeted. Growth in expenditures – primarily in health care, wages and benefits – did not decline accordingly.”

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January 4, 2011

Vancouver Unions Ready to Gouge City & Taxpayers

by lewwaters

A year and a half ago I was applauding the Vancouver Firefighters Union over their declining a wage increase, seeing the economy slipping further into recession. Comments left on my blog back then informed me the “sacrifice” wasn’t as altruistic as I assumed.

If there was need of any further proof of that we see it today as we are informed that Vancouver and two unions stalled on contracts. The “two unions” are the Police Command and Firefighter unions who will not agree to the city’s offer and instead, are demanding hefty wage increases, even though our economy has not improved and in fact, has worsened since the firefighters made their “concession” to a wage freeze in July 2009.

At issue today is the Fire Suppression Unit, IAFF Local 452 holding out for an “8.2% wage increase for contract year 2010 with another 2% COLA in contract year 2011. In addition, they want a 10% longevity pay for over 25 years service, payoffs of unused sick leaves and a reduction in number of hours worked in a week.”

We also see the Police Command Unit, OPEIU Local 11 holding out for “Commanders pay 10% above a Lieutenants Pay, and a Lieutenant’s pay 22.4% above a Sergeants’ pay” in both contract years.

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January 2, 2011

Does Vancouver Know There is Still a “Great Recession?”

by lewwaters

We need to engage the community … and ultimately, we will need to talk to them about ways they can invest in their community,” said City Manager Eric Holmes.

The above quote, lifted from the January 2, 2011 Sunday Columbian article, A Peek Ahead Points to Issues of ’11 show me an almost total disconnect between city officials and taxpayers in Vancouver and Clark County.

“Invest” is nothing more than a catch word used to soften potential tax increases to be heaped on the backs of a community already struggling with the highest unemployment in the state, 13.1%

This particular “investment” is in regards to a proposal of Vancouver to form a “Transportation Benefit District that would increase car license fees in the city by $20,” supposedly to pay for road maintenance and repairs, on top of the taxes we already pay, through gasoline tax and property taxes, sales taxes and you name it.

Also, should we choose to use one of the several parks in the area, to relax or picnic, we read that we could also be facing paying yet another fee to enter.

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