Live chat transcript: Vancouver City Council candidate Anne McEnerny-Ogle

By Libby Clark, Columbian Web Editor

Published:

 

Vancouver City Council candidate Anne McEnerny-Ogle took some time on Monday to field questions from Columbian.com users. Her opponent, Bill Turlay, declined to participate in the chat.

The chat touched on a variety of topics, including the Columbia River Crossing, annexation, collaboration between city and county government, and how the city can help small businesses. Here’s a transcript that's been edited for clarity.

The full transcript is also available at www.columbian.com/chat-archive/.

Libby Tucker:

Let's get started! First, Anne, can you tell us a bit about yourself? Why are you running for City Council?

Anne McEnerny-Ogle:

Good afternoon, Libby.

I'm a retired mathematics teacher and Terry and I have lived in Vancouver for 32 years. Our son, John, attended Vancouver public schools and is in college.

I believe I can help our citizens determine where they want to go, what they want to be, and how to get where they want to go … to achieve their vision for the future.

I am passionate about our potential and our future. I believe our diverse community can fulfill its vision by working together. I’ve studied and worked for more than 30 years with our citizens and businesses and find that they share many of the same livability goals.

Serving on Vancouver’s City Council provides a unique opportunity to work collaboratively with creative and professional individuals to develop a balanced and healthy community.

Comment From Craig Sayre

I live outside city limits - actually right on the edge, but I have mixed feelings about the possibility of being annexed by the City. What measurement would you use to determine if an area was to be annexed, and would you favor allowing voters a veto?

Anne McEnerny-Ogle:

Good afternoon, Craig.

Annexation is an important issue for all of us. The City would want you and your neighbors to have a formal discussion on the issue. It would then require a vote or signed petition from your area. The City has now discussed annexations for some time. We need to make sure we can keep our promises to you for services you need.

Comment From Craig Sayre

As a follow-up on the annexation question, it is my understanding that the last big annexation was driven by the City of Vancouver. Is that correct, and if so, has the City changed the way it pursues new tax areas?

Anne McEnerny-Ogle:

Follow-up to Craig's 2nd question.

I do remember the last big annexation. The residents and businesses remember also. They remember promises for services, sidewalks water, sewer, etc. Unfortunately, the meetings weren't recorded and we didn't have minutes.

Comment From Craig Sayre

based on an 'evaluation' of past performance by the city, my vote on annexation would be a big NO!

Anne McEnerny-Ogle:

Response to Craig,

You need to start talking to your neighbors. Please share your concerns with those around you.

Comment From BluShadows

How do you intend to keep the promises you mentioned to Craig, we'd like specifics! -Blu Flores

Anne McEnerny-Ogle:

Hello BluShadows.

The City's ordinances spell out the procedures for annexation. While those can be changed, I believe they shouldn't be. All meetings with possible areas for annexation should be recorded and minutes kept. That encourages the City to document needed services and mitigation for annexation.

Comment From BluShadows

That is one of the problems, no matter what the homeowners in the area of consideration say, the "city" knows better what they need & while pretending to listen often just does what they were going to do anyway. Many promises are left unfulfilled, while regulations & taxes increase.

Anne McEnerny-Ogle:

BluShadows,

Let's take a look at the "promises" in the next annexation and evaluate them.

Comment From Dee Little

Is it just the council that votes?

Anne McEnerny-Ogle:

Good afternoon, Dee.

Previous procedures had only a council vote. Current annexation requires the area to be annexed to be a part of that decision-making process. The rest of the City doesn't vote.

Comment From Dee Little

since the council is only a few votes and the proposed annexation site is many, just how is the final outcome determined?

Anne McEnerny-Ogle:

Dee,

The procedures are spelled out in our ordinances. After the annexation site requests an annexation, formal conversations happen. It's important that all who request the annexation from the site are a part of that conversation. That must happen before the Council votes. If the majority of those to be annexed don't want it, then that should not go forward to Council.

Comment From Dee Little

'should' is the greatest loophole in government. will the people's voice prevail?

Comment From Lew Waters

Hi Anne, how do those in the area to be annexed have a voice? Is it by vote or by public meetings?

Anne McEnerny-Ogle:

Good afternoon Lew.

Both. They have a formal discussion in public meetings and then signed petitions/votes can happen with the body.

Comment From Lew Waters

I ask Anne, because as I recall, Vancouver had a plan to annex Hazel Dell in 2007 that they decided not to at that time due to the economy souring. I don't recall any asking in my area of Hazel Dell if we wanted annexed.

Comment From BluShadows

What Lew says is true!

Anne McEnerny-Ogle:

Lew and BluShadows,

That's true. The previous administration was very excited about a Hazel Dell annexation. That was not appropriate. That attitude is outdated.

Comment From Claire Ghormley

Anne, In cities like Camas and Washougal it seems like small business is thriving and growing in a recessed economy. How can we make that growth possible in Vancouver without the use of public dollars and private interest?

Anne McEnerny-Ogle:

Good afternoon, Claire.

You know how difficult it can be to start a new business. To start with, we can support our local small businesses. It's is the most effective way to create and maintain jobs and a diversification of business. I support the small businesses in and around my neighborhood and I also feel I have a responsibility to encourage my family, neighbors, and fellow citizens to shop locally.

Next, we can use an ombudsman position that could help those new to the system successfully start a business. An ombudsman can help businesses walk through the city’s permitting and other requirements. I’ve talked with new owners and it’s often not good enough. We need to strengthen the program. Finally, let's streamline the regulatory process.

Comment From Claire Ghormley

I think permitting is needed to keep a uniformity in business practices, but the issue that has been encountered more often than not is irregularity in the city's response to permitting and inspections. One answer one day, another the next are what cost businesses so much in start up. Wrong answers by the city lead to expensive mistakes by new business owners...

Anne McEnerny-Ogle:

Claire,

I know! We put an apartment on our garage 21 years ago. No such thing existed. We had lots of different and expensive mistakes, too.

Comment From BluShadows

How would you personally support start-ups?

Anne McEnerny-Ogle:

BlueShadows,

Permitting and legal hurdles can be a daunting obstacle.

New businesses may have an opportunity to convert property for a better use, but some regulations do not permit the conversion, or obtaining the permits is such a long and costly process that it makes the project not viable.

We may be able to accelerate the process and to reduce permitting and planning fees where a project meets a set of established criteria such as: (1) puts underutilized property (defined as being vacant for a certain amount of time) to a higher and better use; (2) the project would be completed in a certain amount of time; and (3) the project would create a certain number of new Vancouver jobs.

Comment From Bob Travis

Hello Anne! What is your stance on the state's B&O tax, and do you believe it hinders our small business growth?

Anne McEnerny-Ogle:

Good afternoon, Bob.

As most people know, the state Business and Occupation tax is a gross receipts tax. It is measured on the value of products, gross proceeds of sale, or gross income of the business. Our state’s B&O tax is calculated on the gross income from activities. This means there are no deductions from the B&O tax for labor, materials, taxes, or other costs of doing business.

We talked about the prioritizing the expenses in our City with the Horizon’s forums. We now need to talk about prioritizing the income strategies. Everything needs to come to the table for this discussion. That includes the entertainment tax, impact fees, B & O tax, Single Business Tax options, and car tabs.

Our small businesses need to be at the table to talk about all of the City's fees and taxes that impact them. Their growth may be hindered by several things.

Comment From Bob Travis

And that led to my last question Anne. Impact fees - do you see them as necessary or as a cumbersome roadblock to development and jobs creation?

Anne McEnerny-Ogle:

Bob - Impact fees

Let’s look at phasing in permitting fees, impact fees, and other startup costs to small businesses, so that they could pay over four or five years what they now have to pay upfront. They can be an obstacle for development, but we need to discuss a pay-as-you-go style of funding for future capital projects.

Comment From Jim Rourk

How would you define the roles of county and city government. What boundaries should each have, would collaborations would be appropriate and how would annexation influence the roll of each? Thank you

Anne McEnerny-Ogle:

Good afternoon, Jim.

The City is responsible for the essential services of police, fire, water, sewer and roads within our city boundaries. The County does the same outside those boundaries. The City and County do collaborate in several areas. Parks, courts, and jails are just a few. That collaboration is important for cost saving efforts. Annexation can sometime be a political pull from both sides. The last comp plan with industrial area was an example.

The baseball stadium and biomass issues are two of the current example of poor communication and cooperation.

Comment From BluShadows

Appreciate your take on the so called Baseball Tax. Rates of return for the public should always be considered. Refreshing to hear that.

Libby Tucker:

Interesting, Anne, what would you do differently on the biomass and baseball issues?

Anne McEnerny-Ogle:

Libby,

The baseball admission/entertainment tax never came to the Council for a formal discussion. It needed to. We organized a forum with several individuals to talk about the issue and it was publicized on CVTV (You can find it in the archives.) Tax collections used to pay stadium debt, for example, could have gone for other public projects with higher social rates of return-road maintenance, or an alternative could be to reduce taxes. That conversation never happened.

Libby - Biomass

Several articles have come out on the Biomass. The final science study hasn't been printed and presented. New article today about study wasn't clear. The cost of the appeal could be tremendous. I wish the County had discussed this project with us.

Comment From Jim Rourk

with regards to the biomass project. I still have several undiscussed areas of that project. For example, how many trucks a day will be on the streets and what size, how much power will be generated and if more power is generated than the county can use how will that power be generated. What happens to the biomass ash or whatever the terminology of the matter, where does it go and how? What about noise factors and I am sure there are many other facets that should be explored. I know there was a hearing, I could of gone but did not. And what are the economics of this project. I understand there are federal tax incentives, who do those incentives go to and so forth. What happens to the excess power, if any, will there be transmission lines, where will they go, what will they look like, how much will it cost, will roads be closed during this time. Thank you.

Anne McEnerny-Ogle:

Jim - Biomass

All of those are the same questions that the neighborhoods and businesses in that area have been discussing for some time. Those federal incentives are pretty good and I think that's why the project has been pushed so quickly. The incentives would go to the company for building the furnace.

The company says they'll sell the excess power. You can count on road closures during construction time.

Libby Tucker:

On that point. Interesting article on the downside to biomass from The Oregonian yesterday: http://www.oregonlive.com/environment/index.ssf/2011/10/using_oregons_forests_for_bioe.html

It was on our front page today.

Comment From Dee Little

is the city's refusal to support biomass, then asking the county to forgive $4 million in hilton debt poor communication or politics?

Anne McEnerny-Ogle:

Dee - The Hilton debt request was interesting, wasn't it. I've attended the Hilton meetings for several years. That one surprised me!

Comment From Brittany Schwerdt-Sund

I notice quite a bit of hostility during City Council meetings between the public and the Council. Granted, you cannot please everyone, but what would you do to help aid in better communications between public and Council? More specifically, how would you go about making the public feel more involved and that their opinions are taken into consideration?

Anne McEnerny-Ogle:

Good afternoon, Brittany.

That's true, you can't please everyone, but you do need to be a good listening and respond to individuals, when allowed. If you ask for a response, then the Council needs to verify that answer. People often say they'll get back to you, but that doesn't always happen. Council (I) can do that.

Council can also go out to the people. We can't wait for busy folks (many with families) to leave their home and travel to meetings. We need to go out to our community.

Comment From norskiewa

My name's Michele Molstead. Hi Anne, thanks for taking our questions. Would you be in favor of changing local regulations to make it easier for food carts to exist in Vancouver? It's my understanding that regs/permitting issues are one of the reasons why we're a food cart desert (compared to Portland).

Anne McEnerny-Ogle:

Good afternoon, Michele.

You probably should talk to our new food folks. The health regulations (County, not necessarily City) have some pretty strong regulations, which I can agree with. I'd be happy to sit down and study them with folks. We have several food carts around and I know how lovely it is to stop by and grab something. Let's look in to this.

Comment From norskiewa

Thanks. I certainly don't think carts should be unregulated, just appropriately regulated.

Comment From BluShadows

It's not just food carts, to try to have a booth at various festivals is prohibitively expensive. Learning the requirements & obtaining your food service permit is sensible but the other costs (about 700.00) stop most folks. Hard to earn that back in a weekend.

Comment From Aikien Evony

The Vancouver Police Department seems to lose lawsuits filed by its officers on a regular basis. These lawsuits seem to be lost due to poor leadership and mangment , how would you fix the Vancouver Police?

Anne McEnerny-Ogle:

Good afternoon, Aikien.

From what I've read (limited information due to privacy issues) we're having some difficulty with procedures. Some of those procedures were from previous administrations and not the current chief or city manager. Let's look at any current suits for methods to improve.

Comment From Dee Little

How do you respond to those who say you are difficult to work with, and point to complaints made against you by businesses?

Comment From Claire Ghormley

What businesses made complaints Dee?

Anne McEnerny-Ogle:

Dee - The actual complaint was sent to me and referred to a comment made by another commissioner. It thought it was interesting that the community development director said that I "asked sharp questions..., as I should have." We're not there to rubber-stamp policies and ordinances. We're there to work for the citizens.

Claire - I think she's referring to the lawyer's question about the Evergreen School District request for impact fee increase.

Comment From Dee Little

my source is The Columbian's article, "Vancouver council candidates air views" by Andrea Damewood dated Oct 20, 2011

Libby Tucker:

Here's the link: http://www.columbian.com/news/2011/oct/20/mcenerny-ogle-turlay-air-views/

Comment From BluShadows

Can you please share your stance on the Columbia River Crossing & the fact Vancouver residents don't want light rail? Thanks

Comment From Aikien Evony

Almost a third of the cost of the Columbia Crossing is due to light rail. What is your feeling on this form of transit?

Anne McEnerny-Ogle:

BlueShadows-

I was here for that 1996 vote against light rail.

The Vancouver City Council and C-Tran approved the CRC light rail project to move forward with the CRC project. A vote on light rail and Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) has been promised for November 2012.

I-5 Bridge - I support the replacement of the current bridges. I believe the plan for the tolls should be for the construction portion of the bridge only and once that construction debt is paid off, the tolls should be removed. Tolls would sunset when the original debts are paid. I also believe we should have an annual review of the debt posted.

I don’t believe the CRC project and 15 years of work should be scrapped. I believe this megaproject has some flexibility for changes.

I like mass transit, I like high-capacity transit, but I also want our citizens to tell us what they want. We need an informed vote on light rail. We need to learn about Plan B for mass transit. The Vancouver Neighborhood Alliance sponsored three forums on light rail and it included CRC, CTRAN, and several Council members. They were televised and very informative.

Comment From Lew Waters

With the recent questions coming out on the CRC, do you feel there should be a Justice Department Investigation into where and how they have been spending the Millions in tax dollars they have spent?

Anne McEnerny-Ogle:

Lew - Tiffany Couch's work showed a weakness we need to correct. Let's get all of the materials ready for the evaluation.

Libby Tucker:

Looks like our readers are satisfied, Anne. Thank you for your time today.

Anne McEnerny-Ogle:

Thank you, Libby. I enjoyed the opportunity and appreciated the invitation. I’d also like to thank The Columbian Editorial Board for their endorsement. If your readers’ would like more information about my campaign, my civic work and stand on the issues, they can go to www.annecan.com. Ballots were mailed last week and if individuals didn’t receive them, they need to contact the Clark County Elections office at

elections@clark.wa.gov. I would be honored to represent all of our citizens on Vancouver City Council.

Libby Tucker:

More information on Bill Turlay can be found at his site http://turlay4citycouncil.com/about-bill-turlay/

Comment From norskiewa

Thanks again for being available for the live chat, Anne.

Anne McEnerny-Ogle:

Thank you for the questions.

Libby Tucker:

Come back tomorrow at 5 p.m. for a live chat with City Council candidates for postion No. 5, Cory Barnes and Larry Smith!

And on Wednesday we'll have another noon chat with position No. 4 candidate, and incumbent, Bart Hansen.