By editorial board • 

Council's self-praise not followed by results

McMinnville benefits tremendously from its city council, comprised of a caring and compassionate group of volunteer policymakers.

If our councilors have one major fault, it’s the tendency to sing their own praises. Almost every new policy is accompanied by a chorus of self-congratulation — not uncommon in small to mid-size communities.

Interestingly, their usually reverent hymn hit notes of indignation in August, when critics dared question their attempts to help the homeless.

The critics, so far, have turned out to be correct.

Mandy Gawf of Yamhill Community Action Partnership proved particularly prophetic. She doubted any private party would allow homeless people to camp on its property, especially without the city agreeing to share or assume liability.

Councilors indulged in self-congratulatory comments when they passed an Aug. 28 ordinance allowing up to three vehicles to camp on private property with the owner’s consent. They responded indignantly to doubters like Gawf.

Mayor Scott Hill said, “This is an issue that has had a deeper and more complete and exhaustive look at than any other issue that I remember for many, many years.” Councilor Sal Peralta termed it “heartbreaking” to hear people criticize a program so many people had labored on so long and hard.

Unfortunately, six months later, not one private property owner has stepped forward who is publicly known. Not one.

Leaders of Champion Team, tasked with overseeing the camping program, noted they’re still working out the kinks. Really? Half a year later?

City officials say churches may be hosting campers under the radar. Maybe. They have that right under state law. But we have seen or heard no evidence of it.

The program wasn’t designed to promote church camping in any event. It was instituted to enlist broad participation, in which it has failed spectacularly.

Tucked away in the ordinance was a blanket prohibition about camping on public property. And even that provision has not been realized.

The city has no viable towing policy, leaving street squatting unregulated. As a result, its sole actual homeless camping program remains ensconced on Dustin Court and Marsh Lane.

Gawf was right. No private property owner is going to turn over even three parking spaces to homeless people without some form of security.

Last year, we stated, “The program will be very conspicuous. If it fails, it will fail spectacularly.” 

Yes, our councilors’ hearts were in the right place. But in this case, they should have spent more time listening to critics, and less pointing to their own halos to produce effective and real progress.




I count several of our city councilors as friends — I have great respect for their collective intellect, energy and dedication. I do not wish to disparage them but, then, I don’t have to. This well-written piece did that for me.

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