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E-MAIL TO THE EDITOR: I Didn't Know UP Is At War With Gig Harbor

Writer says University Place City Council's decision to travel outside of Pierce County for its retreat is a waste of taxpayer dollars.

(Editor's note: This comes from Randy Boss of Gig Harbor)

I didn’t know University Place was at war with Gig Harbor?
 
While watching the debate at last week’s UP City Council meeting regarding where the City Council should gather this year for their annual retreat the locations were narrowed down to two sites – The Best Western Wesley Inn in Gig Harbor or the Alderbrook Inn on Hood Canal. 
 
I really do care that the City Of University Place wants to waste their tax payers money to stay at a four star hotel. Last year I was the only member of the public that attended the retreat held right there at home in UP. If they have to “get out of town” you would think they could at least have the good neighbor attitude to keep those precious tax dollars in Pierce County and utilize the great Wesley Inn facilities – but no!. In the end, all but one City Council member – Javier Figueroa (thank you very much) - voted to spend the most money on the highest cost option and travel to the furthest point so as not to be bothered/interrupted by those pesky citizens and their input!
 
The most outrageous comment that was made during the public discussion was spewed by Councilman Kent Keel and it went something like this:  “These things are taped so…I mean, just for the record…There is just something about Gig Harbor and U.P. You Know, I just don’t feel comfortable in giving money to Gig Harbor. I just can’t do that…." Followed by uproarious laughter…..
 
But wait – It got even better when the newly elected Mayor Ken Grassi followed with his closing agreeable comment to Councilman Keel: “GOOD MAN”!
 
I think I’ll start shopping at Trader Joe’s in Silverdale instead of U.P……Just to be fair………
 
Good luck with that retreat….

Irene Potter January 10, 2012 at 09:11 PM
Mr. Boss: I, as a resident of UP, attended the entire city council meeting retreat last year held in UP and did not notice you being there. You are not a small person, physically, so I don't know how I could have missed you. There were several other UP residents that attended part of the time so I don't understand your statement, in that context either, as being the only member of the public in attendance. I don't recall there being any input allowed by the "pesky citizens." Although, I did feel that the council would rather we not be there. I am unhappy with the council deciding to go to Alderbrook this year because it pretty much precludes UP residents being able to attend. It makes me wonder what will be going on that they don't want us know of. Personally, I know of no bad feelings in UP against Gig Harbor so I have no idea of the source of Kent Keel's comment. I attended the meeting where he made that statement so don't doubt that he made it, nor Mr. Grassi and his comment. Irene Potter
Christie Anderson January 10, 2012 at 10:19 PM
I too was there and took the comments as being made in jest. RE the council retreat...I would rather the retreat be held locally (ie, Pierce County) and agree with Irene that the perception is that they do not want the public there to see what's going, regardless if it be televised or not.
Dr. Curt Oland January 10, 2012 at 11:34 PM
I'm sure the city council could stay right in UP and waste money. I'm not sure that going to a different county will curtail any spending. So if it is held out of the county will Eric and Chris have to object since they want to also be county council members? God bless Javier for objecting to spending more money. He might be the only sane person on the council. Well in all fairness and in trying to avoid an pointless comment from Jonathan Bird I would like to point out the new council members haven't had a chance to prove themselves, so I shouldn't rush to judgement.
Mike Venuto January 11, 2012 at 01:57 AM
We as a family have always tried to work with local business's first. Why? It makes good economic sense. Having lived in the Gig Harbor area and now UP it makes sense to me.
Rick Martin January 11, 2012 at 02:49 PM
Why is the retreat necessary at all? With the current economically challenging times forcing tough budgetary constraints on government spending at all levels, I am more than a little incredulous to believe the taxpayers of U.P. are getting their money's worth from this type of profligate behavior.
Karla Powers January 11, 2012 at 04:59 PM
I agree with Mr. Martin and am wondering why more UP citizens aren't posing this question. I understand the thinking regarding 'retreats' being a time for team building etc. But in these economic times is this such a priority that it justifies the costs involved? How many private sector (and successful, fiscally sound) companies have forgone these types of expenditures? I would hope that as public servants the UP council would be the first to do away with percs (and lets be honest about whose interests these retreats serve) that are a cost drain to the community they serve.
bruce holmberg January 12, 2012 at 02:54 AM
I do agree that having it locally makes more sense. Keep the dollars spent here locally. Maybe if U.P. had a good hotel and a place for a convention center the retreat could be held here, that way the public wouldn't have to travel far. Then again, the whole idea of a retreat is to get away from it all.

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