MARCH 3, 1997

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Opinion

Radio station not 'emergency'

city radio station I read in the Feb. 17 issue of the Woodinville Weekly that the City of Woodinville is in the process of spending 10 grand of unbudgeted money for a city AM radio station.
   You quote City Clerk/Treasurer Jim Katica as saying, "I think it would be a nice tool to inform visitors of roads to take. But also in the event of an emergency, and to listen to it to hear what's going on, like a message letting them know we're snowplowing roads."
   Where is it written that there is a need for a radio station? Has Katica and the City Council never heard of road maps? They do a fine job of telling visitors where to go--at much less cost. To say nothing of the myriad of blue and white highway information signs and the zillions of business signs that litter the visual landscape.
   As to snowplowing roads, the citizenry sure would like to see the city "snowplowing roads!" Was Katica asleep during our last snowstorm? "Snowplowing roads" sure as hell wasn't going on then. There wasn't a snowplow anywhere, as was perfectly evident to anyone trying to travel the rutty, snow-filled main streets of downtown Woodinville, to say nothing of the side streets! Traveling over floe ice to the North Pole by dogsled would have been easier.
   The commercial broadcast radio stations would be just delighted to provide snowplowing information to the citizenry--for free--that's part of their job. In case the City Council hasn't noticed, the stations compete viciously with each other for such local news.
   The city has the cart before the horse. If the City Council is bent on spending 10 grand on frivolous nonsense like this that the city doesn't need or have budgeted, how about spending that 10 grand on some (convertible?) snowplow equipment instead--something the city obviously does need?!
   How does this radio station project qualify as an "emergency expenditure" from the "reserve fund?" Reserve funds are specifically intended for emergencies--not non-essential projects like this that could be easily handled in the course of ordinary business--and public scrutiny. This is not an emergency: No lives or property will be lost if immediate action is not taken.
   Why isn't the radio station budgeted? Has the city never heard of planning ahead? Public input into the budgeting process? Where is the City Council--asleep? Or lying awake nights dreaming up this kind of nonsense? Have they no better management skills than this? This project reeks of business interests finding yet more new ways to make yet another buck with taxpayer money.

Gary Christenson, Woodinville