Dear Editor and The Forks Community:
This letter to our community is written to hopefully not only set some facts straight but to offer our help and historical knowledge of this wonderful community during what seems to be a period of turmoil.
We have been bombarded in the last few weeks by questions regarding the state of the city and rumored changes in our city’s operation which are very concerning, both to us and to those who have brought these matters to our attention. Yes, we have not had a uniformed police chief for over two years, and yes, the city has paid almost $7,000 a month for a part-time administrator who is not in uniform nor authorized to carry a weapon and respond to police calls or incidents.
Yes, there are problems in the police department with staffing and supervision which are not being addressed without a full-time uniformed working police chief.
Yes, Forks has a crime problem like other cities with what seems like little responsibility shown toward working with the community to address the issue.
Yes, there is a move on the part of a newer councilperson to contract with Clallam County for law enforcement, to close the jail and to make key positions in the city part time or eliminate them altogether.
Yes, the city is going through one of the downside periods in finances that all cities experience at one time or another.
Yes, there is lack of attendance at council meetings and lack of interest in what goes on … on a daily basis with many of us, we two included.
But, Yes, these problems can be addressed and should be addressed and we are willing to help.
First, the mayor should be encouraged to begin recruitment for a full-time uniformed working chief of police immediately, hire that person and task them with a reorganization of the police department and importantly, begin to market the available jail beds, thereby increasing the operating revenue to assist with a budget shortfall.
Next, begin again the process of community policing, get to know not only the habitual offenders and target their moves but work with building trust in those law abiding citizens who are so concerned about the problems they see almost on a daily basis.
And in the spirit of good government, kindly inform a newly appointed councilperson that they are not authorized to make the kind of arrangements and plans for the city that are going on as we speak. Good government is cooperative, communicative and shall we dare say, transparent.
Mayor and Council: Rebuild the team that we were fortunate to have during our terms, work with your department heads to ask for their input and help in addressing the budget shortfall, make tough decisions if necessary but don’t allow the current state of the finances to create a reaction which will prove not necessary or drastically change our city for the future. We both had problems in our respective terms, lots of ups and downs, both in personnel issues and finances, but we made it through with the help of this great community and its people.
And to our residents: Attend the council meetings, every other Monday at 7:30 p.m., talk to your mayor and council members, call city staff and offer your support and appreciation for a job well done.
Finally, let’s make the future of our city and its residents the focus, not the political ambitions of a few folks. Offer to run for a city council position or the position of mayor.
Lastly, let’s not forget who we are, a strong-willed, independent people, proud of our community, proud of our kids, our businesses, and each other …
Phil Arbeiter, former mayor 1993-2001
Nedra Reed, former mayor 2001-2009