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ask mayor don

To the people of Lincoln City

For the last week you have probably heard a barrage of accusations and opinions against me as mayor and whether or not I used my office for personal financial gain. The questions surround the renting of a building that my wife and I own to the Warming Shelter group. This group had received a grant from the city to use toward aiding our homeless population; a grant that I, along with the entire city council, voted to approve.

At no time prior to or during the application and award process did I have any conversations with anyone associated with the Warming Shelter group except in open session during public meetings about this money.

Two years ago we donated the use of our building to the Warming Shelter group to use as an emergency shelter during the winter months. Debbie and I feel very strongly about doing all we can to help the less fortunate in our city. That was just one way that we were able to help. That was the extent of our relationship with the Warming Shelter group.

The following year the group chose to use a different facility closer to the center of town and we had no further conversations.

In September this year I was contacted by a representative of the Warming Shelter group who told me that the many options that they were pursuing for a shelter site fell through and they were in desperate need of a building or they would not be able to open this winter. The group wanted a temporary but full time time facility to meet and serve from. Working on a temporary set up and tear down basis within other sites was getting too taxing on the volunteers and the people that managed the buildings used as the shelter.

My wife and I determined an amount that would cover our cost and they agreed. We signed the lease for a four month period with an option for a fifth if weather dictated.

The space in question is a newly remodeled 2000 square foot area which includes a commercial kitchen, freezer, walk in refrigerator, clothes washer and dryer, shower facility ample parking and is one block from the highway. It also includes all utilities and trash. We did not require a security deposit or final month’s rent. This arrangement also required us to cancel events we had scheduled over the holiday period resulting in the loss of that revenue.

Looking back I can see how some might question the relationship; but I cannot. I can handle the criticism because it comes with the territory of being an elected official but I find it reprehensible to question the ethics of even a single person on the Warming Shelter board. There was no prior contact, no collusion no quid pro quo.

This amazing group of people that volunteer their time to help others approached me because they were in need. I said yes because I too want to help others. That is the end of the story and I would do it again if needed. As always I am available to talk I may be reached at 541-992-9494.

Don Williams

Mayor Lincoln City

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6 COMMENTS

  1. Thanks for offering answers this time Mayor Williams. The allegations against you should be investigated as quickly, efficiently, and fairly as possible. It’s easy to jump to conclusions but I don’t know if you’re guilty of anything here or not.

    One thing we know for sure is:

    NONE OF THIS should reflect on The Warming Shelter. I am beyond disappointed to see self-described “progressives” spreading stories that attempt to discredit the Shelter, all because they personally hate the Mayor (and a handful of volunteers). They’d consider deaths from hypothermia to be nothing more than collateral damage if it meant Williams went down in flames. Regardless of the Mayor’s behavior, right or wrong, the shelter MUST STAY UP even if he ends up being held accountable for failing to live up to his obligations – anyone arguing otherwise is advocating for pointless death and suffering amongst our most vulnerable citizens. Human lives are more important than politics.

    I was disappointed in how the Mayor handled questioning at City Hall and hope he does better in the future. But at least the Warming Shelter has a place. It’s necessary to investigate potential conflicts of interest, and it’s important that politicians always err on the side of transparency. But the most important thing here is that the Warming Shelter continues to run and finds a permanent home as soon as possible.

    We live in a harsh and dangerous climate, wind and rain can lead to hypothermia under 50f if one isn’t properly protected. I should know, I’ve biked and hiked in worse conditions dozens of times – while wearing expensive equipment, and I still turned several shades of purple. It’s sad that our county doesn’t have better resources for the homeless. I know lots of people deserve credit for working to address that (Sharon P. / Timoty M / Bill Hall / other people I am missing who do great work).

    I’m tired of the toxicity in this town and willing to admit that lately I have been part of the problem out of frustration with certain people. I don’t wish to be overly involved in politics around here anymore, I just have opinions and one of them is that people should not die just to prove a stupid political point. The warming shelter is *vital* to our community, period.

    • Dear Justin,

      You’re right on all counts. Thank you for voicing your respectful opinion. Many don’t speak up for fear of retribution by a City rife with the “toxicity” as you so aptly put it.

      In my opinion, our City leaders represent us not only legislatively, but morally. When they smear each other publically, we all suffer, as it encourages similar behavior towards each other.

      Again, in my opinion, the vitriol directed towards our Mayor is done, not to ruin his reputation in the voter’s eyes, but to direct the public’s attention away from the real issues that face City Hall: better jobs, affordable housing, lower taxes, helping the less advantaged, etc. Williams campaigned on all of these issues, but he’s been thwarted from day one, by those who put their own personal agendas ahead of serving the public.

      This is not how government is supposed to operate.

      • Thanks Ross – credit to you for getting over the vitriol we had between us that I largely contributed to. I’m glad you were able to move on and want to say I have too – things around here have gotten to me and I’ll admit that hasn’t always made me act like my normal, cheery self.

        In my opinion – not enough is being done to address the issues you bring up. Jobs, housing, houseless people, the poor – it’s being pushed aside in favor of small town gossip. I think many of the council members are up there to promote themselves. They put their egos over basic human compassion.

        We may not always agree but I appreciate hearing a sober take on this.

  2. The homeless suffer in these witch hunts. The Warming Shelter is in a perfect temporary location at a minimal cost with an abundance of services and perks. Showers, washer dryer and a full operational kitchen. “Want change, be change”. Volunteer and push away the computer swords and do something positive.! Thanks for helping out the homeless Mr Williams.

  3. How ruthless is this council to use the homeless as a weapon against Don Williams? Hinton was against the mayor prior to her being on the council. She reported to Norelkis that the mayor said this or that. Norelkis brought this up at a public council meeting and accused the mayor of wrong doing. Here say all here say! Norelkis should have been stopped but of course wasn’t. Hinton does not appear to be the sharpest tool in the shed and should resign. She obviously detests the mayor. Can all you council members get over your petty political crap and serve the people like you are required to do? Council has wasted over $120,000 of taxpayer money already. Now council is using the homeless to blast the mayor once again. Aren’t you people tired? Aren’t you ashamed of misusing public trust? Aren’t you just weary?

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