Let’s hear it for the Washburn Tower!

Well, I hope you all can admire our new Verizon cell tower, masquerading as a water tower. It’s a great assist to the city’s cell phone quality, and fits in perfectly with the railroad.

The Gazette has dubbed the new structure the Washburn Tower in honor of Gayle Washburn our appointed mayor. Gayle, as is her habit, fought furiously to prevent the tower construction. Her objections were based upon her fears of harmful electronic emissions, unsightly appearance, and the location at Super Seal and Stripe next to the railroad.

Washburn heard that the Planning Commission was prepared to approve the tower and immediately moved to appeal the decision. This arbitrary and preemptory move by the mayor incensed the Commissioners, causing four to resign. The result of this impetuous move: “No such decision had been discussed, and the majority’s move to act against such an alleged approval was cited by Verizon’s legal counsel as a federal violation of the Telecommunications Act; a lawsuit was threatened against the city in a July 11, 2011 letter from Verizon’s attorneys. The council majority denied any such attempt but at the August 23 [2011] council meeting, Washburn (appointed mayor) was finally forced to admit that her denial was false.”

This entire move by the council majority is typical of their habit of shooting from the hip before they have the facts in hand. As so often before, they were soon to learn that it was unlawful to stop this cell tower construction; only the appearance of five Verizon attorneys at the council meeting finally put a stop to their reckless intentions. They were on the cusp of a lawsuit from Verizon for violating federal law. Once again, saved by the bell from another lawsuit. Cluelessly playing along was our City Manager Yvonne Quiring. She provided no guidance or information. City Attorney Ted Schneider showed the council that they had also, accidentally, and narrowly escaped a Brown Act violation by a timeline technicality.

So, the Washburn Tower lives! It is beautifully constructed and appropriately located where it actually enhances the railroad setting, to the delight, no doubt, of thousands of anticipated tourists. And, it improves the quality and reliability of our cell phone service.

A commemorative plaque will be placed on the tower’s foundation, reading – “In the year 2012 appointed Mayor Gayle Washburn reluctantly overcame her fear of imagined radiation leaks from this site”.

For anyone wishing to re-live the turmoil and civic disruption caused by the city council majority over the construction of this tower, please search the Gazette website.

Come November – please.