Our Voice: Thumbs up to Pasco City Council

January 28, 2013 

Giving City Manager Gary Crutchfield a $12,000 bonus was a smart move.

Even the two council members who voted against the bonus agreed the city's top administrator deserves something extra -- and we agree.

During his 28-year tenure, Crutchfield played a key role in turning Pasco from a sleepy borough with a bad reputation into one of the nation's fastest-growing cities.

But those long years of service also mean he's bumped against the salary cap, limiting any increases in his regular pay.

In a salary survey published by the Herald last year, Crutchfield's $147,240 salary was less than his counterparts in Kennewick and Richland, each of whom have been on the job for five years or less.

That's not right. It's good to see the Pasco City Council move to fix that obvious inequity.

Eviction power

Thumbs up to the Port of Pasco for moving forward with plans to sell parts from a troubled biofuels company to recoup unpaid bills.

The port made the move after Green Power CEO Michael Spitzauer missed a deadline to pay $570,000 he owes to the district in court judgments, fees and past and future rent.

The company has a history that clearly makes it a high-risk tenant.

The port almost evicted Green Power in 2010, but the process was halted when a new agreement was reached. The latest eviction proceedings began when Spitzauer failed to pay $233,867 due Sept. 1.

But Green Power's questionable business practices go way beyond missing its rent payments. Spitzauer owes about $20 million to investors and a former employee, according to court records.

Port commissioners are right to take a hard line to protect the district's taxpayers.

Broken system

Thumbs down to an immigration system so embroiled in bureaucracy that its actions frequently defy logic.

A recent case in point hits close to home. Robert Leam, an 18-year-old Richland resident, is forced to helplessly wait while his life remains in a state of suspended animation because of a lawyer's procedural error.

Leam is a legal immigrant, but without the green card he needs to go to college, work or join the military because an attorney was late in filing some paperwork four years ago.

He moved here from England at age 5 when, his dad was hired to work on Hanford's waste vitrification plant. After 13 years, this is the only home he knows.

By all accounts, he's a good kid. He graduated from Richland High School with a 3.9 grade-point average and dream of joining the Navy if we'd let him.

Ironically, if he had been smuggled into the United States, Leam would have a shot at President Obama's program that grants legal status to immigrants who entered the U.S. illegally as children.

As a legal immigrant, he just has to wait for government bureaucrats to get around to his case.

That's a waste. There ought to be a way to expedite his case and others like it.

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