The Newcomer

Writing on a clean slate

by Frankie Potts

When you move into a new city, you don't know who the players, the movers, the shakers are. Your view is clear, unobstructed by past and present hurts, petty politics or rivalries.

A new city presents a clean slate.

And one is free to write upon it what one will.

The first thing this newcomer would jot on that slate is a question that goes something like this:

Why are so many heads in city jobs being lopped off?

Fire chief-gone. A parks and recreation director in his 17th year of employment on the way out, leaving a pared down staff to try to hold together what has been a superior program for young, old and in between.

There were three things that drew me to Sunnyside, besides having family here.

One was the excellent fire department with its emergency response team, another was the parks and recreation department's in-depth activity schedule.

The third was the hospital and a doctor who treated me so efficiently a few years ago when I was visiting here.

When the fire chief and parks and recreation director were cut, why was I surprised to learn the doctor had sold his practice and he would no longer be available to me?

Trouble comes in threes, right?

Maybe not. Maybe fours-because depending on whose arithmetic you trust, it appears a couple of vacancies will not be filled at the fire and police departments.

That nice clean slate I started with is getting a little crowded, but there's a couple more questions this puzzled newcomer has to slap on it.

What has brought this city to this head-lopping state? Who was minding the store and counting the pennies? Did someone forget to save for a rainy day? How can a city unable to keep an employee of 17 years afford to hire a city planner?

As I said, when you move to a new city, you don't know who the players, the movers, the shakers are. So-being unaware-one might accidentally 'step in it' from time to time. Make the little faux pas because, in blissful ignorance, uncomfortable questions might be asked.

Mine may have brought me to the brink of a pitfall, but maybe even the most defensive among our city leaders might forgive a newcomer's bewilderment and, perhaps, even find her questions refreshing...or, at least, food for thought.

. Frankie Potts is a retired journalist who spent her career working for several newspapers in Washington state.


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