LETTERS TO THE EDITOR - Who do city officials serve?

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Recent events have cast doubts in my mind that the administration of our fine city has its citizens' best interests at heart.

A store owner of a very successful and popular toy store is fined because his freedom of expression (artwork, mural, etc.) can be slipped into the category of a sign thus making it a violation of city code.

Clearly the "sign" is a mural but those in power disagree and fear that, should they allow it to remain, it could (gasp) cause others to show some whimsy and imagination. Most people who voiced an opinion -- and almost everyone in attendance at a recent City Council meeting -- wanted the mural to stay. Many thought it was fun and very appropriate for a toy store (the candy store next door also could benefit from the attention).

The city attorney fretted that if they allowed it to stand then they would be forced to allow others. Really? As an attorney I'm sure he is aware that codes can be rewritten to make sure this travesty doesn't happen again. Objection overruled.

Next charge. The charge is that the whimsy factor damages the historical downtown look. Hmmm, let's see isn't the entire front of nearby Cayuse Cellars bright yellow? (harrumph!) Not very rustic now is it?

Moving on down to the corner of Main and Palouse streets we see a large sculpture of a flock of chickens balancing on, and with, eggs. Huh? Clearly whimsy was a good thing when this was approved.

The statue at the corner of First Avenue and Main Street is a dog balancing objects on its nose. Not very historical, but darned cute isn't it?

The point is that Walla Walla isn't only about history. It's about the art and community, and downtown should be inviting to all.

I love the different art work and the design of downtown Walla Walla. It's fun and it's rich in history.

I also like it because there is a spirit of friendliness about the place. The city administration did no good when it judged against Inland Octopus. It's likely a done deal but if the issue is that the octopus in the picture makes it a sign because it's part of the store's name then I have a suggestion.

Have the artist replace the creature with a hot air balloon and see what the city has to say about that. Lighten up I say.

Ray Hansen
Walla Walla

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