Monday, December 06, 2021

DC Orr, Libby City Council

| October 19, 2021 7:00 AM

In anticipation of the November municipal election, The Western News sent questionnaires to all Libby and Troy candidates. Each candidate received the same questions and word limits. Libby City Council candidate responses will appear in alphabetical order in subsequent issues of The Western News. Responses submitted by mayoral candidates will appear in separate issues. Answers may be edited for brevity and clarity.

[Ed.'s note: The Western News made multiple unsuccessful attempts to reach Mr. Orr, including phone calls and emails, beginning on Sept. 17. Although pleased with his participation, we would be remiss in failing to note that Orr has had the opportunity to view the answers submitted by all but one of his fellow candidates. The Western News has striven to make this process fair to all candidates.]

What is your occupation?

I worked more than 40 years in construction for the same outfit as an equipment operator, laborer, truck driver, estimator, manager and owner. I am retired.

What is your age: 62

How long have you lived in Libby?

62 years. My father lived here before me, his father before him. Orrs have been local residents for more than 110 years. This area has been good to us. My grandchildren are fifth generation here in Libby.

What community organizations are you involved in?

I am a Paul Harris fellow with Rotary, a Stephen Minister, a contributor to the Facebook page “Libby/Troy Area News and Opinion," and involved in multiple ministries at Libby Christian Church. I have attended many public meetings of various public organizations for the past 30 years, notably, 23 years of regular attendance of city council meetings besides being a former member. I have never relied on TV for entertainment, obviously.

What aspects of your background and experience would you draw on if elected.

Infrastructure first: I built a lot of Libby’s infrastructure. I have experience in controlling those costs and we need that badly. The cost overruns have got to end.

Proper procedure in public meetings also needs some attention. City meetings are chaotic and unproductive, resulting in secrecy, illegal action, and a disenfranchised public. The zoning board met illegally for years! Transparency and honesty will better serve the public. After 30 years of attending public meetings, including state committees and the Legislature, I can clean up the confusion and reduce conflicts.

I contracted extensively on the Libby Groundwater Project, cleaning up the creosote contamination. We recently learned that the secret negotiations for the International Paper Groundwater Settlement are likely resulting in a loss of approximately $225,000 a year that the city has been receiving for the residents — and squandering. The council voted in a legally binding decision to seek new legal representation for that settlement, but former Mayor Brent Teske quietly circumvented that vote. It is time to revisit efforts to compensate the residents of Libby for the loss of use of that polluted water resource. I would be a strong voice for the residents to be fairly compensated for that disaster after my many years working in environmental cleanups, including the groundwater project.

The remainder of the $8 million windfall needs to be protected. I was there when we received the money. I have fought the rampant waste of it.

Councilors need to know the laws so they can avoid bad advice from their lawyers. I have studied those laws through extensive contact with the resources available to public servants, attending many seminars on local government.

What infrastructure projects would you prioritize during your term?

Libby paid an engineer a lot of money to develop a master plan for infrastructure needs; let’s dust it off and look at it. Maybe even follow it. My more than 40 years’ experience in construction leads me to believe engineers are fairly educated in infrastructure needs.

Having said that, our children walk to school in the ditches! Am I alone in wanting a safe place for them to walk? And our streets need attention! I managed crews for many years and see a lot of waste in our street department that could easily be rectified with some leadership.

What policies would you pursue to make Libby more attractive to businesses and employees?

First, local government's role in business is to provide infrastructure that encourages business while keeping regulations from stifling initiative but still protecting the environment, infrastructure and the people. The end! They should not be involved in funding a competitive enterprise to give advantage to a favored entity. That creates conditions for kickbacks and corruption. History shows that a hands-off approach works. The failures of the Lincoln County Port Authority and Kootenai River Development Council partnership prove history. The failures of the health department in the W.R. Grace issue prove history. The interference of the state in the Montanore Mine proves history.

Build infrastructure to support a business and encourage business to create wealth. That will increase the tax base, attract developers to build more housing, increase tax revenue, create ancillary jobs, which increases revenue, which is used to build infrastructure to support more businesses -- the revenue benefits all.