Second-guessing the HLC, councilors enabled a saga of victimhoodNow that the Astoria City Council has disposed of the Portway Tavern windows issue, it is painfully obvious that considerable expenditure of public and private time and money could have been avoided. Attitude is everything. If the Portway's owner had approached the task of renovation in a different frame of mind, he would have saved himself thousands of dollars.

There are at least three lessons in the protracted discussion of windows in the historic building at 422 West Marine Drive. First of all, the Astoria City Council has no one to blame but itself for the headache this mess brought them. By second-guessing the Historic Landmarks Commission, the council bought into a saga of victimhood. Like a parent that won't set limits with his child, the council indulged in a dog-ate-my-homework dialogue. And guess what? That dialogue never ends, once it is allowed to begin.

A second lesson is that city councilors are not above the law. There was a message in Councilor Bob Heilman's third-place finish in the Nov. 5 election. That message was reinforced Monday night when Heilman's colleagues - liberated by the election - voted to accept findings written by city staff, not by Heilman's attorney.

The third lesson was delivered by Heilman on the morning after the council vote. Seeing his findings dissed, Heilman noted that he spent a lot of money for nothing. That would suffice as the moral of the whole story. If Heilman had set out to honor city historic landmark regulations instead of to fight them, obtained a building permit and used a licensed contractor, he would have saved himself a lot of money and he would have saved the city considerable anguish.


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