West Linn checks facts
Council dysfunction is impacting the future, reputation and finances of West Linn; let's look at the facts.
Fact: Council Rules — Hours have been spent on updating Council Rules that are then for the most part ignored.
Councilor Cummings has frequently criticized our City Manager and City Recorder regarding agenda noticing requirements, and yet this council adds and removes important items within days or hours of a meeting.
Council approval is required for any legal advice taking more than 15 minutes, yet Councilors Sakelik and Cummings seem to frequently use the City Attorney's time whenever they want.
The Public Records section clearly defines documents subject to disclosure and yet Councilor Cummings is refusing to follow the rules.
At the end of last year I voiced reservations about the civil discourse policy as I felt it was hypocritical.
Should the Council set rules for others that they did not follow themselves? I would encourage the public to review them (Google: Council Rules West Linn) and conclude whether they are being followed.
Fact: Council Goals — After four long meetings and endless discussion, the Council Goals have yet to be agreed. These meetings utilize an expensive facilitator who attempts to keep things in order and moving forward.
How can City Staff start working on the yearly goals when they are not yet established?
Fact: Micromanagement — Some members of the Council constantly delay decisions, requiring extra meetings and hours of discussion.
As an example, our City Manager proposed a more efficient training for our Citizen Advisory Group members, but this was rejected because Councilor Sakelik wanted the Council to meet yet again and micromanage the training. Fact: West Linn voters approved $20 million dollars of GO Bonds with very specific time and project conditions. If these are not met, the city will incur significant financial penalties; it could also affect any future Bond issuance.
With Councilor Sakelik wanting to minutely review every contract, progress is being delayed.
The Council should not "rubber-stamp" approvals, but ought to have some trust in the City Manager, City Attorney and City staff, who have more experience with these types of contracts.
Councilors Sakelik and Cummings also want to reconsider the projects that voters approved because of pressure from their very vocal supporters.
Fact: Distrust — The constant distrust of staff shown by some members of the Council has to be demoralizing.
Many of these employees have years of experience, which is now frequently questioned and often disregarded. West Linn already runs with fewer staff than most other local cities, and the anticipated budget deficit could require reducing the staff still further and cutting city services.
Fact: The Mayor's Role — Councilors Sakelik and Cummings would like to reduce the role of the Mayor and have the whole dysfunctional Council make the decisions.
So far it seems that Mayor Axelrod, supported by Councilor Walters, is the only one accomplishing anything. The Stafford three-party agreement is signed, Axelrod chairs the Locks committee, he's working with PGE to move the waterfront plans forward and also with ODOT to address our transportation issues.
I anticipate that the usual members of the vocal minority will have much to say about this letter, but unfortunately the facts speak for themselves.
Brenda Perry is a former West Linn city councilor.
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