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I say we have an incredibly hard working Mayor and four highly dedicated City Councilors

I am writing to express my deep disappointment with the Tidings for publishing Brenda Perry's damaging letter, "West Linn checks facts" on March 28, literally brimming with unsubstantiated claims labeled as "facts." Here are a few facts and opinions to counter those claims.

About changing the agenda — an agenda for a regular Council meeting is noticed 10 days in advance and must remain the same until Council votes to either approve the agenda "as is" or "as revised" when the meeting starts. (Special meeting and executive session agendas have shorter timeframes for noticing.)

The Mayor works with the City Manager to set each agenda and may sometimes put a note on the agenda to alert the public about potential changes. The exception to this is found in City Charter Chapter IV, Section13 which give two Councilors the right to call a special meeting for a specific topic.

The Charter also requires all Council members to be noticed when meetings are scheduled. This is the City Manager's job and it can be very frustrating for Councilors if they are not asked if they are available before a meeting is scheduled and then also not informed about it afterward. The ill-fated Oct. 15, 2018, executive session is but one example of an ongoing problem.

Councilor Sakelik and I only heard about the Oct. 15 executive session the night before it happened. City Manager Eileen Stein sent an email to Councilor Perry (cc'd to Council) saying it would be at 5 p.m. The email also stated that the City Attorney was out of town and that she told his partner that he would not be needed at the executive session.

Councilor Sakelik wrote back saying he did not plan to come because it did not seem appropriate to conduct the City Attorney's performance evaluation without him there. I did not attend due to a prior commitment, but also thought it sounded odd.

After a brief investigation, OGEC ruled that Councilors Perry, Martin and Mayor Axelrod had violated Oregon Public Meetings Law ORS 192.660 for failure to notice affected individuals and for taking public matters; policy and budget discussions, behind closed doors.

It was Ms. Stein's job to notice the City Attorney about his performance evaluation. Unfortunately, she decided not to. (OGEC only investigates elected officials).

With no attorney at the executive session, it then became Ms. Stein's professional duty to instruct those in attendance to confine the discussion to the topic of the executive session.

Unfortunately that also was not done correctly so the Council will be evaluating the City Manager's role in the ethics violations in an executive session.

Regarding David Baker and Rory Bialostosky's unusual public record request; I will have to withhold comment on advice of the City Attorney because it is a litigation matter.

Next I want to assure you that West Linn's GO Bond process is NOT in danger. Ms. Perry might not have heard the assurances from the Bond Council after Councilor Sakelik recently requested more information.

As for "minutely reviewing every contract"; the minor delay to add information about the contracts to the agenda report did not cause a problem. Council also delayed approval of a contract last summer when Ms. Perry was there in order to add information about the contract to the agenda report for the sake of transparency.

"Rubber Stamp" means giving automatic approval without proper consideration. Every one of us, including Ms. Perry, made campaign promises to be accountable and transparent. I think staff respects the fact that if we are just trying to do our job when we ask for information. We trust but verify.

I don't understand Ms. Perry's accusation about trying to "reduce the role of the Mayor" and have all five "dysfunctional" Councilors make decisions. According to our City Charter, all five Councilors have equal votes and the Mayor has no veto power.

Despite what Ms. Perry claims are the "facts," I say we have an incredibly hard working Mayor and four highly dedicated City Councilors who mutually support the Stafford IGA, re-opening the locks, waterfront planning and many other important goals. Mind you, that's just one person's opinion and I certainly hope that many, many others proudly feel the same way.

Teri Cummings is president of the West Linn City Council.


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