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At the beginning of most Gladstone city council meetings, Mayor Stempel lectures the council like a teacher lecturing her little students on following laws and rules

Gladstone Mayor Tammy Stempel is corrupt and has broken the law.

Steve JohnsonAt the Budget Committee meeting in April, Gladstone Mayor Tammy Stempel, as chair of the Budget Committee, voted on a budget that directly benefited her financially. She made no attempt at disclosure and did not recuse herself from the meeting or the vote on the budget.

The new budget created two new fire-captain positions, one of which was already filled on a temporary basis by the mayor's husband, Kirk. Since that budget passed, the mayor's husband has been hired as one of the full-time captains.

How would you like to be the fire chief and say no to hiring the mayor's husband? In Gladstone, the council can terminate the employment of any director and that includes the fire chief. It probably wouldn't be in the chief's best interests to cross the mayor if he wanted to keep his job.

This is called nepotism. It's a particularly insidious form of corruption and like all corruption should never, ever be tolerated. It's also blatantly against the law. ORS 244.040 and 244.120(2) make it clear that elected officials cannot use their office for personal gain, must disclose conflicts of interest and may not vote on issues that benefit them financially.

Are you cringing yet? If not, you should be. I know that this is kind of like getting a cancer diagnosis. It's very unpleasant, but corruption is a cancer on our democracy and it always needs to be exposed.

Unfortunately, there's more.

Gladstone Mayor Tammy Stempel secretly negotiated a payment of $6,000 of the people's money to her friend Sharon Alexander. Sharon Alexander is a hair dresser who rented a salon station. As such, she was the tenant of a tenant. The salon was on the Portland Avenue property that the city purchased for a new police station. This payment was allegedly made so that she would move off of the property.

Think about this now, the tenant of a tenant and one that was rumored to only be working two days a week. Why on earth would someone like that, a friend of the mayor's, get $6,000 of the people's hard-earned money? Did this payoff benefit the mayor in some way?

Ms. Alexander had no claim to the property and in fact had no claim to the business from which she rented a station, and yet she received this huge payoff. Supposedly, she even had a station waiting for her at the new Gladstone location of the salon.

In addition to all of this, Mayor Stempel negotiated payments of approximately $50,000 to other former tenants of the Portland Avenue property. The relationship between the mayor and these former tenants is unknown, since again, it was all done in secret and with your hard-earned tax dollars.

There was never any requirement to compensate the former tenants of the Portland Avenue property, all of whom knew they were going to have to leave and had released all claims. The city was well within its rights to evict persons, businesses or other squatters that had no legal right to be there.

Can you see the corruption here? It's an insult to the people of Gladstone that this has occurred. We don't expect to find it in our city since we're not located in some Eastern European country with shaky laws and shady enforcement, but it has still happened and it really needs to be exposed for the horrible breach of the public's trust that it is.

I wonder what happened to Tammy Stempel's campaign promise of transparency? Did she lie about that? It sure looks that way.

At the beginning of most Gladstone city council meetings, Mayor Stempel lectures the council like a teacher lecturing her little students on following laws and rules. Apparently, the laws and rules of which she speaks don't really apply to her.

Steve Johnson is a former Gladstone city councilor.

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