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Councilors' comments warrant a response

If we were to use Monday’s Scappoose City Council meeting as the launch point for our understanding of the multiple investigations into Scappoose Police Chief Douglas Greisen, the ensuing negotiated termination of Scappoose City Manager Jon Hanken and the City Council’s involvement in those events, undoubtedly we would think a horrible injustice has been committed. City Councilors Donna Gedlich, Barbara Hayden, Jason Meshell and Mark Reed, in the course of expressing extreme disappointment with Mayor Scott Burge and his actions in the Hanken and Greisen cases, say they have been thrown under a bus and misrepresented in the newspaper. Specifically, in this newspaper.

Some of the comments, at least as many as space will allow on this page, demand a response. Here goes:

Councilor Barbara Hayden

What Hayden read from a prepared statement Monday night regarding her relationship with Greisen: “I only know the chief from community functions where I needed permission and coordination from City Hall and the Police Department for the event. I did not know him personally, never had a meal with him, never saw him outside of community events, don’t know where he lives, didn’t know his family or anything personal about the chief. And that is exactly what I told the Spotlight, and it was twisted around to the point that we were in the chief’s back pocket and were drinking the same Kool-Aid. Nothing could be further from the truth.”

In fact, what Hayden told the Spotlight when she was interviewed on Monday, Nov. 4, is this:

When asked how long she has known Greisen: “Probably five years.”

When asked if she considered him a friend: “Um, yeah, I’d consider him a friend of mine. I got to know him more because he’s been involved in Wings and Wheels.”

Hayden did not provide us with the long list of qualifying statements she made Monday night. We stand by our story.

Hayden additionally criticized the Spotlight for not posting the PRC’s recommendation on our website. To that, we’ll gladly provide both: the draft and the final recommendation. They are available at spotlightnews.net for all to read.

Regarding Hayden’s claims we sensationalized the story: the chief of police remains on paid administrative leave following multiple investigations; the chief was found to have committed a lethal maneuver against a non-injury hit-and-run driver, and when asked about the maneuver the chief said all he knew of its execution is what he had watched on TV; there’s a lawsuit threat from a former sergeant whistleblower who alleges the chief retaliated against him; the city manager was brought to a negotiated termination of his contract under the threat of being fired; multiple city Scappoose police officers have criticized the City Council for bias in favor of Greisen; a representative from the Fraternal Order of Police raised concerns that there is a history of problems within the Scappoose Police Department; we have what appears to be illegal correspondence between the city councilors; a three-member board of volunteer councilors launched its own investigation that contradicted the findings in an independent investigative report from a respected personnel agency that was overseen by a former Salem Police Department homicide detective; a former Lake Oswego police chief confirmed the first independent investigation was not flawed; cash and records showing spending from an unauthorized bank account were discovered in a locked drawer in the chief’s office; the list goes on.

Sensational? Perhaps. But not by our doing.

Councilor Donna Gedlich

Regarding what she believes to have been information reported in the Spotlight that was exempt from disclosure due to it being said in executive session. Gedlich is referencing her comment that Greisen is like a son to her. What Gedlich misstated, however, was when she actually made the statement. She made it to reporter Robin Johnson after the executive session had adjourned. She specifically approached Johnson to apologize for her earlier outburst when she noticed he was taking notes during the executive session and complained about it. After the city attorney informed her that was accepted practice, the meeting continued through to adjournment. Gedlich then approached Johnson. We stand by our report.

Councilor Jason Meshell

Meshell: “There are other investigations going on, and this council will continue to focus on them and will get to the bottom of each and every one of them.”

While this is comforting dialogue from Meshell, we believe it needs to be weighed against other comments, specifically from Hayden, who recommended calling a halt to the investigation regarding cash and records showing transactions from an unauthorized bank account discovered in a locked drawer in Greisen’s office. We are encouraged Meshell has clearly indicated his commitment to seeing the investigations through to their conclusion. Our only concern is that he and others on the council will launch separate investigations to contradict the results of the real ones taking place.

Councilor Mark Reed

Regarding how he is associated with Greisen:

“The concept of knowing someone but not being one of his or her best friends is a very simple one, understood by most everyone. The press obviously is having a difficult time understanding such a simple concept,” Reed said.

To the contrary, we appreciate Reed’s argument. But it also demands a review of his first response to our questions.

Reed’s first response, when asked how long he had known Greisen, was this: “I’ve known the Greisen family for 40 years. Doug was probably 9 or 10 when they moved to town.” Then, when asked if he was friends with Greisen, Reed responded, “Uh, friendly with him, yeah,” Reed said. “When I was asked to be a member of this PRC, I was fully prepared to make an appropriate recommendation regardless of my friendship with the chief.”

Reed claims the newspaper has made “insidious ravings” regarding his involvement as a city councilor and a committee member of the PRC.

We challenge Reed to identify specific inaccuracies in our reporting. If they exist, we’ll write a correction. So far, he has not successfully done so.

Perhaps there is a definition of “friend” that escapes us. Perhaps the city councilors are equating Facebook clicks with friendships. Regardless, the actions from several city councilors Monday night reek of an effort to place the blame for the disarray and dysfunction at Scappoose City Hall, at least in part, on the Spotlight newspaper.

We would like to suggest a second medium for the city councilors to consult when considering how the recent course of events originating out of Scappoose City Hall became so screwed up: a mirror.