Oregon City commissioners held a special emergency meeting Sunday, April 26, in response to Mayor Dan Holladay's plans to issue a declaration reopening businesses without authority from the state or other elected officials in the city.
Holladay said that he had been having discussions with other mayors in Oregon about the economic impact of the governor's order. He had been advocating that businesses be "opened faster," but by Thursday afternoon, April 23, had decided that the best course would be to do nothing. Holladay said that he thought better of his plans after speaking with the city manager and police chief; Holladay then joined in the city commission's unanimous April 26 vote to affirm the governor's order.
"I understand that you plan to issue a declaration that allows all businesses in Oregon City to re-open, even though this would contravene Gov. Kate Brown's 'Stay at Home, Save Lives' Executive Order," Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum's letter to Holladay said on Friday. "Please be advised I will take legal action, civil or criminal, as appropriate, in order to protect the public."
"I am extremely disappointed in the mayor's actions in the last couple of weeks," said City Commissioner Rocky Smith.
City Commission President Rachel Lyles Smith said that the mayor or any citizen has the constitutional right to question the actions of government. However, in talking with other mayors around the state, she said Holladay should have been careful to make sure that everyone understood his views did not have the support of other members of the city commission. She said the letter from the attorney general was "nothing personal" but would have been sent to any mayor in Oregon who had been reported to have been considering action in direct defiance of the governor's order.
"The mayor is acting without any direction from, or the consent of, the commission and does not have the authority to take action on behalf of the city without majority support," Lyles Smith wrote to state officials.
Oregon City commissioners held a meeting on Monday to approve a $200,000 small-business debt-relief grant program that will provide up to $3,000 in grant funding to each eligible business. Applications will be accepted first-come, first-serve basis starting 9 a.m. on Monday, May 4, until available funding has been utilized.
This story has been updated from its original version online to indicate that the grant program for Oregon City businesses affected by COVID-19 has since been approved.
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