Less than an hour after being in a council meeting, I found four Gladstone City Council members sitting and talking at a local bar

Less than an hour after being in a council meeting, I found four Gladstone City Council members sitting and talking at a local bar. At this same April 25 council meeting, the city attorney confirmed that when more than three councilors meet to talk about city business without proper public notice of the meeting, this is a quorum and a violation of state law.

PHOTO BY: GREG ALEXANDER - A resident of Gladstone took this photo showing Gladstone City Councilors Kim Sieckmann (from left), Thomas Mersereau, Patrick McMahon and Steve Johnson (back to camera) meeting in Vogies Bar at approximately 9:30 p.m., after an April 25 City Council meeting.They will state they were not talking about city business, however, people in the establishment say otherwise: These illegal meetings are done after almost every council meeting. Plus, you know what they say: A picture is worth a thousand words.

Also, I noticed L.B. Day's secretary, Natalie Smith, right there with them. L.B. does a lot of work for the city, and Councilor Steve Johnson claims L.B. Day is one of his most important clients. Is this why Councilor Johnson campaigned to appoint Natalie to the Planning Commission without any experience, and why in December he forced an emergency appointment of Natalie to the Library District Advisory Committee?

Which brings me to another subject, about people not wanting to come forward with information (e.g. putting signs in their yards, signing petitions or speaking out), because of retaliation. This is a real problem, proven by City Council's recent decision to madate an anti-bullying training for all staff and council.

I would never ask anyone to put themselves in the position of being targeted. I was told there are incidents where Steve Johnson and Kim Sieckmann have felt that if you were against them that they would vote you off a committee or not appoint you, even if you were the most qualified. They could do this because if you watch any session where Tom Mersereau was involved and any other one council member they could convince, it would be a 4-3 vote. However, I have seen this change in the last couple of sessions when Tom was not there and the votes did not support what Kim and Steve were pushing, which obviously upset them.

Steve is bitter and angry that he and Libby Wentz lost their election, but just to show you how unethical he is, Libby was then appointed to Planning Commission over more qualified applicants and a long-standing commission member with relevant experience. Steve was even able to keep his council position even though he lost, but those are the rules. Even though the people spoke, he can't really get over the loss and now does not have the city's best interest in mind, only his anger-driven agenda. He would like to turn Gladstone into a mini-Portland with all the new rules and control, which is not what our citizens live here for. He is trying to change the wording in the council rules and guidebook to benefit him.

I have nothing to gain by seeing Steve Johnson and Kim Sieckmann recalled except for trying to remove the black eye these two have given Gladstone and seeing us prosper again with no bullying, intimidation or backroom deals and executive sessions. The city demands transparency and accountability. These executive sessions, which the public cannot attend, have been where most of their discussions are happening, like the library, Portland Avenue property purchase, sewer and water district, etc.

It is funny that Steve Johnson mentions accountability when he is the one who is always saying "no comment" and wants everything done in an executive meeting. A new modern accounting system? Is Steve Johnson an accounting professional? How much has this cost us to date, and was it done in an open and fair purchasing process? We will never know, because of how they manage the city behind closed doors. Approving the hiring of a professional staff? This really means replacing all the existing staff, getting rid of all their long-term knowledge, and replacing them with people who don't know the hidden agendas and that Steve and Kim felt could be manipulated and bullied. With as much time as Steve Johnson spends at City Hall with City Administrator Eric Swanson, it's obvious who really wastes staff time on their own issues and agenda.

As for Kim Sieckmann, he wants you to believe that Bill Osburn is sponsoring the recall to gain a City Council position. This couldn't be farther from the truth. He has accepted his loss, unlike other City Council and commission members, and only wants to do what is best for our city. Councilor Sieckmann is not doing what is best by any stretch of the imagination. I would like to thank Kim Sieckmann for reminding us that we can file ethics complaints with the state, which we will make a point of submitting as soon as possible. That does not mean that these allegations are not true. Though he claims he is not currently under investigation, then I am confused, because I put in a public-records request for any complaints or grievances filed against Kim Sieckmann or Steve Johnson to the city of Gladstone, and my reply from the city was there is already a request for that information on appeal to the DA's office, which will determine whether the records are exempt or are subject to disclosure. How can that be if as he states he is not currently under investigation? This is just another black eye on the community.

Just as a reminder, Kim Sieckmann ran unopposed, which doesn't seem like a clear-cut victory to us. Do we really need a councilor with his own baggage degrading our citizens at every opportunity? You state you only have 200 words to defend against the recall, but why do you need to defend anything at all if you weren't doing something wrong? Refer to the photograph I took as only one example.

You state you have made many tough decisions, but if these decisions are all done in a closed-door executive session with hidden votes how are they tough or good for the city? You have no one to oppose you, or to discuss what the city really wants, when you hide behind doors. So please call the number Kim Sieckmann has given you on his recall rebuttal, because while Kim will lie to you face to face, he would rather just lie to you over the phone. I am not accusing anyone of anything, however I find it amazing that anytime anything is questioned, it always points back to these certain people mentioned in this article. Their explanation is always the same, that it's just a coincidence. I for one know Gladstone citizens are way smarter then these two care to give us credit for, which is why they do not like even listening to us. We can be a much stronger and productive city without Steve Johnson and Kim Sieckmann playing all their games behind our backs. Please vote YES to recall these two.

A great community such as Gladstone should not have to worry what they say or do, or deal with being looked down on, because of how a dysfunctional few on the City Council have acted. So please join with me and the over 900 other Gladstone citizens who have signed the petition to recall Councilor Steve Johnson and Councilor Kim Sieckmann so our community can stand proud again.

Greg Alexander is a resident of Gladstone.

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