Oregon City Mayor Dan Holladay investigation report released
Oregon City has released an investigation report on Mayor Dan Holladay's alleged activities and statements in defiance of COVID-19 orders.
Lori Watson, the investigator hired by the city on July 8, said Holladay had "caused great confusion, unease and disruption" to the City Commission. Oregon City commissioners asked for the report to be released on Oct. 21, the same day that ballots were mailed for a Nov. 10 recall election. City voters will receive their ballots on Oct. 22 or 23.
Watson's report echoed language city commissioners approved on June 17 to censure Holladay for his various actions since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.
"I find that the preponderance of evidence supports that Holladay's actions (or lack thereof) constituted offenses described in Robert's Rules of Order section 61:3, as they were: 1) injurious to the commission or its purposes; 2) tended to injure the good name of the commission; and/or 3) disturbed the commission's well-being," Watson wrote.
Watson's conclusions stopped short of accusing Holladay of violating state laws.
"None of the information gathered in this investigation indicated by his comments, Holladay had an intent to obtain a benefit or harm another," Watson wrote.
In releasing the report, Oregon City commissioners said they weren't happy with the investigation, which didn't address whether Holladay's actions showed his intent to violate state statutes, so they requested further inquiry. The city's elected officials also suggested that Clackamas County prosecutors and state officials might be interested in the information about Holladay's actions.
According to the report, Liz Hannum, director of the Downtown Oregon City Association, was told by Holladay to "just have them open up," referring to downtown businesses during an April phone call.
William Gifford, past president of the Oregon City Business Alliance, told the investigator that multiple OCBA members heard from Holladay about the potential to "hold funds raised (in the future)" for the fireworks planned by Holladay. Gifford called Holladay's plans "stupid" in the report.
Holladay admitted that he contacted Western Display Fireworks of Canby to obtain a quote for how much such a such a display would cost. He also involved a city staff member in a meeting with the CEO of Benchmade Knife Co., who was asking for information about expanding in the city while being requested by the mayor to support the fireworks.
During a special emergency meeting on June 7, Holladay said "I had raised quite a bit a money" but later told the investigator that he never managed to obtain any financial sponsors for a potential firework show. At the latest meeting of commissioners, he said, "I never took any money, nor did I suggest any tit-for-tat."
On June 17, city commissioners ordered an investigation into the mayor's continued defiance of the governor's orders to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and his attempts to raise money for a city celebration that would have been in violation of the ban on large public gatherings.
Commissioners then unanimously voted "no confidence" in Holladay after the city's two leading business groups testified at the commission's July 1 meeting.
Many more than the necessary 2,400 valid signatures were turned in to put a recall initiative on the ballot.
Holladay's recent actions have led to several special emergency meetings in response. On April 26, commissioners voted to uphold the governor's orders to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus after the mayor's defiance of COVID-19 orders received a threatening letter from Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum.
Holladay joined the unanimous City Commission vote that Oregon City would continue to follow COVID-19 orders, but then began asking businesses to fund his now-canceled July 4 fireworks show at least once with a member of city staff present at the meeting with a business owner. Commission President Rachel Lyles Smith said she had a "real concern" about Holladay as an elected official soliciting funds on behalf of the city.
Holladay's subsequent inflammatory comments about police killings and systemic racism led Oregon City's elected officials to pass a resolution in response to the killing of George Floyd. Although he participated in the June 9 meeting and joined the unanimous vote to support the resolution against racism, he did not make any additional comment, unlike the other commission members who spoke at length pledging to fight for a public environment that is respectful and free of hate.
Holladay also declined to sign a June 4 statement from the Mayors' Metropolitan Consortium consisting of 26 regional mayors standing in solidarity with residents mourning Floyd's murder.
Holladay's alleged request for campaign funding is part of an impending lawsuit over a stalled construction project. He also directed a city-contracted employee to end the meeting recording directly after he adjourned a June 3 meeting, which prevented other commissioners from responding to his comments about racism on tape.
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