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Oregon City Mayor Dan Holladay is being fined $100 for violating a state law saying that elected officials shouldn’t publish letters advocating a political position in “a newsletter or other publication produced and distributed by public employees.”


“You cannot ask public employees to aid in producing or editing an article to oppose a pending petition while public employees are on the job,” Secretary of State’s Office investigator Alana Cox told Holladay in her Dec. 9 determination letter.

TRAIL NEWS - Autumn 2015 'City Matters' column.Signature gatherers have been working since June on a proposed city-charter amendment that would prohibit the use of tax-increment financing for purchasing land and for the development of privately owned land through public urban-renewal funds. Petition targets OC urban renewal

Holladay’s opinion piece published in the Autumn 2015 Trail News advised voters to sign the petition only if they are against progress, not just in the downtown urban-renewal district, but throughout the city. Trail News is a newsletter that city staff produce and send to all households in the city, and Oregon City’s mayor has for years submitted a piece to the “City Matters” column on page 2 of the publication.

After the state received a complaint on Aug. 25 from petitioners, Holladay said he “made a mistake” by submitting the piece for the Trail News.

Oregon City began revising its policies regarding official publications soon after the Secretary of State’s Office started investigating the violation of Oregon election law. Trail News is now reviewed for compliance with elections law by the city manager, who has the authority to send portions of the newsletter to the city attorney for further review.

Former Mayor John Williams and fellow petitioners consider the fines a slap on the wrist. They were hoping that the state would mandate that the city give petitioners equal space in the Trail News to counter Holladay’s argument, but they recognized that the Secretary of State’s Office doesn’t have the power to mandate that.

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