Letter: Questionable ethics on the St. Helens City Council
Back in August, St. Helens City Councilperson Steve Topaz filed a complaint with the Oregon Government Ethics Commission against St. Helens City Council members Doug Morten, Keith Locke, Ginny Carlson and Mayor Rick Scholl.
The city met at the Portland offices of consultancy Maul Foster Alongi. The meeting was announced by the city as being a closed session to discuss real estate transactions. Now, this type of meeting the city could have gotten away with. It is my understanding that only discussions pertaining to real estate transactions, employees and privileged meetings with attorneys can be held in private executive discussions.
As it turned out, however, the mayor and City Council members, including Topaz, and city staff members met with Maul Foster Alongi, members of the Governor's Office, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality to discuss an entirely different project. This they cannot get away with and an investigation was launched by the Oregon Government Ethics Commission.
The topic of this illegal meeting is clear, of course. City council people have been attempting for years to cover up their past mistakes by accepting millions of dollars to allow additional poisonous carcinogenic sludge from the Portland Harbor Superfund — one of the most filthy and toxic sites in the nation — to be dumped on St. Helens property.
This target property is located on the waterfront between the old Boise Inc. pulp and paper mill and the old sawmill. It already contains a lagoon that is leaking poisonous contamination into the Multnomah Channel and, thus, into the Columbia River.
This lovely piece of property is the site that was promised to the citizens who paid for it to be developed into a park with water access, picnic tables and walking paths. Later, it was suggested that condos and businesses could be built in this area. That is not working out well for the city either.
The Columbia County Spotlight reported this situation nearly a year ago and has since reported that the Oregon Ethics Committee proceeded with a formal investigation of this illegal meeting: "Based on the information available during this preliminary review, it appears that matters discussed in the executive session may not have been authorized under either of these statutory citations," ethics agency reports state.
City councilpersons can be subjected to a fine of $5,000 each.
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