Cutting through the misinformation
As I read the Tidings lately, I am seeing a number of misunderstandings.
For example, an article appearing online last week titled; "Cummings rethinks pursuit of court fees" creates a false impression that it is up to me to decide whether to pursue court fees owed to the State for Bialostosky's unsuccessful summary judgement case. I'm surprised to see this because the City Attorney's associate had clearly explained that any waiver or reduction of court fees is solely within the court's discretion. Secondly, the question of whether West Linn taxpayers should pay the court fee for Mr. Bialostosky would have to be a City Council decision. In other words, it's not up to me.
Another example is the June 13 article titled; "Plaintiff says he will scale back records request" and "Bialostosky: 'I never said I won't accept redaction," by Holly Bartholomew, wherein it might take a discerning reader to notice that Bialostosky was actually NOT willing to reduce the scope of his records request nor was he willing to accept redactions until after his case went to court.
Not reported was the fact that West Linn's attorney attempted to mediate, both before and after the lawsuit was filed, and offered to allow Mr. Bialostosky and Mr. David Baker to view the personal notes if they would be willing to reduce the timeframes of their request, because their request for nine-years-worth of notes, dating back to 2005 was unreasonable. And they were asked to accept redactions because their demand to see everything in the "original form" was unreasonable. Their refusal to mediate made it literally impossible to grant their request.
I'm worried that the nasty vitriol over this unreasonable request, with the ensuing suit and media storm will discourage civic-minded citizens from stepping up to serve on a board or run for office.
It is also perplexing to see the Tidings promote the notion that Council should not have met with the City Attorney about this case simply because it was filed against a single Councilor. The City Attorney was authorized to enter into Bialostosky's Summary Judgement case in order to get a legal answer about a larger question that pertains to the entire Council and all other elected and appointed officials. As a result, Clackamas Circuit Court ruled that personal notes written solely to refresh a person's memory are not public records because they are not produced or used as a form of communication and these notes may be kept or discarded at the official's discretion because they are not retained by the public body.
A little back story might be useful in understanding what is going on. After David Baker announced his campaign against the GO Bond in 2018 at his neighborhood association meeting, he personally informed me that he planned to do everything he could to stop me from getting elected again. Meanwhile, Rory Bialostosky was upset with me for not agreeing with his position on high school parking because West Linn's planning codes require schools to meet the parking needs of their facility on site.
During my nine years on Council and longer yet as a Planning Commissioner and Neighborhood Association officer, I have always stood to protect our livability, our environment, our public safety and the citizen's right to participate in decisions that affect them. My longstanding position in favor of protecting the rural character of the Stafford Hamlet has never been popular with the developers. I still stand firm on this not just because I think so but because every citizen survey we've done has shown that approx. 80% of West Linn citizens are opposed to urbanizing Stafford.
Everyone needs to pay close attention because Oregon's land use laws have changed and voters no longer have the right to decide on annexations. Just three pro Stafford development councilors could change everything.
Teri Cummings is president of the West Linn City Council.
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.