Measure 3-552: The truth counts
Voters, I am writing to request and urge you to please look at the facts and not allow the many misstatements and inaccuracies out there to influence you.
Our opponents have distorted the issue and are using fear tactics, conjecture, and innuendo to sway you to leave things as they are. Even the Tidings has jumped in with misleading rhetoric, as if Councilors Cummings, Sakelik, and Relyea who brought this Measure to the voters are trying to grab personal power somehow. Asking the voters to restore the charter's balance of power is a respectful example of how democracy works.
Also, food for thought, that I don't believe the public is aware of is the Tidings' financial relationship with the City of West Linn? The Tidings receives tens of thousands of dollars in revenue on ads and public notices (see public record of April/2019 budget meetings).
The Tidings also depends on City Staff for press releases, info and tips. Unfortunately, the Tidings has virtually no competition. Voters are likely not aware of the nuances of certain biased narratives being pushed.
Now, as for the misstatements being presented out there:
1. This measure will not interfere with the City Manager's ability to get legal advice in any way whatsoever. It is not fair to prey on the fact that most people are not aware that the City Attorney is hired by the City Council, per City Charter Section 23A. The City Manager consults with the City Attorney on day-to-day operations and will definitely continue to do so if this measure is passed. If, on the rare occasion, a different attorney is needed for something the City Attorney cannot do, the Council will hire the attorney. This is how the City operated before former City Manager Chris Jordan convinced former Mayor John Kovash, and Councilors Thomas Frank, Jody Carson, Mike Jones and Jenni Tan to remove Section 8 (f) from the Charter.
If you believe it was wrong to remove 8(f) and if you believe in representational democracy...Please Vote YES on Measure 3-552.
2. This Measure will NOT change the Council's ordinary role to make policy, legislation and budgetary decisions and hire both the City Manager and the City Attorney. This measure will simply restore Council's duty to hire a different attorney, other than the City Attorney, if needed and that is rarely the case.
It is important to know the Charter is ambiguous about that as it is currently written. Measure 3-552 will establish that Council shall hire any other attorney deemed necessary. Again, the City Manager will have input into these decisions, as has been the case all along.
3. Jeffrey G. Condit, P. C., a 35-plus year experienced, very well respected Municipal Lawyer/Partner at Miller Nash Graham & Dunn thoroughly reviewed our current Charter and provided a report April 12, 2019 that clearly advised against passing an ordinance. He also advised that if the Council used the budget process to prevent the City Manager from hiring a separate Assistant City Attorney, it would be a temporary solution as it would not prevent a future Council from adding the position back into the budget, as follows:"
"If the Council wishes to permanently prohibit an in-house city attorney position appointed by the City Manager or wishes to appoint or supervise that position itself, then the Council needs to refer a Charter Amendment to the voters."
As for accountability, the Council's City Attorney currently provides a monthly invoice that details the City Attorney's legal services. In contrast, the City Manager has never provided an account of legal services provided by the City Manager's previous full-time, PERS benefited assistant city attorney reporting to her. That simply fails the test of transparency!
Mr. Condit also stated that had the 2013 ballot measure that eliminated Charter Section 8(f) from the Charter been questioned, it would have likely been struck down because the measure failed to disclose that Section 8(f) would be eliminated.
Should we just say, "Oh well...what was done was done and just accept that we were cheated out of our inalienable right to be properly informed and cast a vote for what we believe in? I don't think so!
It is time to Right the Wrong and Restore Our Charter.
Please vote yes on Measure 3-552!
Richard Sakelik is a West Linn City Councilor
(Publisher's note: Like most hometown papers, the West Linn Tidings is the "paper of record" for its city, West Linn. As such, the city publishes its legally required notices in the Tidings at a significant savings compared to other Portland media options. The City also publishes on rare occasions ads in the Tidings, such as when promoting events or programs. The City also hires our presses for some outside printing jobs, such as mailings and Parks & Rec programs. In a community with a relatively small number of businesses, it goes without saying that the Tidings greatly appreciates any business the City does with us. Without advertising, we could not afford to publish this newspaper.
The Tidings also gives countless pages of "free advertising" to the City easily worth more than $50,000 per year to help promote the efforts of city government. In the past year, the total the City paid for printing, advertising and publishing legal notices with the Tidings is just under $16,500 (an average of $315 per week or equal to what a dentist, insurance agent or small business would pay for a consistent advertising campaign with the Tidings).
We also pay a reporter to sit through six-hour City Council meetings in addition to the time it takes to make sense of it all for our readers. In fact, the additional time it takes just to cover a City Council meeting cuts into our ability to produce other stories each week that the community would probably much rather read.
To imply that the Tidings is biased based on the small amount of money the City pays to do it's legally required business is another example of this councilor not understanding the facts.)
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