Commentary, Front Page, Oakridge/Westfir, Uncategorized

Commentary: Last one out of City Hall…please turn off the lights

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Oakridge City Hall Herald photo

By GARY CARL/For The Herald  —  As most of you know by now, Mayor Kathy Holston resigned as the Mayor of the City Oakridge last evening, January 6, 2022. Her resignation follows on the heels of resignations from Bryan Cutchen, our City Administrator and Eric Kytola the city’s Finance Director.

During her prepared statement, Mayor Holston said that with the imminent departure of our City Administrator and Finance Director, she has a great deal of concern about the solvency of our city. And we all should be concerned too.

We are only a few weeks away from being without Bryan Cutchen, our CA, and Eric Kytola our city’s Finance Director. But at least thanks to Councilor Kinyon we have a better understanding of Robert’s Rules of Order. Councilor Kinyon went so far as to make a Motion for the whole council to undergo training in Robert’s Rules. However, after it was pointed out that there would be an expense to the city for this training, she recanted and withdrew her motion.

Remote meetings are not working

A continuing problem has resulted from councilors refusing to attend Council meetings in person. Rather, they prefer to attend remotely via Zoom and are subject to the vagaries of their individual computers and the internet. As a result, their connection cuts in and out. They are often unable to understand one another.  Speakers are continually being asked to “unmute” themselves or repeat what was said but not heard. For example, at one point in last night’s meeting after councilor Hollett had spoken councilor Spliethof said, “You broke up so bad, I couldn’t hear half of what you said. …”. This is not an isolated example. Rather, it occurs routinely throughout council meetings. This seriously impacts the official minutes being recorded.

Council is aware of these communication problems. At a December (2021) work session, the subject of “councilors in person attendance” was discussed with all councilors expressing their opinions. However, there was no resolution. The councilors unanimously agreed to put the subject on the next regular city council meeting. That never happened.

A few citizens spoke during “public comment” to complain about the extra fee for providing public services. Seems like either these folks haven’t been paying attention and/or the council has never explained what the extra $22 fee is for, and why it is necessary. Now, if they haven’t been paying attention, now would be a good time to explain that with the departure of our City Administrator, we will probably be forfeiting hundreds of thousands of dollars in grant funding available to cities like ours … with the proper application. That’s right…Hundreds of Thousands of Dollars slipping away, but hey, we have a firm grip on Robert’s Rules of Order.

Finding Nemo?

There have been a few remote overtures suggesting that with better communication and perhaps mediation, the council could convince our CA and Finance Director to reverse their decision to leave and remain in the city’s employ. This isn’t going to happen. Competent Finance Directors are currently in great demand. Our Finance Director has already secured another position working for a different municipality. Our 5-star City Administrator, in his resignation letter has clearly stated his reasons for leaving. None of those things have changed and with the resignation of Mayor Holston have only been amplified.

Good luck Oakridge. Last one out of City Hall please turn off the lights.


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