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Oakridge City Council work session

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By GARY CARL/For The Herald  —  The Oakridge City Council met for a work session yesterday, January 12th, 2022.   The reporting of Council proceedings is difficult due to the ongoing transmission problems inherent with Zoom. While the counselors continue to avoid meeting in person, the voice transmission of their discussions is often incoherent and council members must continually ask the speaker to repeat themselves and often entire segments of discussion are missed.

Among the matters receiving Council attention was a rather lengthy discussion of filling the mayoral position caused by the resignation of former Mayor Kathy Holston.   While the outcome was never really in doubt, there was a prolonged discussion of how the mayoral vacancy ought to be filled. At one point, during citizen’s comments, private citizen Dan Barclay gave a rather pedantic explanation of our city charter. Proclaiming that the charter was not susceptible to interpretation but should be a followed “precisely as written” and according to his interpretation, of course.

Questioning the City’s charter

Counselor Spliethof said that he had read the charter and he would resign from the Council right there on the spot if the rest of the Council did not follow his interpretation of the city charter.  Whether rightly or wrongly, what neither Barclay nor Spliethof seem to understand is that all documents are susceptible to interpretation whether our City’s Charter or the United States Constitution, ALL written documents are susceptible to interpretation.

That’s why we have courts, lawyers, judges and a legal system.  While the plain meaning of the written words may seem obvious, sometimes there is room for more than one interpretation.  In the instance case, the City’s attorney had offered an opinion on the matter, but we never got to hear his opinion or his reasoning because it was summarily dismissed without consideration by the council.

The outcome of Council President Hollett ascending to the mayoral seat was indeed fait accompli, legal considerations aside. The remainder of the Council work session was spent discussing advertisements and timelines for replacing the City Administrator and City finance director both of whom have given their respective notices of resignation.

Hiring from within poses problems

The City Administrator explained that it would be problematic to employ any current city employee that was represented by a union to a pro-tem position in the city because of the potential conflict of interest.  He thought the union might concur.

Whether and how to utilize the services of the Lane Council of Governments was discussed. However, there was no consideration or discussion of the costs involved for using LCOG.

Can Council convince Cutchen to remain?

During the final opportunity for citizen’s comments, we once again heard from Dan Barclay concerning the City Charter, just in case anyone missed it on his first time through.  We also heard from Sara Altemus Pope who implored the Council to consider approaching Bryan Cutchen, our current City Administrator, to see if he might be convinced to reverse his decision regarding his resignation.   This inspired councilor Spliethof to address the CA directly and ask whether he might change his mind?

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