Tuesday, February 5, 2008

City Council Should Follow Laws For Using Executive Sessions

“Information is the currency of democracy.” -- Thomas Jefferson

Our City Council could make giant strides in gaining citizen trust and support by following Oregon Open Government laws and properly noticing the secretive Executive Sessions it holds during virtually every City Council Meeting. It would achieve far more from this simple step than from any PR efforts it could make.

Instead, our Councilors hide behind a single line, seen in virtually all the City Council Meeting Agenda’s: “Executive Session pursuant to ORS 192.660 (2) (a through h)”. The minutes of a meeting states something like “Mayor Abernethy called a recess to Executive Session at 6:14 P.M. pursuant to ORS 192.660 (2) (a through h)”. Even during recent joint meeting with the Bend Metro Parks and Recreation Board there was evidently a need for secrecy, so the minutes reflect that “Mayor Abernethy called an Executive Session of both agencies pursuant to ORS 192.660 (2) (a through h) at 7:06 P.M.” A citizen may rightfully wonder what can and must be discussed in secret about our city’s parks. And Oregon law requires more than what our Council provides

Oregon‘s Public Meetings Law, first enacted in 1973, specifically allows Executive Sessions, where the public may be excluded except for media representatives, for certain items. These are the reasons as stated in ORS 192.660(2)(a through h):

(a) To consider the employment of a public officer, employee, staff member or individual agent.

(b) To consider the dismissal or disciplining of, or to hear complaints or charges brought against, a public officer, employee, staff member or individual agent who does not request an open hearing.

(c) To consider matters pertaining to the function of the medical staff of a public hospital licensed pursuant to ORS 441.015 to 441.063, 441.085, 441.087 and 441.990 (3) including, but not limited to, all clinical committees, executive, credentials, utilization review, peer review committees and all other matters relating to medical competency in the hospital.

(d) To conduct deliberations with persons designated by the governing body to carry on labor negotiations.

(e) To conduct deliberations with persons designated by the governing body to negotiate real property transactions.

(f) To consider information or records that are exempt by law from public inspection.

(g) To consider preliminary negotiations involving matters of trade or commerce in which the governing body is in competition with governing bodies in other states or nations.

(h) To consult with counsel concerning the legal rights and duties of a public body with regard to current litigation or litigation likely to be filed.

Oregon Open Meetings laws state that Executive Session notice requirements are the same as for all other meetings, which must include a list of principal subjects with enough specificity for citizens to recognize items of interest. In addition, Executive Session notices must include the specific statutory authority for each agenda item discussed in the executive session. This specific statutory authority must be also announced before going into an Executive Session.

Executive Sessions are allowed for only very limited purposes. Deschutes County Commission rarely holds Executive Sessions, while the Bend City Council holds them at virtually every meeting. Even on the subject of ORS 192.660(2)(e), the real estate exemption, the Oregon Attorney General long ago stated that:

A governing body may meet in executive session to "conduct deliberations with persons designated by the governing body to negotiate real property transactions." The apparent policy underlying this provision is to permit public bodies to protect their negotiating position in real estate transactions by keeping certain information confidential. This provision does not permit a governing body to discuss long-term space needs or general lease site selection policies in executive session.’

The Bend City Council seems to have gone far beyond these limitations, particularly in its deliberations around Juniper Ridge.

An example of a good notice of an Executive Session is this, from the Newberg City Council Work Session Agenda for October 17, 2005:

X. EXECUTIVE SESSION

1. Executive Session pursuant to ORS 192.660(2)(d) relating to a real
property transaction – McKillip Property located at 8015 NW Hash Rd.

An example of a good record of an Executive Session in the Minutes of a meeting is this, from the Sherwood City Council Meeting of Dec. 11, 2001:

EXECUTIVE SESSIONS

1. Executive Session #1 held pursuant to ORS 192.660 (1) (e) Real Property Transactions and ORS 192.660 (1) (h) Consult with Legal Counsel – Meinecke Road intersection - took place from 6:03 to 6:28 p.m.

2. Executive Session #2 held pursuant to ORS 192.660 (1) (i) Employee Evaluation. – the City Manager six-month review took place from 6:30 to 6:50 p.m.”

Complaints of Executive Session violations may be directed to the Oregon Government Ethics Commission, for review, investigation and possible imposition of civil penalties. Members of a governing body may be liable for attorney and court costs both as individuals or as members of group if found in willful violation of the Public Meetings Law. Judy Stiegler of Bend is the current chairperson of the Ethics Commission.

I have fully documented the use of Executive Sessions back to the Special Meeting resulting in the Les Schwab property sale on December 12, 2006. This includes documentation of Executive Sessions held after regular City Council meetings that were never noticed. I also received a copy of a December 8, 2006 e-mail from the City noticing the December, 12, 2006 Special Meeting after filing an open records request. Yet my contacts with the media representatives that attended said session and a review of the Bend Bulletin from December 8 to December 12 fail to show any record of this email.

The Bend City Council simply does not follow the Oregon Open Meetings law in its constant use of Executive Sessions. I urge the Council to at least conform with and preferably even go beyond the letter of the law, in the manner of the City Councils of our fellow Oregon cities Newberg and Sherwood. By doing so, the Council may win back the trust of its constituents in a much more fundamental way than any PR campaign could.

None of us want to take the next step of filing a complaint with the Ethics Commission.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

"None of us want to take the next step of filing a complaint with the Ethics Commission."
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Perhaps so. But I suspect that until you do so, the Council will continue to ignore you suggestions. The Council is a group of community members who know next to nothing about Public Meeting Law and Exec Sessions. They rely on the city lawyers, who has said a vague "...a thru h..." is 'good enough for government work'.

But as you have discovered, it is not good enough. In order to get them to comply, you will need to engage the Oregon Government Ethics Commission, and Ms Stiegler.

Until then, you will be ignored, as you should be. The Council doesn't have time to listen to every gadfly with an opinion that shows up at their meetings. They do have time to listen to opinions from the Ethics Commission and Ms Stiegler.

Anonymous said...

By all means, go for it. Unfortunately your one-pager will most likely end up in the circular file. I sent my one-pager to the BULL, which actually called and said it would be printed in the next week or two, and to the council members themselves, as proof of their knowledge of or willful lack of knowledge of the laws.

*

Brucey, "YOUR ONE PAGER" had references to capstone buttplugs, you have to stay on target, and tell the 'exec session' story, NOT your 'capstone-buttplug' story.

Will somebody here either brucey, or someone else just reduce the BULLSHIT from brucey's 'one-pager', and let's all send hard-copy's to the governor, cc: to the state ethics.

Anonymous said...

Did you submit a complaint with the Standards and Ethics Board that Judi Stiegler is on?

Or did you just sent that groveling letter? (you know, the one where you piss all over yourself about some irrelevant shit furnace)

Wow. After all that hype about how you are gonna take all this dynamite and blow up the whole council, and when it comes time for action, you step up to the microphone and let out a tiny little fart. Wow indeed.

Hey, Pussy, you need to:
1- Grow some balls
2- Submit the Exec Session complaint with the Ethics Board
3- Do it now, Today!

Or shut the fuck up, and never again brag about what you are gonna do.

Cause you are all about BIG TALK and little action.

Anonymous said...

Until you take it to Judy (the Government Ethics Board), you are wasting your breath, and our ears.

Dude, I know what I am talking about. Until you get your complaint infront of somebody real, you are just pissing into the wind.

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Been telling BRUCE-PUSSY this since he arrived on the scene this past summer, and he's doing it his way. We told him that Oregon is a complaint driven system, and until someone actually file(s) formal ethic's complaint in Salem, not a fucking person in Bend, can give a shit. Once ol bruce pussy or someone else starts filing complaints, and/or starts send letters to the Governor, the State investigator, and the ethics board MUST investigate, thats when the cornholes in Bend will get tight.

We have told this to Bruce Pussy since he showed, its his time, he's not being paid for this, but if this was a war, the war would be over by the time bruce-pussy put on his boots.

Good thing this is not a fucking war.

If there is a decently written complaint, and if it DOESN'T mention FUCKING CAPSTONE, jeebus christ bruce-pussy if I see 'capstone' one more time on one of your fucking complaints, I'm going to file an 'extortion complaint' against you myself. They'll have you in the fucking box getting corn-holed when they're done with you.

Don't you fucking realize you can't send a public letter to a public official that says, Hey Bitch your breaking the law, and unless you buy 1,000 capstone micro energy butt-plugs I going to file a complaint, ... thats what you did bruce-pussy.

I suggest that we get bruce's complaint, and people such as myself and everyone else, just fucking PRINT-IT, and send it to the Governor,

Governor
Salem, OR

That's it you don't even have to put your name on it, I guarantee if they get ten letters they'll fucking pass the complaint to the ethic's department, and that person will be on it, why? Cuz Kulongoski knows that she knows that he knows she got the fucking complaint.

So MR.Correct that posted today, with right-on info, Please clean-up bruce-pussys complaint and post and I, myself will send off five anonymous tomorrow. Lets get this fucking ball rolling before the fucking Mormon Jeebus has his second coming, cuz that's when bruce pussy will have his boots on.

Dear Governor,

Please read the attached, I'm sending this anonymously, because I fear for my life in I fear our government is ran by thieves.

Sincerley, yours a concerned citizen

**

Guys I have been here forever, and I guarantee if we send these letters with the complaint we'll have a hornets nest from HELL on city hall in a week, something bruce-pussy should have got going six months ago.

Anonymous said...

And she did nothing about it.

What do you think will happen to your one-page complaint? The Gov's a Dem, Judy's a Dem...- bruce 'dumb cunt' Pussy

*

Bruce, YOUR in fucking OREGON, give up your fucking UTAH shit.

Salem OR, is where it all happens, the DEMO's 40 years ago made a deal with the REPUB's you get east, we get west.

UNTIL someone sends the COMPLAINT to salem, and CC's TO ALL then, its going to be a local hush-hush.

Bruce, your now the fucking gate keeper, but the fact is you have SHIT for brains to be telling us old timers who have played OREGON politics for 40+ years how the fucking system works.

ALL YOU FUCKING NEWBIES think Oregon didn't exist before you got here.

Bruce just pulled his fucking U-Haul in From Provo, UT a few weeks ago, and showed up on this blog a few months ago, and is now telling us how Oregon Government works. EVEN EYE am beginning to think that that mr-correct is right, that he is not worthy of bruce-pussy, and perhaps just PUSSY. Perhaps even PUSSY would be complement perhaps wanna-be-hogg, or wanna-suck-hogg-dick, I think that's the moniker, cuz its fucking clear to me that bruce is buying time and covering ass, e.g. Doing another KURATEK to this dumb fucking town.

BBhogg-cock-sucker, that's "Boss Hogg cock sucker", Bruce-Pussy was a term of endearment because of your naive fucking view of Bend politics, but now that you think that your the next Rasputin to Abernethy, your their protector, thus its NOT cute anymore,

You even mentioned that its ok for you to mix biz&politics cuz HOLLERN does it, HOLLERN does NOT, he OWNS the fucking town, the cunt politicians. BIG FUCKING difference, and bruce-pussy thinks he's going to become a HOLLERN.

NO bruce, your priming yourself to be a 'boss-hogg-cock-sucker'