Shady Cove council can’t agree on administrator’s contract

{gallery}11_22_11/council{/gallery}  “Why, now blow wind, swell billow, and swim bark! The storm is up, and all is on the hazard.”
William Shakespeare, Julius Caesar; and so our stage is set for the tempestuous Shady Cove City Council meeting of Nov. 18. 

The calm before the storm: The afternoon began with a TMDL update by Greg Stabach of Rogue Valley Council of Governments. The city has entered year two and new goals include mapping of potential water quality hazard areas and outreach/education to help citizens learn how they can keep the Rogue cool and clear. Following Stabach was the parks committee final report on the county park. Everyone agreed  that the boat ramp is a real hazard and action is required. Council will write the county commissioners and attend one of their meetings to bring up the ramp issue. Other options for the park (i.e. Adopt a Park, or  a formal Parks Commission) will be discussed in the future.

The first clouds roll in: A hint of things to come as council liaisons were discussed/revised. Councilors Leith Hayes and Gary Hughes advised they will no longer be liaisons, period. Many positions were dropped and councilors Jim Ulrich and Bill Kyle along with Mayor Holthusen will cover those remaining. That hint of a division became a spotlighted abyss as:

The first crack of thunder: When council comments began Hughes dove right in regarding future agenda items noting: “Do I feel that I’m on the low end of this? Yes, I do,” explaining he felt items he suggested never made it to future agendas. Hayes echoed emphasizing he felt there are “definitely two sides to this council.” Hayes specifically wanted a discussion of the planning commission on a future agenda.  What will happen is a joint session with council and commission run by an outside moderator. Hayes stood firm on his desire to have a separate discussion. This stance seemed to allude to deeper issues as Hayes went on to state he could bring things up that would upset the public “if they knew” and asked directly of Kyle “Do you want to go there?”

The storm recedes: Kyle did not want to go there and the study session was adjourned.

A bit of sun: The evening began happily as the council worked together to applaud two  Students of the Month, Miki Peters, who quietly excels, and Weston Tripp, an outgoing leader and role model. Council  introduced  new student liaisons to council, Garrett Logue and Branden Reed and to guide the boys through the meeting process.

Just one drop of rain: A small bit of contention appeared. Administrator Danise Brakeman recommended the hiring of KAS as city engineer. She advised the decision was difficult; so much so the one year contract stipulates if KAS doesn’t work out the city can hire runner up HEA without going through the RFQ process again.

In quiet protest Hughes moved not to hire KAS, but HEA, causing a bit of confusion and a request for confirmation of the motion from Kyle. The motion failed 2/3. Kyle then motioned to hire KAS; motioned carried 3/2.

Let’s send the kids out of the room: As is generally the case when that happens; the true tempest began after the student liaisons were excused for the night and council set to the task of discussing the city administrator’s contract.

Hughes said he was not happy over the process of penning the contract. He felt he and Hayes were excluded.

In a previous meeting the mayor advised two councilors would need to meet with the attorney to write the new contract. As council president, Kyle was chosen then some silence ensured and finally Ulrich said he would help. Once the draft was done the mayor met with Brakeman to review prior to Hayes and Hughes receiving the draft. Hayes advised he had gone to “livid” over the issue and felt the drafting process constituted a “serial meeting.”  Ulrich commented that Hughes and Hayes could have volunteered. Hughes replied he felt there was no point in doing so as he and Kyle would have only “butted heads” over the drafting. Ulrich felt that might have been a good thing and issues now arising might have been worked out then and they wouldn’t be facing the clearly split vote.

Mayor Holthusen felt it was very important to try for a unanimous vote on the contract. Ulrich questioned were there points they could now discuss to find some compromise? Both Hayes and Ulrich stated they were willing to stay here until 1:00 a.m. to work out the issues.

And they did try. Major points of contract contention were: salary and cost of living increase and PERS (Public Employee Retirement System) which totaled approximately an 18% increase.  Severance pay was also an issue.  The contract says Brakeman would get severance equal to the notice she gave if she left; i.e. if she gave 45 days notice she’d receive 45 days severance. Hayes felt that was atypical of an employment contract and too generous in today’s  economy where so many are “happy just to have jobs.” Extensive discussion of various salary increases took the meeting up to 9:35 and it seemed just maybe unanimity was on the horizon.

The thunder rolls: However as they moved to the severance portion Hayes stood firm and advised with that wording included he would vote no. He was not willing to compromise on any number of specified days – i.e. from 45 to 30 or lower.

Detente? With several commissioners  claiming headaches at this point, the mayor suggested they re-word the contract with compromises they had made and try again for unanimity/compromise on the severance issue at the next meeting. At 9:45 the meeting adjourned and folks wandered out into a  gentle fall rain.
By Christy Pitto
Of the Independent


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