Shady Cove closer to agreement on administrator’s contract

“Politics is a numbers game. I hate it, but it is. It doesn’t matter how good your argument is if you aren’t in the majority,” said Senator Doug Whitsett at the Dec. 1 Shady Cove City Council meeting. The senator’s quote seemed appropriate as the council continued their discussion on Administrator Danise Brakeman’s contract during their Thursday study session with the aim of that unanimous vote. The afternoon began with humor as a citizen gifted council with the book “The Big Book of Big Secrets”; with the mood set the balance of the day was filled largely with productive discussion and compromise.

Fiinalization of Brakeman’s contract was taken off the evening agenda. It was mutually decided an executive session to give Brakeman her performance review before settling the compensation portion of the contract. With that portion on hold, council began to firm up the remaining changes. A few items still warranted discussion beginning with semantics. Brakeman is titled as “City Administrator and Interim Public Works Director” in the contract. Councilors Gary Hughes and Leith Hayes noted that wording made it seem as though they were looking to re-hire the director position. With contracts signed with Rogue Valley Sewer Services and Jackson County Roads in lieu of hiring a director, the councilors felt the Interim title should be removed. Brakeman advised she hoped to hire a new director sometime in the future and felt the wording should stay. It stayed.

Hughes and Hayes also felt adding a 3rd week of vacation was not a good choice as; a) standard practice is to give three weeks of vacation after five years of employment b) all other city employees are held to the five year standard c) Hayes felt citizens would want council to be conservative. Councilor Bill Kyle noted he disagreed with the third point. He gestured to the mostly empty chairs in council chamber and advised he felt it seemed citizens didn’t care or more folks would have shown up to participate in the session. The topic was tabled for a bit and was later settled with compromise; the 3rd week will be added, but those days will be accrued while the initial two weeks will be given up front.

Other issues quickly settled were: PERS, Brakeman with receive approximately 6% to her base salary to compensate for city no longer paying PERS directly. COLA wording was removed and the sick leave and vacation banks were separated back into two banks as in the current contract. The executive session will be Dec. 5with the hope of finalizing the contract during the Dec. 15 meeting.

The evening meeting centered on guests Senator Doug Whitsett and Representative Mike McLane. Each gave a brief update; Whitsett on budget issues/concerns, McLane on his ongoing support of small towns (Shady Cove is the second largest city in District 55!) and his concern around the state’s unemployment rate.

Following was a Q and A session where student liaisons Garrett Logue and Branden Reed stole the show questioning the politicians on their plans to help create jobs and their thoughts on getting more money for schools.

There was a councilor request for executive session audio/minutes (from a 9/6/07 meeting pertaining to Flywater LLC). Hayes made the request as the meeting was prior to his taking office. It was decided that Councilor Jim Ulrich should get a copy too, so the motion was changed to “releasing the minutes to council” with the caveat that the information was confidential and was not to be released outside of council. Motion carried 5/0. On the same topic; John Ward asked during public comment for a copy of the same audio/minutes to be sent to Oregon State Police Detective Tom Harrison. Ward was advised Det. Harrison would need to make the request on his own behalf via Brakeman.

So, not only is politics a “numbers game” but the whole game moves more quickly when those numbers happen to agree!
By Christy Pitto
Of the Independent

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