The afternoon session began with three folks stepping up to help the city by applying for positions on the budget committee. Applicants Lena Richardson and Tom Anderson applied to continue their committee duties while Leslie Keene is a first time applicant. Keene’s resume seems to assure that she will be a great addition to the committee. With three openings on the committee and three well qualified applicants; all were appointed during the evening meeting.
Also discussed during both sessions is citizen involvement which is causing some time management issues for city staff. Councilor Bill Kyle advised that one or two folks are presently making a lot of document requests of Administrator Danise Brakeman and she is “Up to her neck” trying to reply to the requests and gathering and distributing the documents. Kyle wondered if the city could look at its policy of fees for these services as so much staff time is being devoted to them. Brakeman advised the current fee is $45 per hour and is charged only on requests which take over 15 minutes to process. The catch; though each request generally takes under the 15 minutes, with issues currently going on in the city, the sheer volume of requests is causing a backlog. Brakeman advised staff will start by designating one day a week to handle these requests and if that doesn’t help smooth out the process they can look at other options.
However, staff time isn’t the only issue arising out of the current flood of involvement in certain city issues; Councilor Leith Hayes made a statement during the evening meeting to a matter of a more personal note. One of the many requests coming in was from Jane Hagan and was emailed not only to Brakeman, but also to all councilors, the planning commissioners and a few select private citizens. Hayes quoted the first line of the email: “I am not at all convinced that a contractor [Lois DeBenedetti] who conspired with Councilor Hayes to submit anonymous testimony to the Planning Commission last year is the person who should be interpreting this code section.”
Hayes then noted that the issues of the “anonymous email” had been settled during the October 6, 2011 council meetings with statements from Brakeman and City Attorney Steve Rich (see October 11, 2011 Independent article for details). Hayes reminded that Rich clarified no wrongdoing had been done in regard to the email; therefore Hayes feels that Hagan’s reference to the matter at this time is “crossing the line” and is “slanderous/libelous”. He asked that Hagan give him a public apology.
The apex of citizen involvement was celebrated as the focus of the evening meeting was the presentation of the Citizen of the Year and Lifetime Achievement Awards. Citizen nominees Tami Merteen, Lucille Cordeiro (not present), John Burgess, Paula Trudeau, Vicky Richmond and Jerry Carlson each got their well deserved moment in the spotlight. Mayor Ron Holthusen asked each nominee to come to the front of the assembly and extolled their virtues to a very enthusiastic audience. Each was also given a chance to speak and all were humbled and honored. With so many fabulous nominees the committee just couldn’t narrow their choice to one person; both Trudeau and Merteen stand as 2011 Citizens of the Year. Merteen for her outgoing, enthusiastic drive to create and sustain the Chamber of Commerce. Trudeau for her quiet and multiple contributions from envelope stuffing at City Hall to helping Shady Cove achieve a Firewise Community status.
Stealing the show was Lois Holland as she received her Lifetime Achievement Award complete with a standing ovation. Holland had the audience laughing and crying as she stated first “I’m befuddled about this whole thing.” then followed with “I’ve got a lump in my throat; and some in my eyes too.” Before the meeting adjourned and folks got to dig in to the array of cookies, cakes and other treats Holland noted none of her achievements would have been possible without the citizens of Shady Cove (those oh-so-involved citizens!).
By Christy Pitto
Of the Independent