SC Council questions Brakeman

The May 2 Shady Cove City Council meeting focused largely on three issues brought forth during the April 18 meeting. During that meeting executive sessions were requested to discuss: a possible settlement with a former employee, a review of legal bills and a possible insubordination charge against City Administrator Danise Brakeman.

The last was discussed first as Brakeman brought up the issue during her Administrator’s report via a rebuttal to statements made by Councilor Leith Hayes on April 18. Regarding Hayes’ charge that she was insubordinate for requiring that he submit a public records request and $5 fee for a copy of the budget meeting recording, Brakeman again advised Hayes that requesting the recording without the form and fee was not allowed as he was acting as an individual. The council can only make such requests as a governing body. Further stating, “You participated in the Governing 101 training during a study session only four weeks prior to this, where this was clearly explained.” She stated that if Hayes would come to her directly in the future, she felt such misunderstandings could be avoided. Lastly she cautioned Hayes on making future statements, noting she felt ones he’d made, especially in regards to legal bills, were damaging to her both “personally and professionally”.

Hayes asked to respond, however Mayor Ron Holthusen advised it would be best to move on to other matters. Hayes did comment briefly noting he will not have any one-on-one meetings with Brakeman without a witness or recording, as in the past these attempts have led to arguments between them.

The insubordination issue was further discussed under new business where the intent was to vote on whether or not to hold an executive session to possibly bring up formal charges. Brakeman issued a memo to council advising she wished to discuss the matter during the May 5 meeting. Hayes began by returning to his request for the budget meeting recording. He questioned whether any other Councilor had ever been similarly asked to fill out a public records request and pay the accompanying fee for such information. He stated he felt “singled out” by Brakeman’s request.

By way of final clarification, Mayor Holthusen consulted with Counsel on the matter. Their verdict as stated by the Mayor: “Any council member has a right to go in and talk to city administrator directly and get virtually any information you want.” The Mayor followed by noting that as Hayes had filled out the request, however, he was obligated to pay the $5.00. Hayes then re-iterated, he had initially come to City Hall to personally request the info, but Brakeman was out of the office. He’d then asked Assistant to the Administrator Aaron Prunty for the recording. Prunty emailed the request to Brakeman who subsequently emailed Hayes stating “proper procedure” must be followed via submitting the form and fee. In reply the Mayor once again stated, “Bottom line is if you as a councilor want information, you have a right to go to the city admin.” Further discussion saw mutual apologies between Hayes and Brakeman, with Hayes declaring he will no longer pursue the insubordination charge.

As for the request to hold an executive session to review a possible settlement with a former employee; the Mayor advised this is a two step process, per legal. First Council must ask legal to send each councilor a confidential memo outlining the history of the employee and their departure. If, based on the memo, council feels they would like to further discuss this with the city attorneys they then must have a second vote in a subsequent meeting. The motion to have legal write the memo carried 4/1 with Councilor Bill Kyle the sole no vote.

The request for an Executive Session to review attorney bills met with mixed views, Kyle felt it unnecessary. The Mayor noted as long as she’s within the budget it is up to Brakeman to spend the legal monies “as she sees fit”. Councilor Gary Hughes felt the current invoice format is withholding information from the public. Councilor Jim Ulrich feels an Executive Session on the issue can only help inter-council relations as the issue has become one of division, while Hayes feels the spending is excessive and council needs to “step in”. This motion also carried 4/1, Kyle was the lone the no vote.

By Christy Pitto
For The Independent

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