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Ethics complaint names Milwaukie mayor, councilors

Complaint charges that e-mails excluded council members; mayor says no decisions were made out of the public eye

Former Milwaukie City Council member Larry Lancaster has filed an ethics complaint against several sitting members of the city council citing events during last year's fight over plans for a transit center at Kellogg Lake.

The city's plans for a transit center and possibly light rail station at the site were derailed when it was discovered that the person who had donated the property had been promised that it would remain as a park forever. The city first voted to drop talks with her, then changed tracks when Mayor Jim Bernard reversed his vote at a special meeting; finally they agreed to drop the plans and go along with the family's wishes.

Lancaster said e-mail exchanged during the incident shows 'evidence that something bad was going on.' The complaint charges that three council members - Bernard, Deborah Barnes and Carlotta Collette - decided ahead of time how the special meeting would go, and excluded the others, Susan Stone and Joe Loomis.

In addition, he charges that the notices weren't properly posted about the special meeting, and agendas weren't properly distributed,

'It was all arranged ahead of time,' he said. 'While most of what they did was not illegal, it was highly unethical.'

Bernard said he would withhold detailed comment until he finds out whether the Secretary of State's office launches a full investigation of the complaint, or rejects it out of hand. He said, however, that when he called the special meeting he relied on what the city manager and city attorney told him was the proper procedure.

'Deborah and Carlotta and I never met before the meeting to talk about how we'd vote,' he said. 'It's baseless.

'I knew their votes,' he said.' I was not attempting to change the votes - I was calling a meeting to change my vote.'