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Willamette Falls Media Centers future is in limbo

OC rejects WL's plan for management of the cable access

Oregon City has tabled a proposal to create an oversight committee for the Willamette Falls Media Center, where a recent audit found more than $48,293 in 'questionable' spending over an approximately one-year period.

The cable access station and associated media are jointly owned by West Linn and Oregon City, and West Linn's leaders approved the new oversight panel last month.

But Oregon City Commissioner Rocky Smith said last week he couldn't support putting local governments in charge of the media center. He wanted a 'more extensive dialogue between the two cities' before making a decision.

'I'm just not comfortable with this yet,' Smith said. 'We essentially have two cities that say 'we don't want to run a television station,' and (yet) that's what this does.'

West Linn city leaders supported the creation of a new Willamette Falls Media Center and Clackamas Cable Access Board oversight committee, made up of Oregon City and West Linn's city managers or their designees, so that the cities could take some steps to deal with sloppy accounting issues. They said their intent was not to take complete control, but rather to define rules for financial oversight.

West Linn City Manager Chris Jordan expressed his disappointment in reaction to Oregon City's decision to not support an ordinance creating a municipal oversight committee.

'West Linn believes that the municipal oversight committee is the best way to provide the accountability and oversight that the media center needs to be sustainable and successful,' Jordan said. 'Whenever public funds are in use, we believe that citizens have expectations of accountability that the municipal oversight committee would have provided.'

'No one in West Linn wants to do away with the Willamette Falls Media Center - that's the farthest thing from our minds,' said West Linn Councilor Mike Jones. West Linn could now decide to amend its ordinance or dissolve the media center as a corporation.

'At the end of the day, this is something that we want to make work,' Oregon City City ManagerDavid Frasher said.

Jordan agreed, saying, 'Staff will be working with the West Linn City Council to determine the best next steps to ensure a successful and accountable cable access program.'

Dan Holladay, chairman of the advisory Clackamas Cable Access Board overseeing the studio's policies and budget, said the ordinance wouldn't solve the problem, and the media center would cease to exist within about a year if the 'draconian' measures passed.

'There really is no basis for this alleged need to have all this financial control, because there really wasn't any problem there in the first place, so I would encourage you to find another method of fixing whatever we seem to perceive as a problem,' Holladay said.

Since the audit identified a range of questionable expenditures and accounting practices, the media center has provided additional paperwork to back up those costs, said Melody Ashford, WFMC manager.

To see the center's response to the audit results, visit http://willamettefallsmc.org/sites/default/files/ccab/MossAdamsFinal.pdf.