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Troutdale council should not put gag order on mayor

OK, so the Troutdale City Council last week further clarified its May 24 censure of Mayor Jim Kight, setting down on paper a list of bullet points by which his future job performance will be measured.

Reading through the list, we came away with the conclusion that this is generally a fair road map that should apply to any mayor, anywhere.

While clearly some of the items point squarely at Kight, we don't think any of these expectations should come as a surprise.

When you stop to consider the virtues of a good mayor, you'll think of a person who functions as a town's No. 1 ambassador to the world outside its borders; who is a cheerleader for local commerce; and who is the go-to person for citizens who have concerns about their local government.

At least at face value, the council's list of expectations of Kight doesn't seem to stand in the way of any of those duties.

We also agree with the council's insistence that 'Kight should make the effort to have council backing before he speaks on an issue.' By this, we assume that the council means Kight shouldn't go to regional meetings or other venues and take positions that are contrary to a majority of the council. After all, the mayor is but one vote on the council, and Kight has no greater authority - other than his ceremonial title as mayor - to speak for the city than does any other councilor.

However, we also would caution that the council should not place a gag order on Kight. There will be times when the mayor finds himself in direct disagreement with the council. We think the people who elected Kight as mayor would expect him to speak his mind and express his own convictions - as long as he makes it clear that he is talking for himself, and not for the entire council.

While we wouldn't want any of the Troutdale city councilors to hide their honest opinions, we also wouldn't want the mayor to be fearful of voicing his disagreements. A potential danger with the Troutdale City Council's list is this: Anytime Kight utters a word contrary to the council mantra, this censure can be held over his head like the proverbial ax.

We, as a society, don't like it when our presidents, governors or legislators fail to show the backbone to stand up for their own ideals. Why should we expect any less from our local leaders?

Of course, Kight hasn't done himself any favors with recent behavior, and we will repeat our earlier support for his censure. But we think it would be just as shameful for the Troutdale Council to now begin to treat its mayor like a puppet on a string.

Here's the list of performance expectations the Troutdale City Council approved to guide Mayor Kight's behavior:

• Kight should make the effort to have council backing before he speaks on an issue.

• There should be more constructive dialogue between Kight and the council outside of meetings.

• Kight should resume his weekly communications with the council about his activities, which stopped in January.

• Tighten the rules on what expenses will be reimbursed.

• Limit the time the mayor and city councilors can spend at City Hall outside of meetings.

• Kight's articles and photographs in The Troutdale Champion, the city's newsletter, should be limited. (Some councilors took issue with what they perceived as Kight's self-promotion.)

• Kight should offer his help to Fairview City Councilor Lisa Barton Mullins on Metro's Joint Policy Advisory Committee on Transportation. (Kight previously served on the committee, but he was not re-appointed by the council in two no-confidence votes.)