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City manager admits to inaccuracy

The Gladstone city manager distorted the facts last week (“No evidence of bias in Gladstone minutes”).

By his own admission, and as the meeting videotape proves, the July 10, 2012, minutes are inaccurate. Boyce admitted the July tape misquoted two women in the written minutes. He admits I did not say “I feel” on tape. Misquotes in the minutes are substantially different than the videotape of both Ms. Umbras’ and my testimony. In spite of that, Boyce continues to insist, it is OK for the minutes to misquote citizen testimony. If Boyce can finally get the quotes correct in last week’s Community Soapbox, why couldn’t he get the minutes accurate back in July 2012? Boyce’s excuse that minutes law allows misquoting is ridiculous.

If you look at state law, it states the following: 1) written minutes need not be verbatim, 2) whatever means of recording used must give a true reflection of the matters discussed at the meeting and the views of the participants 3) The record of any meeting .... shall include at least the substance of any discussion on any matter and a reference to any document discussed at the meeting.

Reasonable people will agree that minute’s law does not authorize misquoting public testimony. Boyce’s interpretation of the minute’s law completely misses the point. Paraphrasing does not mean the city has leeway to misquote. Otherwise, why keep minutes of public meetings at all? Accuracy is the most important requirement of ORS 192.650. It is just plain wrong for Boyce to try to excuse inaccurate minutes. Boyce is responsible for editing the final draft of the minutes prior to submission to City Council for approval. Boyce is bluffing when he repeats “the minutes do not quote the speaker.” He implies what the minute’s law means to him, not what the minutes law means in real life.

The effect of falsely attributing “She is disturbed” to Umbras and me is offensive. “Disturbed” is far more egregious than the comparatively mild, “feel.” Curiously, there is a scarcity of males testifying getting such offensive misquoting. In contrast, consistently, the men are quoted saying, he thanked, I applaud, he suggests, he objected, etc.

Why is it so hard for the city to just stop misquoting citizen testimony from now on? Boyce doesn’t realize Moore, Sieckmann, and Otkin’s testimony is irrelevant to this discussion. Ms. Moore said, “We feel like” on tape; she was not misquoted. Boyce admits the written minutes misquote Sieckmann; he did not say “he does feel;” Otkin did not say “he feels.”

Then, Boyce destroys his own argument by implying, if we misquote two men, then it doesn’t mean any harm when we misquote two women. Again, Boyce missed the point. The primary objection to the misquotes is the inaccuracy. Gender is a secondary factor, which can not be ruled out entirely. Boyce relies on only five examples, three irrelevant, to arrive at questionable conclusions.

I researched “he saids” and “she saids” for July 2012, which show 26 males were quoted; two men were misquoted on the tape. So the men’s stats are 93 percent neutral-accurate with a 7.4 percent misquote score. The women were accurately quoted at 70 percent; and misquoted 30 percent of the time. All the misquotes are confirmed on the videotape. In spite of this, Boyce tries to defend the indefensible. Why did Boyce take the low road?

By the way, government transparency or openness is vital to a healthy democracy. The Oregon Supreme Court, in MacEwan vs. Holm (1961), stated, “Writings.... Shall generally be accessible to members of the public so that there will be an opportunity to determine whether those who have been entrusted with the affairs of government are honestly, fairly, and competently performing their functions as public servants.”

Voters are smart enough to figure out why public-meeting minutes must be accurate. Case closed.

Rose Johnson is a resident of Gladstone.




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