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State scolds former Troutdale mayor

Kight blames city employees for errors in permit, code violations

Former Troutdale Major Jim Kight won’t have to pay a $10,000 fine following a state investigation into allegations he used his position to build what has been described as an illegal second house on his property.

Instead of a fine, the Oregon Government Ethics Commission handed Kight a letter of reprimand following the signing of a final order to end the state investigation.

“The commission found him in violation of conflict of interest in use of office and they reprimanded him for that,” said Ron Bersin, executive director of the Oregon Government Ethics Commission.

The ethics commission closed its investigation Friday, April 4.

Bersin said the letter of reprimand is the most serious of three levels of letters that the commission can issue.

Kight agreed with investigators that on five occasions in 2011 he failed to disclose potential conflicts of interest at City Council meetings, which is required by state ethics laws.

In a statement emailed to The Outlook, Kight said it was the fault of city employees if there were any mistakes made in permitting.

He wrote, “The bottom line is that homeowners don’t approve their own plans, do their own inspections and give themselves a certificate of occupancy. When the building passes inspection, you trust that the building meets all current building codes.”

Regarding his failure to declare potential conflicts of interest at five council meetings, Kight said the former city attorney should have reminded City Council members to make disclosures, but did not do so.

Kight said he was motivated to run for Troutdale mayor in November 2008 largely because of his negative experience in trying to construct an accessory building on his property.

He said dealing with the city was “highly frustrating and the process extremely bureaucratic.”

Kight lost his seat to Mayor Doug Daoust in 2012.

“It was my belief from my business experience that by volunteering my time as mayor, that I, through my role on the City Council, could direct the city to be more customer oriented with a ‘how do we fix it’ attitude instead of one in which road blocks were set up,” Kight wrote.

He said he had hoped to make Troutdale a better place to live.

“I was wrong and my attempt to bring about change had political consequences for me, which continue,” he said.

According to Kight’s attorney, Charles Kovas, the ethics commission settlement did not specifically address the legality of the structure that Kight built.

Kovas told The Outlook, “There have been no changes to the structure since the certificate of occupancy was issued in August of 2011.”

On Oct. 28 last year, the city sent Kight a letter requesting the accessory building be brought into compliance as it violates federal and city codes.

As to the city’s request, Kight’s lawyer said, “that’s an ongoing negotiation.”

Craig Ward, Troutdale city manager, refused to comment on the outcome of the state investigation until the city produces a uniform statement.

Troutdale city councilors raised concerns in 2012 regarding the structure on Kight’s Troutdale property near the Sandy River. The structure originally proposed was a 768-square-foot garden shed, but ultimately what was constructed was a 2,013-square-foot building with a basement. The building is adjacent to Kight’s home on Jackson Road.

The council said Kight misled city staff and took advantage of the city’s permitting process to get the building approved even though it violates city codes by being a house with an unfinished basement, two offices, a bathroom and a kitchen.

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