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Fairview councilors blast recall petition

The recall petition has united the council -- with one notable exception

OUTLOOK FILE PHOTO - Mayor Ted Tosterud reviewing his notes in January 2014.Fairview City Councilors defiantly denounced a recently filed recall effort during a council meeting Wednesday, spending more than an hour blasting petitioners for what councilors said was vindictive, manipulative and needlessly divisive behavior.

Speaking with almost one voice, they argued: This is not about policy. This is personal.

“They did pick on three of us. They should have picked on all of us,” said Mayor Ted Tosterud, who is subject to the recall petition alongside councilors Tamie Tlustos-Arnold and Ed Bejarana.

“I didn’t call people names, I didn’t call people corrupt,” Tosterud said. “I came onto this council with a platform of economic development … So I did what I said I was going to do.”

The recall effort centers on a series of special development charges, which the council waived in February in the hopes of bringing new jobs, new construction and an expanded taxpayer base to Fairview. The recall petitioners argue that the cuts — which include $1.3 million in sacrificed revenue for a planned 180-unit apartment building on Halsey Street — amount to a handout that benefits developers who will build their projects regardless.

Councilors, on the other hand, say waiving development charges and permitting fees is fairly routine practice for city governments, and has spurred new construction in cities such as Gresham and Portland. They claim the long-term revenue generated by new construction will more than make up for the lost revenue in the short run.

What almost everyone agrees on is that despite a building boom in most parts of Multnomah County, Fairview has largely been left in the dust.

“This recall is ridiculous and baseless,” Councilor Dan Kreamier said during the meeting. “There is so much misinformation being spewed by a few people … I implore you (citizens) to come talk to us.”

Divided we stand

The recall effort has united the typically fractious City Council, with one notable exception. Councilor Brian Cooper slipped out of the room without comment after the topic of a recall election was broached. Cooper had publicly called the incentives unfair in a Feb. 26 opinion piece published in The Outlook.

More than an hour later, Bejarana asked that Cooper’s absence be logged in the official record.

“It’s either the world’s longest bathroom break, or he’s afraid to be here,” Bejarana said.

From here, recall petitioners (and former city councilors) Ted Kotsakis and Steve Owen have until Sept. 1 to gather at least 419 signatures. If they succeed, the city would have to bear the full cost of a special election.

But even if everything goes according to their plan, the effect could be short lived.

Councilors Tlustos-Arnold and Bejarana are both up for re-election in November. If recalled, their replacements would serve for just two months before the general election. If Mayor Tosterud is recalled, the council itself appoints a new mayor.

SIDEBAR: Council addresses fishing, pot dispensaries

It wasn’t all sturm und drang at Fairview’s City Council this Wednesday, June 15.

Though councilors spent more than an hour blasting a recall effort targeting three of their own, they also found time to attend to several important items on the agenda.

Council members voted to restrict the number of fishers and anglers at Salish Ponds to 40 at any given time. Eighteen designated fishing areas have already been constructed on the west pond in the hopes that recreational fishers will stop trampling bushes, cutting down trees and eroding the Salish banks in order to find that “perfect spot.” The regulation does not affect the east pond, which the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife does not regularly restock.

The fish ordinance passed six to one. Only Councilor Ed Bejarana dissented, saying he was worried about the precedent of creating rules that the city would ultimately be unable to enforce.

The Mt. Hood Cable Regulatory Commission also won approval of its proposed budget for fiscal year 2016. The intergovernmental agency’s operating budget is about $1 million this cycle.

Finally, the council voted to refer a current law banning marijuana dispensaries and grow operations within city limits to voters in the upcoming November election.