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Cooper refuses call to resign from council

Fairview City Councilor Brian Cooper, under pressure from Fairview Mayor Ted Tosterud, was asked to resign based on statements he made to local media. He has declined to step aside.

Cooper was confronted by an angry mayor and fellow councilors during the April 20 council meeting.

“I refuse,” Cooper responded to Tosterud’s call for him to resign.

The council had voted earlier to censure Cooper in a 5-1 vote.

The council’s anger directed at Cooper stems from his published comments in an April 15 story in the Outlook (“Council shrugs off Fairview development incentive proposal”) regarding a business incentive program the council adopted.

Tosterud accuses Cooper of lying to an Outlook reporter when he said he did not read an email the mayor sent to councilors. The email contained a potential revision of the incentive program. The mayor had asked all councilors to reply via email on whether they would like to reconsider the council’s position on the plan.

Cooper was among three councilors who did not reply to the mayor’s query.

In the April 15 Outlook story, Cooper told the reporter he did not read the email, which he said explains his non-reply to the mayor. Tosterud argued otherwise.

In a prepared statement, Tosterud said he thinks Cooper lied, because he had sent a text message to Cooper regarding the email polling before the deadline, reminding him a non-response was a “no” vote. Cooper later admitted he may have opened the email, but passed over any correspondence to instead read the attached community meeting notes.

Earlier in the meeting, Councilor Ed Bejarana made a motion that the council censure their colleague for “behavior unbecoming of a councilor” stemming from his comments in local media.

Bejarana’s successful motion called for Cooper to be stripped of his committee appointments and later resign from council. Bejarana accused Cooper of providing misinformation with the intention of riling the community.

“It’s dangerous,” Bejarana said. “This young man cannot be trusted with city matters.”

It was actually Tosterud who felt the censure was not enough of a reprimand, which led to his call for Cooper’s resignation.

“I think a (censure) doesn’t really do very much for the council and the citizens,” he said. “I want to raise this one step further.”

After the formal request, Cooper responded simply, “This is ridiculous.”

What’s this all about?

The contention stems from a community meeting the mayor held in March, where citizens discussed the development inventive program and provided a few solutions to concerns expressed about the program.

As a result, Tosterud forwarded a proposal from the city of Troutdale’s Finance Director Erich Mueller, which called for extending system development charges (SDCs) discounts to all development projects, not just vacant land; reduce SDCs from a full waiver to a 75 percent waiver; and remove the discount for fees related to city parks development, one of residents’ biggest concerns.

Tosterud asked the councilors to respond with their preferences on whether to consider this proposal or move on, adding that a non-response would count as a “no” vote.

Thats where it began

Cooper, who would have voted in favor of pursuing the alternative proposal, did not respond to the email, placing his vote as a “no.” Tosterud considered this lack of council interest to be the end of the discussion.

With the desire to consider the proposal publicly, Cooper vowed to bring up the issue at Wednesday’s meeting.

Keith Kudrna, a Fairview resident and past City Council candidate, first brought up the issue during the citizen comment period.

“Why weren’t any of these suggestions brought up in a public meeting?” Kudrna asked. “That is not respecting residents of Fairview. I understand not wanting to go through another contentious meeting … but one of the things we do ask is that you do the due diligence we had expected. I’m challenging you all to please bring this proposed compromise up in a public meeting.”

Dean Hurford, owner of Bumper’s Grill and Bar on Halsey Street in Fairview, responded by asking the council to instead move on.

“Are we going to keep beating this to death, or is it a done deal? I’m just frustrated and tired,” Hurford said.

Following the council’s censure of Cooper and request for his resignation, the embattled councilor kept his promise. Cooper made a motion to reconsider the incentive program utilizing Mueller’s changes.

Without a second to the motion, the proposal is dead.

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