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Council makes controversial budget team appointments

A divided Lake Oswego City Council recently appointed some new budget committee members.

Mayor Jack Hoffman and councilors Donna Jordan, Sally Moncrieff and Bill Tierney voted in favor of appointing John Turchi and Duke Castle to the citizen budget committee, with Linda Adlard appointed as an alternate.

Councilors Jeff Gudman, Mike Kehoe and Mary Olson voted against that lineup, as a different group had been recommended by a subcommittee that interviewed applicants.

Citizens in the audience at city hall reacted to the approval by booing.

Olson expressed disbelief over the decision on Dec. 18.

“Unbelievable,” she said following the vote.

The council had been waiting until after the November election to make the appointments, although Jordan and Kehoe, along with budget committee member Joe Vricella, interviewed nine applicants in October.

Two three-year positions will open in 2013 as Kent Studebaker and David Berg’s terms are ending.

Studebaker, who has since been elected to the mayor’s position, and Berg each interviewed to keep their positions, and the interview committee recommended that the council appoint the two to additional terms, with Charles Collins and Jackie Manz suggested as alternates, according to the council’s discussion.

But Moncrieff made a motion to appoint Turchi and Castle.

“All of the applicants were very qualified,” Moncrieff said. She said she preferred Turchi and Castle “because I think they, as well as being qualified and experienced, will bring a fresh perspective and add a viewpoint that is not currently on the budget committee. Having a variety of perspectives is important for the overall community.”

She didn’t provide details about the perspective she felt was missing.

Kehoe called the move “disappointing” and said it overturns the council’s usual process.

Mary Olson called it “childish.”

While Jordan had apparently agreed on a recommendation with others conducting the interviews, she said Dec. 18 that she hadn’t felt the group had a productive conversation.

“When you’re sitting in a room with two people ... and you suggest people and both parties say ‘no,’ what kind of conversation is that?” she asked. “I’m not going to suggest that any of these people were not qualified to be on the committee, but the game began during those interviews.”

Councilors also noted the budget committee’s choices often have implications for the council’s policy decisions.

The budget committee includes the six city councilors and mayor along with seven citizen volunteers. Each spring, the group spends hours over the course of multiple meetings reviewing the city manager’s proposed spending plan for the upcoming fiscal year. It then advances a recommended budget to the city council for adoption.



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