The decison follows accusations against Molalla hamlet chairwoman Susan Hansen, who was up for re-election.

Clackamas County commissioners Tuesday voted unanimously to postpone the elections of county hamlets and villages until after the board decides on changes to be made in the standards for hamlet elections and how some of these quasi governmental organizations conduct business.

According to the ordinance that created the hamlets, the board of commissioners must approve all nominees in hamlet elections. During a March 11 meeting of the board however, Commissioner Tootie Smith asked that one person on the list of nominees be excluded.

“There’s a lady in Molalla named Susan Hansen,” Smith said. "I’ve lived in this community my whole life. I have had many people in the community say, ‘This woman is on a rampage to destroy the city.’ I have letters from major business owners who own like most of downtown Molalla, the mayor, the city administrator, developers and major players in the city, that every time something happens, she does her best to run out people who want to develop. She’s basically against everything. And they feel the formation of this hamlet is crimping the economic growth of the city.”

During the March 11 meeting, Ludlow and Smith incorrectly accused the Molalla Prairie hamlet of “suing the city with money given to them by the county."

At Tuesday’s meeting, Ludlow repeated the accusation, saying, “That hamlet took county money and sued the city of Molalla.”

In truth, it was a nonprofit conservation group called Bear Creek Recovery that has threatened to sue the city over a pollution issue connected to the city wastewater treatment plant. Hansen is a member of the BCR group.

The $600 in county taxpayer money Ludlow and Smith referred to was actually used by the hamlet to file an appeal for a public hearing on the proposed construction of storage units in the StonePlace apartment complex in Molalla, not to sue the city.

The Hamlet is reimbursing the $600 to the county with privately collected dollars. 

Hansen has for many years been an outspoken critic of the city government in Molalla, and highly critical of Smith and Ludlow since they were elected to the board of commissioners in 2012.

Ludlow said Tuesday he would not approve Hansen's nomination for the hamlet election because of her actions.

“This woman, since well before my election, has consistently called for my recall every month,” he said. “Individuals like this who are accusatory, slanderous, constantly calling Tootie and I ‘Bully Ludlow’ and “Brainless Tootie,’ and we’re supposed to just rubberstamp this and smile? About this person, this human being? I don’t think so.”

Smith warned the board Tuesday to keep Hansen, the chairwoman of the Hamlet of Molalla Prairie, from being elected. “I recommend strongly that we do not approve Susan Hansen,” Smith said.

{img:35330} “Susan Hansen has taken her position as chair of this organization, thinking she has authority to do these things when she doesn’t,” Smith said. “So I think it’s incumbent upon this board to tell her you will not do x, y and z.

"I think Molalla is watching us quite closely," she said. "If this board fails to do this, it will force me to put out a statement on this, because I have been asked to do this time and again. If we do not go forward, I will have to say I have presented this to the board, and they did not want to do this.”

Commissioner Martha Schrader cautioned the board to consider the free speech issues involved.

“I’d be very careful,” Schrader said. “I don’t know what to do about this. I haven’t talked to the mayor, or other folks. I understand it’s a huge issue, but I am torn. To me, there is also free speech issues. Just because someone throws tomatoes at you and dislikes what you say . . .

“We have to get together with hamlets and villages and CPOs,” she said. “There should be some conversation with them, or you will se an alien like you’ve never seen before. Because this is about one individual’s behavior, not everyone’s. Be careful of what you ask for. It will be bigger than this one problem. We need to have a discussion between the reasonable folks and the commission.”

Smith said her concern is about the economic harm she feels Hansen has brought down on Molalla.

“I believe her main goal is to shut down any progression or growth in the community,” Smith said. “I’ve never felt so strongly about one single issue during my time on this commission.

“I will go out and explain to the community in the form of letters to the editor, emails, all the blogs in Molalla — which are substantial — and explain why this commission failed to act,” she said. “And I believe it’s because you did not have the leadership and fortitude to go forward and fix a problem.”

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