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Newberg officials have little new info on Betz, Casey issue

Council meets Aug. 17 to discuss future action

GARY ALLEN - City Manager Pro Tem Terry Mahr (center) speaks to media and about a dozen members of the community Wednesday morning in the Newberg Public Safety Building. Mahr was joined by (from left) City Attorney Truman Stone, council president Denise Bacon and Mayor Bob Andrews.Newberg officials said Wednesday morning that City Manager Jacque Betz did not violate city policies if she had a relationship with a police officer, and the City Council could not meet until mid-August to decide what future action to take in the case.

City Manager Pro Tem Terry Mahr told reporters during an Aug. 5 press conference that a city manager engaged in a relationship with a police officer was “not a direct violation of any of our policies. There’s some wordage in there about ethical conduct and that kind of stuff, but there’s no direct policy against it.”


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He confirmed that any administrative action would be taken on a case-by-case basis, but would not speculate on whether the City Council would pursue terminating Betz’s employment contract. Mahr also told reporters that the city was unsure whether there would be severance paid if Betz were removed as city manager.

Betz has been on paid administrative leave for 16 days. A recent investigation report by Capt. Jeff Kosmicki of the Newberg-Dundee Police Department detailing specific allegations against Betz included several statements by unnamed officers alleging Betz and Officer Jeremy Fair of the police department were involved in a personal relationship.

Betz was hired as city manager in June 2014 after holding the same position in Florence for several years.

'Still in discovery mode'

Betz was cleared of any criminal wrongdoing July 31. City Attorney Truman Stone confirmed that he, interim Human Resources Director Nancy McDonald and Citycounty Insurance Services (the city’s insurance carrier) were consulted prior to Betz placing Police Chief Brian Casey on leave July 15.

When asked why Betz remains on leave, given this information, Mahr explained that the council, which has the sole authority to remove Betz from leave, is not scheduled to meet again until Aug. 17. He also said “the nature of this report may give the council concern, so they have a right to meet and investigate, get the facts and air that concern.”

Council President Denise Bacon said the governing body still feels fairly in the dark about the full story.

“We’re still in the discovery mode,” she said. “We’re actually waiting for the report from the Oregon State Police so we can add that into the discussion before we start to develop the route we want to take and the questions we want to ask Jacque.”

Mahr was also asked why City Council was able to schedule an emergency meeting the night before it took place to place Betz on leave, but now that she has been cleared councilors are not planning to meet prior to Aug. 17. He responded that vacation schedules would not allow for it, reminding attendees that councilors are all volunteers.

At the Aug. 17 meeting Mayor Bob Andrews plans to recommend authorization of a “complete, objective examination of the issues raised” and also to keep Betz on administrative leave for a longer period of time, he said.

“We need to ensure we do our due diligence in this issue,” Andrews said.

City officials still have not explained why Betz placed Casey on leave. On Monday afternoon, Betz told the Newberg Graphic that she plans to discuss that move in an executive session — a meeting closed to the public — once she is back on the job.