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Scappoose councilors criticize mayor

Mayor: Says he never wanted Hanken to go, but knew majority on council did


by: FILE PHOTO - BurgeScappoose city councilors on Monday, Nov. 18, criticized Scappoose Mayor Scott Burge for his position at a Nov. 8 council meeting wherein the council voted to relieve former Scappoose City Manager Jon Hanken from his position in a 5-1 vote. Burge was the only vote.

Burge argued he has been consistent in his support of Hanken despite the council’s accusions he reversed his position on the issue.

Many councilors read prepared statements outlining how they believed Burge misled them by going to each of their homes to negotiate Hanken’s termination, then flip-flopping on the issue and voting against Hanken’s termination at the Nov. 8 meeting.

Burge said Tuesday, Nov. 19, that his intent in visiting the councilors’ homes to discuss the former city manager’s position was because he was “looking for an exit strategy to protect the city from a potential lawsuit.”

Burge said he knew a majority of the council wanted to fire Hanken even before it had received his severance agreement. Burge added he wanted to avoid any resulting lawsuit the former city manager might have filed with the city after losing his position.

“The contract does not say Jon resigned, the contract says the city council terminated his contract,” Burge said, adding that Hanken’s departure was a negotiated. “I didn’t think it was right.”

Councilor Mark Reed said at the meeting that Burge came to his house seeking support for a way to release the city manager, leading Reed to believe the mayor wished to fire Hanken. That sentiment was consistent with other councilors Burge had visited.

Reed argued Burge reversed his position knowing the council would vote to remove Hanken.

“You stated that you were against the resignation of the city manager, essentially throwing the whole City Council under the bus,” Reed said, reading from a prepared statement. “Mr. mayor, I do not trust you any longer, I do not respect you and I have no confidence in you. You now have the task of restoring my faith in you as a community leader.”

Scappoose City Councilor Donna Gedlich was also unhappy with the mayor’s position.

“At the last meeting we had Friday you were very condescending to all the members of council. In fact, you couldn’t wait to throw us all under the bus,” Gedlich said at the Nov. 18 meeting, reading from a prepared statement. “You allowed the audience to take over the meeting. Between you and the city attorney, you both determined who could speak and who could not.”

Larry Meres, council president, told Burge he was disappointed the mayor discussed Hanken’s performance review during the Nov. 8 public meeting, a matter Meres said was not to be disclosed to the public.

Burge later apologized for referencing Hanken’s performance reviews.

Scappoose City Councilor Barbara Hayden also read from a prepared statement, criticizing the mayor concerning her one-on-one visit with him related to forming an exit strategy for Hanken.

“You said to me that you felt it was time for a fresh start and you wanted to move [Hanken] along,” Hayden said. “You sat here a week ago Friday and acted innocent about the entire issue with [Hanken], but you’re the one who started this all by coming to my home and several other council members’ to discuss [Hanken’s] leaving.”

Burge replied to the councilor’s complaints, stating that he was only trying to protect the city from a potential lawsuit. “When I reached out to you guys it was on the basis that I knew that I didn’t want a termination in the middle of an investigation that would smell and look like a retaliation and have to fight a lawsuit that could have been a lot more money than paying out. It didn’t mean I supported it.”