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Recall is not about disagreeing with decisions

The recall is not about disagreeing with particular decisions, as this newspaper and other detractors would like you to believe.

The recall is about how Mayor Kovash and Councilors Tan, Jones and Carson repeatedly corrupted the decision-making process, thereby disenfranchising citizens and creating a government that isn’t trusted.

The recall is about how the mayor and councilors repeatedly yielded leadership to the city manager to the detriment of our right as citizens to self-government through representation.

The recall is about how the mayor and councilors did not own their missteps and correct them, but instead wasted our tax dollars in their defense.

The indiscretions of Mayor Kovash and Councilors Tan, Jones and Carson have not been fully disclosed to the public because this newspaper has chosen to not report them, instead relying on press releases from the city staff.

The mayor and councilors colluded with the city manager and city attorney to conduct a private meeting where they decided to change the structure of our government. They knew it was a policy and budget decision and yet, they did not allow citizens to comment. Despite repeated requests to correct their misstep, they instead feigned they had acted properly under legal advice. Oregon Government Ethics Commission (OGEC) found they violated public meetings law and imposed the highest penalty allowed by law.

Councilor Tan tried to negotiate several facts to make it appear the violations were “inadvertent” and that the council took “immediate” action to correct the violations. The commission disagreed and denied Tan’s attempt to lessen the violations.

Furthermore, the OGEC records show the mayor and councilors felt they committed “no intentional wrongdoing,” despite the fact they acknowledged it was a policy decision and not an evaluation of the city attorney when discussing it one month earlier at their retreat. Mayor Kovash and councilors told the commission (and I’m sure would like us to believe) the ethics complaint was a result of “sour grapes” by Councilor Teri Cummings because she didn’t agree with their decision.

Remember, the recall is not about disagreeing with decisions. The recall is about the mayor and councilors repeatedly leaving citizens out of the decision-making process.

Another example is the process approving the Lake Oswego-Tigard (LOT) water project. The city manager and city attorney forbade Robinwood residents of their right to speak with the council and gave representatives of LOT an exclusive right to meet with the council; and Mayor Kovash met privately with the mayor of Lake Oswego. Once again, the outcry of citizens about their impropriety fell upon the deaf ears of the council.

Furthermore, Mayor Kovash privately contacted some neighborhood association presidents for information which he later used during deliberations to dissuade Councilors Tan and Jones of their expressed disapproval of the project. Kovash denied citizens their right to rebut the information when he refused to fully disclose the details of his ex parte contact according to law. Oregon State Land Use Board of Appeals (LUBA) required the council to correct its procedural error.

Mayor Kovash and Councilors Tan, Jones and Carson should be recalled for these and other examples where they yielded leadership to the city manager and corrupted the decision-making process. While they have served with good intentions, their pattern of behavior is not conducive to good government.

Karie Oakes is a West Linn resident and one of the recall petitioners.



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