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Council should re-examine city manager contract

I don’t understand why the City Council would consider awarding City Manager Chris Jordan a nearly six percent raise, retroactive to last January, and commit to a three-year contract among other things without taking legitimate public input on Jordan’s performance into serious consideration as required in West Linn’s City Charter Chapter II.

Anonymous tweets, emails and Facebook comments gathered and summarized by city staff are not a legitimate alternative to letters signed and sent by citizens for the annual evaluation and opinions in scientifically valid community attitudes surveys conducted every other year.

The bi-annual public surveys traditionally included specific questions regarding the city manager’s performance and are available on the city website. Campbell DeLong’s scientific survey, page 18, shows a slight upturn regarding Jordan’s performance in 2008. But public opinion declined in 2010, according to Research 13’s survey, page 15, which indicates only 36 percent of West Linn citizens agreed with the statement, “Management of the city has improved over the last 5 years” In fact, 41 percent disagreed. I was serving on the City Council that year, and vowed to see results improve next time.

I was shocked to discover specific questions rating the performance of the city manager were missing in the next survey done by CFM. Jordan said he had CFM remove those questions because “they weren’t necessary”. That was problematic because City Councilor Mike Jones and I, as Council-authorized survey committee persons, recommended no changes to prior survey questions. Councilors Jones, Carson and others shrugged off my concern about whether that was acceptable.

I would expect Jordan’s role in the costly ethics violations case last year to give city councilors pause in addition to the numerous election violation fines paid by taxpayers in the last few years.

At this point, the City Council has no measurable way to gauge whether Jordan’s 41 percent disapproval rating has improved or not. But I’m guessing the public ire over perceptions of imbalanced management of Lake Oswego-Tigard’s land use process, Jordan’s handling of the “Red Tape” code amendments that managed to pit the council against the Planning Commission last year and other problems would not bring positive results, if the Council were to ask the same questions.

Also, city hall constantly denies citizen requests to view the council’s City Manager evaluations despite the fact that Oregon Public Records Law calls it a public right and City Manager evaluations are posted on many city websites. Why not let West Linn citizens evaluate how their City Council is functioning?

We can’t keep letting things slide. West Linn deserves a change, not only with the City Manager, but new leadership as well. We need to elect both Russ Axelrod and Brenda Perry for West Linn City Council.

Teri Cummings is a West Linn resident and former city councilor.



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