Last week Kara Hansen Murphey’s front page piece covered the dismissal of the ethics complaint I had filed against Donna Jordan with the Oregon Government Ethics Commission. She was correct regarding my complaint being focused on Jordan’s release of a confidential memo to the press. The dismissal did not refer to the memo however. The OGEC only considered the executive session question and found nothing improper. The issue of the released confidential memo was not considered because it never was discussed in the executive session though it had indicated it would be. At the time I filed the complaint I did not know the memo had not been discussed in the executive session or I would have phrased the complaint differently. I still could do so, focusing on the conflicts of interest issues previously discussed in the Review.

On April 18 I submitted a citizen’s view titled, “When is there a conflict of interest, and when isn’t there?” I noted a potential conflict of interest when Donna Jordan had made a motion to award a contract under the Lake Oswego-Tigard water project to a company whose senior vice president and general counsel was a former partner with her husband in the law firm they both have left but have financial interests in through contracted buyouts. She did so without mentioning the potential conflict of interest. In a prior similar matter before the council, she did admit a potential conflict when dealing with contractors who had been clients of her husband’s law firm. I asked why she did so in one instance and not the other. She was allowed to respond and did so at length, however never answered the specific question. That plus the fact that her husband’s law firm for some time has been counsel to both the cities of Tigard and West Linn, make me wonder if Ms. Jordan should have ever participated in council discussions regarding the LOTWP.

I found it interesting that the OGEC broadened my complaint to include six additional members of the city council on the basis that they could consider any material information presented to them, but would not look at other issues that were presented regarding release of the confidential memo and potential conflicts of interest. Ms. Jordan knows she was the one fueling political discord when she released the confidential memo and should not ascribe such intentions to me in filing the complaint. She also knows the allegations certainly had merit and were not frivolous. If any unnecessary expenses were incurred by the OGEC, it was a result of their expanding the complaint. The decision itself was much more narrowly confined to the single issue of the executive session. Enlarged, it could have had a different result.

As I stated to Kara, at this time I do not intend to pursue the matter with OGEC any further. As the tensions have seemingly eased in our city, I hope that is not necessary and such distractions from city business and the public welfare won’t occur. There is a much different atmosphere in the city than there was when this council first began, much as a result of Ms. Jordan toning down her combative rhetoric that followed her moving from the majority to the minority on the council.

Gary Gipson is a resident of Lake Oswego and a board member of COLA-LO.

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