Just when you thought New Year’s fireworks were over than they re-erupted again Tuesday night at the Depoe Bay City Council. And it was a doozy.
The council has been split on a number of issues lately but add to them the elimination of city councilor Skip Hoitink Tuesday night. Mayor AJ Mattila led the charge to remove Councilor Hoitink from the council and proceeded to do so on a 4 to 1 vote, Councilor Barbara Leff abstaining. Councilor Dorinda Goddard voted no, but Mayor Mattila, Council President Zeke Olsen, and councilors Robert Gambino and Brent Berry all voted yes.
Their contention was that since Hoitink was having some domestic issues in his life, he moved to a residence in Newport, which made him no longer qualified to be a city councilor in Depoe Bay.
Hoitink denied that he was no longer a resident of Depoe Bay because he still owns the house he and his wife share, and that his driver’s license still shows that address. However, Hoitink also admitted that he receives some of his mail at the Newport address. Mayor Mattila and Council President Zeke Olsen contended that Hoitink had moved out of the city and was therefore no longer qualified to be a city councilor.
Councilors Leff and Goddard were adamantly against doing anything about the situation until the city’s attorney weighed in on the issue. A query had been emailed to the attorney but, thus far, no answer back, according to councilors.
Those voting against Hoitink continuing to serve on the council held their ground and so faced with the 4-1 vote, Hoitink gathered up his things from the dais and joined the audience.
Goddard said there was no life or death reason that the issue had to be decided before the attorney weighed in. Councilor Barbara Leff also maintained the same position even though she later abstained from voting. Outside the chambers, Hoitink said he’ll be quite interested in what the city attorney will say about what happened.
During and after Tuesday night’s meeting Mayor Mattila said that as far as he’s concerned Depoe Bay is not Hoitink’s primary residence and therefore, since the Depoe Bay City Charter makes the council the judge of eligibility to serve on the council, Hoitink was removed from office.
Last year Hoitink was outspoken in his criticism of Mayor Mattila over Matilla’s offering several hundred dollars in city funds to the sheriff’s office for “officer training.” Depoe Bay contracts with the sheriff’s office for police services. When news of the the offer surfaced at a city council meeting, Hoitink took Mattila to task for “committing city funds for something that the city council knew nothing about.” At the time, a very visibly upset Hoitink said “You should have kept your **** mouth shut.” Hoitink also was on the council when enforcement of Depoe Bay Harbor rules required Mattila to move his undersized boat out of a slip, a placeholder until Mattila could get his regular boat fixed and back in the water. The council had earlier given Mattila an exception to the rules, and even an extension to the exception for an additional six months, but the boat remained in the slip. Mattila eventually transferred his smaller boat to a transient dock.
Another heated exchange erupted over whether long time resident and charter fishing business owner Lars Robison should be given another term on the city’s Harbor Commission. The commission oversees operations at the Depoe Bay Harbor and of the Harbormaster. Lars Robison and his brothers are long term residents of Depoe Bay with personal and family histories that go back decades and whose knowledge of the harbor and its operations are well known. So it was with some surprise that Robison was booted off the Harbor Commission by a majority of the city council – Mayor Mattila, Council President Zeke Olsen and councilors Robert Gambino and Brent Berry voting yes, Councilors Dorinda Goddard and Barbara Leff voting no, with little explanation other than “it’s time for a change,” as Mayor Mattila said after the meeting. He told News Lincoln County that he would have more to say a little later. Council President Zeke Olsen mirrored the comments of Mayor Mattila.
After the vote on Mr. Robison removal, his business partner Loren Goddard, who is also husband of Councilor Dorinda Goddard, approached the dais and boomed, “I am stunned!” Goddard said that “Robison is a highly respected resident of Depoe Bay with a lifetime of selfless public service to the community. Why would you deny him another term on the commission?” Councilor Barbara Leff said she too was shocked at the decision – so much so that she beckoned to the residents of Depoe Bay “to attend city council meetings to see for themselves what is going on down here.”
Robison is co-owner of Dockside Charters, the building for which was originally constructed to include public restrooms which the city agreed to lease for that use. Recently Mayor Mattila and Council President Zeke Olsen questioned the advisability of the city continuing to pay the Robisons a nominal lease for having public restrooms in their business. A majority of the council suggested that the city look elsewhere to build their own facilities to avoid those lease payments. But it was quickly pointed out that just about every square foot of the area is either privately owned or otherwise not available for such a purpose. In the end the council agreed to renew the lease.