VRD battles go on as well as investigation into whether Mayor Williams violated City Council Rules or City Ordinances
The Lincoln City City Council decided Monday night – without Mayor Williams voting – to hold an executive session (closed door meeting) to receive a report on whether there is evidence that Mayor Williams violated city council rules or city ordinances.
No details beyond that were discussed but it is a report that was prepared by a licensed investigator who was asked to look into certain allegations against Mayor Williams. No further details were mentioned Monday evening.
A complaint had been filed a few months back with the state Ethics Commission against Mayor Williams by City Attorney Richard Appicello on behalf of the city council. But it was rejected by commission staff citing inadequate grounds for the charge levied against the mayor. There was also a controversy raging at the time that Williams had told his realtor wife what had transpired at a city council executive session about information pertaining to their own vacation rental – a disclosure which is usually outlawed by state statute. But that claim also faded away buoyed by the findings of, again, the Ethics Commission staff.
The council decided to hear the investigator’s report during a closed door executive session scheduled for July 25th. City Attorney Richard Appicello told the council that Mayor Williams is welcome to sit in on the discussion but that he would not be allowed to testify adding, however, that Williams and his attorney would be welcomed to attend and monitor the proceedings. Appicello also stated that upon Mayor Williams’ permission, the executive session could be open to the public if Williams felt it appropriate to do so.
Allegations of “illegal council executive sessions”
In other city council action the council, with Mayor Williams’ support, decided to charge at least $14,000 to fulfill a request by lay legal practitioner Ross Smith to make copies of, and release to him and his VRD clients, transcripts of all city council executive sessions going back two years. Ross contends that all those executive sessions were illegal.
City Attorney Richard Appicello and the council disagreed with Ross about the allegation but agreed to review the executive session audio recordings – there are no written minutes, nor are they required. However Appicello said it will take at least 66 hours to duplicate and then to play and index the content of those recordings to determine what pieces should be erased as legally confidential so that the remaining conversations, however many there may be, can be released to Smith and his clients.
Let it also be said that while the city attorney and clerk recorder are tied up with this formidable chore, their regular jobs are going to be all-but-ignored for a substantial amount of time. There was no mention of THAT in the discussion.
Appicello claimed the entire process is aimed at substantially disrupting city hall – hence the justification for the $14,000 fee, which sounded more like a starting point than a final estimate of the true cost. And that’s not charging for the time the city council will be shackled with reviewing the city attorney and clerk recorder’s opinions of what should be erased and what should be forwarded on to Mr. Smith and his clients.
This seemingly never-ending soap opera continues against the backdrop of emerging new Lincoln City rules and regulations for vacation rentals. The thrust of these proposed new firewalls appears to be aimed at preserving VRD operations where they would conflict least with established neighborhoods while finding more appropriate placement elsewhere for what is actually a commercial business – and to cluster them as such. A rough rationale seems to be “VRDs west of 101, few if any VRDs east of 101.”
Pursuing a grant to clean up “The Knoll” area of “The Villages” above and east of Roads End.
The council gave city staff permission to apply for a $36,500 state open space grant to improve proper hiking trails up to and around the “The Knoll” as well as to shut down improper trails that intrude into wildlife nesting and hunting grounds. The council gave the application their blessing adding that they especially appreciated the fact that no city matching funds were required as grounds to get the grant.
Thank you Roger Sprague
And the council gave recently resigned city councilor Roger Sprague a short “in the hall” going away thank-you party to show appreciation for all his years of service to the city and to wish him well. An enormous amount of city knowledge and history departs the city as he steps down from the council. If anyone should write a book about Lincoln City’s economic and political progress it’s Mr. Sprague.