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Letter to the Editor: Toledo Mayor issues third response to recall attempt

The views and opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are strictly those of the author. They are not necessarily the views or opinions of the staff and management of NewsLincolnCounty.com or its advertisers.
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Response #3 to Toledo Recall Petition Claims

The recall petitions that have been circulated for voter signatures in Toledo make 5 claims against Mayor Billie Jo Smith, and 4 against City Council President Terri Strom and Councilor Deanne Dunlap. Some of the claims are completely untrue. All are misleading and are the opinions of the individuals leading the recall. The petitions against Terri Strom and Deanne Dunlap repeat the claims against the Mayor, and accuse them of supporting the Mayor. In fact, the Mayor and Councilors have been acting on the decisions of the City Council.

To respond to all of the claims in one article would make it too much to print and read. Also, some of the claims have several parts. To make this easier for readers, we will respond to only one of the claims at a time. This is the third of five in this series of responses. This claim is divided into two sections.

Recall Petition Claim:

Failure to investigate the background and employment history of City Manager Martin.

The Truth:
Mr. Martin was thoroughly vetted by our City Attorney, and the Council, when he was hired as the Interim City Manager. In addition to applications, recommendations, and resumes, a background search was conducted which provided additional and relevant information.

Mr. Martin had worked for our City for 4 months, so we knew that he was a good “fit” for us. The City Council also received a letter from the Toledo city staff recommending that we hire him as our permanent City Manager.

Failure to properly supervise his unprofessional personnel practices, exposing the City to civil lawsuits and jeopardizing harmonious working relations with City staff.

The Truth:
The Toledo City Charter assigns specific powers and responsibilities to the City Manager. The following 3 apply here:
* Appoint, discipline and remove personnel, except appointees of the mayor or council.
* Supervise and control the city manager’s appointees in their service to the City.
* Organize and, as necessary, disband and reorganize the various city departments.
* The City Manager (now permanent) identified past systems and practices that could be changed to be more transparent, efficient, and better meet the needs of the public that the City serves.
* Some of these practices had been developed by the staff and seemed to be focused more on convenience to the staff than the needs of the public.
* The staff was very attached to the way they had been “running the City.”
* When the City Manager implemented the first change (changing the agenda for their staff meetings to make them more useful and efficient) several staff members immediately began complaining.
* The three (now former) staff members became extremely contentious in staff meetings and in contacts with the City Manager.
* The City Manager’s requests for information or services from their departments were met with reluctance and most responses were not complete or prompt.
* Whenever the City Manager made a decision that was different than what the three staff members wanted, he was accused of “not listening.”
* The City Manager maintained good communication with the City Council and was pursuing goals the Council had prioritized.
* The three (now former) staff members, and others whom they influenced, planned ways to undermine the authority of the City Manager. They discussed this openly and behind closed doors in City Hall and in writing on their city email.
* The Council hired a neutral investigator to thoroughly examine the employee complaints.
* The investigator found that it was the staff members, themselves, who were jeopardizing working relations in the City.
* The City Manager followed proper personnel procedures in the discipline of staff. He was guided closely by the Oregon City/County Insurance Services legal advisors.
* The former employees have not accepted that their behavior was inappropriate and are continuing their criticism of the City Manager through a lawsuit, social media, and demonstrations.
* They have gathered and influenced a group of citizens who are seeking a recall of the Mayor and two City Councilors. They want to take over the City Council in order to fire the City Manager.
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NewsLincolnCounty.com cordially invites comments, opinions, and observations in response to the Mayor’s comments. Send them to: News@NewsLincolnCounty.com.

Remember, keep comments calm, thoughtful and to the point. Stick to the facts. Personal attacks will not be included in rebuttals.

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