Agendas and Minutes

City Council (View All)

Regular Meeting

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

April 4, 2006
Civic Center Council Chambers
1175 E. Main Street

Mayor Morrison called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m. in the Civic Center Council Chambers.
Councilor Hardesty, Amarotico, Hartzell, Jackson, Silbiger and Chapman were present.
The minutes of the Regular Council Meeting of March 21, 2006 were approved as presented.
Proclamations of April 9-15 as "Barbershop Harmony Week," April 17-23 as "Independent Media Week" and April 2-8 as "Arbor Week" were read aloud.

Fire Chief Keith Woodley introduced Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Program Coordinator Lucy Edwards and CERT members Heidi Gottlieb and Jim Hart who presented the CERT Program Visioning Retreat Report.

1. Minutes of Boards, Commissions, and Committees.
2. Appointment to Ashland Community Healthcare Services Board of Directors.
3. Termination of Several Easements at 678 Glendale Avenue.
4. Approval of Public Contract for Parking Enforcement and Administration.
5. Confirmation of Mayor's Appointment of Martha Bennett as City Administrator.
Councilor Jackson/Amarotico m/s to approve Consent Agenda. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.
Holly East/PO Box 524/Peace House/Spoke regarding what she felt to be a pressured resignation of Police Chief Mike Bianca. She urged mediation and communication in order to resolve this discord amongst the community and city government. (Complete statement submitted into the public record)

Ralph Temple/150 Myer Creek Rd/Spoke regarding the community's support of Police Chief Mike Bianca. He commented on the proposed process that had been accepted by the community, the shock and surprise that he was feeling by the actions of the Mayor, and requested that this action be reversed.

Carol Wilder/200 Patterson Street/Stated that the manner in which this issue was handled was very disturbing to the citizens and commented on the lack of transparency. She stated that not allowing the Police review to be completed and not allowing the Chief to complete his contract raises numerous questions and stated that Mr. Bianca deserved better treatment than this.

John Stromberg/252 Ridge Road/Stated that another citizen had allocated his time to him and questioned if this would be allowed. Mayor Morrison stated that the citizen is welcome to give their testimony, but that he would not allow Mr. Stromberg to have twice the time given to others. Councilor Hartzell voiced her opposition to the Mayor's decision and asked that they deliberate on this issue of process later.

Mr. Stromberg suggested that the Council perform the following actions:

1) Suspend negotiations with Chief Bianca until they have resolved the rest of this process,
2) Call an Executive Session and get all of the facts on the table and look at the connection between the Mayor, the City Administrator and the participants in the Police Department and whether a back channel was created that undermined Chief Bianca,
3) When the PERF Report arrives, make it the basis along with the Community Policing Ordinance for a series of community meetings to discuss what the community wants in policing, and
4) Ask the new City Administrator to propose a plan to the Council for how she would like to resolve the conflicts about the policing situation. (Complete statement submitted into the public record)

Angie Thusius/897 Beach Street/Stated her disturbance with the actions regarding the resignation of Chief Bianca. Ms. Thusius commented that the PERF Report had not yet been received and that the new City Administrator has not had the chance to talk with Chief Bianca. She expressed her concern that this action was taken prior to the Mayor and Council first studying and reviewing the PERF Report and presenting the contents of the report to the community.

Jamie Altman/1079 E Main Street/Concurred with speaker Angie Thusius' testimony.

Charles Carreon/1131 Barrington Circle/Questioned whether the PERF Report was going to be released to the public; whether the terms of Chief Bianca's resignation would be made public; and whether the identities of the Police Chief candidates would be made public prior to the selection of the new Chief.

Council clarified that Yes, the PERF Report would be made public; No the terms of Bianca's resignation were a personnel issue and would not be made available; and Yes, the selection process for the new Chief would be transparent.

William Heimann/59 California Street/Spoke regarding the lack of communication between city officials and the community. He requested that there be open doors of communication and that business not be conducted behind closed doors. Mr. Heimann stated that there should be a process where the City Council communicates with the public on a regular basis and stated that many problems could be alleviated by an open stream of communication.

Ann Macrory/150 Myer Creek Rd/Commented on the abrupt dialogue of the Mayor regarding this decision and stated that a process had been initiated where the public was working with staff and then all of a sudden it stopped and there were no public meetings. Ms. Macrory stated that she does not understand what went on to bring this to a head and wishes this situation could be corrected.

John Dowd/245 E Nevada Street/Commented on the community support of Chief Bianca and stated like most citizens, he believed things were going well and was shocked by the news of Bianca's resignation. He questioned whether the Council was listening to what the community wanted and stated that the citizens of Ashland refuse to accept Chief Bianca's resignation.

Rivers Brown/1067 Ashland Street/Stated that he loves Chief Bianca and loves the way he performed his duties. He commented on the different ways to lead and stated that it was disheartening that the City has not proceeded with the process regarding community policing.

Mat Marr/31 Union Street/Stated that this is a rare situation where what is popular is also what is right. He stated that one of the most respected and trusted leaders currently serves as the Chief of Police and the Council should respect the will of the electorate and the needs of the community and keep Mr. Bianca as Chief. Mr. Marr stated that the Council should take their time and come to a well reasoned decision and stated that accepting this resignation could set a dangerous precedent.

Linda Richards/245 E Nevada Street/Voiced her support and respect for Chief Bianca and stated that she does not accept his resignation. Ms. Richards stated that when she worked with Chief Bianca his management and leadership style was very competent and voiced her concerns with the militarization of the Police Department. She stated that this process should have been completed transparently and believes that it was corrupt.

Pip Cornall/130 Brierwood Drive, Talent/Represents the Department of Peace Group in Ashland and is also an advisory to the Australian Department of Peace. Mr. Cornall commented on the old paradigm and his experience with the partnership paradigm, which would include the community in the process.

Cathy Shaw/886 Oak Street/Spoke in support for Mayor Morrison and shared some of the same conflicts that she had experienced as a prior Mayor. Ms. Shaw stated that it is critical to remember that personnel matters are to be conducted behind closed doors, not in an effort to shield the public from information, but to protect the individual being evaluated. She stated that the selection or discharge of a department head is not a public issue, it is a personnel issue; and this decision is not one for the community to make, but it is between the Mayor and Chief Bianca.

Ambuja Rosen/Spoke regarding a tethering law, and noted that she has been campaigning for this issue for four months now. Ms. Rosen stated that she did not feel she was being listened to or taken seriously until she contacted Mike Bianca on this issue and feels that he is a wonderful asset to the community. She stated that his relationship with the people of Ashland should play a big role in his evaluation, not just his relationship with the other police officers.

Marilyn Jacobsen/Stated that the concept of community policing is exciting to her and felt that the people have spoken and hopes that the Council and Mayor will listen.

Mayor Morrison thanked the citizens for their testimony and input. He stated that he believes they want what he wants, which is a police department that demonstrates excellence, integrity and commitment to the community. He stated that it is time to allow Mike Bianca a well deserved rest to his 20 years of dedicated service to this community; however it is not time to put to rest the values that he stands for. He noted that these values would be the guiding principles as they move ahead and undertake an open and participatory search for a new police chief.

Councilor Hartzell/Hardesty m/s to place issue on Agenda for discussion regarding the issues raised regarding the employment of the Police Chief. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.

1. Public Hearing on 2006 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Award.
Housing Coordinator Brandon Goldman presented the staff report on Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) for eligible affordable housing projects within the City. He explained that the Council is to evaluate the three proposals received for use of $360,800 in CDBG funds available for the 2006 program year. He noted that all proposals meet the requirements, two of the proposals would create affordable housing and one is to create a position through the interfaith community. Staff's recommendation is consistent with the Housing Commission's which is to award $328,800 to the Ashland Community Land Trust for the purchase of an existing duplex, to be rehabilitated, and sold or rented to qualified low-income households, with the rear of the property to be developed as two additional ownership units in coordination with Habitat for Humanity. In addition, that CERVS ICC be awarded $32,000 for the new position of Transitional Housing Coordinator to work with extremely low income individuals and families in preparing to move into transitional housing.

Public Hearing Open: 8:20 p.m.

Floyd Poulowski/Rogue Valley Community Development Corporation (RVCDC)Stated that RVCDC has decided to withdraw their proposal.

Tom Bradley/Ashland Community Land Trust (ACLT)Explained that they would like to acquire a duplex and in conjunction with Habitat for Humanity build two more duplexes. He stated that that they are very receptive to meeting the conditions the City has stipulated and emphasized that they are sensitive to the issue of loss of funds if this project is not completed as proposed. Mr. Bradley briefly clarified the imposed conditions for Council.

Sharon Schrieber/Interfaith Care Community (ICC)Stated that they spend a great deal of time in intervention and need to spend more time in prevention. She stated that housing and jobs are the most important commodity in terms of stabilizing families and preparing them to not only become good tenants, but good homeowners. She explained that the position will be in Ashland and noted that they are also planning to relocate their administrative offices to Ashland.

Mr. Goldman spoke regarding the physical presence in Ashland by the Transitional Housing Coordinator in order to serve Ashland's homeless and noted that there is no prohibition against awarding funds to a religious organization.

Public Hearing Closed: 8:38 p.m.

Councilor Jackson/Chapman m/s to approve the award of $328,800 to ACLT, and to award $32,000 in Community Development Block Grant Funds to the Interfaith Care Community, including all conditions of selection forwarded by staff and the Housing Commission. Roll Call Vote: Councilor Hardesty, Hartzell, Amarotico, Jackson, Silbiger and Chapman. Motion passed.

Mr. Goldman stated that an action plan with the CDBGs will be created and presented to the Housing Commission on April 17, 2006, and noted that this would not come back to Council as in previous years.

1. Request to Amend Ashland Community Hospital Articles of Incorporation.
Ashland Community Hospital Director Mark Marchetti briefly explained the amendment to allow up to thirteen directors on the Board of Directors of Ashland Community Hospital. He explained that it would allow the Board Chair to remain on the Board for an additional one-year period as Immediate Past President in the case where the expiration of the Board Chair's term in office coincides with the expiration of his/her term on the Board.

Councilor Hartzell/Amarotico m/s to approve Article IX, Directors, of the Articles of Incorporation for the Ashland Community Healthcare Services to permit more than twelve directors as set forth in the proposed amendment. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.

2. Consideration of Suggested At-Grade Railroad Crossing Closures.
City Engineer Jim Olson explained that the Public Works Department has embarked on a fairly aggressive program to improve five of the nine at grade railroad crossings, and part of that process includes the approval and order from ODOT Rail Division for the changes. Mr. Olson stated that the City has brought on a Consulting Engineer to assist with this project and they have submitted a proposed permit to ODOT Rail for the improvement of the Hersey/Laurel and Glenn Street crossings. He explained that ODOT Rail's stated goal is to reduce the number of at grade rail crossings in Oregon and they have recommended the City close the Glenn Street crossing to vehicular traffic and close the Laurel Street leg of the Laurel/Hersey crossing. Staff does not agree with this recommendation, but since ODOT Rail countered with a proposed where they provide financial incentive for performing these closures, Staff is requesting direction from the Council.

Art Bullock/791 Glendower/Submitted statement into the public record, which was read aloud by the City Recorder.

Councilor Jackson commented on the need to provide an immediate response to ODOT Rail. She noted that funding these safety improvements is a big issue in Ashland, however at this point she does not feel there is enough information about the traffic and circulation impacts these closures would create. She suggested that the City respond to ODOT Rail that they are not interested at this point.

Councilor Chapman voiced his opposition to the partial closing of the Laurel/Hersey crossing. He stated that the Glenn Street closure is worth considering, but would not want to do so before consulting the neighbors.

Mr. Olson stated that the letter from ODOT Rail is just a suggestion, and not a requirement; however the financial incentive will not be available if they do not act on this immediately. He added that he does not see a quick solution to this situation as many citizens will likely want to provide input.

Councilor Amarotico/Hartzell m/s to reject the offer presented by ODOT Rail Division and to proceed with the process of improving the Glenn Street and Hersey/Laurel Street crossings. DISCUSSION: Councilor Jackson suggested that they keep this option open. Voice Vote: Councilor Hardesty, Hartzell, Amarotico, Jackson and Silbiger, YES. Councilor Chapman, NO. Motion passed 5-1.

1. Reading by title only of, "An Ordinance Amending Chapter 15 (Building and Construction) of the Ashland Municipal Code Relating to the Adoption of Oregon Specialty Codes".
Building Inspector Mike Broomfield presented the staff report on the proposed revision to the sections of the city's Building and Construction municipal code. He explained that the City has administered the Oregon Specialty codes through the statewide adoption process and every three years new codes are adopted by the state with additional portions of the parent codes available for adoption by local jurisdictions. This year Oregon jurisdictions have adopted an entirely new structural specialty code based on the International Building Code. Staff is recommending that Council adopt both Appendix J of the International Building Code and the existing building code.

Councilor Jackson/Hartzell m/s to approve first reading and move to second reading of ordinance. Roll Call Vote: Councilor Hardesty, Amarotico, Hartzell, Chapman, Silbiger, and Jackson, YES. Motion passed.

2. Reading by title only of, "A Resolution Setting a Public Hearing with Intent to Form a Local Improvement District for Construction Improvements to Plaza Avenue Consisting of Sidewalks, Curb & Gutters, Paving, Drainage and Associated Improvements".
City Engineer Jim Olson stated that in keeping with the Council's policy of reducing air and water pollution attributable to unpaved streets within the City, it is proposed that a public hearing be held to consider the formation of a Local Improvement District to improve Plaza Avenue between Verda Street and Nezla Avenue. He noted that the most recent street statistics show that Ashland still has 10.42 miles of unpaved streets in the City. Mr. Olson stated all of the "easy" LIDs have been completed and the City is now faced with LIDs that have physical constraints or have opposition by some of the property owners. Mr. Olson explained that most of the residents with rear yard frontages have little interest in improving Plaza Avenue, however those on the east side of the street have tried for years to form this LID. He noted the numerous petitions by the property owners in attempt to form this LID and given the history of this street and the numerous past attempts to gain a majority percentage, it is suggested that the Council initiate the public hearing to begin the LID process.

Mr. Olson provided a breif explanation of the proposed costs and funding, which was presented in the council packet materials.

Council questioned whether the City has gone through a process to evaluate which unpaved streets cause the most damage. Mr. Olson stated a formal study has not been done, however the unpaved roads above Lithia Park are the most problematic. He added that he would not feel comfortable with Staff performing this type of evaluation and it would require a more scientific study than Staff is able to conduct.

Support was voiced for moving forward with the public hearing.

Councilor Jackson/Chapman m/s to approve Resolution #2006-08. Roll Call Vote: Councilor Silbiger, Chapman, Jackson, Hartzell and Amarotico, YES. Councilor Hardesty, NO. Motion passed 5-1.

Councilor Hartzell requested that when Staff prepares the materials for the public hearing that they include a list of where the other unpaved streets are located and some information about them for comparison.

Councilor Hartzell/Amarotico m/s to extend meeting until 10:30 p.m. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.
3. Reading by title only of, "An Ordinance Amending Chapter 2.50 and 2.52 of the Ashland Municipal Code Relating to Rules of Procedure for Public Contracting and Personal Service Contracts".
City Attorney Mike Franell presented the staff report on the proposed ordinance to amend the Rules of Procedure for Public Contracting and Personal Service Contracts. He explained that in 2003 the legislature did a substantial revision of the public contract code and in that revision they required local governments to adopt new procedures that were consistent with the legislation. The deadline for adopting that was March, 2005. Last year the City did adopt a revision to the public contract code and in the year since Staff has discovered several areas that need to be adjusted. Mr. Franell noted that there are several "housecleaning" amendments and a few policy changes. He reviewed the following policy changes with the Council:

Section 2.50.060A.2 - Staff is proposing to include that all public contracts in the Capital Improvement Program do not have to come before Council. If the public contract is included in the Capital Improvement Program, which is adopted each year by the City, as long as the bid price comes in at less than 110% of what is budgeted in the CIP, the contract does not need to come before Council.
Section 2.50.060A.5 - When the ordinance was passed last year, they failed to deal with change orders; therefore Staff is proposing that change orders for contracts not come before Council unless the change order exceeds 25% of the bid project price or $75,000, whichever is greater.
Section 2.50.070.M -This policy would require the City to go through the normal selection process to acquire internet bandwidth for AFN.
Chapter 2.52 - Staff is proposing to remove personal services contracts completely from the competitive selection process. Instead, contracts up to $25,000 would be approved by the purchasing agent, which currently is Finance Director Lee Tuneberg. Personal Service Contracts in excess of $25,000 would come before the Council for approval.

IT Director Joe Franell stated that he would review the proposed ordinance and will be prepared to discuss it at the second reading of the ordinance.

Councilor Hartzell/Hardesty m/s to approve first reading and move to second reading of ordinance. Roll Call Vote: Councilor Silbiger, Amarotico, Hardesty, Hartzell, Chapman and Jackson, YES. Motion passed.

1. Request from Councilor Chapman for comments on EPA standards proposed for fine particulate matter.
Councilor Chapman noted that he had sent out an email to the Council that addresses this issue. He noted the deadlines to submit comments and stated that if the Council agrees, he could prepare statements and submit them to the Council for their review prior to submission to the EPA. Council did not voice any objections to this.
3. Discussion regarding the Policing Issue.

Councilor Hartzell/Hardesty m/s to hold an Executive Session to consider the dismissal of Chief Bianca and to not to act on any contract other than the current contract in place until after the Executive Session. DISCUSSION: Councilor Chapman did not have any objections to having this meeting but hopes that it will be held soon. City Attorney Mike Franell noted that the City would have to give notice of the time and date of the session to Mr. Bianca and he would have the opportunity to object to it being held in an Executive Session. If he does object, the meeting would need to be held in open session. Roll Call Vote: Councilor Hardesty, Chapman, Silbiger, Hartzell, YES. Councilor Amarotico and Jackson, NO. Motion passed 4-2.

Mr. Franell stated that the date for the meeting would need to be set and clarified that the City is required to provide the press 36 hours notice. Council agreed to hold the Executive Session Thursday, April 6, 2006 at 4:00 p.m. in the Civic Center Council Chambers.

Councilor Hartzell/Hardesty m/s that staff come back to Council with a proposed public process for the review of the PERF Report and Community Policing that involves members of the public, the City Council, the City Administration, and the Police Department. DISCUSSION: City Administrator Gino Grimaldi noted that the Consultant would be presenting the PERF Report to the Council at the April 18 meeting. He suggested that the Council hear the report first and then provide Staff direction on how they would like to handle it. Councilor Hartzell noted that the motion does not contain a time constraint and would like to begin an exchange in communication with the public. Councilor Jackson commented that the situation regarding the Police Chief would not affect the presentation and discussion of the PERF Report and would not stop them from continuing discussion of Community Policing. Roll Call Vote: Councilor Hardesty, Hartzell, and Silbiger, YES. Councilor Amarotico, Jackson and Chapman, NO. Mayor Morrison, NO. Motion failed 4-3.

Meeting was adjourned at 10:30 p.m.

Barbara Christensen, City Recorder
John W. Morrison, Mayor

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