MINUTES FOR THE REGULAR MEETING
ASHLAND CITY COUNCIL
September 4, 2012
1175 E. Main Street
CALL TO ORDER
Mayor Stromberg called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m. in the Civic Center Council Chambers.
Councilor Voisin, Morris, Lemhouse, Slattery, Silbiger, and Chapman were present.
City Recorder Barbara Christensen announced vacancies on the Firewise Commission, Public Arts Commission, Housing Commission, and Tree Commission.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES
The minutes of the Study Session of August 20, 2012, Executive Session of August 20, 2012 and Business Meeting of August 21, 2012 were approved as presented.
SPECIAL PRESENTATIONS & AWARDS
Mayor Stromberg introduced Mark Holden as the new Director of Electric and Information Technology.
The Mayor’s Proclamation declaring September 7–14, 2012, as Eat Local Week was read aloud.
1. Approval of Commission, Committee, and Board Minutes
2. Authorization for telecommunications franchise with AT&T
3. Adoption of findings for Regional Plan element as approved on August 7, 2012
4. City waiver of Right to Terminate Lease Agreement with Ashland Community Hospital for failure to maintain working capital and debt service coverage ratios
5. Approval of Utility Box Design Recommendation of the Public Art Commission
6. Approval of recommendation of the Public Art Commission for a sculpture selected for installation at Fire Station No. 2
7. Appointment of Michael Gutman to the Housing Commission
Councilor Chapman pulled Consent Agenda item #3, and Councilor Voisin pulled Consent Agenda items #4 and #5 for discussion.
Councilor Lemhouse/Slattery m/s to approve Consent Agenda items #1, #2, #6 and #7. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.
Councilor Chapman did not support the Regional Problem Solving plan in general and would vote against adopting the Findings.
Councilor Morris/Voisin m/s to approve Consent Agenda item #3. Voice Vote: Voisin, Morris, Lemhouse, Slattery, and Silbiger, YES; Councilor Chapman, NO. Motion passed 5-1.
Administrative Services Director Lee Tuneberg explained Ashland Community Hospital was in default and did not have enough cash to meet their 1.25 debt service coverage and working capital ratios.
Councilor Voisin thanked the Public Arts Commission for their efforts beautifying utility boxes.
Councilor Voisin/Slattery m/s to approve Consent Agenda items #4 and #5. Voice Vote: All AYES. Motion passed.
PUBLIC HEARINGS (None)
Brandon Schilling/565 Scenic Drive/Spoke regarding the Standing Stone Farm that was located on the Imperatrice property leased from the City. The farm produced a consistent source of beef and eggs, reduced waste 95%, and served as a platform for community education. The farm successfully managed a multi-species rotational grazing system. Additionally, they established beehives that provided honey and pollinated grasses, berries, and fruits. Renewing the lease would allow the farm to continue its success and represent a thriving example of product management and sustainable agriculture. He invited Council to tour the farm September 14, 2012, 6:00 p.m. or at their convenience.
Ken Khosroabadi/2371 Ashland Street/Owned two service stations, one at Exit 14 off Interstate 5. He had previously attended a Council meeting regarding a high utility bill and sign violation issues and expressed his frustration getting information and assistance from the City regarding his signs being out of compliance. He shared his experience trying to contact City staff and questioned why he received two tickets for signage when other establishments were in violation and had not receive any form of citation. He was also disappointed in the extended deadlines to complete the bridge construction at Exit 14 and wanted the City to contact the Oregon Department of Transportation to find out why the extensions were occurring and get an explanation for the long periods of inactivity.
UNFINISHED BUSINESS (None)
NEW AND MISCELLANEOUS BUSINESS
1. FY 2011-12 Quarterly Financial Report for April – June, 2012
Administrative Services Director Lee Tuneberg explained the quarterly report indicated most funds were ahead of projections due to several projects re-budgeted to the following year, open positions throughout the City, and an increase in utilities usage.
City Administrator Dave Kanner addressed a Council concern on potentially lagging projects and explained several projects were included in the Capital Improvement Project list that lacked funding and questioned whether the City should continue that practice. Staff anticipated 100% completion by fiscal year end of funded projects. In addition, large expenditures were budgeted in Fiscal Year 2012 with the funds actually being spent Fiscal Year 2013. Mr. Tuneberg added there was a need to look at a longer term for capital improvements.
Councilor Voisin/Slattery m/s to accept the preliminary Fourth Quarter Financial Report for Fiscal Year 2012-12. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.
2. Approval of a letter to the Jackson County Board of Commissioners expressing the Ashland City Council’s support for a ban on the use of GMO seeds in Jackson County
City Administrator Dave Kanner explained Jackson County was exploring a ban on genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and waiting for a recommendation from their Natural Resources Advisory Committee (NRAC) January 2013 prior to taking any action.
Kay Harrison/2359 Evan Way, Central Point/Supported banning GMOs in the valley and expressed concern of possible state legislation similar to other states blocking GMO bans. Cross-pollination with GMO farms could make organic farmers lose their organic status. It was important to have local governments support local industries.
Brian Comnes/444 Park Ridge Place/Cited the recent Willamette Valley case where the Court ruled in favor of a temporary stay against GMO canola farming. The Court determined organic farm petitioners’ had demonstrated the requisite prospect of irreparable harm with the presence of GMO corps and the sufficient likelihood of severe and irremediable harm. He supported Council’s letter to the Jackson County Commissioners.
Anna Cassilly/1012 Bellview Avenue/Grew most of her vegetables in her garden and expressed concern she could no longer cultivate seed without wondering whether it was contaminated by the GMO sugar beets growing the next street over. The GMO crop was less than the four-mile distance recommendation by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). She believed people had the fundamental right to grow safe, healthy food without concern of contamination by genetically engineered crops. Currently people had applied to the USDA for 48 other GMO crops. She encouraged Council to send the letter supporting initiatives to ban the cultivation of GMO crops in Jackson County. Each season that passed allowed more contamination.
Sylvain Brown/1067 Ashland Street/Supported sending a letter encouraging a GMO ban in Jackson County. Several countries had already banned GMOs. In the past, biotechnology companies convinced the public that Agent Orange, PCBs (Polychlorinated Biphenyls), and DDT (dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane) were safe and now companies were using the same type of research to convince the public that GMOs were safe. While short-term nutritional differences required further research, genetically altered produce had a long-term impact on the human body and future generations. Cross contamination between GMO, conventional, and organic crops was a reality. Through the environment itself, the choice to grow GMO crops encroached on other farmers and that alone was reason enough to disallow GMO crops in Jackson County.
Annie Hoy/1085 Pleasant Way/Explained she was the Outreach manager at Ashland Food Coop. Prior to establishing the organic standard, organic food traders were concerned with GMO contamination. One of the largest consumer actions in approving the Organic Standard was not allowing organic certification for GMO farming. The USDA was now discussing coexistence due to the amount of GMO pollen already in the environment and coexistence was not a possibility. Genetic contamination from the pollen would eventually end the organic movement. She supported Council sending the letter.
Karen Horn/140 Clay Street/Asked Council to send a letter to Jackson County Commissioners supporting a GMO ban in Jackson County. She recommended reading a report titled GMO Myths and Truths: an evidence based examination of the claims made for the safety and efficacy of genetically modified crops by Michael Antoniou, Claire Robinson, and John Fagan at earthopensource.org. Highlights from the Executive Summary stated GMO crops were potentially toxic, less nutritious, not adequately regulated, and increased pesticide use. She urged Council to request a spring special election.
Nancy Nelson/149 Clear Creek Drive/Supported Council sending a letter to Jackson County regarding a GMO ban. She quoted a statement from Albert Einstein that people could only live three days without the bees. She submitted documents into the record regarding the affect of insecticides genetically engineered plants produced and the Colony Collapse Disorder that subsequently harmed the bees. Many countries in Europe banned GMO crops and she wanted Ashland and Jackson County to become a GMO free zone to protect organic and conventional growers as part of sustainability. She went on to share some of the disastrous outcomes India experienced with GMO crop failures.
Chuck Burr/1133 Old Hwy 99 South/Owned Restoration Farm and grew seeds for packaging. Syngenta contacted and informed him they had grown genetically modified chard less than 2.7 miles of his property. That action resulted in the destruction of $4,400 of chard seeds for his farm. It was in the best interest of the seed companies and a strategic food standpoint to have large GMO free zones where wild breeding can occur.
Shady Siroltein/164 Eastbrook Way/Worked with GMO Free Jackson County and attended the last NRAC meeting and was disappointed to discover the NRAC sub-committee had not met or discussed the issue. Natural and organic food was a huge growing industry and many people wanted the benefit. Marin County in California had banned the cultivation of GMO plants through a local ballot initiative with a 61% vote. The GMO ban applied only to what was cultivated on the land within County geography, excluded medical research, and would not affect what was imported.
Tenasi Rama/815 Oak Street/This was an opportunity to decide on the type of quality of life Jackson County wanted to foster. Community could choose to focus on smaller sustainable farms or support larger agriculture that would not bring profit or lifestyle enhancements to the valley. Many countries tried the GMO paradigm and failed. Jackson County had the chance to precede and prevent the same from happening here.
Chris Hardy/774 B Street/Explained he was part of GMO Free Jackson County and Village Farm. Syngenta had not adhered to the required 4-mile isolation distance nor contacted farms to notify them of their activities. GMOs could withstand high doses of toxic chemicals that in turn created super weeds resulting in even higher doses of chemicals that polluted the environment. The pesticide industry had owned the seed company since the late 1980s. He asked Council to protect the rights of farmers who grew and maintained pure and natural seeds, produced livestock, feed, and vegetables for the community uncontaminated by neighboring GMO farms and send a letter to Jackson County supporting a ban.
Charlotte Nuessle/1516 Oregon Street/Commented there was inadequate testing on GMOs and from a personal health level, there was a moral responsibility to retaining the safety of food and the need to take this issue seriously.
Paige Frazer/10631 Yank Gulch Road, Talent/Read a statement from Dr. Deborah Gordon that GMO technology was not adequately tested. There were cross-pollination contamination of GMO seeds and environmental concerns. Until studies demonstrated absolute safety of GMO technology and food production, she urged Council to support a GMO free local environment. Ms. Frazer added her own concern for the health of her child and others.
Councilor Voisin/Slattery m/s to approve Mayor’s signature to a letter to the Jackson County Board of Commissioners expressing the Ashland City Council’s support for a ban on the use of GMO seeds in Jackson County. DISCUSSION: Councilor Voisin explained local farmers needed Council support in banning GMOs from Jackson County. It was a health, economic, and quality of life issue. Councilor Slattery agreed Council should support the motion. Councilor Chapman added it was clear Council wanted to protect organic farming and Jackson County was looking at both sides of the issue prior to making a decision. He was not sure how effective the letter was but thought Council should send it and expressed concern the State could write legislature that usurped a local government’s ability to regulate. Councilor Lemhouse supported the intent of the letter. People had the right to have their livelihood unaffected by their neighbors. He thought the last paragraph of the letter needed revision. Councilor Morris also questioned the effectiveness of the letter, thought the process should occur at the state level but would support the motion.
Councilor Slattery/Chapman m/s to amend motion by changing last paragraph to read “The Ashland City Council respectfully requests that the Jackson County Commissioners take what action they deem necessary to protect organic farming in Jackson County.” DISCUSSION: Councilor Voisin thought the original language was respectful, specific, and requested action. Councilor Slattery added the letter put Ashland on record as supporting a GMO free Jackson County and encouraged Jackson County to protect organic farming but thought the last paragraph was limiting. Councilor Voisin suggested Council contact Representative Buckley and Senator Bates. Councilor Lemhouse added changing the last paragraph made the letter stronger.
Roll Call Vote: Councilor Slattery, Lemhouse, Chapman, Silbiger, and Morris, YES; Councilor Voisin, NO. Motion passed 5-1.
Councilor Chapman motioned to strike the third paragraph in the letter. Motion died for lack of a second.
Roll Call Vote on amended motion: Councilor Voisin, Morris, Slattery, Lemhouse, Chapman, and Silbiger, YES. Motion passed.
3. Approval of streaming of City Council Study Sessions
Management Analyst Ann Seltzer explained initial installation and equipment costs totaled $4,930 with an annual of $1,000 for the Ustream account. Amounts did not include staff time to operate the equipment.
Councilor Lemhouse/Silbiger m/s to approve directing staff to move forward and stream Council Study Sessions. DISCUSSION: Councilor Lemhouse supported streaming Study Sessions because it would add transparency to the process, but wanted the least expensive way to record them. Councilor Silbiger thought the costs could be lower, questioned why staff did not consider AFN, and thought they could stream meetings in Council Chambers. Councilor Lemhouse also questioned why Council Chambers was not an option. Ms. Seltzer explained the feed in Council Chambers would have to go through RVTV and stream from that location. Councilor Slattery supported government transparency, thought the new IT Director might have different suggestions, and would support the motion if the intention was to continue looking at ways to record Study Session, not an approval to purchase equipment. Councilor Lemhouse thought the motion was whether Council should stream Study Sessions or not and staff needed to further investigate the most efficient way to do that.
Roll Call Vote: Councilor Silbiger, Voisin, Lemhouse, and Slattery, YES; Councilor Chapman and Morris, NO. Motion passed 4-2.
ORDINANCES, RESOLUTIONS AND CONTRACTS
1 First reading of an ordinance titled, “An ordinance amending Ashland Municipal Code (AMC) 10.64.010 obstructing passageways”
Councilor Slattery declared a potential conflict of interest and disclosed his wife was the executive director of the Chamber of Commerce.
Councilor Slattery/Lemhouse m/s to postpone the matter until the Regular Council Meeting of September 18, 2012 with all due notices. DISCUSSION: Staff explained Council had not received proper notification of the ordinance in time to follow the normal procedures regarding ordinances.
Roll Call Vote: Councilor Voisin, Morris, Lemhouse, Slattery, Silbiger, and Chapman, YES. Motion passed.
OTHER BUSINESS FROM COUNCIL MEMBERS/REPORTS FROM COUNCIL LIAISONS (None)
Meeting adjourned at 8:37 p.m.
Barbara Christensen, City Recorder John Stromberg, Mayor