Councilor David McKane announced Monday he’ll stay on the city council.
The decision was announced in a joint meeting with reporters and Mayor Lore Christopher Monday afternoon at the Keizer Civic Center.
Because the council has not yet formally declared a vacancy, McKane will not need to go through the application process.
The two also said they’ll support postponing implementation of a 3 percent wireless telecom fee so the issue can be voted on in the November 2011 election. Petitioners opposing the fee, which McKane voted against, have submitted enough signatures that the two believe it will qualify for the ballot.
In addition, both Mayor Lore Christopher and McKane said they would support hosting town halls, “listening sessions” and finding other ways to address the notion McKane himself put forward that the council has a listening problem.
“We’ve been accused, and probably rightfully so, that we don’t listen to people effectively, that maybe we have an opportunity to improve,” he said. “If I can be a part of that – and I think the rest of the city council feels the same way – we’re going to give it the best shot we can and try to make people proud of what we do up there again.”
It puts what the two hope will be a soothing coda to a rather tumultuous few days for the city council. McKane announced he would resign last week after he said he felt he would be ineffective had he remained on the council. He revealed an e-mail where Christopher chastised him for not changing his vote to “yes” on the telecom fee ordinance so it would not require a second reading and a three-week delay.
Christopher said she “fully acknowledge(s) my part in this … and I feel I owe our community an apology.
“I put us in a real negative light,” Christopher said. “We do too many things well, we’re a very successful community. … We’re a council that has gotten a lot of things done. Certainly this has been a black eye and I have had a big part in it.”
They presented a letter from the mayor and remaining city councilors that “affirms and supports” McKane “in his elected role of councilor” and said he has “carried out his duties over the last six years with integrity, diligence, thoroughness, and sincerity.”
Now-former City Councilor David McKane sat down to share his take on issues of the day and on the way the Keizer City Council operates.
On why he resigned: “Have you ever done anything in your life where you just had enough? You had enough and you could actually choose to do something else? That’s all.”
On his relationship with the mayor: “Like (Lore Christopher) said, there’s no bad blood. I just wish we could have done things a little differently, but it’s a seven-person council. Majority rules. All I was asking for was, at least listen to me and give me an opportunity. I don’t think I have that anymore.”
On transparency: “We have a lot of discussions outside council meetings. It’s appropriate, but at some point that limits our meaningful discussion at the city council. … You really have to keep in mind the decision isn’t made until the deliberation is done, after the public meeting is closed, after you have the opportunity to hear from everybody. I think the danger is when you work these issues, to a great extent, out of the meeting people tend to close their minds a little bit. And I think it hurts the public process a little bit.”
On public input: Some testifying “don’t feel they’re being listened to. And I don’t think that’s always the case, but from time to time when we talk about issues that tend to be pretty emotional, instead of the city council sitting there listening to people and asking a clarifying question, we’re guilty of entering into a debate to try to prove the person who’s testifying is wrong. They’re just sharing their opinion with us. …That’s where we’ve bruised some feelings.”
“… Allowing the public to address the city council at meetings or via the annual citizen survey does not necessarily mean the council is listening to them. It is my opinion the current council needs to actually listen to the people they represent.”
On whether these discussions violate Oregon’s open meetings law: “I don’t think so. It’s spirited. … I just think it hurts the deliberation we have in public sometimes.”
On future political office: “I have no political aspirations.”
On who he wants to replace him: “I have tried to lobby several people. To my surprise, they’re not interested because they see the difficulty. … It does tend to be difficult, but there’s a lot of reward too. It’s not all bad.”
On the mayor’s reply to his stated desire to be council president: “I was sitting down at my desk, I read it and thought, ‘Holy crap. I guess be careful what you ask for.’ … I was OK with it until I got to the end, and I was a little bit shocked. … I counted to 10, then I looked at the top of the header and saw who it was addressed to. (Editor’s note: The response was copied to the entire city council.)”