King City council moves ahead with filling seats, discusses anonymous accusations

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(Left to right) Thompson, Tysoe, Manelis, Weston
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The King City City Council, currently comprised of three members after a recall election, took steps at its April 17 council meeting to get back to a full complement of seven members.

According to City Manager Mike Weston, 11 or 12 applications have been received since the notice of the vacancies ran in the March 17th Oregonian newspaper. “Our charter says we must leave the application period open for 30 days… but some folks saw it as open until all the positions are filled,” he said. “And some people have picked up applications but not turned them in yet.”

Another issue is that the city’s code is ambiguous about the number of days the application period should be left open. “The code doesn’t specify if it is 30 business days or calendar days,” added City Attorney Peter Watts.

The deadline would be April 26 if business days are counted, and Councilor Marc Manelis said, “I would leave it open until we have appointed people to the four seats.”

But Mayor Shawna Thompson added, “I feel comfortable closing the application period on the deadline. I think everyone in King City and Tigard knows about our City Council situation and that we have four seats to fill… I think a compromise would be pushing it out until next Friday (April 26).”

The council agreed to accept applications until April 26 and decided on interview days and times between April 26 and the May 15 council meeting, allotting half an hour for each applicant.

The council also discussed a seven-page anonymous letter that was widely distributed around King City in March that alleged that the City Council and Weston have failed to manage the city properly and should be held accountable; that the Police Department and Chief Ernie Happala have compromised citizens’ and officers’ safety and have had difficulty retaining qualified officers; that the police department hired but never swore in a police officer who had been indicted for sexual misconduct crimes; that funds from a five-year November 2019 public safety levy were wasted; and that the city’s top three administrators are overpaid.

“I support Mike Weston and our police force,” Thompson said. “Over the years, all I have heard is praise about them. These wild accusations are upsetting. I can’t comment too much for legal reasons. We may have to hold an independent investigation that may cost the city thousands of dollars, but if we need to do it, we will.”

Councilor Jan Tysoe said, “I am heartsick. It is like being stabbed. Everyone works really hard, and it was really hard to read that letter of condemnation.”

Thompson added, “Our staff has our full support. This has been really upsetting.”

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