Winlock continues to see turmoil as the Winlock City Council clashes with the Mayor of Winlock, Don Bradshaw.
Winlock City Council members called a Special Meeting on December 4, 2018, at 1:00 p.m. On the agenda was a Motion to Terminate Hillier, Scheibmeir and Kelly, PS, attorneys for the City of Winlock. Other items on the agenda was a moratorium on all spending, termination of litigation against Toledo and cancellation of the budget workshop that was scheduled for December 6. Mayor Bradshaw was not in attendance due to a previous meeting.
The first item on the agenda was to terminate the contract with the law firm of Hillier, Scheibmeir & Kelly, PS. In the past three weeks since Hillier has returned as City Attorney, she has not made one call to council members to see what the issues are. Council is part of the City of Winlock and should be informed of decisions being made that affect the city.
Councilwoman Anne Randt made the motion to terminate the contract with the law firm and the vote was carried. The law firm of Hillier, Scheibmeir and Kelly, PS is no longer representing the City of Winlock. It is now up to Mayor Bradshaw to present to the council options for a new city attorney. Typically, a mayor will present three options for council to interview.
During the meeting, Attorney Hillier accused Winlock City Council members of violating the Open Public Meeting Act, without stating the basis of the accusation. Hillier stated serial meetings were illegal. Mayor Bradshaw himself requested council meet with him one-on-one in his office every Friday afternoon before the council meeting the following Monday. In a Letter to the Editor in the Town Crier newspaper of April 4 councilwoman Anne Randt stated that at Mayor Bradshaw's request, "The Council Members individually meet with the Mayor on the Friday before meetings." Council asked Mayor Bradshaw during that time if that was legal and he stated it was. Recently the council was informed the one-on-one meetings were illegal and a violation of the Open Public Meeting Act and, once informed, they stopped attending them.
Hillier also stated during the meeting that the council did not have the authority to terminate the contract with her law firm. As per a recent councilmember's discussion with MRSC, it was determined that the power does lie in the council to terminate a city attorney's contract. As per the contract, a 90 day letter of termination was delivered to Hillier, Scheibmeir and Kelly., PS the following day. During the next 90 days council directed the law firm they should not represent the City of Winlock in any manner, but would like all records delivered to City Hall. Ordinance 984, which Hillier referred to as her authority, only gives the mayor power to terminate 'personnel,' not to terminate legal counsel on contract. The mayor does not have the power to hire without council approval. The Mayor appoints the City Attorney only but council has the final say to hire.
Hillier also stated that council would not have prosecutorial representation during their municipal hearing on Thursday, December, 6 if they terminated the contract with Hillier, Scheibmeir and Kelly PS. The Town Crier attended the municipal hearing on Thursday and Judge Buzzard stated that Sam Groberg from Althauser, Rayan and Abbarno was filling in as the prosecuting attorney and could possibly be permanent. This is a decision the council must approve as well.
Regarding the agenda item of a moratorium on all spending, council restricted spending to normal operating costs of the city. Council terminated the litigation against Toledo and they cancelled the budget workshop that was scheduled for December 6. Council has repeatedly asked for information regarding the budget so they can make an informed decision and have not been given full and sufficient information yet.
According to a recent records' request by the Town Crier, it was discovered that Mayor Bradshaw hired Darrell C. Prine in April of 2018, without council approval as defined by Ordinance 984 for the City of Winlock. Prine was employed by the city for three months, all the while council was informed by Mayor Bradshaw that Prine's labor was donated. This is a clear violation of Ordinance 984.
Monday evening's Winlock City Council meeting scheduled for December 10 is sure to be an interesting meeting based upon the written agenda. There is a public hearing on the budget which, from first glance, appears as though revenues were overstated and expenditures were understated. The budget for the entire police department, including jail and dispatch services, is $247,000 for 2019. It will be up to council to determine what budget they can live with.
Several items on the agenda by council request include: Request for council to hire independent counsel for the Winlock City Council, No Confidence Vote on Mayor Bradshaw, Motion to lower the mayor's spending limit to $25 and modification of office hours to stay open during the lunch hour.