Personnel issues get personal at Lakeside city council meeting

LAKESIDE, Ore.-- A dispute about personnel issues turned ugly at the recent Lakeside city council meeting last Thursday, and it was all caught on camera.

Screaming, finger-pointing and even some mild profanity sounds more like behavior at recess at an elementary school, but that is exactly what happened between elected politicians.

Council members began to shout over Lakeside Councilwoman Elaine Armstrong as she was attempting to bring up a personnel matter she believed was against the city's charter.

"Elaine, I'm not going to argue with you anymore," Councilwoman Naomi Parker said. "You have more damn problems than anyone I know."

Earlier in the meeting Parker and Councilman Stacy Dunn began to yell over Armstrong as she was reading a section of the city charter Armstong accused Parker of violating.

"Nope! Wrong!" Dunn shouted over Armstrong.

"Stacy, cool it!" Armstrong said. "I'm talking."

Armstrong, who was the only council member to vote against designating one member of the council to handle personnel, said the council made a mistake and broke its charter by allowing Parker to handle personnel matters without council consent.

Armstrong tells KCBY over the phone that she is concerned many council members have begun acting independently on city matters simply because they hold the title city councilor or mayor.

"Many things in the city charter require council approval, but they are just going off and handling matters on their own," Armstrong said. "It clearly states in the charter that the council needs to be handling these things that many are just simply fine ignoring or handling on their own."

The rest of the council believes the city charter is vague on the issue, and it permits the council to designate someone to do what it considers to be an administrative task.

"It doesn't say in the charter that we can't designate someone else. Show me where it says it does," said Councilman Bert Guin.

"Show me where it says it does," Armstrong immediately replied back.

After the exchange, Mayor Ed Gowan adjourned the meeting. According to Gowan, "things got a little too hot."

Gowan said as the presiding officer he will no longer tolerate fights between members, especially in the council chambers. Gowan also tells KCBY that the Lakeside City Council has become so dysfunctional it is now a disservice to the community it intends to serve.

"I think if the council people would lighten up and quit acting like children about everything I think the council would function very well," Gowan said.

Armstrong said she will continue to push the issue as long as she serves on the city council.

Gowan said personnel matters are typically not suitable for public discussion at an open city council meeting, and he said he hopes that future discussions will be more civil.

Attempts to reach other councilors were unsuccessful.