Oregon town prepares for another council recall


A group seeking to recall four members of the Oakland City Council gathered enough valid signatures to put the matter before voters, city officials said.

Unless they resign, every council member except one will appear on the Sept. 18 ballot, said Barbara Mock, the city recorder.

The effort to recall Mayor Nanci Staples and councilwomen Jana Cunningham, Linda West and Bette Keehley will be the fourth time since July 1996 that Oakland residents have tried to remove their elected officials, according to the Douglas County Elections Division.

Councilwoman Andrea Botwinick is the only council member not targeted for recall.

Petitioners for The Committee For a Better City levy 11 allegations against each councilor as reasons to recall them. Five of the reasons listed on the petition pertain to the treatment of Police Chief Norm Counts and the operations of the police department.

Counts has been on paid administrative leave since July following an investigation that began in May after allegations arose that he improperly responded to a car accident involving his son.

Staples, reading from a prepared statement during a recent public meeting, said the investigation had expanded to include allegations that Counts abused his son during his son's childhood, improperly handled an investigation of a break-in at Lincoln Middle School in 2006 and improperly trained his reserve police officers.

The firing of Counts' predecessor, former Police Chief Dale Shaw, was the catalyst for the November 2005 recall of former Mayor Jim Baird and councilwomen Karen Copeland and Diana Fred.

Jackie McCarty and Myra Weber, the two councilors who remained after the removal of Baird, Copeland and Fred, had been on opposite sides of the recall divide. They never could agree to appoint even a single replacement for those removed from office. In what state municipal experts called an unprecedented stalemate, they governed the city for more than a year as a contentious, two-woman quorum.

An all-new council started work in January, but may not be around for its first anniversary.

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