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Not a great idea

Kelly Madding is the first to admit she has a lot to learn about being Ashland’s new city administrator. We’d suggest she start by brushing up on Oregon public meetings law. Maybe she and Mayor John Stromberg could study together.

We’re generally encouraged by Stromberg’s selection of Madding from a strong field of five candidates for the job left vacant when Dave Kanner was dismissed in 2016. She brings a wealth of local experience, including the city of Ashland, Talent city manager, code enforcement for the Jackson County Development Services Department and the number two administrative job with the city of Medford.

Stromberg praised her experience, interactive management style and ability to work well with city employees and residents. But then he cited her “forward-thinking ideas ... such as meeting with the council in clusters of three, which would not violate open meetings laws by being a quorum.”

No, three members of seven-member council do not constitute a quorum. But according to the Attorney General’s Public Records and Meetings Manual, “... a three-member committee of a seven-member board is itself a ‘governing body’ if it is authorized to make decisions for or to advise the full board or governing body” (emphasis ours).

If those “clusters” meet with the administrator on city business, it’s hard to see how they would then advise the full council on that business. It’s certainly more efficient to meet in small groups without those pesky public meetings rules. But that’s not how open government works.

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