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  • 6 May 2015

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Oregon City School Board candidate Paul Edgar signs complaint costing $10K

Last Oct. 6, in the dead of night, someone taped a letter to the door of Oregon City’s City Hall making a number of accusations against a city employee and threatening the city manager with legal action. Twelve citizens had signed the complaint.

The city investigated the eight charges and found them all to be untrue. Later at a meeting of the Citizens Involvement Council, it was reported that the investigation cost $10,000.

One of the signers of the letter was Paul Edgar, now a candidate for Position 2 on the Oregon City School Board. Edgar’s race against Nicole White will be decided in the May 19 election. White declined to comment on Edgar’s dealings.

Noting that he wasn’t the one who posted the complaint at City Hall, Edgar said that he “would have probably signed the letter again,” even now that he knows the outcome of the accusations. Edgar added in an interview with the Oregon City News that the complaint is a good illustration of what separates him as a school board candidate.

“What I bring to the school board is that I’m not associated with the district, and I have a strong sense of right and wrong,” he said.

Edgar’s complaints stemmed from the fact that he wanted to be recognized by the city and the Canemah Neighborhood Association as the neighborhood’s land-use chairman. In Edgar’s words, a “somewhat casual, but legal” competing neighborhood association election (by Edgar’s faction within the neighborhood) had named Howard Post as Canemah’s neighborhood chairman and Edgar as its land-use chairman, but Linda and Ken Baysinger (representing a two-thirds majority of the elected officers of the neighborhood association) asked that Edgar cease using the title in June 2013. Then, lacking Canemah neighborhood support, Post and Edgar decided to appeal the Historic Review Board’s approval of a development at their own expense.

After interviewing four of the 12 citizens who signed the complaint, Oregon City Human Resources Director Jim Loeffler produced a Dec. 5 report on his investigative findings. In that document, Loeffler stated that the accusations against the city employee were unfounded and exonerated her of wrongdoing. (The Oregon City News doesn’t think it appropriate to publish the name of the city employee who was the target of the accusation.) Loeffler tried to interview the other letter signers; five declined to be interviewed and three did not respond to his requests.

City records interview

In another gripe, Edgar, 74, was upset that he was removed from Oregon City’s Citizen Involvement Commission as Canemah’s representative. He said that the city staff member had committed a sin of “direct omission” by not intervening when a citizen chairperson of the Citizen Involvement Commission prevented Edgar from speaking or voting at CIC meetings.

“As far as facts go, I have a disagreement with that. ... I wouldn’t have said anything either, because you have two warring factions,” Loeffler told Edgar during an Oct. 27 interview that the city recorded. The Oregon City News requested a copy of the recording, citing the public interest in Edgar’s role in the accusations, given his school board candidacy.

Loeffler told Edgar that the city’s staff liaison doesn’t administer meetings, nor would the liason have any “conflict of interest” nor anything to gain from how the CIC made recommendations to the City Commission.

Edgar said he is trying to educate people about historic preservation, a little at a time. He said he’s been trying to protect Canemah as the only National Register Historic District in Clackamas County.

“But some, when it comes to historic preservation, do not care. Some think it is all about personal property rights and for others, it is simply all about money,” Edgar said.

Although he recently was ousted from the Canemah Neighborhood Association, Edgar was just appointed to the Clackamas County Historic Review Board, which has no power in Oregon City. Whether the interests of developers or historic preservation are favored is a continuing argument between the appointed CIC members and citizens elected to the City Commission, not between these citizens and city staffers, Loeffler told Edgar.

It’s unclear how many of the Oct. 6 letter’s accusations actually were written by Edgar himself. Between his initial conversation with other Canemah residents and their letter being drafted, he told Loeffler that he had “virtually no involvement other than we talked back and forth, some of us who were trying to understand what the circumstances were and why. ... We were being effectively stonewalled.”

Edgar told Loeffler that he had forgotten many of the circumstances that led to the letter being drafted due to a medical incident. Suffering from chronic low blood pressure, he told Loeffler that he got up in the middle of the night, fell, hit a dresser and suffered a “severe concussion” so that he’s had “some memory loss.”

He said was able to draw much of his memory “out of the cobwebs” by reviewing email records, he told Loeffler, adding that he was not afraid to disclose his medical history and would be happy to provide documentation of his medical record to prove these statements. Loeffler declined the offer.

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