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Scappoose considers interim city manager

City Council eyes Don Otterman, who held the top admin job in Scappoose for four years


OttermanScappoose city officials are considering a former Scappoose city manager to serve as the city’s temporary top administrator following the ouster of former City Manager Jon Hanken last month, the prospect confirmed Wednesday.

Don Otterman, the interim city manager for the city of Hood River, said Wednesday the Scappoose City Council is considering him for the interim city manager position.

Otterman said he hasn’t been presented with a contract yet, but anticipates he would start at the beginning of the new year.

“I would start right after the first of January,” he said.

Asked how long he would fill the position, Otterman answered, “Until they find a new city manager. I haven’t seen any contract, but I presume it would be something in the three- to four-month time frame.”

Otterman is no stranger to Scappoose. He served as the Scappoose city manager during a more than four-year period from January 1995 to April 1999, at which time he left to take a position as the city manager in North Plains.

Hanken was relieved of his position after the City Council voted to terminate his contract at a heated Nov. 8 meeting. Councilors declined to comment on the details leading to Hanken’s termination, with several stating they did not want to air his “dirty laundry.”

Scappoose Mayor Scott Burge was the only vote against Hanken’s termination.

Otterman said the investigations into Scappoose Police Douglas Greisen — including into allegations he mismanaged a Feb. 4 pursuit, a former officer’s claim he led a hostile work environment and discovery of cash and bank receipts tied to an unauthorized account in a locked drawer in his office — would be at the top of his list if he takes the position as city manager.

Otterman said he has been keeping up on the news regarding Greisen, but has not yet read a report by the private Local Government Personnel Institute that found Greisen violated 10 of the city’s policies related to his involvement in the pursuit. Otterman said he has read a recommendation by a committee of Scappoose city councilors which called the LGPI report “erroneous” and “prosecutorial.” The committee, called the Personnel Review Committee and made up of Councilors Barbara Hayden, Jason Meshell and Mark Reed, alleges the LGPI investigator, former Salem Police Department homicide detective Craig Stoelk, was prejudiced against Greisen.

“It’s an issue that needs to get addressed,” Otterman said. “I’ve read the PRC reports, you have links to those on your website. I have not read the LGPI report or the retired police chief’s report. I’m going into it with an open mind at this point. That’s probably one of the first things I’ll deal with.”

Otterman said he isn’t sure how he might proceed with the issue.

Otterman held his position as city manager for North Plains for 12 years until his partial retirement in 2011. He has since served as interim city manager in the communities of Rockaway Beach, Wheeler and, most recently, Hood River. His term with Hood River ends Thursday.

Since Hanken’s termination, Burge has been filling the role of city manager.

“I have 100 times more respect for the job of city manager than I did before,” Burge said, laughing. “I think every mayor should have to walk a week in their shoes.”

Otterman said his position in Scappoose would be part-time, only three days a week. He currently lives in Rock Creek with his wife, who works at Tuality Community Hospital in Hillsboro.

“I’m just looking forward to going back there,” he said. “There’s still a few people working for the city from when I was there.”