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home : current news : current news August 1, 2014

2/11/2014 12:39:00 PM
Controversy reveals rift on council
By Jim Cornelius
News Editor

The controversy over a proposed amphitheater in Sisters has created some rocky relations among city councilors.
On Thursday, February 6, Councilor David Asson circulated an email memo detailing concerns with the process surrounding the amphitheater.
"(February 4) Sisters Country learned that the drive to open an amphitheater will be delayed to 2016. It could be later or maybe not at all," Asson wrote. "More telling is that I, as a city councilor, learned of the timeline change in writing just moments before the meeting began."
The councilor stated that, "My objective is not to degrade the project or the hard work that has been done. I do believe the public should be aware of the process in play and the reasons I am advocating more transparency and prudence." Asson detailed several areas in which he feels his advice was ignored or input not sought, particularly his request "for the appointment of a communication director and a professional fundraiser to commence operations by January 2, 2014." He also notes that "there was still no answer as to how I may make a personal response at the meeting."
Asson, a retired certified public accountant, further stated that, "on December 4, I emailed Manager (Andrew) Gorayeb a spreadsheet projecting my rough estimates of how amphitheater operations would turn out. I expressed concern as a CPA that, 'At this point, I would have a difficult time giving a hearty recommendation to a client asking for my advice on participating.' I invited him to modify my spreadsheet with his views. None came."
The councilor concluded his email stating:
"Standard practice is for council to have workshops to discuss and debate issues. We did so with water and sewer rates, the airport annexation, Cascade Avenue and dozens of other matters. For Mozart, we have had no sessions. We voted 5-0 for Andrew to negotiate a land-purchase agreement with a refundable deposit, which I now admit was a mistake. But that was it. There have been no council discussions on how presentation materials were gathered, who or when contributory funding will be handled, which banks are interested, what is included in the $459,488 operating expenses, how entertainers will be engaged, what they expect, and so on. This is the only issue totally run by 'administration' in my three years on council."
Mayor Brad Boyd disputes Asson's take on events:
"Frankly, I am a little perplexed by Councilor Asson's claims in his email ..." he wrote in a statement to The Nugget. "His assertion that we have never had a workshop entitled, 'Amphitheater' is technically accurate. That's because the council has discussed and debated the amphitheater in many workshops for months because it is a developing project. The presentation materials were put together by the city manager with input from myself and all councilors: Womack, Holzman, and Asson.
"Asson was continually solicited for his views and feedback on the presentation regarding the amphitheater and every initiative currently underway at the city. Additionally, just over a week ago, the city manager spent more than an hour discussing it one-on-one with him on a Saturday. When later asked by e-mail to offer updates and changes to the presentation, he declined the opportunity. The day before the meeting, Asson wrote to the city manager stating he had written his own presentation and wanted the city to pay for copies. The city manager responded within the hour, saying in part, 'It's up to you and your colleagues' and 'I'm happy to spend time with you and go over everything.'
"The city manager, the other councilors, and I, are confused as to why Asson is behaving in this way because he has been included in every meeting and discussion."
Boyd's statement is critical of Asson's actions:
"Being an effective city councilor requires more than just showing up to meetings once a week and complaining when you don't get your way. It demands working collaboratively with a group of people who may have divergent views, putting the welfare of the city and it's citizens first, respectfully articulating concerns to fellow councilors and respecting the will of the majority. Sending out an e-mail two days after the second public meeting to 145 people to spread misinformation is not what a councilor is elected to do."
The full text of Councilor Asson's email and Mayor Boyd's response accompany are available here:
Councilor David Asson
Mayor Brad Boyd

Sisters Country Weddings

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