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Council Votes Against Paying Mayor's Legal Fees

Vote was 3-0

The White Salmon City Council has voted against providing any more city money to pay for Mayor Roger Holen's legal costs in his effort to fight a recall.

In a special 8 a.m. meeting on Tuesday, the four council members present voted 3-0, with one abstention, to deny a request to pay an additional $6,167 of Holen's attorney fees.

In April, the council had approved $2,000 for the mayor to defend against the effort to recall him.

In a meeting that lasted only about 15 minutes, the council moved swiftly to deny Mayor Holen further funds.

Council member Richard Marx made a motion to deny paying for the legal fees, and that motion was seconded by Brad Roberts.

When the vote was taken, Marx, Roberts, and Francis Gaddis voted to deny the mayor's request for funding. Council member Timi Keene abstained from the vote.

"As far as I know, that's the end of it," Gaddis said. "But the $2,000 we OK'd earlier, that goes forward."

"I have mixed feelings," Keene said about her abstention from the vote. "Roger has served this community for 10 years and been elected as mayor three times. He acted in good faith when making the decision to terminate Mr. Cortese. However, the council voted to authorize a limitation of $2,000, and I agree with that decision."

Approximately 30 citizens showed up for the early morning meeting.

Mike Zitur, one of the organizers of the campaign to recall Mayor Holen, praised the council's action.

"I'm glad the City Council is paying attention to what the public is crying out for," Zitur said after the meeting. "I was grateful for the decision. They voted for the public."

Zitur added that he was pleased with the large turnout, especially since the meeting was scheduled to take place immediately after the long holiday weekend and some people had to be late for work to attend.

"I'm grateful for the people who came out at 8 in the morning," Zitur said.

Zitur added that recall proponents will have a public presentation of the Superior Court hearing of May 4. This is the hearing that resulted in the judge approving the recall process to go forward. The free public airing will be at 7 p.m. on Monday, June 5, at the Elks Lodge on Church Street in White Salmon.

Keene explained that the council's meeting was originally scheduled as a personnel committee session. Keene and Gaddis serve on that committee, and they intended to review the request and make a recommendation to the full council regarding the request by Mayor Holen to cover his legal expenses. However, when four of the council's five members showed up, the personnel committee meeting became a defacto City Council meeting.

"We had a quorum, and that allowed a vote to be taken," Keene explained. "That was certainly not the original intent of the meeting."

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