Is not one Oakridge City Councilor listening to the pleas from your Reserve Fire Department, and your watchful citizens? Do they not know how to make a Motion against the wishes of the Mayor? With Hansen LLC still left standing after it was on the agenda to be rid of partnership with Mike Hansen LLC, not one councilor made a motion to end the contract, with Mayor Holston delaying yet again and costing the city another agonizing period with Hansen LLC overseeing the fractured and disgruntled Oakridge Fire Department.
With the most recent election and appointment of Councilor Maxfield, Almost the entire Oakridge City Council is new. Is it that they are new, or do they just simply now know what they are doing? Do they now understand that they themselves can make a motion on items on the agenda and that they are not always going to be in line with what the Mayor wants? For many citizens, it is like living in a bad dream, a surreal experience where the fire department in this small town has gone from one of pride and accomplishment to fear and backstabbing.
Oakridge needs a Councilor to make a motion to end the city’s agreement with Mike Hansen LLC in order to begin repairing the damage many say has happened under the organization’s watchful eye. Three years ago, Mike Hansen was hired as part of another LLC brought on to facilitate the hiring of a fire chief (still no new fire chief.) After years of turmoil at the fire chief position in Oakridge, it was thought that bringing in an outside consultant would be a wiser choice. After one year the Oakridge City Administrator went around council in a controversial and some would say illegal move and hired Michael Hansen LLC. to oversee the fire department in Oakridge. In the past, the department had been staffed by a Chief who was also a “working chief,” meaning they were a qualified and certified paramedic, Mike Hansen is not, he was, but some speculate he may have lost his certifications due to a DUII that was hidden in his background, since he was not brought before council for hiring his background was never revealed, Gomez when confronted with the fact that Hansen had a DUII, said he knew about it and hired him anyway. It is unlikely that the council would have hired Hansen with a DUII if they had known.
Gomez was terminated from city employment and has been the subject of an ongoing Oregon DOJ Ethics Investigation since last August. Gomez was also paid on numerous occasions for private investigation work by Hansen LLC, he then went on to renew the LLC’s Contract. Another of Hansen’s employees is Susan Laduke, who is also the Finance Director for the City of Oakridge. Susan Laduke is also a Private Investigator, who has been used by the city to investigate complaints on Gomez involving impropriety with Hansen LLC, her investigation came back with no improper conduct found, but DOJ did the same investigation and found “cause” on multiple areas that Gomez was in violation of state ethics law. I was informed that no discipline had been given to Laduke nor an investigation of her possible impropriety regarding a conflict of interest in her investigation by Interim City Administrator Phillip Messina he did assure me the matter would be looked into.
Beginning shortly after the election in November, friends of Councilor Chrissy Hollett’s got letters in the mail and were met in person and told they were not meeting a department training requirement, yet these people were responsible for answering roughly 18% of all the calls in the city during their time working Hansen, rather than allow their work to account for some of their training which can be done, fired them. With many of these people showing up at council meetings over the last couple months, pleading with the council that they love their department and that this was in retribution for their support of Councilor Hollett, their voices are all but unheard by an inexperienced city council, apparently meandering at the will of the Mayor.
Most recently brought to the attention of the council was that Hansen LLC has endangered the city and its citizens with its limited staffing. Saying that a family with a serious medical issue regarding their child had arrived at the fire department to seek aid only to find it unstaffed and no help available for at least 15 minutes. The family told council members they had to drive their child to the hospital themselves.
With the last four house fires reportedly having low staffing at the fires themselves, Oakridge is dangerously close to not living up to its obligation to its citizens, Having to call outside agencies to cover both the ambulance service and the fire scene, this was almost never the case 10 years ago.
Wake up! council, make a move for the betterment of the city, you do not need the Mayor’s permission before you make a motion, you do not need her to say it is okay or for the city attorney to tell you what to do, they work for you. Even the Mayor works at guiding council so in a way she even works for you council.
Written by Stephan Ball
Correction quoted in error, the family said they felt it would have been faster to transport themselves vs the fire department not that they actually transported themselves.