Council may investigate one of its own

Story updated from original version of the text. The incorrect date was given for the day Councilor Roland Herrera forwarded a city email to himself containing the former city manager’s incident report. Updated April 18, 1:18 p.m.

The Keizer City Council may launch in investigation into Councilor Roland Herrera at a meeting Monday, April 19.

Mayor Cathy Clark, Council President Elizabeth Smith and Councilor Dan Kohler signed a statement of concern laying out three allegations. If the allegations bear out any truth, and Herrera is found in violation of council rules and procedures, he could be censured by other members of the council or issued a memorandum of concern.

The main point of contention is Herrera’s forwarding of an email to his personal email account. The email in question included a copy of the former city manager Chris Eppley incident report following his discharge of a gun in his office in early March.

The specific allegation in regard to the incident report cites a Keizertimes public record request regarding the gun discharge in Eppley’s office. Herrera forwarded the email to his account on March 5 and appears to imply that it led to this paper’s publication of a portion of the document. By forwarding the letter, Clark, Smith and Kohler allege Herrera violated attorney-client privilege.

The letter claims Herrera was one of only 11 people with access to the report, and the only one who said he had been contacted by media organizations.

In response, Herrera asked that the city staff produce records showing that forwarding emails to his personal account is something he does regularly. If he did so, the letter states, he did so “knowing council rules require councilors to use the city email in order to comply with Oregon Public Records Law.

Lastly, the letter accuses Herrera of violating open meetings policy. The letter states he posted to a Facebook page during a council meeting on March 15 while the council was listening to public testimony from residents regarding the Eppley’s discharge.

The letter claims he commented on “his presupposition of the outcome of the investigation in the incident involving the city manager” and that such an action amounts to conducting business out of view of the public. 

Five councilors will need to support a motion to launch an investigation before it would move forward. Herrera cannot vote on the motion to investigate. If approved, three council members would then investigate Herrera within 30 days.

If Herrera is found in violation of the rules and policies by his peers, four members of the council could vote to issue a memorandum of concern. A memorandum of concern would state that council members found reasons for concern and that continuation could result in disciplinary action. 

If five members of the council found him in violation, Herrera could be censured. Censure is a formal statement of disapproval.

The Keizer City Council meets Monday, April 19, at 7 p.m., at the Keizer Civic Center.