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Divided council goes behind closed doors

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by Trisha Ingalls

NEWPORT — Tensions were high throughout the night as the council met in public and private during a three-hour special meeting September 6 for “the evaluation of city personnel (likely executive session).”

After Mayor Linda Joy Sullivan called the meeting to order, she attempted to add two more items to the agenda for the public portion of the meeting.  One was a discussion of extending the deadline for the search for a new city manager to September 29, even though the deadline has already been extended to that date on the websites of both the city of Newport and the search firm Municipal Resources Inc.  The other was to discuss whether a forensic audit of the water and sewer funds is necessary.  City council member Chris Vachon moved to table both of those items until the regular meeting September 11.

Mr. Vachon said he’s used to coming to the council table with the information he needs to make informed decisions, and he wasn’t prepared to discuss or take action on either of those items.

During the public comment period at the beginning of the meeting, resident Jennifer Bjurling said she is concerned about what’s happening with the council.

“There’s absolutely no transparency going on,” she said.  “This meeting was not properly warned.  It did not properly inform the public as to what was going to occur in reference to the evaluation of the mystery employee……

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