By SAMANTHA O’CONNER
Baker City Manager Jon Cannon has been busy over the past week carrying out the City Council’s order to look into a possible lawsuit challenging Oregon Gov. Kate Brown’s mandate that health care workers be vaccinated against COVID-19.
Councilors voted unanimously during their Aug. 24 meeting to have Cannon investigate the city’s possible options.
Councilors heard during that meeting from residents who object to both the vaccine mandate, which also applies to teachers and other school workers, and to the requirement that students wear face masks while indoors at school.
Councilors discussed options including filing a lawsuit, or joining a lawsuit filed by another city or county.
Cannon said on Tuesday, Sept. 7 that he has been speaking with attorneys.
“I have a couple potentials for them to think about, but I haven’t gotten anything that the council has wanted to call a meeting for and talk about,” Cannon said.
He said he is gathering information to present to councilors at a future meeting.
The Council’s next regular meeting is set for Tuesday, Sept. 14.
Cannon said he has also received many phone calls from city, county and school district officials from across the state who are also interested in possible legal avenues to challenge the governor’s executive orders.
“From east to west, north to south, from a lot of different entities,” Cannon said.
Before and during the Council’s Aug. 24 meeting, a group of residents gathered outside City Hall to protest the vaccine and mask mandates.
Mayor Kerry McQuisten said the vaccine requirement, which applies to the city’s firefighter/paramedics, could result in employees resigning, leaving the fire department without critical staff.
Affected employees must either be fully vaccinated by Oct. 18, or receive an exception on either medical or religious grounds.
City Council vacancy
Cannon said the city continues to advertise the vacancy on the seven-member Council created by Lynette Perry’s resignation last month.
Applications are available on the city’s website, www.bakercity.com.
Two people have applied as of Wednesday morning, Sept. 8.
“If any one of the council members wants any of these applicants to go up for a vote, then they can do that at their next meeting, which is next Tuesday,” Cannon said. “Otherwise, we’ll continue to just receive applications and provide them to council.”
City staff change
In his weekly report, Cannon wrote that he has hired Stacy Spriet, who previously worked in the city’s public works department, to replace Robin Nudd as human resources manager.
Cannon wrote that he “owes a debt of gratitude” to Dawn Kitzmiller, who runs the city’s building department and served as interim human resources manager for seven weeks.