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City oath ordinance moves forward

DALLAS -- The Dallas City Council reviewed the final draft of an ordinance that gives Dallas elected officials two options for the oath of office at its meeting Monday night.

DALLAS -- The Dallas City Council reviewed the final draft of an ordinance that gives Dallas elected officials two options for the oath of office at its meeting Monday night.

Councilor's allowed the ordinance to pass through a first reading with no comment at the meeting. The next step for the ordinance providing official wording for two oath options will be a second reading and a roll call vote.

The oath ordinance stems from the council's swearing in ceremony in January, which caused a bit of a stir when newly elected councilor Mark McDonald chose to only recite an oath to uphold the United States and Oregon State Constitutions, but not the charter and ordinances of the city of Dallas.

While unusual, McDonald's oath wasn't lacking, according to the Dallas charter, which only requires references to the U.S. and state constitutions.

Nonetheless, the council asked its Administrative Committee to examine the issue. The committee's recommendation was an ordinance requiring elected officials to swear to uphold the charter and ordinances, a draft of which was presented at the Feb. 7 council meeting.

Later, the ordinance was changed to provide two options for elected officials -- one swearing to uphold the U.S. and state constitutions and the city's charter and ordinances and one not including the city's charter and ordinances.

Members of the Dallas Planning Commission, the municipal judge and city manager would be required to state an oath including the charter and ordinances. There is nothing in the charter addressing the oath of office for those positions, so City Attorney Lane Shetterly, who wrote the ordinance, said it is within the council's authority to prescribe wording for those offices.

McDonald has repeatedly objected to the ordinance, insisting that changing the language of oath would require an amendment to the charter, which would need to go to a vote of the citizens of Dallas.

Shetterly defended the ordinance in a memorandum to the council. He wrote that the charter does not prescribe specific oath language, but simply spells out minimum parameters for what it must include.

"That leaves room for the council to operate within its legislative authority under the charter," Shetterly wrote.

McDonald disagreed, saying he preferred not to uphold the city ordinances because they constitute statutory law, which can be changed by the authority of the council, as opposed to common law, which is under authority of voters.

"I will always be on the side of the common law, the law that vests the power in the people," McDonald said.

In other business, the council on Monday:

* Approved work on the intersection of Southeast LaCreole Drive and Miller Avenue. The project would remove the intersection's flashing beacons and pedestrian railings at the corners and install four-way stop signs. The changes are meant to reduce delays at the intersection, especially just before and after school hours at nearby LaCreole Middle School and Dallas High School, and reduce maintenance costs.

* Approved promotional rate changes for the Dallas Aquatic Center, in effect from April 1 to June 30.

* Canceled its second meeting in March. The next meeting is Monday, April 4.

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