City drops plan for OSU to pay for police

2013-08-14T06:00:00Z City drops plan for OSU to pay for policeBy JAMES DAY, Corvallis Gazette-Times Corvallis Gazette Times

Council reverses requirement from July vote on levy

Reversing a decision from last month, the Corvallis City Council voted unanimously Tuesday at a hastily called meeting to remove an item from its proposed tax levy that required Oregon State University to pay for a city police officer.

Councilors had voted 7-2 on July 15 to include the OSU mandate because of concerns that the university was not paying its fair share for neighborhood livability issues that stem from enrollment growth.

But after hearing Monday morning from a group of OSU administrators, including President Ed Ray and vice president for marketing and university relations Steve Clark, councilors concluded that the steps the university has taken eliminated the need to include the officer requirement in the levy.

Steps outlined by the university at the meeting, which Ward 9 Councilor Hal Brauner described as “intense,” included the expansion of the student conduct office to monitor off-campus conduct and additional staff to deal with fraternities and sororities.

Mayor Julie Manning called the emergency council session because of the tight deadlines required to put the levy on the November ballot.

The three full-time positions and two graduate assistants represent an expenditure of $300,000, according to Clark.

“In July I wasn’t aware it (the OSU effort) was there, and now we have the information,” said Ward 8 Councilor Biff Traber, who had seconded the motion to charge OSU at the July 15 meeting.

“Now I recognize the steps that OSU has made.”

Yet the information on the student conduct office hires was not new.

The Gazette-Times was advised of the plan and published a front-page story Jan. 13 noting the proposed hires and the new off-campus responsibilities, which stemmed from recommendations made by the Collaboration

Corvallis’ neighborhood livability workgroup.

OSU did not release information to the public regarding the Greek life position, which was filled July 15.

“Everyone’s doing their best, but we have to do better to keep the community and the council informed on everything we are doing in the collaboration,” Clark said.

Ward 6 Councilor Joel Hirsch and Ward 4 Council Dan Brown on Tuesday repeated their earlier votes against the OSU requirement.

Six other councilors, Penny York (Ward 1), Roen Hogg (Ward 2), Richard Hervey (Ward 3), Mike Beilstein (Ward 5), Traber and Brauner, all changed their votes from the July 15 meeting. Ward 7 Councilor Bruce Sorte, who initiated the motion to charge OSU, was not present Tuesday.

Despite voting to remove the OSU requirement, Beilstein used strong language to raise concerns about the OSU’s financial responsibilities to the city.

“OSU is not a bad partner,” he said, “but the rapid expansion of OSU is creating fiscal problems and OSU is not recognizing that. I’m very dissatisfied at OSU’s response.”

Seven members of the public spoke during visitor time, with three of them, Kerry McFall, Herb Heublein and Griff Jay noting continuing problems with loud parties and other neighborhood livability issues.

The visitors also expressed concerns whether the new OSU hires would be as effective at solving the problems as uniformed police officers on the streets.

The five-year levy would charge property owners about 82 cents per $1,000 of assessed value, or $245 a year for the owner of a house valued at $300,000. It would renew and expand upon the levy that expires June 30, 2014.

Because the proposed OSU contribution (about $100,000) would have added a fourth officer to the three that the levy would fund, Tuesday’s change has no impact on the taxpayers.

Contact reporter James Day at or 541-758-9542. Follow at or

Copyright 2015 Corvallis Gazette Times. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(11) Comments

  1. Truth Escapes Me
    Report Abuse
    Truth Escapes Me - August 18, 2013 9:54 pm

    In response to your first point, see ORS 351.070(4)(b) and OAR 576.015. If you think the language contained in these state laws and administrative rules is in any way ambiguous, please challenge OSU's interpretation of them in court. You seem to have a lot of time on your hands. Perhaps it would be therapeutic for you.
  2. jeff100
    Report Abuse
    jeff100 - August 14, 2013 2:28 pm
    I agree with both your 'examples' Truthis. However I don't believe council has any authority over OSU in these matters. What they do have control over is how the city is developed and in so doing can heavily influence OSU to build on-campus housing. If off-campus housing developments cost developers the full expense (not subsidized by taxpayers) it would be less viable and place pressure on OSU to develop on-campus housing to meet it's growth goals. Instead, council has passed amendements that facilitate even greater return on investments for off-campus student housing biasing OSU growth into our neighborhoods.
    Same goes for parking. Council can control parking in the neighborhoods around OSU and in so doing can encourage OSU to either build more on-campus parking or develop some alternative transportation strategy.
    Instead of being proactive (I don't recognize the multi-year slug pace of Collaboration Corvallis as proactive when irrevocable development is allowed to occur in the mean time), council is focused on 'partnering' with OSU in non-binding agreements that OSU will only honor when & if they feel they have to. This approach is to the detriment of Corvallis citizens.
  3. TruthIs
    Report Abuse
    TruthIs - August 14, 2013 2:08 pm
    Thanks Jim. In this case, I think the Council's actions and comments are a slap in the face about the reporting you and the G-T have done. As I noted, I for one know about enough of the relevant details to understand the issues only because of your reporting, so that is some proof that you put enough information in the public record that no one has an excuse. That strongly suggests the Council's excuses are either a sign they really aren't qualified for positions they hold because they aren't capable of paying attention to important information, or they really don't have much genuine respect for the public by thinking we will simply buy lame excuses. But they can't claim ignorance when the key information was readily available and expect to be regarded as good leaders.
  4. TruthIs
    Report Abuse
    TruthIs - August 14, 2013 2:01 pm
    I agree with your primary point. However, I would argue that the attention towards OSU is warranted because this is a important example, and what Ed Ray and folks at OSU like to call a "teachable moment", because the Mayor and City Council have not indicated they now intend to pursue a more appropriate strategy of requring OSU to mitigate its off-campus impacts through realistic, specific on-campus actions.

    Two examples illustrate this:

    1) It's as legally unclear how OSU as a public university can require adult students to live on campus as it is that they can reach off-campus to student conduct. The Council should be using what authority it has to require OSU to build student housing that actually is attractive and affordable to students (ie. has market appeal), and by opposing efforts by OSU to close some of the housing that better meets these market-based standards (ie. the co-ops on Madison and 10th.)

    2) The Council also has failed to require that OSU must replace on-campus parking it has been eliminating, and to do so at a greater than 1:1 rate because of OSU's growth, and especially since that is one part of what would make affordable on-campus housing attractive. At the very least, the Council should adopt resolutions stating this is City policy and pointedly suggest this each time a building is built or replaced when it doesn't have regulatory authority to require it (authority it abdicated in the matter of the new dorm this past spring). For instance, whatever OSU should be required if possible, or publicly pressured if it can't be required, to nclude several floors of parking in whatever replaces Snell Hall just to replace what on-campus parking OSU has eliminated within a 1/2 mile radius of the location (and right across the street).

    In the end I think this actually is substantive support for your final point: I'd only say that all this attention towards OSU provides a key example of how our City Council and Mayor are failing us, and concrete solutions a better City Council and Mayor would need to pursue to better serve the public.
  5. JimDay Staff
    Report Abuse
    JimDay - August 14, 2013 12:47 pm
    Jim Day here. Thanks for the comments. Yes, the neighborhood livability workgroup did recommended bumping the CPD from 0.96 officers per 1,000 population to 1.2 per 1,000. And although no one used the number in public, that translates to 13 additional officers, which is the figure I printed in March. No funding mechanism was identified, and I never heard anyone say that OSU was going to pay for them.

    So what will happen off-campus this fall? I will be following that one closely, although in fairness it will be at least a year (assuming the levy passes) before the CPD will have its troops ready. The big change for the fall will be the new OSU people. We'll see how it plays out.

    One other item. I also found in my notes a collaboration Steering Committee meeting incident in which Mayor Manning trumpeted the new student conduct hires. On June 4. With Hogg and Brauner in the room. More on this one on my blog.

    Keep reading!

  6. jeff100
    Report Abuse
    jeff100 - August 14, 2013 12:34 pm
    I think the ire directed towards OSU is largely ill-placed. Yes they're growing and yes students of OSU often make bad neighbors. It's our city council though that has promoted student housing developments in our neighborhoods by refusing to take action that would stop them. Charged with acting in the interest of Corvallis citizens they have instead acted in the interest of business' (OSU and housing developers) and our now placing the resulting costs from this marriage on the tax payers (collaboration corvallis and 3 new police officers is just the beginning). As they've taken no action to either stop future off-campus student housing developments or incorporate needed police funding in development or rental fees these charges will continue to grow and in the future taxpayers will have to pay for additional police officers (it would be interesting to see an article on the total forecasted cost of OSUs growth on Corvallis taxpayers based on OSUs stated growth goals).

    All this attention towards OSU is distracting voters from the group responsible for, and capable of fixing, this problem: our city council and mayor.
  7. TruthIs
    Report Abuse
    TruthIs - August 14, 2013 11:32 am

    I'm not sure what you are trying to say here.

    This is not a LEGAL basis for OSU to do anything. OSU is not the Legislature, nor are University officials the courts. And agency regs get invalidated all the time on that basis.

    OSU can put anything it wants into it's student code of conduct and it is simply childish braggadocious words on paper ("The University has sole discretion to determine what conduct occurring off campus adversely impacts, blah, blah, blah") unless they can cite law backing their claims.

    The question for you Jim, is what legal basis, meaning specific statutory law or court precedents, does OSU have to claim it can reach to off-campus behavior of its customers in determining whether to serve those customers with educational products and services, or deliver a degree if that customer has met all the academic and on-campus conduct requirements OSU has the (well some) legal authority to set? This is a highly litigated area, and post-secondary schools have very different standing under the law than secondary and primary schools.

    Our forlorn Mayor and Council would do well to remember for the benefit of the public that these customers are adults with a full set of legal rights to access the courts if OSU refuses to deliver a degree that has lifetime economic and social implications, and that it contracted to deliver after charging those customers a price for which the value delivered is questionable. But that's another topic for another day. So the Mayor and Council should not be listening to OSU's representations of what it is or isn't doing, and can or can't do.

    As you can see Jim, this is a real world question with a chapter-and-verse answer. It is not the theater of the absurd we see in the town-gown collaboration in Council chambers. And don't forget that while Ed Ray is empowered to hire a bunch of keystone kops under the law that created the independent board, and that could end up causing all manner of problems for citizens --- which includes non-matriculated and matriculated residents of Corvallis --- that would be far from the end of it. Especially if our hapless Mayor and Council end up inadvertantly establishing a nexus of City liability for something OSU and Ed's keystone kops do by not holding OSU accountable to the law just like every other entity in Corvallis.
  8. Bluedawg
    Report Abuse
    Bluedawg - August 14, 2013 10:15 am
    Good post about student conduct. I will submit names, when possible, of students passed out on my lawn and see what OSU does about it.
  9. Sensical
    Report Abuse
    Sensical - August 14, 2013 8:14 am

    OSU's 'Student Code of Conduct' states:

    "Offenses Proscribed by the University

    A Student or Student Organization found to have committed any of the following proscribed acts is subject to sanctions under these rules:
    (23) Violation of any federal or state law or city or local ordinance or University rule or policy that applies to the Student.


    The Student Conduct Code shall apply to a Student’s or Student Organization’s conduct that occurs on University premises, at University sponsored or affiliated activities regardless of location, and to off campus conduct that adversely affects the University community or the pursuit of University objectives. These standards shall apply to a Student’s conduct even if the Student withdraws from school while a disciplinary matter is pending. Examples of behavior that adversely impacts the University community may include but are not limited to physical or sexual assault, rape, hazing, harassment, stalking, furnishing alcohol to minors, distribution of drugs or illegal substances, or illegal weapons use. The University has sole discretion to determine what conduct occurring off campus adversely impacts the University community and/or the pursuit of University objectives."
  10. Bluedawg
    Report Abuse
    Bluedawg - August 14, 2013 8:04 am
    I'd like the cell phone numbers of these OSU administrators so I can call them to come pick up the drunk students passed out on my lawn! They can also come at 2:00am to quiet the drunk roving masses of students staggering down Polk avenue every Thursday/Friday nights! I'm sure these OSU admins will be much more affective than uniformed, highly trained police officers!
  11. TruthIs
    Report Abuse
    TruthIs - August 13, 2013 10:34 pm
    Jim, you've opened up a good story that needs much more reporting.

    Traber's comment: “In July I wasn’t aware it (the OSU effort) was there, and now we have the information," is nothing short of bizarre for a City Councilor.

    Those of us who follow Council through the G-T generally knew what OSU was doing, from your own reporting! In fact, the only two things that we don't know, and call into question what both OSU and the Council are saying are:

    1) The original call from the town-gown collaboration in which OSU really has succeeded in getting to go its way, was for the city to hire more than four new officers. Presumably that would have meant OSU had to fund any positions in excess of the three the levy would fund. What was the actual power dynamic that resulted in getting the number cut back to just one that OSU would have to fund?

    2) OSU keeps saying it has the ability to reach to off-campus student conduct. As I've asked you before: What is OSU's legal basis for claiming it can reach to off-campus behavior of its customers? Or is this just simply a tactic by OSU to provide cover for City Councilors and the Mayor against the complaints of some citizens (students are citizens too, after all)? So long as a student meets the scholarship requirements for graduation, and doesn't commit any infractions on campus, exactly what legal basis would OSU have for otherwise sanctioning or refusing to confer a degree to that student?

    One other thing you need to really get out to the public. Under the law that allowed OSU to create an independent board, they also are empowered to hire a private police force with arrest powers that isn't responsible to the public. That is a big issue that is not well understood.

    Unfortunately, we don't have particularly competent people in local or state elected office. Too often we hear excuses they mean well and are doing the best they can. That may be, but what matters is whether elected officials are competent to do the job, not whether they mean well. It is appropriate, and in fact the duty of citizens, to criticize them soundly if they aren't, because we all bear the serious negative consequences of their failure to govern well. And Jim, your job is to report accurately, especially when accurate reporting informs the public about the lack of competence, or even worse behavior in some cases, of these officials.
Add Comment
You must Login to comment.

Click here to get an account it's free and quick