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Potential Lawsuit Against City of Ashland

The City of Ashland has received three claims against them surrounding the Ashland Parks and Recreation Commission.

Posted: Jan. 22, 2018 6:03 PM
Updated: Jan. 22, 2018 11:32 PM

ASHLAND, Ore. -- The City of Ashland has received three claims against them surrounding the Ashland Parks and Recreation Commission. One of those claims comes from the former Manager of the City of Ashland's Senior Center who claims she was wrongly dismissed from her position.

On August. 23, 2017, Ms. Christine (Chris) Dodson was removed from her position as the manager of the City of Ashland's Senior Center after holding the position for 10 years.

The news caught some people off guard and caused seniors in the community to question the commissioner's motives.

Sandra Sawyer has spoken on behalf of the seniors who rely on the Senior Center and she says that the Commission's Director, Michael Black came up with a long list of recommendations for re-doing the Senior Center and never talked to the director or staff before presenting it to the Parks and Recreation Commissioners.

According to Ms. Dodson's lawyer, the alleged reason for her dismissal was because of, "a need to reduce staff during a reorganization of the Senior Program, which puppurportedly involved numerous other changes such as moving the Program to the Grove and cutting back on the Program's operating hours and some of its functions."

The lawyer's statement found in the Notice of Tort Claim further states that after Ms. Dodson's purported layoff, the City reversed itself and did not fulfill any of the stated changes.

Michael Black, the Parks and Recreation Commissioner Director said, "In light of pending litigation, the City Attorney has directed me to refrain from commenting. There's a lot more to the situation than appears in the claimant's allegations and I look forward to the opportunity for the full story to be heard."

Ms. Dodson was layed off on August. 23, 2017. Since then, staff from the Parks and Recreation Commission have been filling in while the Ad Hoc Committee researches recommendations to restructure the Senior Center Program.

"The Ad Hoc Committee was picked by Parks and Recreation, the Commissioners, and then it was told, by the Director, you cannot rehire any of the old staff and you cannot go back to the way things were run originally; you must come up with new ways to do things. If you have a smooth running machine and it’s not broken why do you need to take it apart and try to fix it," said Sawyers when asked about the creation of the Ad Hoc Committee, "They plan, I believe, to hire a new director to be there full-time, doing a full-time job, and of course that’s where I raise the question, then what happens if the court says they will reinstate Ms. Dodson?"

The Ashland Parks and Recreation will hold a regularly scheduled meeting on Jan. 22, 2018 and is expected to hear recommendations from the Ad Hoc Committee. The meeting is open to the public.

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