Rockne Roll/News-Register##
McMinnville city manager Martha Meeker departs the  Kent L. Taylor Civic Hall in McMinnville following her resignation Monday, Oct. 3.
Rockne Roll/News-Register## McMinnville city manager Martha Meeker departs the Kent L. Taylor Civic Hall in McMinnville following her resignation Monday, Oct. 3.
By Tom Henderson • Staff Writer • 

Meeker resigns as city manager

McMinnville City Manager Martha Meeker resigned early Monday morning, after signing an agreement with the city council allowing her six months of continuing salary and expenses. City Attorney David Koch estimated the value of the severance package at $76,356.

The council convened in special session at 8 a.m. to accept Meeker’s resignation. They agreed to substitute former City Attorney Candace Haines as interim city manager, at an estimated cost of $135,000 a year, and directed Koch to negotiate terms.

When Haines passed the torch to Koch in September 2015, she was earning $119,000 a year.

When Meeker replaced Kent Taylor as city manager in December 2014, her pay was $145,000 a year. It currently stands at $152,000.

Under terms of the severance agreement, Meeker agreed not to initiate any legal action against the city. She also waived a 21-day period under which she otherwise would have retained the right to reject the agreement.

The city has agreed not to offer evaluations of her performance in response to prospective job reference contacts. It has agreed to provide only dates of employment and financial terms.

Meeker’s resignation comes in the wake of a set of mixed reviews offered by councilors during a performance evaluation conducted in late August. The evaluation triggered city implementation of a plan of improvement that she had to satisfactorily complete to retain her post.

The retired Air Force general was criticized for what some councilors perceived as an autocratic leadership style. She was also accused by some of mishandling communications with staff, councilors and the press.

Councilors Kellie Menke and Kevin Jeffries drafted the improvement plan, which was prefaced this way:

“You have not demonstrated a clear understanding or willingness to implement city goals and policies. You have not adequately directed subordinates to carry our those policy programs. You have not been a constructive collaborator with team members and subordinates. You have not delegated work effectively or shown a willingness to listen to the concerns of others. Your communications with others have tended to create and/or escalate conflict.”

Meeker accepted the improvement plan and maintained a normal work schedule through September. She even honored commitments to the McMinnnville City Club and McMinnville Kiwanis Club to address long-term city goals and timelines.

However, as councilors prepared to confront Meeker with the adverse evaluation and the subsequent improvement plan, they decided on Aug. 9 to contract with the Portland employment law specialty firm of Fisher & Phillips LLP to provide outside legal counsel in the matter.

Meeker’s Oct. 6 resignation follows by just six days that of Mayor Rick Olson, who won election in May to a four-year term on the Yamhill County Board of Commissioners, starting Jan. 1. The mayor told the council in his Sept. 27 notice that he needed to focus all of his time and energy on the transition during the coming weeks.

Jeffries, currently serving as council president, will fill in pending election of a new mayor in Nov. 2 balloting. The election has drawn two candidates, City Councilor Scott Hill and frequent council observer and commentator Jared Miller.

Haines served as city attorney for 16 years before stepping down last year. Menke said Haines was vacationing out of the area when contacted, but agreed to return and accept the assignment, subject to finalizing the details.

“It was hard to pull her back from her vacation, but she said, ‘I’ll do with for my city,’” Menke indicated.

Hill called Haines an excellent choice.

“She has the approval of our department heads,” he said. “We’re able to rebuild immediately.”

After agreeing to on the severance package Monday morning, Meeker departed with best wishes for the community she was leaving behind. “It’s been great to be a part of the community, and I wish everyone well,” she said.

The city issued a formal press release in which it termed the parting “amicable.”

During her tenure, Meeker helped create the city’s first task force on homelessness and affordable housing. She also oversaw the beginning of the city’s $24 million dollar transportation bond initiative and the first multi-million dollar project for the relatively new urban renewal initiative.

She has been a frequent visitor to the Central Oregon resort community of Sisters, where she owns property.



The City hired a retired Air Force General to be a 'go getter', but when the rubber met the road, civil service 'butt-hurt' attitudes kicked in.
I wish her the best. She's a tough lady and I thought she had a neat personality. Funny to talk to, but I guess that was one veteran to another. I am sorry to see her go.


So sad to see Martha go. I deeply admire her intelligence, integrity, straight-forward manner, and sense of humor. I trust the Council in its most current iteration, but sure wish they could have found a way to keep Martha on board. It was a privilege to work for her.

Sally G

I, too, am sorry to hear this. Although I didn't always agree with Martha, she had the ability to move this community forward. I found her easy to talk with, clear in her communications, intelligent, and action-oriented. I wish her the best.


So sad to watch this all unfold. While I had only limited contact with her as a resident of Mac, I greatly admired her tenacity and intelligence, and wish her all the best going forward. Unfortunately, nearly every leader in a nonprofit or public-sector position who is hired to follow a long-term predecessor finds themselves in this same transition between the old and new. These highly qualified individuals often serve an important interim role, and rarely are in the positions for more than two years. It's just the nature of an "executive" reporting to a volunteer/elected board or council where they have been charged with moving the organization/agency/community "to the next level." It's hard work that requires an enormous amount of change. The sands are shifting constantly, the status quo is no longer sufficient. Timing is critical. And this is true progress. From what I've seen, Martha did her absolute best. And everyone was surprised when the process wasn't as smooth or comfortable as they'd expected.


How can someone improve her performance in less than one month? Why even bother with this silly document when she was on the way out anyway? She could have turned straw into gold and it wouldn't have been sufficient--maybe because she didn't "go through proper channels." Probably the answer involves some form of CYA.
Someone--can't recall the name--commented in a previous thread regarding the poorly written remarks from these powers-that-be. This observation demands more attention. The following is a quote from one anonymous judge: "Often I feel Martha says and does things that is politically dangerous." The person who crafted this statement occupies a superior position? Give me a break.
Now let's sit back and bask in all the "transparency" proffered by a bunch of fussbudgets.


I want to thank City Council President and Interim Mayor Kevin Jeffries, along with City Councilor Kellie Menke, and the entire City Council for righting the ship at City Hall. This was not an easy path to go down. I am a member of the community and had several meetings with City Manager Martha Meeker. I went away from the meetings feeling disappointed and concerned. The experience did not feel constructive. That's my opinion based on my dealing with her. She is a good person, but not a good fit for the collaborate job of managing our city. I wish her well as she moves on, but my hat is off to the City Council for having the courage to put the city and its citizens first. We should all be very proud of our volunteer City Council.


I don't think courage played any part whatsoever in her dismissal.

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