- Associated Press - Monday, June 30, 2014

BAKER CITY, Ore. (AP) - In Baker City, Oregon, you may be able to fight City Hall, except perhaps if you’re the mayor.

The City Council will consider whether to strip the title of “mayor” from one of its own members, who is suing the city over what he alleges is $9,000 worth of overcharges in water and sewer bills at the motel he runs.

Richard Langrell was elected to a four-year term on the City Council in November 2012. Two months later the council voted 5-2 to install him as mayor.

The role is a largely ribbon-cutting, ceremonial position. Members of the council elect one of their own as mayor, and the job doesn’t carry veto powers or additional authority, the Baker City Herald (http://bit.ly/1mB90TT) reports.

Earlier this year, the paper reported that Langrell had sued the city over the utility charges at his Always Welcome Inn.

Council members said the suit isn’t the only problem - a dispute over the city manager is also involved. But they say it’s key because it’s raised questions among townspeople about how Langrell can be mayor and sue city hall.

Council member Clair Button voted for Langrell as mayor and has asked for a job review at a council meeting July 8.

The person holding the mayor’s job “really does, at times, become the spokesperson for the council and has public relations responsibilities to represent both the council and the city in a positive light, and we are seeing just the opposite,” Button said.

If the title is taken from Langrell, he would remain on the council.

Councilor Dennis Dorrah defended Langrell, saying he hasn’t done anything unethical, illegal or “way out of line.” Taking the title, he said, would humiliate Langrell and be “another statewide black eye for our community when the newspapers have a field day with it.”

Langrell rejected the idea that the lawsuit he filed against the city impairs his ability to be mayor.

“They feel it is bad for the mayor to be suing the town,” he said, “So apparently they feel as a citizen of the community I have no rights.”

___

Information from: Baker City Herald, http://www.bakercityherald.com/

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