Retired cop fights city hall: 'Let the Justice Center be'

Retired cop fights city hall: 'Let the Justice Center be' »Play Video
Don Chilson

LEBANON, Ore. - Dan Chilson calls himself a disgruntled taxpayer.

"I don't really want this fight, I really don't," he told KVAL News. "I have lots of things to do."

For 18 years, Sgt. Chilson patroled the streets of Lebanon as a police officer. Now retired, he's taking on City Hall because some non-police city employees have moved into the justice center.

"This facility should be the Justice Center, laid out the way it was designed and meant to be," he said. "That's all I want."

The assistant city manager and five others have offices in the justice center. Some have been there more than a year.

Chilson feels that's a violation of the trust of Lebanon voters who passed a bond issue several years ago.

"It didn't say office spaces," he said of the bond. "It says justice center and library."

But what's wrong with moving some administrators into the building?

"If we put $2 million into the thought process and drawings of this facility, why would we start changing it and say, we know better?" Chilson said.

KVAL News tried to get the city's side of the story.

Someone picked up Mayor Ken Toombs' phone but wouldn't say a word.

KVAL News left messages for City Manager John Hitt, Assistant City Manager Ginger Allen and City Attorney John Kennedy on Friday morning.

No one had called back by news time Friday evening.

In a memo from Kennedy dated June 27, the attorney wrote "I have found no state law or legal precedence that would limit the city's use of city facilities to only the specific purpose listed in the bond."

Another memo from Hitt says putting those 6 employees in the Justice Center saves the city $40,000 to $50,000 per year in rental costs.

But Chilson doesn't think this joint arrangement can work.

"Let the Justice Center be what the people of Lebanon paid for."