Official Request for Transparency from Talent’s Mayor & Council on TURA Actions
WHAT IS THIS ABOUT?
The City of Talent is still in great need of post fire redevelopment. Our downtown and many citizens need help. It is imperative that there be full transparency regarding the use of any Talent Urban Renewal Agency (TURA) funds so that citizens can gain the most benefit from any potential Urban Renewal efforts. In the interest of transparency with public funding and actions, a letter was sent to the Talent City Council on October 4, 2022. It requests that the Council add an item to their Agenda. The agenda item requested is a review of Talent Urban Renewal Agency (TURA) financials including payments made to Jon Legarza/his company and the relationship between Mayor Ayres Flood and Jon Legarza.
This letter was submitted legally, under the City of Talent’s Council Rules, to be included in the council information packet for the October 5th general council meeting, along with a request to speak at the October 5 Council meeting about the letter. Many citizens have said they would also like transparency and answers to the questions in that letter.
WHAT CAN YOU DO TO HELP?
First read the letter below (official PDF copy also linked, and also a copy of the Agenda packet provided to council and public, with the letter included at the end of the packet (official). If you would also like transparency and answers to these questions, you can FILL OUT THE EASY FORM on this page, to have you name included in the official, legal request for public information that will also be delivered with the same letter in coming days. Only people living in Jackson County and the City of Talent, Oregon or operating a business in the area should sign.
MOBILE READY LETTER COPY:
October 4, 2022
ATTN: Talent, Oregon City Recorder
Talent Citizens Transparency Agenda Item Request
Per Council Rules Section 3 E, and in the spirit of transparency, I request that the City Council agenize an item to discuss and review the relationship between former Talent Urban Renewal Director Jon Legarza and Mayor Darby Ayers-Flood and that Council provide a full accounting of all TURA and City payments made to Jon Legarza and his company.
Talent residents have concerns regarding the hiring of Legarza, the huge sums of money paid to Legarza and the unexplained resignation of Legarza.
Please provide answers to the following questions:
- Is it true that as part of the Jon Legarza hiring process there was never an independent background check completed and that Mayor Darby and a City Councilor did the background check themselves? Why weren’t normal protocols of conducting an independent background investigation followed? Please provide a copy of the background report, with proper redactions.
- Is it true that on March 4 2020 Mayor Darby and the City Council, acting as the Urban Renewal Board, agreed to hire Jon Legarza and that he signed a $102,000 per year TURA Director contract in April of 2020 under the company name of Healthy Sustainable Communities, LLC (HSC) and that his one man company was not even formed and registered with the Secretary of State until March 19, 2020? The minutes from the TURA meeting of March 18, 2020 show a motion from a City Councilor to amend the Legarza contract with TURA from his personal name to his new business name, before his business was even filed with the state.
- Did Talent’s Mayor and Council know that Jon Legarza was still employed full time by Clackamas County when Talent’s Urban Renewal Agency (TURA) hired Largarza and that Legarza continued his full time employment with Clackamas county until June 14, 2021 at $104,000 per year? If they did not know, how could they have performed any background check whatsoever, as this was public information and published in many sites and news articles on the internet?
- Mayor Darby signed off on a check dated 6/30/2021 for $54,500 payable to Jon Legarza’s one man company. What did Talent get in return for these funds before Legarza resigned? How much of Talent’s “Covid Grant money” was funneled to Jon Legarza? What percent of the total covid grant monies did Legarza receive?
- It appears that Healthy Sustainable Communities, LLC was a “one man show”. Please provide documentation of all members of his staff, if any, and their functions as well as the billable hours connected to each employee, if any, that was performed under each contract provided to Jon Legarza including contracts for TURA Executive Director, Talent Interim City Manager, Talent Fire Recovery and Resilience Director and any others.
- Please provide an itemized list of all payments made to Jon Legarza and his company from the City of Talent and the Talent Urban Renewal Agency since March 2020.
- When and how did Legarza provide formal notice of resignation to Talent and TURA? Please provide a copy of all correspondences regarding his resignation.
- Portland based Micro Enterprise Services of Oregon (MESO) list their Southern Oregon office as Mayor Darby’s home. MESO’s former Executive Director noted MESO’s relationship with Jon Legarza’s company, Healthy Sustainable Communities. Also, a 1/27/2021 Clackamas County 2020 Annual Job Review for Legarza states: “Jon sought out grant funding this year, established a relationship with Micro Enterprises Services of Oregon (MESO) to bring them to the county in two new ways – to provide grants programs and to provide an ongoing technical assistance program…”. It appears Mayor Darby gained financial benefit from her relationship with Legarza. What financial relationship was/is there between Mayor Darby, Jon Legarza and/or MESO?
- Oregon Secretary of State shows Legarza’s Healthy Sustainable Communities company has been dissolved as of August 4th, This again indicates that he had no employees and formed this corporation solely for the purpose of working with the City of Talent under a different name. What dates were the most recent contracts with Legarza/HSC set to expire? Was all contracted work completed?
Under Council Rules Section 3 E this request must be addressed during Agenda item 11 Other Business. Again, in the spirit of transparency for Talent Residents, I request that the Council agenize this item.