Is Gold Hill going to rehire Royal Gasso?

GOLD HILL — City officials will meet Friday to discuss the recent termination — and possible rehiring — of former Public Works Director Royal Gasso.

Gasso was fired in July following a May 16 arrest near Grants Pass for possession of methadone and heroin and driving under the influence of intoxicants. He was asked to resign in June after a 30-day unpaid leave, but he refused.

City Council members declined to discuss specifics about Friday's 3 p.m. meeting, an executive (closed) session called under Oregon statutes that allow public bodies to consult with attorneys about current litigation or litigation likely to be filed.

Former Councilwoman Judi Holdeman, an admitted critic of Gasso, said she had been informed by "someone who would know" that the council would consider rehiring Gasso on Friday.

Holdeman said she contacted the Mail Tribune and radio hosts Rosemary and Garth Harrington because "citizens deserve to know what's going on."

"I have it from a credible source that they will decide whether to hire Royal back," she said.

"It's time for the people in the city of Gold Hill to be informed about what's going on and to speak up."

Mayor Gus Wolf declined to comment on whether the city would consider rehiring Gasso.

"I can't confirm anything. The attorney advised the council not to talk," Wolf said.

"You're damned if you do and damned if you don't. Put that down."

Councilwoman Kathleen Price, who was re-elected in recent months after being recalled by a two-vote margin during her first term, said she had agreed not to comment specifically about decisions relating to Gasso but wanted to "urge citizens to pay attention."

Price, who filed an ethics charge against Gasso last year saying he'd misused a public vehicle, said she was the "only one who voted against his contract," which allows for nine months' severance pay upon termination.

"If you are a Gold Hill citizen and you drink the water and pay your water bill, then you should be concerned with who is going to be your next public works director," Price said.

Gasso's attorney, Carolyn Anderson of Ashland, said she had not been notified of Friday's meeting but that a deadline outlined by an arbitration clause in Gasso's contract was looming just beyond Friday's date.

"There is a deadline approaching and they are aware of that deadline," Anderson said.

"If they want to take action prior to that, that would be lovely."

Buffy Pollock is a freelance writer living in Medford. E-mail her at

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