April 2, 2012
YELM: COUNCIL OMITS LIBRARY PURCHASE DISCLOSURE
Yelm Public Safety Building & City Council Chambers
Megan Hansen's report in the current Nisqually Valley News (NVN) titled Library purchase postponed to fix contract wording left two questionable issues unaddressed.
1. "City of Yelm postponed finalizing the sale agreement of the Yelm library.
The agreement was listed as an agenda item for Yelm City Council this week, but was pulled prior to the meeting.
'Wording in the contract wasn’t quite right,' Yelm Mayor Ron Harding said. 'Two weeks won’t hurt us.'"
- There was no mention by Mayor Harding during last Tuesday's council's session about the last-minute postponement of agenda item 8. b. (library purchase agreement).
- Why was this information omitted from the official record?
- The mayor & city council have a fiduciary responsibility in communicating agenda changes, even those just prior to a meeting.
- The Revised Code of Washington (RCW) 35A.12.110 says "A journal of all proceedings shall be kept, which shall be a public record."
- Why did the public learn of this omission via the newspaper instead of the city council meeting?
- The local newspaper is not the journal of council proceedings nor the public record of the council's agenda, according to state law.
2. Hansen continued:
"Yelm is purchasing the Yelm library space for $1 million through a condo agreement with Prairie Park.
Last month, Yelm approved a bond for $2.275 million.
An additional $1 million was tacked on for other capital improvements including a community center."
The original library condo agreement was for a bond to be issued for the $1 million purchase price plus interest. When the bond was presented to the City Council for approval, the amount was $2.275 million. Now we learn that ONE MILLION DOLLARS was added to the Yelm taxpayer's bond for a community center.
In doubling the cost of the bond for a library condo plus the purchase of the Yelm Telephone building for a community center, for example, there was:
- NO public presentation
- NO public discourse or input sought
- NO public town hall meeting.
Don't you find this all so curious?
- Mayor Harding said at his State of the City address the city could not afford to staff a community center.
- The Lions Club, where Mr. Harding is a member, has proposed for a $10 million community center.
- Yelm already has a wonderfully viable community center at Yelm Community Services.
- Mayor Harding solicited library building donations from the pubic into a city fund to help defray the cost, where $30,000 was raised.
- If you donated to the library condo fund, what would you now think when your contribution will not go exclusively towards just the library as advertised, rather also the purchase of a community center and other capital improvements (not specified)?
- My wife & I declined the mayor's donation request to us for the library building fund until the final bond was issued. We told then-TRL Director Michael Crose and Yelm Library fundraiser Glen Nutter we did not trust the city until we saw the final agreement. Only then would we consider a contribution. The wording in the "final agreement" is still being revised.
And you wonder why this city received the Jefferson Muzzle Award in 2006 for stifling public discourse.
Several members of Yelm's City Council were members of that Council, including Mayor Harding and Mayor Pro-tem Bob Isom.
Read more of Yelm's Jefferson Muzzle Award.
UPDATE: APRIL 5, 2012
As reported by Hansen above,
"Wording in the contract wasn’t quite right,' Yelm Mayor Ron Harding said. 'Two weeks won’t hurt us.'"
Editor's Note: The Library contract for city council approval is NOT on the agenda for the next meeting April 10, 2012, as well.
Yelm Community Blogger Klein is a former mayor appointee to the Yelm Library Citizens Advisory Board and subsequently that Board's selected Chair.