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In the July 7, 2006 issue of the Nisqually Valley News, Mayor Pro-tem Bob Isom says in the headline story that Steve Klein writes an Internet blog that regularly rails against city officials and many of the councils decisions. Isom said he believes Klein speaks up at council meetings to undercut council.

Undercuts Council?
For what purpose would this writer wish to do that, Mr. Isom?

Yelm City Council member Bob Isom
Photo from City of Yelm website

This writer ran for Mayor in 2005 learning about how this city functions, attending almost every city council meeting plus several study sessions, asking questions and observing many things in getting up-to-speed on city government, with a desire to further this towns prosperity. As mentioned to the NVN, I stated this is a Constitutional Republic mandating public involvement. Just because a citizen may disagree with council on some issues does not mean we cannot live and respect one another as neighbors; nor do council decisions dictate some blind allegiance as if to a King.
Bottom line, this Republic requires citizens to speak up and speak out.

Lets review what this writer has brought before the public in just this year alone:

A. On the January 11th City Council Minutes, I stated the citys growth projections used in the budget differ with what Asst. City Planner Tami Merriman was quoted as saying in the January 1, 2006 Tacoma News Tribune. You, the reader can compare the numbers for yourself from the Tacoma News Tribune story with the City of Yelm 2006 Budget. Then click “About Yelm”, then “2006 Budget”.
Access the Council Minutes and read for yourself. Then click “Minutes”, then “January 11, 2006”.

B. On the January 11th City Council Minutes, I stated that the Yelm Loop (SR 510) construction timelines were further projected out to 2015 and that road should not be relied upon to mitigate traffic here in the near-term decade.
This information is listed and revised monthly on the Washington State DOT website. Access the Council Minutes and read for yourself. Then click “Minutes”, then “January 11, 2006”.

C. On the January 11th City Council Minutes, I noted that the December 28th, 2005 Council Minutes recorded a split vote/impasse about the 2006 Budget, requiring Mayor Adam Rivas to record his first-ever, tie-breaking vote during his last meeting in office. When questioning Council member Miller about his vote against the 2006 Budget, he said he and Council member Joe Baker colluded to cause Rivas to cast a tie-breaker vote as a joke, that there really was no impasse. This writer suggested the Minutes be amended to reflect that. They were not. What happens if there are be future questions about a budget impasse and no mention of this debacle? Access the Council Minutes and read for yourself. Then click “Minutes”, then “January 11, 2006”.

D. On the January 23 Planning Commission Minutes, I stated the citys growth projections used in the budget differ with what Asst. City Planner Tami Merriman was quoted as saying in the January 1, 2006 Tacoma News Tribune.

E. On April 23, this writer attended Rep. Tom Campbells Town Hall Meeting where he stated publicly that the city council approved Wal-Mart using incorrect traffic numbers and are permitting every development, leading to the creation of major issues for traffic, water and sewage. This man gave a frank assessment about Yelm’s Wal-Mart approval that drew a heated response from Mayor Pro-tem Bob Isom. Rep. Campbell told Mr. Isom this was his meeting, enough of an argument and would give him his due at the end. This did not arise again. Mr. Campbell clearly stated we must get involved in our local government and tell them what we want – that they are here to serve their constituents, not the other way around. He encouraged us to keep speaking out on issues of importance to us and learn the processes to enact change and challenge the status quo.

F. On May 27, I questioned the expansion capabilities of the new Yelm High School stating The new high school has capacity for 1,200 students, and will house about 1,100 when it opens this Fall, because the freshman class will relocate to the two middle schools in Yelm. Will the citizens soon be asked to foot the bill for more construction for Yelm Schools because of all the approved home developments?
In a response from Superintendent Alan Burke, the answer was Certainly, assuming that Yelm keeps growing, we will need to ask the voters to approve a school construction bond sometime between 2009 and 2013. See the complete answer under May 28, 2006. Are the Yelm area property owners aware of this potential?

G. On the May 24th City Council Minutes (then click “Minutes”, then “May 24, 2006”), I stated the then-proposed LID was supported by large, out-of town corporations and all of the LID opponents were made up of local voters. I also stated a center turn lane on the backs of the local taxpayer will not solve the traffic problems because a center turn lane adds no additional capacity, only assisitng flow. City Planner Jim Gibson replied that with a center turn lane and Loop, Yelm Ave. West can handle the traffic just fine. I told him the State DOT now shows the Loop opening in 2016, a full decade way; that the Loop should not be considered mitigating traffic in the near-term 10 year period and this LID is disingenuous because the city will have to come back and widen Yelm Ave. West to 5 lanes within 3-5 years. A LID was never proposed for Yelm Avenue East’s expansion a few years ago and was only on the agenda for this portion of Yelm Avenue West because of a private development’s specific request. The LID passed, placing a burden for some of the costs of the road improvements onto the backs of the “little people.”

H. The City Council announced in the NVN on June 2nd that it would select a new Council member that will add diversity to the Council composition. Then, on June 14th, the council chooses a former Council member & Mayor Pro-Tem and current aid to the Lt. Governor. What about another woman or stated goal of diversity with someone bringing fresh, new ideas? See my comments under “June 14th”, #3.

I. On June 14th (then click “Minutes”, then “June 14, 2006”) the council approved public monies to be used for a private developments EIS. I wrote a Letter to the Editor of the NVN prompting them to write a front-page story on this issue July 7, 3+ weeks AFTER the council approval, where the city admits, This work were doing is going to funnel into the Environmental Impact Statement [EIS] process for Thurston Highlands, [Yelm City Administrator Shelley] Badger said. Theyre going to use the data.

And finally, on April 13th of last year, Bill Hashim is recorded in the Council Minutes (then click “Minutes”, then “April 13, 2005”) as requesting a moratorium on construction that would include the Wal-Mart application, in order to complete the citys Critical Areas Update. Mr. Isom immediately motioned for a moratorium on moratoriums, quickly seconded by Joe Baker.

Bottom line:
Disagree with the Mayor & Yelm City Council and their stand has been proved time and time again muzzle our people with moratoriums and restrictions on the mention of items the council wishes to avoid; the W-word, NASCAR, etc. – earning Yelm City Council the egregious 2006 Jefferson Muzzle Award.

You decide:
Undercutting Council?
Shining the light to educate & stimulate community discussion on major issues affecting us all and asking questions to get our people thinking?
Giving YOU a voice!

What do YOU think?

Posted by Steve on July 11, 2006 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

Post a comment


  1. Love it!
    Keep pushin’, Steve!
    So far city council reactions against you have followed the textbook:
    1: Silence
    2: Ridicule
    3: Verbal attack (hopefully that’s the end of it)
    Guess what I’m saying is that truth is maybe not the fastest growing plant.
    Its fruits are usually worth the patience, though!

    Comment by Helge Sandberg on July 13, 2006 at 5:24 pm

  2. This was received by a Kleiner’s Korner reader;

    Hello Steve,
    read your article about the city council and agree with you
    totally. The council may have to be reminded who pays there salary and
    why they are in office, to serve the people, even those who have
    objections to there policies. They are very closed minded about open
    debates and anything that goes against there agenda. I support you 100 %
    on this issue and anything I can do let me know. I hope you keep
    continuing to speak up which is your God given right and even under our
    great Constitution of ours.
    Sincerely Walter Korte

    Comment by Walter Korte on July 13, 2006 at 6:49 pm

  3. I may be out of the city at present, but I am deeply concerned for Yelm’s issues, and it seems to me, speaking in the most moderate of terms, that Steve and Kellie Petersen raise some very important questions about the unbalanced nature of Yelm’s leadership. I appreciate the presence of another voice, and I firmly believe that, in the democratic tradition, the voice of dissention is the backbone of our freedoms. All of us, especially the city council, might consider expressing their appreciation for the spotlight which this site shines on their actions. None of us is so perfect that we can’t use a little self reflection

    Comment by Nancy Hillman on July 15, 2006 at 7:33 am

  4. Thank you Steve for having the courage, dedication, and perserverence to not only “shine a light” on the Yelm city council’s more short-sighted activities, but to provide documentation that precludes any argument.

    It seems that some of our council members are following a national trend in thinking that repeating unfounded accusations and buzzwords over and over again will stir up negative emotional responses, thereby distracting the voting public from the real and serious issues that need to be addressed!

    I for one, give Yelm’s citizenry a lot more credit for their ability to see through such shoddy tactics, as is evidenced by Ms. Petersen’s well-written letter!


    Rory Sagner

    Comment by Rory Sagner on July 16, 2006 at 2:47 pm

  5. “Jeff [Jeffersonville, Indiana] resident keeps tabs on council”
    Stephen: this was in today’s [Louisville, Ky. ] paper and I thought of you. Maybe the problem with your city council is your appearance. (just kidding). David
    this writer’s brother.

    Comment by David Klein on July 17, 2006 at 7:23 am

  6. Editor (Nisqually Valley News):

    The oath of office for each City of Yelm council member is thus: “I do solemnly swear that I will support the Constitution and the laws of the United States and the laws of the state of Washington, and ordinances of the City of Yelm, and that I will faithfully and impartially perform the duties of city council member of the City of Yelm, to the best of my ability.”

    The dictionary defines impartially as “a principle of justice holding that decisions should be based on objective criteria, rather than on the basis of bias, prejudice, or preferring the benefit to one person over another for improper reasons.”

    If any member of the city council is unable or unwilling to uphold their oath of office, he or she should be deemed as unfit to perform their duties and resign from their position so as to enable others more capable to fulfill that office.

    These are basic lessons in civics.

    This is not the first time that Councilman Bob Isom has lashed out at JZ Knight, Steve Klein or the students of RSE. His comments reek of bias, prejudice, lack of objectivity and divisiveness. His comments reflect poor leadership.

    Council meetings are not the place to air personal points of view. If one cannot uphold one’s office, perhaps it is time one stepped down and allowed someone more capable, more objective and more community-minded to fill one’s position which has reflected so poorly on the city and good people of Yelm.

    Victoria Blazejewski

    Comment by YCT on August 8, 2006 at 8:19 pm

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