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Keven Graves, publisher/managing editor of the Nisqually Valley News (NVN) wrote a cryptic editorial in his newspaper’s January 26 Opinion page saying,
“…there aren’t any tell-tale signs of hidden agendas or secret meetings being held in smoke-filled back rooms. If we catch wind of such goings on, however, you can bet our readers will read about it in our pages. Yes, Yelm is still a small town, and the old timers – or at least the long timers – tend to have their own tight circles. That’s OK, as long as that doesn’t translate into blatant cronyism.

While I’m a believer in being involved in local government, whether as an elected or appointed official, or as a citizen asking questions and attending meetings, there is a line, one that is easily crossed when a person refuses to be accountable.”

Mr. Graves has published several Letters to the Editor in recent weeks asking him for facts as to what he was referring since he closed the column saying, “It’s ultimately up to the reader to reach their own conclusions based on all of the facts, and we trust them to do so, because they’re smart.
That’s how we do our job.
What say you?”

However, the NVN story of February 9 highlighting Yelm’s Citizen Committees made abundantly clear both in what was printed and in what was ommitted that with THIS city, the line of blatant cronyism has been crossed based on what was reflected in Yelm’s Mayor-appointed Citizen Committees.

Did anyone notice that Glen Cunningham serves on 4 of the 6 citizen committees and what was not listed in the NVN is that he also serves the Yelm Lions as well as on the Mayor appointed Yelm Economic Committee (EDC) and the Yelm Chamber of Commerce Board. Further, Mr, Cunningham is the chariman of the Yelm Planning Commission & Vice Chair of the Yelm Tree Advisory Board. Certainly seems like a conflict of interest with all of his posts.
More preferential treatment?
Further, Cecelia Jenkins serves as the Executive Director of the Yelm Chamber of Commerce and on the Mayor appointed Yelm Economic Devleopment Committee (EDC) and the Mayor appointed Yelm Parks Advisory Board.

While I acknowledge Mr. Cunningham’s & Mrs. Jenkins’ service to the city, wouldn’t the wise thing be for the Mayor to appoint people from all walks of life from the area to these Boards. Some have said no one else steps “up to the plate” to serve their community. I have issue with that, since more than a dozen people applied for an open City Council seat in 2006.

This writer wrote the Mayor and raised this issue last Autumn[scroll to September 28, 2006 for full story]:

Mr. Harding’s response was:
“In response to your inquiry, No charter governs these types of committees and like most appointments they are appointed by the Mayor. Each of the backgrounds that you feel should be present on this committee is already present, as I find the need to I can add or reduce the membership.

I can ensure you I have confidence in those members I have selected, in my staff and myself. I believe at the end of my first term the progress we have made will speak for itself.

I hope I have provided the knowledge that you seem to be lacking in understanding how these committees are structured.

The time is now.”
Mayor Ron Harding

If the aforementioned examples have not translated “into blatant cronyism”, this writer knows none better. And, there are plenty more examples of blatant cronyism not listed here!

Mr. Graves states further, “Simply put, we won’t gloss over the truth to protect sources, nor will we twist it to suit our whim or agenda.” OK fine, then the “TIME IS NOW” to report these issues & to call for some new “blood” and diversity from among Yelm citizens to be appointed to this city’s citizen committees with the current vacancies.

Kenin Graves, NVN = yelmnews@yelmonline.com
Mayor Ron Harding = ronh@ci.yelm.wa.us

Posted by Steve on February 13, 2007 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

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