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This last week has seen alot of deception coming from Mayor Harding on several varied issues, which seem to be overlooked in the coverage by the city’s official newspaper of record, the Nisqually Valley News (NVN).
Where was their in-depth examination of these stories:

1. Regarding the Court decision against the City of Yelm in the water case
Mayor Harding is quoted in the November 21st NVN saying:
“Harding said the city has always proved water at final plat.”

If that is true, then why would the city have to appeal the case, since the Judge ordered the city to prove water at final plat for the 5 developments at issue?
The city has gone to court to protect its desire to have a “reasonable expectation” of water after final plat at the building permit phase, long after the developer has gone, as the Judge pointed out in Court Documents.

2. Regarding Mr. Harding labeling “…Knight ad misleading”
as quoted in his Letter to the Editor in the November 28th NVN,
Mr. Harding “called a full-page ad placed in the Nisqually Valley News by channeler JZ Knight ‘standard propaganda.’
“Harding said he doesnt want to get into a big public debate over the water issue and Knights court case, but claimed there was too much information in the ad that he believes is misleading and false.”

If that is true, then why would Mr. Harding not specify what he believes is “misleading and false.”
The Mayor mentioned nothing of what he thinks is not accurate.
His answer is the “standard denial” with no substantiation.
After all, Harding stated the city will appeal the case, though the Wa. State DOE has filed Court documents proving the City of Yelm does not have enough water for any new developments. The DOE has oversight on the city’s water rights.
Why the NVN gives front-page coverage to the Mayor’s letter without asking him what he thinks is not accurate in the ad is beyond me.

3. Regarding the Yelm public Library’s future,
Mayor Harding is quoted in the November 21 NVN saying,
“Building a new library is not an option, said Mayor Ron Harding.

As the end of the lease draws near, Harding said the citys options will be released to the public.”

In 2012, Timberland Regional Library no longer splits the library’s rent with the City of Yelm, instead all rental fees will fall to the city. In addition, the rent in the current facility goes up as announced by Margaret Clapp to the city, resulting in more than a 100% increase in library expenses to be borne by the City of Yelm, all because it doesn’t have a public library building.
Why is the Mayor waiting until near the end of the lease to release the city’s options for the library’s future to the public?
That could be too late and the city could possibly be boxed into a corner with few options by then, with no public input.

4. Regarding Mr. Harding’s comments about the Bypass to the City Council last Tuesday:
At the end of the meeting, the Mayor took questions from the Council.

Council member Don Miller asked about the status of the Bypass.

City Administrator Shelly Badger said that funding was to remain in the city’s 2009 budget for a lobbyist, so that the city can be present in the 2009 Legislature to keep the Bypass up-front with the representatives when the Transportation Funding is discussed. She said they continue to have monthly meetings with the DOT and there is a potential for a Phase One start.

Mayor Harding said that construction funding will come in early 2009 from left-over, unused right-of-way money previously allocated and he hoped construction could begin on Phase One in 2009.

The facts on the Bypass:
The WSDOT site says of r-o-w acquisition:
“The purchase of Right-of-way is underway and will continue through 2011.”

– If the r-o-w acquisition is still not completed, how does the city know what, if anything, will be left over to use for construction?
– WSDOT Olympic Region meets with the City of Yelm regularly, however about design aspects of a Phase 1, not about construction funding.
– WSDOT has no authority to make promises about construction funding – though they can share potentials.
– Regardless of what Mayor Harding is touting, there is no end-run around the legislative process. Governor Gregoire signs the next Transportation Budget prepared by the State Legislature sometimes in the first half of 2009. Until that time arrives, nothing is assured. Mr. Harding lost a champion of the Bypass with the defeat of Senator Marilyn Rasmussen. She overturned the Governor’s veto in 2008, wielding great political influence to keep the initial $33 million 2005 gas tax funding intact. With Freshman Senator Becker taking her place and major budget cuts announced by the Governor, Bypass construction funding looks even more difficult in 2009. Senator-elect Becker is a Republican who ran successfully against Democrat Rasmussen about responsible budgeting, so this will be at the forefront of the agenda as the state grapples with sharply declining revenues.
– The Wildcard in funding Bypass construction is the possibility of a Federal infrastructure stimulus package in early 2009 from the in-coming Obama Administration. However, the Bypass would be vying for funding with every other unfunded and/or underfunded road project in the state.
The Nisqually Valley News reporter was in the Council meeting, yet reported nothing on this important subject.

5. Thurston County Commissioner Diane Oberquell steps down next month. She and Mayor Harding have corroborated on many city issues for several years and her replacement voted by the public is Sandra Romero, a no-nonsense, former state legislator who is known for her stands on controlling growth, something totally opposite of Yelm’s Mayor and city officials’ proposed quadrupling of Yelm. Mrs. Romero is very familiar with the issues out here in Yelm, having paid many visits to the area during her campaign. With a major Thurston County budget deficit left from the watch of Mrs. Oberquell to get under control, look for major changes coming in Thurston County & Yelm’s relationship. Yelm’s grow-grow-grow policies could be challenged by the County, or certainly kept in check by the declining economy, regardless of Mayor Harding’s push to grow full-speed ahead.

The Thurston Highlands Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) was released last Wednesday. This writer will digest the city’s response to the Draft EIS and give a full report for Yelm Community Blog readers. One chief question City Administrator Badger said in early 2007 would be answered in the EIS is how will the City be repaid for a 2/3 of a million dollar private-developer’s water study the City Council authorized paying with taxpayer monies. The City has no contract about this with Thurston Highlands’ developers, & therefore has no guarantees to be repaid if the developers pull out or do not build because of the economy.

The Protect Yelm site has taken aim at some of these stories, as well.

This month marks the required time that a 2009 Yelm Mayoral candidate must be registered to vote and live in the city limits. The Public Disclosure Commission requires a mayoral candidate has lived in the city for one year prior to the 2009 election.

As already reported in a Letter to the Editor I wrote in the Nisqually Valley News a few months ago, this writer will not run for Mayor in 2009 since I reside outside of the city limits, and will seek NO public office nor will accept any appointed, public position any further. Therefore, unless someone steps up to the plate, Mayor Harding will run unopposed in 2009, if he chooses another term.


Posted by Steve on November 29, 2008 at 6:07 am | Permalink

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