Yelm Community Blog

NEWSPAPER READERS SPEAKS OUT ON YELM ISSUES

This unabridged comment to The Olympian echoes the frustration of many about issues in Yelm:

“What happened here? The water issues in the Town of Yelm and unrestrained approvals of commercial and private developments are the real issues. If JZ Knights court actions brought that attention and concern forward to more readers and folks in state government authority for the good of the average Yelm citizen, then great. Yelm needs media attention brought upon Yelm City Council addressing these very important issues. We are not being heard here and our concerns are ignored by City Council.

In case I am labeled as you are reading, I am not a RSE follower, but merely a very concerned citizen and a Christian in the Yelm community. I am not lead easily by anyone, which would include the church if I felt its message was destructive toward mental and physical safety and welfare of me, my family and others. I have lived in Yelm for over 35 years, witnessing many of the changes here. I welcome growth, progress, and convenience, but mismanaged it is destructive, affecting quality of life and future generations.

Yelm traffic is worst than ever, schools are overcrowded, water problems, more pollution due to more traffic and taxes keep getting higher and higher. The leaders in Yelm are making unintelligent decisions which are negatively affecting those who live here or want to live here in the future. The Mayor and City Council operate with dollar signs behind closed doors, greedily pulling in as much revenue as they can without thought to citizens concerns, quality of life, the small business owner, the children that are attending our overcrowded schools and taught by teachers working more than their share. These are the real issues.

We rarely get real information in the Nisqually Valley News on what Yelm city government is doing or not doing. Im frankly not interested in more bashing news articles. Truth, accountability and credibility in Yelm city government and spending are more important. We all know who JZ Knight is, she has lived here for years, and I dont need to read about it every week on the front page of the Nisqually Valley News. I am interested in how the City Council will combat the budget crisis, what cutbacks are anticipated, and if and what their solution will be relating to fixing the real issues in the Yelm community. Do they realize many people will not considering moving to Yelm because of Yelms reputation and the mess we have here?” quotIng The Olympian comment section.

And submitted to the Yelm Community Blog & the Nisqually Valley News for their December 5th edition:

Dear Mayor Harding:
I read your letter in this column last week. I agree that you treat all citizens of Yelm equally…with equal disdain and lack of caring for our future good. You said, “I have had people urge me to respond to these ads.” How many people? I decided to review the letters that were written during the public comment period for Thurston Highlands. I focused on the many names that were unfamiliar to me to see what their opinions were. EVERY letter, sir, had some concern about this project. Be it about water, traffic or depleting our downtown businesses with the proposed commercial district in this area, every citizen who wrote had grave concerns about Thurston Highlands. It is standard to note that each letter represents at least 5 – 8 citizens, as many who have concerns do not take the time to write. That is quite a few people, sir. Still, you and your business partners ignored these questions like parents who think they know better. But we are not your children, sir. We are citizens and, frankly, your employer. So you will take the time to respond to these ads, but not to the people who questioned the project.

Mr. Mayor, I object to your continual use of the phrase “Knight and her handlers.” That is quite a sexist statement. From what little I know of Ms. Knight, nobody handles her. Would you call the people who work for you, your “handlers?” Do you assume that a woman is not capable in such matters on her own?
Again, I say thank you to JZ Knight for making the kind of noise that apparently all the rest of us could not make. I thank Judge Wickham for evaluating the case and finding on behalf of the citizens of Yelm.

Finally, regarding, “the time and money spent on this matter,” any money that has been spent falls squarely on your shoulders for persisting in this folly. Do not point the finger elsewhere. I do not understand why you and the developers cling so tenaciously to this bad idea. You are the ones spreading propaganda, and it is on behalf of Thurston Highlands. What is in it for you, sir?

Respectfully,
Melody Rae

This writer’s Letter to the Editor was published in the NVN on December 5th, as well:

Dear Editor;

Some observations of local news items in recent days:

1.On Nov. 21st your newspaper reported the city will appeal the loss of the water case, “[Mayor] 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? The Judge ordered the city to prove water at final plat for the 5 developments at issue, rather than after final plat at the building permit phase, as the city defended in Court?

Mayor Harding said in his Letter to the Editor the City of Yelm will grant water use at the time of a building permit is issued, with no priority to any individual or organization. Interesting, despite of the fact the DOE said Yelm does not have adequate water rights to cover what the city has approved to-date.

2. On Nov. 28th, the Mayors Letter to the Editor and front-page story said a full-page ad placed in the Nisqually Valley News by channeler JZ Knight [is] ‘standard propaganda.’

If that is true, then why would Mr. Harding not specify what he believes is “misleading and false.”
His answer is the “standard denial” with no substantiation.

3. On Nov. 21st, your newspaper quoted Harding on the Yelm Library issue 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 Yelm and all rental fees will fall to the city. The rent in the current facility will go up with the new lease, resulting in more than a 100% increase in library expenses all borne by the City of Yelm, because it has not committed to a public library building.
Why is the Mayor waiting until near the end of the lease to share the city’s options? No public building and a very expensive lease to wait 3 more years with no public input could be too late.

4. Mr. Harding spoke about the Bypass to the City Council on Tuesday, November 25th saying construction funding will come in early 2009 from unused right-of-way (r-o-w) money and he hoped construction could begin on Phase One in 2009.
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?
– 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. In the meantime, Harding lost a Bypass champion with the defeat of Senator Marilyn Rasmussen; her influence reinstated the Governors veto of gas-tax funding for the Bypass r-o-w in 2008. With the State budget and revenue sources in crisis, everything is in flux. 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.

5. The Thurston Highlands final EIS was released last week. With Thurston County Commissioner Diane Oberquell stepping down next month and leaving behind a legacy of a major County budget deficit on her watch, her new replacement Sandra Romero is a no-nonsense champion of smart growth, which will certainly impact Yelms grow-grow-grow modus-operandi, if the economy doesnt keep growth here in check already.

6. The City of Yelm 2009-2010 budget hearing is still open until Dec. 9th for public input I told the Council on Nov. 25th that a revenue reduction of the General Fund of 15% is not enough with a contracting economy that has a long way to go before hitting bottom with home prices, home sales, sales tax revenue, building permit starts, home assessments and property taxes all falling through the floor. They should be looking at a 25% reduction or more to protect their ability to provide services in the future to Yelm residents.

These are serious matters that require the Mayor and City Council to be up-front with the taxpayers of Yelm and vicinity as we all navigate increasingly stormy waters.

Steve Klein
Yelm, WA.

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