Yelm Public Safety Building & City Council Chambers
The vote by the Yelm City Council last Tuesday to approve an electronic sign placed by the Yelm Chamber of Commerce on public property brings up several issues covered here last Spring:
1. the electronic reader board will be a source of revenue for the Chamber, according to Chamber President Glen Cunningham’s comments to the City Council last Tuesday evening.
2. would the city allow anyone to use public land for advertising to raise revenue for that business?
After all, Mayor Harding & Mr. Cunningham told Council this sign will benefit small businesses who wish to pay to advertise on the Chamber’s electronic sign, which the Council just approved.
You know what the answer would be to anyone else.
3. Nisqually Valley News (NVN) Editor/Publisher Keven Graves’ in his June 18, 2010 Op-Ed titled, “Should the mayor be serving two masters?” vigorously examined an appearance of conflict of interest on Mayor Harding’s part.
Mayor Harding is the current Treasurer & president-elect of the Yelm Chamber of Commerce and “brought a proposal to the chamber board to purchase an electronic sign,” according to the NVN’s Megan Hansen in the June 18th newspaper. The sign would be rented to advertisers and placed on a city-owned easement at the corner of Killion Rd. & Yelm Ave. Graves points out “As mayor, Harding has the potential to knowingly or unknowingly ‘grease the skids’ for the chamber in this process.”
Graves continues, “…I believe the ‘perception’ of a conflict of interest can be every bit as damaging as a genuine conflict of interest.
The people of Yelm and the city’s interest must be Harding’s sole overriding, unequivocal focus as mayor, for as long as he is mayor.
As an elected public servant, Harding should not be serving two masters: The City of Yelm and the chamber [Yelm Chamber of Commerce].”
IS THIS SIGN CROSSING THE LINE ?
Mr. Graves Op-Ed last week continued in addressing the issue of accountability of public officials where he stated:
“If youve ever wondered why its important to know whats going on with your elected officials, you might ask some of the residents of Bell, Calif., a Los Angeles suburb.
On Wednesday [Sept. 22], an audit of Bell determined the city mismanaged $40 million in bond funds that were approved by voters in 2003…
Without the media asking questions, residents who are struggling from paycheck to paycheck in Bell, Calif., wouldnt know that their representatives were hauling in astronomical salaries.
Over the years, we have covered the various councils and agencies and miscellaneous boards and committees. Sometimes we ask questions that irritate people. We may ask for public records that require some work for an agency to produce.
Often for very good reason.
The alleged misconduct in Bell, Calif., is an extreme case. Too often, however, citizens forget that, as taxpayers, they have every right and a certain degree of responsibility to keep their elected and appointed officials accountable.
Yes, its uncomfortable to ask the tough questions, and we have taken our share of criticism for daring to request certain information.”
This writer has continued for over 5 years asking tough questions & bringing forth issues from the city, county & state. I echo Mr. Graves’s comments:
“Yes, its uncomfortable to ask the tough questions, and we have taken our share of criticism for daring to request certain information.”
However, being a participant in our government is a responsibility of everyone in a Constitutional Republic.
WE ARE the government!