On June 18, 2010, Nisqually Valley News Editor/Publisher Keven Graves wrote his Op-Ed titled, “Should the mayor be serving two masters?” where Graves vigorously examined an appearance of conflict of interest on Mayor Harding’s part.
Mayor Harding, who until last week was the Treasurer & President-elect of the Yelm Chamber of Commerce “brought a proposal to the chamber board to purchase an electronic sign,” according to Megan Hansen’s report in the June 18th newspaper. That sign has been approved to be placed on a city-owned easement at the corner of Killion Rd. & Yelm Ave. The Yelm Chamber is now accepting advertisers.
Graves pointed 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].”
Last Friday, October 29th, we learned through the Nisqually Valley News (NVN) that Yelm Chamber President Glen Cunningham is leaving the area and has resigned his citizen committee positions. Megan Hansen in her NVN story titled “Yelm bids farewell to a community asset” said:
With Cunningham leaving, several community positions will be open. The City of Yelm will be advertising to fill those positions shortly, Harding said…
His position as chamber president was filled by Harding, who served as president-elect.
‘By default Im the chamber president,’ Harding said.
He will complete Cunninghams remaining term.”
Not only will Mayor Harding complete Mr. Cunningham’s remaining term, he will follow that with a one-year role as the Chamber’s President-elect.
As mentioned here on June 18th,
“I have an issue with a Chamber of Commerce Board & members for their malaise in not speaking up about this and other important issues affecting them in presentations Mayor Harding made at Chamber Forum meetings this year (water rate increases, B & O tax increases, water irrigation cutbacks on businesses, etc.).”
HAS THE CHAMBER BOARD & THE CHAMBER ITSELF BECOME SO MYOPIC THEY HAVE LOST SIGHT OF THE ‘CONFLICT OF INTEREST’ THEY HAVE CREATED IN ELECTING MAYOR HARDING TO BE CHAMBER PRESIDENT.
IS THE YELM CHAMBER OF COMMERCE BOARD JUST A BUNCH OF FOLLOWERS TO THE MAYOR’S WHIMS?
IS THE MAYOR SO UNEDUCATED ON CONFLICT OF INTEREST ISSUES OR SO HUNGRY FOR POWER THAT HE COULD NOT EVEN RECUSE HIMSELF FROM THIS POST?
HAS MR. HARDING LOST SIGHT OF HIS MANDATE?
AS MR. GRAVES STATES,
“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.”
I SUPPORT MR. GRAVES’ STATEMENT:
“As an elected public servant, Harding should not be serving two masters: The City of Yelm and the chamber.”
Now, unless there is some intervention, Harding is both for the next year and a half!