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Mayor Ron Harding

Two front page stories in the current edition on the Nisqually Valley News have me shaking my head – again.
I continue to find officials at City Hall that either:

1. Are not educated
2. Can’t seem to get their facts straight
3. Deliberately mislead the public

Two examples just this week:

1. “Mayor adds sales to his job description”
Megan Hansen reports:

“More than a year ahead of schedule, Yelm Mayor Ron Harding is stepping into his role as president of the Yelm Area Chamber of Commerce.

Having helped clear the path for a new electronic reader board to be erected on city right-of-way, the mayor is now helping to sell advertising on the billboard.

Harding maintains that he sees no conflict of interest, perceived or otherwise…

Harding said he disagrees with criticism that the mayor should not also be serving as the chambers president…

‘The business community hasnt been critical of it, and thats who Im serving.’

Mr. Harding is missing something quite important, as stated by Nisqually Valley News Editor/Publisher Keven Graves in his June 18, 2010 Op-Ed:

“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.”
Yet, Harding says in this week’s newspaper he is serving the business community.

Graves pointed out “As mayor, Harding has the potential to knowingly or unknowingly ‘grease the skids’ for the chamber in this process.”
“…I believe the ‘perception’ of a conflict of interest can be every bit as damaging as a genuine conflict of interest.

Mr. Harding, let’s get a definition of ‘conflict of interest’ for you:

Wikipedia says
More generally, conflicts of interest can be defined as any situation in which an individual or corporation (either private or governmental) is in a position to exploit a professional or official capacity in some way for their personal or corporate benefit.”

Now, we hear that Mayor Harding “is now helping to sell advertising on the billboard” for the Yelm Chamber, a “corporate entity” benefiting from solicitations from a mayor in an official governmental position.

Ed. Note:
Key question that should be asked – would Mr. Harding support your business’s electronic reader board on public land, and solicit advertising? Of course not.
Would Mr. Harding allow the Nisqually Valley News to put an electronic reader board near their office on public land? Of course not!
Then why only the Chamber?
Is that fair to businesses who are not Chamber members?

Not good enough?
Then let’s go to the Legal Dictionary definition provided by The Free Dictionary by Farlex:
“conflict of interest n. a situation in which a person has a duty to more than one person or organization, but cannot do justice to the actual or potentially adverse interests of both parties. This includes when an individual’s personal interests or concerns are inconsistent with the best for a customer, or when a public official’s personal interests are contrary to his/her loyalty to public business”.

I wrote here previously that having Mayor Harding as the Chamber’s Treasurer where he directed the City Council to appropriate public funding for the Yelm Chamber while he managed the Chamber’s books was totally inappropriate.



2. “Water ruling a green light for growth for City of Yelm”
Megan Hansen filed this front-page report in the Nisqually Valley News:
The state Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of Washington’s Municipal Water Law [MWL], removing uncertainty over water right certificates issued as far back as the 1950s.

“The MWL allows a city to plan for its future needs and to obtain water rights for those needs, without threat of relinquishment before they are fully used,” said Yelm City Administrator Shelly badger.

Last week’s decision is a good thing, because it allows a city to grow, she said.”

Ed, Note:
I would hope Mrs. Badger knows better than this, so am assuming she is spinning tales.
The case to which she refers was about the constitutionality of the MWL & that issue only

Contrary to Mrs. Badger’s statement in the newspaper, the state Supreme Court ruling does not guarantee water for communities over senior water rights holders by any means. Yelm still has to obtain water rights from Ecology AND an approved number of connections from Health to be able to issue any more permits for growth.
The state Supreme Court ruling allows cities that have unused water rights to grow — Yelm has no unused water rights. The state Supreme Court ruling does not usurp 150 years of western water law.

Gene Johnson filed this report in The Seattle Times:
“The justices said Thursday [Oct. 27] the changes were, on their face, constitutional but suggested they would entertain challenges later on if people claimed to be specifically harmed….

But, critics of the law would take up the justices on their invitation to challenge the way the law is applied in specific cases, she said. One such case is pending in Whitman County Superior Court involving a local resident who has seen the level of his well drop as Washington State University cashes in on old water rights for a new golf course, Osborn said.”

By the way,
outside of Mrs. Badger’s quote, most of the rest of Ms. Hansen’s story is a word-for-word direct quote from the Department of Ecology News Release – October 28, 2010, with no quotation marks nor credit provided as to the source.

If a blogger did this, there would be an Op-Ed about such blogger’s lack of journalistic training & ethics! HMMM!

Posted by Steve on November 8, 2010 at 5:01 am | Permalink

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