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The Yelm Cabal is the name given by some very long-time residents, property and business owners that comprise a group of Yelm business, religious, and civic leaders that exert an unusual influence among the affairs of Yelm and environs. Often times, as has been noted throughout the years on this blog, priority-one in protecting the public’s interests has been overridden by their agendas that had the affect of doing just the opposite. The question that now arises is whether the Cabal will now in 2011 support the stand they took in making an issue in the election of 2005.
Webster’s defines a Cabal as “a small group of secret plotters.”

Megan Hansen reported in the local newspaper on July 8:
“Yelm resident Ken Garmann filed for Yelm City Council Position 6, which is currently held by John Thompson.

Garmann is no stranger to Yelm city government. He was the public works director from 1994 to 2000 and has worked with various cities throughout the region.

He is currently capital programs manager for the City of Bothel, but plans on retiring at the end of the year.”

– Not one citizen filed during the regular filing period to run for Thompson’s Position 6 Council seat he is vacating. Interesting to observe not one person filed to run against Joe Baker for his Position 2 seat and only Yelm Planning Commissioner J. W. Foster stepped-up to run unopposed for Don Miller’s vacating Position 1 seat. Yelm has had very few people step forward to serve as Council candidates in recent years.
– The City of Yelm properly had an extended filling period June 28-30.
– Since no one expressed interest during the regular filing period, the public waited to see what candidate would run for Position 6 in the extended filing period.
– Ken Garmann filed for Position 6 during the filing period extension, yet works full-time for the City of Bothell, some 70+ miles away.
– The aforementioned, local newspaper is quoted on September 16, 2005 about that year’s election:
“Residency requirements state that a candidate must live in his stated home at least 12 months prior to an election. The rules also stipulate that “intending” to live someplace is not the same as actually living there, according to the Thurston County Auditor’s Office.”

On Thursday, July 14, I called Mr. Garmann in Bothell’s City Hall, introduced myself and asked him about this issue. He told me he lives near his office during the week and returns to Yelm on weekends, saying he has owned a home, has been registered to vote here, and has paid taxes in Yelm for 20 years. He said I should have approached this differently with him. I asked for his input on how/what he would suggest. He said he refers to his Yelm residence as his home and plans on retiring from his Bothell post at the end of the year, adding there is no issue about his running for Yelm’s City Council. I informed him this WAS an issue here in the 2005 election, vigorously led by business, religious, and civic leaders and reporters then working for the local newspaper.

While I strongly support anyone that wishes to step forward for public service and I am certain Mr. Garmann has valuable experience to bring to the position, I agree with Keven Graves’s November 25, 2005 editorial in the local newspaper:
“We (he & then Mayor-elect Harding) agree that a transparent government is better government.”

If a transparent government IS better government, Mr. Garmann’s candidacy for the Yelm City Council raises two questions that require asking:

1. Does Garmann’s living and working most of the week in Bothell and returning to Yelm on weekends as he stated, qualify residency for 12 months leading up to the election by “actually living there [Yelm], according to the Thurston County Auditor’s Office”?

2. Is there an appearance of conflict of interest for a full-time, capital programs manager of another Puget Sound city living there a majority of the week while employed by that municipality and running for City Council in Yelm?

Graves also said in his November 25, 2005 editorial:
“This newspaper’s role is to empower residents by keeping them informed. We trust our readers to read the facts and draw their own conclusions.”

If that is true, then newspaper readers would benefit from these facts to draw their own conclusions. Unfortunately, since Garmann has no opponent running against him to bring forth these issues, one can only hope the local newspaper empowers their readers with these facts.

If the newspaper and other leaders are going to back-up their words from 6 years ago, then Mr. Graves December 10, 2010 editorial quote applies to the Yelm Cabal currently, as well,
“You can’t have it both ways.”


Posted by Steve on July 18, 2011 at 5:36 am | Permalink

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