October 27, 2014

Let the facts speak for themselves –
Harding was previously warned by State Auditor’s Office


Mayor Ron Harding

With the community in an uproar over Mayor Harding’s side-stepping a conflict-of-interest issue in this week’s Nisqually Valley News story, listing me as the only person rallying this call as the mayor’s “nemesis,” if reporter Wyble would have had the courtesy to interview me directly, he would have been given the facts that others highlighted Mayor Harding’s previous conflicts of interest:

– Wyble’s former boss, then-Nisqually Valley News (NVN) Publisher/Editor Keven Graves said this in his June 18, 2010 Op-Ed titled “Should the mayor be serving two masters?” when Harding was both mayor and Chamber President:
“I believe the ‘perception’ of a conflict of interest can be every bit as damaging as a genuine conflict of interest.”

– Graves also raised this issue in 2011 when Harding served as Mayor of Yelm and President of the Yelm Area Chamber of Commerce, while also on the citys Transportation Committee. That committee recommended naming a city street ‘Walmart Boulevard’ adjacent Yelm’s Wal-Mart superstore, also a Yelm Camber of Commerce member and another instance where Harding should have recused himself from involvement.

– Harding was told by the State Auditor’s office in 2013 that he should have “bent over backwards” to prevent any and all appearances of a conflict of interest when a Yelm Chamber of Commerce electronic reader board was placed on city property. Again, Mr. Graves said Harding could ‘grease the skids’ for the Chamber over other applicants.

– In January 2013, Harding filed to be interim County Auditor for a then-recently vacated position. The day prior to the County Commissioners decision, Harding withdrew his name. The Commissioners chose Deputy County Auditor & Rep. Gary Alexander, who then selected Harding as his deputy replacement. Mr. Harding kept his Yelm mayoral position and along with his boss Rep. Alexander, they were getting two taxpayer funded paychecks. While legal, there were calls from a large cross-section of the community that Harding had County decisions and oversight involving the City of Yelm, therefore a conflict of interest. He became known as half of the team known as the Double-Dippers.


October 26, 2014

“Organic and Local: Still the Gold Standard”

Op-Ed from the Organic Consumers Association:
“In 2011, we wrote an article exposing the then-popular trend in food marketingpromoting “local” foods as “sustainable,” “healthy” or “natural,” even when they werent.

As we wrote at the time, local often means nothing more than food that has been sourced from within a prescribed geographic area. (According to Walmart and Big Food, local refers to anything produced within a 400-mile radius). But because a growing number of conscientious consumers actively seek out the local labeland are willing to pay a premium for itcorporations routinely co-opt the term so they can sell more product, at higher prices, in order to increase profit margins by promising (but not actually delivering) added value.

Fast forward a couple of years, and we see that sales of local food are still on the rise, as are sales of natural and more recently, Non-GMO foods. And today, just as they were a few years ago, consumers are still being duped by corporations that use these labels to pass off products as something they arent,” quoting Ronnie Cummins and Katherine Paul, Organic Consumers Association.
Read more


October 25, 2014

NVN: “Mayor Criticized for Council Appointment” –
“Harding Should Have Recused Himself From Vote” –
“We believe Harding tarnished himself”

The “Most Popular” Nisqually Valley News story in the online edition this week is titled:
“Mayor Criticized for Council Appointment”
“Harding Casts Deciding Vote: Mayors Wife Works For New Councilors Husband”
where Mr. Harding attempts to deflect attention away from his very high-profile faux-paux.
Read more

The community is awakening to Mayor Harding’s many conflicts of interest during his tenure because the newspaper’s Op-Ed states:
“Harding Should Have Recused Himself From Vote”
“The problem in the appointment of Littlefield, however, is that Hardings wife works for Littlefields husband.

Harding, in defending his vote, said the criticism comes from his nemesis Steve Klein, who ran against the mayor in 2005. Klein certainly does take on the mayor on many issues on his popular Yelm Community Blog.

This past week Klein wrote, ‘If Mr. Harding is to be trusted by the voters in his quest for higher political office, he is going to have to cease practices that are not in the publics interest. While his actions may go unchallenged in his Yelm Fiefdom, this kind of action will not play well for him in a county or state position.’

We dont know about Hardings aspirations for higher office. We do know that the higher up one goes in politics, the more scrutiny they get.

Harding is correct in his assessment that Klein has a long history opposing the mayors actions, but the criticism is also coming from many other quarters in Yelm. Several people contacted the Nisqually Valley News stating Harding should have recused himself. We join in that position.

“…an association with a community member is markedly different from an association with someone you sleep with at night, get up with in the morning, and someone you balance the checkbook with.

Harding further deflected criticism, stating he doesnt even know Littlefields husband. We counter that Hardings wife certainly does.

We consider a husband and wife to be a package deal and Harding should ponder his statement ‘Now, if I worked for her, that would be maybe a conflict of interest ‘

We do believe, as most public servants, Harding deeply cares for his community. He is also a gentleman in his everyday dealings.

The vote is done. We do have a qualified councilor in Littlefield. On this vote, however, we believe Harding tarnished himself and opens himself up for increased scrutiny.
Read more


October 25, 2014

Yelm Chamber announces new Executive Director

With two months to go before Yelm Chamber of Commerce Director Cecelia Jenkins’ retirement begins, the Chamber announced her replacement will be:
“Casey Cochrane, a veteran chamber of commerce staff member, volunteer chairman and industry representative, will begin as executive director of the Yelm Area Chamber of Commerce Nov. 3rd.

“Most recently with SCJ Alliance, an engineering and planning firm in Lacey, Cochrane previously represented Puget Sound Energy in Thurston County, managing the utilitys government relations,” quoting the Pierce County Business Examiner.
Read more

Editor’s Note:
Cochrane is listed as a Board member of the Olympia Lacey Tumwater Visitor and Convention Bureau (OLTVCB).


October 25, 2014

“5 Things Our Parents Did That Would Get Them Arrested Today”

“5 Things Our Parents Did That Would Get Them Arrested Today”
“Read on for a list of things that your parents may have done — or let you do — that would get them into hot water today. Then share your stories in the comment section below.
– Taking photos
– Home alone
– Smoking in the car
– Seat belts
– Weight gain,
by Liz Neporent, Good Morning America,
Read more


October 25, 2014

“‘Cash for Clunkers’ actually hurt the auto industry”

“‘Cash for Clunkers’ actually hurt the auto industry”
“Now, a new study by three Texas A&M University economists says the misguided stimulus policy wasn’t even good for the auto industry. Mark Hoekstra, Steven L. Puller and Jeremy West find that the program’s fuel-efficiency constraints induced people to purchase smaller, less expensive cars than they would otherwise have bought,” by David Nicklaus, St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
Read more


October 24, 2014

October 30: Coal/Oil Train Safety hearing in Olympia


“Derailment Dumps 737 Fuselages In River” July 2014
What if these were oil tanker cars and they ruptured?
Photo credit: Kyle Massick, AvWeb.

From the Sierra Club:
“Help stop dangerous fossil fuel trains from traveling through your community!”

“Northwest communities are facing an onslaught of coal export and oil-by-rail proposals. If oil and coal companies are permitted to build their proposed facilities, they would turn our beloved region into a fossil fuel corridor.

With their hazardous coal dust and explosive fuel, these trains pose serious risks to our communities. These mile-long trains are an accident waiting to happen. Derailments happen frequently and sometimes with disasterous (sic) results of loss of life and property.

It’s time to speak up and demand protection for our families and our childrens future!

In October, we have a unique chance to engage state leaders about the impacts of oil (and coal) transport in our communities and waterways. Governor Inslee is doing a study to assess the risks of oil transportation in Washington, and is giving the public a chance to comment at a series of public hearings.

Olympia Public Hearing:
Who: YOU, your friends and other Sierra Club supporters
What: Public hearing on oil and coal train safety
When: October 30, hearing at 6 pm, rally at 5 pm
Where: Red Lion, 2300 Evergreen Park Dr, Olympia, WA 98502
Read more

Editor’s Note:
As an example, a single oil spill near Puget Sound or the Nisqually River watershed could wipe out our state’s industries of oysters, salmon, and tourism for years to come.


October 24, 2014

October 24 is “Food Day”

About Food Day:
“Food Day inspires Americans to change their diets and our food policies. Every October 24, thousands of events all around the country bring Americans together to celebrate and enjoy real food and to push for improved food policies.”
Read more


October 23, 2014

Commissioner Romero’s Coffee Mon., Oct. 27 –
in Yelm, OPEN TO THE PUBLIC!


Sandra Romero

FROM COUNTY COMMISSIONER ROMERO’S e-mailer:
Please join Thurston County Commissioner Sandra Romero, as she hosts her monthly informal coffee hours in Rainier and Yelm on Monday, October 27th.

On Monday, October 27th, join Commissioner Romero and her guest, Thurston County Auditor Mary Hall, for coffee, and learn about all of the services the Auditors Office provides.

Mary Hall was elected Thurston County Auditor in November, 2013

There is a lot happening in Thurston County and we want to hear from you!
Once a month, Commissioner Romero meets with community members for informal coffee chats. These meetings give you the opportunity to talk about issues of concern, ask her questions about the county, and share ideas. Commissioner Romero provides participants’ coffee. She is the representative of District 2, which includes Yelm, Lacey, and Rainier.

What:
Citizen meeting with 2nd district County Commissioner Sandra Romero

When:
Monday, October 27th, 2014

Where:
– Rainier: 9:30am 10:30am at Rainier City Hall, 102 Rochester St W

– Yelm: 11:00am Noon Tacos Gaby, 307 Yelm Ave SE
Read more


October 22, 2014

Record rainfall total for any Oct. 22 today!

The National Weather Service recorded 1.43 inches of rain at Olympia Regional Airport today, which beat the previous single-day rainfall total for any October 22 here of 1.32 inches, noted in 1951.
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