I take issue with Nisqually Valley News (NVN) Editor/Publisher Michael Wagar criticizing an unidentified Yelm City Council candidate in his Op-Ed this week titled:
“Candidates Need to Fact Check Before Throwing Stones”
regarding Yelm City Council candidates’ statements at the Chamber-sponsored forum September 8:
1. Yelm Police Dept. staffing
Wagar said, “One candidate said the Yelm Police Department is at the same level as it was 20 years ago. The truth is that in 1995 the city had seven officers at a cost of $489,000. Today we have 12 with a department cost of $1.6 million.”
If Mr. Wagar did the math, he would note the City Council candidate was correct:
* In 1995, the $489,000 police dept. expense for 7 officers per 2,500 residents = $196 per resident.
Note: The $196 per resident spent in 1995 equates to over $300 per resident in today’s equivalent dollars.
* In 2014, the $1.6 million police dept. expense for 12 officers per 8,223 residents = $195 per resident.
* In 1995, 7 officers equaled one for every 357 residents.
* In 2014, 12 officers equaled one for every 685 residents.
The statistics reflect the City Council candidate was CORRECT in asserting “the Yelm Police Department is at the same level as it was 20 years ago” – on dollars spent on Police staffing per resident, yet Wagar did not follow-up to ask about the category of the comparison. Yet, the police staffing per resident today is almost half of what it was in 1995.
“I do, however, suspect our staffing levels for our current population and volume of police calls are below standard, which is an issue that needs to be addressed. The Nisqually Valley News intends to publish a news article about current police staffing levels in next week’s edition.”
We’ll look forward to that report, however these statistics should be duly noted, rather than unrighteously putting down a council candidate’s comments. That the NVN did not follow-up with the candidate to get the details is also placing their spin on this issue through omission of the facts!
2. Why Ice Chips did not move their manufacturing facility within the Yelm city limits
Wagar said, “Another inaccurate statement at the forum has been circulating around the city for about a year. It has to do with the Ice Chips grannies expanding and moving their operations out of town because the city wouldn’t allow them to grow here in Yelm.”
“They did ask if there was any space available already built in the area, was told there were no existing structures they were seeking, and that was the extent of their dealings with the city.”
The NVN published on November 6, 2014 why Ice Chips did not relocate within Yelm City Limits, which also differs with Mr. Wagar’s assertions:
“The two [Ice Chips owners Beverly Vines-Haines and Charlotte Clary] were even considering constructing their own building, but were told by city of Yelm Building Official Gary Carlson and Yelm Mayor Ron Harding they did not think they could zone the business, according to Vines-Haines.
‘I feel bad, because I love Yelm, but cities that keep business away never reach the status they think they are,’ she said.
‘When I read about Yelm in the Chamber of Commerce information, it’s read like they’re pro-growth,’ Clary said. ‘What concerns me is that they might think they are, and they are so not.'”
Looking for “any space available already built in the area” was NOT the “the extent of their dealings with the city,” as Mr. Wagar stated. His own newspaper reported the Ice Chips owners “were even considering constructing their own building, but were told by city of Yelm Building Official Gary Carlson and Yelm Mayor Ron Harding they did not think they could zone the business.”
Yet, the City of Yelm has an industrial zone, as another council candidate thoroughly discussed at the forum which needs to be exploited.
3. Yelm water rates
The issue raised was the fact that there have been ANNUAL water/sewer increases for Yelm property owners since 2008, to fund a more the infrastructure for a doubling of Yelm’s water rights to grow this town, yet is the subject of a WA Supreme Court case in which the City of Yelm is currently a defendant. What will Yelm do with the property owners’ water/sewer system expansion funds if they lose this case and not be allowed to have a more than doubling of the city’s water rights?
The annual per capital water/sewer rate increases for Yelm property owners from 2008-2015 are some of the highest anywhere locally.
Mr. Wagar’s closing sentence of his Op-Ed also applies to him, does it not?
“As is the case for everyone and every business, we can all do better, and that includes the city administration.
But before throwing stones, I urge all to check the facts first.“