Yelm Councilor Joe DePinto
Photo credit: City of Yelm
* Councilor DePinto only “nay” vote on city’s 2017 budget adoption.
* Interim Mayor Foster asked DePinto about his vote after the vote.
* DePinto declined to explain his vote – Foster pressed anyway.
* That is against city protocols using Robert’s Rules of Order.
* Not appropriate for Mayor to criticize a vote by councilors after the vote.
* DePinto: “I find this bullying by you, Mayor.”
* DePinto stated on-the-record previously transparency lacking in this budget.
* DePinto: “No” vote was in no way reflective of city staff’s efforts.
* DePinto: “No vote didn’t do enough for public safety.” Police got no new officers.
* Not enough time for councilors and public to understand budget.
* Interim Mayor Foster queried council on budget process transparency.
* Foster’s response to have done so was defensive.
* In football, that is called “piling on.”
While the November 22nd City Council session budget approval vote overwhelmingly passed with only one “nay” vote, what was out-of-line was the way Interim Mayor Foster handled the fact the budget was not unanimously approved. Foster pressed DePinto to explain the reason for his nay vote, DePinto declined. Later, DePinto expressed to Foster that asking a councilor for the reason for their vote after the discussion and the council’s vote was inappropriate, according to the city’s protocols in using Robert’s Rules of Order.
DePinto, with six-years experience working in the State Legislature is thoroughly versed in procedures and protocols, was very pointed in saying to Foster, “I find this bullying by you, Mayor.” DePinto specifically responded to Foster about the separation of power between the Legislative (council) and Executive (mayor) branches and that Foster was out-of-line in questioning DePinto’s vote.
Foster’s tone towards DePinto vote was at first, condescending. Foster’s response to query each councilor about the budget process being transparent missed DePinto’s point and was defensive. DePinto was crystal clear with his displeasure at the way an additional police officer was handled in the budget. On Tuesday, August 9, 2016, the Yelm City Council voted to authorize an additional police officer, as reported in the Nisqually Valley News. DePinto’s surprise was in discovering there were no new police officers allocated in the 2017 budget. When DePinto researched, he was told the August vote for an officer was via an amendment to the 2016 budget. So, the City of Yelm will receive “zero” new officers in the 2017 budget. That lack of transparency is what disturbed DePinto.
In football, Foster querying other councilors to compare them to Depinto’s vote is called “piling on.”
What was recorded after adjournment was appalling! The video ended, then a skip is noted and starts with Councilor Wood turning-in his documents to the city clerk. Most of the councilors had left the room and Interim Mayor Foster approaches Councilor Littlefield, where she says to him, “You are such a bully. I am going to wear orange to the next meeting. Did you know that is a stop-bullying color?” Fosters responds: “Is it, orange?” Littlefield says, “They have this orange day where everybody wears orange. I never do. I’m like, no, I support the bullies.”
That Interim Mayor Foster did not cut-off Littlefield whether he knew they were on-camera or not, indicates he is complicit with her views. That is a very unprofessional stand for a city’s leader to be taking certain councilor’s sides and is a breeding-ground for mistrust. Their opinions should be shared in-private or not at all, and certainly not in council chambers!
Click here to view, begin the video at 47:10.
Click here for the actual segment (Note: this is a Windows media file).
INTERIM MAYOR FOSTER AND COUNCILOR LITTLEFIELD OWE COUNCILOR DEPINTO AN ON-THE-RECORD APOLOGY! THE MAYOR & CITY OFFICIALS NEED TO BE REMINDED ABOUT PROFESSIONALISM IN PUBLIC.