- Editor’s note: I commend the impeccable manner in which The Triad Theater’s Cameron Jayne and Councilor Joe DePinto handled a challenging and difficult situation that ensued at the April 23, 2019, Yelm city council session. The situation that led to this had snowballed out of control due to a lack of communication by Mayor Foster with the city administrator and city council, which he acknowledged after direct questioning by Ms. Jayne, and councilors Molly Carmody and Joe DePinto rushing to judgement via their councilor social media Facebook pages, rather than contacting Ms. Jayne directly inquiring why the UFO Fest was leaving Yelm for Lacey. A lack of communication by Mayor Foster is becoming a hallmark of his leadership here, as evidenced by other instances, such as not informing council he signed a Deed in Lieu of Foreclosure on 640 acres without council’s consent and approval. Councilor DePinto apologized and took responsibility for his Facebook post prior to gathering the facts.
- Further, Mr. Foster should have joined Councilor DePinto in publicly acknowledging Ms. Jayne for what transpired and issued a formal apology on behalf of the city and city council. BRAVO to Mr. DePinto for his decisive leadership in this regard! DePinto’s outstanding handling of this issue reflected his fine leadership capabilities and was vivid in stark contrast to Mayor Foster’s tepid response. I hope we see DePinto running again for mayor, the next election in 2021.
- After seeing the council session, a prominent Yelm business owner told me this reminded them when Ice Chips Candy could not get the city to assist their expansion in town and they moved to Tumwater, noting that Yelm was “non-business friendly.” Listening to how Mayor Foster did little to nothing to keep the UFO Fest in Yelm also reminded me of the Ice Chips move. I can think of two ways the mayor could have opened doors for the UFO Fest to have remained here. His silence last Tuesday to extend no invitation, pledge, or commitment in an attempt to get the UFO Fest to return here was deafening and most revealing, as well.
- Councilor Joe DePinto’s Facebook post brilliantly summarizes the UFO Fest snafu, used here with permission:
“At tonight’s [Apr. 23] city council meeting we had a lot of different folks speaking to the council on the subject of the UFO Fest and the Downtown Corridor Study (I was the sole no vote for the latter due to the cost, at around 13 million as well as being a voice for the downtown business owners who did not want to lose parking in front of their business).
“Regarding the UFO Fest, Cameron Jayne the founder, came to give her perspective and share her disappointment in some of our councilmembers comments on Facebook (CM Carmody and myself, you can find my post from a few weeks ago if you scroll down).
“One thing I always preach is that there is always two sides to every story, and when I made that FB post I did not follow my own words of advice and just used a Nisqually Valley News article and a conversation with our City Admin as the straight truth. I did not reach out to Jayne to get her side of the story. For that I truly apologize to her (which I apologized publicly tonight and she accepted).
“As was confirmed at tonight’s meeting she did try to work with the Mayor to keep this festival in Yelm, which was something that was in no way communicated to myself or the rest of the Council. It’s not an excuse, I still should have reached out to her directly which I deeply regret.
“Again, I’m very sorry Cameron Jayne for not reaching out directly to you to understand that you did try to work with the city but the city was not doing everything they could to keep your UFO Festival in Yelm. I also apologize to the constituents that I serve for not doing a better job of gathering all different perspectives before I blasted the UFO Festival for leaving Yelm.
“I’m far from perfect yet I strive to be the best councilman I can and to fairly represent the people of Yelm. This was a humbling moment for me and I’ll do better in the future to understand all sides and perspectives.”
- My response to Councilor DePinto’s Facebook post:
“[Joe DePinto] are a man of true integrity and character to have understood and written this, Joe. The great purposeful good in this experience is you get the learning and Yelm gets an even more impeccable councilor, true to his principles, ethics, morals, and his word. That is becoming a rarity in some elected officials as they change from the aphrodisiac of perceived power (or their true selves are revealed). Not so in you! I am proud to support you in your work for the people of Yelm, all-ways have been. Again, as was reveals at the council session, Mayor Foster continues to not inform councilors of important decisions in which he is involved, i.e. the 640 acre agreement. This is now a serious issue for this city’s government.”
- And last, I posted this to both Councilor DePinto’s and Carmody’s original Facebook posts about Ms. Jayne:
“The proper way to handle this is to invite Jayne to the next city council meeting and ask for her explanation to the Hotel/Motel Tax Committee with all of the members present and for the public record! I just arrived back in town last night after being away the last 12 days and am so disappointed to see a Yelm city councilor resort to social media to decimate Jayne’s decision without knowing the full story, which I do, as I met with Jayne 6 weeks ago on this very issue. Please air your grievances on the public record!”
Added to Councilor Carmody’s Facebook thread: “…condemning her in such a manner via social media without providing her an invitation & an opportunity to address council is like a “tar and feathering,” in emanating from an elected official. I had hoped that left this town with Ron Harding.”
“I met with Jayne 6 weeks ago at her request when this was on-going and she told me then that she HAD been in contact with the city’s leader. As I said, you can adjudicate this all you want via social media, however, best to invite her to come before council and answer all of your questions. Smile.”