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Op-Ed: City council and citizens not informed about new Communications Asst. position. Transparency takes a back seat in Yelm.

City of Yelm posted new Communications Assistant opening for only one week, then filled position with their own contractor. Mayor Foster ran on a platform of “glass walls on city hall,” yet transparency with his council and the public is not his hallmark!

  • Editor’s note: The lack of transparency by city leaders with their own city council and fellow citizens is continuing unabated. Several examples have been covered here including the mayor signing a Deed in Lieu of Foreclosure on 640 acres, and recently, discussions to keep the UFO Fest in Yelm resulted in this annual attraction leaving town. Mayor Foster chose to not share these instances with the city council until pressed by the public.
  • Further, on April 1, 2019, The Olympian carried a story about Yelm including a video interview with Yelm’s Communications Assistant, Andrew Kollar. I had not seen any notice about Yelm having this position open to the public, then filled with a new-hire, so I inquired. I wanted to know what led to a city contractor being hired in a newly created job, Communications Specialist, where the public and council were not introduced.
  • The Facts:
  • 1. March 22, 2019: Communications Specialist posted on city’s website.
  • 2. March 29, 2019: The one applicant in 5 business days got the job, then city contractor and former NVN reporter Andrew Kollar. Very unusual as there was no effort to seek other applicants or have the position open longer than 5 business days.
  • 3. Andrew Kollar had been then contracted by the city for the previous 4 months launching the City of Yelm’s new website, developing city’s social media postings.
  • 4. April 1, 2019: Communications Specialist Andrew Kollar on the job.
  • 5. No introduction nor announcement to the city council and public to-date.
  • 6. I asked some councilors if they knew about this new hire – they did not.
  • 7. Curiously no mention of former Nisqually Valley News [NVN] reporter Kollar’s new job in that newspaper either – a nice position to have touted for one of their own.
  • 8. Yelm hired another NVN reporter on August 1, 2007, Cindy Teixeira, as community and government relations coordinator for the City of Yelm. The position was eliminated in 2009 in a budget-cutting exercise as a result of the 2008 economic downturn and Thurston Highlands bankruptcy. Teixeira then left city employment.
  • The City of Yelm was previously called-out for favoritism in hiring a city contractor at Public Works.

Bottom line:

Why was this new city position posted for only one week on the city’s website and nowhere else?

Why was this job given to a city contractor with no public posting beyond the city’s website nor effort to look elsewhere?

Why did the city yet again hire a local newspaper reporter for their communications openings and not look outside of Yelm? 

Why was a heralded citizen not introduced to the council and the public as a new-hire like other city employees?

Why was there no media release to introduce the city’s new Communications Specialist?

Why was there no city website and social media posting that Yelm now HAS a Communications Specialist?

Was this job created just for Mr. Kollar, a city contractor? While an excellent reporter, his hiring raises many questions.

The Yelm City Council needs to speak up on being omitted from important city decisions.

Mayor Foster told this community of his commitment to transparency via a Nisqually Valley News questionnaire when running again for mayor in October 2017: “Do you consider Yelm government to be transparent?” He replied, “We have glass walls on city hall.”

Mayor Foster’s actions demonstrate his lack of transparency, especially his comment to the NVN about not telling the city council about the UFO Fest situation. He has little commitment to transparency, as he omits the council and public on so many important issues:
“It’s not a normal line of communication for the mayor to talk to council about every single thing,”

This is not the remarks of a leader who is inclusive and has says there are “glass walls on city hall!”

Posted by Steve on May 6, 2019 at 12:01 am | Permalink

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