YELM’S CURRENT MURALS PROJECT AGAINST WA. CONSTITUTION
An Op-Ed by the Yelm Community Blogger
After watching the recent discussions of Yelm City Council and reading the Nisqully Valley News (NVN) coverage above, “about the possibility of anchoring the works of a local artist to the exterior walls of Gordon’s Garden Center, Yelm Prairie Lanes and Bob’s Tavern,” I observed several omissions all relating to lack of public process.
Council member Terri Kaminski is spearheading Yelm’s $50,000 budget for the city’s beautification project without a plan. Bringing art to council members for them to discuss and approve posting murals on the exterior of private businesses is against the Constitution of the State of Washington regulations.
The Constitution of the State of Washington, Article VIII, Section 7 states: “No county, city, town or other municipal corporation shall hereafter give any money, or property, or loan its money, or credit to or in aid of any individual, association, company or corporation, …”
While their intentions may be pure, each council member took an oath to uphold the Constitution of the State of Washington and they should know that they are not permitted to authorize public money for improvements to private property, as Article VIII, Section 7 states.
The Yelm City Council needs to follow the established public processes in dissemination of public funding, which requires, indeed demands, a plan.
With 5 of 7 councilors new to their posts within the last year, Council member Kaminski would be advised to seek guidance from the city attorney on the public process and his recommendations for development of a plan. Perhaps a collaboration with a non-profit might be possible. For example, Bounty For Families (BFF) is housed in the Gordon’s building and could that be an avenue to explore with the city attorney? Or could some arrangement with the Chamber of Commerce be possible and within the law?
$50,000 is way too much public money for the city’s beautification not to be adhering to a coherent planning document and public process, one that would provide citizens with confidence that their resources had good stewardship. A public accounting and listing of how each dollar has been expended is also required.
Each council member would be advised to read the Constitution of the State of Washington [and especially Article VIII — STATE, COUNTY, AND MUNICIPAL INDEBTEDNESS] and the Yelm Municipal Code [along with the Yelm Protocol Manual]. Previous council’s of the last 20 years have brought many problems and expenses to city government because of their lack of knowledge about state and local laws.
Lest there be any ambiguity about my point, this blog strongly supports the murals project and Kaminski’s beautification efforts, and especially for the city council’s collaboration with the Yelm Arts Commission. However, I suggest this is an educational moment requiring a pause and proper planning for the benefit of our community.
Steve Klein, Yelm’s Blogger