Thursday, September 30, 2010

Vancouver City Council Ethics Panel to Recommend Harris Receive Reprimand, Removal from Boards

In regards to Anatomy of a City Council Meltdown

In a meeting lasting almost an hour, 3 Vancouver council members settled on a recommendation of fellow council member Jeanne Harris, receive a letter of reprimand and be removed from all boards she currently sit on, representing the city council and that they appointed her to, for her disrespectful behavior displayed September 13, 2010. VIDEO

Boards she sits on where she received a gubernatorial appointment (CRC) are not affected as it was felt they are outside the scope of the city council.

It was determined early on, with advice from city attorney Ted Gathe, that Harris' disrespectful interaction with citizens is not covered by the current ethics policy. Councilman Burkman recommended council revisit it to update the ethics policy to include how members of the public are treated.

Council members stated they felt her actions the evening of September 13 were "demeaning," "disturbing" and "highly inappropriate," towards Mayor Leavitt and Council member Jeanne E. Stewart.

Removal from office was also ruled out early as the threshold for such action was not met, Gathe advised. He stated to reach that high threshold would take something along the lines of committing an actual crime.

The panel broke it down to 4 areas of concern, 1: Her conduct towards the public, which is not addressed by current policy. 2: Her conduct towards Jeanne Stewart during the meeting deemed inappropriate. 3: Her interference with the Mayors duty in conducting the meeting deemed inappropriate. 4: Her confrontation with Jeanne Stewart after the meeting also deemed inappropriate.

Discussion fell onto whether she should receive a letter of reprimand or a censure and it was determined there was not a lot of difference between the two. A letter of reprimand was deemed appropriate. Mayor Pro Tem Larry Smith stated he wanted more than just a "slap on the wrist" and Pat Campbell added he too wanted to give the letter "some teeth" behind it.

Jack Burkman said there few sanctions available they could use and then it was decided they would recommend she be removed from all boards she was appointed to by the council until she is up for reelection in 2013.

If the full council votes to accept the panel’s recommendation, it would be effective immediately.

Pat Campbell added that citizens should "stay tuned" and follow her for when she is up for reelection, as he felt that her conduct is not a matter for recall.

The panel hopes to wrap it up at the October 11 council meeting.

The Columbian's Andrea Damewood published her take HERE with more to come in Friday's paper.

KGW TV adds quotes from citizens present.

"They're going to smack her on the hand, she's going to turn around and walk away," said Stephanie Turlay. "They will not stand up and do what really needs to be done."

"She needs to go," said Josephine Wentzel. "If she doesn't resign she needs to be taken out, we need to recall her."


Canuckguy said...

Off topic but I just wish to express joy that CNN fired that politically correct blowhard Rick Sanchez.

LewWaters said...

Can't say I argue with you on that, Canuckguy.

Hot Sam said...

I guess I lack the knowledge of the context of the issue to understand why emotions are running so high.

Occasionally, I watch the citizen hearings before the Board of Supervisors for San Francisco. I have seen raving lunatics ranting their diatribes. I've seen people who had their say, deliberately take seats behind other speakers so they can be seen laughing and scowling at their opinions on television. I've even heard people sing songs and recite poetry.

If I were a Supervisor, I'd have these people cited with some manner of contempt or public nuisance.

That said, I think the citizens in this video were quite civil and genuinely concerned. The mayor seems to be indicating that the matter under discussion is not subject to the council's decision authority, and therefore a waste of city time.

I can imagine the necessity for barring calling out council members by name in order to prevent a public hearing for issues degrade into personal political attacks. The right to speak does not confer the right to express your opinion in every venue. The council does have the authority to shape the nature of public hearings to keep them relevant, respectful, and focused. It seemed to me that he wasn't attacking this council member, but stating facts about public positions she took on the issue.

But I think the request for a legal ruling on the matter was necessary and appropriate.

LewWaters said...

One of the reasons emotions are running high on this is that voters have rejected running light rail from Portland, Oregon across the river into Vancouver.

In spite of that, city council approved it anyway and it is being shoved down our throats to be included on a new bridge to cross the Columbia River at a cost of some $4.5 Billion.

Tolls will be placed the bridge, of course as well as on another bridge built 30 years ago and already paid for.

From the city council upwards, citizens voices are being either ignored or silenced on the subject.

While the mayor and others on the council insist the matter is not city business, we citizens that comprise the city and cross the bridge daily to work in Portland will see yearly costs of going to work rise by nearly $3,000 a year.

Not seen in this segment is that while efforts are made to stop speaking in opposition to the project, any speaking in support are readily received and often engaged by council members who usually ask the supporter to express the benefits of light rail.

To me, if the project is not city business, supportive comments should be denied as well, not only opposition comments.

Hot Sam said...

I see, I see.

They are definitely keeping Portland weird, as the sign says on the wall.

I was in Portland for the 4th of July. I had a good time, but I felt the burning yet unquenched desire to carry a concealed weapon at night when the zombies came out.

I've never seen so many combat boots off a military base.

I drove up to Multnomah Falls and then to the Tillamook Cheese Factory and the coast. Very beautiful.

Victoria Taft, 11am - 3pm KPAM 860 said...

I think Harris mailing in her apology was pretty low budg.

LewWaters said...

Well, Victoria, her conduct for some time has been lacking on city council, so what else would we expect from her?

She's probably been too busy enjoying Oktoberfest to worry about such menial things like constituents.