Letter to the Editor for April 12, 2011

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Washougal council members need to be held responsible

I attended the Washougal City Council meeting on Monday, April 4. Events that ensued during the course of the meeting strongly compelled me to write this editorial.

Although not everybody might have the complete background on issues presented, I hope to generate more public interest in attending meetings and holding council members responsible for their actions.

Two council members had excused absences for this particular meeting, and it quickly became evident that the majority of the members present saw this meeting as an opportunity to push through their agendas in the absence of the aforementioned council members.

In business, the standard protocol in case of an absence is to give a board of directors a proxy with or without instructions to ensure that an absence does not change the course of events. I think that this would be a more effective, fair practice in government as well. Perhaps this proxy idea should be incorporated into the Washougal City Council procedures.

Two issues at the meeting gave me cause for concern: 1) Transportation and C-tran and 2) Formation of an ethics committee.

The public is interested in what is happening with transportation and in particular C-Tran. I think the citizens should have the right to discuss and vote on this issue and others. However, a proposal was passed to give this authority to a Camas representative, taking it out of our hands and the council members’ hands. Reasons cited for this authority change were as follows:

1) The public would be unable to comprehend some of the technical requirements.

2) The public doesn’t have the intelligence to understand all of the ramifications of these projects.

I take exception to the fact that our council members think that the public is too stupid to decide what is best for them. The specific member that said this is the same individual who stated that reducing E Street from four to two lanes would increase capacity. The general public believes that this project was done to get bike lanes and special funding. All the public wanted was the water lines fixed, sidewalks where needed, and the four-lanes repaired and resurfaced. This is a long way from what is happening.

The formation of an ethics committee and the attempt to assign members is what caused two council members to leave the meeting. I think that policies on ethics should be broad and general, and not present loopholes for public officials to hide behind. It appears to me that the council members wanted many technicalities so their unethical behavior couldn’t be brought to light. I think that people in their position should know right from wrong, or not be in that position at all.

I was proud of the two council members that left the meeting.

I encourage the public to attend council meetings, and see their council members in action. You just might find yourself surprised at what you see.

Don Bohlin, Washougal

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