Washougal council continues ethics discussions

Committee would review current policy

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One of the Washougal City councilors who missed the discussion last week regarding potential appointments to an ethics committee made his feelings known during last night’s workshop.

Dave Shoemaker said the council does not need an ethics committee.

“If council members do not know right from wrong, it will be apparent to the voters who can take appropriate action to recall or not re-elect errant members,” he said. “Having council members perform that function leads to partisan mischief that distracts the council from its duty to the voters.”

Toward the end of the workshop, however, Shoemaker mentioned that conversations about an ethics committee have occurred since last year.

He said a resolution of those concerns is missing.

“Getting someone to look at it is a great idea,” Shoemaker said.

He and Jennifer McDaniel had excused absences for the April 4 council meeting. During that session, Michael Delavar and Jon Russell left the council chambers, after disagreeing with the attempt to name members to an ethics committee without input from the absent councilors.

Their departure resulted in there being a lack of a quorum for the meeting to continue. Mayor Sean Guard and council members Molly Coston, Paul Greenlee and Rod Morris remained.

Russell had said an appointment committee consisting of him, Guard and McDaniel, could meet to discuss appointments to an ethics committee.

The ethics committee would work with Human Resources Director Jeanette Cefalo, to determine if the city’s policies are adequate.

Delavar said during last night’s workshop the ethics policy review committee should have a clearly defined appointment process, purpose, scope and deadline for a recommendation for council action.

Coston said she wants the ethics review committee to be fair and balanced and have 60 days to review the current policy.

Guard said “things are getting worse,” in the areas of working relationships, decorum and professionalism, among council members.

He had previously mentioned that Russell made claims on blogs and the Post-Record website that the mayor had lied about the March 14 meeting with “E” Street merchants and used a state law to keep council members from attending. The council’s public works committee, consisting of Coston, Greenlee and Morris, attended the merchants meeting.

Additional discussions are expected to occur Monday, at 6 p.m., in the council chambers at City Hall, 1701 “C” St.

Reserves could pay for ‘E’ Street sidewalks

Council members also discussed the possibility of using some of the city’s reserves to pay for additional “E” Street improvements.

They include $287,000, to add sidewalks from Sixth Street to Washougal River Road. The project would involve constructing concrete sidewalks, which would have an expected useful life of more than 20 years.

After listening to Finance Director Jennifer Forsberg’s presentation, Jenny Grimani, owner of D & J Cleaners, mentioned that one of the photos shown during the workshop was taken in front of her business. Grimani spoke in favor of adding sidewalks in that area.

She said the current “E” Street project, which is expected to be completed in August, is already impacting her business. The effects include Grimani’s children and customers tracking mud onto the business’ carpet.

The $8.1 million construction project includes the conversion of the road width to two through-lanes and a center left turn lane, and the addition of bike lanes.