Annice Sampson, Camas
CWEDA selection process was unethical
Thanks to the Post-Record for posting the Camas Ethics Policy in the online version related to the recent formation of the new Camas Washougal Economic Development Association, (CWEDA) by Camas, Washougal, and the Port.
Concerns about conflicts of interests are warranted. The former Camas Mayor helped plan CWEDA, allocated $50,000 for it in the 2011 Budget, then bid on a hefty CWEDA contract, all while serving as mayor.
Minutes from the January 19, 2010 planning meeting show that the former mayor suggested a subcommittee be formed to develop the CWEDA concept. Public records show he participated in these subcommittee meetings and also presided over and attended city meetings where CWEDA was discussed. In December, he wrote a 2011 Budget message that listed the $50,000 CWEDA appropriation under highlights, “The result of substantial preparation, especially over the past year.” The city also budgeted $26,000 fin 2011 or the Columbia River Economic Development Council. Meanwhile, austerity measures were noted for other city departments.
City employees are prohibited from using their position to “achieve a private gain.” According to W-2 forms, the paid mayor and council are city employees. The former mayor and the planning company he owns bid on the approximately $200,000 CWEDA contract, by the February deadline. The Port announced on May 10 that the former mayor and his company were selected, with the former mayor as the new CWEDA Director. The interlocal agreement between Camas, Washougal, and the Port to form CWEDA wasn’t even finalized until June. Wasn’t the bid process premature?
Furthermore, the Camas City ethics policy states, “No former employee shall, during the period of one (1) year after leaving city office or employment: Participate as a competitor in any competitive selection process for a city contract in which he or she assisted the city in determining the project or work to be done or the process to be used.” The former mayor resigned May 31,2011. As long as Camas funds are included, the former mayor and his company should wait a year to bid on any CWEDA contract.