Investigation comes to an unsatisfying close

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category icon Editorials, Opinion

After years of investigation aimed at determining what happened to more than $100,000 in revenue from two City of Washougal-sponsored festivals in 2008 and 2009, the official answer was recently delivered by the Clark County Prosecutor’s Office: They really don’t know if public money was misused, lost or misappropriated.

As detailed in an article in today’s Post-Record, an investigative report determined that while proper financial procedures were not followed or in place, no crimes were committed. What is clear, however, is that former Mayor Stacee Sellers abused her powers as an elected leader.

“The pattern set by [Sellers] was that no one was to question any expenditure for Washougalfest or Riverfest,” the report states. “If an expenditure was approved by her, she expected it to be paid and not questioned.”

The determination that no criminal charges will be pursued in the matter, despite many lingering questions about what really happened to the missing money, is not the resolution some were expecting. But without cooperation from some of the parties involved, namely Columbia River Productions and the Downtown Revitalization and Implementation Committee, the options were limited.

Current Mayor Sean Guard, who requested the initial criminal investigation, hinted this morning that he was in some ways disappointed in the final report saying it left him “with even more questions than we started with.” But he admits that this may be the end of the investigation.

And at this point, with the determination of the Prosecutor’s Office in mind, what may be most important now is that this abuse of power is never allowed to happen again.

Given the changes that have been implemented since Guard came on board, Washougal citizens can feel confident that current city officials have implemented protective policies and so far demonstrated that they are competent and have the best interests of the city and its residents in mind.