An uncomfortable, and inaccurate, choice of words

At Monday’s Vancouver City Council meeting, two city residents — Penny Ross and Micheline Doan — testified against raising the city property tax levy by 1 percent. They were joined by Carolyn Crain, who lives outside city limits — she once told commissioners that she’s their child — and so doesn’t pay city property taxes, but wanted to make the case on behalf of city residents.

“I don’t know what it takes to compel the hearts of human beings to move from where they are to where they need to be,” said Crain, who spoke against the levy increase last week and also spoke against ad valorem taxes on Monday. “But I’m going to try one more time tonight.”


Crain urged the council to “show a little compassion,” and said for some people, it comes down to a choice of buying food or medicine or paying property taxes.

“If you’re not alive to live in the house, what is it matter?” she asked. “But if you don’t live in the house you may not be alive. It’s sort of a circle jerk.”

Yikes. What Crain is describing is a quandary, a predicament, a difficult situation. It’s “sort of” most definitely not a circle jerk. (Google it.) Vancouver Mayor Tim Leavitt said after the meeting that when Crain used that expression, he glanced over at Councilor Bart Hansen, who shifted uncomfortably.

Did I mention Boy Scout Troop 320 was in the audience?

So yes, the mayor and councilor are listening when members of the public are talking.

The council voted 6-1 to raise the levy by 1 percent.

Here’s Crain’s complete testimony.

Stephanie Rice

Stephanie Rice

I cover Vancouver city government. Reach me at or 360-735-4508.

Scroll to top