Battle Ground to C-Tran: Behave, or we’re going home

It’s safe to say Philip Johnson spoke for more than just the city of Battle Ground when he addressed the C-Tran Board of Directors this week.

Johnson, Battle Ground’s deputy mayor, scolded the group for its dysfunction and the acrimonious tone that has characterized recent meetings. He then informed the board that the Battle Ground City Council isn’t interested in watching future meetings devolve in similar fashion.

“If it veers off the subject, if it goes beyond the boundaries of sanity,” Johnson said, “our representative has the authority to pick up, tell the chair he’s had enough, he’s going home and hang out with his family.”

Battle Ground’s current representative on the board, by the way, is City Councilor Lyle Lamb.

Johnson said he was prompted to speak by last month’s C-Tran board meeting, where a dispute over Clark County’s membership on the board ground things to a halt for most of the evening. It was a surreal scene that saw Clark County Councilor Tom Mielke sitting at the table and casting votes — which didn’t count — after it was determined he was no longer a member of the board. (The county lost one of its seats through a C-Tran board composition review last year.)

“Life is way too short or way too long, however you look at it, to hang out four and a half hours at a C-Tran meeting,” Johnson said.

The deputy mayor went on to explain that Battle Ground City Council members are paid $13 per day by the city.

“It ain’t worth it,” he said.

Now, as a reporter, I don’t have the option of leaving a public meeting early if it veers toward absurdity. Frankly, that’s an incentive to stay sometimes. Fortunately, The Columbian pays me more than $13 per day.

Johnson said he hopes other jurisdictions represented on the C-Tran board, particularly the small cities, consider taking the same stance and removing themselves from the board’s fruitless arguments. “This is just really too much,” he said.

Johnson finished with a message for every C-Tran board member.

“I hope that you all look inside yourselves and figure out that we’re not in the business of deriding fellow politicians. We’re in the business of serving citizens,” he said. “And if we can’t do that, then maybe we should find better politicians.”

Eric Florip

Eric Florip

I'm the environment/transportation reporter for The Columbian newspaper in Vancouver, Wash. Contact me at or 360-735-4541.

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