Battle Ground is no rented mule

Let it be known: Battle Ground City Councilor Philip Johnson is not a rented mule. As such, he does not want to be ridden like one.

But tell that to the city jockeys at the Brush Prairie Neighborhood Association. They’ve been locked into a heated kerfluffle for years with the city over the potential annexation of their properties, and the conflict shows no sign of disappearing. Now, the city is getting upset at what they view as strong-arm techniques

City officials say they’re not interested in annexing the land unless the owners ask for it; the homeowners would like more assurance of that and have pushed officials to codify the city’s stance on annexation with an ordinance.

The city’s response: No dice. An ordinance would be too restrictive, potentially binding future decisions.

But then state Sen. Don Benton, R-Vancouver, got involved. He introduced a bill this session, with the support of neighborhood residents, which would have made it even harder for cities to annex land. It appears to have died an ignoble death in committee, but the damage was done.

“I believe they feel they can bully us,” City Councilor Mike Ciraulo said of the neighborhood association.

So now there’s a new level of acrimony and hurt feelings at the city level over the issue, which culminated in Johnson saying the neighborhood association was “riding (the city) like a rented mule” at a March 18th City Council meeting. What we have here is a city council with a collective case of “sad face.”

When  City Manager John Williams suggested sending a letter to neighborhood residents, again highlighting Battle Ground’s position on annexation, many of the councilors — Johnson, Ciraulo, Alex Reinhold, Adrian Cortes and Bill Ganley —  balked at signing the letter.

More than a week later, and the city still hasn’t sent its letter.

Ganley said he doesn’t ever want to meet with representatives from the neighborhood because of the things “they’ve said about the council.”

And that begs the question: What, exactly, have they said that’s so bad? Have they actually called city councilors mules, or worse? We’ll never know.

It should also be noted that the Brush Prairie neighborhood is the second wealthiest in the Portland-metro area, so it’s unlikely homeowners there would be so gauche as to rent their mules. Those mules would be owned — adorned with filaments of gold.

Tyler Graf

Tyler Graf

I started working for The Columbian in 2012 and currently cover Clark County. I'm a 2007 graduate of The University of Oregon. Contact me at

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