Occupy City Hall

Vancouver Councilor Larry Smith’s constant presence in City Hall has sparked a sniping war between him and Councilor Jeanne Harris.

No one disputes that Smith is at City Hall a lot. He said it himself, when he mentioned at a council meeting last month that he had been to the new City Hall every day since it opened.

That piqued Harris’ curiosity.

She sent an email to City Manager Eric Holmes, City Attorney Ted Gathe and Mayor Tim Leavitt on Sept. 15: “I have a concern about CM Smith being at city hall every day and disrupting staff. If he is in the council office and not being disruptive that is something else, but if he is asking questions or providing guidance or disrupting staff on a regular basis that is a problem for me. Please explain the nature of his business when he is at city hall every day.”

Gathe and Holmes responded saying that while it is against the city charter for a city councilor to interfere with day-to-day operations, they don’t see that being the case with Smith, who is retired.

“My observation is that generally Larry comes in to check mail and conduct some electronic business from his phone or iPad,” Holmes wrote.

When he heard about it, Smith didn’t take kindly to Harris’ query.

“I would be very careful on the source of the concern,” he wrote in an email to Leavitt on Sept. 27. “The person we all know is vindictive, combative and divisive with very little credibility in the community. Dividing the Mayor/Council into fractions (sic) and bringing in city staff is not healthy or productive.”

Reached by phone this week, Smith said that as mayor pro tem, “My god, (City Hall) is where I should be.”

He said Harris was “after me again” because he chaired the ethics committee that censured Harris for last year’s “gavel down” outburst.

“If you spend more time taking care of your residents and citizens than you did going after other city councilors, we’d be better off,” Smith said.

Harris said that for her, the matter was closed weeks ago after Holmes and Gathe said that Smith’s presence was a-OK.

“I’m really disappointed in Larry because there’s no reason to be like that,” she said. “I don’t understand why he’s responding that way.”

As for whether or not she asked about Smith’s time in City Hall because of bad blood from the ethics committee, she said: “I don’t care about Larry. I don’t care about him at all.”

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