The full back and forth

You may have spotted my story today about the terse emails exchanged late last week between Vancouver Mayor Tim Leavitt and Councilor Jeanne Stewart.

Here’s the full emails for your viewing fun:

Mayor Leavitt:

Council assignments on boards and commission will be coming forward soon, probably on Monday January 9, 2012.

A few weeks ago we met to discuss the process for selection of Council Members for Boards and Commissions.

In the past, the list has been sent out by the Mayor’s office and Council Members gave the Mayor feedback about their interest. Protocol has been that seniority has been honored in choosing assignments, not simply because of longevity, but because experience, knowledge and judgment tend to be cumulative assets to council members.

I indicated to you I was interested in serving on the C Tran Board and also the Regional Transportation Council.

You indicated, that based on conversation you had with other Council members about my participation, you expected Council members would block my appointment to either of these Boards due to their lack of trust regarding whether I would follow the directives from Council. No Council member has discussed any of this with me.

The case used, is that in September of 2010, in an action at the C Tran Board, I did not support a combined ballot measure incorporating light rail and bus service on a single ballot measure for 2011. For my action, the Council removed me from the C Tran Board in January of 2011.

In the Spring of 2011, the Council then decided a combined ballot measure was, indeed, ill-advised, changed their mind, and in March or April, Vancouver City Council members agreed at Council and acted at the C Tran Board, to separate the two ballot measures. Clearly, my judgment in this decision was proven to be correct.

The action to remove me was punitive. Frankly, in all appearances, my skepticism regarding costs, effectiveness and implementation of light rail seem to be at the source of the resistance to allowing me to participate on behalf of the citizens in a meaningful and productive way on these two boards.

To continue the punitive action for something that “might be done” is, in fact, a permanent sanction.

When the slate of assignments comes forward, we need to have time for discussion.

Jeanne E. Stewart
Council Member
City of Vancouver

From: Leavitt, Tim
Sent: Friday, January 06, 2012 4:40 PM
To: Stewart, Jeanne; Harris, Jeanne; Smith, Larry; Burkman, Jack; Hansen, Bart; Turlay, Bill
Subject: RE: Council Assignments Boards & Commissions

Councilmember Stewart —

Thank you for emailing me with your concerns about Board and Commission assignments.
Frankly, I wish you had simply picked up the phone to inquire as to progress on my recommendations, before firing of this email. Since you have copied the media, and I have been made aware that a story will be written, I am obliged to write a response that reflects accurately these matters.

There are some factual statements and realities that I must remind you of:

1) We will NOT be discussing Boards and Commissions on Monday, January 9th.
I have already finalized my recommendations and they have been delivered to CMO with instruction to provide to Council on Monday. This will give you almost three full weeks to review prior to our January 27 Retreat, when we will have a formal discussion.
I wish you had simply called me to ask of timelines, before firing off your email.

2) I did not say that I believed Councilmembers would block your appointment, although that is certainly a prerogative of the corporate entity.
However, I did say that I believed you ought to consider making personal contact with each councilmember to regain their trust that you’ll abide by the policies of the City Council — specifically that we act as “ambassadors” of the Council on other boards and commissions.
Clearly, you’ve chosen not to engage in personal conversations with councilmembers to move past this matter, and that’s your prerogative.
I’m most certain the Council is not interested in appointing a representative to any board or commission that is going to act as a “rogue”.
Our policies apply to all councilmembers; you do not rise above their applicability.
You will be held accountable, just as each other councilmember is….regardless of how you attempt to manipulate public perception on this matter.

3) You, regardless of tenure, are not entitled to appointment on any board or commission.
Tradition has been that senior councilmembers receive consideration from the corporate body, but there are several other factors to consider, including continuity, knowledge, interest and a fair distribution of the workload.
I’ll remind you that tradition has also been the most senior councilmember is offered the opportunity of Mayor Pro-Tem position.
You may remember that you refrained from supporting Councilmember Harris in 2010 for appointment to that responsibility; and instead made accusations of some conspiracy against the women on the city council.

4) In no way did the Vancouver City Council take an action that validated your violation of Council policies.
Your justification for violation of our policies, because later action of the Council to support the language and placement of a ballot measure before the voters on busses, is irrational.
That vote occurred (when you violated our policies) some 6 months prior; as should be expected a reasonable position, we moved passed that.
Why continue to belabor the point, cause more delay in progress at C-TRAN?
That would not have been a responsible action by the Council on behalf of the riders of our busses, voters of the CTRAN service area, or the taxpayer.
Ironically, had you voted as asked and on behalf of 6 of the 7 members of our council, there very likely would have been a public vote on light rail already. Remember, it’s your action (violation) that separated the vote of busses and light rail, requiring then the state mandated expert review panel — and the associated additional time and roughly $500k in expense to the Agency.

5) In our conversation, you indicated there would be “political repercussions” to me if the Council continues to “squelch” your voice, since I am making the recommendations. In other words, a veiled threat to return you to the boards and commissions you desire. Let me be perfectly clear….I have and will continue to do what I believe is correct and right for our Community, and acceptable within the policies of our Council, the authority of the Mayor position, the Charter of the City and the law of the land. Taking votes and landing on decisions due to the fear of “political repercussions”, or even worse, to pander to a certain constituency, is not the type of leadership our community needs or desires.

Thanks again for emailing.
As you copied the media on your initial email, I have responded accordingly to “All”.

Have a nice weekend.

Timothy D. Leavitt| Mayor
Mayor/City Manager’s Office
P.O. Box 1995 • Vancouver, WA 98668-1995

P: 360.487.8729 | F: 360.487.8625</p>

Mayor Leavitt:

Regarding “factual” statements, it is clear that the “suggestion” that my comments need correction to be factual appears to be a strategy to discredit my concerns. This strategy has appeared before and is transparent.

1) My email indicated it would “probably” be January 9 (since there is a C Tran meeting on Tuesday, and no appointments have yet been made public). It is not clear why this information had not been distributed to Council members until now.

2) I am not, nor have I ever been a “rogue”, as you put it. Rogue is a term used to attempt to discredit a person.

3) No statements of “entitlement” have ever been made by me, only by you.

4) I am really glad to hear that you and the other council members have moved passed the September

5) I did not, nor have I ever made any threats toward anyone. It is not my style.
I simply observed that if you are the one proposing the list of new assignments as the Mayor’s perogative,
without discussion and public input from Council members, then the outcome of the action appears to be
solely your action and your responsibility. I pointed out, it is the responsibility of the whole Council.

Jeanne E. Stewart

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