In response to Gayland Gump’s Letter to the Editor
Your concerns about conflicts-of-interest might make sense if you were advocating for a full-time salaried Council, wherein other income is reportable and a process for mitigating conflicts, as in most other government bodies, is implemented, one for which I have advocated. Instead you display a profound lack of understanding as to the Council model we have in Ferndale. Let me clear it up. What we have is essentially a volunteer council. By definition the council positions are part-time, and pay not a salary, but a stipend for attendance at meetings, travel, etc. Our system assumes the council members, including the mayor will have a “day job.”
The previous mayor owned(s) a plumbing company; should he have been recused from all matters involving building? The current mayor runs a tax-exempt non-profit (a church); should he be recused from all property and revenue tax matters? If a council member owns say, a bakeshop or a tavern downtown, should he/she be recused from all matters concerning retail zoning and parking requirements? We recently had a council member who is employed by a Union…should he have been exempted from all matters concerning the city’s deal with the Unions representing municipal employees? Now to your characterization of Mr. Llanos.
Your argument with Candidate Llanos seems to be ideological, i.e., developer v.s. affordable housing advocates, etc., etc. Fair enough. Your opinion piece however is a hit-job. It drips with insinuation impugning Llanos’ motives, and employs sophistry that is at best misleading, and at worst, disingenuous. I’ll tell you what I mean.
You imply that Llanos is a developer, “This certainly sounds like something a developer would be involved in,” right after quoting him as to his profession, “[I’m] an engineer for cities and private developers. . . .” You have effectively called him a liar. I was a private developer, and I hired engineers all the time. To borrow from Freud, sometimes an engineer is just an engineer. Indeed your issue seems to be with the advent of the Catalyst initiative, which you mention four times over three paragraphs, along with your implication that Mr. Llanos supports such a program. In fact he served as an expert both to the council and Western students involved in assessing the best areas for such a program. A proponent? He has not said.
Your ‘research’ as you call it apparently led to the smoking-gun to which you devote a paragraph wherein you reveal that Mr. Ramon’s political signs appeared on corporate-owned property. “In nearly every instance, I found that the signs were located on property owned by corporations involved in property management…” This is silly. Did your research include a survey of his signs? How many were on residential lawns as compared to ‘corporate’ property?
You stated in your piece that, “Mr. Llanos’ corporate relationships in and of themselves are not damning, but they do reinforce the narrative that Mr. Llanos has too many potential points of contact which would at a minimum suggest conflicts of interest…”— But before this paragraph you are clear by way of insinuation and incomplete and out-of-context information that his vocation is in fact ‘damning.’ You then opine that the ‘narrative’ reinforces your accusations about conflict of interest, when in fact the narrative is yours alone, composed by you in your opinion piece.
You wrote that it’s “…also clear that Mr. Llanos already has plenty of influence on the City of Ferndale.” Clear to whom? It’s not at all clear to me, and were it true that he has “influence,” so what?—‘Influence’ is a see-saw, half an equation—there is an influencer, and then up must pop the influenced. Who in City government do you accuse of violating the RCW you quoted?—Who is he influencing?
And finally, you assert that to vote for Mr. Llanos is to give the fox free reign in the henhouse. That circles us back to where I began. By what rules are the vocations/professions of the candidates prohibitive to being elected to the City Council? By your logic our volunteer citizen-Council would never achieve a quorum on anything.
I don’t have a dog in this fight, but after 35 years as a Democratic Party activist, campaign manager, etc., I know a hit job when I read one, hell, I’ve written a few. I’m retired, but I could not allow this opinion piece to go unanswered. Your piece contains few facts, but rather events or instances and out of context quotes from which you infer, insinuate, and accuse. Still, voters may be prompted to get the facts about Mr. Ramon, I did. Your preferred candidate has a sign in my yard (as does Mr. Llanos), my intent was to vote for her. But like other voters having read your attack on Mr. Llanos, presumably with your candidate’s blessing (will she disavow your attack?), I was moved to reconsider.
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