Monday evening's, February 25, 2019 council meeting was anything but boring, before and after. Mayor Bradshaw admitted on the record he does not follow his own ordinance and stated he would continue to not follow it. Lewis County Prosecutor Jonathan Meyer finds Councilwoman Jodie Curtis was illegally appointed, yet Mayor Bradshaw allowed her to vote that evening. Finally, verbal altercations occured in the street after the meeting by Mayor Pro Tem Connie Sneed.
Monday, February 25, Winlock City Council Meeting was a shock to anyone sitting in the audience. The meeting started with councilwoman Anne Randt speaking about issues of corruption in City Hall. She stated "I have been a part of the appointments for previous council members where Mayor Bradshaw stated these are the applications, I have interviewed the applicants. Even though we had received applications with more municipal experience and knowledge it was suggested that council members select his candidate. I realize that these activities are not in the best interest of the city and I will not participate in the pre-screening by Mayor Bradshaw for another council position. I am also aware that other council members have participated in this activity and now ask each council member sitting here, help the citizens of our community and vote for the most qualified and NOT who Mayor Bradshaw has pre-screened for his own agenda."
This statement by Anne Randt was backed up by Brandon Svensen, who is the new owner of the Nichols Wilson Ford Garage. He spoke during public comment stating, "I'd like to start tonight by saying I've witnessed several things on both sides of the community divide that I'm upset with and I sincerely hope we can bring folks together soon. Having said that tonight, I'm here to speak about my application withdrawal from City Council. After submitting my application I was approached by several members in the community and informed that often times under this administration, council members are pre-selected by the Mayor."
Svensen continued "I feared it may be me and after speaking with my family and finding out other more qualified candidates had applied, I felt it was best that I withdraw my application. Upon withdrawing my application, the interview process was pulled for tonight. It was then obvious to me at that time, I was the guy. This is not how I want to serve the people of this community, there is no integrity in it. Actions like that only fan the flames of divide. We can do better, we are better and we are smarter than this."
Svensen's speech backed up exactly what Randt was stating, that the council was only comprised of people Bradshaw wanted not necessarily those who would best serve the citizens of Winlock.
The discussion continued about the "pre-screening" by the Mayor when former Mayor Lonnie Dowell got up to speak. He stated "I was not pre-screened last year in February." Last year in February, Bradshaw pre-screened Barbara Pedersen and Jodie Curtis, even calling them and asking them to apply. Again, backing up what Randt stated earlier in the meeting.
As of Monday evening, there were 3 applicants. Jeremy Allman put in his application on February 5, interviewed on the 6th, he was the only applicant interviewed. The two remaining applicants former Mayor Lonnie Dowell and Paul MacMillian were not interviewed by the Mayor. Instead of allowing city council members to interview the 3 candidates for the position, Mayor Bradshaw made the decision to continue the application process even though two were old interviews that would take place February 25, 2019. Mayor Bradshaw had not found his candidate to further his agenda as of Monday evening.
It is not the responsibility of the Mayor to pre-screen qualified applicants to present to the council. This is wrong, it should be an independent decision by the council without the Mayor's input. It's called Separation of Powers. The City Clerk should confirm the requirements of residency, other than that, there should be no involvement by the Mayor.
There was also an amendment to the agenda regarding financial reporting. The majority of council does not want to see anything more than a budget summary which only gives the balance of each fund. City Council members chose not to require more information even though they are personally responsible for the finances of the city. This means they can be personally liable if they are not looking out for the financial well being of the city. The information they will receive will not be sufficient to make a clear determination of the city finances. The general fund decreased by over $20,000 in the month of January alone and the street fund will be in the red until property taxes are received in April. This would make most question the financial health of the city.
Randt also brought up Ordinance 984 at which time Mayor Bradshaw seemed to take offense. The ordinance is clear, he must get permission to hire. Mayor Bradshaw stated "It is in my power ... and "I will continue to do so!" Admitting that he did not get permission to hire, instead bringing them to council after for approval. This is backwards to what the ordinance reads, yet the majority of council just approved another hire after Bradshaw had already had them on the payroll, only Anne Randt choose not to vote.
The majority of city council approves everything the Mayor asks, without open deliberations giving one the impression the decisions were made prior to the meeting.
The council meetings continued, but after is when the fireworks really occurred. Mayor Pro Tem Connie Sneed yelled at councilwoman Anne Randt, Brandon Svensen, new owner of Nichols Wilson Ford Garage and former Mayor Lonnie Dowell. Eventually, being told to go home by Winlock Chief of Police Stephen Valentine.
Mayor Bradshaw got into a verbal argument with former Mayor Lonnie Dowell over amount of grants Mayor Bradshaw has received, which is only one matching grant of $60,000. Former Mayor Lonnie Dowell, received $11.5 million in grants; including the money for the waterline to the freeway. Even though Mayor Bradshaw has taken credit for the waterlines to the freeway, it was former Mayor Lonnie Dowell who secured the funding.
It is extremely unprofessional for anyone in government to go yelling at citizens in the streets or in City Hall. It's a very sad time in Winlock when this behavior is allowed and encouraged by this administration.