Based on discussion at a recent Winlock City Council meeting, it appears a rift has developed between Winlock Mayor Lonnie Dowell and his staff and a majority of the council members.
At the Dec. 27 meeting both city staff and council members voiced their opinions on several issues. During the discussion of hiring for the public works position the meeting became tense over accusations of communication problems between council and staff, and at past city council meetings city council members have stated they either get incomplete information or no response to questions asked.
Mayor Dowell, realizing there are some issues, stated at the meeting, "If there is a distrust between the council and myself and staff, let's get it out of the way now and be done with it."
Councilwoman Sarah Gifford responded, "There has been, obviously. She (Councilwoman Holly Orbino) is stating she is asking for emails. We have been [complaining] about stuff for months and things aren't being taken care of, so obviously there is an issue."
Orbino elaborated, "I ask questions, [receive] no answers, and we move forward ... Am I just supposed to be asking over and over and over? That does make me have a trust issue."
City Clerk Tedi Curry then stated, directing her comments to the council, "There seems to be a problem with staff and council. Let me tell you one thing I have been holding back for two years. We are in this together. We are all looking out for the best interest of Winlock. We are supposed to be working together, but I am having trouble getting you to work with me."
Gifford at one point stated that she would prefer all correspondence with the city to be on paper so that she can better prove when questions have gone unanswered.
Based on the discussion on Dec. 27, there is definitely communication problems between the majority of the city council members and the mayor and city staff.
On a related note, a recent records request made by the Crier for information pertaining to Councilman Tim White being required to recuse himself from a Dec. 27 vote on the public works position was answered with incorrect information. It was stated by city staff that the information was given to them by the city attorney. Upon notifying the office staff that the information was incorrect, the Crier was directed to contact the city attorney on the matter.