Winlock City Council blunders and ignores citizens' concerns

By Lynnette Hoffman

It was evident on Monday, June 10 at the City of Winlock Public Hearing, that the City of Winlock administration will not listen to the citizens. Several individuals spoke out against the Comprehensive Plan; Mayor Bradshaw and his majority refused to listen to the audience for 40 minutes. Typically Public Hearings are no more than 5 minutes.

The Monday evening meetings are usually recorded via AVCapture, but this time the city failed to record the meeting. In past meetings, when recordings have malfunctioned, the person recording has stated "we are not recording," the meeting is halted, recording is fixed, and the meeting resumes. This was not done once during the public hearing, causing many to speculate that the Mayor does not want the community to hear the issues that were brought forward. The audience spoke out against the Comprehensive Plan because it was not complete and also against the RV hookups at Winolequa Park.

Monday's Public Hearing discussion began when City Councilmember Anne Randt stated, "This is a message from Planning Commission Members and/or Park Board Members that have made comments to me and whose names have been deleted because of retaliation concerns." It is sad when members of the Park Board or Planning Commission cannot speak out in fear of retaliation. If you speak out against Mayor Bradshaw, you will be removed, as the community recently witnessed with Mr. R. Smith.

The Town Crier had reported that the Planning Commission did not have a complete plan per RCW 36 which mandates Planning Commission Comprehensive Plan. One message read, "Hi Anne, any info on the Planning Commission/comp plan / RV campground in the park? An individual said it was in Element 8? Not in the final plan that we passed and held public hearings on. If in council version, it was added after the public hearing. The Planning Commission never discussed it." It was not added to Element 8, it was added to the capital facility portion of the Parks which Planning Commission did not have. In the capital facility portion, it states $35,000 for the RV hookups at Winolequa Park. The Planning Commission did not see this portion of the Comprehensive Plan nor did they review the Wastewater Capital Facility or the changes made by the Department of Commerce.

Another message that Randt received read, "I should add that the Parks Board is unanimously against RV hookups. It would be a drug camp in a week (we can't control the RVs that come there now) and the parents of the kids that use the parks and baseball teams would stop coming. There is no security."

Mayor Bradshaw was adamant that no one had voiced concerns to him about the RV spaces. Winlock Park Board President, Sally Vogel commented that they had been in and spoke with Mayor Bradshaw about the RV spaces. Mayor Bradshaw stated he was going ahead with the plans because "I started the project 25 years ago and my predecessors did not follow through." That brought a comment from Winlock Park Boardmember Holly Orbino, "A lot has changed in Winlock in 25 years Mr. Mayor."

Orbino was gaveled down during the meeting by Mayor Bradshaw. Gaveled down which means you are to stop talking and Orbino did. This is the time Mayor Bradshaw and City Council should be listening to the businesses, volunteers, former council members and Community Leaders, who also pay taxes or volunteer in the community.

At one point, the City of Winlock Community Development employee Jenifer Slemp stated, "planning agreed to pass the remaining over the next 3 months." The plan was not complete as stated in the Town Crier.

Councilmember Barbara Pedersen stated she felt like a "punching bag" and they needed to act like a team. Shortly after, Brandon Svenson stated, "I am sorry you feel like a punching bag ... As a tax paying citizen, this is the appropriate forum for me to address my concerns."

The President of the Winlock Improvement Network, Cindie Jackson stood up and commented that a team has different opinions which is what makes a good team. She also asked that the plan go back to a public hearing, since no one in the community could have seen the completed plan at the previous two public hearings.

The Editor of the Town Crier, Lynnette Hoffman also spoke out about the city not having any money from the city in the Capital Facility portion of the plan, it states "Grants and Donations." At one point, stating the "City of Winlock has become a City of Beggars" referring to "Grants and Donations" in the financial area of the plan.

Mayor Bradshaw stated he had a private donation for the RV hookups at Winolequa Park. After it was asked by former Winlock City Council member Tim White, "It's public record, who is your private donation?" Mayor Bradshaw stated, "Evelyn Miller Trust Fund." The Evelyn Miller Trust Fund has donated only $6,000 since this council has been seated. The amount was to complete the apartment for the second officer. Does the Evelyn Miller Trust Fund know the Park Board does not want the RV spaces? They have never gone against the citizens concerns.

During the meeting, Mayor Bradshaw spoke very loud and stated, "We are passing this plan tonight." He stated they were out of compliance and had to pass it that evening. The City has been out of compliance for years, yet Mayor Bradshaw and majority of City Council were not listening at all.

The meeting continued and many members of the audience spoke out. After 40 minutes, Mayor Bradshaw closed the Public Hearing and went on to the regular council meeting.

When it came time to vote on the Comprehensive Plan, the citizen's concerns fell on deaf ears. They did not deliberate. They did not discuss what the audience had stated. They could have asked to strike the line item in the Comprehensive Plan. Instead, they ignored the citizens in the community and the majority passed it without any deliberation. The only councilmember who opposed it was Randt. She asked that the plan be returned to the Planning Commission for final review of the capital facilities portion that was not included. Once again, the City Council failed to hear the citizens and fell in line for Mayor Bradshaw.