News

Neighbor backs mayor's tree story

By Dennis Box, The Courier-Herald

The saga of the fallen tree branch that has recently plagued Mayor Bob Young took several new twists last week.

The issue jumped into the public forum at the 0Jan. 27 City Council meeting when the Mayor's longtime foe, Dan Decker, stated Public Works employees were improperly told by Young to clean up a fallen tree branch on his property.

The mayor has consistently denied the allegation.

According to Young a large branch from a tree on his property fell into the street during a windstorm in early January and was pulled onto his property by the Public Works employees.

"The tree branch fell across the street and the guys pulled in onto my property so traffic could get around it," Young said. "I came home later in the day and Public Works was cleaning it up. I went out and thanked them. They were just doing their job."

The mayor said the workers asked him what to do with the cut up wood when they were done. He said his neighbor was a senior citizen and would be able to use the wood.

The mayor's neighbor, Mrs. Kathleen Bohm, corroborated the details of the mayor's story.

"The mayor called and asked us if we wanted the wood," Mrs. Bohm said. "We gladly went out and picked it up and used it for our heat. It was very nice of the mayor and I think these people saying he did it for his own gain should have gotten their facts straight before talking."

Mrs. Bohm and her husband, Dan, have lived in Bonney Lake for the last 40 years.

A committee was formed to investigate the charges. Councilmen Phil DeLeo, Dave King and Neil Johnson were named to the committee by Mayor Young. King has appointed chairman.

During the Feb. 3 Council workshop, Councilman Dave King asked for guidance from the other City Council members regarding the direction the committee investigation should take.

"I would like to hear from the other Council Members what you think we are charged to do," Councilman King said. "The committee can proceed, but it is our intent to move in a fair manner."

City Attorney Jim Dionne stated to the Council, "You will run into many issues that appear to conflict with an appearance of fairness."

Councilman King noted the City Council has neither the tradition nor authority of a U. S. Senate committee.

"We can't compel testimony," King said. " We can't send out subpoenas and we can't swear people in. What we have here is a situation where we can find perhaps enough information to forward to the appropriate body."

Deputy City Attorney Jeff Ganson during a phone interview noted that impeachment was not an option for the City Council.

"A private citizen can file a recall petition, but the City Council in no way can remove a mayor," Ganson said. "They probably can censure, a formalized declaration of displeasure that has no legal effect. It's really in the hands of the public."

Ganson said the City Attorney can investigate some issues, but the State Auditor or State Attorney General is a more likely avenue.

Dennis Box can be reached at dbox@courierherald.com

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