The Columbian Goes On The Attack

by lewwaters

Wednesday’s edition of the Columbian contained an op/ed by Tom Koenninger that seems to be nothing more than a vicious attack on two citizens who stand up for their constitutional rights to speak out freely at what they see as wrong.

Koenninger’s op/ed, Political games discourage volunteerism, says in the very first paragraph, “Vancouver’s Charter Review Committee Chairman John Caton calls it a “sideshow,” but that doesn’t mean he finds anything amusing about it. He is the target of a vicious campaign by local activists Debbie Peterson and Larry Patella to have him removed as chairman because he is treasurer for Mayor Royce Pollard’s re-election campaign.

Activists,” Tom? “Vicious” campaign too?

Before getting deeper into this claim of Koenninger’s, let me say that I have personally met both Larry Patella and Debbie Peterson and consider them my friends. Larry is a retired Naval Officer and Debbie is a School Teacher and former candidate for the office now held by Jim Jacks. Neither has ever been “vicious” in expressing opposition to what they see wrong in Clark County.

Yes, they see a conflict of interest in Caton sitting on Vancouver’s Charter Review Committee and as Chairman while also being the campaign treasurer for Mayor Royce Pollard as well as they often have opposed Mayor Pollard, which is a right they have been granted by our constitution.

To view the “viciousness” Koenninger speaks of, please visit CVTV and click on “CITIZENS COMMUNICATION.” Larry begins at about the 3:30 minute mark and Debbie begins at about the 10-minute mark.

As Debbie said in a letter to the Columbian, which remains unpublished, the term “activist” carries negative connotations. Peering into a thesaurus we find synonyms for “activist” include “demagogue,” “inciter,” “malcontent,” and “troublemaker,” as well as the definition, “One who agitates, especially politically.”

Strange how for 8 years the Columbian saw no need to label those who openly opposed Republicans as “activist,” but seek to label Republicans who oppose the actions of Vancouver’s Mayor as such.

And again, what “viciousness?” Both stated their positions clearly and without malice or mean-spirited words.

Very troubling in Koenninger’s op/ed is that although he interviewed John Caton for his ‘hit piece,’ he did not have the courtesy to contact either Debbie Peterson nor Larry Patella, just resorted to the usual left-winged name calling of any who dare speak out against Pollard or his administration.

Why does the City Council hold open public meetings and allow citizen comments if reasonable opposition is to be demeaned? Does the Columbian now cry “freedom of the press” while denigrating the free speech of concerned citizens?

I find it unconscionable that the Columbian would allow such an attack on Clark County citizens merely because the voice opposition to the Mayor and the City Council. While the Columbian may be a private business themselves, their purpose, as they state at the head of every edition, is “Serving Clark County, Washington.”

Shouldn’t that include ALL of Clark County and not just one view?

Copies of Debbie Peterson and Larry Patella’s unpublished letters follow.

Letter to the Editor:
I find it interesting that you label me as an activist. This is the second time in less than a year that your paper has done so. According to surveys, the term “activist” has a negative connotation. My appropriate, reserved actions and involvement in city/state affairs are motivated by what is in the best interests of both. I have not once addressed the Charter Review Committee, with a recommendation for removal of Mr. Caton from that committee. I have, however, at City Council, recommended that Mayor Pollard, take a leadership role, and remove him from his campaign as treasurer, or ask that Mr. Caton remove himself from the Charter Review Committee. The Charter Review Committee is addressing far-reaching policies that directly pertain to mayoral issues. It is impossible for anyone, with the close association that Mr. Caton has to Mayor Pollard, to remain objective. I refer you to the written, public, city council record that contains my statement. You will find it measured and polite. It would have been helpful if facts, rather than fiction would have been included in your editorial of May 13th, regarding my statement.

Respectfully submitted,
Debbie Peterson, concerned citizen


Interesting article in today Columbian. Anti-Citizens/Voters and Pollard Cheerleader Tom Koenninger, Editor Emeritus of the Columbian characterizes Debbie Peterson and me, as “Vicious” for attempting to do what the Columbian fails to do or won’t do.

That is to make Vancouver Citizens aware of what the good Mayor and his self appointed Charter Review Committee, is or isn’t doing to our City Constitution.

What Cheerleader Koenninger failed to say in his column is that Mayor Pollard, when confronted by me with the fact that Charter Review Committee Chairman was his re-election Campaign Chairman, LIED. Instead of responding with the truth, that John Caton is his Campaign Treasurer, the mayor said, my information was a bunch of “CRAP” and he only occasionally uses Caton as an accountant. Mayors should not Lie to the people. I have the mayor’s words on tape if Koenninger would like to see them.

L. M. Patella
CDR USN (ret)

3 Comments to “The Columbian Goes On The Attack”

  1. How do I get in tough with Larry?


  2. In touch, not in tough! :). Sorry


  3. You should be able to reach Larry at


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