Two Council Members Lodge Ethics Complaint Against Council Member Jeanne Harris

by lewwaters

After attending the C-Trans Board Meeting the evening of September 14, I returned home to find in my email a notice from the City of Vancouver that stated, “Vancouver City Council asked to establish Ethics Committee to review complaint regarding Councilmember Conduct.” Clicking on the link I saw that two Vancouver City Council Members, Larry Smith and Jack Burkman sent an email to Mayor Tim Leavitt asking for him to convene an ethics panel to investigate the outrageous conduct displayed by Council Member Jeanne Harris at Monday’s Council Meeting.

Jeanne Harris Throws Yet Another Tantrum, Must Go

The email sent to the Mayor said,

“From: Burkman, Jack
Sent: Tuesday, September 14, 2010 2:07 PM
To: Campbell, Pat; Hansen, Bart; Harris, Jeanne; Leavitt, Tim; Smith, Larry; Stewart, Jeanne; Burkman, Jack
Cc: McDonnell, Pat
Subject: Ethics violation complaint

September 14, 2010

Mayor and Council,

We believe a violation of the Vancouver City Council Code of Ethics has occurred. Section 6.0A of the Ethics Code, Standards of Conduct Mission, states that “Council Members will at all times treat each other with respect and dignity.”

Councilmember Jeanne Harris’ actions toward fellow Councilmember Jeanne Stewart and Mayor Tim Leavitt at last night’s meeting were not respectful and did not treat them with dignity.

We respectfully request that an Ethics Committee be established at the next regular Council meeting, per Section 7.0 of the City Council Code of Ethics policy to investigate these allegations and determine action that should be taken.

Councilmember Jack Burkman
Councilmember Larry Smith”

Assuming this to be a sincere attempt to rein in an out of control council member and not just a CYA measure, I applaud both council members Burkman and Smith for stepping up after their silence during Monday evenings meeting.

I notice that the email was sent after KPAM 860’s Victoria Taft had been discussing the meeting as somewhat of a “donnybrook” due to Harris’ behavior and lambasting of citizens during the Citizen Communication segment of the meeting and for her verbal attacks against fellow council member Jeanne Stewart, during and after the meeting.

I also find it somewhat hypocritical to hear both Harris and Mayor Leavitt admonish citizens who speak against adding tolls to the proposed I-5 replacement Bridge and who oppose Light Rail being added from Portland. I say hypocritical as during the August 16 council meeting, citizens speaking in favor of the two were politely listened to and engaged by council members as to the benefits of Light Rail.

At the Sept. 13 meeting, Harris and Leavitt admonished speakers who spoke in opposition with the claim that it is not city business and the council has no say in the matter, even though at the C-Trans Board meeting, 3 city council members sit on that board and not only give input but vote on C-Trans matters, including the bridge and light rail.

Additionally, as stated in a Columbian article on the vote to separate a vote of the C-Trans budget and light rail, an effort was made by Mayor Leavitt to replace council member Stewart on the C-Trans Board as she was not speaking in unison on the vote with Harris and Leavitt.

From the Columbian article Fate of light rail will go before voters we read,

“Just a day before, a majority of the Vancouver City Council had pressed for the city’s three representatives — Leavitt, Harris and councilor Jeanne Stewart — to exercise their ability to form a bloc veto against two ballot measures supported by the majority of C-Tran’s nine-member board. But Stewart made it clear that she wasn’t going to go along with Leavitt and Harris, saying she worried that a voter backlash against light rail could force the transit agency to make draconian cuts in basic bus service.”

“Leavitt on Monday had vowed to replace Stewart on the C-Tran board with Councilor Larry Smith.”

“By Tuesday, however, that gambit flickered out when it became apparent that C-Tran’s bylaws didn’t allow Stewart to be summarily swept off the board against her will. Stewart then voted with six other C-Tran board members to begin the process of formulating two ballot measures rather than just one.”

If light rail coming into Vancouver isn’t city business, why then are 3 council members sitting on the C-Trans Board and voting on it? Why the effort to replace council member Stewart in order to sway the Board towards the desired outcome of Mayor Leavitt and Council Member Harris?

Perhaps that ethics complaint lodged against Jeanne Harris should include Mayor Tim Leavitt as well.

John Jenkins, candidate for Vancouver City Council, running against Council Member Bart Hansen spoke at the C-Trans Board Meeting last evening asking for an inquiry into Jeanne Harris’ conduct and for her removal from her vice-chair duties on the Board with the possibility of her complete removal from the C-Trans Board.

As I continue to say, we citizens deserve better representation from elected officials than this. They work for us, not the other way around and we do not elect them to run rough shod over us or limit our free speech. Nor do we elect them to ram unwanted and overly expensive programs down our throats when we can barely afford to feed our families.

This ethics complaint is a good beginning, provided it is sincere.

Only time will tell what, if any, action is taken against Council Member Jeanne Harris.

UPDATE: Vancouver City Council Ethics Panel Decision HERE

3 Responses to “Two Council Members Lodge Ethics Complaint Against Council Member Jeanne Harris”

  1. Why do I have a feeling that this may end in another session of political fireworks in executive session or go really badly for Jeanne Stewart instead of Jeanne Harris? (referring to the C-tran Board session AND Harris’s previous events during last day and night workshop….)

    What I mean is the ethics probe won’t go far and Stewart will get kicked off C-tran board some other way? By city council resolution OR some other calculated, legal mechanism that is come forth?

    I hope that Harris does face the public next week. I mean a whole lot of community members during citizens communications.

    I think the council needs to make a summation and clear reference to both situations next week. Make it a part of the agenda items, especially since both people are senior members of the council.

    What I heard was just plain unacceptable.over the cvtv videos from last night.

    Like

  2. Harris is an emabarrasment to the city and needs to be put in her place.She is a civil SERVANT not dictator.

    Like

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