[EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is a Letter to the Editor, written by a verified resident. It does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Waterland Blog, nor its staff:]

Residents Of Des Moines,

I am writing you today to respond to Mayor Pina’s public comments (1:01:00) at our 9 April City Council Meeting. And also The Waterland Blog’s coverage of that meeting. And (wait there’s still more!) Deputy Mayor Matt Mahoney’s Letter To The Editor in this blog of 16 April. That’s a whole lot of ‘stuff’, but I will try to be brief.

Mayor Pina’s comments at that meeting were totally inappropriate. His remarks violated our own Council’s Rules Of Procedure in any number of ways both big (personal attacks) and small (going on for over twice the allowed time.) If you’ve ever done any public speaking, ten minutes is a good while. But ten minutes spent beating up a colleague is a lifetime. Worst of all, he provided absolutely no evidence as to his complaints. All his remarks were vague hearsay with no supporting detail entered into the record. This provided me with no way to respond in any meaningful way. It just left a lot of unsupported allegations hanging in the air. Not cool.

Every one of Mayor Pina’s complaints could have and should have been handled in private. At minimum, it is a waste of valuable time at a public meeting. It is also an abuse of his position as presiding officer because the person who holds the gavel has control over the meeting. Mayor Pina simply ignored other Councilmembers who tried to object. But the most serious issue is that this display itself reflects extremely poorly on our City—far worse than any of the supposed ‘offenses’ of which I have been accused.

After the 9 April meeting, I sent letters to both Mayor Pina and Deputy Mayor Mahoney asking for specific details and evidence about each of their complaints. As of today I have received no answers. I fully intended to wait for their answers and then handle it in private. Instead, Deputy Mayor Mahoney chose to up the ante, doubling down on the Mayor’s statements in this most public of forums–again, with no evidence. This is remarkable given that his post is over 1,800 words.

Here is the irony: one of Mayor Pina and Deputy Mayor Mahoney’s main complaints was that all my supposed bad behavior reflects poorly on the City. On the contrary, I would suggest that if anyone is doing damage to our City’s reputation, it is Mayor Pina and Deputy Mayor Mahoney. Because here’s the thing: none of you could have known about ninety five percent of this nonsense if the Mayor and Deputy Mayor had not spoken out in the most public way imaginable! So I have to wonder why they chose to go so ‘loud’ over issues that could have been handled constructively directly between the aggrieved parties?

This is tricky for me. Since I have still not gotten answers, I feel uncomfortable adding more energy to this public relations disaster. But at a certain point, complaints this serious cannot go unanswered—even if not in the direct manner I had hoped.  If I do receive answers, rest assured that I will address each item they have raised. If I were to find fault in anything I’ve said or done I would apologize and make amends. But regardless, at a certain point I will make certain that the public has a full and understandable accounting of this whole affair.

I just want to say a few last things before wearing out my welcome:

  1. I cannot know what is in anyone’s heart. However there is the notion of ‘benefit of the doubt’. When someone is your friend and they make a mistake or do something you don’t understand, you assume the best. When they are not, we often assume the worst. Perhaps some of this comes down to politics–residue from a nasty campaign. I get it. When there are hard feelings it takes a lot of character to keep things from going to the ‘he said/she said’ place.
  2. But I do not believe in he said/she said, which is what the majority of this nonsense comes down to. So I have also reached out to everyone present at the meetings the Mayor refers to for comment. So far, no one will back any of these  allegations. As soon as I receive (or don’t receive) answers from everyone with first-hand knowledge (and also the Mayor and Deputy Mayor) I will publish a full report. And then, as I have before, I will let this go.
  3. Because that is what you deserve from your Councilmembers. I pledge to always work constructively, with courtesy and respect, with everyone I meet on your behalf. I serve you and I know that is what you expect.
  4. I stand behind my words and actions. A I have done and will continue to do everything I campaigned on, including being the biggest supporter of all our business community, creating meaningful legislation to curtail the negative impacts from Sea-Tac Airport, pushing for much greater government engagement and transparency, advocating for important human services programs for Seniors and Parks, and most of all, being someone who is constantly working to make this the best place for all residents to raise their families over the next twenty five years.

And finally this: I sure hope the Mayor and Deputy Mayor will not continue to up the ante. The policy differences we have are real. But a lot of people voted for me and they expect me to further my ideas. Together, we must find better ways to handle the sausage making.  OK, break’s over. 😀

Please let me know your thoughts. Stay safe. Stay sane.

 -JC Harris
(206) 878-0578
[email protected]

EDITOR’S NOTE: Do you have something you’d like to share with our engaged, local Readers? If so, please email your Letter to the Editor to [email protected] and, pending review and verification, we may publish it. Letter writers must use their full names, cite sources – as well as provide an address and phone number (NOT for publication but for verification purposes).