[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

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 scott@southkingmedia.com 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).

12 replies on “LETTER: Councilmember Harris responds to Mayor Pina & Councilmember Mahoney”

  1. Do I see another Des Moines legacy Foundation brewing. We all know how that worked out. No proof, no apologizes, and waste of time and money to the city. The mayor and pro mayor, have been very transparent towards Mr. Harris and Mr. Martinelli, newly elected council members. Seems it broke up their 7-0 club. They should be happy getting Bangs back. No good will come out of this…

  2. Well, that’s five minutes of my life I’ll never get back, reading your rant! You are trying to ruin our city! Sit down and be quiet! You are new to this group, didn’t you learn that in school? And by the way, make sure you tell those businesses in town that aren’t important to YOU, that you don’t approve of, which you would not say who they were in the meeting when asked, let them know you want them to leave! See how that works out for you! Hope you and the other new member get ousted soon! There are a lot of positive people out there that could fill your seat easily!

    1. Sandy you have stolen my thoughts and congratulations for putting it in perspective. We have two council members who seem not to know what their job responsibilities include. One part of their job description, dignity and mutual respect is totally missing. They seem to be rebellious snipers without understanding their assigned duties and responsibilities to the residents of Des Moines. Each vison of them on TV reminds me of why we voted for anyone but them last election. We now have (thank God they are in the minority) a potential destructive force in our council). A council that is mainly responsible for bringing us from the precipice of bankruptcy. One council member is constantly reminding Des Moines that he is the first, was the first, and is the only one, without defining what great works he has achieved. They have a potential in serving us citizens only if they adopt the discipline of team working instead of sniping. Mr. Harris is not and does not appear to have the caliber to be mayor, which is why he is not, nor does he ever speak for the council. More important to me personally, he can never speak for me as I am not one of the “many” he constantly refers to. Now put this in you marijuana pipes and smoke away! Reminder; he just barely beat out his opponent by a handful of votes. Why, because she is a score above him and is back where she belongs working FOR Des Moines

      1. Thank you Pat and you are speaking for the majority of Des Moines! We have lived here a long time, you and me, then here come these rebels and traitors, splashing hate all over social media about our council, that know nothing about how to run a great city and they are doing nothing but trying to tear it apart? Them and their sheep? Why?????????? Why???????? This is a beautiful city and you alone can speak for that, always complimenting and praising those that make it better. Thanks Pat for your input. Lets run these selfish immature haters out of town if they are not going to be a part of our great little community! I can’t even imagine who voted for them????? None of my friends, that’s for sure!

        1. Pat and Sandy you both sound freaking nuts!! it’s as if you never heard of disagreements and don’t notice that pina and mahoney are the aggressors here. and the let’s run them out of town rhetoric is exactly why two council persons lost in last year’s election so keep it up and they’ll all be gone next year.

          1. Thank you for your observation, Mike, and while freaking and nuts are not part of my vocabulary I appreciate your free speech. We do live in turmoil now and are on edge which is understandable. It is apparent to m, as I read you that we share a love for this city of ours, Des Moines, having different viewpoints does not make us enemies though. Perhaps you could spend a little time on the recent history of our city and how the people you are now speaking ah against, have saved us from the destitution of bankruptcy. All seven council members are basically good people and none deserve name calling, only performance evaluation. I do hope to read more from you sir.

  3. oh Sandy you’re being so ignorant. the MAJORITY voted for JC and Anthony. Suck it up and move on. They’re going no where whether you liek it or not.

    1. Jennifer is a pretty name and a fellow citizen of this City of Des Moines that we both love or you would not be so intense. No one is “ignorant” for believing strongly in one issue or another, and name calling is unwarranted here. Sometimes a “majority” can be a detriment when disruption is the ultimate goal. Leadership is what is need in each council member, But You likely I\know this; good leaders only comment from good followers. Now whether Harris and Martinelli become good leaders depends on how they perform as TEAM members. I think they have the capacity but have not tried to “fit in”. As new members it would be good to see them iron out their differences within council, fully understanding their duties and limitations. Thank you for you words of opinion, it is sorely needed.

  4. Plain and simple… these folks are our elected council representatives. They’ve all engaged in criticizing each other, decisions and actions. Time to focus on a little teamwork and communication ground rules. Both the noobs have engaged in actively or passively criticizing current and previous council… The Mayor and Deputy Mayor are doing the same, just in a different set of venues. Seems like the took it to a new level and now everyone is unhappy. No surprise… Work together for pete’s sakes. Stop making excuses as to why you can’t. You’re not in 5th grade, you’re running our city and trying to position the city for the future. Act like it…

  5. Mike and Jennifer, your bullying means nothing to a great town that was here waaaaay before the 2 new hateful council members. For them or for you to trash our Mayor all over social media is wrong, it’s just WRONG! Grow up! You are not in HS anymore!

    1. sandy I cannot tell whether your a joke account and your comments are parody or you’re being serious, becase you just called us bullies after saying we should run two elected officials out of their town. ive never seen thicker irony.

  6. Reading a recent letter to Des Moines is a challenge in reading, comprehension and retention capabilities.
    The message appears to be a plea for help because the writer is overwhelmed with responsibilities not fully understood and wishes to by-pass sophomore status to become the major speaker for our council. The writer is crying foul while the team disallows poor judgement.
    The time it’s taken to curry support, could better be spent seeking the fellowship and coordination within the council. This disgruntled one has only to act like a fellow council member to acquire the tools that make our city run efficiently. Squabbling and ranting waste precious time.
    Demeaning our leaders in public without substance does little to enhance the cohesiveness required of the order. The good people that elect a council member surely do not expect radical disruption within the council, but rather anticipated continued productivity where needed and continuation of progress, liquidity, and community safety.
    If there be a solution for this unwarranted behavior, it should come from within, not beyond our council. Ranting won’t hold a dedicated ear for long but an understanding respectful approach will. Our City Manager, Michael Matthias, Mayor Matt Pina, along with a majority of skilled council members, are keeping things honest, ethical and united. A malcontent who, will not listen to advice or encouragement is not be tolerated for the good of the city.
    This constituent believes the council is open and willing to accept new members. Our little ship of Des Moines needs all the oars pulling in the same direction allowing the rudder to determine direction.

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