[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:]

While I appreciate your frustration of the events relating to the most recent council meeting of April 9, 2020, I support Mayor Pina and his comments concerning Councilmember Harris.

What many citizens in our community are not aware of is the continual and blatant disregard Councilmember Harris has shown in his conduct and adherence toward his role as a Councilmember.  Councilmember Harris has continued to improperly represent our city without designation from council.  This has resulted in misinformation to our community and legislative partners and created potential negative impacts toward our city.

I assure you that attempts by the city manager, mayor, city attorney and other councilmembers to reason, explain and educate Councilmember Harris on what his role is have been made. He simply has refused to listen or comply and because of this behavior, Mayor Pina had no recourse but to call him out from the dais this past Thursday.

It is in my opinion; Councilmember Harris did in fact make those statements identified at our most recent council meeting as Mayor Pina stated.  For those who did not hear about the content of the meeting, Mayor Pina called out Councilmember Harris’ comments on the most recent 30th Legislative District Conference Call.  Councilmember Harris made derogatory statements concerning our local businesses and the potential effects from COVID-19.  According to those I spoke with attending the call, Councilmember Harris did state that he saw advantages from the COVID-19 epidemic. He stated that the failure of our “3rd Rate and Mediocre” businesses as a result of COVID-19 provided a once in a lifetime opportunity to find federal monies and rebuild portions of downtown, as a good thing. I independently verified this information with 3 different reputable sources amongst the audience of key leaders and individuals on the call. For the most part, these individuals were shocked by his statements.  Further and more importantly, Councilmember Harris was not designated to be on the call or speak on behalf of the city. 

This is not the only example of his disregard for protocol either. Recently Councilmember Harris incorrectly commented on a situation regarding COVID-19, where I personally had to address Councilmember Harris on Facebook to correct the record.  Councilmember Harris falsely claimed that our city withheld information from the public concerning the numbers of infections in our city.  In fact, King County Health Department had not published any numbers to this effect, nor notified the community, public safety entities or any city prior to a Federal Way Mirror article making this information known. Yet, Councilmember Harris claimed our city had access to this information and were withholding it from our residents despite his opposition.  This was an untrue statement and should never have been shared with readers on Facebook nor in any other public format.  I verified this information by calling several other sources in various capacities and they confirmed they also had no knowledge of information that Mr. Harris had erroneously claimed.   To mislead the public in such a sensitive manner at a time such as now is another example of poor judgment that the council and staff leadership have been observing during his short tenure in office.  This further validates why we must insist that Councilmembers must only speak on behalf of Council and our city when designated.

In addition, Mr. Harris continues to plague our city staff and some we contract with personal demands for information absent of approval and disregard for spending public dollars without approval from our City Manager in accordance with Council Rule and RCW’s (laws of the state).  The email communications I have been in the loop on, are in my opinion, rude and disrespectful toward our staff.  Despite this offense, City Manager Matthias and our Mayor have continually reminded him that in accordance with Council Rule he is required to follow the process and gain approval through our City Manager first.  This is something all councilmembers agree to because it avoids and reduces confusing, unnecessary work, and negative impacts to staff’s delivery of their normal tasks and duties.  These rules are designed to ensure that we abide by state law and ensure our staff have clear direction.  Additionally, it assures that staff not be placed in situations that confuse or compromise the overall mission and objectives of our city. I for one believe that upmost respect to staff is a must.  Mayor Pina’s reference on Thursday’s meeting toward Councilmember Harris’ recent visit to the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) are true.  It was noted from key leaders present along with those from other agencies who were surprised by his disrespect, ignorance and disregard toward the EOC and first responders. His comments prior to his visit also belittled what this operation means to the city, its residents health and safety during this time.

Mr. Harris continues to reference issues on his blog and social media with comments that potentially could violate both the Open Public Meetings Act and the Public Disclosure Act.   In addition, such careless activities by Mr. Harris create the possibility of potential litigation toward our city.  That means it could cost us all money to defend such irresponsible actions.

To make matters worse, Mr. Harris continues to insult other councilmembers on these same pages.  Mr. Harris has alleged that other councilmembers glaze over packets, are not engaged and fail to represent the best interest of our city especially when it is in opposition to his position.  These statements are again untrue and disrespectful.

Councilmember Harris will repeatedly cite Rule 5 of our Council Rules regarding the role of our mayor and comment that the mayor has no authority other than in a ceremonial capacity with our city and had no grounds to call him out.  I disagree (see bullet points b. and c. below from our City Council Rules) . I think it is the mayor’s duty to call out repeated violations when efforts to handle the issue by other means have fallen short. 

From our council rules:


but excerpt of Rule 5 is below:

PRESIDING OFFICER RULE 5. The Mayor shall preside at meetings of the Council and be recognized as the head of the City for all ceremonial purposes. The Mayor shall have no regular administrative or executive duties. In case of the Mayor’s absence or temporary disability the Deputy Mayor shall act as Mayor during the continuance of the absence. When the Deputy Mayor acts as Mayor by participating in preparation of a Council meeting agenda or study session worksheet, or by presiding at a meeting of the Council, the Deputy Mayor shall have authority only to approve the Council meeting agenda or study session worksheet as to form without introducing or deleting items of business, and to preside at the meeting by following the approved agenda or study session worksheet as written. In case of the absence or temporary disability of the Mayor and the Deputy Mayor, a Deputy Mayor selected by members of the Council shall act as Mayor during the continuance of the absences or disabilities. The Mayor, or Deputy Mayor, is referred to as “Presiding Officer” from time to time in these Rules of Procedure.

(a) The Mayor and the Council have authority to introduce proclamations for a variety of purposes, as approved by the Council. No proclamation shall constitute official City actions unless approved or authorized by a majority of the City Council.

(b) To promote a favorable image of the City and pursue resources that will benefit the community, the Mayor, or another Councilmember designated by the City Council, may take the lead in representing the Des Moines City Council to those from outside the community who are interested in joint ventures and efforts to bring economic development and investments to the City, including other local governments, regional organizations, and federal, state, and international government representatives. Neither the Mayor, nor a Councilmember, can commit the City without authorization of a majority of the City Council. (c) The Mayor, or another Councilmember designated by the City Council, is the spokesperson on actions taken by the Council. On behalf of the City Council, the Mayor or designated Councilmember may inform the public, media, and staff about issues affecting the community. (Res. 525 §1, 1988, amended by Res. 961 §1, 2003, Res. 1140, 2011, amended by Res. 1356, 2017)

I assert that Council Rule 5 of our Council Rules specifically outlines not only the Mayors role, but it also clarifies that the mayor does have the right and responsibility to confront Councilmember Harris in this regard.  It also clearly outlines that only councilmembers designated by council can speak on behalf of the city, yet Councilmember Harris continues to operate outside those rules.  This isn’t the first time Councilmember Harris has committed this trespass.  I assure you that concerns, and warnings have been repeatedly made to Councilmember Harris in this regard.  Let me be clear, Councilmember Harris’ actions are the reason for my correspondence as would be with anyone who conducted themselves as he has.  He is no victim here other than to his own conduct.

While Councilmember Harris may think otherwise it is in my opinion that he continues to refuse to work within his council role nor is he willing to listen to guidance pertaining to such and I join our Mayor in my frustration concerning his behavior.  While you may be upset with Mayor Pina for calling him out publicly from the dais during our past meeting, I believe he had given our Mayor no recourse and per his responsibility the public needed to be made aware of Councilmember Harris’ conduct per Council Rule 5(c). 

I must reiterate that our Mayor had been left with no other recourse and for some, your anger and frustration is directed at the wrong individual. Unfortunately, and in this case, when an individual refuses to see the error of their ways, the results are never pretty.

In my opinion, Councilmember Harris is wrong and statements by our Mayor concerning his inappropriate conduct are valid.  There has been quite a bit of misrepresented information concerning this situation in social media. Our Mayor has been incorrectly judged by the absence of this factual and detailed information I have provided here. I am sure we all can agree that we can’t condone Councilmember Harris’ actions that mislead the public during this pandemic or otherwise. And we definitely cannot tolerate such statements of ill will in regard toward fellow councilmembers, our businesses and our community. I consider myself fair and I look hard at any situation objectively, before making a statement such as this. The conduct Mr. Harris has portrayed is outside the boundaries as a Councilmember, even more so during these uncertain times. In fact, they are egregious. The solution is simple; Councilmember Harris must adhere to the rules as we all do and cannot continue independent of the council body. If Councilmember Harris’ conduct continues, he must be called out for correction by your leadership and you as citizens as well.  

In closing, anyone who knows our Mayor, he is an honored individual in our community belonging to a family who has served the community with years of selfless service.  They also know he is extremely protective and passionate for our city. He guards the reputation of Des Moines along with its future with great care, as you would want him to. The Mayor would never, I repeat never, assert such statements without validity or cause. I commend Mayor Pina for his leadership in protecting this community and you should be glad that you have a leader willing to put himself out there. I also want you to know that it was with great reluctance and a heavy heart he was forced to take such actions.

I stand by Mayor Pina and you should too!!!

Matt Mahoney
Deputy Mayor – Des Moines City Council

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22 replies on “LETTER: Deputy Mayor shares his thoughts on last Thursday’s council meeting”

  1. Mayor Pina and Deputy Mayor Mahoney’s attacks on Councilmember Harris are shameful, and based on hearsay. We as a city deserve better than this, especially during a pandemic.

    1. CM Anthony… This behavior from both of you on social media started long before your tenure. Not sure what it will take for it to sink in that you;re supposed to be working together for our city and not for your small group of FB followers. I have brought this to your attention on many occasions in FB Messenger when you reached out as well as your posts… but since you felt that was harassing to you and blocked me on FB, I’ll deliver it again here and to your City email address. You and your followers are not the only voices of DM. For the entire council… let’s get it together folks.

    2. You are a creep and an immature little man! For you to be dogging our mayor and deputy mayor on social media is wrong wrong wrong! And nice try trying to private message me to go for coffee so we can talk?? What do you want to talk about, our mayor Matt Pina???? My husband was apalled! I had to block you! You disgust me! Get off of our counsel, you don’t belong there!

    3. Mr. Martinelle,
      You are a creep and an immature little man! For you to be dogging our mayor and deputy mayor on social media is wrong wrong wrong! And nice try trying to private message me to go for coffee so we can talk?? What do you want to talk about, our mayor Matt Pina???? My husband was apalled! I had to block you! You disgust me! Get off of our counsel, you don’t belong there!

      1. wow SANDY you sound like a awful human being. your husband was appaled that an elected official asked a constituent to meet for coffee OMG what has the world come to. show him some respect whether you like it or not martinelli and harris are here for 4 years and probably much longer.

  2. Des Moines has been run into the ground by the same leadership for decades. Matt Mahoney promised me himself he would make changes in the Planning Department. Nothing was done. If Des Moines wants change they need to vote new faces in.

    1. As a citizen of this great c City of Des Moines, the love of which we share, Dana, I would like to share with you not “decades” but only h the few years of recent leadership on our Des Moines City Council. Perplexing to know you would want o replace merely with “new faces” the wonderful accomplishments attained as follows:
      Beginning with the leadership of Mayor David Kaplan and perpetuated with Mayor Matt Pina, our city has achieved a near miraculous recovery from a shortfall in the millions to a new level of prosperity This new solvency is recognized by Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s with their second highest ranking.
      Next look at our reestablished DMPD with a full complement of officers and well equipped to defen our security. Adding to our sense of security. Add to this, a Canine Unit and Traffic component. Also notice the pedestrian safety blinkers along Marine View Drive. Partnered now with elements of DEA, FBI, US Marshals, and a regional SWAT team, we are now at a never before achieved level of a safety in Des Moines.
      Not to be overlooked, our park system has been increased with the addition of three newly purchased properties. The Redondo Boardwalk has been replaced with one to last ages and a similar approach is destined for the Marina Fishing Pier. These plans and improvements are the result of our city’s new prosperity and a credit to our recent council’s outstanding leadership.
      The entire credit goes not to our council alone. however, our relatively new City Manager Michael Matthias is one incredible master of planning, negotiating, and accomplishing the success that Des Moines is no enjoying. Mr. Matthias has been recognized by the State Auditor’s o Office as “City Manager of the Year” for his labors.
      The poor, homeless, hungry in and around Des Moines are not neglected as we become ever more solvent. Our City Council, all seven of them now, can take credit for allocations to worthy causes, one being our Des Moines Food Bank.
      In closing I ask for further education as it relates to our council, all seven of them now.

    1. Hannah, please review my response to Dana. This is not a good way to say thank you for the gift of Des Moines’ salvation. Join me in re=electing any one of them that is willing to run. New faces are and should always be welcome though. We are looking at two now, just in case.

  3. To the point about the data re: COVID-19 cases: I absolutely believe that the city might not have had access to this data, let alone been in a position to share it. Data has been hard to collect and distribute throughout this crisis. I work for an organization that is publishing widely used models projecting healthcare needs, and I have received multiple emails from local public health leaders asking where they can access data for their own states and counties- data they should have access to but don’t for some reason! Harris’s accusations on this matter at least ring hollow.

    I’ll also add that Des Moines residents and leadership who are caught up in this teapot tempest are extremely privileged to be in the position to spend so much time and effort addressing a the personal opinions of one council member. I hope we can recognize that, in the current situation and environment, this is a very small crisis.

    1. The accusation would ring hollow.., if it were true. Like all these items, you are reading a vague statement which presents an allegation not back by any evidence. If the Deputy Mayor had simply talked to me in private, -first- perhaps we could have straightened it out without all this mess. I am also deeply impressed that my colleagues seem to have so much free time to spend on this–as opposed to working on the immediate needs of the community.

      I have written to the Mayor and Deputy Mayor for -specific evidence-. So far I have received no reply. When I receive answers, I will comment further. Until then, I welcome any resident to call me or email with their questions and concerns. But please, let’s take this off-line.



      (206) 878-0578, jcharris@desmoineswa.gov

  4. Well written and well said Mr. Matt Mahoney! The two new councilmembers need to sit down and shut up and learn to listen and join in instead of disrupt and try and part our counsel! For some reason, them and their hateful group want to destroy this beautiful little town! There are very few of them thank goodness! The revenue of this town is booming because of the seats that are filled with the council that have been here a while! It was hard work getting the business we now have! The two new councilmembers are just trying to ruffle feathers to take our city down and they need to be stopped! Now!!!

    1. Sandy you say there’s very few of them but you do realize that both JC and Anthkny were elected with more votes than Mahoney and Pina, right? Lmao

    2. Sandy, again I agree with your observation. I do wish that JC and Martnelli would come to terms and begin acting as team members rather than opposition detractors. We are grateful to know our city is fluid again and can do all the services, infrastructure, and even charitable things. We see, so far only five council members that are working for Des Moines while two are busy attempting to disrupt the team they should be part of/

  5. I had always suspected that Harris and Martinelli were only running for seats on our Des Moines city council either for their own self aggrandizement or wistful thoughts of their City Council position as a stepping stone for further political ambitions. I was hoping they would prove me wrong, but they do not seem to be showing themselves up to the task of governing well and in a civil manner. Disruption for disruption sake is not admirable, but appears adolescently immature and self serving.

    1. Birch curious why you bring martinelli into this when he wasn’t mentioned in the article nor have any accusations placed against him. His only role in this debacle is to point out how shameful it is for our deputy mayor to be publicly attacking a colleague in the middle of a pandemic

      1. Becky, no one was “attacked” by Deputy Mayor Mahoney. Please read the explanation Mahoney gave. It is quite long and articulate, but was intended to respond to Councilman Harris unwarranted activity that was totally unsanctioned by The Mayor or anyone else on the council. I do agree that Councilman Martinelli had no place in the comment you refer to though, and I also agree. The basic argument I am reading here is either unwillingness or inability to work as colleagues within council is not being realized by the two new members. As usual, I highly recommend that you watch or attend a council meeting or two to form a better educated view of how the council. They all work hard and deserve our respect. Yes, I do watch often.

  6. Birch Creek, you have my sentiments a exactly articulated, but I do believe that if they would better understand why they were voted into office, it would benefit all seven council members and the city they swore to defend. One of the two has total disregard for small business, it seems, Well we love our little businesses and do all we can to keep them. Even now we look for carry out where available. There can be no good coming from this continued discourse. One can hardly be a good leader if not a good follower and associate. We will not give up on these two, believing good can evolve from bad. Give them time and enough rope of course.

  7. Somebody must speak out in defense of councilman Anthony Martinelli even if it be from one who is neither a supporter or fan of the gentleman. This describes me, as we need to remember the dignity of the office Mr. Martinelli holds. He will preside over his domain of one seventh of our council for four years and may well learn better to perform as a team member and based on his performance may seek and win subsequent tenure.. So while he is in office he should enjoy the title “Councilman”‘ and shown respect for that office. I object to calling names like “creep” and other derivatives. Comments directed toward Mr. Martinelli need to be respectful and substantive, constructive, and be encouraging for him to do better. Over time the personal respect will come only as and if he earns it. We who are commenting need to attend or watch council meetings to enable closer observation of performance and his value to our city. I would be pleased to read an apology to Councilman Martinelli. Who will be civil enough?

  8. Pina’s attacks on Council Member’s Harris are unproven and frankly a waste of City Council meeting time, especially during a pandemic. The lack of leadership and poor judgement exhibited by Pina, casts serious doubts on his leadership skills. Pina and Mahoney’s spiteful attack on Council Member Harris reflect a disservice to the residents of Des Moines. Pina and Mahoney’s bruised ego’s, along with threats are laughable. Our New Council Members Are Not Going Anywhere. They were Voted in by the Majority of Voters and doing a outstanding job. And to the “gang of five”, we the residents of Des Moines, who pay the wages of the Council and City staff, are watching the councils actions close. New Leadership is Needed On Our City Council. Vote, Vote, Vote; August 2021 primary, then follow up and most importantly the November 2021 Election. Pina, Buxton, Bangs, and Mahoney seats are all up for grabs!! Every Vote Counts!! Our ceremonial mayor’s bruised ego, rarely clears a clouded mind.

  9. We have been blessed with the two recent administration in Des Moines with the steadfast hand of City Manager Michael Matthias, our city has left the potential of bankruptcy in the shadow of history. Many of us may not remember the sacrifice of most city employees who took reduced salaries and fewer hours to bring us into the recovery we presently enjoy. From approaching disaster with over a million “shortfall” we can and should be thanking our City Council for the magnificent improvement of the fluidity we now are enjoying. With over five million reserve our city is sprucing up, even in the challenging time of Corona Virus. We have a fully staffed police agency, with an added K-9 assigned. The security of our community is ensured with the addition of an Emergency Preparedness contingent with former Councilman Vic Pennington. You may drive on our streets with the confidence that comes with constant repair and re paving, new sidewalks, and blinkers strategically located to allow safe pedestrian crossing of our busy streets. New school construction, a new boardwalk at Redondo and improvements being planned at our Des Moines Marina. Now is not a good time for “giveaways” or radical left-wing policies that can only bring us to the door of failure again. While we are under the stress of a pandemic of biblical proportions, we should not allow or encourage our council to spend money that tis “burning a hole in their pockets”. It is our money, our taxes and not one drop should be spent with frivolity. We are less than blessed with an extremely small number of citizens who would advocate “throw the bums out!” and this shows only ignorance of the vast improvements to our life style in Des Moines that is attributable to these “bums”. There is a sad parallel here with President Trump who has done so much for us individually and as a nation, yet he is a constant target of an unfriendly media. This seems, to me, to be echoed by dangerous evaluations of our council by a few less informed citizens of Des Moines. They have, and continue to work so arduously for the betterment of our Des Moines and some still say “get lost”, really? Let’s encourage all seven of our Des Moines Council to do two things, work as a unit, and speak with one voice.

    1. makes no sense Nardo. We DO NOT WANT a council to “speak with one voice”. The reason we have a council and not just one dictator is we want diverse opinions and voices.

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