In the online edition of the News Times Keven Graves again stepped up to bat with another ill-informed editorial in “his” newspaper. His comments in this editorial shows just how low our local newspaper editor will go to attack those who they know so little about and have never spoken to.
In this editorial he states:
“At 7 a.m. Sunday, those chain saws were firing up at the exact moment someone with Mayor Scott Dudley’s administration was pressing the “send” button for a press release to the Whidbey News-Times.
That in itself is an alarmingly calculated effort to subvert public notification and keep the public in the dark.
To his credit, Dudley owns the decision to keep the tree-cutting a secret. However, his stated rationale for keeping the plan secret is as rotten as Dudley claims the old oak was.
Dudley claims his intent was to lessen the city’s exposure to a potential lawsuit if the tree would have caused injury or damage. If that’s the kind of flimsy excuse for keeping the city’s activities secret, then Oak Harbor’s citizens have a lot more to be worried about than just this oak tree.”
A “alarmingly calculated effort to subvert public notification”? Obviously Keven Graves knows very little about executive sessions and how they work. The information discussed in an executive session cannot be discussed or given to the public if the information being discussed is about a potential liability the city may be facing. RCW 42.30.110 (i) Concerning Executive sessions states the following:
(1) Nothing contained in this chapter may be construed to prevent a governing body from holding an executive session during a regular or special meeting:
(i) To discuss with legal counsel representing the agency matters relating to agency enforcement actions, or to discuss with legal counsel representing the agency litigation or potential litigation to which the agency, the governing body, or a member acting in an official capacity is, or is likely to become, a party, when public knowledge regarding the discussion is likely to result in an adverse legal or financial consequence to the agency.
The city of Oak Harbor more than likely went into executive session to discuss with the cities attorneys the potential liability and potential litigation surrounding the tree which has been determined to be a hazardous tree, this is a correct action and allowable under RCW 42.30.110 especially if there is a chance of damage and litigation. The Mayor has already stated that the decision to remove the tree was his so we have to assume that no decision was made by the council in this executive session. If Oak Harbor had not taken action on this issue the city could be liable for any damage that the tree causes. If this would have resulted in the death of a person, which a 200 lb. limb could very easily do, Keven Graves would be singing a different tune but still blaming the Mayor but this time for not taking action. A permit was applied for and the permit was approved. All of this is a public process and public information Mr. Graves. Nothing was done in secret.
Keven Graves then states:
“One thing is becoming crystal clear — Dudley has little to no regard for public opinion, nor the spirit of open government.”
And how would Keven Graves know? He has never spoken to the Mayor, Ever. How would he begin to know anything about the Mayor? He has never even talked to him.
If he had maybe he would know the efforts the Mayor has made in the attempts to have a more open government, a new Ombudsman position in the city, he created his own blog on the cities website and encouraged videotaping of the Council workshops. This Mayor has done more for open government than the last 3 Mayors have done.
And Keven Graves final ill-informed comment was:
“This isn’t the kind of leadership Oak Harbor deserves.”
I don’t think you have much room to speak of leadership Mr. Graves. Real leaders lead by example. If this is the example you are giving your reporters it may explain why many people treat your newspaper as they do.