Originally published June 8 2012
On May 11th 2012 there was an altercation between a local business owner and one of Oak Harbor’s City Council members Joel Servatius. (One has to ask why this was not reported in our local newspaper as it has been brought to their attention.)
UPDATE 6-23-2012: The Whidbey News Times has now reported on this story, to view the Whidbey News Times article and read Councilman Servatius’s side of the story click the link below.
This altercation started when one of our city council members parked his car in a parking lot that was posted no parking and restricted to visitors of the business. Parking has been an ongoing problem for this business owner and when he saw the car being parked he approached the owner of the vehicle to inform him that this parking area is posted with tow away signs and he would appreciate him not parking and leaving his car in his parking lot.
Mr. Servatius told the business owner that “I will park wherever and whenever I damm well choose” and “you don’t know who you are messing with” thinking the business owner would make an exception because he was an Oak Harbor City Council member…
The business owners’ objections resulted in the council member using degrading profanity and vulgar name calling causing the business owner to call the Sheriffs office for protection because he felt personally threatened by Mr. Servatius. The business owner was so troubled by this council member’s attitude that he filed a trespass claim against him with the Island County Sheriffs office. He filed for and obtained a Trespass Admonishment against him that forbids this council member from entering or remaining on the subject’s property.
To make matters even worse, Council member Mr. Sevatius then called the county to make sure that the business was licensed, he also contacted the Sheriffs office in an attempt to squash the charges which culminated in the deputy returning to the complainants business encouraging him to drop the charges because the person who the complaint was filed against was an Oak Harbor City Council member. This is as close to abuse of power under color of authority as it gets folks, nothing like being wrong, getting caught, and then using your power and position to attempt to cover up an embarrassing issue that you yourself created.
Oak Harbor does have a code of conduct that employees agree to follow by signing their oath of office. The exact wording of this code can be found under Policy 103- Ethics, Section, 1 (a) and 1 (d), this section of the employee policy states the following:
Policy 103- Ethics
1- The City of Oak Harbor is committed to conducting business and relating to others with integrity, including citizens, customers, suppliers, community and employees. The highest standards of ethical business conduct are required of City of Oak Harbor employees in the performance of their responsibilities. Employees will not engage in conduct or activity that may raise questions as to the City’s honesty, impartiality, reputation or otherwise cause embarrassment to the City. Employees will avoid any action, whether or not specifically prohibited in the personnel policies, which might result in or reasonably be expected to create an appearance of:
a- Using public office or public position for private gain.
d- Diminishing the confidence of the public in the integrity of the City of Oak Harbor.
This whole issue was brought to the City Council special meeting last Thursday 6-7-2012. Documentation and proof was offered to the council but the city Council seemed unmoved by the charges documented by the sheriff’s office and apparently no further action or investigation was brought forth by any of the Council Members. Nothing like protecting one of your own eh?
Mr. Servatius is not an elected member of the Oak Harbor City council, he was appointed to this position by the members of the Council to fill the seat vacated by the new Mayor. It is the City Councils responsibility to police their own especially those that were appointed by the council itself and not voted in by the citizens of this community. Mr. Servatius demands respect from people but his actions show he will not give any respect in return. Someone needs to inform Mr. Servatius that respect is earned, not given.
Mr. Servatius owes a public apology to not only the business owner but to every citizen and business owner in Oak Harbor. He has definitely lost any trust and respect he had. As integrity is a prime ingredient of being in public service if Mr. Servatius refuses to make amends all actions available need to be taken to remove this person from the City Council of Oak Harbor. If the council should choose not to take action against one of their own it would be understood that they condone these actions. It makes one wonder that if this council member is not held accountable to the citizens what other actions and violations by council members is the council is covering up?
We need to end the attitude that many of our elected (or appointed) City servants have that allow them to run roughshod over the citizens. Our past Mayor bullied a local merchant and took a sign from his window without permission and even went as far as having the Chief of Police who is under his direct control threaten the merchant with prosecution. This is just another example of a select group of people in Oak Harbor that have no respect for the people they govern and this behavior must end, the voters must be informed and these people removed from office as the previous Mayor was.
Sources, documentation and references: