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Then this happened… September 2020

...material from the Olympia police investigation of the 2018 death of Yvonne McDonald will soon appear in the Police Accountability and Transparency section of the City’s website. Black Leaders in Action & Solidarity—Thurston Co (BLAST) had requested the release of records in a July 24 press conference. City Manager Jay Burney also announced the hiring of an outside investigator to review the police investigation, simultaneously asserting his belief that the OPD had exhausted all leads and thoroughly examined all evidence relating to McDonald’s death..

…there is no “there” there. After taking office, Trump set up a fancy commission to study “voter fraud.” The commission met twice before Trump disbanded it when they failed to find any evidence of voter fraud! Never mind! Turns out Trump and his Republicans are fine shouting “Fraud!” without any evidence. They’re suing in Pennsylvania to prevent use of secure ballot drop boxes. When a judge said they had to submit evidence of the fraud they were claiming, the only instances they found were at in-person polling places…

...Steve Hall takes a fall. Remember the initiative last November to reduce car tabs to $30? Well, former City Manager Steve Hall was reminded of it when he paid a $5000 fine for illegal use of City funds. At issue was a flyer from the City urging voters to “vote no!” on the initiative and mailed it to all Olympia registered voters. That’s a no-no: cities can’t use public funds to advocate for or against an election issue. The Public Disclosure Commission tried to determine who authorized the “vote no” wording—but gee, no one could really recall… Except that the Public Works director told PDC investigators that the “vote no” wording had been discussed in a meeting with Steve Hall and City Attorney Mark Barber. Before he could say more, another City attorney cut off that line of inquiry by asserting “attorney client privilege.”

As one PDC commissioner observed: “There is a general perception among us that there is culpability to be shared both up and down the line in the city of Olympia.”

Admitting nothing, Hall volunteered to “accept responsibility.” The actual fine was $10,000, with $5,000 suspended unless Hall breaks the law again—meaningless as a deterrent as Hall had retired. Current City Manager Jay Burney (salary $194,000) said the City would “redouble our efforts to follow PDC guidelines.” Is it really that hard?

 

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