Failure of Leadership- Zoning Fraud
I attended Monday night’s Camas City Council meeting, and have never been more offended. It was an embarrassing moment to be a Camasonian. The citizens of Camas showed up to be heard. However, through new rules imposed last year by this same City Council, taxpayers were limited to a pitiful three minutes to voice their concerns and discuss important and critical information pertaining to our City and it’s future. Those who attended this meeting witnessed an affront to democracy; and the ridiculous glad-handing, accountability-shielding and agenda-driven theater disguised as a city council meeting has never been more visible.
I am sick of the lip service and sound bites encouraging citizen participation and exchange. When it is time for our city government to listen, they don’t. Instead, they place arbitrary time limits on those who elected them to serve.. And, while imposing these ridiculous time limits, the City interrupts citizens with time expiration warnings.
Listening to citizen after citizen get shut down on Monday night made me angry. I found myself screaming in my head: “WAIT A MINUTE! Shouldn’t it be the citizens imposing limits on their government instead of their government limiting their free speech or comprehension?” Clearly, Camas City Council has forgotten who hired them, who they serve and to whom they ultimately answer.
One citizen that was limited from voicing the truth and the concerns of many during this meeting, was my husband Brian Lewallen. Brian has stepped up to fight for and protect the citizens and the children of Camas when the City failed. Brian has donated countless hours and his legal skills to do what the city should have done all along – represent the over 2000 concerned citizens and fight to protect them, their children and our community.
While doing what the city SHOULD have done, Brian uncovered some shocking information about the approved Dorothy Fox Drug Rehab center- information that the Council NEEDS to know and should have known months ago- information that every citizen of Camas has a right to know. Doing his best to shed light on the situation and inform the council of the precise nature of the problem at hand in only three minutes, Brian was interrupted at 2 minutes 30 seconds. Brian respectfully requested additional time to speak the truth and was denied. And while denying Brian the opportunity to meaningfully speak, Mayor Pro-Tem, Ellen Burton, interjected numerous times and went on the record stating that the situation was 1) out of the jurisdiction of the Council, and 2) that the Council could not speak about the situation.
Had Brian been allowed to talk, the council and citizens alike would have discovered quickly that neither of Ms. Burton’s statements were remotely accurate. Shockingly, not one City Councilmember stood up to lead. Not one council member had the guts to go on the record and say: “Hey! This seems important! I want to hear what the man has to say!”
But Camasonians are strong, and the outraged audience didn’t give up. 2000 members of the alliance essentially authorized Brian to speak on their behalf at Monday night’s council meeting. Call after call came in from citizens asking to donate their three minutes to Brian. Time after time, the Council denied these requests and silenced the voices of thousands of concerned citizens. Why?
I have never seen an elected body so afraid of the people that elected them! What are they so afraid of? Knowing now what Brian had to report to the City Council, I understand EXACTLY what they were afraid of- and EXACTLY why they were afraid for you to hear it too. Like Brian, I’m going to fight to do what the Council SHOULD have done on Monday night. I’m going to let Brian, and the 2000 Camas citizens he represents, be HEARD.
Here’s what Brian would have said had he been permitted to SPEAK. Here’s what the Camas City Council hoped you wouldn't hear:
ATTACHMENTS AND FULL REPORT DOWNLOAD:
So now YOU know. Monday’s meeting made it brutally clear that our leaders are failing us in Camas. This systemic failure of leadership isn’t limited to a botched zoning fraud and a drug rehab center. From the $78 million dollar pool bond that citizens emphatically rejected, to $8 million roundabouts and $22 million dollar land purchases during the uncertainty of COVID emergency proclamations, Camas deserves BETTER!
There has to be respect for the will of the electorate. We MUST be heard by our elected officials. We elect these people. They work for us and answer to us. It’s time for the taxpayers to exercise their rights and LIMIT those we elect to represent us. It’s time to DEMAND better.
If elected, I will open up City Hall to those who own it – the taxpayers. I will fight for every voice to be heard in Camas. I will demand transparency and accountability and change or amend “rules” in order to achieve the true purpose of government – to serve the will of the PEOPLE.
As an attorney who has clerked for three separate State Supreme Court Justices, I have a unique skill set to tackle the most sensitive and critical decisions facing Camas. I have the legal background to call into question inaccurate information or “legal advice” that is too often used to shield these officials from citizen accountability.
My agenda is simple --require the government to work for the people and follow the law. I promise not to just “listen” to the will of the citizens but to step up and lead, even if I am all alone. I promise to be the voice of the citizens and fight for what the citizens want – not what the city thinks we need.
Now you know. The time for change is NOW. CAMAS DESERVES BETTER and I intend to deliver.