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Letter to the Editor: Sumner Councilman Steve Allsop Calls for Decency

Sumner Councilman Steve Allsop asks his fellow council members to respect meeting protocol and urges them to get back to the business of the city.

Editor's Note: This is a statement Sumner City Councilmember Steve Allsop read during his reports at the Aug. 6, 2012 council meeting that he has shared with Patch.

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Having heard about the “exciting” , I took the time to watch it on-line.  Of all the emotions that I feel, I think Sadness is the strongest.

Before I elaborate on that, let me stress emphatically that Mr. Hynek was wrong when he twice said that I told him the Mayor had a financial interest in Orton Junction.   My message regarding the Mayor’s farm has been exactly the Truth that has been shared here again tonight.  He does not have a “financial interest” at this time and may very well never have a financial interest, and in any event is not in control of whether or not that occurs.  He does own a farm, one which he could have developed years ago, but he didn’t because he likes farms.  That’s not convenient for Mr. Hynek to hear, but it’s the truth.  Meanwhile, Mr. Hynek has City Staff digging through all manner of records to satisfy his witch hunt against the Mayor, which the Council unfortunately allowed.  From his comments tonight about “something he didn’t do,” it should be quite clear what Mr. Hynek’s motives are.

Regarding my “sadness,” let me just say that in over 10 years on this Council, aside from one notorious exception, I have never seen anything even close to the lack of respect for others that has been occurring these past several months, amongst the Council and from some members of the public.  Monday the 16th and again tonight were unconscionable and at the very least the following parts of our Courtesy Norms (emphasis on the word Courtesy) were violated:

  1. To promote and require respect and civility in dialog between the Mayor and Councilmembers while still allowing for healthy disagreement.
  2. To be courteous and professional at all times in recognition that Council communications and behaviors set the tone for the organization.

   18. To respect City staff members in their role as experts and advisors and not make demeaning or critical comments about them.  Concerns about performance of staff will be raised to the Mayor or City Administrator outside of a public meeting.

I have been in the minority when the Council has been split, and I have been in the majority.  In both instances, the minority was respectful of the decisions of the Body.  When you refuse to accept this tenet, you marginalize yourself and are rendered useless, resulting in a tremendous disservice to those you say you represent.  Actually, it’s really about Service, and when you tear down the city by openly attacking others, setting up staff to look foolish on purpose, continually rearguing lost issues, and openly second-guessing virtually everything you have a different opinion on, you serve no one.  In fact, you hurt the very ones you say you represent and your “service” is a fraud, having been overrun by your personal agendas.  The more I observe the nastiness of late, the more clear it becomes that personal campaigns born of bitterness have replaced Service to our citizens. 

We all have the opportunity to build bridges or burn them.  Burning bridges is never productive and to those who say to us that we need to get along, I say how do you get along with someone whose singular goal is to NOT get along?

The collateral damage is that Sumner is becoming a laughing stock.  Our staff hates it.  It does not promote anything positive.  The tendency has been to “look the other way” hoping that the antics will cease, but reality has demonstrated that ignoring the bully in the room just emboldens him, and with due respect to Mike’s thoughtful comments Monday night, I intend to act decisively to end this folly.  I hope you will all join me in that resolve. 

So, this is a final plea for every member of this Council to dedicate him/herself to serving our citizens and to set personal agendas aide.  As long as the grenades keep flying, it is the ones we are supposed to serve who end up losing.

- Steve Allsop, Sumner City Councilman

Justin Evans August 08, 2012 at 10:43 PM
It seems counter-intuitive to first call out Council Member Hynek then ask that "...every member of this Council to dedicate him/herself to serving our citizens and to set personal agendas aide" when clearly that wasn't the case in the first half of this message. I do agree that Sumner politics has become the laughing stock of this area by continuing to fuel the fire by calling out each other publicly in open discussion forums. I like Council Member Allsop but when your house is not in order, you don't go blasting the family in a public way and not call it political positioning. If the council wanted to put the people first, they just simply would. Ever since the Matt Richardson debacle the council hasn’t been cohesive. From accusations of cutting down trees illegally to the uproar about the mayor profiting from Orton Junction to the abrupt hiring of the new City Administrator, it’s time for the Council to stop bickering over all this he said she said and get down to the brass tacks of the people who elected them to represent the needs of the constituency and not their own.
Kathleen August 09, 2012 at 02:51 AM
I agree with Justin, who says it quite well. The Sumner Council needs to do what they were elected to do, which is represent the needs of the community as the community expresses. Being on a Council for any member, is to respond to the constituents' wishes, not to have a forum for ones' own agendas. Right now the Council's time is going to infighting and power positioning. I have not heard anyone tear down the City or the staffers...But I have heard criticisms about the Council and how it has been functioning and making decisions. Mr. Allsop, with all due respect to you, the Council might be advised that serving the citizens might be accomplished if the Council actually listened and responded to them. Respect is lost when respect is not given.

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