Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Lies by Omission: Why did Jon Russell neglect to mention that he has direct oversight of Washougal city credit cards?

Man... you can take Jon Russell out of Chicago politics, but it seems you can't take Chicago politics out of Jon Russell.

Well, folks, it looks like things are spinning out of control when it comes to the keepers of the Washougal check book... or in this case, credit card.

Unfortunately, the voters of Washougal now seem to be faced with a choice: they can choose someone who, at best, appears incompetent or they can choose a liar for mayor. Not a choice *I* would envy.

Stacy Sellers is having a tough week. Perhaps she deserves one, since, according to the local version of Pravda, Sellars charged, among other things, a "...$57 'surf and turf' dinner. An $88 bottle of wine. A $72 bill at the Eye Candy Lounge & Bar." while on some sort of "official trip" to Vegas.... although why a trip to Vegas for the mayor of Washougal would be official is, perhaps, a subject for another post. (Take some time and run a google search on the "Eye Candy Lounge & Bar" for pictures of others engaging in some distinctly "non-mayor" like activities. I guess what happens in Vegas is reported in the Columbian.)

Apparently, the whistle blower in all this is one Sean Guard, who just happens to be running against Sellers for mayor and who just happened to drop this dime THIS week (as opposed to, say, after the election) not, because, as you might think, he was trying to engage in any kind of politics; oh no. To hear him tell it,

"Guard said he did not make the complaint to the auditor's office to win votes; he did it to put an end to the misuse of public dollars."

Right. And I'm Mayor of Munchkin City and I run the Lollipop Guild.

I don't really care one way or the other, but Guard needed to have a surrogate blow the whistle here if he wanted to maintain the high ground. Having someone on the inside as it seems he does, who tipped him off and then covered the information transfer with a FOIA so HE, PERSONALLY could shill Seller's idiocy puts the lie to his claim, quoted above.

There is no altruism in politics. Guard announced this to drive a stake through Seller's political heart; he should have been man enough to just admit it. Leave the game playing to the slimy worms in the White House.

That writ, where was Jon Russell in all of this?

Well, yesterday, we received his version of what I call "Prairie Dog" from Mr. Russell.

You've seen those little critters on TV, haven't you? When they're trying to get a handle on what's happening... on what's going on.... you get this:

Here's what Mr. Russell had to tell us:

Council member Jon Russell said he believed the findings showed that the problems were bigger than oversights.

"I don't think these are cracks, they're craters," he said. "It looks like a pattern that is not being dealt with and that is not being brought to the attention of the council."

Russell said he wants the council to hold a special meeting to look into each problem and discipline responsible parties, even ask for resignations if necessary.

"I don't see how we can trust this administration in moving forward with anything," he said.

Well, there may be some element of truth to that last part... the part about "trust" and the lack of it.

But not, I'm sure, the way Russell meant when he spewed this "What? Who, me?" crap.

Because, as it turns out....


Here's what the Columbian buried today about Russell's little meat hooks being buried in this particular pie:

The people responsible for that oversight are members of the city council. Three council members — Russell, Lou Peterson and Paul Greenlee — make up the finance committee tasked with approving city employees' and officials' receipts and spending.

The expenditures are first submitted to the finance department, and then go to the mayor for approval, Russell said. Each week, the mayor sends the finance committee members e-mails with the accounts payable receipts and statements for their review and approval, he (Russell) said. Sometimes the statements have details of specific charges, sometimes they only include the employee's name and how much they are to be reimbursed, Russell said. Unless the committee members ask to see the details of those reimbursements, oftentimes they don't know the specifics. And many times expenditures are approved as long as they fall within the amount included in the annual budget, he said.

Russell said he does not recall whether he saw details of the Las Vegas trip expenditures.

"It's not at all a perfect system," Russell said.

The committee members do not meet to discuss the expenditures; that practice ended several years ago in favor of council workshops, he said. Instead, members are told to go to Sellers with questions, Russell said.

"We have been told by the mayor not to talk to department heads to get answers, that everything has to go through her," he said.

The use of city money to purchase alcohol was questioned by the committee and reviewed earlier this summer by the city council. Sellers was notified that the practice was prohibited by city policy and she reimbursed the city for the cost of alcohol charges, Russell said. City officials were not available to comment on the amount of the reimbursement.

"She was under the impression for some reason that it was permissible," he said.

So, Russell KNEW about the booze... but then claims he DIDN'T RECALL whether he "SAW SPECIFIC DETAILS OF THE LAS VEGAS TRIP EXPENDITURES?"


OK, here are the possibilities.

Russell, who sits on the committee with DIRECT oversight over these expenditures, in fact, didn't know about them; which means that he's guilty of misfeasance;


Russell, who sits on the committee with DIRECT oversight over these expenditures, in fact, DID know about them, and then lamely engaged in the time-honored "I don't recall" lie, in which case, he's both a liar AND guilty of misfeasance.

Now, the definition of "misfeasance" is

"the unintended, accidental errors, mistakes taken place while managing the business, office or other responsibilities entrusted on a person, causing loss or damage or unfortunate situations out of such mistakes. A misfeasance become a malfeasance when the act was performed with an intention to cause loss."

Now, was Russell's incompetence intentional? I doubt it.

But does that make him any the less incompetent or incapable of performing the task of city councilman, let alone congressman?

That conclusion seems fairly straightforward to me.


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