Mayor Greg Anderson and council saw an opportune moment this week. Not to help this town or it's people during a crisis, but to enrich themselves politically.
Along with Greg Anderson, Bonnie Carter, Ellen Burton, Don Chaney, Steve Hogan, Shannon Roberts and Melissa Smith (through email) supported the largest council agenda in months and pushed it through unanimously. They approved a $7 million plus dollar consent agenda unanimously (none of that relating to COVID-19) and Greg Anderson held the meetings, while our mayor was outside of the country, to discuss 99% non-essential issues during a declared worldwide pandemic, and on the same night that two of our Clark County neighbors, a husband and wife that had not traveled, died from the virus just miles away at Peace Health.
Greg Anderson was our city's communications conduit to mayor Barry during this moment, and in the earlier city council workshop meeting at 4:30pm (largely understood to be missed by the public with a 4:30 start time on a work day) he described Barry's absence in detail, like this:
"I'm the mayor pro-tem this year, not sure why I volunteered for this one... The mayor is working his way back from vacation through the challenges of flying internationally, he texted me earlier today"
You can watch that here: https://youtu.be/Yee0QG4E3S8?t=304
Later that same night at the 7pm regular meeting (understood to be the one that public attends and streams from home so more attention) Greg Anderson said this alternative take on that information to an anxious, quarantined public wondering where their elected mayor was:
"Mayor McDonnell is on vacation somewhere on a plane between here and Europe as I understand it, and I'm in my role as mayor pro-tem"
You can watch that here: https://youtu.be/Jnr_AZXQZKs?t=428
The first explanation expresses that Barry is both communicating with staff and actively trying to get home to Camas. The later meeting explanation heavily implies that he's on vacation and suggests that he's heading TO Europe rather than attempting to get back home to keep his family safe and do his work for this city. "Between here" (starting point) and "Europe" (destination).
Greg Anderson and any number of council members apparently saw the fact that our mayor was in emergency transit as a weakness worth exploiting. During the meetings on monday, multiple council members go out of their way to praise Greg publicly for his leadership in this moment, unprovoked and again, seemingly to take advantage of a moment for political gamesmanship.
Greg topped it off in an interview he somehow had time to give during this crisis with the Lacamas Magazine blog. That article ran with the headline, "CAMAS MAYOR PRO TEM, DEPT. HEADS RUNNING CITY WHILE MAYOR REMAINS IN SPAIN" - you had to get a swipe in too I guess Ernie?
In the article, Ernie Geigenmiller (the blog's owner and author) asks the leading and loaded question of,
"Is it prudent for a new mayor to leave on an extended vacation so early in his term, especially given he had no prior public service experience? Especially knowing that coronavirus at that time was already a growing problem."
Greg responds by throwing our mayor under the bus, who he knows is trapped in Spain on lock down attempting to travel home with his wife and four young children:
"He has been emailing staff and checking in with staff while he’s been in Spain. It’s an awkward question for me to answer. I think he’s made a mistake but it’s one he can correct going forward. He should have left a forwarding email and not left you hanging, to direct you to staff to answer specific questions in his absence. That’s unfortunate. It’s a rookie mistake. The press deserves a response. Not a black hole."
Camas deserves better than 7-term councilmember Greg Anderson, who has apparently become too comfortable in his seat.