How was the first public comment selected during Camas’ Monday remote City Council meeting - where the only agenda items of note were $17m in land purchases - an unknown realtor from Vancouver? Why was the second, Wayne Pattison, the Vice-chair of the Yes on the Camas pool bond committee? A historically unpopular bond rushed onto the ballot after being voted on unanimously by all but one of this same city council.
As posted by a WATCH Camas forum user, Deputy City Clerk Bernie Bacon said of Monday's remote council meeting,
"taking all the comments in the order (that) hands were raised proved to be more of a challenge than I thought."
According to that user, the clerk also admitted that she went out of sequence and that was pointed out to her.
WATCH Camas staff was struck by one thing while considering this context against Monday's meeting video - By a graceful strike of coincidence, the first comment the Deputy City Clerk did choose to take in that meeting was from a Vancouver city resident and a practicing realtor actually. He was not introduced as a realtor, but Kimbal Logan of Kimbal Logan Real Estate & Investment gave his Vancouver address and proceeded to say the following,
As mentioned, the realtor that led off Camas’ meeting is a Vancouver citizen. As he read off his Vancouver address, the Deputy Clerk did not stop him to remind him that this was a public meeting intended for Camas citizens. The Mayor also did not say anything after the man’s comment - If nobody is enforcing this, then why are citizens even being asked by the city to provide their full names and home addresses during every public meeting?
This person said he wanted to voice something on behalf of the Mills Family - again, not explaining how he had that authority. Is he their realtor? The Mills family are one of the four lucky “Legacy Lands” families that saw their land skyrocket in value by as much as 700% of appraised value in the last few years. Oddly, of the two properties being “purchased” that evening (purchased isn’t quite the word as the millions in bonds had already been secured before council’s ceremonial vote monday night) did not include the Mills property? That property was in fact purchased back in November of 2018 at a $2.5 million dollar cost to Camas citizens - The document shows its age as you see former Camas City Administrator Pete Capell’s signature on the line.
Holding remote meetings presents new technical challenges, but there isn’t a reason Camas can’t stop, vet the right system for its citizens and proceed prepared and fair. Council discussed nothing urgent during Monday night’s meeting. The city does have a record of applying unjustified urgency to projects if neighbors reading this recall the pool bond. That effort was rushed onto last year’s ballot with council bemoaning a 20+ year effort, the “inevitability argument” in full force, “we’ve come this far, how can we stop”. Zoom Meetings have been roundly rejected by a large number of organizations and large vulnerabilities ranging from violating children’s rights to Foreign spies have been common discussion topics around Zoom for weeks now. It has forced some agencies, including Camas' own school district, to provide parents ways to opt their children out of this insecure platform entirely.
Camas chose to move forward without delay on Monday night. Their actions demonstrated that they may feel immune to these vulnerabilities, or even worse, Camas city government may have seen the only sacrifice here being transparency for the citizen - treated in this instance as a small and insignificant price to pay for staying on a “regular” schedule, in a wholly irregular time.