It’s Tricky. Talking About Dirty Politics Without Spreading Mud
When does "just small-town local dirty politics" become something more? When should a "he said/she said" exchange be ignored and when should it be investigated? And how does a responsible broadcasting company cover the mud without getting muddy itself and not spread the mud beyond the puddle? Tricky questions. Let's give it a shot?
In one corner is 2nd district Yakima City Councilman, Jason White. You may not recognize him because until recently, he hadn't been to a council meeting in over a year. He has had more than his fair share of run-ins with his fellow council members. Over his term, he was censured and an effort was mounted to remove him from office. He is an anti-government guy elected to government with all the chaos that comes along with such a situation.
In the other corner is 5th district Councilwoman Soneya Lund. They don't see eye to eye on much of anything and White let that be pretty apparent at the end of the July 6th City Council meeting when White moved to start proceedings to censure Lund. White claimed he had audio & video evidence as well as witnesses for charges of bribery, sexual assault, fraud, and adultery. The other council members disregarded the charges quickly calling it a personal attack, inappropriate for the council setting and there was no second to move the motion forward.
That's Not The End Of It
If anything, Mr. White is persistent as his past behavior has shown and he wasn't about to end the discussion at the meeting indicating he was seeking vindication. Other than share KIT's stories, I'm not very active on social media so I can't say when the accusations rolled on to Facebook but they are there now, and here is where this gets tricky.
White posted a snippet of a March 2020 phone call between himself and Lund in which he asks her why she voted to censure him. She answers and White says her response is his recorded evidence that she was bribed.
We can't and we won't post the call here because Washington State is what is known as a "two-party consent" state. That means both parties of a two-way conversation have to agree to the recording and the release of the information. Councilwoman Lund didn't know the call was being recorded and didn't agree to its release. There are some very limited exceptions when just one side can release the call but that's for lawyers to sort out here. On the surface, it appears that Mr. White may have committed a crime, a gross misdemeanor, by posting the call. We have been told by outside parties that an investigation into that is currently being conducted.
But Wait There's More ...or Worse
That's not the end of the story. At the same time the phone call clip was posted, a flyer was also shared by White from an anonymous individual posting as "project night flyer". Night Flyer's flyer was making some extreme allegations about things Ms. Lund is alleged to have said about others on the council, people running for council, and leaders in the community. The flyer's author says physical evidence exists to back up the unsavory claims. Which we won't be sharing here.
This is America and we celebrate the concept of free speech, it's how we make our living, but suffice it to say, anyone of normal sensibilities would likely conclude that there should be some kind of consequences for the author if false or the accused if true. It's that nasty.
So What's Next?
So where does this all sit...and where does all this go? We are just a little over two weeks away from the election. Will the allegations charged have an impact on who moves ahead in the primary? Authorities are supposedly investigating but to what crime and what end? Mr. White says Ms. Lund could resign or he will present more "evidence". (does that sound like "blackmail" to you?) Will he continue on this path to the puddle? What will Councilwoman Lund do to defend or derail all this? On soap operas, they always say "Stay Tuned for the next episode".
Only this isn't a soap opera. It's real life, it's our city, our elected leaders, and our future. We can watch soap operas on TV if we want to. Let's hope this gets settled in a satisfactory manner, so when we watch City Council on TV the focus is what will help build our city up, instead of tearing fellow councilmembers down.