This is an update on of one our most-read stories of the past few weeks. On July 15, 2021 we told you about the personal attack Yakima Councilman Jason White levied against Councilwoman Soneya Lund.  Don't take my definition, watch the video of the last meeting at 1:57:09 you will hear Councilman Brad Hill describe White's comments as "ad hominem"... defined as " directed against a person rather than the position they are maintaining"  That has now lead to a hearing before a judge and a  ruling of a Temporary Order For Protection From Unlawful Civil Harassment.

Back Story

This latest chapter in the saga of Jason White's council career came at the end of the July 6th Council meeting under "new business".  White asked the council to start censure proceedings against Lund for a variety of serious-sounding charges that the council felt were out of line and out of place for the business meeting.  There was no second for his motion and the meeting ended but according to Councilwoman Lund, the harassment did not.  (Her update in a moment)

Facebook Gets Muddy

In following up on the Council meeting portion of the story, the Facebook portion of the matter was brought to light which included more allegations by White about Councilwoman Lund and others.

On his Facebook page, Councilman White released a clip of a phone conversation with Lund from last March that he maintains is evidence of some kind of crime...but his decision to release the audio in the first place would appear to be the crime of violating the State's two-party consent recording rules which requires both parties of a conversation give their consent to release a recording or contents to the public.   White has indicated he is seeking "vindication" for a censure action brought against him by the Council last year. (You can read The Yakima Herald-Republic newspaper's account of White's 2020 term here)  White also posted a flyer, allegedly produced by another party, that makes extreme accusations about Lund and other people in the community.

A Concerning Encounter

Since the July 6th meeting, Councilwoman Lund has experienced more of what she considers harassment and she has heard from other women with harassment stories of their own.  She says that motivated her now to confront White's alleged behavior and share her story with Yakima's media and you.

This is a portion of a document we received today and she says she sent it to other  media outlets.. (edited by permission)

The Lund Letter

"Two years ago, I was a small business owner who wanted to give back to her community by entering public service. I was elated on election night to finally have that opportunity to make a change.

A mere 4 months after being elected, I was shocked to learn that one of my fellow councilmembers had not only made serious transphobic statements on social media but then proceeded to attack the director of the local Pride organization who spoke out against those statements. The statements were shocking on their own, but I was also getting concerns about the impact of those statements on a collaborative grant program – the City of Yakima being a member of that Collaborative. One of the main goals of this grant program was to address marginalized youth and young adults, including those in the LGBTQ community. The grantee, the Homeless Network of Yakima County, formally requested the city address these comments. I attempted to do so over the phone; unaware I was being recorded. Attempting to address these concerns directly with  Councilmember White was unsuccessful.

When this issue, along with dangerous statements Councilmember White made regarding the pandemic, was brought before council – the topic of censure came up. I was informed that if I voted in support of this censure, (White indicated) a damaging video of my celebrating on election night would be released and that “I would regret it”. The response was simple, I vote with my conscience and supported the censure,  convinced that I had done the right thing and the intimidation would stop if I did not feed it. I went to work doing the job I was elected to do.

When my city phone, and eventually identity, was subsequently stolen I was distressed. I contacted partners informing them of the theft and replaced my phone – convinced that people would know the difference between who I am and the shocking text messages going out to multiple people. I went back to work.

When Councilmember White tagged both me and another female councilmember in an obscene post encouraging violence against us both – I removed myself from social media, convinced it would stop the harassment. I went back to work.

When Councilmember White attacked me in a public meeting, cheered on by friends on his Facebook Live feed, with misinformation and tangled facts – I refused to engage as I was concerned about his mental health. I was convinced that not giving weight to his delusions would help us to move past them. I went back to work.

When Councilmember White posted an unauthorized recording of me on the phone along with an obscene publication full of vulgarity and lies – I again attempted to rise above it all, albeit a little more shakily, and keep my focus on the work.

However, when I left my place of business this week and was met in my parking lot by a man who stated, “Jason sent me, you need to be put in your place”, I found I could no longer just go back to work. I am now convinced that until addressed, this behavior will continue to escalate. I had to acknowledge that I am not the only victim of this intimidation.....

This is not about politics, the business of the city, partnerships, or the will of the voters. This is about fear and intimidation. I am in fear for not only my safety and the safety of my small child, but for any women who may not agree 100% with his agenda.  He has stated publicly that this is just the beginning – he plans on conducting this terror campaign with multiple people. This type of hate and abuse has no room in the community I love. The (enabler) of abuse is silence – I will not be silenced. I entered public service to give a voice to those who do not have one. Trying to rise above and go back to work is not enough – if for no other reason, to let other victims know they are not alone.

This is not who we are. This can no longer be accepted or ignored. We must do better."

What's Next?

The next City Council Meeting is scheduled for tomorrow, Tuesday night (7/20/21) but this update to the story indicates there shouldn't be any further confrontation, at least for tomorrow because of what the judge did today.  No contact would indicate Mr. White not being in council chambers at the same time as Ms. Lund.  Unless of course, Councilman White chooses not to comply with the no-contact order.

The heading on the Protection Order also indicates "Notice of Hearing" so perhaps a time will be set for the parties to meet with the court in the next two weeks to find some kind of successful conclusion that will be good for both parties and good for the council which has suffered a loss of public trust and confidence based on the kind of drama generated by some of the members over that last four years.

The next Council election is on August third with Councilmembers White, Funk & Hill not seeking re-election.  Choose their replacements wisely.  Good luck Yakima.