Chamber says friction within Yakima City Council affecting productivity
YAKIMA, Wash. -- "It was ironic because at the same time they were telling us to be professional, they were being unprofessional about it."
City Council Member Jason White is talking about the letter from the Yakima Chamber of Commerce that was read to them at last night’s council meeting.
The letter stated the chamber has found the council’s behavior to be unprofessional in recent months, due to the amount of arguing that’s been going on at the meetings.
White says he agrees there's a lot of back and forth between members.
"It's incredibly petty. People are short. The way it's set up, you're never really able to discuss things fully. You're kind of put on this tight restraint, so people don’t ever have time to fully justify their reasons and to work things out," he said.
White says he doesn’t appreciate the chamber’s approach, and he feels the motivation behind the letter has to do with the push back on the plaza.
But, Verlyn Best with the Yakima Chamber of Commerce says for the past seven months, it's been downhill for city council, given all of the arguing she's witnessed.
Here's a recent exchange between members:
"We could probably use the 7.5 million dollars from the plaza that wont happen," said Jason White.
"Oh my gosh, I'm not trying to be sarcastic here," said Carmen Mendez.
"Let's stay on point," said Mayor Kathy Coffey.
"It seems like there's a lot of friction and disconnect, even among the council members, that has been made very clear by some of the actions, and we’re just asking for them to please take a look at that," said Best.
She says she’d like them to at least pretend to like each other.
"Try to give us a little more professional appearance, and I always tell my staff, you gotta have a poker face," said Best.
Action News went around Yakima and showed some locals some footage from a few recent city council meetings.
"Seems like they're all mad at each other, but I guess if you're passionate about something there's gonna be a reason to argue," said Jason Saucier.
"It's so totally different from when my husband was on council in the early 2000s. I don’t feel that there's a good camaraderie between them,' said Kathi Bonlender.
The letter from the chamber also mentions the council doesn’t represent the majority, a lack of cohesiveness between members, and inconsistent problem solving, which they say was referring to the axed business incubator.