News

Tree clean-up causes political storm for mayor

By Dennis Box, The Courier-Herald

The sound of a falling tree on Jan. 2 has been heard and caused a tempest during the Jan. 27 meeting of the Bonney Lake City Council.

Mayor Bob Young's nemesis, Dan Decker, during the public comment period of the meeting, charged the mayor with malfeasance. Decker claims the mayor directed four city workers to clear a tree from his property.

Young has aggressively countered charges that anything improper was done.

"There was a windstorm that day and a big branch fell across the street. One of the Public Works employees pulled if off the roads so traffic could get around," Young said. "I came home later in the day and the employees were cleaning up. I went out and thanked them. They were all over the city cleaning up after the storm. They were just doing their job.

"After I thanked them they said there was a small pile of wood and asked what to do with it. I told them I would ask my neighbor, who is a senior citizen, if he could use it. My neighbor took the wood and burned it."

At the end of the meeting Councilman Phil DeLeo accused the mayor of "lying on the record" and requested a committee be formed to look into the allegations.

Young flatly denied any wrongdoing and was supported by Councilman Jim Rackley.

"I did look into it," Rackley said. "A tree fell across the road and was cleaned up and the mayor wasn't even home."

Decker has dogged Young with numerous charges and has brought two petitions before the voters trying to strip power from the mayor's office. The most recent was the Nov. 4 Proposition 1 vote, which asked for a change in government from the mayor-council to the council-manager format. The proposition failed, with 70 percent voting against it.

"Mr. Decker has been antagonistic and finds any opportunity to impugn my integrity," Young said. "It's a shame we have to waste time with this. We have important work to do. But let them investigate and let the truth come out."

Decker accused the mayor of destroying public records last year and the matter was investigated by the Pierce County Prosecutor's Office.

"The last time Mr. Decker made an accusation of malfeasance, Mr. DeLeo picked it up and nothing ever came of it and nothing will come of this either," Young said.

A committee was formed to look into the allegation. Committee members are DeLeo and council members Neil Johnson and Dave King. The committee will be chaired by DeLeo.

"We just have to see and hear the evidence," Johnson said. "We have to be very cautious and diligent. This is a serious complaint and we need to be proactive and get the facts. I'm going to stress caution and it's going to take some serious evidence to convince me that happened. I expect everyone to be very cautious and get all the facts."

Dennis Box can be reached at dbox@courierherald.com

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