Tribal Council

We at PuyallupNow are big fans of the CBS hit TV show, Survivor.

On Survivor, the contestants usually form alliances, often more than one at a time, in an effort to combine forces, eliminate competition and get further in the game.

Once in a while an insider from within a powerful alliance will, when unsure of her position, confide in others who then broadcast the sensitive dynamics and politics of the alliance for all to see. These are some of the most explosive and entertaining episodes.

Based on information leaked to PuyallupNow, we offer the following insights.

The Majority Alliance

This is an alliance born of paranoia and control. They have come together for power and to fulfill personal agendas.

Councilman John Palmer, District 2:

Palmer, whose pedigree includes a day job at the EPA believes he is in charge of the alliance. His primary tactic is mandating his will through tyranny and manipulation, rather than reasoned consensus and open debate. Recently disclosed documents have also indicated a strong preference to exclude other council members and bypass the chain of command in order to leverage individual department heads directly. Rarely able to complete a coherent thought during meetings, “he often back tracks on statements” which are clearly “damaging to” both “his agenda and to the city.” Prior to recruiting Door and Shadko, his complete incompetency was mitigated by the fact that he had no minions to command.

Councilwoman Julie Door, District 3:

Door is far and away the least experienced and least knowledgeable on the council. As a community organizer and one time lobbyist, her prior experience was limited entirely to non-controversial issues such as clothing and toy drives. While the business manager of a struggling massage parlor, Door made her bid for public office. After literally stealing the campaign playbook of her opponent through a manipulative friendship, she was able to win the District 3 seat. She then immediately adopted the ideas, philosophies, and excuses of those “allies” who she now follows and obeys. Supposedly self-medicated while under stress, as she grows “more paranoid and confused,” Door’s only contributions to the council are rehearsed and have apparently been prescribed by her mentors as she has been “unwilling to establish her own voice.”

Councilwoman Heather Shadko, District 2:

By far the most rational and reasonable member of the alliance. Her day job involves negotiations for the Port of Tacoma. Shadko’s primary civic passions lie with the library and ecology. At odds with being a self proclaimed moderate Republican, she has been the linchpin vote in raising the utility rates and curbing new local businesses. Though she often sits down with and makes promises to the minority alliance, she generally falls back in with Palmer when it comes time to vote.

Councilman John Hopkins, District 1:

Hopkins, a wealthy land and business owner, has one single obsessive goal. “He wants to be Mayor.” He will vote along with any plan, no matter how destructive or corrupt, as long as no one from his alliance decides to put the Mayoral selection process in the hands of the voters. Probably the smartest member of the alliance, Hopkins has demonstrated a reliability in switching sides to suit his own ends. No one is safe from his megalomania, and the others in his alliance are right to be “worried about” their tenuous majority. Between the rumors of his employees paid under the table and the complete reversal on the marijuana ban at the exact instant a pot producer wanted to rent from him, it looks like “his word can’t be trusted.” Perhaps the Puyallup Police Association said it best when rejecting his request for endorsement…

Ultimately, we felt that Hopkins brings with him too much potential for negative perceptions that could undermine public trust in the council… …we feel that Puyallup would have to wait and see whether Hopkins made good on his assurances of putting his own interests aside. …we are more comfortable trusting [in Tom Smilie]… …than we are trusting human nature in posession(sic) of a little power.

Within the same online article, the PPA wrote the following which with the clarity of hindsight, validates every concern.

Hopkins gave… …assurances that future votes involving conflicts of interest (such as downtown parking) could be easily resolved by recusing himself from such votes.

Hopkins has made no such recusals.

PuyallupNow would be remiss if we didn’t also comment on the other councilmen. With that in mind, we offer the following.

The Minority Alliance

This is an alliance born of reason and of a passion for Puyallup. They have come together through similarity of vision, rather than conspiracy.

Councilman Steve Vermillion, At-Large:

A decorated war hero, Vermillion always brings reasoned, conservative, and well researched opinions to the council. Though he can be somewhat long winded, his points are always on the mark.  He was instrumental in the reconstruction of Puyallup’s policies after the Kathy Turner group was ousted.  Often playing devil’s advocate, Vermillion is one of the last bright lights among today’s city council members.

Councilman Tom Swanson, District 3:

With his day job of dealing with public safety policy for Pierce County, Swanson has a unique perspective often giving him the only voice when considering the outside forces may effect Puyallup. Certainly the most polished public servant at the dais, he often redirects conversations back to the topic at hand while adding precise commentary to complex issues. If we had a spirit animal, it would be Tom Swanson.

Mayor John Knutsen, District 1:

A former police officer and lifelong Puyallup resident, Knutsen’s top priority is always the citizens of Puyallup.  Sometimes known as “Grampa” to his closest of friends, his kind and generous disposition is often obscured by his care free and jovial attitude. Knutsen entered Puyallup city politics when the City of Puyallup refused to release routine documents to the public. He spent $50,000 of his own money to fight for rules of transparency. After a protracted battle, ultimately the city gave in to his requests.  Intentionally misunderstood by his adversaries, he often represents the mantle of responsibility as the forces of discord and destruction lineup against him and are consistently beaten back.
While this alliance drama plays out at council meetings and behind closed doors, the citizens of Puyallup sit on the jury. Waiting, watching and listening. As we listen to our representatives plead their cases, we will decide whether or not they are voted off the island.

Filed under City Council 2014

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