One of my first written public statements was regarding an issue that came before council in the form of a rules change. It seems that certain council members were behind in their taxes and certain other council members wanted to make sure the public new about it. I thought long and hard before I published this editorial on the issue:
Mr. Mayor, fellow Council members and distinguished members of the audience,
“The public's right to know of the financing of political campaigns and lobbying and the financial affairs of elected officials and candidates far outweighs any right that these matters remain secret and private.” [RCW 42.17.010(10)] ”
This quote is from the Revised Code of Washington and is the reason why my colleagues and I are required to file a financial affairs statement every year with the Public Disclosure Commission, which is available upon request to any member of the general public. I do not think it's asking too much of our Council to set the standard when it comes to paying our taxes, after all we make the laws that require the citizens (including ourselves) to pay those taxes.
It is important for the citizens of Sunnyside to understand that this change is to the Sunnyside City Council Rules of Procedure, it is not a ordinance, these rules are not how we govern the City, they are how we are suppose to act when we govern the city. There is no difference in this rule change then a corporation changing their Bylaws, which is done all the time, it’s just not public knowledge.
This rule change will not give the Council the right to delve into a Council member’s personal finances, I personally do not want to know whether or not a Council member is behind on their phone bill, or car payment, or even their mortgage, but I do want to know whether or not he/she is paying the taxes which they themselves helped impose on the citizens.
I support this rule change, it sends a strong message to the citizens of Sunnyside that we, their Council are willing to be held to a higher standard, something that should be expected from someone in public office. It's in compliance with the law but most importantly it makes sense. I urge my fellow Council members to join me in voting in favor of this rule change.
Councilman Jim Restucci