George Jeffrey Guard
2005 Washougal Mayoral Candidate
|Columbian - Washougal race pits mayor, councilwoman||Post Record - Guard, Sellers seek Washougal mayoral seat|
Washougal Library Pornography and the City Council
by Margaret Tweet
Mayor Jeff Guard presided over the May 17th, 2004 Washougal City Council meeting in which a motion was approved that refused to allow needed review about public library pornography in Washougal before the city entered into an agreement with FVRL. There were no time constraints that forced the vote. Even though 30+ citizens attended the meeting and objected, as mayor he did not give any leadership to encourage a more thorough investigation of the situation and potential solutions.
Mayor Guard also censored citizen comments. The first citizen censorship was after several citizens offered public comment. Then the mayor called a break, and asked the remaining citizens to appoint a spokesperson to speak for them all, not wishing to hear from each one their prepared remarks. The next time it happened was at a subsequent council meeting where a group of about 30 citizens came to speak to the council as described below. Mayor Guard arbitrarily cut public comment to just 2 minutes each. I know of no other public meeting in Clark County where citizen comments have been cut below 3 minutes. The Mayor dismissed citizen concerns about porn in the library that serves children. In contrast, city employee complaints about porn at Washougal City Hall were investigated thoroughly, and the obscene displays halted. And City Hall doesn't invite kids to story time and other programs. Pornography viewing and printing is still allowed in Washougal library as a part of the FVRL system.)
Incidents of adults accessing and printing pornography in the Washougal library in close proximity and in view of young children were reported by citizens to the Washougal City Council as noted in the minutes linked below.
Pornography viewing and printing is allowed in the Ft. Vancouver library system. Illegal pornography is available, but prohibited. The City of Washougal owns the building the library operates in.
Citizens suggested that the city not allow pornography viewing in the library in light of the children and others in the facility. An adjacent community room does not allow alcohol consumption. The city and library had a lease which had been in place for years. After these reports became public, the library and a subcommittee of the Washougal City Council met in a non-public meeting to discuss a new lease. Meetings of the city council including sub-committee meetings are subject to the open public meetings act in many jurisdictions. However, the city of Washougal explained that sub-committee meetings of council members are not open to the public in Washougal, and indeed citizens were not allowed to observe. Subcommittee meetings of boards and commissions subject to the Open Public Meetings Act are open to the public in the City of Camas.
Council Member Brian Beecher failed to speak up in support of taking corrective action. Instead, he explained that the FVRL library board is separate from the city and recommended citizens go to the appointed library board. This seemed an apparent effort to excuse the city from doing what is possible to improve the situation. When the secretly negotiated lease was scheduled for a vote on May 17, Beecher was absent and failed to vote. According to a tape of the meeting, the reason for his absence was stated as "something about welcoming a potential new voter into his brothers' family". Council member Stacee Sellers gave the excuse that she had a class to attend and was also absent.
A permanent lease was signed with FVRL with no conditions about pornography viewing by a vote of 3-2. Council members Garry Alexander and Rod Morris voted against going ahead with the contract and expressed support for further research and a full council to vote on the contract. There was no urgent reason provided for moving hastily ahead with the contract.
The library mentioned that if the state auditor were to review the contract, there might be questions posed. However, the state auditor typically makes an effort to understand any irregularities, and gives ample room to government agencies to explain and correct the situation. When the library had irregular practices regarding the disposal of materials, the auditor didn't review the situation until the regularly scheduled audit, and the library was given ample time to change policies to comply with state law. The auditor typically doesn't examine a non-fraud situation until the scheduled audit takes place , once every few years. Excerpts from the May 17 meeting related to the library are included here.
From City Council Meeting Minutes, May 17th, 2004 (PDF File)
"Candace Morgan from the FVRL stated the problems with delaying
the signing of a contract. It was mentioned that it would be
nice if the Council could hear Mr. McGill's input. Councilperson
Sanders stated that enough information has been presented
and the contract needs to be voted on. Councilperson Peterson
mentioned the options of signing the contract, not signing the
contract and signing the contract with stipulations which is not
really an option as representatives of FVRL have stated.
Councilperson Alexander believes more information is needed
before Council can make a decision and he would like the two
absent Council members to have a chance to state their views on
the issue. The location and access to copy machines where
pornographic material can be printed was discussed."
"Motion: Table Agenda Bill 82-04 (Renewal of Library Contract) to the second meeting in June. Alexander/Morris. Motion failed 2/3. Sanders,
Peterson and Alder voted nay."
"Motion: Authorize the Mayor to sign the agreement between
Fort Vancouver Regional Library District and the City of
Washougal. Sanders/Peterson [Alder]. Motion carried 3/2.
Alexander and Morris voted nay."
In about August, 2005, at a city sponsored neighborhood meeting, a LifePac member asked Mayor Guard his position on public library pornography in Washougal. His response was that it hasn't been a problem and is not a problem.
From Columbian, October 2005:
Family: Divorced; three children: Melissa, 32; Miranda, 31; Ryan, 22.