Stewart slams fellow city councilors

By Andrea Damewood, Columbian staff writer

Published:

Updated: March 9, 2011, 10:35 AM

 
photoJeanne Stewart

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Light rail vote might be delayed

Update 10:35 a.m.: Jeanne Stewart sent an e-mail apologizing to Councilor Larry Smith this morning, writing:

After thoughtful review of the Council meeting on Monday, March 7, 2011, I recognize that I owe you an apology for interrupting you twice, during the discussion on the C Tran issues.

And even though my frustration at having been disregarded was justified, my goal as a council member is to lead by example and as such, I sincerely apologize for those interruptions.

Original story:

Vancouver City Councilor Jeanne Stewart lashed out at fellow council members Monday night during a discussion of the upcoming C-Tran decision to delay a vote on bus rapid transit and light rail, saying she was punished and yanked from the C-Tran board for having the same ideas last year.

Stewart also questioned the legality of her removal as one of the city’s representatives on the C-Tran board of directors in January during a council discussion about Tuesday’s C-Tran meeting on delaying until next year putting a 0.1 percent sales tax measure for light rail and bus rapid transit.

“People who have had their hind ends on the C-Tran board for a month or two are coming to the same conclusions I came to,” Stewart said. “I was disciplined, reprimanded and disrespected, for... my understanding of the finances of C-Tran, and then I was removed from the C-Tran board in an action which I don’t even believe was legal.”

The city replaced Stewart on the C-Tran board with Councilor Larry Smith after she went against council instructions to support asking voters to approve a single ballot measure that preserves and expands existing C-Tran bus service while also providing money to operate light rail. Instead, Stewart provided the swing vote on the C-Tran board to split light rail funding and bus funding into two separate measures.

At one point during Stewart’s comments, Smith tried to interject, with a “with all due respect, Ms. Stewart,” but Stewart stopped him, saying, “I’d appreciate that respect, so give me a chance to finish.”

“Mr. (Jack) Burkman, he’s going to jump in and say how justified it all was, I know that’s coming,” she said. “The disrespect that was shown to me, and then the need to take what you thought was disciplinary action... was shameful. It’s shameful right now when we look at the facts of this.”

Smith then began to try and explain his position — saying he was not aware of the need for a delay until last week — but was interrupted by Stewart, who exclaimed, “That information was available last year!”

Smith then said he would pass on the rest of his turn to speak because he did not get a chance to speak undisturbed. Burkman next said that Stewart was right he’d be stepping into the debate.

“We had an open, forthright discussion here about the C-Tran vote, in which you did a great job expressing your views,” he said. “As a body, we arrived at a conclusion and directed C-Tran representatives to cast a vote of the will of the body” as city council policy dictates.

“It’s a cut-and-dried thing — you were removed from that position for failing to... honor the will of the body,” he said.

Andrea Damewood: 360-735-4542 or andrea.damewood@columbian.com.