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June 1, 2020

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Pollard calls out port official over comments

Commissioner Wolfe caught on video cursing him at earlier meeting

By , Columbian Port & Economy Reporter
Published:

Just over two years after Port of Vancouver leaders signed off on a lease for the nation’s largest rail-to-ship oil-transfer terminal, opponents of the controversial deal show no signs of letting up in their denunciations of the decision.

A gathering on Wednesday served as a case in point. This time, former Vancouver Mayor Royce Pollard showed up to challenge Commissioner Brian Wolfe over something Wolfe whispered to fellow commissioner Nancy Baker during a recess of the commission’s Oct. 13 public meeting.

At that meeting, Pollard joined others in accusing the port of ignoring the community’s public safety and other concerns in approving the oil terminal deal with Tesoro Corp. and Savage Cos.

A video of the Oct. 13 meeting shows Wolfe, during a break, as people left the meeting room, turning to Baker and cursing Pollard (the word “damn” is clearly audible, though it also sounds like another word came before it) and saying the former mayor “pisses me off.” The video also shows Wolfe and Baker doing a high-five.

Pollard on Wednesday summarized the Oct. 13 incident, saying Wolfe and Baker apparently didn’t realize the cameras were still recording when Wolfe made his remarks and when “you gave each other a high-five or a low-five.”

Baker started to say something, “I doubt …”

Pollard kept speaking.

“You don’t talk to us,” he said. The former mayor’s remark was an apparent reference to previous meetings during which port leaders have frequently remained quiet or said very little after critics have peppered them with questions and barbs. “Maybe you listen, maybe you don’t,” Pollard said. Continuing, he said people are “really concerned” about the terminal, about the port’s lack of transparency and the level of its commitment to citizens. Then he asked a question: “Why did I piss you off?”

Turning the tables, Pollard said the feeling’s mutual. Speaking more broadly about people’s concerns, Pollard added: “You piss us off.”

The former mayor said he tries to avoid swearing but has been known to do so in the past. Wrapping up his comments to commissioners Wolfe, Baker and Jerry Oliver, Pollard said they may think they’re under scrutiny now, but that they’re “going to be watched a lot more in the future.”

Pollard made his comments during the open forum portion of Wednesday’s meeting. About half a dozen other attendees also spoke against the oil terminal. One person spoke favorably of it.

Later during Wednesday’s public meeting, Wolfe apologized for making a “gaffe” during the Oct. 13 meeting. “I felt I was in good company, because Joe Biden occasionally makes a gaffe,” he said.
Wolfe said some people, including Pollard, have made the oil terminal a personal issue. He said commissioners listen to people and take notes. “The promise we made was to let (the oil terminal) go through the permitting process,” he added.

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