Decision on Wales’ use of profanity to refer to fellow council member will have to wait

Largo Wales. FILE PHOTO

Largo Wales. FILE PHOTO

Whatever disciplinary action the Auburn City Council takes – or if it decides no action is required – respecting councilwoman Largo Wales’ profane reference to fellow council member John Holman at a recent council meeting is likely to be left to the body’s next formal meeting, in April.

Wales informed Deputy Mayor Bob Baggett shortly before the Monday evening, March 19, regular council meeting that she would not be there.

“It was a last-minute phone call,” Baggett explained. “I had hoped to call an executive session tonight, but Largo isn’t here. It is my intent to get this thing over and done with as soon as possible.”

Baggett added that Wales also arranged for someone to deliver a letter to the box of each council member Monday evening. While none of Wales’ peers, including Baggett, had a chance to read the letter before meeting, in all probability it contained information related to last week’s closed-door session at which the council discussed her actions so its contents could not be disclosed publicly.

As deputy mayor, disciplinary action falls to Baggett.

“I’ve got my thoughts about what should happen, but, apparently, there are some other schools of thought, and when we read this letter, maybe we’ll have a little better take on it,” Baggett said.

The former deputy mayor and recent mayoral candidate made her remark at the March 5 council meeting, and it may be seen and heard in context from beginning to end from the time span of 30:07 to 32.37 in the video of the meeting on the City’s webpage, auburnwa.gov.

Wales had been about to make her third comment on mayoral spending limits when Holman brought up a point of order.

“Our rules clearly state that on the subject matter that’s on motion, one individual has two debates at it. Council member Wales has already had two comments on this item,” Holman said.

Mayor Nancy Backus then asked City Attorney Dan Heid for his legal opinion.

“I believe the rules do provide a limitation on how many times a council member may speak to a specific item,” Heid responded, “and in that regard, it’s so all council members may have an opportunity. Beyond the initial two times, council may have to voice approval for additional comments, which could be done by a motion.”

“I just wanted to say thank you, John, because maybe that’s what this one section means at 113 item B. I wanted to thank you for the clarification on items budgeted and not budgeted, and you provided me with great clarification,” Wales said.

She then turned to council member Yolanda Trout-Manuel and, under her voice, referred to Holman in the terms outlined above.

Holman said he had been willing to let the matter pass, but, as noted above, whatever comes of this incident is not up to him.

“I am sorry my colleague was upset,” Holman said. “However, she has been on council for over six years and was deputy mayor for two. She knows the rules as well as I do. She chooses to bend the rules and got called for it. I am neither troubled nor deterred by any comment my esteemed colleague might make in a moment of embarrassment or miscalculation. I imagine we will continue to work collegially,” Holman said.

Wales has made her only public comment on the matter to date in response to an email request from the Auburn Reporter last week.

“The alleged complaint is still being processed, but it appears there is a communication and leadership problem that needs to be addressed,” Wales wrote.

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