Bid to recall Rainier City Councilwoman Taylor will go to the voters

2013-11-21T22:15:00Z 2014-04-01T19:25:58Z Bid to recall Rainier City Councilwoman Taylor will go to the voters Longview Daily News

Rainier City Councilwoman Judith Taylor is facing a recall following allegations of harassment by the board president of the city’s senior center.

Ballots will be mailed Nov. 29 and must be returned by Dec. 17, when unofficial results will be announced. The election will cost the City of Rainier between $2,000 and $3,000, said Pam Benham, Columbia County elections supervisor. Rainier Senior Center Board President Bill Dias collected 113 valid signatures — 110 were required — to force the recall vote. On his petition, Dias accused Taylor of “conduct not becoming of a public servant,” saying that Taylor overstepped her responsibilities as the City Council’s liaison to the senior center.

Dias said Taylor screamed in his face and, on more than one occasion, verbally attacked staff members and volunteers.

“There’s just so many people she has offended with her behavior,” he said. “It’s her way or the highway. You can’t have that as a public servant.”

Taylor refused the opportunity to resign and submitted a statement of justification to challenge the recall. She called the special election “vindictive” and a retaliation against her efforts to help the senior center become more financially sound.

“My word and my integrity are important to me. I can’t think of anything more dear to my heart than the senior citizens in my community,” said Taylor, who was elected to the Position 2 seat last November and appointed the senior center’s liaison in December.

“If I did get recalled over this, at least I know in my heart I’ve done all I could.”

The Rainier Senior Center leases its building without payment of rent from the City of Rainier, which secured the land through a $600,000 community development block grant in 2000, according to The Daily News archives.

As a condition of the nonprofit’s lease agreement, the senior center’s board of directors must provide the city with its monthly expenses, an annual audit report and a list of people or organizations using the facility. City liaisons ensure the senior center is financially fit to maintain city property.

Taylor said when she first became a liaison, the senior center’s board could not provide operating budgets or financial reports. The city offered to pay for a bookkeeper to sort through the center’s funds, but the center’s board members refused, she said.

“The senior center refuses to cooperate,” Taylor said. “We need to be open about the situation down there.”

Dias acknowledged that a previous volunteer manager misspent funds, but said the organization has improved its finances since he was first elected to the board in July. The senior center has $8,000 in savings and $2,500 in its general fund, he said.

The senior center’s board turned on Taylor because of her abrasive attitude, he said.

“Judith Taylor tried to jump in there and take over and felt like the city should hold (its) thumb over us,” Dias said. “We are a private organization, and we have a right to run our business as we see fit.”

Mayor Jerry Cole did not comment on Taylor’s behavior but said both sides have the same goal — to improve the senior center.

Rainier Councilman Steve Massey  — who replaced Taylor as liaison — said Taylor can be a big personality, but the recall is misguided.

“She tried to ask questions, and the person she was asking gave her no respect and just totally didn’t cooperate with her,” Massey said. “Judith cares a lot about the senior center. She was trying to find out things on it to try to improve it.”

Massey said he does not think the recall will be successful.

“I would really hope not. For someone doing their job, being attacked like this doesn’t speak well for anything,” he said.

Lyxan Toledanes covers health and social services for The Daily News. Reach her at 360-577-2586 or ltoledanes@tdn.com.

Copyright 2015 Longview Daily News. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(6) Comments

  1. See the Light
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    See the Light - November 22, 2013 9:43 am
    The Rainier Senior Center leases this building for free on the condition that the board of directors provide the city with financial information. Councilwoman Taylor asked for this information and was obviously told no. The City also offered to pay for a bookkeeper. The City was turned down. For this the Rainier Senior Center Board President is presenting a RECALL against Councilwoman Taylor??? What is wrong with this picture?
  2. rainier citizen
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    rainier citizen - November 22, 2013 10:17 am
    I can only say that this problem with the Senior Center is just the tip of the iceberg. Ms Taylor has done more to create problems in Rainier than I can count. She loves to give herself credit for many things that she had little or nothing to do with. In some respects, it is sad to see someone so needy for attention and recognition. The recall needs to happen, and hopefully the city can appoint someone with the time and vision to move this town forward.
  3. hippi freak
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    hippi freak - November 22, 2013 10:54 am
    Can't we all just get along? If the Senior Center isn't abiding by the agreement then deny their status. See what they do then. Classic case of the "Tail Wagging the Dog". Wuff Wuff....
  4. notgonnatell
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    notgonnatell - November 22, 2013 1:59 pm
    Jan really...Taylor has given so much to our community & we are better off for her. This mess should have been taken care before she came on Council...were where Moon or Langford? Lets protect our seniors & make sure Grannie has a safe place to eat lunch.
  5. katkreger
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    katkreger - December 01, 2013 10:57 pm
    Judith Taylor has nothing but the best intentions for Rainier and the Senior Center. She was appointed to take on this responsibility as a councilwoman and then rebuked for it. The lack of support she has received in her endeavors is appalling. I doubt the Seniors realize that they are in non compliance and could very well lose their lease over it. Judith Taylor was trying to keep that from happening. Vote NO!
  6. pinkrose
    Report Abuse
    pinkrose - December 07, 2013 10:32 am
    When the City Council’s liaison to the senior center ,Judith Taylor, ask for senior center’s operating budgets and financial reports and they refused to turn them over it's probably because they don't know how to run a business and don't have the reports...its probably ran like a "good ole boy's club". Rainier needs more people like Judith Taylor. VOTE NO. Stop wasting money on a recall and spend it on a bookkeeper!
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