Richland City Council members' appointments to other boards and commissions was supposed to be passed without discussion.
The roster of assignments was one of almost two dozen items on the council's consent agenda for its Tuesday meeting -- items passed en masse in a single vote.
But Councilman Phil Lemley had something to say about his assignments, and particularly his lack of assignment as a liaison to the Richland Public Facilities District.
For the past two years, former Mayor Pro Tem Ed Revell served as the council's primary liaison to the district's board, and Lemley was his alternate.
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Revell lost his bid for re-election in November, and new Councilman Brad Anderson was sworn in to replace him in January.
Councilman David Rose was elected mayor pro tem by the council at its first meeting of the year, and is taking Revell's place as the new primary liaison to the facilities district. Anderson was given the slot as his back-up, over Lemley's objection.
"For two years I've been the back-up on the Public Facilities District," Lemley said. "I have never missed a meeting."
Lemley said during the meeting Tuesday that he had been told the facilities district had asked for his removal as a liaison to its board because he is a "negative influence."
"If being negative means I want to see taxpayer money spent wisely, then I plead guilty to that negativity," he said.
Lemley and Revell became the center of some conflict between the facilities district and the city council during the past year by raising questions about the viability of the district's signature project -- the Hanford Reach Interpretive Center.
Revell and Lemley also raised questions about how information was flowing from the district's board to the city council.
"If not for myself and Mr. Revell, this project would have gone very badly to this point," Lemley said.
Councilwoman Sandra Kent led the council subcommittee that made the assignments, and denied that Lemley was removed at the request of the facilities district.
"I believe Mr. Lemley would be very qualified for the assignment, as are his peers," Kent said. "The primary appointment was because that was what Mr. Rose requested on his list of council assignments."
Fred Raab, vice president of the facilities district board, told the Herald after the council meeting that Lemley's allegation came as a surprise.
"I recall no such discussions," he said.
The assignment roster was approved in a 5-2 vote. Lemley and Councilman Bob Thompson voted no.
-- The council appointed Steve Simmons, owner of The Country Gentleman in Kennewick, to replace Joel Rogo on the public facilities district board. Rogo announced in late October that he planned to resign from the board as soon as the council appointed a replacement. He is the last original board member and has served as board president since 2011.
-- The council postponed voting on the preliminary plat for the Falcon Crest development in south Richland for two weeks.
Previous versions of the development were the subject of land use litigation, and attorney John Ziobro, who represents nearby homeowners, has asked to present comments to the council about the development.
But because a public hearing took place before the Planning Commission, the council traditionally has not allowed further public comment on land use matters coming before it.
The council wanted the delay to consider whether to amend its policy about allowing more public comments.
It will consider the development again on Feb. 21.
-- Michelle Dupler: 582-1543; firstname.lastname@example.org