Parks board vote sparks conflict

An appointment to the Richland Parks & Recreation Commission sparked conflict among city council members Tuesday.

The debate centered around a recommendation by Councilwoman Sandra Kent and commission member Brad Anderson to appoint Tony Maya in place of sitting member John Butterfield, who has served since 2002.

The terms for the positions held by Butterfield and current Chairman Terry Christensen, who is running for the city council seat being vacated by Sheila Sullivan, both expired Aug. 31. Kent and Anderson recommended that Christensen be re-appointed.

Councilman Phil Lemley -- a former member of the Parks and Recreation Commission before being elected to the council -- said he disagreed with the choice and wanted to know why Kent wasn't recommending that Butterfield continue.

Mayor Pro Tem Ed Revell, 70, who is opposed by Anderson in his re-election bid, said in a pre-meeting discussion that he thought Butterfield might be the victim of age discrimination, citing his own meeting with Anderson in which Anderson allegedly said he had no problems with Revell on the council other than his age.

"I think the same thing is happening to John Butterfield," Revell said.

Kent explained that she and Anderson had interviewed all seven applicants for the two open positions, and felt Christensen and Maya gave the best interviews.

Maya also had several years of experience on the Pasco Parks and Recreation Commission, and Kent said she thought that was valuable experience.

Lemley countered by listing the details of Butterfield's lengthy resume of military service and two years as executive director of the President's Council on Fitness during the early 1990s.

"That's a kind of glowing resume, I guess," said Councilman Bob Thompson. "If parks were all about being a warrior and doing the right thing, John is the guy."

Thompson suggested putting off the vote until a later meeting, when Kent could bring her notes from the interviews and more fully describe what she saw in Maya.

But the council went ahead with Maya's appointment in a 4-3 vote led by Kent, Sullivan, Councilman David Rose and Mayor John Fox. Lemley, Thompson and Revell voted no.

Christensen was reappointed in the same vote.