I appreciate your concern. There is much more to the exchange between Mr. Segal and myself than is apparent to the public. I have a history with him. He does not like me and I hold him in low regard as well. I think he is a man who engages in politics as if it were a blood sport and I have little patience for that. I also believe he came to the first meeting after the election to gloat because some of the people he supported won. His comments were entirely politically motivated and wrong. He was wrong on the facts and he was wrong in his demeanor. I called him on it. For that I will not apoligize. Rather he should apologize for using an issue as important as how much money the City of Olympia spends on social services as a ploy to dig at Joan Machlis and Doug Mah. This is an issue very dear to my heart. I want to spend more money on the poor and hungry. Mr. Segal almost certainly knows that. He also knows I have advocated for two years to build a dog park. He coupled those two issues in his remarks to insult me along with spewing his venom for Joan and Doug. We don't deserve that sort of treatment from anybody and I just won't sit quietly and take it from Mr. Segal who doesn't even live in Olympia but comes to our chambers regularly to engage in his sport.
Olympia spends $3.76 per citizen to fund social service agencies as recommended by the Human Services Review Council (HSRC--which is the interjurisdictional board that has, for the last 18 years, has been the place we all come together to provide some relief to the homeless and hungry). Last year, Thurston County, eliminated its funding to HSRC. This year, Commissioners have indicated they may be able to spend $50,000. If so, that would put them at 36 cents per citizen. That's not all county citizens either, that's just the ones who live in areas unincorprated by any city. Stephen Segal is such a citizen. He lives in unincorporated Thurston County. I really believe that if his concerns for the poor were genuine, as are mine, he would be leading a public effort to get Thurston County to increase its level of social service funding. Who better to fight for it than a person who enjoys political engagement and has strong speaking skills? Why would you not do that if you really cared about poor and hungry people more than you cared about hammering a political opponent you had just bested in an election? But, there he was coming before the Olympia City Council after election day to wag his finger at us. We are people who work hard for the City of Olympia and are already doing much, much more than anybody else to meet the needs of our most vulnerable citizens. His words were repugnant, his motivation transparent, and his manner disrespectful. I won't apologize for responding to him as I did.
As for Ms. Gates, her concern for Mr. Segal's welfare may have been genuine. Perhaps she really sees him as a victim and thinks him incapable of fighting his own battles. I gave her the benefit of the doubt and did not respond to her remarks. I can't imagine why you think I would owe her an apology. I did suspect at the time that she was using the podium to launch her 2011 election campaign, but I kept silent on it. Mr. Segal was in the chamber long enough to watch Ms. Gates make her comments. He did not speak for himself but stood in the back glaring at me while his advocate, who was visibly nervous, spoke on his behalf. Ms. Gates strikes me as a woman deeply committed to her community and I respect her for that. But she is wrong about the interaction between Mr. Segal and me. I was not unprofessional, I gave him all the respect he deserved, and I will do it again if he brings his game back to the Olympia City Council Chambers.
On a positive note, I look forward to working amiably with my new colleagues on the Council. I have already met privately with two of them and have pledged to do my best to help them be successful in their new roles. I have offered to meet with the third and hope to do that soon. The citizens of Olympia deserve our best effort, not more political gamesmanship. I only wish everybody understood that.
Rhenda Iris Strub
Olympia City Councilmember
It does sort of support my original point, that Rhenda may have been pointed with her original comments. But, if Segall was in the room when Janine was talking Tuesday night, he should have stood up for himself.
I'm just going to throw this out, but maybe Rhenda should bring cookies to the next city council meeting. Just a suggestion.