A video promoting the proposal to build the world’s largest methanol plant on the Tideflats appeared online Tuesday, featuring testimonials from Gov. Jay Inslee, Mayor Marilyn Strickland, Port of Tacoma Commission President Connie Bacon and others.
Within hours, Strickland called her involvement in the video “an error” and said she should “probably not” have attended the September event at which it was filmed, a downtown Tacoma reception hosted by Northwest Innovation Works, the China-backed company that has proposed the plant.
Strickland in February said at a City Council meeting that Tacoma officials should take no public position on the project, because the city is responsible for the official environmental review.
Strickland said Tuesday in a phone interview that she had not seen the video. She said it was filmed after she was “pulled out into the hallway” at the event and asked to comment on the project, of which she spoke favorably.
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“I admit it contradicts exactly what I’ve been saying,” Strickland said. “It was an error in my part, because I probably should not have taken a public position.”
The mayor’s comments appear in two parts of the video. Three minutes in, she appears on camera briefly and says a single sentence:
“We’re talking about a thousand-plus family-wage jobs in Tacoma.”
Northwest Innovation Works officials have said the plant will employ 1,000 workers for some months during the peak of its construction process. Once the plant is built, it is projected to have 260 permanent jobs.
Near the end of the video, Strickland appears again on camera. She says:
“We get great jobs. We get a great partner. And greenhouse gas emissions also go down in China.”
Strickland consulted city legal staff to confirm that the remarks, made in September, preceded the city’s November acceptance of responsibility as lead agency for the environmental review of the plant. She said she doubted that the now-public video would have any harmful effect on the process.
“Unless people are sending it directly to staff members who are working on this and doing the research, and saying ‘Your mayor commands you to come up with a favorable opinion,’ I don’t think this is an issue.”
She said she should not have attended the event, which she said was at a downtown building. She said she could not remember whether other city officials attended.
The YouTube account that posted the video, “Citizens Green Economy,” said it also has a Facebook page and a Twitter account, @Green_Citizens. Although neither account provides a name for its author, a Northwest Innovation Works spokesperson responded to a reporter’s email Tuesday and said the company produced the video using footage compiled between June and September 2015.
“It has been used a number of times at presentations,” wrote the spokesperson, who declined to provide his or her name. “A request was received for it recently and we provided it.”