Politics & Government

Tacoma mayor’s appearance in pro-methanol video triggers ethics complaint

Mayor Marilyn Strickland next week will have to answer again for her appearance in a promotional video distributed by the company that wanted to build a methanol production facility at the Port of Tacoma.

Tacoma’s Board of Ethics on Monday is scheduled to discuss a complaint filed against Strickland by resident Claudia Riedener of the anti-methanol group Red Line Tacoma.

Riedener’s complaint charged that the mayor’s appearance in methanol-backer Northwest Innovation Works’ video revealed that Strickland was biased in favor of a controversial project that was the subject of a city-led environmental review.

“Mayor Strickland is giving unfair, preferential treatment to Northwest Innovation Works,” Riedener wrote in a March 22 message to City Manager T.C. Broadnax and City Attorney Elizabeth Pauli.

The state-mandated environmental study was supposed to be an impartial report. Strickland in February had urged her City Council colleagues to remain neutral in public about the project to protect the study’s appearance of fairness.

Northwest Innovation Works this month canceled its proposal to build the methanol facility at the port. Had it been built, it would have produced methanol for use by Chinese plastics manufacturers.

Strickland in the March video described the project as one that would bring manufacturing jobs to Tacoma while reducing global greenhouse gas emissions by reducing China’s need for use of coal.

“We get great jobs. We get a great partner. And greenhouse gas emissions also go down in China,” she said in the video.

It was filmed at an event downtown in September. Strickland in March told The News Tribune that her appearance in the video was a mistake.

“I admit it contradicts exactly what I’ve been saying,” she said. “It was an error in my part, because I probably should not have taken a public position.”

The Board of Ethics is a volunteer commission that investigates complaints against public officials and makes recommendations about how to resolve them.

It’s scheduled to meet Monday at 6:30 p.m. in Tacoma city clerk’s office at the Tacoma Municipal Building, 733 Market St.

Adam Ashton: 253-597-8646, @TNTMilitary