Rantz: Council member slammed for misrepresenting himself at conference
Apr 11, 2023, 6:00 PM | Updated: 6:29 pm
(Photo from Lynnwood City Council meeting)
Embattled Lynnwood Councilmember Josh Binda recently spoke at a conference in D.C. But he misrepresented himself as speaking on behalf of the council, and elevated his actual role to keynote speaker when he was just a panelist, according to the council’s president. He’s now demanding to be reimbursed for travel he wasn’t approved to take. It’s the latest controversy surrounding the council member, just days after criticism for a “sexual” Instagram post to promote his business to minors.
Binda attended the National League of Cities (NLC), an event for local leaders to share ideas to improve life for their residents. During a contentious council meeting on March 27, Binda explained he wasn’t attending the meeting in person because he was attending the NLC “on behalf of the council.” Council president Shannon Sessions almost immediately clarified that “just for the record, Councilmember Binda is not at the League of Cities on behalf of the city council, just for the record.”
That response triggered a quick retort by Binda: “I am on behalf of the council, it’s my council member duty, and I am here as a council member.”
Virtually, the same scenario unfolded during the April 10 meeting where Binda claimed he didn’t need permission to attend and then twice asked to be reimbursed. A decision was not decided, but judging by the reaction from the council, it’s unlikely.
Binda did not respond to a request for comment, but Sessions did. She said the only representative of Lynnwood at the NLC was Council Vice President Julieta Altamirano Crosby.
“She brought planned city priority messaging, attended trainings, met with our representatives during prearranged scheduled meetings, and was approved to be there. She will also report back to council on her experiences there and what she learned,” Sessions said in an email to the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH.
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Binda causing problems
To be an official representative of the city, Sessions said he would have needed to get approval. And had he asked, he wouldn’t have likely received permission anyway.
“If he did ask the council, he likely wouldn’t have gotten approved either because the last two AWC city days function, he attended recently (where other Lynnwood council members attended and [were] active) – he missed all scheduled meetings the city had with legislators and didn’t attend council member trainings, ignored other council member communications, and on one of the trips, stayed at the hotel on the wrong night that [the] city reserved, without communicating with anyone, again — and so the city got charged for two nights because of him — fortunately our council [assistant] was able to talk to the hotel to not get charged the extra night,” Sessions said.
Sessions said Binda never told the council that he was going to D.C. for the event and no tax dollars paid for the trip, nor will any portion of the trip be reimbursed. She notes that he “didn’t attend any pre-arranged city of Lynnwood meetings with our representatives or council member trainings.”
“We found out he was there to benefit himself only through a social networking post,” Sessions said. “Of course, he got a ‘foot in the door’ because he is a sitting council member.”
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Binda claims he was a keynote speaker. About that…
In a social media post, Binda called it a “complete honor to be a keynote speaker” at the event. While he did speak, the NLC did not list him as a keynote speaker. In fact, he wasn’t listed on their agenda at all. A spokesperson did not respond to requests for comment. Sessions seemingly mocked Binda during the April 10 meeting, reminding him keynote speeches are reserved for notable speakers, which the council member most certainly is not. Indeed, during every council session, he mostly mumbles into the microphone.
Binda’s apparent message was also not centered around the city of Lynnwood, but about inspiring youth to get more active. He applauded himself, saying it was “a blessing… to be a difference maker, break barriers, and be a voice of a generation.” It appears Binda delivered the same speech (or at least, same theme) as he gives during school assemblies in Snohomish County.
In a social media post responding to the controversies, a defiant Binda leveled unsubstantiated claims of racism and media conspiracies.
“I’ve been consistently slandered, stalked, intimidated, and bullied behind closed doors. Discriminated against because of my age and race. Plotted against by certain media outlets, colleagues, and groups of people who’ve decided to spread misinformation which continuously put me and the people closest around me in harm’s way,” he wrote.
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Binda recall campaign
Binda continues to court controversy, inspiring Lynnwood activists to start a recall campaign.
“It is evident that this and other documented behavior by this council member neither represent the best of any city council nor of the City of Lynnwood,” said Committee to Recall Joshua Binda chair Diodato Boucsieguez in a statement. “This committee strongly believes that Councilmember Joshua Binda has met the conditions of malfeasance as outlined in the Revised Code of Washington to be recalled. It is the duty of Lynnwood residents to recall City Councilmember Joshua Binda from the Lynnwood City Council and restore integrity to our city.”
Earlier this year, Binda started a company, Josh Binda Speaks LLC. But it’s come under fire recently and his council colleagues seem to be growing tired of his antics. He’s under investigation for using the city council chambers to film a promotional video for his company, but did not have permission. And he faces a torrent of criticism and calls for resignation after posting a sexualized photo on Instagram to promote his business to minors. He claimed the criticism was racist.
He was also found guilty and fined by the Washington State Public Disclosure Commission for disclosure violations. The Everett Herald notes that his campaign finance filings “showed upward of $10,000 spent on dental work, hair cuts, plane tickets, towing expenses, and more.” He later reimbursed his campaign for the expenditures. And he was fined for failing to submit his personal financial affairs statement as required.
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