Smoking Gun: City Manager Rudat action to delete emails and records subject to Public Records Requests

By Scott Hamilton

A text message from David Rudat, the former Sammamish city manager, to Christie Malchow, at the time the deputy mayor, directing her to delete emails subject to public records requests surfaced this week while Malchow responded to a more recent public record request. 

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Rudat ethics report released, finally

By Scott Hamilton

June 17, 2022: The 40-page summary of the ethics probe into former Sammamish City Manager Dave Rudat has been released to Sammamish Comment, pursuant to a public records request.

The release does not include all data, facts, and findings and it includes redactions for specific legal advice and certain names.

The entire report is here:

In a quick summary, here are some highlights:

Summary

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BREAKING NEWS: Moran resigns from city council

By Miki Mullor
Editor

Council member Karen Moran has resigned from the Sammamish City Council effective June 15. Moran was first elected to city council on November 2017, served as a mayor in 2020-2021 and was re-elected in November 2021 for a second term, with over 75% of the vote.

Karen Moran

This is the second resignation this week and third this year, following Christie Malchow’s resignation yesterday and Ken Gamblin’s resignation in January.

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Breaking News: Malchow resigns from city council

June 8, 2022: Mayor Christie Malchow tendered her resignation from the Sammamish City Council today, effective June 12.

Christie Malchow

Malchow cited missing too many family obligations for he young children and with her husband.

Malchow was midway through her second term.

The council must select a new mayor. The deputy mayor is Kali Clark, but her position doesn’t automatically elevate her to mayor. Both positions are ceremonial, selected by the council–not the voters.

Clark is only in her sixth month as deputy mayor in her first term in public office. It’s unlikely that Karen Moran, who served two years as mayor and who is six months into her second term on the council, will be selected to succeed Malchow. Moran has been a divisive force on the council. She also opposed the ethics investigation of former city manager David Rudat. She still opposes releasing the reports to the public.

Kent Treen is also unlikely to be named mayor. He’s in his final two years of his first term and like Moran, opposed the ethics probe and release of the reports to the Sammamish voters.

Pam Stuart served one full term but did not seek reelection. However, when Ken Gamblin resigned in January, Stuart was appointed to his seat by the King County Council when the Sammamish City Council deadlocked over the appointment.

Malchow’s resignation letter is below.

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City Council votes 4-3 to release Rudat ethics investigation reports

After months of debate, the City Council finally voted 4-3 to release the investigation reports of former city manager David Rudat.

May 17, 2022: The Sammamish City Council voted 4-3 tonight to release “all reports, facts and findings,” subject to redactions of names of minors and city staff, of the investigation of former City Manager David Rudat.

Voting in favor were Council Members Pam Stuart, who made the motion, Amy Lam, Karen Howe, and Deputy Mayor Kali Clark. Opposing were Mayor Christie Malchow and Members Karen Moran and Kent Treen.

There are two reports: one is 44-pages, and the other is an 88-page report. The City previously refused all Public Records Requests for these reports, citing attorney-client privilege. The council vote overrides this position. Doing so drew objections from Moran, who said the Council should follow the attorney’s advice to keep the reports confidential.

Stuart said releasing the reports provides transparency for open government, which is good government and shines a light on government. “We cannot put this issue squarely behind us and move forward…until this information is put forward,” Stuart said.

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Taking an oath

Moran said the Council should reject calls from the public to release the reports because doing so could lead to potential litigation. “When you take an oath for the city, you take an oath to protect the city,” she said. It is not in the best interest of the city to release the reports, she added. Stuart said releasing the reports will lift a cloud hanging over the city. Moran rejected this.

“This cloud exists because you talk it up,” she said. “If you don’t talk about it, it doesn’t exist. If you put it out there, then I hope they come after people personally,” Moran said.

Lam supported releasing the reports so people will understand why the city “separated” from the former city manager, David Rudat. The city agreed to pay him $300,000 plus benefits to go away. “Any council member who doesn’t support its release doesn’t support transparency,” Lam said. “They are motivated by their own self-interests under the guise of protecting the city.”

“I don’t know if this is going to put this behind us because [citizens] will interpret this as they will. That part isn’t our job. Our part is to be transparent and live with the consequences. I apologize to the public that we have not released the reports sooner,” said Howe.

Malchow said the city previously released the summary of what is in the work product. “I think the details of it are largely private conversations between two citizens. I don’t think it does anything to release it to the citizens, so I will vote against it.”

Moran responded to Lam, “To say that someone doesn’t value transparency is offensive and very childish, frankly. When you sit in this seat, your job is to make tough decisions. We’ve been advised not to do it. It will set a precedent.”

Stephanie Rudat to submit her own documents

Stephanie Rudat, the daughter of David Rudat, told the Council during Public Comment that the investigation was biased and that she was denied the ability to present her own evidence by one of the investigating attorneys. She said she has information, What’s App texts and data that will show Malchow and other council members shared information that was not included in the report. Rudat vowed to submit detailed information to the City Council on May 18.