Lyman Howard named City Manager but cloud hangs over action

Lyman Howard

Lyman Howard, the Deputy City Manager for Sammamish, was named May 19 to succeed retiring Ben Yacizi as City Manager March 1.

Due to the unusual way in which the Council handled the matter, there’s a question whether the appointment followed legal procedure, however.

The City Council emerged from an executive session and voted that Howard would be the next city manager. Although the appointment was made and a starting date announced, there appears to be a foggy area whether this strictly followed the state law governing hiring staff, according to one public official not associated with the City who wishes to remain anonymous because of the position held.

There was no public discussion about why Howard was appointed, nor about the internal search process and Howard’s winning qualification. The Council emerged from executive session and immediately went to a vote.

Here is a transcript of the action, taken from the video of the May 19 meeting:

Deputy Mayor Kathy Huckabay:

I move to appoint Lyman Howard as city manager effective March 1, 2016.
This appointment is subject to negotiation of a mutually acceptable contract and approval of that contract by the city council at a subsequent City Council meeting.

Council member Nancy Whitten seconded.

Mayor Tom Vance:

We have a second. I don’t think there is any discussion of this. All in favor say Aye. (Voice vote taken.) Any opposed? It is unanimous decision. Thank you. This is a nice appointment but it is subject to more negotiation.

State law allows for executive sessions to discuss personnel:

RCW 42.30.110 states: (1) Nothing contained in this chapter may be construed to prevent a governing body from holding an executive session during a regular or special meeting…[Section] (g) To evaluate the qualifications of an applicant for public employment or to review the performance of a public employee. However, subject to RCW 42.30.140(4), discussion by a governing body of salaries, wages, and other conditions of employment to be generally applied within the agency shall occur in a meeting open to the public, and when a governing body elects to take final action hiring, setting the salary of an individual employee or class of employees, or discharging or disciplining an employee, that action shall be taken in a meeting open to the public….

RCW 42.30.110 doesn’t explicitly state that the reasons and qualifications shall be discussed in open session, and Yacizi told Sammamish Comment that the appointment is subject to negotiating a contract, and final action will be taken in a public meeting.

When Yacizi was appointed City Manager in January 2001, proper procedure wasn’t followed and The Sammamish Review sued the City, forcing a do-over to follow state law. Deputy Mayor Kathy Huckabay, who made the Howard motion, and Council Member Don Gerend, were on the City Council at the time of the Yacizi issue, and are on the Council today.

There is no question over Howard’s credentials and he is well regarded in the City. But there is a question over the speed in which an “internal search” was conducted and disposed of. It was only two weeks ago that the Council voted, upon Yacizi’s recommendation, that the City forgo a national search and conduct an internal search. According to one person with knowledge of the situation, Howard was the only internal candidate to apply.

But no member of the public would know this from last Tuesday’s vote. No one from the City said anything at any time during the public City Council meeting. Nor did anyone explain the process or qualifications because there was no discussion.

“It was politically inept” of the leadership, Vance and Huckabay, and of the Council itself one council member agreed later. “There should have been a discussion.”



6 thoughts on “Lyman Howard named City Manager but cloud hangs over action

  1. City Hamilton: There is a rumor swirling on he Plateau that a charge is being ramrodded by a current council member (through a cat’s paw in Redmond) to intimidate an incumbent running for his current seat via FOIA-type demand for the incumbent’s Private email. Any truth here? If so, wouldn’t it be of dubious legality? Not to mention ethical behavior?

    • Yes, a Redmond resident filed a FOIA for all 2014 emails of Valderrama and Whitten, and the evidence is that this is indeed a stealth FOIA for a current council member. Whitten since then decided not to run for reelection but the council member is demanding to see the results of the FOIA data dump.

      As to legality–haven’t sorted that one out yet.

  2. Based on the above transcription of the meeting and my experience with Robert Rules, I find it puzzling that there was no call for discussion prior to the Council taking this decision. The vote was taken with no record supporting the selection of Mr. Howard as our new City Manager. The maker of the motion should have had the opportunity to support the motion and other council members should have been afforded the opportunity to make the record.

  3. Is this any surprise? Only if you haven’t been paying attention to the ongoing shenanigans of these elected officials.

    Sammamish city council has got to be one of the most arrogant gangs of malfeasors to ever run a great city into the ground. Private government for the benefit of developers. They’ll allow development of every square inch of the city they can get their hands on (and annex the rest), while flushing taxpayer money down the toilet building pools nobody needs, and enriching religious fanatics (the Driscoll bunch) by buying real estate from them *on spec*. If these clowns aren’t getting money under the table, they’re missing out on a great opportunity.

    Anybody want to start a pool on how long after his resignation Yazici goes into the development biz? 2 months, 2 weeks, 2 hours?

    Oh wait a minute, almost forgot …. initiative and referendum will fix everything. After the same folks who keep electing these losers weigh in, of course.

  4. I sat in last week’s meeting when this “vote” occurred for the city manager. I was disturbed by the attitude of the entire council towards this position. To say that this 188k (plus benefits) job only had ONE applicant is a sham and completely dishonorable for every council member to put over on us as the citizens. — Even though I knew of the rules concerning the council not allowing people to ask questions from the gallery, I kept waving my arm in the hope that I would annoy Vance enough so that he would have call on me to ask what my problem was… NOT SO.
    I wanted to ask:
    Where did they advertise for this position?
    How long did they advertise for this position?
    Why did it feel like Lymon was part of the “good ole boys club”?
    What were Lymon’s qualifications?
    WHY did everyone tell of personal stories of Lymon, obviously there was a bias?
    Where was his resume so I could check it out?
    This position is the only paid position that the city council can hire. Although, this person then hires the rest of the staff, so it is a pretty big deal for the council to make sure they get the people they want covering their hinneys.

    For the city to do this shows what disarray the city council is in and the power they think they hold.

    Layna Crofts

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