The Sammamish City Council may discuss the controversial Six Year Transportation Improvement Plan (TIP), but not until after the November election, Sammamish Comment has learned.
City Manager Ben Yacizi wrote Council Member Nancy Whitten on Aug. 5 that a budget review meeting in November, which will “authorize the funding of various TIP projects” “might be a good meeting to further discuss this topic.”
Whitten had written Yacizi supporting Council Member Ramiro Valderrama’s concern that the August City Newsletter and its articles about the TIP were political in nature.
Sammamish Comment detailed the politicalization of the Newsletter in an August 12 post. The Newsletter had a front page article defending the funding of the TIP, along with a Mayor’s Message doing the same thing.
“I join in Councilmember Valderrama’s request that we have further council discussion about these road projects…and how we might pay for them and the potential bonding before such an article goes into our newsletter,” Whitten wrote, noting that “inconsistency with prior statements made about bonding are very convenient timewise during an election year.”
“We certainly can have more discussion on this topic whenever the Council wants,” Yacizi wrote back the same day.
Valderrama has been asking for a discussion all year, but the leadership–comprised of Yacizi, Mayor Tom Vance and Deputy Mayor Kathy Huckabay–has refused to put a discussion on the agenda. Two other Council Members who are part of the ruling majority (aka the Gang of 4), Tom Odell and Bob Keller, refused to back Valderrama. Under Council rules, if the leadership doesn’t put a topic on the agenda, support four Council Members of the seven member Council are required to do so.
(As an aside, it was agreed at the City Council retreat in January that this latter rule would be reviewed during the year, but it hasn’t been. The US Supreme Court requires only four of nine members of the Court to agree to hear an appeal, not a majority of members as is the case with the City Council to put something on the agenda.)
After urging a discussion on the TIP all year, only to be blocked by the leadership and/or the Gang or 4, the timing of the all-is-right-with-the-TIP Newsletter and a discussion after the election is curious, indeed.
Can council procedural rules be changed by citizen initiative?
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