The Sammamish City Council may backtrack on holding its annual retreat locally.
This was the first year in the city’s history that the retreat was held in Sammamish.
In the last two years, it was in Tacoma. Previously, it was held for many years in Roslyn, east of the Cascades.
The locations drew criticism as discouraging public participation and not living up to the spirit of the Open Meetings Act.
At the end of the retreat Saturday, Mayor Christie Malchow remarked that it may be held elsewhere.
Malchow provided this statement to Sammamish Comment:
I have now experienced both types of retreats, the out-of-town version and now the in-town version.
In addition to setting the stage for a successful work plan for the year, the retreat also serves another purpose that is beneficial to the public: building comaraderie amongst Council members new and old.
It is truly a balance to allow for maximum public participation and their ability to listen and learn, with gaining esprit de corps amongst the seven of us.
I do believe we are better served, or at least this year would have been (since we had four new members), to have been at a dedicated location. Finding the equilibrium is darn near impossible, but in the vein of keeping and allow the public as much access to the retreat as possible, we also discussed webcasting (with better audio) at future retreats, as well as more innovative ideas like allowing for FaceTime-type public comment opportunities.
This allows for remote participation, and maybe even greater participation. As you know, I’ve long been an advocate for including the public in comment, participation, and informing them.
I want that to continue while attempting to achieve a better balance for the best possible outcome from a retreat that will help us to serve the Sammamish residents. Several other Council members expressed similar sentiments on the retreat location, which is why I knew it was warranted to express the idea.