By Scott Hamilton
If residents wonder why the Sammamish City Council is mired in acrimony, one need look no farther than the June 18 meeting.
Sammamish Council Member Jason Ritchie isn’t wrong when he cites frustration about the divisions in the city council.
Nor is he wrong when he fingers members of the majority of the council for their contributions to the split.
But Ritchie needs to look in the mirror and accept responsibility for his own actions.
This was demonstrated again for his remark toward Mayor Christie Malchow at the June 18 meeting that not only was uncalled for and snide but a sexist put down as well.
The council’s self-appointed decorum cop not that long ago accused Council Member Chris Ross of (among other things) sexism. Ritchie, however, engaged once again in his own form of sexism. This demonstrates a lack of self-awareness and even common courtesy and respect.
Amazingly, his ally, Council Member Pam Stuart, who sees sexism behind every lamppost, found Ritchie’s barb toward Malchow to be funny.
Shame on them both.
Four hours into the June 18 council meeting (at 4:02 hrs), during another of the endless discussions about traffic concurrency, Ritchie engaged in a discussion with the city manager while Council Member Ramiro Valderrama was making a motion.
When it came time to vote, Ritchie asked to hear the motion again because his discussion distracted him from hearing Valderrama.
As a result, Malchow politely asked that no “sidebar” discussions take place during the meeting because these were distracting.
Ritchie responded, “Okay, Mom.” Stuart could be seen and heard laughing.
Malchow understandably was not happy.
Ritchie has a long history of lipping off to other council members during meetings, with Ross a frequent target.
It’s not the first time
It wasn’t that long ago that Ritchie accused Ross of making sexist (and racist) remarks, without evidence or proof, that Ross had made sexist and racially-tinged remarks to him on two occasions (one at an open meeting).
He claimed, without evidence or proof, that Ross had maligned fellow Council Member Stuart.
Ross categorically denies these charges.
Despite repeated demands by readers of his Facebook post that he provide proof, he never did.
Ritchie first claimed Ross made the statements at an open meeting. After repeated challenges to present proof, Ritchie changed his story to say Ross made the comments privately to him at an open meeting.
Sammamish Comment then obtained, through a public records request looking for something else, a series of messages series of text messages between his and Ross in which Ritchie included sexist and racist remarks and a political threat.
“Animosity in the council has been building since I joined [in January 2018],” Ritchie wrote in the Ross controversy, in one Facebook post, since deleted.
In a word, Bingo! Ritchie has hit the nail on the head.
The 2016-2017 council, which did not include Ritchie, had its differences but they were amicable. The animosity developed on the current council, after Ritchie came on board. Perhaps there is a cause-and-effect, and it lands at his feet.
Ritchie and Stuart owe Malchow a public apology for the sexist remark and laughter at the remark. Tuesday’s council meeting (July 2) is the first meeting after the June 18 meeting to do so.
But don’t hold your breath.