Breaking news: Acting City Manager publicly resigns – blames City Council and the community

By Miki Mullor

Acting City Manager Chip Corder publicly resigned today in a note addressed to Mayor Karen Moran and that he emailed to all employees in City hall. 

“After much thought, I’ve decided to resign,” wrote Corder to Mayor Karen Moran on Feb 12:

Chip Corder

“My views on the roles and responsibilities of the Council versus Staff don’t align with the Council’s views. Unfortunately, I don’t see a path forward to reconcile those differences.” 

Corder continues to blame City Council and the public: “There is an unusual amount of criticism and judgement of Staff by the Council and the Community,  which is unwarranted and has negatively impacted the workplace atmosphere.” 

Short timer

Corder was hired by former-City Manager Rick Rudometkin in October 2019. Before that, Corder worked at the City of Mercer Island for 14 years as a Director of Finance and as an Assistant City Manager where he managed a staff of six employees. 

Signs for disagreements between City Council and Corder over the identity of the next Interim City Manager were revealed in Corder’s Jan. 7 City Manager’s report. In it, Corder, who does not have HR or recruiting background, suggested a self-described “unorthodox” recruiting process that involved recruiting only from his personal network and excluding any candidates from out of state. That would have excluded Dave Rudat, who was already a candidate in the pipeline (as per a suggestion made  Dec. 17 by Council Member Ken Gamblin). 

Rudat was also a finalist candidate 18 months ago, when Prothman, a professional recruiting firm, recruited for an Interim City Manager following former City Manager Lyman Howard’s departure.  On Feb 5., as we reported, the City Council majority directed Corder to enter into negotiations with Rudat for the interim City Manager role. 

Mayor’s response

In response to an inquiry, Moran told the Sammamish Comment:

Karen Moran

“Being Interim City Manager has been a tough job, and one that was thrust Mr. Corder at a difficult time and under difficult conditions. But, the Council is tasked with making policy to represent the citizens’ wants and needs and Staff is responsible for carrying out that policy. The system just doesn’t work any other way.  Staff have had to adjust to policies they may or may not agree with. But in the end WE ALL serve the residents of Sammamish and they have voiced their opinion. We all need to carry that forward. 

“I personally wish Corder well in his future endeavors.”

UPDATE: in response to readers’ questions: in his resignation letter, Corder did not elaborate beyond the statements we reported on:

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15 thoughts on “Breaking news: Acting City Manager publicly resigns – blames City Council and the community

  1. So, the “interim” City Manager has resigned. I use that term lightly because I’ve become “resigned” to watching my home for for over thirty years give in to developers, increased traffic congestion and generally compromise the standard of living that convinced me to move here from Bellevue. Why do we seem to have a turnover in City council members that almost rivals the Trump administration in it’s effectiveness??

    I’m beginning to ask myself why we even “need” a City Council? I admittedly don;t have the facts and date to offer a critical alternative. All I can offer is that I kinda’ liked it when we were part of Issaquah. The politically correct change of their sport teams from Indians to Eagles seems like caving in to other’s interests. Come to think of it, I’m starting think “politically correct” is an oxymoron in itself.

    I’m kinda’ wondering if we should organize a movement for Issaquah to take us back. Life seemed much better during that period.

    What’s going on around here? By the way, I don’t fully understand what our former city manager became so frustrated about. From the few details you provided Miki, it all sounds like the inmates are running the asylum over there.

    I actually gave some consideration to running for city council myself once. I’m going to sign up for Kung-Fu and boxing lessons first.

    On the other hand, I am getting so weary of a group of well-meaning citizens have appeared to have little patience to deal with the status quo and possibly think their opinion is better than others. Miki, from your wonderful reports I’m starting to think the people who have been elected to local office are a bunch of self-interested whiners and some others simply looking for some office to add to their resumes when they leave town.

    That’s all I have to say for now. I thnik it’s time to retire.

    Just sayin’

  2. I agree with Harry. The arrangement for interim city manager that was being promoted by Chip and staff was not workable and would have severely limited both the recruitment field as well as Council flexibility. The arrangement that was being promoted by Chip was designed to narrow the field of interim manager candidates to a select few that would then be in position to become the permanent city manager – for better or worse
    Yes, Sammamish DOES need a Council that leads and doesn’t merely stamp the suggestions of staff.

  3. The Rudat appointment doesn’t just smell bad, it stinks. And the Comment sure looks like it’s whitewashing the process. The voluminous legal and ethical baggage Mr. Rudat will be lugging with him to Sammamish is well publicized, yet you ignored it and instead quoted his “biography” (actually an autobiography) to put all this in an artificially good light.

    That seems disingenuous if not downright deceptive. I hope the Comment isn’t drifting towards blind, unquestioning support for the Council members it has traditionally supported and trashing the credibility you’ve legitimately earned.

    The political spectrum of the Council seems to be concentrated on the extremes, from the “vote for me if you want to reduce traffic” to the “I’m proud to be in STCA’s pocket” constituencies, with not much in between, including managerial skills. I’m not convinced any of them is worth keeping, while the senior staff is no prize either — and it’s not about to get any better, what with the looming Rudat appointment. If it’s “time the Council run the city,” then It’s past time the Council demonstrates it CAN run the city. Still waiting for objective evidence of the latter.

    It appears that there simply are no “good guys/persons” left on the Council, if there ever were in the first place. Ceding the north half of the city to Redmond and the south half to Issaquah is looking better every day, or at least less worse than the status quo.

    • The comment doesn’t deal with rumors. When Rudat became a candidate we chased every lead and couldn’t find anything to substantiate the Internet gossip. King county sheriff also conducted a background check which we requested to publish but was denied access to.

    • Otto you do not know the whole story about the internal effort to subvert the council authority over city staff. I suggest that you hold your fire.

      • The story of staff trying to pull the concurrency wool over the Council’s eyes and getting caught with their pants down by an outsider should be familiar to everyone by now, including the failed attempts on staff’s part to impugn Mr. Mullor’s integrity. But fast forward to today, it looks like the Council can’t achieve any real continuity in executive city leadership for several years running and can’t even fill the position now without the bad optics of close personal relationships and nepotistic conflicts of interest (EF&R) that still need to be resolved — after yet another “nationwide search,” no less. At the same time, Mr. Corder’s parting shot seemed self-serving and parochial at best, so good riddance. Hence the “no good guys” conclusion. Unfortunately, this is compounded by the “I voted for them and therefore they can do no wrong” fallacy, which is as apathetic a view of government as it is irresponsible.

        Governing by “secret plan” and managing by diktat are a couple of things that generally don’t end well. So tell us what we don’t know, Tom.

      • Otto – to be factually correct, there was no nationwide search this time around. There was no search at all. Corder was trying to box the council to hire one of his friends. It’s all publicly documented.

        Rudat is a qualified and experienced. No one seriously questions that. One could argue the council did well by accommodating a strong candidate- unlike the previous one who was unqualified – and it showed.

        Time will tell.

        What is evident is the lack of management experience at the council level – at least with the previous one. They sometime prioritized “getting along” over “getting business done” and fail to realize that management is not a popularity contest.

        Let’s see how Moran does as a mayor and how new members Gamblin and Treen impact.

        Again. Time will tell. So far it has not been impressive to say the least – but at least they have good intentions.

  4. This is hilarious! A City Manager who cannot stand criticism from the community is not the right fit for this kind of job.
    People are mostly vocal about bad things. When everything is fine, you merely hear any feedback – that’s just the way people are. They accept good government and public services as granted.
    There is not enough context on what exactly that criticism was about.
    So I guess my biggest question here: what was his position on so called growth and development? The community clearly showed that the growth for a sake of growth is not something we are interested in.
    Anyways, Sammamish NEEDS a city manager. Whoever comes here, should be able to handle criticism, and most importantly, be aligned with what Sammamish residents voted for and interested in.

  5. The current Council was elected by an overwhelming vote of the citizens of Sammamish and that vote reflected – in my humble opinion – exactly what the residents wanted. A shake up in the composition of the Council members to more closely reflect our citizens desires: less development, less school over crowdedness, less traffic congestion, more tree canopy and a City staff that follows the wishes of the Council (based on citizen input) and not the desires of the rogue staff approving development (think concurrency tests at the TC) over the wishes of the Council.

    I stand with this Council !

    • The mayor is a ceremonial role voted by members of the council. Malchow was indeed elected to a second term. Moran is in the third year of her term.

      Moran was voted mayor in January. Malchow was voted deputy mayor.

  6. I stand behind the council that I voted for.

    With regards to Rudat, I tend to think “where there’s smoke there’s fire”. Perhaps a less controversial candidate might be a better choice?

  7. Btw has the staff who unilaterally approved the 400 homes for Town Center been fired? If not, why not? We need a city manager who is willing to come in and clean house, make the Y pay back what they owe Sammamish taxpayers, and take directions from the city council. Unelected public employees must answer to the elected. We don’t need our own “deep state” here in Sammamish.

    Ken Gamblin’s friendliness to businesses worries me. I hope it doesn’t mean he supports more TC development.

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