It was May 2018 when I joined the Sammamish Comment as a deputy editor. This came almost a year after I uncovered the City’s wrongdoing on traffic concurrency and independently went public with it. Later that year, in December 2018, I took the reins from Scott Hamilton, who founded The Comment and made it the only media outlet covering city hall and city politics. The Comment informed and it was a watchdog of the city government.
Hamilton is a professional journalist and a phenomenal writer. He also had years of experience in city hall politics as a former member of the Planning Commission, Planning Advisory Board and a highly involved volunteer in our city’s history.
The shoes were big to fill.
So I focused my writing on investigative journalism, uncovering past questionable actions, and exposing current issues. I drew on my analytical experience from the software industry and my legal education to go through mountains of records to put one plus one together.
I want to thank you for being readers of The Comment. My goal was to communicate to you in a simple, accurate and direct manner the events happening at city hall. Unlike the presidency, congress or even our state’s government, it’s the decisions, or lack of, at our local government, that have the most impact on our lives. Especially in Sammamish.
Since I started writing for The Comment, my stories have been read 153,042 times as of today – and I thank you for each and every one of those reads.
These stories take a significant time investment to produce at the quality bar I set for TheComment. We exposed the YMCA financial games, the city council’s struggle with staff on concurrency and town center, covered the 2019 election and STCA’s meddling in it, the Gerend lawsuit and most recently the sewage capacity issues.
Perhaps the most significant impact in the 18 year history of The Comment was the 2015 revelation that Sammamish planned to skip a regional earthquake preparedness drill and ignored emergency preparedness plans on a wider scale. The embarrassment of this revelation ultimately led to the appointment of the city’s first dedicated emergency planner. This is a matter of life and safety for the city. This was the kind of reporting standard Hamilton set for me to follow.
Just as Hamilton moved on in 2018, now it’s time for me to move on.
An increased workload in my professional life left The Comment eating too much into personal time in a non-sustainable way. I simply don’t have time to pursue the stories and investigations that need pursuing with the high quality that is required.
To maintain balance between professional life, family time and The Comment, I would have had to significantly reduce my time investment in publishing stories and compromise on the quality of the publication. Between doing that or not publishing at all, I prefer to not publish.
There is one more story in the pipeline I plan to publish and potentially one last commentary. The Comment’s site will stay online for the foreseeable future, primarily because of its chronicle of the city’s history but secondarily because the site’s hosting service has already been paid for a few more months.
On a personal level, the most important aspect of this journey was to get to know a few truly great people – and for that I’m thankful.
Particularly I’m grateful to getting to know Scott Hamilton, The Comment’s founder, who I now consider a friend, a mentor and a trusted advisor. Hamilton directly contributed to my personal growth in areas I would not have challenged myself otherwise. With a generation separating us, growing in different parts of the world and working in different industries, it was our passion for holding the government accountable, exposing the truth and fighting special interests that connected us, two people who otherwise had a zero probability of ever knowing each other.
Lastly, while I discontinue my involvement with The Comment, I’m keeping the door open for someone else to continue publishing. Please reach out if interested.
Thank you again for being a reader.
From the Founder
I’m sorry to see Miki leave Sammamish Comment but I understand completely. I went through the same decision-making process as I prepared to move from Sammamish to Bainbridge Island in 2016. I planned to shut down The Comment at the end of the year. But with no news outlet after the two local papers ceased operations, I continued into 2017 with the support of Jen Baisch, a city resident, for the election year.
Meeting Miki when he took a deep dive into the city’s traffic concurrency issues that summer, our relationship evolved. Still wanting to withdraw from The Comment, Miki became the deputy editor in 2018 as I mentored him. The Comment continued its mission of being a government watchdog. Miki was tenacious. His investment in the community through The Comment was huge. Readers only saw the outcome. I had the inside look at his dedication.
In many ways, it was a thankless task. And without question, he, and The Comment, became a target of criticism and worse as Sammamish followed the downward trend in the national discourse of politics. Nevertheless, Miki displayed guts, courage and a dedication to reveal what needed to be revealed and daylight actions by the city and those who wanted to over-develop the city despite two decades of voters telling politicians and the city administration they don’t want unfettered growth.
Sammamish Comment is wrapping up after 18 years of volunteer work unless someone steps forward to succeed Miki, just as he succeeded me. There won’t be an outlet dedicated to being a government watchdog. Sammamish needs one.
I thank Miki for carrying on the tradition of The Comment. Sammamish citizens should, too.
Founder of Sammamish Comment