March 29, 2022: The Sammamish City Council is meeting tonight for a special meeting. Council Member Karen Howe may reintroduce her motion for the release—to council members—of the “report” concerning the ethics investigation of City Manager David Rudat. This is the opportune time for the City Council to vote to waive the attorney-client privilege of the Rudat ethics investigation reports—both of them
Rudat and the city council agreed March 1 that he would resign effective March 31. A golden parachute of an estimated $300,000 was provided in exchange for Rudat’s releasing all claims against the city.
At the end of the March 15 council meeting, Howe moved to have an unredacted copy of the “report” provided to each council member. She asked that the copies be numbered. Before the motion could be voted on, Mayor Christie Malchow noted that the meeting ran long and procedurally, a vote was required to extend it. A vote to extend the meeting by 10 minutes failed on a 3-3 vote, with Malchow voting against it. The move effectively buried Howe’s motion.
Release both reports
Howe declined to respond afterward to Sammamish Comment’s question whether she will reintroduce the motion tonight.
If she does, it’s a good start—but it’s not enough. There are actually two reports. One is 44 pages; the other is 88. The 44-page report a short version of the longer 88-page paper. Both versions should be released. Howe did not specify in her March 15 motion which report, or both, was her intent.
Furthermore, the reports should be released to the public.
The Comment editorialized on March 15, in advance of that council meeting, that the two reports should be released to the public. And these should be unredacted. Following a 16 week delay to a Public Records Request by The Comment, the city said it will not release the reports due to attorney-client privilege. The city council can wave the privilege.
Since then, more events occurred making the overriding public interest even greater to release the reports.
First, The Comment reported March 21 that then-Mayor Karen Moran, then-Council Member Ken Gamblin and Member Kent Treen sought to delay action whether to fire or suspend Rudat until after the November 2 city council election. Moran was running for reelection and feared moving forward would hurt her chances. This politically-motivated action succeeded; the vote was delayed. Former Council Member Tom Odell complained for months that the “Three Ks” (Karen, Ken and Kent) were delaying the ethics probe throughout the summer and fall.
Next, The Comment reported on March 22 that Dave Rudat’s daughter, Stephanie Rudat, filed in King County Court for a protective order against Comment editor Miki Mullor. She sought an emergency order, which the court denied, finding no emergency. The court further found that Stephanie failed to provide a “preponderance of evidence” that any harassment occurred. A hearing date was set for March 9. Rudat failed to appear for this virtual court date. She has not submitted any evidence since then. Mullor filed his response on March 18. With it was a long exhibit that included his complaint to the city which started the ethics probe. The next court date is April 4.
Details are dribbling out
The inclusion of Mullor’s complaint to the city is the response to Stephanie Rudat’s petition reveals to the public for the first time what precipitated the ethics probe. It’s part of the ethics reports. Now that this, and other information, is dribbling into the public domain, releasing the reports, unredacted, to the Sammamish taxpayers is more important than ever.
Dave Rudat claimed the report exonerated him. Moran claims the report contains falsehoods. Six of the seven previous city council were accused of violating executive session protocol, one of the complaints against city manager Rudat. It’s been claimed that there is politically embarrassing information against Moran and Treen in the report, extreme enough that each may have to resign.
In the meantime, the City Council remains dysfunctional, golden parachutes are paid to fired city managers (Rudat isn’t the first one), taxpayer dollars are run-up in legal bills and severance pay and the city’s business grinds to a halt.
The only way to put all this to rest is to release both reports in unredacted form.
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