April 26, 2022: Some on the Sammamish City Council just don’t get it. Mayor Christie Malchow and Member Karen Moran sure don’t.
Members Amy Lam, Kali Clark, and Karen Howe get it, especially Howe. Howe provided an eloquent argument for why the Rudat ethics investigative reports should be made public. She is providing leadership that is, sadly, absent from Mayor Malchow, who now flip-flops her votes. She did so twice in last week’s meeting.
Sammamish Comment has written much about the Rudat probe and why the reports of his misdeeds should be made public. We won’t repeat these long details. Last Tuesday’s city council meeting brings up new issues in the debate over releasing the reports.
April 20, 2022: The Sammamish City Council deadlocked in two more votes this week on the release of the reports of the ethics investigation of former City Manager David Rudat.
Votes were taken Tuesday on two motions; each failed on a 3-3 deadlock.
Council Member Amy Lam moved to release the report with certain redactions. Mayor Christie Malchow offered an amendment to release the report, under attorney-client privilege, only to the council members. Malchow voted against this motion on April 5, which failed in a 3-3 vote. Offering the same motion this week represents a flip-flop by Malchow. The amendment failed on a 3-3 vote, with Malchow, Deputy Mayor Kali Clark and Council Member voting in favor. Lam voted with Members Kent Treen and Karen Moran in opposing this motion. Lam’s flip from the April 5th vote defeated Malchow’s amendment.
On Lam’s main motion, Lam, Howe and Clark voted in favor of releasing a redacted report. Malchow flipped again and once more sided with Treen and Moran against releasing the report, even in a redacted form. Treen and Moran were opposed to the ethics probe all along and continue to oppose any release of the reports to the public. Only an executive summary has been released.
Malchow under pressure
Malchow has been under pressure throughout the ethics probe, first as the leading proponent of initiating the probe while deputy mayor and when the vote came to fire or suspend Rudat. The council rejected the former on a 2-5 vote (only former Council Members Tom Odell and Pam Stuart supported firing him); and the on a vote to suspend him, which received a majority of the council votes.
Subsequently as mayor, Malchow provided the swing vote to block release of the reports. During Tuesday’s meeting, Malchow admitted she’s been under pressure and the strain was obvious. She said she was on the fence about releasing the reports, then split her votes in favor and then rejecting release. Malchow wants to “move on” from the controversy, but Howe said this won’t happen until the reports are released. Moran feared a lawsuit by result from release and said her role, among others, is to “protect the city.” Howe rejected this reasoning, saying if a lawsuit resulted, so be it.
Malchow questioned releasing the report detailed why Rudat was let go and all the dirty laundry surrounding the move.
The 15 minute discussion and debate with worth watching for the impassioned discussion and debate. The video is below.
April 12, 2022: Sammamish Mayor Christie Malchow, who is now the swing vote on the city council, voted on April 5 to block the release of the full investigation of the Rudat ethics investigation to fellow city council members.
Make no mistake: Malchow is now the only vote blocking release of the reports to the public and to her fellow council members.Her’s is the only vote between transparency and continuing the cover-up.
It’s a disappointing evolution of Malchow, who was first elected in 2015 and reelected in 2019. For the first three years in office, Malchow made transparency a hallmark of her service. She skillfully used Facebook to inform Sammamish citizens about events and issues. Malchow was tenacious about the issues she cared about. She was incredibly detail-oriented. At one point, Malchow took a ruler to measure the width of a street shoulder to cross-check staff’s data for traffic concurrency. She proved the staff was using incorrect data.
However, in the next three years through today, Malchow’s presence on Facebook diminished considerably. The target of an obvious campaign of attacks by her opponents and by supporters of former City Manager David Rudat, some of Malchow’s fellow council members say she’s been cowed by these attacks. More disturbing, during the past three years, Malchow announced positions or initiatives that she later backed off from or even flip-flopped over. Most notably, Malchow was a leader in initiating an ethics investigation into Rudat and was known to favor firing him. But when it came to a vote last November, only council members Tom Odell and Pam Stuart voted to do so. Council Member Chris Ross had flipped from favoring firing Rudat to suspending him. Malchow followed suit. Fellow council members said Malchow got cold feet because of an aggressive campaign by Rudat supporters. Others believe Malchow counted the votes and abandoned her position to fire Rudat in favor of suspension. Malchow says she read the investigative report—the same one she blocked from giving to the three new council members—and concluded suspension was warranted instead.
Whatever the story, it is true that Malchow is a careful vote counter and rather than sticking to her principles will instead modify her vote to avoid being on the losing end of some key issues.
April 11, 2022: Sammamish Mayor Christie Malchow, who is the swing vote on whether to release the ethics investigation report about former City Manager David Rudat, is now firmly in the camp of keeping the report secret.
Malchow, whose first term in office heavily focused on transparency, is the key vote in covering up the details of the ethics probe that cost Sammamish more than $300,000 to Rudat in severance pay, a golden parachute, benefits and legal costs.
Why? Malchow says, “What I did not verbalize at the vote was I’m trying to look forward, not backward. It is critical this Council be forward thinking for the benefit of our residents and the staff that serve them. We have a new city manager position to fill, staff to provide some stability to, and if we are looking in the rear view mirror constantly, how will we assist ourselves in filling that city manager void and how can we possibly move forward to get city business accomplished for our residents?”
News Flash to the Sammamish City Council and to Mayor Malchow: Until the ethics report is released, this story won’t be relegated to the past.