Council Members routinely used private email accounts for City-related business.
Expansive Public Records Request during 2015 Council elections brought issue to fore.
One Council Member, acting as a private citizen, demanded emails on private account from another Council Member.
The City Attorney, paid for by tax dollars, became de facto attorney for the “private citizen” Council Member.
Two Council Members subsequently failed to produce emails from their private accounts.
One of the two Council Members failed to produce emails from her private account again in 2016 pursuant to a PRR.
Hillary Clinton’s email was a story that wouldn’t die in the presidential campaign, dogging her right through the Nov. 8 election.
The City of Sammamish has its own problems over emails. Council members routinely used private emails for city business and when it comes to complying with the Washington State law for Public Records Requests (PRR), some members aren’t always forthcoming with documents.
One City Council Member was explicit that a controversial topic should be discussed using private emails to avoid public disclosures through City emails.
The City Attorney’s position on compliance in responding to Public Records Requests appears inconsistent.
The issue is about transparency in government and complying with the law.
Requirements to hand over emails from personal accounts is well established in Washington State. A Bainbridge Island case is illustrative. See here and here.
A legal battle may be brewing between Issaquah and Eastside Fire & Rescue over damages to Issaquah drinking wells from highly toxic chemicals the city’s consultants say originated with the EF&R.
Issaquah has a conflict of interest and the City of Sammamish may also if Issaquah seeks damages from EF&R.
Two wells that provide drinking water for Issaquah residents were shut down briefly this summer from contamination of PFOS and PFOA, two toxic chemicals detected in the wells. The levels of toxicity were above Environmental Protection Agency standards.
Issaquah rushed to spend at least $1m to lease a filtering system to cleanse the water. The wells have been reactivated. Additional costs for consulting services continue.
Sammamish Plateau Water detected the chemicals at levels well below the EPA standards in nearby wells after conducting its own tests and hiring a consultant to assist.
Issaquah issued a press release yesterday in which it said the city and EF&R are working together to “further investigate potential sources of these PFCs.”
The city is cash-strapped and will likely make a claim against EF&R, Sammamish Comment is told.
Two members of the Issaquah City Council are on the board of EF&R, establishing a conflict of interest if Issaquah makes a claim for damages.
Two Sammamish city council members are on the EF&R board and a third is on the EF&R finance committee. Sammamish gets its fire service from EF&R, with taxpayers paying for this service. Sammamish City Council members thus could also be put into a position of a conflict of interest.
With two members of the EF&R board in a clear conflict of interest and two more in a potential conflict, the seven member fire board could be deprived of a quorum to decide how to settle any claim.
After the first City Council election for the new Sammamish, the task of creating a new city was enormous.
The City Council had to select its leadership and committees for key “needs,” such as transportation. Ordinances had to be created. Contracts for essential services had to be negotiated. An interim City Manager and staff had to be hired. Eventually a Comprehensive Plan would have to be written. A temporary City Hall had to be located, no small task in a community with no business complexes. A place to hold City Council meetings had to be identified.
And these are just some of the priority issues.
One of the top issues, the reason for incorporating in the first place, was to put a halt to the runaway development.
Although votes are still being counted and the election results won’t be certified until Nov. 24, Christie Malchow and Tom Hornish have been elected to the Sammamish City Council; their Election Night margins were too great for Mark Cross and Tom Vance to overcome. Their vote tallies have only increased each day additional votes have been tabulated.
So the questions become, What’s next? What’s next for the balance of 2015 in what is now a lame duck period of the City Council, and What’s next in 2016?