March 14, 2022: Another complaint to the Washington State Attorney General’s Office over Sammamish’s delays in responding to Public Records Request (PRRs) has surfaced.
The complaint, filed February 4, asked for help from the AG’s office to spur Sammamish to respond to PRRs in a timely manner. When contacted by Sammamish Comment, the complainant asked for anonymity out of fear of adverse social media response from “the peanut gallery.” Responses to PRRs fall under the City Clerk’s office, who reports to City Manager Dave Rudat.
March 11, 2022: A complaint was filed this week with State Attorney General Bob Ferguson over the City of Sammamish investigation of City Manager David Rudat and the refusal to release the full investigative reports sought by multiple parties under the Public Records Act.
Former Council Member Tom Odell filed the complaint, dated March 3. It was received by the AG’s office this week.
Odell filed his complaint days before the City Attorney finally responded March 9 to a Public Records Request (PRR) filed by The Sammamish Comment on November 19, 2021, seeking the full reports. (See this story.) Odell is likely to file an amendment or supplement to his complaint in the coming days.
“I think the reports should be released quickly irrespective of the damage it may cause in other quarters,” Odell told The Comment on March 9. “Obviously some people are reluctant to have this put out for some reason. I won’t speculate as to why.” However, it is believed by some that there is politically damaging information to Council Members Karen Moran and Kent Treen. Supporters of Rudat also have charged that all members of the 2019-2021 City Council except Pam Stuart leaked privileged information from Executive Sessions to Michael Scoles, a vociferous critic of Christie Malchow. All of these council members except Moran denied they leaked information when asked this week. Moran did not respond to The Comment’s question.
Odell, commenting on the City Attorney’s refusal to release the reports, said there is a compelling public interest to override claims of exemption from PRRs. The taxpayers and citizens of Sammamish have a right to know what has consumed so much of the Council’s time over the past year.
Malchow, the current mayor, had no comment to Sammamish Comment when asked if she thought releasing the reports was in the public interest of the taxpayers and citizens of the city.
March 9, 2022: The City of Sammamish just advised it will not produce the 44-page and 88-page reports of its investigation of City Manager David Rudat, citing attorney-client privilege and work product.
Sammamish Comment sought the full reports under the State’s Public Records Act. The Comment submitted its request in November. It’s taken nearly four months to respond to the PRR.
March 1, 2022: The Sammamish City Council voted 4-2 to enter into a separation agreement effective March 31 for the resignation of city manager David Rudat.
Rudat will get severance pay as outlined in his contract plus another six months of pay and benefits. He will also get a letter outlining his accomplishments in return for a release of all his claims against the city.
Christie Malchow, Amy Lam, Kali Clark and Karen Howe voted to adopt the settlement agreement. Karen Moran and Ken Treen voted against it.
US District Judge Marsha Pechman issued a preliminary injunction prohibiting the city of Sammamish from deleting citizens’ comments on its Facebook page. The injunction was issued in the course of the First Amendment lawsuit filed against the city by three citizens.
“Plaintiffs have demonstrated the likelihood of success on the merits of their First Amendment claim [lawsuit],” Pechman wrote in her ruling. “Accordingly, the Court GRANTS the Motion [for a preliminary injunction] and hereby ENJOINS Defendants [the City and its communication manager, Celia Wu] from enforcing its rule prohibiting comments that are ‘not related to the particular article being commented’ for the pendency of this litigation.” (Capitalization in the source.)