Intervention badly needed for Sammamish city council

By Scott Hamilton, Editor

Editor’s Note: This column was drafted the week before last. The plan was to publish once the final traffic concurrency and building moratorium votes were taken, anticipated in November. But this weekend, Council Member Pam Stuart launched a highly personal, accusatory attack on Mayor Christie Malchow on Facebook. Stuart brought into the attack indirect reference to Malchow’s children, a political verboten that goes to the presidency of the United states. Thus, I made the decision to publish this column today.

The Sammamish city council badly needs an intervention. Residents have serious cause for concern with the dysfunctional, bitterly split ruling body.

The divisions and in-fighting are the worst seen since before incorporation.

Initially, the council split into two factions: The “new V-3” (Ramiro Valderrama, Jason Ritchie and Pam Stuart, odd bedfellows if there ever were any) and the “M-4” (Christie Malchow, Tom Hornish, Chris Ross and Karen Moran).

Ritchie coined the terms. (The old V-3 were Valderrama, Malchow and Hornish. The latter two split with Valderrama over his 180 degree flip-flops on environmental and development issues and his persistent distortion of facts and outright falsehoods he makes to advance his positions.)

For a while, even this split broke down. It became 2-2-3. Malchow and Hornish remained staunch allies. Moran and Ross became unpredictable votes, flip-flopping on the same issue between the M-2 and the V-3. The V-3 by-and-large remain a solid voting bloc.

More recently, the 4-3 split reemerged. The infighting is worse than ever. It’s not clear that it won’t get worse. Continue reading “Intervention badly needed for Sammamish city council”

King County nears adoption of “unlawful,” “secret” tax

  • Fees on utilities will be passed on to consumers
  • Affects only those in unincorporated King County
  • Adds up to $300 per year to utility bills.
  • County Council, staff action done “below the radar.”
  • Final public hearing Dec. 7, followed by vote to adopt.
  • Kathy Lambert, Council representative including Sammamish, Issaquah, co-sponsored.
Kathy Lambert, co-sponsor of a bill labeled “unlawful” that would impose a new tax on unincorporated King County households. Photo via Google images.

The King County Council is poised to adopt an ordinance intended to “coerce” utility companies and water and sewer districts into franchise fees to use street rights-of-way in order to raise millions of dollars in fees for the County’s general fund.

The problem—and there are many—is that the ordinance and use of funds is unlawful under state statutes, says a coalition of water districts that issued a press release today.

Continue reading “King County nears adoption of “unlawful,” “secret” tax”

Valderrama cites fake facts in Town Center moratorium flip-flop

Ramiro Valderrama

Sammamish City Council Member Ramiro Valderrama, citing what turns out to be a series of unsubstantiated claims, executed a pirouette on his previous vote supporting a moratorium including the Town Center—and went splat.

The Town Center was exempted from the moratorium at the Nov. 21 meeting by a 4-3 vote, with Valderrama, Mayor Bob Keller and Council Members Don Gerend and Kathy Huckabay voting to lift it.

Valderrama said his vote always was about storm water management for the Town Center. In voting to exempt the Town Center, Valderrama claimed the emergency moratorium was not about traffic concurrency.

This simply wasn’t true.

Continue reading “Valderrama cites fake facts in Town Center moratorium flip-flop”

Primary precinct voting analysis for Sammamish

The precinct analysis of the August 1 primary in Sammamish yielded few surprises, but it gives the City its first look at how the Greater Klahanie area votes.

Klahanie was annexed into Sammamish in January 2015, but the City Council executed the annexation in two basic steps: the legal one, in January, but the “political” annexation came too late for the area to vote in the November 2015 City Council elections.

City officials said there was just too much to do to accomplish the political annexation sooner. Critics believed some officials didn’t want Klahanie voting in what was anticipated to be a close election for some candidates.

Regardless, the residents voted this time—though not in great numbers.

Continue reading “Primary precinct voting analysis for Sammamish”

County, State, water district elections for Sammamish

Filings for candidates for the November election ended Friday. There are races other than those for Sammamish City Council of local interest.

King County Council

Kathy Lambert

As expected, incumbent Kathy Lambert filed for reelection to the District 3 seat of the King County Council. Sammamish is part of District 3.

Former Sammamish Mayor Tom Vance in March filed the necessary paperwork with the Public Disclosure Commission (PDC) to challenge Lambert, but in the end, he did not file the required documents to become a candidate.

Instead, John Murphy of North Bend filed to challenge Lambert. Continue reading “County, State, water district elections for Sammamish”

New taxes, debt appear inevitable in Sammamish

 

utilities-sammamish

Sammamish cash coffers will decline by 73% during the next two years, from $62m to $17m, as expenditures exceed revenues in the 2017-18 budget.

With major road projects being considered, and even without them, new taxes and/or debt seems to be inevitable.

The City Council last year approved the budget without any new taxes or debt, going into this year’s Council elections in November.

But forgoing new revenue means a burst of new taxes seems likely to stave off the so-called cross-over point when the City looks at a cash deficit. The current projection is that the crossover point will occur in 2020, according to the finance section in the Council packet, which may be found here.

Finances will be a part of the Council’s annual retreat, which begins Thursday night and continues through noon Saturday at the Murano Hotel in Tacoma. Finances are slated for discussion Saturday morning.

Continue reading “New taxes, debt appear inevitable in Sammamish”

Looking ahead in Sammamish for 2017, Part 2

City_of_SammamishThe Sammamish City Council faces several key issues ahead this year.

Many will be discussed at the annual retreat Jan. 19-21 at the Hotel Murano in Tacoma. It’s open to the public.

Here, in alphabetical order, is a list of the major issues facing the Sammamish City Council this year. It probably isn’t a comprehensive list and events may cause new issues to emerge and some of these to drop off.

Continue reading “Looking ahead in Sammamish for 2017, Part 2”