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.
April 5, 2022: Mayor Christie Malchow, the swing vote, blocked a motion by Council Member Karen Howe for the entire council to receive an unredacted copy of the final reports of the ethics investigation of former city manager David Rudat.
Malchow, who was key to initiating the probe, sided with Council Members Kent Treen and Karen Moran, who opposed approving an investigation. Malchow, who voted to suspend Rudat and later a separation agreement, did not explain her vote.
March 15, 2022: The Sammamish City Council owes its citizens a full and transparent accounting of the Dave Rudat mess. In fact, there is an overriding public interest to do so.
There is a cover-up that is keeping all the sordid details out of public view. The Settlement Agreement approved on a 4-2 vote in which Rudat, the City Manager, receives an estimated $300,000 golden parachute raises questions whether the council entered into the agreement to cover up charges by Rudat’s supporters of malfeasance on the part of most of the previous council. Six of the seven members of the previous council—Christie Malchow, Chris Ross, Ken Gamblin, Kent Treen, Pam Stuart, and Tom Odell—deny the accusations. Karen Moran did not respond to Sammamish Comment’s inquiry.
Malchow, who was deputy mayor when the investigation of Rudat began and one of its chief supporters, is now mayor. She has mishandled this entire affair. The object of scathing criticism during the probe, fellow council members said she chickened out when it came to the first vote in November whether to fire Rudat or suspend him. Bowing to criticism, fellow council members said she counted the votes and realized she would not prevail—so rather than vote to fire Rudat, she supported suspension instead.
Malchow said the information presented to the council only supported the suspension.
But how is the public to know? The Sammamish taxpayers funded the hiring of two outside counsels to conduct the investigation and another to represent three minority council members who opposed the probe from the start. The total cost has not been tallied, but it is certainly in the tens of thousands of dollars, as the investigator alone charged the city more than $30,000, the agreement shows
Nov. 30, 2021: The fate of Sammamish City Manager David Rudat may rest with Amy Lam, the City Council’s newest member.
Lam was elected Nov. 2 to fill out the remaining term of Jason Ritchie, who resigned early this year. Tom Odell was appointed to fill the position until the election. Lam defeated planning commissioner Josh Amato. The election was certified Nov. 23, at which time Odell left the council.
Lam hasn’t been sworn in yet. If she isn’t by the city clerk before the Dec. 7 council meeting, the next one after the Thanksgiving holiday, she will be then.
And one of the first decision she faces is whether to vote to suspend Rudat for 30 days without pay for mishandling confidential information and for other transgressions.
After counting 95% of the ballots, Mayor Karen Moran won her re-election in a landslide, winning over 75% of the votes. Moran is also the only candidate in this election crossing the 10,000 vote count.
Also winning, in tight races, were Karen Howe, Kali Clark and Amy Lam.