A text message from David Rudat, the former Sammamish city manager, to Christie Malchow, at the time the deputy mayor, directing her to delete emails subject to public records requests surfaced this week while Malchow responded to a more recent public record request.
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.