Ron Haworth dies

Ron Haworth

Ron Haworth, one of the original Sammamish City Council members and later a deputy mayor, died today unexpectedly of complications following heart surgery.

Haworth served on the Council from 1999 through 2002. He was elected in 1999 following a career as a fire fighter and chief on the Eastside.

A staunch conservative, his demeanor was crusty and sometimes curmudgeonly, but he had an impish smile and a twinkle in his eye that revealed a softer inner-self.

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Sammamish electeds have history of using private email accounts

Special Report: (10 pages when printed.)

  • 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.

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Forgetting who you’re serving at the Sammamish City Council

All too often, elected officials forget who they were elected to serve. This unfortunately is the case with some on the Sammamish City Council.

Artwork via Google images.

During the course of this year, Sammamish Comment chronicled a number of important issues in which the Council and the City Administration practiced benign neglect. In many cases, individual Council Members have pursued personal agenda, played follow the leader or blamed citizens for being whiners or misunderstanding what they are supposed to understand.

These attitudes are why Washington D.C. and Olympia (WA) are so dysfunctional and failing to serve the peoples’ interest in pursuit of their own. It’s why Sammamish citizens voted to incorporate in 1998: to get out from under an unresponsive King County government that ignored our wishes and needs.

Certainly being our own City proved far more beneficial than being under the King County Council. We have roads and parks we weren’t going to get under the County rule. We have community events, notably our Fourth of July, Sammamish Nights and similar activities we’d never get under King County.

But the City is letting citizens down in a number of areas due to the benign neglect and personal agendas referenced above. For example:

Skipping the Cascadia Rising earthquake drill

There are a lot of things in government that fall within the category of “What were you thinking?”

Skipping the Cascadia Rising earthquake drill tops the list.

The Sammamish Comment revealed October 5 that the City skipped the sign-up deadline last year to participate in a regional Cascadia Rising earthquake preparedness drill that outlines a scenario of a 7.2 magnitude earthquake hitting Sammamish. (The scenario’s epicenter is the Cascadia Subduction Fault off the Washington coastline, with a 9.0 epicenter magnitude.)

Sammamish had no plans to participate. Until after The Comment began making inquiries.

This is a huge public safety issue. This is the worst example of benign neglect yet by our City and City Council. Read the details here.

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Sammamish Initiative and Referendum effective

  • 37 of 47 precincts approve the Initiative and Referendum.
  • All precincts where Council Members and Candidates for Council live approved I&R.
  • City and certain Council Members engaged in secret campaign against the vote and to undermine information.

The power of Initiative and Referendum became effective in Sammamish yesterday.

Hary Shedd 2
Harry Shedd, chairman of Citizens for Sammamish, led the charge to get the Sammamish City Council to adopt the Initiative and Referendum.

When the City was incorporated in 1999, the power of I&R wasn’t included in the City charter. Omission was claimed by City officials a decade and a half later to have been an oversight, but Karen Moran and Di Irons, two citizens involved in the incorporation at the time, said City officials deliberately left the power out.

Regardless, Citizens for Sammamish, a grass roots group chaired by Harry Shedd, pressed the current City Council last year to adopt an ordinance granting the power. The Council refused, with a majority simply opposed to giving Sammamish voters the right to I&R. Shedd continued his crusade and in January this year, the Council agreed at its retreat to put the issue to a non-binding Advisory vote. It later set April 28 as the election date.

Although a majority of the Council informally said at the retreat they would honor the outcome of the Advisory vote, and later officially said they would remain neutral, in fact the City and several Council members engaged in a stealth campaign to defeat the I&R, sow confusion, disseminate misinformation and suppress information and ultimately voting.

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Two Council Members voted against advancing the I&R to an enabling ordinance after the Advisory vote passed by a 55.5%-44.5% margin: Deputy Mayor Kathy Huckabay and Member Tom Odell.

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The City’s stealth campaign against Citizens for Sammamish, leader Shedd

Hary Shedd 2
Harry Shedd, chairman of Citizens for Sammamish and the driver behind the vote to give Sammamish citizens the right of Initiative and Referendum.
  • Vote in our poll on whether Sammamish residents should have the right to Initiative and Referendum. Click here to go to the post.
  • Vote in our first pre-general election poll on the Favorability/Unfavorability ratings of the incumbents, Tom Vance, Ramiro Valderrama and Nancy Whitten. Click here to go to the post.

This investigative report is more than 4,400 words and is best read when printed out.

The City of Sammamish is quietly engaged in a stealth campaign against the Citizens of Sammamish (CFS), attempting to deny the group locations for meetings, persuade groups to oppose the Initiative, stifle discussions at community groups, and limit information about the Initiative in the City’s newsletter, an investigation reveals.

Long considered an irritant and a “complainers” group, which was nonetheless tolerated and largely ignored by the City, the stealth campaign to deny CFS a meeting place began this year after its chairman Harry Shedd, was successful in backing the City Council into a corner to put an Advisory Vote on the April 28 ballot for City voters to tell the City Council if the right to Initiative and Referendum should be adopted for the City.

Deputy Mayor Kathy Huckabay is quietly driving the effort. Huckabay has been trying to deny CFS use of the Boys & Girls Club (B&GC)   from future meetings. The B&GC building is at Ingelwood Hill Road and 228th Ave. Northeast, is owned by the City, leased to B&GC. Huckabay met with the firefighters union to evict CFS from the Eastside Fire & Rescue Station #82 at 1851 228th Ave. NE, Sammamish, WA 98075. CFS typically meets at Station 82 on the first Monday of the month. It rented a room at the B&GC in February to kick off its campaign for a Yes vote for the Advisory ballot. It was shortly after this meeting that efforts began its efforts to bar CFS at B&GC and Station 82.

Council Member Tom Odell filed a complaint against Shedd and CFS with the State and the County over required filings and financial disclosures and raised the prospect of removing a planning commissioner for participating in a Girl Scout event that discussed the Initiative.

Summary

EF&R firefighters zero in on Sammamish ‘closed’ meetings, but city officials say EF&R officials held closed meetings, too

Firefighters of the Eastside Fire & Rescue District appear to be laying the case to sue the City of Sammamish for allegedly holding closed meetings when a city council appointed committee studied whether Sammamish should leave EF&R and create its own fire department.

The Sammamish Reporter has this story. The firefighters union include Sammamish Comment in its press release and documentation.

Press Release: 012314 Case builds against Sammamish officials in violating OPMA

The emails included with the press release were highly selective, and certainly indicate city officials were cognizant of the emails and data being subject to public scrutiny. It’s also clear from these highly selected emails that the city officials wanted to keep these emails and documents out of public hands.

One of the issues that emerged during public meetings was the lack of public participation and process throughout the time when the study was going on and how the city reached its decision. Certainly legal issues could be cloaked in Executive Sessions of the city council. But the process in how conclusions and decisions were reached had to stand up to public scrutiny, and the city fell down on this score.

There is another issue, however.

While the EF&R union accuses Sammamish of violating the Open Meetings Act, some city officials say the EF&R District officials also held closed-door meetings as they negotiated with Sammamish over altering the agreement that outlines the operation, funding and governance of EF&R.

The EF&R Board, led by an arrogant Issaquah, for years had refused to adjust the funding formula that placed an unfair burden on Sammamish taxpayers. Our city basically was left with no choice but to play hardball. I’m glad that in the end an accord was reached adjusting the funding, but I also supported the plan to leave EF&R if it wasn’t.

Other than making a point, I don’t know what the union’s activities hope to accomplish: Sammamish didn’t leave EF&R, a seven year agreement was reached and it’s time to move on.

If the EF&R wants to continue this feud, then I suggest Sammamish tackle the alleged backroom, smoke-filled rooms that appear to have permeated EF&R. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.

 

Attention turns to Sammamish tonight on EF&R issue

Sammamish City Manager Ben Yacizi is supposed to give his recommendation whether to leave the Eastside Fire and Rescue consortium tonight at the city council meeting. He is expected to endorse forming Sammamish’s own fire department.

But there is a new twist.

The Eastside Professional Fire Fighters last week offered to pay up to $10,000 for a professional mediator for Sammamish and Issaquah to resolve differences over the funding and other issues. Although EF&R is made up of five entities, Issaquah is the leader in opposing a funding change that Sammamish wants, in order to save our taxpayers $440,000 a year.

I’ve learned that EPFF has received some positive response from Issaquah to the prospect of a mediator, which was my suggestion to Sammamish at its council meeting last week, and which EPFF acted upon.

There is also some movement on the part of EF&R members to adjust the funding formula, which could render moot the need for a mediator or for Sammamish to leave EF&R.

What impact these developments will have on Yacizi’s recommendation remains to be seen. The City Council plans to make a decision November 12.

The fire issue is the last damn thing on the agenda tonight.

The Council meeting begins at 6:30pm and is televised on Comcast Channel 21. It is streamed live on the city website as well.

Issaquah issued this statement on Tuesday saying it wants Sammamish to stay in EF&R.