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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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.


Last minute EF&R breakthrough keeps Sammamish in, pending approval

A last minute breakthrough in funding arrangement for the Eastside Fire and Rescue changed the recommendation from Ben Yacizi, city manager of Sammamish, from “get out” to “stay in.”

But Issaquah has to sign off on the funding agreement, as do other members of EF&R, and it ratified by January 17 or Sammamish could still bolt.

The Sammamish Review has an extensive write-up.

Why Klahanie annexation, water fight matter to Sammamish

This is the “Sammamish Comment.” So why am I spending so much time on a water fight between Issaquah and the Sammamish Plateau Water and Sewer District and the proposed annexation by Issaquah of Klahanie?

Because of the impacts on Sammamish, which could be profound.

The water fight and the annexation are the crescendo of long-running disputes between Sammamish and Issaquah, in which Issaquah has basically stiff-armed Sammamish at nearly every turn–most notably years-long efforts to adjust the financial contributions of the many partners in the Eastside Fire and Rescue (EFR) service.

Sammamish, by assessed value of the homes and land, pays the largest share into EFR. But Issaquah generates more calls. By Sammamish’s analysis, Issaquah should be paying about $500,000 a year more than it is based on the actual calls.

Issaquah refuses to adjust. Relations between Sammamish and Issaquah have reached a breaking point. Sammamish will decide soon whether to withdraw from EFR and form its own fire department or possibly even an alliance with Redmond.

Sammamish might close “Klahanie” fire station

Sammamish has warned that if Klahanie annexes to Issaquah, Station 83, more commonly known as the Klahanie fire station–which is owned by Sammamish and located at SE 32nd and Issaquah-Pine Lake Road–may be closed. Issaquah, according to our information from Sammamish, has already told our leaders it won’t buy the station.

This didn’t stop the Issaquah police chief from telling Klahanie residents that he could co-locate a police sub-station at the Klahanie fire station, a comment that came as a surprise to Sammamish officials.

Issaquah’s arrogance over EFR matters–and the continued unfair financial burden Sammamish taxpayers have because of Issaquah–is an issue unto itself but it’s also tied to the Klahanie annexation.

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Time has come to form own fire department

The front page story in the Sammamish Report January 28 that the Eastside Fire & Rescue is prepared to create a new taxing authority to expand EF&R is the final straw in long-running disagreements between Sammamish and EF&R over the direction and fiscal responsibilities of the district.

The disagreements have been well covered by the Sammamish Reporter, the Sammamish Review and the City’s own newsletter and won’t be recounted here. Suffice it to say that Sammamish believes EF&R hasn’t been as cost-conscious as it should be, particularly during the recent national economic crisis, and that ambitions to annex other fire districts (notably the area at Snoqualmie Pass) means more cost to Sammamish taxpayers with no additional benefit.

The City’s own studies about costs have been previously disputed by members of the EF&R board, who at one point labeled the Sammamish City Council a bunch of “rascals.” This characterization may or may not be true, but certainly not in this case. Our “rascals” are spot-on.

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