Update, Nov. 5: Council Member Whitten issued this statement to us late today in response to our question to her, “Did you really say this?”
Partly right and partly not. I said I had strongly supported a vote and that I had always thought I would regard it as binding. I differentiated between extremely negative campaigning funded largely by someone self-interested in the outcome and something more, potentially constituting incorrect statements of alleged fact. I also made it clear I was not in any way able to form a personal opinion at this time, and any such determination would need to have a careful review etc. If an advisory election is won unfairly — not just by extremely negative campaigning, but rather e.g., in circumstances supporting a stronger conclusion of misconduct, I don’t think it should necessarily be binding. That could mean a lot of things, e.g. a new election would only be one option etc. I am anticipating the majority of the community wants a community / aquatic center and will vote accordingly, and then the quesion of whether or not the advisory vote should be obviated by misconduct would be moot.
The Sammamish Patch had this story about the Community Center and fears by the City Council that voters are getting misinformation about Proposition 1 and the deal with the YMCA. (Yet another reason putting this to the vote was a dumb idea.)
Council Member Nancy Whitten said, according to the article, this:
And Councilwoman Nancy Whitten said she’s concerned enough about the misinformation that if she feels, after the election, that people were misled enough to result in a negative response, that she would not consider the advisory vote valid.
“It struck me that some of them are clearly incorrect, the total perspective is that they are extremely negative by someone who has a financial interest,” Whitten said, adding that the advisory vote is just that, advisory, and if she believes it’s been unduly influenced by inaccurate information, she won’t feel bound by it.
How in the world will Whitten conclude voters were mislead enough to conclude the advisory vote is invalid?
We agree some of the information put out there is clearly wrong and biased, but unfortunately that’s what political campaigning has become. Having decided they wanted an advisory vote, the City Council has to sleep in the bed it made. This was the risk it took and as my previous post detailing why this was a dumb idea in the first place demonstrated, there could be all kinds of reasons people vote against this Proposition and most of them have nothing to do with “someone who has a financial interest.”
Although this “someone” is not a resident of Sammamish (as one Council Member complained in another newspaper), he is a corporate citizen of Sammamish. As such, is view is as valid to express as much as the next vested interest.
For example, the City has said no new taxes will be “required” in its public statements. But in the legal language of the Proposition, it says no new taxes are “expected.” These have two very different meanings, and one can easily argue the City is being misleading in its marketing statements vs its legal language.
Note to Whitten: I opposed this because there should have been a Request for Proposals issued. Maybe the Y deal is the best deal, but without an RFP, we’ll never know. I can see past the negative campaigning of “someone with a financial interest.” I don’t buy into the thesis that this is a “gift” to the YMCA. I can see the City owns the building and the Y gets a management contract. I think it highly unlikely any other entity would put up $5m for a building it doesn’t own, add $1m in equipment and personnel and lease seven acres to the City at $1 a year. I get that.
I also get that this Community Center is far more than “just another health club” competing with private interests. See this post.
At the same time, I don’t like members of our City Council blithely dismissing voters as stupid. Michele Petitti did that once and got her head handed to her. Whitten’s statement falls in this same realm.