I am writing to opine about the political games currently being played out by City Councilpersons Bernheim, Buckshnis, Fraley-Monillas, Plunkett and Orvis (“The Five Horsemen”) and the purchase of the Skipper’s property. I will talk about each one in turn below.
Secret Meeting. The Five Horsemen, led by Mr. Plunkett, have spent an inordinate amount of time attacking Mr. Wilson for a “secret meeting” that took place between three Council members (Mr. Berhnheim, Ms. Buckshnis, and Mr. Wilson), the Washington State Department of Transportation, and the Port of Edmonds. Let’s get the facts straight here.
The “secret meeting” was not a secret at all. The Five Horsemen have lied. The Council appointed Mr. Bernheim, Ms. Buckshnis and Mr. Wilson to attend a planned meeting to gather information to present to the City Council. Not to make a decision, but to support further work by the Council on options for the waterfront.
Mr. Wilson prepared a presentation to give to the Council. In order to get on the Council’s agenda, the president of the Council, Mr. Bernheim, called a vote. The Council unanimously voted to put the presentation on the agenda. There was nothing done in secret. If the Council did not feel that the public was given appropriate notice about the presentation, they could have tabled it for another time. Ask yourselves why this did not happen.
Mr. Plunkett has indicated the Mr. Wilson is making a move to increase building heights on the waterfront. For those familiar with Edmonds politics, this is evidence that Mr. Plunkett has now started campaigning for Mayor.
Even if Mr. Wilson did want tall buildings, it could not happen under the current zoning laws. This would require public hearings, review, and a Council vote. So, what’s the hysteria about?
Skippers Property. The Skippers property has the potential to be a monumental location in our town. My father always told me that land is a good investment. However, I cannot support the purchase of that property today. Let’s take a minute to review the facts.
The City’s finances are in flux, to put it mildly. Last year, budget shortfalls were made up by City workers taking unpaid furlough days. The City is in the process of renegotiating Union contracts now, and Mr. Plunkett is arguing that City workers should take unpaid days again so the City will have extra money in its budget — just like last year. Most of us are not independently wealthy. I know I could not afford to take an unpaid day off from work. Is it fair to ask our City Employees to do it again?
Edmonds has a self-funded health insurance policy for our firefighters from years ago. This insurance policy is about $8 million underfunded. And, we are still talking about a Levy to fund basic needs.
I would like to see the town own the Skippers property too. But, I just don’t understand where the money is coming from. Neither do the Five Horsemen.
Conclusion. I’m a lawyer. I deal in facts, not in emotion.
The facts tell me that there was no “secret meeting” to bring taller buildings to the waterfront. Focusing on this is distracting from the real money issues. The chair of the Finance Committee (Mr. Plunkett) benefits from this distraction.
The facts tell me that, at this time, we cannot afford the Skippers Property without going further into debt or risking bankruptcy.