Edmonds Council president ‘overstepped authority’ but no charges in sign issue

1371
48
Edmonds City Council President Steve Bernheim with dog Rolf prior to spray painting over the word "No" on the Sunset Avenue sign Oct. 30.

The Snohomish County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office said it won’t charge Edmonds City Council President Steve Bernheim with a crime for removing one “No Dogs Allowed” sign and spray painting another along Sunset Avenue Oct. 30. “While Bernheim has  overstepped his authority, I don’t believe that a jury of his peers would convict him of either crime based on this conduct,” wrote county prosecutor Joan Cavagnaro.

In a press release issued the morning of Oct. 30, Bernheim had invited the media to a  “sign removal ceremony” on the west side of Sunset Avenue overlooking Puget Sound. Bernheim said that he was taking matters into his own hands because the council had voted April 20 to allow dogs into the park yet the signs remained, confusing the public. However, at a City Council meeting the following Tuesday, Nov. 1, the council officially approved the ordinance to allow the sign removal, and Councilmember D.J. Wilson criticized Bernheim for removing the signs prematurely, which prompted a citizen complaint and resulting police investigation.

My Edmonds News was the only news organization to cover the “sign removal ceremony,” and when we arrived Bernheim was walking his dog, Rolf, along the dirt pathway, carrying one of the “No Dogs Allowed” signs in a shopping bag, and expressing his frustration that it had taken so long for the city to remove the signs so that people could feel comfortable taking their dogs there. In the case of one sign that he didn’t have the proper tools to remove, Bernheim spray painted over the word “No” so that that sign read “Dogs in the Park.

After My Edmonds News left the event, Edmonds police received a call from a nearby resident reporting that a man was removing signs from the area. According to the written police report, the Edmonds police officer dispatched to the scene, Stephen Morrison, approached Bernheim and told him that police had been told that he “was possibly stealing street signs.”

“Bernheim immediately said that he was not,” Officer Morrison said. “I then pointed to the obvious metal street sign that was in his canvas bag, and asked him what that was,” Morrison wrote. “Bernheim said that he had found it ‘over there’ and then pointed me in the general direction of where the sign was missing from.”

“I then told Bernheim that was a city-owned street sign in his bag. Bernheim then informed me it was not. I then corrected him and said that it was.” Morrison said he removed the brown metal sign from the bag and showed it to Bernheim, noting that it was similar to the informational signs that are posted in throughout City of Edmonds parks. After discussing the matter further with Bernheim, Morrison said he placed the sign in the trunk of his patrol car and it was later booked into evidence at the police department.

Officer Morrison noted that the resident who originally called police to report the sign matter was contacted after the incident and said he didn’t actually see anyone removing the signs, but assumed that Bernheim removed it since he “was standing next to the post where the sign used to be and then saw it in his bag.”

Wilson said during the Nov. 1 council meeting that Bernheim’s sign removal was “a violation of the law as it existed,” since it occurred before Nov. 1, when the council officially approved the ordinance allowing dogs on the park pathway. In addition, Wilson noted during the meeting that Bernheim’s actions placed the Edmonds police chief in the uncomfortable position of deciding whether to refer a case involving the Edmonds City Council President to the Snohomish County Prosecutor. (Cavagnaro said in her report that police referred the case to her office “because it would create an appearance of conflict of interest for the city prosecutor to make a charging decision.”)

In the written decision not to file charges, Cavagnaro noted that to prove an allegation of theft, the city “would have to prove that Bernheim intended to deprive the city of the signs.”

“There is insufficient evidence of what Bernheim intended to do with the signs,” she wrote. “We cannot establish that he was not going to return it to the city’s sign shop.”

Regarding the spray painting, Cavagnaro also declined to file a charge of malicious mischief, which would require proving that Bernheim “damaged the signs with evil intent.”

“We have circumstantial evidence that Bernheim is the one who damaged the sign, but no admission by him and no witness to it,” Cavagnaro said. “Either he truly thought that he was correcting the sign to comport with the new code,” or he was “acting out of frustration” that city staff “were not executing the Council’s directive fast enough,” she added.

Following Wilson’ public criticism, Bernheim made his own statement to the council and the audience, insisting that the council actually approved the action to legalize leashed dogs on the west side of Sunset in April. He described the minutes as “the biggest bunch of baloney I’ve ever read coming out of this town. I think it’s legally false. We voted to open this up in April.”

“I’ve simply removed the signs,” Bernheim said. “I’ve done nothing wrong and I’m proud of everything I’ve done here.”

When contacted Monday morning about the police report and the prosecuting attorney’s decision not to file charges, Bernheim said he hadn’t seen either the report or the decision and wasn’t going to comment on them.  “I still believe, as the city attorney said, that bringing the matter back for the consent agenda ‘fell through the cracks’ in his office,” Bernheim said, referring to an email that City Attorney Scott Snyder had sent to Bernheim in late October regarding the delay in preparing an ordinance for the council’s approval.

“I did apologize to Steve for not alerting him that staff (former City Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services Director Brian McIntosh) had decided to combine park leash issues and that the revision that I had drafted immediately after the meeting would be delayed until that package came back to council,” Snyder said in an email Monday.

The “package” refers to four city parks — the Sunset Avenue overlook, plus Hickman, Haines Wharf and Hutt — that the council voted Nov. 1 to open up to dogs on leashes, and the opinion by staff that it would be more practical to remove the signs from all parks at the same time.

Bernheim called it “ridiculous” that it took the city so long to implement the council’s wishes for the Sunset Avenue overlook, and added that he would expect the mayor and the city attorney “to act more promptly to put into law acts of the city council, particularly in matters that are far more important than dogs.”

48 COMMENTS

  1. The city has really dragged its feet completing the strip park in front of Old Mill Town, so I guess its ok if a citizen just goes there and makes whatever changes they prefer.

  2. this to me just another case of who you are and what you are. It is opvious that he was not totally honest with the police officer. The least Mr. Bernheim should do is apologize to the police officer and the citizens of Edmonds for not being totally honest in his response to the police officer since he had announced he was going to remove the signs and maybe volunter to do some community service such as cleaning up dog po in the parks

  3. I don’t think Mr. Berheim should apologize. I think the bureaucrats responsible for delaying the implementation of a council directive should apologize. In fact, it looks like one bureaucrat has apologized already.

    Remember, the COUNCIL is elected by the public, not the bureaucrats. The COUNCIL is accountable to the people. Bureaucrats should NEVER have the ability to unilaterally stop council directives.

    Those signs should have been taken down a long time ago (as directed by council). Thank God Steve stood up and did the right thing. Way to go Steve Bernehim!

  4. I know of no action by the “bureaucrats” to “stop” a council directive. Since the timeless of allowing dogs in the Sunset park area was clearly of great importance to Mr. Bernheim, as evident by his actions in October, a better alternative would have been for the Council President to show some council leadership and have the council deal with the delay early in the summer.

  5. Ron, are you reading this article? Scott (yes, Scott acts like a bureaucrat sometimes, as does all staff), made a decision that should have made by the council. It was wise of him to apologize.

    Delaying the implementation of council directives is a power that staff should NOT have.

  6. Hmmm, a city council person lying to an officer of the law, defacing public property, and spray painting a sign? Then boasting that “I’ve done nothing wrong and I’m proud of everything I’ve done here”. What a great example he is to the youth of our community. You won’t be getting my vote when you are up for re-election Mr. Bernheim.

  7. I guess then, there is no doubt that Mr. Bernheim is untruthful when speaking to a police officer. The Snohomish County Prosecutor apparently didn’t consider the charge of “Obstructing a Public Servant” in the decision to not charge Mr. Bernheim with a crime. That is the appropriate charge when you are found lying to the police. His actions have wasted a great deal of public servant time.
    Whether or not the signs were supposed to have been removed, there was no cause to lie to Officer Morrison. Mr. Orvis is incorrect, an apology to Officer Morrison is warranted because it placed Officer Morrison in an uncomfortable position.

  8. The word lie does not appear in the article. I don’t believe there was any lying.

    Our elected council told staff to remove the signs. Staff drug their feet for months. Staff caused this problem and it is Staff who should apologize to Steve. Paul and Melissa, do you believe that staff should NOT do as they are directed by our elected leaders?

  9. Regardless, Bernheim’s actions were wrong, not to mention self-serving. What a loose nut… and on our council… how wonderful for Edmonds! I’ll vote for whom ever runs against him.

  10. Dave. Do you believe that Council has the right to break the law, deface public property, and waste police time and resources? Can any citizen who is tired of waiting for the city to do something just do it themselves? Does the City Council president take an oath to uphold the laws or does he just get to make them up? He could have called a press conference and announced that the signs were wrong. He instead chose to break the law.
    The Council don’t have any special rights outside Council Chambers. I don’t like or agree with some of the city ordinances so I guess now I can use the “Bernhiem” defense and get away with breaking the laws with which I disagree.

  11. DianeT,
    Steve did NOT break the law. STAFF BROKE THE LAW. Staff cannot sit on its hands and refuse to do their paperwork because they disagree with a council decision.

    Again, the council made a decision to remove signs. This incident should never have happened because staff should have removed the signs months ago as directed by council.

    Staff needs to apologize to the public for not doing as directed by council.

  12. Dave, If you would read my comments they are about Mr Bernheim truthfulness to the police officer and the citizensof Edmonds not about staff. that is a completly different issue.This is about Mr Bernheim sending out a press relies as to his intentions and then not being honest with a police officer and then admitting in a council meeting that he did remove and deface city signs and a prosecuting attorney saying there is not enough evidence, when he confessed to it to bring charges.

  13. Don,.
    Steve should never have had to be put in this position, and the officer should never have had to be there. Both are victims of staff misconduct.

    Staff should be investigated for failing to follow through on council directives. They are the ones who broke the law.

    The council sets policy, staff carries out policy. Staff chose to ignore a council directive. They are the ones to blame. That’s all there is to this.

  14. Dave – I’ve looked up the definition of lying in the dictionary. It states,” to make an untrue statement with intent to deceive”, “to create a false or misleading impression”. In reading the above article it is clear to me that Mr. Bernheim was misleading Officer Morrison with his responses to the officers questions.
    Grandstanding on Sunset Avenue by defacing and removing signs was not only behavior unbecoming an elected official it was juvenile. There are lines of communication between the city and council which were obviously not followed. I expect more out of my elected officials. His “frustration” with the city does not excuse his actions. Furthermore the city would have only been breaking the law if they had refused to take down the signs, not because they were slow in doing so.

  15. Melissa and Ron,

    Staff ignored a clear council directive. They are the ones who behaved in an “unbecoming” manner. Staff is acting deceptively, they are clearly projecting their own failures onto a council member.

    Steve did his job, pure and simple. I salute him proudly.

    Surely both of you do not believe staff should set the policy for the city of Edmonds. Policy is job of the elected officials and the public. Staff should have had those signs down months ago, as they were directed to do.

  16. what is it with “dog people”? there are reasons to keep your dog of seattle beaches, but you just HAVE to take Lil Bow-wow everywhere you go..

  17. Dave, your arguments don’t hold much water when trying to back up Mr. Bernheim who is just a grand-stander only interested in his own agenda items rather than the interests of the city as a whole.

    So, lets break this down like a 5 year old.

    -Two wrongs don’t make a right.
    (You can’t hide behind the “beaurocrats” or “staff”s” alleged improper behavior….each act should be judged separately)

    -Yes, it is wrong to be dishonest with the police.
    (Most people are intelligent enough to identify “lying” based upon the words and sentences being used…..they don’t need a reporter to actually say the word in a news story. It is appalling that Bernheim just couldn’t be honest with the cop instead of being smug and thinking he could just talk his way around him. If he was so sure in his actions, why didn’t he merely explain what he was doing. This clearly shows Bernheim’s elitist attitude.)

    -A responsible person (like an adult) will recognize their errors regardless of their purported good intentions and apologize.
    (I would expect this out of my 5 year old and don’t see any reason to expect any less from adults….specifically those in an elected position)

  18. Mr. Orvis and Mr. Bernheim are both denying the facts in the minutes of the April 20 City Council meeting. Namely: at the time that Mr. Bernheim removed the signs, Edmonds law still prohibited dogs in the park on Sunset Avenue. Note that Mr. Bernheim is an attorney and both he and Mr. Orvis voted to approve those minutes.

    I’m sure Mr. Bernheim knows the old legal proverb: If the law is on your side, pound on the law; if the facts are on your side, pound on the facts; if neither is on your side, pound on the table.

    Mr. Bernheim and Mr. Orvis are pounding on the table.

    When City Attorney Snyder was informed that he had overlooked drafting of the ordinance, he apologized and immediately drafted one. Within days, the Council approved it. Had Mr. Bernheim not taken the law into his own hands, the signs could have been removed legally and inexpensively by the Parks Department the following week.

    There’s a word for a self-appointed doer of justice: vigilante.

    Here are the facts as a timeline: (I’ve included citations so these facts are verifiable)

    April 20, 2010
    City Council Meeting
    Council President Steve Bernheim, and Councilmember Dave Orvis both present
    Council votes to adopt amendments allow dogs on Sunset Avenue.
    City Attorney Snyder “advised an ordinance adopting the amendments would be scheduled on a future Consent Agenda.”
    Clearly the ordinance has not yet been adopted.

    http://www.ci.edmonds.wa.us/CityCouncil/CouncilArchives/2010/100420_ApprovedCityCouncilMinutes.pdf

    April 27, 2010
    April 20 minutes approved unanimously, including Council President Steve Bernheim, and Councilmember Dave Orvis
    http://www.ci.edmonds.wa.us/CityCouncil/CouncilArchives/2010/100427_ApprovedCityCouncilMinutes.pdf

    Sometime during the week of October 24-30
    Steve Bernheim asks why the signs on Sunset Avenue have not yet been removed.
    Director of Parks & Recreation Brian McIntosh informs Mr. Bernheim the ordinance has not yet been adopted.

    Saturday October 30, 2010
    Steve Bernheim announces he’s going to remove signs today at 10AM
    At 10AM removes the signs, triggering a police investigation.

    Monday November 1, 2010
    City Council Approves adoption ordinance allowing dogs on Sunset Avenue.
    Mr. Bernheim says that the April 20 minutes he approved are “the biggest bunch of baloney I’ve ever read
    coming out of this town.”
    http://www.ci.edmonds.wa.us/CityCouncil/CouncilArchives/2010/101101_ApprovedCityCouncilMinutes.pdf
    http://myedmondsnews.com/2010/11/wilson-blasts-bernheim-for-premature-removal-of-no-dogs-signs/

  19. Dave Orvis “I don’t believe there was any lying.”

    “Edmonds police received a call from a nearby resident reporting that a man was removing signs from the area. According to the written police report, the Edmonds police officer dispatched to the scene, Stephen Morrison, approached Bernheim and told him that police had been told that he “was possibly stealing street signs.”

    “Bernheim immediately said that he was not,” Officer Morrison said. “I then pointed to the obvious metal street sign that was in his canvas bag, and asked him what that was,” Morrison wrote. “Bernheim said that he had found it ‘over there’ and then pointed me in the general direction of where the sign was missing from.”

    “I then told Bernheim that was a city-owned street sign in his bag. Bernheim then informed me it was not. I then corrected him and said that it was.” Morrison said he removed the brown metal sign from the bag and showed it to Bernheim, noting that it was similar to the informational signs that are posted in throughout City of Edmonds parks.”

    Blind dedication to Steve Bernheim aside, there is no way you can get around the fact that Steve lied to a police officer.

  20. Joe Morgan – thank you for providing the timeline. It clearly shows the ordinance process for the signs on Sunset Ave. That should clear up any confusion for Dave Orvis.
    The city was not breaking the law.

  21. When all the hullabalou is over, here is what it boils down to:
    1. No “crime” was committed. The was lots of noise though.
    2. CM Bernheim made his point for sure about some of the shenagians of staff and the City Attorney. And it can be argued that it was a minor lack of judgment by both the responsible staff members and the City Attorney as well as Steve.
    3. The usual naysayers got in their silly licks about the mirage of broken laws and caused many wasted hours of the police and County court system.
    4. Finally, it illiminated a need for everyone in city goverment to knock off their goofy manipulations of the past ten years, Remember the stupid totem pole caper?

  22. There seems to be an occasional problem in this City getting staff and/or the City Attorney to follow the City Council’s directive. Whether it is publishing a final Critical Areas Ordinance (CAO) that has been passed by the City Council, putting out a Request for Quote (RFQ) for City Attorney with all deliberate speed, or preparing an ordinance related to walking dogs on Sunset….for some reason the City Council’s directives are too often minimized or ignored until somebody makes a big fuss about it. This is improper to say the least. I urge the Mayor to look for the core cause of this divisive “culture” at the City and address it.
    Many know that the City Council and the citizens of Edmonds left the November 23, 2004 City Council meeting with the understanding that critical areas would be protected under the new CAO five days after prompt publishing of the related ordinance. A reasonable person would have been correct to believe the New CAO would be effective prior to December 12, 2004. After all, the Code requires prompt publishing. However, Ordinance No. 3527 was not published for 79 days. As a result the public was greatly harmed, huge public and private resources have been wasted and a valuable wetland was lost. The point is the City’s code was violated when Ordinance No. 3527 was not published promptly, plain and simple. Why has nothing been done about this? Why has nobody at the City been held accountable?
    Likewise, the City Council and citizens of Edmonds left the August 24, 2010 City Council meeting with the understanding that an RFQ for the City Attorney Position would be posted with all deliberate speed. Instead, another 70 plus day delay resulted in the RFQ not being posted until early November. This unexplainable delay restricted the process, likely resulting in fewer qualified applicants pursuing the critical City Attorney Position.
    Now we have the delay preparing an ordinance related to walking dogs on Sunset. I certainly understand the frustration that led to this latest incident. I ask the citizens to see the bigger picture here however. Don’t just debate the appropriateness of Mr. Bernheim’s actions related to the signs. As Mr. Orvis states…“Staff should not have authority (to) unilaterally delay implementation of the law, otherwise staff becomes the legislator.”
    Mr. Orvis hit the nail on the head. Our elected legislators should not have their authority usurped or diminished by those with no authority to do so. Think of all the problems caused by those taking on legislative powers that they do not legally possess.
    This is a big issue. Like so many other issues, Mr. Bernheim’s removal of signs is much bigger than it looks on the surface as it is symbolizes a major problems at the City that must to be addressed.

  23. Joe Morgan made a great point! The council directed staff to remove the sign in APRIL, and it took them 6 MONTHS to get the paperwork done. Mr. Bernheim is a hero for standing up a staff feet dragging.

    The time line should show all that staff was out of line. The public should not have to wait 6 months for their directives to be implemented. Our elected Council sets policy, staff carries it out. That’s the way it works.

  24. I am in complete agreement with Dave Orvis, comments 14, 17, and 24. Staff have a responsibility to follow up promptly on all directives from council. In this case, staff failed to follow up on their responsibility to first rework the ordinance, then to remove the signs.

    Recall that we are talking about a delay of six months. Steve had been approached by dog owners who were being chastised by property owners for walking their dogs down Sunset. Staff delay pitted citizen against citizen.

    In this case, minor harm was done by staff’s failure to fulfill their responsibility to council, and thus to all of us. However, there are two other examples in which staff delay on council directives caused more harm.

    The first happened just prior to Steve removing the signs, and likely contributed to his frustration regarding the lack of follow through by staff. On August 24, council voted 6 to 1 for staff to put out an RFQ for city attorney with “all deliberate speed.” The RFQ finally went out in early November, over two months later, and applications were accepted until November 30. I understand that we have “a handful” of applications.

    The delay in getting the RFQ for city attorney out and posted on the city’s website caused the city to have a smaller pool of attorneys to choose from. This is extremely serious. Legal representation for the city is a critically important issue, and should be addressed more expediently than was accomplished by Mayor Cooper and his staff.

    The third example of staff delay in follow up on council directives is even more egregious. On November 20, 2004, city council voted to adopt the new critical areas ordinance. The critical areas ordinance was not published until February 15, 2005, 79 days later!

    As Dave said, council is our legislative body. They make law. City staff failed in their responsibility to promptly publish the CAO by 79 days. Publishing an ordinance is a ministerial duty, and is required to occur within approximately 10 days of the council vote. The only way publishing of an ordinance can be legally delayed is if the mayor, Haakenson at that time, vetoes the ordinance. Which he did not. If he had, the ordinance would have been brought back to council, with whatever changes he and his staff were suggesting, PROMPTLY for council to again consider the ordinance.

    As a result of this 79 day delay in publishing the critical areas ordinance, a property owner/developer in our neighborhood was allowed, by planning staff, to vest under the old CAO. See: http://edmondsforum.com/category/wetlands/
    for more information.

    In this case, staff’s failure to promptly publish the CAO has resulted in severe damage to one of the few remaining isolated wetlands in Edmonds, as well as resulting in enormous expense to taxpayers in legal fees, staff time, citizen time and resources.

    I have listed these other two examples of staff failure to follow council direction because they are indicative of a much bigger problem than the removal of signs by a council member. They are indicative of a SYSTEMIC problem in the operation of our city. When staff members take it upon themselves to decide WHEN to act on council directives, they are displaying, at the least, profound disrespect for the legislative authority of council. They are thus showing profound disrespect for each and every citizen of Edmonds.

  25. A hero? Really?

    If I’m not mistaken, the President of the City Council is responsible for setting the meeting agenda. If Mr. Bernheim was really interested in getting the signs removed quickly he could have (and in my view should have) made himself a note on April 20 to make sure the resolution was enacted in a timely way. A quick call or email to Mr. Snyder would have gotten this enacted in May and dog owners would have been able to enjoy walking their dogs in this park all summer long.

    Mr. McIntosh is guilty of no wrongdoing whatsoever. I applaud him for taking the time to confirm that the law had not yet been changed and to follow the law as it existed.

    Mr. Snyder is guilty of a minor oversight. When reminded of it, he immediately apologized and took care of it. I judge people not on whether they make mistakes, but rather on how they take responsibility for them. Mr. Snyder gets an A in my book.

    There are vague condemnations of “staff” dragging their feet and irresponsibly not doing their jobs. Does anyone have evidence of that? I don’t see any.

    The citizen who called the police should also be congratulated. We need more citizens like that. Calling the police when someone in plain clothes is removing or defacing city property is the right thing to do.

    The police officer is also to be congratulated. When someone is found to be removing city property and then tells an obvious lie about it, referring the matter to a prosecutor seems clearly warranted.

    The prosecutor is also to be congratulated. The temptation to prosecute must have been great. Based on what’s been reported, Mr. Bernheim appears to have been guilty of vandalism, removal of city property, and making material misrepresentations to an officer of the law. The prosecutor deftly indicated that Mr. Bernheims actions were illegal, but that it would be ill-advised for the county to allow Mr. Bernheim to waste more of our time and money than he already has.

    I find Mr. Bernheim to be incompetent for not seeing that this got resolved in May. I find him to be reckless for taking the law into his own hands especially when the normal process would have gotten the job done. I find him to be dishonest for lying to an officer of the law. I find him to be a vandal for defacing a sign and preventing the city from re-using or selling it. I find him to be vain for staging a photo-op around this silliness. He’s made a lot of mistakes here, but has not yet taken responsibility for any of them. I don’t understand how anyone could view this string of actions as even remotely heroic.

    Saying that Mr. Bernheim is responsible for getting the signs removed is a bit like giving a rooster credit for getting the sun up. Once Mr. Snyder was reminded to draft the ordinance, the process of getting this finalized began playing out rapidly. If anything, Mr. Bernheim is responsible for delaying the implementation by 6 months.

  26. Mr. Morgan,
    You provided the evidence of staff wrong-doing and staff feet dragging in your own timeline.

    The council directed staff to remove the signs in ARPIL and staff didn’t get the paperwork done until NOVEMBER. Surely even you can recognize that this is not acceptable performance from our city employees.

    Steve Bernheim simply did what staff should have done months ago. Steve did in a few hours what staff counldn’t do in six months.

  27. No one has the right to do as they please. City council Members must “OBEY” the law and respect the jobs of others. If the job to remove the signs was a UNION job, then the union should file charges against Edmonds City Council President Steve Bernheim for not being a Union member, or charge him dues. If the signs were to be removed, but the councill did not release the work order, then get the work order completed. “NO ONE” has the right to do as they please to enforce what they believe to be the right thing to do. Should I call a Tow Truck every time I see a car parked illegally? How about a “Jay-walker” should I restrain them and call the police? Edmonds City Council President Steve Bernheim was in the wrong and he should admit fault. Also, if the rule is that your dog needs to be leashed, look at the photo…..No Dog Leash…Seems Steve makes his own rules.

  28. I have known Steve Bernheim for a number of years and this is exactly what I would expect of a person who more than anything exemplifies honesty and integrity when as an elected official he is working for “the people”.

    Civil disobedience is not only a right in this country (and on this planet) but a requirement for all thinking individuals. Mr. Bernheim’s actions do not show a disdain for the process as much as they show respect for the public that the other council members should learn and embrace. I’m certain he was following his heart and understanding that neutrality in the face of authority is a dangerous place to be regardless of the perceived importance of the issue.

    Below are a few considerations from greater thinkers than I that I will ask all to consider –

    Never do anything against conscience even if the state demands it. ~Albert Einstein

    If we desire respect for the law, we must first make the law respectable. ~Louis D. Brandeis

    We should never forget that everything Adolf Hitler did in Germany was “legal” and everything the Hungarian freedom fighters did in Hungary was “illegal.” ~Martin Luther King, Jr., “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” Why We Can’t Wait, 1963

  29. If any of you were old enough at the time of the Watergate break-in, rather than discussing the alarming corruption in the Executive Branch, you’d be debating whether break-in mastermind Gorden Liddy was truly evil because his mustache wasn’t waxed and curly.

  30. I whole heartedly agree with Mr. Hunger on this matter to certain point. Mr. Hunger, you are right! This country was built by rebels. And, we must continue to be rebels and questions all authority. I am the first to jump on that band wagon.

    However, the rebels that built this country and the ones we admire accepted the consequences of their actions: beatings, jail, fines, etc. This case is distinguishable in that Mr. Bernheim lied to the police about what he did and did not proudly accept the consequences of his actions. Mr. Bernheim would have earned my respect if, when the police stopped him he “manned up”. The blatant lies to the police, in my humble opinion, cheapened his actions.

  31. It’s about time the Edmonds City Council hears the will of the people regarding a friendlier dog culture. If responsible pet owners ensure dog leash/poop scoop etiquete, there is no reason why they should not be allowed in the most beautiful parts of Edmonds. Three Cheers for Dogs and their Owners.

  32. oh please, “civil disobedience” is stretching things juuuust a bit. the brave soul standing up for injustices and raising up the poor and disenfranchised and and, oh yeah, thats right, all of his “disobedience” is so he can walk his widdle dog on a beach. what a patriot.

  33. Teresa,
    When I wrote my comment, #26, comment #24 by Ken Reidy had not yet been posted. Would it be possible in the future to put comments in the order they are posted, instead of the order they are written?

    Others, please be sure to read Ken’s comments.

    Eric, comments #18 and #34. The area being discussed is not on a beach. It is along Sunset Ave and overlooking the sound.

    • Joan – comments appear as the author posts them, except in the case of a comment that I have to approve because it’s a new author. I have no control over the order of them.

  34. Please don’t overreach with a picture of ‘civil disobedience’ as the issue doesn’t come close to this high mark; I see no personal sacrifice over a truly moral wrong. It’s about a group of dog walkers using the administrative/legislative process to provide their dogs a little bit more walking room. It appears to be for their own enjoyment and the huffing and puffing is about not getting it done when they wanted it done. Anyone with experience in working with governments, knows that there often is a gap between decision and its implementation. I assume, during the time, the dog walkers found time and space for their walks and the dogs were not harmed. Grow up and get a grip Edmonds!

  35. Jim,
    there is a moral wrong here, but its not Steve, its Staff. Staff took six months to finish the paperwork on an ordinance designed to benefits the public. They made the public wait while they pursued whatever they wanted to do.

    Can you imagine what government would be like if staff could pick and choose what laws and policies to implement?

    And why are you demonizing folks like me who own dogs? We’re part of the community too, right?

  36. Well at least I posted and took a stand…

    Who are you going to side with Michael…the staff members who put off a clear council directive for 6 months…or the councilman who stood up and finally took down the signs that should have been taken down five months ago?

    We’re waiting…

  37. Gosh Dave, that is a tough one. According to you I should either:

    1 – Stand with with the sworn officer of the court who lied to the police and violated the law.

    2 – Or I buy into another bit of patented Orvis logical fallacy. Not only are you begging the question, but you are arguing cum hoc ergo propter hoc and implying correlation shows a relationship.

    Our city staff is one of the smallest in the state per capita and our city council, as you well know, demands a great deal of them. I do not believe that there is some sort of conspiracy by staff to thwart the directives of the council.

    I do believe that this is much ado about nothing.

  38. I agree with Mr. Bernheim’s frustration, and his desire to move things along, perhaps with a bit of a flair for the dramatic.

    However, I disagree with his execution. I wish he’d used his office more effectively to highlight the seemingly unwarranted delay in the implementation of the changes at Sunset Park, instead of taking matters in his own hands. Of course, that’s the clarity of hindsight speaking.

    A good rule for leaders, is one that my first Commanding Officer told me when I checked in as a submarine officer: “On this vessel, there are a million levers, switches and valves. As an officer, which ones do you yourself operate?”…… pause….. then, he threw is pen on the table. “THAT is what you operate.”

    Tempting as it is to take things into our own hands, as leaders, we have to use the only tools we should be wielding, our pens.

  39. This article and comments is a strong verification that Edmondsnews.com is providing a new and highly useful conribution to the community. Without it, most of us would have remained unaware of many of the current every day machinations of our city goverment, both good and bad. And it can be useful for all of us if the elected officials and staff become more aware that their performance is being observed.
    Thank you Teresa Wippel.

  40. Well said, Todd. Yours was the most thoughtful post on this topic. Thank you for your eloquence.

    I’l respectfully disagree with you on one minor point:

    I don’t understand why Mr. Berheim felt frustrated. As I pointed out earlier, a simple phone call back in May would have resolved the whole issue. I see no foot dragging by “staff”. Just a simple detail that was forgotten by Mr. Snyder, who quickly resolved it when it was brought to his attention. The idea that “staff” dragged this out appears to be a figment of Mr. Bernheim’s (and other’s) imagination.

    I voted for Mr. Bernheim. He seemed like a smart energetic man with a good vision for how to make Edmonds better. I’m very disappointed that he lost all sense of good judgement over a small issue that he could have taken care of easily and long ago.

    Our streets are crumbling with almost no money to stop the decay. Our city accounting system is at best incomprehensible and at worst a piece criminal negligence.

    Next election, I hope we’ll have a candidate willing to use their talents in ways that really make a difference. I haven’t given up on the idea that Mr. Bernheim could be that candidate. But he’s got some work to do before I’ll consider him to be a person of good judgement.

  41. The clarity of hindsight should not have been needed to realize that the actions taken were unlawful. And good judgement isn’t something that a person suddenly develops.

  42. When it comes to and the council elections next fall it would be wonderful to attract some new blood into the process at least during the run up to the election. New blood could change the dialog in town to begin to solve some of our basic problems. The way we do elections now is so negative. You have to pick an incumbant to run against. Both candidates resort to a negitive campaign with a few “I support x and y” tossed in for special interests in town but little real discussion about what can we do to identify and solve problems. I think the elections should be run something like this.

    The candidate would still have to live in Edmonds but rather than filling for a specific position they could “run for the council”. In 2011 we will have 4 positions open and the process would go something like this. Let’s say that Steve, Diane, Lora, and DJ all decide to run. They would file to “run for council” but would not specify a particular position. Then if 10 other people filed to “run for council” we would have a total of 14 candidates in the race for 4 positions. No candidate, incumbent or challenger is running for a particular position they are simply running for council.

    Here is how the primary would work. All 14 candidates would articulate their message of what they want to do for Edmonds and the voters would vote for 4 since there are 4 open positions. Since this is the primary election we would allow the top 8 candidates to advance to the General Election.

    Here is how the General Election would work. With 4 open positions and 8 candidates who have advanced from the Primary. The public would vote for 4 candidates. The winners would be the top 4 who got the most votes.

    In years that we elect 3 for the council all would candidates would run in the Primary and the top 6 (2×3) would advance to the General and the top 3 would be elected.

    In the past our elections generally have gone like this. If an incumbent runs for their position then potential candidates must decide in advance which incumbent they are going to challenge. Some incumbents have run unopposed while others have drawn a number of candidates. So the up front process for potential candidates is to find an incumbent to “target”. So if a 3 really good candidates “target” an incumbent then only 2 would advance today but typically only one advance along with the incumbent advancing. When that happens 2 really good candidates would not advance. Then in the general election and we so often resort to negative campaigns. Fund raising issues, union labels on campaign signs, and other negative points dominate the discussion. Little discussion on real positions and ideas just negative points about your opponent. And two good candidates were eliminated just because of who they choose to target.

    Using this coming election as an example with 14 candidates running for 4 positions the election strategy is less likely to be negative. To go negative would mean a candidate would have to come up with negatives for the other 13 candidates not just the ones running for a particular position. The candidate with a list of negatives for all 13 would probably be viewed as a negative candidate themselves and voters would see that. Can you imagine the newspaper ads listing negatives for 13 others? To stand out a candidate would probably have to develop a positive message of what they can do for the Edmonds. It would be really fun to see all 14 candidate try to show the pubic how they intend to help Edmonds rather than “my opponent did ——”

    Now in the General election we would have 8 candidates and it will still be hard to go negative on the other 7 so we simply would get a better campaign.

    Now for some other benefits:

    1. Potential Candidates would start from a position of “Here’s what I can do for Edmonds” and would not have to pick and incumbent to “target”.

    2. Incumbents who have served the public well would still have an advantage but they would have to spend more time demonstrating what they have done and would they would like to do in the future. Poor incumbents would have to convince the public that they could do better.

    3. More good candidates would come forward because of this better more positive process.

    4. The election dialog and candidate forums would change dramatically and would take on a more positive tone.

    5. In the end we would get to know what each candidate would do for Edmonds and that would provide for more informed public and better elections.

    I do not know what would have to be done to change our election process from what it is currently but I assume it could be done by council action.

    Regardless of how we choose to run our elections next year it will be exciting with 4 positions available. To get elected or appointed here is what happened last time. DJ got around 7200 votes, and Steve got around 6800 votes and Diane and Lora both got 4. So the challenge for each candidate, incumbent or challenger, is so convince about 8000 people what you can do for Edmonds and not spend so much time trying to run your opponent into the ground.

    If we cannot do the above for the real elections, maybe the potential candidates could start right now using the positive approach outlined and save all the negitive stuff for the time period after the filling for a particular position.

    Let’s use the time now to discuss our future and how we want to get there and then use the election cycle to say bad things and try to get elected. Frankly I feel we can change the scope of discussion in town if we all want to and if the council wants to join in that’s fine too. It will be up to the voters and good thinking people who are using MyEdmondsNews as a communication tool to figure out how to make some real progress in town.

  43. Darrol,
    Perhaps in addition to the very good ideas you present, we could get a more representative Council if we made the Council positions full/part-time and paid commensurate with that. Right now, the only folks who can afford to be on the Council are rather an elite bunch.
    In this economy, I bet our little town has some overqualified folks looking for meaningful work who could bring some terrific talent to the Council, and who might better understand the meaning of a budget, and the value of a dollar.
    Edmonds is changing, and it would be nice to see that reflected in our Council….to feel that we are well and diversely represented. Just a thought!

LEAVE A REPLY