The Edmonds City Council’s plan to hold a non-televised public workshop Tuesday to discuss ideas for a possible levy came under fire Saturday, with two councilmembers threatening to boycott the session if the workshop goes forward as planned.
My Edmonds News received a flurry of emails Saturday, starting with one sent by Councilmember Michael Plunkett with the subject line: “Next Council Meeting not on TV – Councilman Plunkett Will not attend”. The email was also sent to select citizens.
“There is no reason for the council to go off camera,” Plunkett wrote, adding that during his 15 years on council, there has not been a time that that a council session has not been televised, with the exception of the council’s once-a-year retreat. “I believe the Council works best when on camera and under the watch full eyes of our citizens,” Plunkett added. “I respect my fellow council members but I just can’t agree to join them in this unprecedented action to go dark on the people of Edmonds.”
A few hours later, Councilmember Diane Buckshnis also sent My Edmonds News an email, stating that she “will not be participating in any meeting that is not recorded for all citizens to see and hear…. especially when we are talking about financials.”
Both Councilmembers Plunkett and Buckshnis said they first learned that the session wouldn’t be televised when the council meeting agenda was sent out Friday.
But Edmonds City Council President Strom Peterson, who scheduled the work session for the Brackett Room, said via email he is “at a loss as to why some councilmembers claim to have just learned of the format of the meeting on Friday.”
“The work session outside of council chambers has been on the extended agenda since May 27,” Peterson said.
Peterson said that the council decided to hold a work session during the May 24 council meeting, after levy negotiations failed. “I worked with Council VP (Lora) Petso on an option to address council’s concerns,” Peterson said. “We opted for non-televised work session (similar to our council retreats) in the Brackett Room. Not only has this been on the council agenda since then, but it has been mentioned during council meetings, including this last Tuesday.”
Peterson said that he will explore the option of moving the meeting back to the council chambers, located in the Public Safety Complex, “to avoid any boycott of this important issue.” The Brackett Room, located on the third floor of City Hall, does not have cameras that can record meetings. Edmonds City Council meetings are not shown live; instead they are tape recorded and rebroadcast at noon and 7 p.m. daily on Comcast channel 21 and Verizon channel 39.
In addition to discussing a levy, the council is scheduled to approve collective bargaining agreements between the City of Edmonds and two unions — Public, Professional and Office-Clerical Employees and Drivers Local Union No. 763, and the Service Employees International Union, Local 925. Those agreements are currently on the consent agenda, meaning that they aren’t discussed, but could be pulled off that agenda and discussed publicly if any councilmember chooses to do so.