With one member absent, Edmonds Council postpones possible revote on retail-only business zones

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Edmonds Police Foundation President Chris Fleck, right, presented three Emeritus title awards to retiring Foundation Board members at Tuesday night's Edmonds City Council meeting. Those recognized were, from left, Harold Huston, founding member and past president; Nancy Crim, founding member, past president and volunteer; and Norm Hagen, past president and treasurer. (Photo by Alicia Brattin)

An Edmonds City Council discussion and possible revote on whether to exclude offices from ground floor retail spaces in the core business zones downtown was pulled from the agenda Tuesday night and rescheduled for next week. Council President Strom Peterson told the audience that the last-minute change was due to the absence of Councilmember Michael Plunkett. Since the council had initially voted 3-2 to on Aug. 23 to defeat the measure — when two councilmembers were absent —  Peterson said he would prefer that the full council is present for any possible revote.

The idea behind the proposal is that retail businesses generate more foot traffic for the entire downtown business core than non-retail office space, such as a bank or law firm, and as such that core area (see map) should be limited to retail only. Three citizens testified during the public comment period — and some councilmembers agreed — that the council should hold a public hearing before taking a vote on the measure.

Mayor Mike Cooper was out of town attending a conference so was not present for the meeting, but his controversial firing last week of Human Resources Director Debi Humann was in the spotlight a couple of times during the evening. First, former Councilmember Ron Wambolt asked the council during the public comment period to verify whether the rumor was true that Cooper had offered Humann a $50,000 severance package. Later, Peterson asked the public to respect the mayor’s right to make his own decisions regarding staff employment, and to not ask councilmembers about the details because the council isn’t able to discuss personnel matters.

In other action, the council :

–  Watched the presentation of three Emeritus awards to retiring members of the Edmonds Police Foundation. The Emeritus recognition is given to those who retire after providing substantial leadership contribution to the foundation, programs and events. The foundation was created in 1996 as a community-based organization to assist the Edmonds Police Department through education, fund-raising, and citizen involvement, and it sponsors the annual Edmonds Night Out family safety event.

– Received an update on Capital Facilities Plan and Capital Improvement Program for 2012-17, including a status report on various roads, facilities and parks projects of interest that will be the subject of a public hearing next week. Among the future projects discussed were a public market facility for the downtown waterfront and potential development — in partnership with the Edmonds School District and the Snohomish County Commission on Health — a new athletic complex on the former Woodway High School site. Two of the councilmembers — Steve Bernheim and DJ Wilson — said they were concerned about the lengthy “wish list” nature of the projects, and urged the council to exercise caution in approving ideas that aren’t absolutely necessary in this anemic economy. In fact, both councilmembers said that due to what they perceive as a change of heart from citizens, they would be interested in revisiting the idea of building a roundabout at Five Corners even though the council had voted unanimously last July to authorize the mayor to sign a consultant agreement to begin designing the project.

And speaking of construction projects, Councilmember Adrienne Fraley-Monillas asked for a status report on the Haines Wharf Park project and the review of former Mayor Gary Haakenson’s role in approving change orders for the project without council approval. Peterson told Fraley-Monillas that Bernheim is preparing a report on the issue, and that it will be presented to the council on Oct. 18.

– After an update from the South Snohomish County Commission for Health, unanimously approved two agreements with the commission aimed at fighting childhood obesity: To provide swim lessons to all third-grade students who live or go the school in the Edmonds School District and to offer a summer intensive health and cross-training fitness camp to area teenagers. The swim proposal involves the cities of Lynnwood and Mountlake Terrace in addition to Edmonds, so third graders in the other cities will receive lessons right away because the municipalities have indoor pools. Edmonds-area students will receive their lessons at outdoor Yost pool next summer. The XFit Camp program will provide cooking classes and nutrition education in addition to exercise programs in an effort to help young people establish healthier habits.

15 COMMENTS

  1. Here is the full text of my remarks at city council tonight.
    Sept. 27, 2011
    I realize that council has had little, if anything, to do with the mysterious events of the past week. However I’d like to do a brief chronological summary of the situation, as I know it, and then recommend how the council might get involved.

    July 2010 Mayor Cooper hires Kim Cole to be his executive assistant at an annual salary of $79,000; that was in the 70th percentile for those who are acquainted with that lingo. And if you are acquainted with salary administration you’ll understand that that was an excessive salary for someone with Ms. Cole’s experience, and it was a higher salary than her much more experienced predecessor. Additionally there was no scarcity of qualified people wanting to do this job, as staff had sought applicants prior to Mr. Cooper’s arrival and had 100 wanting to be interviewed. None of them were interviewed.

    About one year ago rumblings started about Ms.Cole’s time sheet reporting hours worked in excess of what was observed by some staff members. Allegedly, and I repeat allegedly, when Mayor Cooper was confronted by one or more staff members about this situation he told them that this was nothing for them to be concerned with.

    During the past year the concerns about Ms. Cole’s attendance continued.

    Recently I heard that Ms. Cole was investigating one or more employees, so on Sept 21st I filed a public records request to learn about any records request filed by Ms. Cole.

    On Sept 22nd we all learn about the firing of Ms. Humann.

    On Sept 23rd I receive the record that I requested. Ms. Cole had filled only one records request since she became a city employee. Her request was filed last Tuesday Sept 20th. The request essentially sought anything Ms. Humann had in writing, as well as electronic files, related to Ms. Cole.

    On Sept 25th it is revealed that Ms. Cole, by mutual agreement, is no longer employed by the city. On the same day we learn that the state auditor contacted interim finance director Jim Tarte asking to audit, not investigate, the time sheets of an unnamed employee. We learned yesterday that the request to the auditor’s office was made anonymously.

    Now here’s how I would like the council to get involved:

    1)Assuming that the unnamed employee to be audited is Ms. Cole, I’m suggesting to council members that the proposed audit be audited by them to insure that it will provide complete enough information to finalize the time sheet issue.

    2)As the chief executive of our city I believe that the mayor can unilaterally fire whomever he chooses to fire, but I would like the council to assure us that the termination policy of the city was fully adhered to, with particular emphasis on whether a $50,000 severance package was really offered and assuring that the reason for the firing is made known to the public..
    .

  2. Mr. Wambolt. You’re political ambitions have gotten the best of you. You are on a witch hunt against a young woman in order to get to the Mayor. The audit will show will clear up the issue but by that time you will have dragged this poor woman’s name through the mud. Good job, Mr. Wambolt. And, in case you really care to know, I believe Ms. Cole left her job so that she can prepare for the bar exam which in itself is a full time job.

  3. Sorry…I was breathing fire when replying the to above. What I meant to say was:

    Mr. Wambolt. Your political ambitions have gotten the best of you. You are on a witch hunt against a young woman in order to get to the Mayor. The audit will clear up the issue but by that time you will have dragged this poor woman’s name through the mud. Good job, Mr. Wambolt. And, in case you really care to know, I believe Ms. Cole left her job so that she can prepare for the bar exam which in itself is a full time job.

  4. Please allow me to summarize Mr. Wambolt’s facts with his own words:

    Mysterious events …. rumblings started …. allegedly, and I repeat allegedly …. the concerns … continued …. recently I heard …. the request … was made anonymously.

    Based on these facts he wants Council to investigate a personnel issue that he knows they cannot and should not investigate.

    Mr. Wambolt in the least two years has lost contests to every city official who is up for election in November except for DJ Wilson. He is now actively supporting their opponents. He has every right to do so.

    But he is turning this election into a bitter, vengeful dirty contest. I can only hope the voters are smart enough to see through this.

  5. Ms. Sinha:

    I wonder how it’s possible for you to know more about what happens on the 3rd floor of City Hall than the people who work there.

    I do not intend to debate this issue on this site, or anyother place, because I agree with your comment this morning on the other story.

  6. After using the city council meeting to spread unsubstantiated rumors and gossip, you now claim that it’s inappropriate to comment further on these matters.

  7. My comment was accidentally truncated. I meant to add:

    Can you please explain what principle is guiding your sudden decision to be silent? Can you also explain why that principle didn’t apply yesterday?

  8. Mr. Wambolt,

    I wonder how it is possible for you to know more about what happens on the 3rd floor of City Hall than the people who work there?

  9. Come on Ron Wambolt – you are such a phony. In one breath you claim to have all the facts. The upon your exhale you claim to be ignorant of the facts. In my opinion the later to be more true.

    Give all us the gossip… What happened on the 3rd Floor today. I’ll believe you, if you give me the source of your gossip.

    Who told you about the Kim Cole complaint?

  10. Hey Ron Wambolt your in this blog so much you ever consider starting your own paper. Seems like you and Priya are in this thing so much maybe you should get your own paper or start a reality show.

  11. You people represent Edmonds on the City Council. Sound like you are in the third grade. Edmonds better do some house cleaning.

  12. I find it amazing that this thread is all posted under….. “With one member absent, Edmonds Council postpones possible revote on retail-only business zones” ….. and there isn’t one post relating to this.

  13. Sounds like Ron has a legitimate issue that I want to hear the outcome about. It’s obvious some of you just don’t like him and it’s clouding your judgement.

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