Edmonds City Council Tuesday to consider contract renewal with Lighthouse law firm

Whether the City of Edmonds should stay with its current contracted City Attorney — Lighthouse Law Group — or look at other options such as hiring an in-house attorney will be a main topic for discussion during this Tuesday’s City Council meeting.

When the Lighthouse Law Group signed a four-year contract with the City of Edmonds in 2011, it agreed to provide City Attorney services for a flat rate of $32,000, with no adjustments. The Lighthouse contract will be up for renewal at the end of 2014, and the firm is now asking for a 28 percent fee increase — to $41,000 monthly starting in 2015, with a 7 percent increase each year after that.

You can read a summary of the issue in the June 3 council agenda packet here.

Also on the council agenda, which starts at 6 p.m. with an executive session to discuss collective bargaining, will be continued discussion about the hiring of a communications consultant. You can read that background here.

The regular meeting, which starts at 7 p.m., will be in the Council Chambers, Public Safety Complex, 250 5th Ave. N., Edmonds.

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  1. Our Council has available to them the important facts to compare the performance of Lighthouse especially as compared to the previous law firm, Have we not been better off with Lighthouse, not only in basic cost, but also in the amount of litigation and number of acrimonious conflicts?

    I believe the choice of Lighthouse along with the attitudes of our current Mayor and Council is responsible for a large improvement.

  2. Hello ! I believe those figures are not correct. At least the quoted fees must be monthly, not annual. Perhaps there’s a typo or a rounding error ?

    • You are correct Steve; the figures are monthly.

  3. Thanks for the correction. It’s been fixed.

  4. “attitudes”…….” An attitude is somewhere between a belief, a stance, a mood, a pose. If you got an attitude about something (or someone, my thought) it can be hard to change it because you think you are right” http://www.vocabulary.com

    Carl Jung. “Attitude”….. “a readiness of the psyche to act or react in a certain way”
    I believe Carl Jung was talking about not being open minded or flexible.

    …….proofs in the pudding.

    Everything starts at the top……I think we need a mayor that does not have “attitudes” but is open minded and flexible and looks to the future, not the past……. for new leadership and moving our town into this NEW century with open mindedness and flexibility……new ideas and not the same old stuff

    Jung beleived that “attitudes” have a conscious AND unconcious component of which we may or not be aware…….a good thing for a governing body to pay attention to when representing ALL citizens……..

    • Just a general reminder to all about posting comments — it’s most productive for all of us if you can stay on the topic of the article you are commenting about.

    • Tere:
      It seems obvious that Mayor Earling possesses the positive leadership characteristics that you desire our mayor to have – that’s supported by the fact that he received twice as many votes as his opponent in the 2011 election, and re-enforced by him having no opponent in the current election.

      As to the Lighthouse Group that provides our city’s legal services, they were hired by our city council. Last year when their contract was expiring, the mayor sent councilmembers a letter recommending that they solicit proposals from other law firms. City Council choose not to do that and went ahead and renewed the contract with the Lighthouse Group.

  5. I believe it is a year later regarding the contract with the City Attorney and again governing with “attitude” doesnt always work well……

    How many lawsuits have cost the citizens how much money? …….Perhaps a full, public review may have been a good idea with input from the people actually footing all these bills and lawsuits…..maybe the “attitude” is, we have insurance…….What does all the “attitude” really cost the taxpayers?……….

    .now, a year later! I think this is very much on topic as we have members of our government running for office…..”attitude” does not belong in governing

  6. There’s that old saying…….”follow the money”……….”money talks”……..now more than ever in the history of our country ……proofs in the pudding

    I believe our Mayor this time has a huge amount of money, with no opponent. And last election a large amount of money came from out of town…….incredibly large amount of $$$$$$$$$$ for a “small city” (quoted from Washington State Tourist Bureau)……this just doesnt feel right to me

    • I’ve attended most city council meetings over the past 12 years. Several times each week during election season I review the PDC filings of all candidates for city positions. I have never at anytime detected any correlation between money received and the vote of any councilmember on any issue. I believe that generally the sole reason people give money is to get the candidate they prefer elected, because they believe that candidate is the most qualified. They’re not looking for anything else.

      The mayor does not get to vote on issues. If that out of town group was expecting some quid pro quo, they are undoubtedly disappointed.

      The mayor currently has about $25,000 in contributions, about one-third of what would be needed if he had an opponent. He has not taken any contributions since it was known that he would be running unopposed. This is info from the PDC site.

      • Ron, I just moved to Edmonds in May and have been shocked. I would suggest 2 things. First simply being elected with whatever percentage and re-elected unopposed means little other than he has not upset enough people to the point to remove him. Typically elections see less than 25% turn out and even if he wins 75% that is still only 19% of the populous. Simple apathy. Second, although the Mayor does not vote “directly” on issues he has a much more direct effect on the issues. I would also point out I believe in reading the minutes there was some controversy about how the Current Council President was elected, he certainly voted there. The fact is that as the only full-time elected official he wields immense power.

        • Scott:

          I suggest that you live here awhile longer in order to have the time to do your own research rather than possibly gleaning it from others.

          I’m not going to take the time to correct all of the erroneous statements that you’ve made on this site since you’ve moved here, but there’s two above that I’ll address. Your percentages about elections are incorrect when it comes to Edmonds. Edmonds has about 28,000 registered voters and more than 50% of them voted in the last mayoral election. The mayor was not involved in the election of the current city council president; he was forced to vote in 2014 when there was only 6 councilmembers.

          • Ron:

            I apologize for exercising my freedom of speech, I did not realize we gauge knowledge and intelligence by how long someone has lived somewhere. I do not “glean” from others and I certainly have a lot to review. I read what is presented, research and then make an opinion. In fact, I have spent approximately 400 hrs on various local topics in the last 3 months. What I know from my own experience in the short time I have been here is that I have been witness to several cases where the Mayor does not lead, enforce, or “manage” the Administration which is his job and duty.

            As for the numbers, the point is the same, 75% of 50% is ~37%, hardly what I would use to prove the quality of leadership. As for the Council vote, how is it erroneous? Reading the city code I do not find he was “forced” to vote.

            Further you do not address my main point that to say he has no “vote” on issues is absurd. He has the most significant “vote” because if he declines to full fill his duties then most any issue the Council enacts is not implemented. By the way is it not a resource under the Mayor that provides public records requests, one which cost the city $50k.

          • Im wondering if THAT was the time of the 5 minute ” bathroom” break our Mayor just happened to call for in the middle of the VOTING process……..I thought that was for Council President, correct me if Im wrong

            .I believed conferencing in private during an open public election process is/was againt the law…..Turns out, with my recollection the Attorney Generals office was told by some Council Members they were just talking about Seahawks games or something along those lines…….

            We were at that Council session and watched what unfolded during UMPTEEN votes when the 5 minute “bathroom” break was called by the Mayor in the MIDDLE of the voting process….. Where everybody went or who they went to to talk to in that 5 minutes probably does not show up in the camera, but we watched and saw what unfolded and the talking was NOT public…….We were in the front row and couldnt hear anything of what was discussed by different people

            This session can be viewed on Edmonds t.v. although not everything will be in the scope of the camera. Certainly the Mayor calling the 5 minute bathroom break is in view

            This coupled with the fact that the newly elected President seemed to be fully prepared to immediately start her duties as President……

            This is an example for me of why I mistrust this government and particularly a government to me that does not feel open and transparent.

            Again, everything starts at the top.

            I wish more of our citizens would come to weekly City Council meetings and watch our government at work

          • To glean means to gather or collect information in a gradual way, bit by bit. I have met Mr. Blomenkamp and my opinion is that he is being very diligent as he does so. When he has asked me for information, I have tried to provide him factual information supported by public documents such as the City’s Code, City Council meeting minutes and City official emails.

            I’ve tried to avoid making statements like “The mayor does not get to vote on issues”. I don’t think statements like this tell the whole story. Instead, in discussing a Mayor’s impact on the legislative process, I have provided factual evidence that indicates that Mayors do intervene and try and influence how the City Council Votes.

            Sometimes this is done privately and sometimes this is done publicly – such as when Mayor Earling intervened in the Harbor Square legislative process on January 29, 2013 instead of simply putting the question on the floor to a vote. Such confusion ensued that the City Attorney had to explain to the City Council on February 5, 2013 what their January 29, 2013 vote related to.

            An example of private intervention is in the same email I referred to yesterday:

            “If he persists and puts it on the agenda, you may want to rally three other votes to remove it from the agenda on Tuesday night if you think its wise.”

            The Council Member who received the October 29, 2009 email forwarded it to a fellow Councilmember – but failed to identify the author of the original email.
            Instead he told his fellow Councilmember:

            “This came from someone today, interesting stuff.”

            I think it would be best if our Mayors took a less active role in the legislative process. I wish they would focus much more on their administrative duties.

            • Establishment of the city council agenda is the responsibility of the city council president. When the council president abdicates that duty, then it’s obviously going to be influenced by city staff.

              Of course the mayor, like other citizens,sometimes tries to influence legislation; when you become mayor you do not give up your rights as a citizen. I suspect that you would not be objecting to him doing that if he was trying to influence it in a direction that you agree with.

              • What I would like to see is documentation supporting your concept of the council president abdicating a duty. This would be valuable documentation for you to share rather than merely commenting about it.

                Also, the Mayor has much more opportunity to intervene than the average citizen. Imagine if I had tried to run up to the podium and intervene in the process right before the January 29, 2013 vote. I don’t think I would have been allowed to speak.

                I remember that night well. I believe the Mayor had a clear duty to put the question to vote. Even after Council President Petso asked if we are ready to call the question – Mayor Earling pushed forward with his request to make comments prior to the question being called. Ms. Petso continued to struggle with the Mayor’s request, commenting that the chair doesn’t usually participate and looking to the City Attorney for help.

                The Mayor made his comments and we will never know how that vote would have turned out.

                Ron you posted some related thoughts on My Edmonds News back then, as follows: “I am glad that the Mayor did ask to speak when he did, as otherwise the motion to deny the action requested by the Port surely would have passed – likely 5 to 2, or perhaps 4 to 3.”

                There is no way to know if you were right or not Ron – who knows how that vote would have turned out.

                The point is, I believe the legislative process was interfered with by the Mayor on January 29, 2013 and his interference may have changed a very important vote. This is the type of legislative intervention that I would like to see less of. I have a right to my opinion and you have every right to feel differently.

              • Ron, I would point out that a Mayor is not “like other citizens” when it comes to influencing legislation. The Mayoral position has a higher calling and a duty to have a different standard. They are elected to enforce the laws, not interpret or make law. Yes as a private citizen they have their interests and can speak their interests but in their position as Mayor they are required to put that aside (How many do is debatable).
                2.01.010 Duties.
                The mayor shall be the chief executive and administrative officer of the city, in charge of all departments and employees, with authority to designate assistants and department heads. The mayor shall see that all laws and ordinances are faithfully enforced and that law and order is maintained in the city, and shall have general supervision of the administration of city government and all city interest. [Ord. 2349 § 2, 1983].
                Clearly a Mayors duties must come even at the expense of their own interests which are subservient to the city interests if they are executing the duties of the office.

  7. Ron – via a public record request, I obtained an email from one former elected official to another former elected official. Official City email addresses were not used for some reason, but I was still provided the document. I previously mentioned this email on My Edmonds News on April 19th earlier this year.

    The email mentions the concept of financial support impacting elected official behavior.

    Following is an excerpt from the email…I am choosing to not disclose names today. I told people how to obtain the public record months ago if they wanted to see it. Based on elected official comments, citizen concern about financial support might be warranted:

    -Former elected official #3 has made a bunch of public records requests bout the matter and she appears to working on Citizen A’s behalf which is odd since she was financially supported by Citizen B in the mayoral election two years ago.-

    • Ken:
      “she appears to working on Citizen A’s behalf which is odd since she was financially supported by Citizen B in the mayoral election two years ago”
      Doesn’t that indicate that financial support bought Citizen B nothing?

      • That is one way of looking at it.

        I find it alarming that one elected official would express to another that he found it odd that financial support did not impact behavior. The “odd” comment leads me to fear that maybe the normal result is for financial support to impact behavior. Hopefully my fears are unfounded.

        If financial support buys nothing, where did the thought come from that resulted in the author putting the comment about financial support in his yahoo.com email?

        Again, my point is that based on elected official comments, citizen concern about financial support MIGHT be warranted.

        • Ok; I understand your interpretation of it. I would just say that in a situation where all things are determined to be equal, it’s a toss up, then it would seem logical that the party who gave support is likely to get preference.

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