Citing connection to conservative policy group, council rejects Edmonds man’s appointment to salary commission

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    Councilmember Adrienne Fraley-Monillas

    An Edmonds man who was rejected for a position on the City of Edmonds Salary Commission said he was “stunned” that a majority of councilmembers would vote against his appointment because of his connection to the Washington Policy Center, a conservative think tank.

    During the June 6 Edmonds City Council meeting, Councilmember Adrienne Fraley-Monillas argued against the appointment of 31-year-old Tyler Nebeker to the city’s newly-formed salary commission, which will be responsible for reviewing the salaries of the mayor and city council. Her stated reason: Nebeker said during his interview that he supported the policies of the Washington Policy Council (WPC), where he used to work.

    The specific policy cited by Fraley-Monillas was a WPC publication addressing why it opposes Equal Pay Act legislation that has been under consideration by the Washington State Legislature. The policy center publication argues that the proposed legislation — which has passed the Democrat-controlled House but not the Republican-controlled Senate — “seeks to fix a problem that does not exist. Wage discrimination based on sex has been illegal since 1963.”

    Nebeker, who has an MBA from Brigham Young University, worked as a communications assistant for the Washington Policy Center from December 2010-July 2013. He now is an operations/readiness manager at Microsoft but belongs to the WPC’s Young Professionals group.

    Candidates for the all-volunteer city salary commission were interviewed first by Edmonds Mayor Dave Earling, then were referred to the City Council for an additional interview. During the June 6 council meeting, five names of candidates who had been interviewed were on the consent agenda for confirmation to the salary commission. But Fraley-Monillas asked that Nebeker’s name be pulled from the list so the matter could be further discussed.

    In response to Fraley-Monillas’s comments, Councilmember Dave Teitzel said during the June 6 meeting that the council didn’t specifically asked Nebeker about his position regarding equal pay for equal work, so it was unclear what his stance was on the issue. Teitzel added that Nebeker was “a very bright individual” who had many attributes to bring to the commission.

    In the end, the council voted 5-2 (Councilmembers Fraley-Monillas, Diane Buckshnis, Kristiana Johnson, Tom Mesaros and Mike Nelson supporting and Councilmembers Teitzel and Neal Tibbott opposed) to reject Nebeker’s appointment to the commission.

    Nebeker said Saturday night that he was “stunned” at the council’s decision. “I absolutely do not support gender discrimination in pay,” Nebeker said. “Had anyone cared to ask me about that I would have gladly cleared up the misunderstanding then and there.”

    Nebeker, who lives in Edmonds with his wife Stephanie and 20-month-old daughter, said that during his May 9 council interview, councilmembers were “complimentary that I would step forward and volunteer, particularly from a younger generation.” During that interview, he said, Fraley-Monillas asked “whether I would ‘generally support’ the policies of the WPC, a statement with which I can ‘generally’ agree,” he said.

    “To take the couple minutes from that cursory conversation and then use the intervening weeks to dig for reasons to object to someone volunteering is unfathomable,” Nebeker added. “And for elected officials to further make untrue claims about me in a public meeting is even more alarming.”

    Paul Guppy, the Washington Policy Foundation’s vice president of research, said in a statement Monday that “it is mean-spirited and narrow-minded of Councilmember Fraley-Monillas to apply an arbitrary litmus test to Edmonds citizens who express interest in doing volunteer work for their community.

    “Councilmember Fraley-Monillas’ harsh standard will discourage others, especially young people, from volunteering for city commissions out of fear of what this judgmental councilmember may say about them.”

    When asked if the Washington Policy Center supports pay equity, Guppy said the organization “strongly believes that all employees should be fairly paid for the work they do.

    “Reasonable people disagree about whether enacting a Gender Pay Equity bill is good public policy, and in fact a majority of the legislature has rejected it,” Guppy said in his statement. “So Councilmember Fraley-Monillas should not use it in a knee-jerk reaction against someone who used to work for Washington Policy Center, just because we don’t agree with her on this issue.”

    The council on June 6 did approve the appointment of four other individuals to the five-member Salary Review Commission: Ava Dubno, Carl Zapora, Don Hall and Jay Grant. The council is scheduled to interview Jeff Hodson for the fifth position during a special meeting prior to the June 13 business meeting. Hodson’s confirmation is listed for approval on the meeting’s consent agenda.

    — By Teresa Wippel

    36 COMMENTS

    1. From the above report: “Councilmember Fraley-Monillas’ harsh standard will discourage others, especially young people, from volunteering for city commissions out of fear of what this judgmental councilmember may say about them.” Although all of the elected positions for the city as well as for the Port are non-partisan positions, it is clearly Councilmember Fraley-Monillas goal, as demonstrated by her actions, to have only active members of the democratic party hold any of those positions.

    2. A Litmus test is most inappropriate, and these council members should be censured.
      Part of what makes a dynamic volunteer board is different opinions. That is how understanding is built, balance achieved, and if only people of one mind are allowed to serve, neither can be achieved.
      This council member’s actions should be reprimanded. If the tables were turned and only “conservatives” were allowed there would be a public outcry and marching in the streets. This volunteer deserves better. Edmonds deserved better.

    3. I am a proud and convinced liberal and wholly in favor or pay equality. That said, I am appalled by the banana republic tactics displayed in this action. I suspect I might disagree with some of Mr. Nebeker’s views, but democracy works BECAUSE of the dynamic tension between various views, each, ideally, benefiting from the other’s insights.

      Karl Popper (1902-1994) in his seminal book “The Open Society and its Enemies,” a reaction against totalitarianism, pointed out that a society which refuses to tolerate dissenting opinions is doomed because it will become unable to change or adapt. We must be very, very careful about actions which exclude opposing opinions, and at the moment, I am afraid that liberalism, which by definition should be tolerant, is headed in the wrong direction. Mr. Nebeker has my sympathy; can he be reconsidered? He might form a very useful counterbalance to our present council and its ways.

    4. They are getting so intolerant of other ways of thinking that eventually liberalism is going to start eating its own young. You can already start seeing it in the universities.

      • I think we should stay clear of casting stones. Conservatives too, are pretty good at towing the line, mocking diversity, and excluding groups they disagree with. Let’s not get into naming examples – let’s just do it better in Edmonds.

    5. There has to be more to it than what’s written here if 5 members voted for removal. I can’t believe that they would reject solely for someone having a “conservative” viewpoint!

    6. Someone who doesn’t believe all of the facts about women earning less than their male counterparts has no place on a wage commission any more than someone who denies climate science should run the EPA. Kudos to the Councilmember for regarding the rights of women and minorities to equality in wages.

      • Since when is there a “beliefs based” test for government commissions and jobs. This fellow isn’t running for office, he is volunteering to work on a commission. Were he running for office it is not likely I would vote for him, but he isn’t. He has the qualifications ( MBA) to serve on that commission. If he was rejected for his beliefs, then the Council was way out of line in rejecting him. As a taxpayer, I am very concerned that the Council’s action will result in a lawsuit and that the message being hamfistedly sent is silencing those who don’t “believe” the way they do. Silencing folks for their beliefs is fundamentally UnAmerican.

      • I have read and reread the article above, and I cannot find where Mr. Nebeker rejected “all the facts about women earning less…” I’ve read the WPC publication referenced in this article, and again, can find no rejection of “… women earning less…” In fact, the WPC publication acknowledges it. Can someone please point to where Mr. Nebeker “believes” that women should get paid less for the same job with the same qualifications? Is there concern he will advocate that female council members get paid less than males or is the council making some other kind of statement?

        • I’ll help you find it, Jim. In the conclusion section of the WPC Publication, the very first sentence reads: “In seeking to remedy a problem that does not exist (women earning less), HB 1646 would be an unnecessary and costly burden to employers.”

          In all fairness, the publication does make some good points but referring to the idea that women earn less than men as a “problem that does not exist” makes it pretty crystal clear what their stance is.

          • Brad, the sentence you refer to does not contain the parenthetical “(women earning less)” that you added. Read by itself, I can see how one might interpret that sentence in that manner and subconsciously add the parenthetical you added. However, reading the entire document it is clear that the “problem” is wage discrimination against women, and it argues that since wage discrimination of many kinds, including those based on sex, is already illegal, HB 1646 is unnecessary and burdensome.
            .
            Of course, as Mr. Wambolt pointed out earlier, this particular issue (women’s earnings) has nothing to do with what the salary commission does. Thus with what has been offered in this article and with no further information from the council itself, I must conclude that the rejection of Mr. Nebeker was some kind of oblique slap at his conservative policy view.

    7. Are these 5 members of the Edmonds city council sending a message they only represent liberal views, as opposed to the views of all of their taxpaying constituents. Very concerning.

    8. From what I read in the article, I concluded that Nebeker was not appointed because he belonged to a group that was not supportive of wage equality – not because he wasn’t liberal. The appointment is to the wage commission so this seems like a legitimate concern.

      • Bill, a “legitimate concern”, is understandable; however Ms Mollinas did not even question him on this “concern”, she had already made up her mind and decided that she would not vote for him and block this young man in a volunteer position. Why are the people on this council agreed of young people? Good lord, we need some fresh new blood running this city, and it starts with volunteer positions.

    9. What a member of the salary commission believes about wage equality is not relevant. The commission does not establish compensation for individuals, it establishes compensation for elected positions – councilmembers and the mayor.

    10. For a city (i.e. the Council) that expended so much effort in establishing a Diversity Commission, we seem to reject diversity of views when it slaps us in the face. Very unfortunate action by the Council and it reflects poorly on the community.

      • I completely agree with you. This is very disturbing, What is wrong with us these days that we can’t tolerate different opinions.

        • Thank you community for speaking out. The members of the city council that voted against this young man are not representing the “people” but representing their own bias, towards “white males”. The fact that Ms Mollinas voiced a “concern” that perhaps council member Teitzel “had sexism in his own background” is outrageous and her actions/voice should be condemned for this statement. The person with “sexism in HER own background” would appropriately be Ms Mollinas. Diversity? Not in this community with a few of these council members. They need to be voted out, their power has definitely gone to their “heads”. They work for us, no the other way around.

    11. As a long time liberal, I find the council’s decision very disturbing. It seems clear to me that they did not understand the role of the salary commission and that a member’s politics would not, should not have a bearing on eligibility to serve on the commission.

    12. Opinion: our council members should be paid more for all the time they give to the job. Past salary commissions have not be kind to council. Maybe the Council wanted folks on the commission that may have a bend toward giving them a raise?

      Hard to get a correct number but it is likely that the benefit package given to council is in the same ballpark as their salary.

    13. It would be nice for the City Council members to comment. We know they read the articles here. The public wants to know their reason and rationale for voting the way they did. This will come up during elections as well. Every story has multiple sides to it.

      Diane Buckshnis – you comment on here all the time. Why so silent?

    14. I cannot tell you how disappointed and upset I am to see the Edmonds City Council reject a citizen volunteer for a Board position based upon some liberal litmus test. What happened to the idea that our city government is non-partisan? The same Council creates a “Diversity Commission.” Then the majority proceed to act with the obvious message that people with political views different from the council majority need not apply to volunteer positions in city government. Talk about divisive and discriminatory. These actions by the majority are shameful. Unfortunately this is not the first time. I too would like to hear some comments from these council members. Edmonds voters you need to remember these actions the next time you fill out a voting ballot.

    15. Good afternoon fellow citizens and lovers of our slice of heaven.
      I’m very tempted to pile on to the overall opinion that this is just wrong, no matter party affiliation. Let alone, the lack of response from anyone on council to provide clarity.
      But, I find myself thinking of a phrase I was taught long ago by my grandfather; “If someone is willing to tell you who they are, believe them.”

    16. Councilwoman Fraely-Monillas should not be in her position. I think we are all tired of the extreme political polarization that has evolved in our country. Conservatives and liberals used to be able to compromise with the end goal of doing whats best for everyone .It is obvious that Fraely- Mollinas wasn’t interested in hearing what Mr. Nedecker had to say as being a conservative he was “dead on arrival.” Even more outrageous were her mean spiirited comments to fellow council member Mr. Teitzal. Rest assured I will work hard to make sure she never will never represent the fine citizens of Edmonds.

      • We need to find a tiny little, well-fenced, remote island where Fraely-Monillas might, with Ms. Sawat, form a government of ideological purists. it would be interesting to see how long a society restricted to only the most pure in heart might last. My guess is that without a more diverse population, the future of the island would be bleak.

    17. I for one am looking forward to voting out Councilwoman Fraely-Monillas. She is a complete partisan hack and a disgrace to the Edmonds community. If she had any ethics whatsoever she would resign immediately. What an embarrassment.

    18. Mr Brown, When I read your comments above I am reminded of your reply to me when I made a joke about environmentists dumping crumb rubber on a commenters yard. Here is what you said at the time:
      Nathaniel Brown June 8, 2017 at 10:12 am
      “Darrol, while I completely reject Ms. Trenvino’s attitude, we as a community need to conduct our debates free of any sort of threat, real or implied. I know this was rhetorical, but refute her, disagree with her – but let’s be sure we’re not being vindictive.”

      And in reply to a comment in this article you said:
      Nathaniel Brown June 12, 2017 at 5:59 pm
      “I think we should stay clear of casting stones. Conservatives too, are pretty good at towing the line, mocking diversity, and excluding groups they disagree with. Let’s not get into naming examples – let’s just do it better in Edmonds.”

      In both instances the comments were just other folks expressing their opinions and ideas. In both cases your comments were a bit harsh but that is your right.

      I fail to see how your current comments about an elected city council member are any different that others you have criticized. Maybe the island you refer to is to far to be reached by that “casted stone” and by the load of “crumb rubber”.

      • Mr Haug – Thanks for the comment and calling me out. You’re very right that we need to remain civil. But I implied no threat toward Fraely-Monillas; rather, I was making what was perhaps a weak attempt at satire, entirely in keeping with the posts you quote which were aimed (however poorly) at overly partisan actions. I’ll say again, that we need to back off on the rhetoric and listen to each other, and that in a small community like Edmonds, there should be no place for incivility or exclusion, and my comment was aimed at what I see is just that: exclusion based on partisan rigidity. If I overshot the mark, I regret it – and again, thanks for pointing it out

    19. Councilmember Fraley-Monillas and the 4 others who voted with her were so wrong! What happened to her idea of diversity. I echo what the writer said about hearing from Diane Buckshnis who often replies to articles in Myedmondsnews. I’d like to hear what the Council has learned from this exercise. I hope something.

    20. Many are citing a need for diversity as the reason for their displeasure over council members recent actions, but I am still wondering how much actual diversity there is among the new salary commissioners. Honest question: If Edmonds values diversity are we backing that up with our appointments?

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