Council OKs new fund for Edmonds Marsh donations; Nelson challenges police chief on statement

The Edmonds Marsh (File photo by William Keppler)

The Edmonds City Council made quick work of several agenda items Tuesday night, unanimously approving a request for proposals (RFP) for a consultant who can assist the city in determining the extent of the homelessness problem in Edmonds and establishing a fund so that individuals and groups can donate toward restoration and preservation efforts for the Edmonds Marsh.

And at the end of the meeting, Council President Mike Nelson took an opportunity to challenge  Edmonds Police Chief Al Compaan on his statement Monday regarding an Edmonds high school student who was late to soccer practice and fabricated a story about being stopped by Edmonds police.

Compaan had expressed frustration about the community’s “rush to judgment” on social media about the incident, stating that “a lack of factual information combined with heightened emotions often result in erroneous conclusions and rarely lead to well-reasoned outcomes.”

Nelson pointed to the recent arrest of a Harvey’s Lounge employee for threatening two African American teens with a baseball bat, the discovery last fall of a noose at an Edmonds construction site, and incidents in the past year of swastikas and racial slurs on cars and school buildings. “In this context, your publicly shaming an African American teenager will not resolve these emotions,” Nelson said. “Nor will capturing a suspect make this all go away.”

“The facts are, we’ve had a series of racial incidents in our community, with many of them unsolved,” Nelson said. He then proposed “deeper community engagement” and invited the police chief to join him in meeting with affected community members “to listen and to put together a plan that fosters tolerance, acceptance, trust and a safer community for us all.”

Regarding the homelessness RFP, the goal is to find a consultant “to assist the city in determining the extent of the homelessness problem in Edmonds, and to identify services available to the homeless.” The proposal must not exceed $25,000, which is part of $250,000 approved by the council to tackle the homelessness issue.

“One of the reasons why we’re doing this…is we don’t really know how big the problem is,” said Councilmember Adrienne Fraley-Monillas. “Until we have a better understanding of who (the homeless) are and where they’re at and what the needs are, we’re just kind of spinning our wheels.”

Councilmember Dave Teitzel, who along with Fraley-Monillas and Nelson sits on the Homelessness Task Force formed to explore the issue, said the task force also is examining existing resources — such as those from state, county and faith organizations — that “we believe are not well enough coordinated.” The goal is to figure out “how we can efficiently use our $250,000 because it is precious taxpayer money,” Teitzel said.

Regarding the Edmonds Marsh Restoration and Preservation Fund, Councilmember Diane Buckshnis said she’s been working for years to develop a mechanism by which individuals and entities could donate to a fund aimed at assisting city efforts to ensure the health of the marsh. All donations will be added to already existing city funds set aside so far for Marsh restoration and preservation, as well as the future daylighting of Willow Creek.

Buckshnis noted she already has received donations of two checks totaling $7,500 to place into the fund.

The council also approved changing the city’s code governing how frequently businesses are required to pay a utility tax. Under the amended code, businesses with a monthly gross income of $10,000 or less will pay those taxes quarterly rather than monthly, which will be more efficient for city staff to process.

In other business, councilmembers learned from Edmonds Mayor Dave Earling that the state’s capital budget includes $500,000 for the new Edmonds Waterfront Center and $500,000 for waterfront rehabilitation work next to the planned center, which will house both the senior center and an all-ages community center. Earling said that State Sen. Maralyn Chase deserves the credit for obtaining senior center funding, while Rep. Strom Peterson acquired money for the rehabilitation project.

And the council received an update from Public Works Director Phil Williams on the status of the planned trackside warning system at the Dayton and Main Street railroad crossings, which would significantly reduce train horn noise along the waterfront. The city has completed the right-of-way permitting process with the BNSF railroad, and the next step is to install PUD service meters that will power the system. The hope is have it ready for operation this summer, Williams said.

The council also heard, among other items, the Edmonds Arts Commission Annual Report for 2017, the City Attorney Annual Report and the December 2017 Quarterly Financial Report.

— By Teresa Wippel


  1. Mike Nelson is concerned that the African American teenager was publicly shamed. The teenager lied about the police department, and his mother publicly accused the police department of racism. The kid deserved to be publicly shamed. Hopefully he learned a lesson.


    • “He that is without sin among you let him cast the first stone” – Jesus Christ

      You’re comment shows a lack of compassion and humanity. Do you not think with as fast and prominent as social media is that this kid hasn’t felt the consequences of his mistakes as well as his family? This mother did what any mother I hope and pray would do…listen and advocate for their kid. I can only imagine the struggle of a caucasian mother trying to help their child of color understand how to survive in our world today.


  2. I support Council President Nelson’s statement- one which does NOT absolve the teen from wrongdoing but instead calls on our police chief to acknowledge that given numerous racially motivated incidents in our community and beyond, why some would consider this plausible. This statement calls on our chief to use this situation to engage with the community and build public trust, instead of being frustrated with the speed of social media and its effects. We have an opportunity before us and this is the first step.


    • There is always room for improvement with almost anything any of us do. But Police Chief Compaan needing to improve the public’s trust in his leadership is surely at the bottom of the list – just read some of the accolades posted in recent days.


      • While that does appear to be the case for many, we would not be in this situation if there was not a sizeable subset that has reservations. Why not take this opportunity to engage the community rather than vent?


  3. Facts are bothersome things to those with an agenda. Mr. Nelson’s calling out Chief Compaan for “shaming a Afro-American youth” is a merit less and undeserved acquisation. Making false claims of racial bias against our police department is harmful and perpetuates a false narrative to minority members of our community that Edmonds police should not be trusted. Bad move Mr. Nelson. Chief Compaan rightly pointed out that getting all the facts before forming a judgment is the reasoned approach. The worst false claim is the statement of Mr Nelson.


    • Mark- Yes, a making false claim did perpetuate a narrative of racial bias, and facts definitely do matter. However, your comment looks like an attempt to manipulate and shift focus… something an attorney who represents the police department might do. Your abbreviation of Council President Nelson’s statement is misleading. His full statement, made after reminding us of a number of recent, racially motivated crimes in Edmonds, was: “In this context, your publicly shaming an African American teenager will not resolve these emotions, nor will capturing a suspect make this all go away.” Council Member Nelson then went on to call for “deeper community engagement” by putting “together a plan that fosters tolerance, acceptance, trust and a safer community for us all.” I, for one, support using this very unfortunate incident as an opportunity to increase trust between police and the community; it is an agenda I can get behind. What is your agenda?


  4. Council President Nelson’s comments illustrate the stance that is necessary in the face of widespread inequity in our society. It is a strength in our community that we have an organized group of mothers and other community members on social media who can mobilize quickly against an injustice. The fact that in this case the story was false does not detract from the reality of racism in our wider society, nor absolve us of the need to find solutions to it. An open- minded and appreciative stance toward the community is one of the elements that allows for better solutions. While certainly many community members can sympathize with the EPD in this instance, we also hope they take the Council President’s comments for the constructive criticism they are meant to be.


    • If the Council President’s comments were meant to only be constructive criticism they could have been made in a private communication with Chief Compaan. This mode of operation does not promote harmony between elected officials and city staff.


    • An organized group in our community to combat injustice through social media, only has value if it can be trusted to learn the truth before vilifying the police, a group, or an individual. With power comes responsibility.


  5. Mike states: “The facts are, we’ve had a series of racial incidents in our community, with many of them unsolved,” Nelson said. He then proposed “deeper community engagement” and invited the police chief to join him in meeting with affected community members “to listen and to put together a plan that fosters tolerance, acceptance, trust and a safer community for us all.”

    I don’t understand why people are offended by the mere suggestion of getting our Police Cheif to be a part of a forum where there are people of this community that are scared, hurt, and feeling unsafe. He lists that there have been multiple accounts of discrimination in the community why would having the Cheif and other officers a part of this , to address the accusations to reassure us that we are living in a community that is united and will protect everyone regardless of race, religion, gender.

    Did this young man make a poor choice? Yes. Did he continue on with the story? No. From this choice there will be consequences and a deeper learning. I think I am more impressed with the fact that he admitted his wrong doing. That takes a lot of strength especially from a teenager to allow himself to be vulnerable to our community as a kid of color. I hope that we can take this opportunity not to point out, blame and chastise (on both ends) but to learn, love, support and grow as a Community in Edmonds.


  6. I will not speak to Mr. Nelson’s comments. However, I will speak regarding Chief Compaan and the Edmonds Police Department through firsthand knowledge by having to call EPD for help.

    I was able to communicate with Chief Compaan by phone, email, and direct meeting. I find him to be quick to respond, open, professional, empathetic, and passionate about their motto and Edmonds community. Before this experience I knew very little about the department. By getting to know Chief Compaan and several of the officers, my appreciation for the support and protection they offer has grown immensely. They support their motto through daily action to help all of us when we need help.

    In lieu of relying on comments from a council member, I encourage you to engage Chief Compaan and the Edmonds Police Department directly. If one prefers, EPD also has an open house each summer that is also very worthwhile for information and meeting the Chief and staff.

    I believe you will find the experience to be a good first step and very informative.


  7. I agree with Mr. Wombolt’s last comment.
    In the future, let’s ALL try and take a deep breath and get the facts before we act or speak or write.




Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here