Edmonds City Council agrees to process for filling vacant seat

The Edmonds City Council Tuesday night agreed to a process for filling the council seat being vacated by Councilmember Dave Orvis as of May 31. The notice of a council vacancy and an application form will be posted on the city’s website Wednesday. All applications are due back by June 21, and interviews will be conducted June 29. Following that process, the entire council will vote, in public, on their preferred choice during the council’s July 6 meeting. The first candidate to receive a four-vote majority wins.

The council also unanimously approved a motion directing City Attorney Scott Snyder to prepare an ordinance that would ban the use of polystyrene, or Styrofoam, food containers in Edmonds businesses. The council would then conduct a public hearing on the measure at a later date before taking any action. Snyder will include in the ordinance information on polystyrene’s environmental impacts as well as scientifically-proven options for container substitutes that use recyclable materials.

In addition, the council voted 3-2 (Councilmembers Fraley-Monillas and Strom Peterson opposed) to require Mayor Gary Haakenson to direct city staff to provide within 10 days documentation for city payments for legal fees in 2009 and through April 2010. Council President Steve Bernheim told the council in an email last week that he requested the information after a citizen suggested the city was paying Ogden Murphy Wallace an estimated $600,000 annually, an amount that Bernheim could not immediately verify—and hence his request for city records. At issue, Bernheim added in his email, is whether the city could save money by hiring its own staff attorney and a paralegal.

Haakenson reminded Bernheim that he had told him it would take some time for staff to get the information to the council. Bernheim responded, “I was hoping to have it a little sooner.” Prior to voting no, Councilmember Fraley-Monillas expressed concern with the timeline, stating, “We don’t know what else staff has on their plate.” Following the vote, Haakenson asked the City Attorney if he was required by law to comply. Snyder cited pertinent regulations and said no.

In other action Tuesday, the council:

– Postponed a decision on the appointment of a citizens’ committee that would oversee preparations for a possible levy that could appear before Edmonds voters, due to the absence of Finance Committee member Diane Buckshnis.

– Voted 4-1 (Councilmember Michael Plunkett opposed and Buckshnis and Orvis absent) to approve a $15,000 contract with Climate Solutions, a Northwest-based environmental nonprofit organization, to join the New Energy Cities program. The program is aimed at helping cities address environmental issues including energy efficiency, clean energy financing, distributed renewable technologies, smart grids, and electric cars.

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