For the second week in a row, much of what was discussed at Tuesday night’s Edmonds City Council meeting had nothing to do with the official agenda. In fact, most of it was related to fallout from last week’s contentious meeting.
In opening remarks as the meeting began, Edmonds Mayor Dave Earling noted that due to behavior of some citizens during last week’s meeting, which included “disruptive comments and gestures,” Edmonds police will be at future council meetings “for the foreseeable future.”
“The council values comments from the public; however, we cannot allow a speaker to hijack the proceedings,” Earling said. “Public comment is welcomed and encouraged at appropriate times; disruption is not.” Disruptions similar to last week’s meeting will lead to a warning, with ejection following a second interruption, the mayor added.
Crumb rubber tire infill at the Woodway campus was again the main topic of discussion during the public comment period. A number of community members opposed to the artificial turf playfields urged the council to tell the Edmonds School District to stop work on the project while the council undergoes a review of already-approved permits governing their installation.
The council’s approval of the permit review last week came on a 4-0 vote (Councilmember Tom Mesaros abstaining) while two councilmembers — Diane Buckshnis and Mike Nelson — were on vacation. Buckshnis called in to the meeting while she was on the road in Wisconsin, planning to vote on the matter as well, but controversy arose about whether telephone participation by councilmembers was allowed. The council voted 3-2 (Councilmembers Lora Petso, Joan Bloom and Kristina Johnson in favor) to not allow Buckshnis to vote.
During the comment period reserved for councilmembers at the end of Tuesday’s meeting, resentments from last week’s actions boiled over.
Stating that “it’s my right to call in and be part of the discussion,” Buckshnis said she appreciated the supportive calls and emails she received from citizens who thought she should have been able to participate. “It’s really unfortunate all the disrespect that was echoed last week,” she said.
Council President Adrienne Fraley-Monillas followed with a statement that last week’s vote preventing Buckshnis from participating was “smoke and mirrors from those who want you to believe that it strictly had to do with the resolution.” Councilmembers have been allowed to call in to meetings “for the six years I’ve been on council,” Fraley-Monillas said.
Councilmember Bloom “indicated she didn’t want Ms. Buckshnis to participate because it would result in a tie vote,” said Fraley-Monillas, who described the action as “an insult to democracy as we know it.”
“I think they should be ashamed for what they’ve done, has hurt our city as a whole,” Fraley-Monillas added.
Bloom then responded to what she described as the Council President’s “lengthy attack of me,” stating that “as councilmembers we do not function on precedent. We function on the law and on established procedures.” In this case, the council is governed by Roberts Rules, Bloom said, and the council has not yet adopted a formal procedure to spell out how telephone call-ins are handled.
Petso added that she didn’t believe the council had allowed anyone to call in since the body agreed to adopt Roberts Rules (which occurred in 2013). “And I did hear the city attorney last week say that Roberts Rules do not permit you to call in unless you have arranged a process,” Petso said. The council did discuss a process for telephone call-ins in 2013, she said, but the measure didn’t come before the full council for a vote.”We should take it up now, we should get it done and we should move on,” Petso concluded.
(In emails sent to My Edmonds News following the meeting, Buckshnis said Petso’s assertion wasn’t true. Buckshnis said she called in to meetings in both July and August 2013 and former Councilmember Frank Yamamoto also called in during August and September 2013 while he was recovering from heart surgery.)
Also during the council comment period, both Petso and Bloom asked several tire crumb-rubber-related questions of Lighthouse Law Group attorney Sharon Cates, who was filling in for the vacationing City Attorney Jeff Taraday. Petso asked whether the council has the authority to ban crumb rubber fields in Edmonds, and Bloom inquired whether the city could stop toxic material from being placed on the fields. Cates said she didn’t believe the city had the authority to tell the school district what to do on their property but added she would have to research the issue further.
The council also took action on the following items:
- After lengthy discussion and two defeated amendments, approved the city’s Six-Year Transportation Improvement Program. One of the amendments, submitted by Petso, would have removed the “multi-use pathway” description from the Sunset Walkway Project, a move that she said reflected her concerns about the current temporary pathway configuration. That amendment failed on a 3-4 vote (Bloom and Buckshnis also voting for). The second amendment, by Councilmember Johnson, would have shifted funding from 2016 to 2017 for implementation of the planned trackside warning system, which would significantly reduce train horn noise along the waterfront. Johnson said delaying the $300,000 budget item a year might give the city additional time to find money to fund it, and would also allow for completion of the rail crossing alternatives analysis now underway, in case the two items needed to be coordinated. The amendment failed to gain support from fellow councilmembers, however, and failed 1-6.
- Received the city’s July 2015 Financial Report.
- Welcomed Edmonds-Woodway High School student Ari Girouard as the council’s new student representative. Girouard serves as EWHS Senior Class president and captain of the Warriors’ softball team.
Finally, councilmembers and the mayor thanked City of Edmonds Public Works employees for the fine job they did responding to Saturday’s windstorm, which resulted in numerous downed trees and power outages across the city.