Hearing Examiner decisions rendered in 2015 remain valid, says City Attorney

Edited at 12:55 p.m. Friday to clarify that the City Attorney’s response was directed to another citizen who inquired about the hearing examiner decisions, and not the one Councilmember Bloom was referring to.

As reported last week in My Edmonds News, concerns were raised in the Nov. 10 Edmonds City Council meeting by Councilmember Joan Bloom in response to a citizen inquiry questioning the validity of hearing examiner decisions made after the December 2014.

The term of Hearing Examiner Phil Olbrechts expired in December 2014, and the citizen questioned whether that would render invalid decisions made subsequent to that date. At the council meeting, City Attorney Jeff Taraday said he would research legal precedents relating to similar situations and respond at the next council meeting.

In a letter to another citizen who raised the question, Taraday cited numerous legal precedents supporting the validity of hearing examiner decisions made subsequent to December 2014 (see the full letter here, citizen’s name redacted).

A Request for Qualifications has been posted on the City of Edmonds website to permanently fill the Hearing Examiner position.  In the interim Mayor Earling has renewed Olbrecht’s appointment through the end of 2015.

— By Larry Vogel

One Reply to “Hearing Examiner decisions rendered in 2015 remain valid, says City Attorney”

  1. A couple of suggested corrections to the story, the Hearing Examiner is a 4 year position not permanent and the issue is that Mr. Olbrechts CONTRACT ended not just an appointment. What is at issue is contract law and unlike the City Attorney’s Contract, Mr. Olbrechts did not have a continuation provision. The Hearing Examiner’s position is fulfilled by a contract for services. Although Mr. Taraday had to scrounge to find them, the cases he cites are not relevant to contract law. What is relevant is the Statute of Frauds that requires contracts longer than 1 year be formalized(written) and strictly read and interpreted. Again, rather than the City admitting to not following law, they choose to ignore it and cover it up with dubious interpretation. We will see what the courts say because I know of 2 lawsuits that already involve this.

    What is not addressed is that Mr. Olbrechts did not fulfill his contract and violated part of the City Code by not providing a written report for 2 straight years. Will the Council take this opportunity to attempt at rebuilding trust in government or condone the repeated failures by the Administration. It is called accountability people.


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