Letter to the editor: A pledge for the new council — Listen, Talk and Respect

Editor:

As our city council begins with a new mayor, new and seasoned councilmembers; it might be time to remember that they are supposed to be non-partisan elected officials with goals of good government for all the citizens of Edmonds. Perhaps to start off this quest we should begin with civility. Civility is a key to productive governing. Listen, Talk and Respect is a worthwhile pledge.

How we talk about things matters. While we may be able to share our views and express our opinions, one should leave room for someone else’s viewpoint. Understandable at times that can be challenging. How can we seek to listen​​ to those who hold different beliefs? How can we respectfully disagree? Being polite is an important social skill, whether in private or before many, it’s just good manners.

Councils and boards regularly are faced with challenging and complex issues that can spark strong emotions. A critical responsibility of a leader is to facilitate conversations in the community about important issues.

A leader should take the responsibility to be civil and to have respectful and meaningful interactions despite differences of opinion on a particular issue, and to create an environment where those leaders, staff, and citizens can have the opportunity to express views openly without personal attack. There is nothing wrong offering one’s opinion, or to bring forth facts, often it’s how you do it. Doing so in a civil manner, ensuring any facts are represented accurately is a personal responsibility.

Our community leaders should commit to embracing principles that establish a framework for conversations about difficult and complex issues and harmonizing feedback from their peers, staff, and citizens; hopefully resulting in decisions that are informed and well-balanced for the whole community.

Edmonds is a place where our community as a whole — with its mix of cultural identities, socioeconomic backgrounds, religious beliefs and more — represent an increasing diversity in Edmond’s environment. Our community leaders should strive for civility and be held accountable to find common ground and build a lasting framework for our community, especially when discussing important city issues.

By encouraging a listen, talk and respect philosophy, leaders should strive to promote harmony, community, responsible citizenship, and effective leadership.

Edmonds is a wonderful place to live, work and visit. Working together as a community, we can keep it that way. The Edmonds Community will be watching.

Jay Grant
Edmonds

15 Replies to “Letter to the editor: A pledge for the new council — Listen, Talk and Respect”

  1. Well said, Jay. My mother would tell me to “disagree without sounding so disagreeable.” (Something I strive for, but occasionally fail to achieve.)

    Part of establishing and maintaining effective collegiality is to think before speaking. You may be correct, but does saying it just now advance the discussion? Or will it likely be just an annoying distraction?

    Say it with a smile. Discussions can be lively and pointed, but they should also be friendly. Carry on as if you’re all going out for a sociable beer afterwards.

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  2. Well put Jay. We need leaders who listen to understand instead of listening to talk.

    Attitude reflects leadership. Interestingly the council (and mayor) decided on a repeat of last year’s council leadership by appointing Adrienne again. It’s unclear if their expectation was to repeat last year’s frustratingly toxic council environment (hopefully not) or if they thought the environment would improve with the addition of the new council members (although we’ve seen a predictable partisan trend begin to develop already).

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  3. Jay, thank you for writing this. I understand the Council is going on retreat. All other topics could be second priority to working and performing individually and collaboratively as true civic leaders. Nathan, I too think it was a mistake in having Adrienne Fraley-Monillas (AFM) serve two years in a row as Council President. AFM specifically asked Council Members for their priority choices for work and she said she would do the best she could. Ms. Monillas appears to have used her CP power to not allow Diane Buckshnis on the Finance Committee and left it open to whomever would fill the position two (2) seat. Per public record, Diane specifically requested the Fiance Committee. AFM appointed the Finance position to Vivian Olson who (again through public record) said something to effect of it would be nice to learn, but encouraged giving the Finance position to others who wanted it. Then AFM assigned it not to a seasoned, proven financial Council member but to TBD, who is now Luke Distelhorst. Yet, clearly the Council did not know it was going to be him. Then, two Council Members, Susan Paine and Vivian Olson requested to be on the Diversity Committee. AFM chose to keep the Diversity Commission for herself again. Diversity. Hm. Just by these actions, the Council President may be disrespecting, not listening and creating walls to conversations. The Mayor is responsible for AFM as CP. Too many times, the elected officials make short term moves that end up having long-term negative effects to the City. Hopefully when the Council returns from the retreat they will continually have new days, each day and put the greater good for the City first. Ultimately it is the greater good for their well being too.

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  4. In your apparent need to cast aspersions on the new Mayor and his motivations as per AFM you conveniently leave out the fact that Diane made it clear that she didn’t want the position of CP. Kristiana didn’t seem to be all that interested in performing the CP duties either. These are arguably the other two people on Council that had the requisite experience to do the job. Would it have been prudent to put new elects in the position of C.P? That was the other choice they had to consider. If you are going to preach open mindedness to others, I’d suggest you start by giving your speech in front of your own mirror. There are very few truly open minded people in our current polarized political atmosphere, locally or nationally.

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  5. Clinton,
    Yes, I appreciate your bringing more pieces into the picture for a better perspective. If DB let the decision be made for her, then it is in part her responsibility AFM is CP. However, the Mayor is also, in part, responsible, in his choice to vote for AFM as CP. We do not know how it would have played out had he chose not to vote. Regardless, once in power, AFM is responsible for the appointments she made under CP authority. AFM has done many administrative CP tasks well and will most likely continue to keep things moving along. Hopefully all will continuously renew each time do their best to work for the best interests of the city, and hopefully you, and others like you will remind them. I sincerely appreciate your comment.

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  6. For the record, Mr. Wright when there are two new Council Members who won’t return my call regarding the CP position and there was all kinds of negativity surrounding this choice of putting the pressure on our Mayor, that rather than create chaos on who the Mayor would favor – it was best for the citizenry, in my opinion to respectfully bow out and nominate KJ who would have been the logical peacekeeper and yes she was prepared to take on the task.

    Our City Committee assignments is testimony to “my retribution (grudge)” that I forecasted when I called AFM out for pointing her finger at me while shouting profanity and calling me a profane name four times at a staff meeting. If she would have been a City employee, her employment would be in question and what was even sadder was four women and one man came forth to me after and thanked me for speaking up.

    So we start the year off in chaos again and Kristiana feels just as marginalized as she would be a wonderful mentor to Susan because of extensive planning background and Vivian and I were looking forward to working together as well with Scott and Dave. IMHO, the concept of Mentoring using individuals who have decades of experience seems to have gotten loss (and lost) in the chaos.

    But look what’s happening on the national level….so it’s easiest to just be open to change as I have picked up a lot after a decade of Edmonds politics.

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  7. Very well said Mr. Grant. Let’s hope the new council members see this as an opportunity to be civil, to listen, contemplate and reach decisions amiably. Edmonds is at a turning point in direction for the future. The appointed member is the first Millennial to sit on the council. The times they are a changing.

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  8. Thanks for suggesting that Council adopt a “listen, talk, and respect philosophy.” It is a good idea. Listening and talking to ALL other councilmembers and all citizens (not just those with whom you align) will more likely lead to policy that is a good fit for our community.

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  9. I’m curious to know if KJ made it abundantly clear to the Mayor and other council that she really wanted the C.P. position? Based on her debate performance, I would be all in for her having it. Outside looking in, it seemed like she was luke warm to it at best. If I’m wrong on this, my apologies to Diane and Kristina. I can see where Mike would want someone who was pretty gung ho in that position however.

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  10. My intention for this letter to the editor was to promote thinking anew, as we must. When it comes to great, not petty, not adequate, but great leadership and those who strive for it, many attribute the following qualities as outlined below. Our Citizens have expectations of non-partisanship collaboration and forward thinking leaders. To do this effectively City leaders must work together effectively. We hope you will, there is much to be done. Actions are louder than words.

    The making of a leader:

    Honesty and integrity
    Confidence
    Inspiring others
    Commitment and Passion
    Good Communicator
    Decision Making Capabilities
    Accountability
    Delegation and Empowerment
    Creativity and Innovation
    Empathy
    Resilience
    Emotional Intelligence
    Humility
    Transparency
    Vision and Purpose
    Honesty and Integrity

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  11. I suggest in order to get this new year off to a better start, we give every elected official a Clean Slate beginning right now. Let’s please stop repeating stories about words said in anger, mistakes and wrongdoings of the past. I believe our public officials want to do better, to be better. I’m enough of an optimist to believe they can succeed, and they are more likely to succeed if we keep the conversation positive and forward looking.

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  12. Great comments Mr. Grant and Mr. Pence. I totally agree with you both. As constituents we want calm, cool and collected discourse in public meetings and common sense solutions that are of benefit to the greatest number of us, not just business people, developers and other special interests. We don’t want to hear about interpersonal gripes, grudge matches and partisan accusations of illegal activity. Enough of that nonsense. The citizens don’t need or deserve that.

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  13. The dysfunctional City Council must stop; that’s what is best for Edmonds and should be a priority! At the January 28, 2020 Edmonds City Council meeting Diane Buckshnis stated the following in response to the Lora Petso nomination for the vacant council position.
    “I do want to say I was criticized last time when I brought this issue up good heartedly about 2013 when a certain councilmember didn’t understand what was going on, but Ms. Petso did in fact cost the City $5 million and had I not read it in the audit report, ummm, which had already been published, uh, we would have not, we would have been out $5 million. There are many people that know that. It’s a factual statement. If you want all the documentations to support it I will. She was Council President at the time and regardless if Ms. Laura Johnson thinks that I’m being mean to Ms. Petso, it’s a fact and facts do speak for themselves and that’s why I am not supporting her.”
    Of course nothing Ms. Buckshnis accuses the former Councilmember Petso can possibly be true. The Council President isn’t a member of the finance committee. The Council President does not prepare the City financial statements nor does the Council President make any budgetary adjustments to the city’s accounting system. The financial issue Ms. Buckshnis speaks about is the Long Term Bond Debt of the Edmonds Public Facilities District (Edmonds Center of the Arts} that was over 4 years old and only grew with more credit from the City, therefore categorized as uncollectable.
    Ms. Buckshnis makes wild unsubstantiated accusations without any merit. She has and will continue to slander and defame fellow councilmembers and department directors. Her actions and behavior have caused many outstanding Edmonds employees to resign and seek employment in other cities. Ms. Buckshnis is the root of the dysfunctional problem of city government. Ms. Buckshnis should either resign or be recalled.

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    1. Mr. Tupper,
      You are misinformed. What transpired in 2013 is well documented regarding a $5.0MM receivable removed from the City books which I caught after reading the published Audit Report despite my removal from the Finance Committee. The Finance Committee members assigned in my place did not provide sufficient oversight to catch this accounting error. A significant amount of time was spent in discussion with many individuals including the Mayor, Staff, Public Facilities District (PFD) Directors, Auditors, Attorneys, Bond Counsel and Governmental Accounting Standards (GASB) specialists. Ultimately GASB agreed with my analysis and the financial statements of both the City and PFD had to be restated as well as a re-publishing of both Audit Reports.

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  14. Thank you Diane, your explanation demonstrating that 5 million dollars had nothing to do with council applicant Lora Petso. She wasn’t a member of the Finance Committee. She made no financial adjustments in the city’s accounting system. Lora didn’t cost the city 5 million dollars. Your allegation that Lora cost the city 5 million dollars is nothing but preposterous and slanderous accusation.

    How much money has the city loaned the PFD and how much has been paid back? How long should the city show asset on financial statement that hasn’t been collected? Oh, I forgot your not a C.P.A. Only a self proclaimed financial expert.

    I can’t believe that I ever supported you!

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