Letter to the editor: Councilmembers’ statement on police chief selection


This year has been extraordinarily challenging on many fronts. It is additionally painful for the community, and us as well, to end the year with the current state of the search for the next Chief of Police. These begin with some decisions made over the last nine months that were unexpected to us; next, the circulation of potential misinformation; and combined with a lack of clear communication from the administration.

We three are in a spot we did not intend — by allowing the decision to move the Police Chief confirmation process to be advanced by a week, the unanticipated, late-arriving information (see Mayor Nelson’s communication of 12/15/20) would have avoided some of the pain felt by our community. In hindsight, the original timeline should not have been changed.

As Councilmembers, our roles for the hiring process and our authority around the confirmation of mayoral appointments rely on the expertise of professionals and their recommendations based on the background and reference checks. In addition, our diligence, which includes communicating with the city administration to ensure that information presented to us is accurate and factual. The Administration provides us with their professional conclusions and other administrative actions, which should occur prior to a nomination coming to us on the Council agenda.

We have always recognized that the Chief of Police confirmation is a critical, multi-faceted decision. As leaders, representing the entirety of Edmonds, there must be a balancing of community concerns, lived experiences, and desires for what makes all our communities feel safe, supported, and hopeful for an ever-improving future. There have been police program insights in the last year regarding policing in our community: the removal of School Resource Officers (SROs), recent non-compliance with a municipal court order, and reluctance for improvements in the DWLS process that in our view would reduce community harm. These insights support the view that there can be minor process adjustments that benefit the entire community.

This year, and this decision, renews our focus on better defining importance versus emergency. We have faced many emergency situations due to COVID-19 and its impacts. Important decisions, when connected to the personal reputations, professional careers, and any individual’s wellbeing may rise to an emergency, and sometimes they may not. In deciding to allow the vote to be moved up, we struggled with the impact of waiting, given the increasingly volatile situation, against the benefit of allowing the community and police department to begin to move forward sooner. As newer legislators we strive to make the best decisions, with the information we have available. We continue to learn, grow and adapt.

Today, all parties, and our communities, similarly find ourselves in an uncomfortable situation. Together, we need a clearly stated path forward which restores faith in decision making and our professional process. A clear path to meet our community’s changing needs. A clear path using collaboration and mutual understanding.

We hope that there will be a renewed focus on community wellbeing using a more transparent process, whatever process the city’s administration chooses.

Susan Paine, Laura Johnson, Luke Distelhorst
Edmonds City Councilmembers


    1. Sure Ron. They don’t know what’s happening, but they know it’s bad. There’s some staff who will be sacrificed. They already distanced themselves from CMs K.Johnson, V. Olson and D. Buckshnis and now are distancing themselves from A.Fraley-Monillas and Mayor Nelson. They think we forgot that COVID is hard. They’re letting Mayor Nelson know the ball is in his court. They don’t know what to do next.

        1. Further reading of this letter prompts me to ask for some clarification…
          “In deciding to allow the vote to be moved up, we struggled with the impact of waiting, given the increasingly volatile situation, against the benefit of allowing the community and police department to begin to move forward sooner.”
          1) There were many citizen comments before the vote but you appeared uninterested. When did the struggle with the impact? Did you in fact make that decision prior to hearing public comments?
          1) What increasingly volatile situation are you referring to??
          2) Why did you choose to vote on an issue not fully researched?
          3) Why did you feel it was unimportant to respond to citizens request for more information.?

          In reading the response from the 3 councilmembers, I’m reminded of Christopher Columbus: “When he left he didn’t know where he was going, when he got there he didn’t know where he was, and when he returned he didn’t know where he’d been”.

    2. Ron,

      It’s called circle talk. Starts at one point and goes around until it ends up at the point it started out which is intellectual diarrhea. This letter proves how incapable these three people are in grasping the reality of what they’ve done. No amount of Circle talk will ever cover up their past deeds.

      1. Thank you, Ward. Despite all of my years I’ve never heard of circle talk before. It seems like an apt description of their letter.

    3. I am sorry I just don’t understand. I mean behind all the ineptitude shown by the Mayor and certain council members it seems that we have a clear choice. The city performed the search for a new chief…and screwed up every step of the way. All that aside there were 2 finalist one who…let’s just say is no longer in contention leaving us with one candidate ( who was the absolute best choice you could have ever found if you needed to really look). Mr. Lawless who is, and has been doing the job since Al Compaan’s retirement and has been doing it quite well. As you can read the citizens want him at the helm. Why do we have to waste the time, resources and money for another search? I plead with our official’s to do the right thing and confirm him as Chief and put this to bed. Why are we slapping him in face over and over. One can only take so much and in the blink of an eye you loose him to another city which I promise you is a mistake. So again, just do what the citizens of whom you serve want. Either way the next election cycle will show you how we all feel about this ridiculous situation. Stop the bufoonery.

  1. ROn, it can be interpreted as they don’t think it was their fault, that the information was incorrect. And even though some council members wanted an executive session and to keep the original decision date, these three did not and pushed it through. A lot of the information was sent to them the Sunday before the decision like one of the MEN articles found out through Theresa. The only “volatile situation” was the one they caused by not doing due diligence.
    Now that they have been called out, they are blaming everyone else (just like the mayor did.) Did you see an apology anywhere in the letter?

      1. A clear path for these three new council members to help the community would be to vote to prevent the mayor from proceeding with a nationwide search for a new police chief. This would be a waste of hundreds of thousands of dollars, and they still may not find anyone more qualified than Chief Lawless. If they are not sure what to do because they are new, please put an end to this mess. Common sense says vote for the person most qualified. The roller coaster that Chief Lawless and the police department have been on for year because of the bad decisions by the mayor, has been hard on the morale of our fine department. Mayor Nelson please nominate Jim Lawless as Edmonds next police chief. Then this matter will finally be closed.

    1. I am so sorry to read about the problems Edmonds is having with their new mayor and city council. My wife and I tried to stay informed about the housing program and the election and we could see where things in Edmonds were going. We decided to move to Redmond,and bought a house out here even though we loved Edmonds.
      I hope the people in Edmonds can work past the problems they will be facing with their new city government. We just could not live there with the current mayor and council.

  2. I concur with Sam. It was a rush to judgment. Looking for clarity with this statement:

    “There have been police program insights in the last year regarding policing in our community: the removal of School Resource Officers (SROs), recent non-compliance with a municipal court order, and reluctance for improvements in the DWLS process that in our view would reduce community harm. These insights support the view that there can be minor process adjustments that benefit the entire community.”

    Are “insights” referring to hard numbers data or antidotal data?

    I do agree that “we need a clear path that restores faith in decision making and our professional process.” I’m not sure the four who rushed to judgment – having the information available to them, but choosing to overlook it – can earn back the trust of many in the city.

    1. I saw no struggling with the decision by these three when allowing a rushed vote on Pruitt. They sat there and listened to numerous citizen statements opposing the confirmation. They sat there and opposed Council members Olson’s pleas to delay the rush to judgement. They all had the transcript of the Pruitt trial with his testimony regarding domestic violence. They sat in silence to all this and voted with the Council President Fraley-Monillas to do Mayor Nelson’s bidding. Their letter is a woke joke. No apology or ownership of this mess by them or the Mayor. It gives credence to the old saying: “Success has a thousand parents and failure is an orphan”. This is the Baby Huey of orphans.

  3. Is anyone else disturbed by the “recent non-compliance with a municipal court order” where the court and the police department are having a power struggle about whether or not officers can wear their uniforms to court? I’m also disturbed by hearing the judge yell at the City’s prosecuting attorney. This is the first I’ve heard of this situation. Why is the court telling officers to not wear their uniforms to court?

  4. Interpretation:
    The three Councilmembers are saying that because of their lacking experience, common sense, or intelligence, they are falling back on ill-conceived rationalizations and other excuses.

  5. why we are still talking about all this….? we are well past the point of trying to get straight answers from the mayor or the councilmembers; their actions and mismanagement of this is well-documented.

    I’m a bottom-liner. what do we do now… this week? I don’t know how it (politics, city leadership, etc) all works, but what can we do immediately to:

    1) get rid of the mayor and the 3 councilmembers?

    2) make sure chief lawless is promoted to a permanent position of the police department, a he should have been from the beginning?

    does anyone know? I’m seriously asking…. do we, the citizens, have any power to act right now? and if so, what can we do?

  6. I read this letter as “we weren’t sure what to do. We panicked. And hit the gas.” On the surface, just the sign of improper core reaction. Dig a little deeper and it seems that all three were a little too quick to hit the gas right behind the council president. Panic reaction or a coordinated approach? I can’t say for sure but I know what I believe.

    Sad part is that the Edmonds Squad is in the majority. Look for many similar actions and votes over the next year until the opportunity to vote out two of them.

  7. Weasel words. Yet somehow another new Councilmember (Vivian Olson) was concerned enough to pursue it. She somehow now doesn’t need the weasly non apology and probably isn’t searching for a path forward either. Being elected is when you have the trust of the electorate based on your statements of competence, good judgement and issues. These three ( one of whom was not elected but don’t get me started on that process) now somehow think that the damage done is their direct fault. Path forward? Resign. You have not done your jobs nor followed your oaths to adhere to the laws. There could have been a full throated apology but instead it is weasel words. I believe in social justice, but I have tired of systemic cronyism Edmonds inspires. These three as well as the now apparently distanced Monillas all need to go. If Edmonds doesn’t get sued for discrimination it should. Mr Pruitt has been thrown under the bus, and the Mayor just backed it over him again. Chief Lawless is a saint if he puts up with this for another round, and the Press Officer quit. Trust and going forward???

  8. I wonder what percentage of our community support the 3 improvements the Council Members mention (removal of school resource officers, non compliance with a court order and no criminal charges for those driving without a license)? I haven’t seen any information from the school or city that convinces me these these are improvements.

  9. The courageous actions would be
    1. for the 3 of you to ask for forgiveness from the entire community that you have hurt so deeply
    2. step down before the end of year so our whole community and the 3 of you can heal and have closure

  10. This reads as if it were written by a 1st grader. We are in a sorry state if this is the mentality of those that are supposed to be making informed decisions on behalf of the citizens of Edmonds! Going forward, We all had better pay closer attention to those that we are electing to these positions! Wake up citizens of Edmonds!

    1. You’ve stated the main reason I requested interpretations of it. Its probably the result of three write-ups being poorly combined.

      1. I am deeply concerned about the damage done to our city and more future damage these 5 will do to our community.

  11. It could be that all of this is “bigger” than Chief Lawless and Mr. Pruitt. One doesn’t have to look far (I encourage one to do so) to discover the connections between the finance director, the newly appointed MC judge, the outgoing judge – Coburn (progressive voters guide) – and Mr. Nelson. Friendships are forged over time but one could draw a pattern – and an agenda – especially in light of the council vote.

    And certainly from the areas of “insight” described in this letter. Listen to the “non-compliance” recording. I get it: control the words, control the culture. This statement is cleverly phrased just as AFM’s question was when she asked if Mr. Pruitt was ever convicted.

    Public disclosure requests reveal that Ms. Paine was aware of the court testimony. She is now to be the incoming council president – unless, of course, she, Luke, and Laura do what would be prudent: to apologize. Own it. And then step down for dereliction of duty and violating the non-partisan manner of the office.

    This is their opportunity to truly lead with integrity and honor – to do the right thing – understanding that both their examples, the mayor and the current council president, have not.

  12. “We could have done the right thing but we didn’t; we have a vision for our city and thought this would be a shortcut to get us there. It turns out we were wrong about that. We are sorry we got caught.”

  13. What a pack of weasels….they make incredibly bad decisions and blame it on “inexperience”.
    If you 3 are inexperienced and lack good judgement, then do the honorable thing and resign.

    These 3 and Mayor Nelson are a sorry lot, and are damaging a great small city with a wonderful friendly, welcoming, caring and open-minded citizenry.
    They are bringing disrepute on our amazing town by publicly calling it “racist” on TV – based on what?
    Where are the facts?
    Then they ram a bad decision through based solely on race, not qualifications, get caught at it and hide behind excuses.

    You 3 and Mayor Nelson are making a great city a laughingstock.
    Please resign and go away before you cause more harm.

  14. Having followed this debacle through the articles here and the local news, it is definitely the amatuer hour with the Mayor and most of City Council. No one taking responsibility, no apologies, no leadership. You have a respected Veteran in Lawless who for some reason was good enough and became not good enough. Why is that?
    If one digs through comments made by certain council members along with the Mayor, you may form an opinion as to why that occurred. Not cool.
    The Mayor has been tone deaf and smug through this ordeal and along with four council members doing their best 3 stooges act ( plus 1) by ramming this vote through even though there were requests to delay the vote due to concerns. Serious damage has now been done. If the five of them care about the citizens of this city and this police department they will do the right thing and step down. The Clown show needs to conclude.

  15. It was clear to me, an Edmonds resident with no special access to information, that the selection of Chief Pruitt was ideologically driven and unsupportable given Pruitt’s history. I emailed every council member with my concerns prior to their vote. I am sure that many others communicated similar concerns to the city council. For Susan Paine, Luke Distelhorst and Laura Johnson to so shamefully defend themselves, to seek refuge in obfuscation and to appeal to inexperience would be laughable were their actions not so consequential. Adrienne Fraley-Monillas and Michael Nelson apparently can’t even be bothered to stoop to so low a level as to directly address those they supposedly represent.

    All five must do the right thing for Edmonds and step down. The mayor and those city council members responsible for this terrible state of affairs are clearly unfit for their positions.

  16. This letter further indicates the poor judgement these three council members have displayed during their first year in office. Why would you ever send a letter like this to a local news outlet? It takes no responsibility, blames others for their actions, provides no solution for the future, does not respond to the public comments that have been pouring in over the past three weeks and does not explain why they need to vote together all the time, instead of acting as three individual council members who were elected and appointed to serve our city.

  17. So there is a lot of complaining about what has happened (justified in my book) How the heck do we get rid of the mayor???????? No one has said anything about this process; only asking him to step down. (which we know he will not do) So anyone know how we move people out of position? Or maybe I should ask our Mayor since he is good at this.

    1. MRSC, a private nonprofit organization serving local governments in Washington State, has a 2012 article on its website titled: Elected Officials Can be Subject to Recall for Violating Employment Laws.

      The article includes discussion of recall in general.

      I don’t have time right now to research whether the laws mentioned are still current, but the article might be a good starting point for research.

      The MRSC website can be searched, so a search for “recall” should provide more helpful information.

      1. Speaking of MRSC, someone else emailed a suggestion for review that people might find helpful:

        Following is a link to a document / handbook that they developed that should be required reading for every mayor and city council member plus any citizen that wants to sit in the back seat. It is designed specifically for local governments such as Edmonds who operate under a mayor-council form of government (as opposed to the manager-council form).

  18. “Together, we need a clearly stated path forward which restores faith in decision making and our professional process. A clear path to meet our community’s changing needs. A clear path using collaboration and mutual understanding.”

    Sooooo politically correct and says nothing. All the the citizens get are excuses, blaming everyone else.
    Where is the apology for not listening to people of this community or to the 3 councilmembers who did attempt to delay the appointment until all the information was reviewed, but instead choose to push through this appointment? Where is the acknowledgement of their role in creating this mess? Where is confirmation that the citizens request to appoint Lawless will be supported? Nothing!

    The Mayor and 4 councilmembers need to resign.

  19. Mark, who is the council member receiving money from the Open Society Foundation? This should be of great concern to Edmonds. I think it’s fair to name the person.

  20. It’s amazing how inexperience is the cause of their participation in this debacle and then one week later two of them believe they are qualified to be council president. I suppose that’s because Fraley-Monillas has been their role model.

  21. This is called try to save face and your political careers. You are part-time, poorly paid and largely irrelevant very minor political place holders in the great scheme of things. The only real serious power base in our city’s government is the Mayoral position. It’s designed that way. These kinds of situations are never going to end in Edmonds as long as we have the style of government we have.

    Contrary to Mr. Wambolt’s often cited view about voting by party causing all our problems, that is not the main or only issue here. I did not vote for Mr. Tibbott because I was then a Democrat. I voted against him because he colluded with a mayor behind the council’s back and had to publicly apologize for that. Before the election, I met Mr. Tibbott personally and really liked him. I debated with myself a lot, but ended up listening to Nelson who talked the talk pretty good. I got badly fooled.

    We need to go to a full time strong council / weak mayor form of government with a city manager. I would suggest five council persons voted out of districts with specific constituents to answer to at the ballot box. My vision would be the council hiring a competent person like Phil Williams as the city manager, for example. The council persons would function as both executives in charge of the manager and ombudsmen for their geographical constituents who they have to please to retain their relatively well paid full time positions.

    I do think Ron has a very valid point that the Democratic party has meddled in Edmond’s politics. I just don’t agree that it’s the full story or problem.

    1. Wright, you keep advocating for a Ward/electoral district system, but perhaps you could point to some examples where a Ward system at the municipal has actually worked? I personally think that a weak mayor/entrenched Ward-system council is a bad idea (take a look how that works in Seattle), but am willing to consider it if you can apply it to existing cases. Certainly the present controversy alone is not enough to change a system of muni government (with the added costs of “full time” councilors), so how about making a broader case for it here in Edmonds?

      1. From what I’ve heard it works pretty well in Shoreline and not so hot in Mill Creek. Mill Creek has had series of bad apple managers with no good fix so far. I would agree it is not something you would just leap into without looking into A LOT. I’m just starting to study this a bit and have lots else going on right now, but I know Shoreline does a city satisfaction survey by an outside vendor every year. In 2018 the over all satisfaction survey was 92% favorable up from 87% the prior year from what I read on their website. I realize this doesn’t prove anything.

        I think comparing Seattle and Edmonds is like apples and oranges. Seattle has way more types of neighborhoods, way more ethnic diversity, and way more negative influences from outside sources provoking disruption and chaos at every opportunity (world trade association riots, Trump sending in unmarked fed. agents, a long term corrupt and sometimes racist police dept., BLM outside agitators). Edmonds needs some way to make everyone feel represented and not seem like downtown calls all the shots with over controlling mayors often at the helm.

  22. RCW 29A.56.110
    Initiating proceedings—Statement—Contents—Verification—Definitions.

    Whenever any legal voter of the state or of any political subdivision thereof, either individually or on behalf of an organization, desires to demand the recall and discharge of any elective public officer of the state or of such political subdivision, as the case may be, under the provisions of sections 33 and 34 of Article 1 of the Constitution, the voter shall prepare a typewritten charge, reciting that such officer, naming him or her and giving the title of the office, has committed an act or acts of malfeasance, or an act or acts of misfeasance while in office, or has violated the oath of office, or has been guilty of any two or more of the acts specified in the Constitution as grounds for recall. The charge shall state the act or acts complained of in concise language, give a detailed description including the approximate date, location, and nature of each act complained of, be signed by the person or persons making the charge, give their respective post office addresses, and be verified under oath that the person or persons believe the charge or charges to be true and have knowledge of the alleged facts upon which the stated grounds for recall are based.
    For the purposes of this chapter:
    (1) “Misfeasance” or “malfeasance” in office means any wrongful conduct that affects, interrupts, or interferes with the performance of official duty;
    (a) Additionally, “misfeasance” in office means the performance of a duty in an improper manner; and
    (b) Additionally, “malfeasance” in office means the commission of an unlawful act;
    (2) “Violation of the oath of office” means the neglect or knowing failure by an elective public officer to perform faithfully a duty imposed by law.

    1. Thank you for posting this. Oaths of Office are very important.

      Sadly, none of our 8 elected officials have taken an oath to support our local ordinances. They have, however, taken an oath to support Federal Laws and State Laws, even though there are conflicts between the two.

      On January 27, 2020, I emailed elected officials in Edmonds the following. The recommended oath removes support of laws of the United States due to conflict between Federal and State laws:

      Please consider using the Oath of Office recommended by MRSC

      Dear Elected Officials (Others blind cc’d including those applying for the open council seat that I had or found email addresses for),

      As a reminder, for whoever is appointed to City Council Position #2, please make sure they are aware of all differences between State and Federal law and please consider using the Oath of Office recommended by MRSC:

      I, _____, do solemnly swear [or affirm] that I will support the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution and laws of the State of Washington, and all local ordinances, and that I will faithfully and impartially perform and discharge the duties of the office of _____, according to the law and the best of my ability.

      I believe it critical to include affirmation that all local ordinances will be supported. I believe so because:
      1. Edmonds is a Home Rule, Code City with broad powers.
      2. The Mayor is required to see that all laws and ordinances are faithfully enforced.

      As such, why would anybody choose to leave support of all local ordinances out of our Oath of Office? Please consider using the Oath of Office recommended by MRSC.

      Despite my efforts, the improved Oath of Office was not used when Councilmember Distelhorst was sworn in on January 28, 2020.

      1. I had also emailed in the following on Monday, January 6, 2020. I emailed all 7 elected officials (Council Position 2 was vacant) and cc’d City Clerk Scott Passey:

        Subject: Please consider using the Oath of Office recommended by MRSC

        Dear elected officials,

        Please consider using the Oath of Office recommended by MRSC:

        I, _____, do solemnly swear [or affirm] that I will support the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution and laws of the State of Washington, and all local ordinances, and that I will faithfully and impartially perform and discharge the duties of the office of _____, according to the law and the best of my ability.

        I believe it critical to include affirmation that all local ordinances will be supported. I believe so because:
        1. Edmonds is a Home Rule, Code City with broad powers.
        2. The Mayor is required to see that all laws and ordinances are faithfully enforced.

        As such, why would anybody choose to leave support of all local ordinances out of our Oath of Office? Please consider using the Oath of Office recommended by MRSC.

        Thank you,
        Ken Reidy

        I was told that the January 7, 2020 swearing in was ceremonial – that they had all previously be sworn in.

        I wonder why nobody at the City questioned the oath the City has long used.

        The Letter to the Editor above represents that “As newer legislators we strive to make the best decisions, with the information we have available. We continue to learn, grow and adapt.”
        I believe that representation is debatable.

        Also, I believe information made available to legislators by citizens should be afforded more respect.

  23. “Anyone can become angry – that is easy. But to be angry with the right person, to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose, and in the right way, this is not easy.” – Aristotle

    In my opinion, the deflection of blame is something that we can be angry about.

    1. We should be angry with ourselves. We elected Mayor Nelson. We knew that radical change should have been expected. We, as Edmonds, have an opportunity to let him know and guide him in his vision of equity and justice. I believe in this case, he had a learning opportunity, and resorted to the best legalese that he could to insulate the City from additional repercussions.

    2. Council should step up to the plate and somehow acknowledge that the burden lays squarely on their shoulders. They had the opportunity to keep the same schedule. They did not take it. That was an error in judgement. I believe they know that now.

    3. Council and The Mayor have created an environment that calls for additional scrutiny of their approach. I am proud of their motives – change is difficult. I am not proud of their approach. The appearance of impropriety is impropriety. If I treated one of my clients this way, I would be fired.

    Now we shift to fiscal responsibility. The budget has been passed. Now we have to follow up on some of the hot button items in that budget. I would ask all residents to stay involved. All of us may not be able to pay attention all the time, but as a community, we can have someone on watch and steer our local government both in the direction of equity & justice, and keeping Edmonds a wonderful City.

    1. Bennett, I agree with you that it has always been the case that citizens should take greater interest in the workings of their local government (I would have thought that would have been a lesson learned after the experience with the Waterfront Connector proposal), and in a town as small as ours that shouldn’t be too hard to do. Furthermore, being angry doesn’t accomplish much of anything, whereas being thoughtful and willing to learn from experiences can fix even the biggest of messes.

      My personal view is that our council (and I mean all of them) are trying, notwithstanding some major mis-steps that have occurred. We have plenty of new faces there, and at one of the historically most challenging times that any municipal council could be facing in this country. To expect that there wouldn’t be some stumbles along the way is unreasonable, and too much of the present criticism has been both unnecessarily partisan. I like your advice – I too prefer to work with them, and judge them over the longer term.

      Finally, council may as well just save the bucks and give the job to Lawless – all discussions of qualifications aside, it’s been over 9 months, and there isn’t anyone else interested in the job.

      Merry Christmas to you, and to everyone else out there (not just those who live in Edmonds …).

  24. Let existing council deal with Chief of Police issue first. Override any city code requirement for another search. Decide that the requirement 1) was met, 2) only two candidates were found and 3) there is only candidate (Lawless) remaining. Appoint him as Chief before YE. If Nelson won’t do his part, he is hurting the city and it’s citizens (voters).
    End this NOW!

  25. “As leaders, representing the entirety of Edmonds, there must be a balancing of community concerns, lived experiences, and desires for what makes all our communities feel safe, supported, and hopeful for an ever-improving future. ”
    I have found that “lived experiences” is a “dog whistle” for “Critical Theory” and “Social Justice”. I encourage everyone to study “Critical Theory” and Social Justice”.
    It will help understanding Seattle Councilwoman Lisa Herbold’s “Proposal for Misdemeanor Basic Need Defense: this proposal was briefly discussed during budget, and after requests from other Councilmembers and the Council President we decided to take this up after the budget was passed. The proposal we discussed on Tuesday focused on the concept of creating a basic need defense: making meeting an individual’s immediate basic need an affirmative defense to a crime.”
    I guess if you are poor you can steal money and it is OK because your defense is you are poor and have a basic need.
    I guess if you are hungry you can steal food and it is OK because your defense is you are hungry and poor and have a basic need.
    I guess if your clothes are tattered you can steal clothes and it is OK because your defense is you have a basic need for clothes.
    What say you?

    1. I think it is fair to say most citizens of Edmonds do not look at Seattle’s Mayor and City Council as a shining beacon of light and one to emulate.

      I do believe that some of those who have made this mess, if answered honestly , would to a large extent agree with the agenda of their counterparts south of us. I don’t believe Edmonds is interested in having a Durkin, Herbold, Sawants, and crew wannabes. If I’m wrong, I just want a heads up on where the Edmonds CHAZ will be located.

    2. What do I say?

      I say that even wealthy people steal money (and for much worse reasons). I say that “hunger” isn’t something that anybody can turn off. I say that clothes become “tattered” when someone has nothing else to wear.

      I say that I have lived a long life of experiences (I have been desperate without money, I have watched people starve, and I had to wear tattered clothes as a child while others mocked me). I have lived it, and so I don’t have to “guess”. about it. To be sure, I don’t begrudge desperate people for making poor choices (I’ll leave that to you ..).

      Hey, it’s Christmas. In that spirit I hope that you have a very good one (but don’t eat too much food, because then you’d have to spend some of your money on new clothes …).

    3. John Slater – To quote General McAuliffe at Bastogne: “Nuts.” One only needs to look into how many retail establishments are leaving downtown Seattle with theft being a major factor to recognize how such a justification can impact a community.

    4. The point I was trying to make is that if Edmonds City Council shares the same “Critical Theory” and “Social Justice” as Seattle City Council in general and Lisa Herbold in particular, it is not a surprise that the Mayor and Edmonds City Council have delivered such a mess. Their decisions and lack of transparency in their mind is totally justified and there is nothing to apologize for under “Critical Theory” and Social Justice. That is justification in and of itself. Self-righteousness comes to mind.

      1. John:

        Okay, I get your point (expressed that way ..), and I accept it/agree with it.

        I am going to try to hit a “reset” button in my head, and hope our city council does the same. I still have lots of faith in our Mayor and the council, and I hope the future proves that my faith remains well-placed (they are all good people at heart). I do however share your concerns as to what possible rationalization could justify this mess.

        Have a safe and Happy Holiday (I really mean that).

  26. Councilmember Luke Distelhorst put his name in the running and accepted an appointment, displacing three candidates of color. There’s nothing wrong with that with that, but as we are reading this we are told need people with some lived experiences.

    1. Hire/appoint the most qualified candidate. To hire/appoint a lesser qualified candidate because of race is, well, racist and discriminatory. By the way, the most recent demographic information I could find from the Bureau of Census indicates that Edmonds has a Black or African American population of 1.6%. Fact.

      1. Listen, I agree with how you feel, but people who believe in meritocracy have lost this debate mostly because people we debate with refuse to understand. MLK said people shouldn’t be judged by the color of their skin, but the content of their character. Well, he’s not with us for a particular reason and Jesse Jackson took over. Robert Abernathy , like his epitaph says, “I tried.” Everyone must drink from the poisoned well.

        Council Member Distelhorst should step down because he was appointed to a position that POC actually ran a campaign for.

        1. Billy Thank you. I really appreciate you. This is a fall on your sword situation. I fell on one and know what it feels like.

    2. I’m being reminded that our Mayor also received an appointment that displaced a person of color seeking the same station. Isn’t this institutional racism? All the BS about appointing people with “lived experiences” is only intended to apply to Chief Lawless. This a white double-standard on part of our Mayor and Luke Distelhorst.


      1. This is at least twice I have read an allegation that someone who received an appointment “displaced” someone else. My Merriam-Webster defines displace as ” to remove from the usual or proper place.” and “to remove from an office, status or job.” Did that really occur?

        1. If one believes in the zero sum game, in institution bias, that a white person getting an appointment over someone not white, then yes, displacement is a proper word. The city council is all white, but some are also saying appointments need to go to people with “lived experience”. The City Council is a good place to start and they seem to agree with this reasoning.

  27. Where is the apology? Where is you taking accountability for your own actions? All I hear is you three blaming the so called experts and administration who fed you bad information. Are you not your own people or are you controlled by others in the council? You knew exactly what you were doing. You knew who the best candidate for the job was, but you looked the other way and voted against that person and now blame the experts? Huh!!!! You loose all respect and credibility with me when you can’t own your own responsibility in this mess. Your actions caused undue harm to the citizens of Edmonds, Mr. Lawless and Mr. Pruitt and to top it off your so called leader call Edmonds a racist town. Do you not understand how reckless that comment is. How unproven it is? How completely 100% wrong it is? Those types of false statements made in the media can cause severe harm to our city, especially if some radical group decides to come to our city because they think its racist. If you have any real backbone you will denounce that comment made by Adrienne and tell the truth…That Edmonds is not a racist town and that Mr. Lawless is most qualified to be the Chief of Police as stated by our Mayor back in April. That is the first thing of many things you can do to clean up this pile of you know what you Adrienne and the Mayor created.

    “It is wrong and immoral to seek to escape the consequences of one’s acts.”
    Mahatma Gandhi

    “Leaders inspire accountability through their ability to accept responsibility before they place blame.”
    Courtney Lynch

  28. Let’s begin to stop this madness by appointing Acting Police Chief Jim Lawless as permanent Police Chief of Edmonds and pray he accepts the position.

  29. The fact that they felt the need to put out a politic-speak non-apology-apology is a good sign because it means they think there is a good chance they won’t be reelected.

  30. The 4 council Members and the Mayor must resign now and move one. Do something right for once. If your true goal was to make Edmonds better, it’s obvious that the 5 of you have failed miserably. If you stay you only show us you are here for the power of the position and selfish reasons…..Do us all a favor and RESIGN NOW so we can get back to enjoying the beautiful place we call home!!!!!!

  31. I bet Nelson is planning on moving on to bigger things than Mayor of Edmonds and he is going to that by appointing a black police chief in a racist white town. That will show them.
    The far left will cannonize him and the hell with reality or facts. On to Govevnor!!

    1. Toby – Yours is the only city from which that offer would actually be a net loss for Edmonds. I write that with great sadness.

  32. Please reach out to Council and the Mayor directly about this issue. It affects our public safety and our community.

    Posting comments on MEN builds community, but it’s not the most effective way to get the attention of those who we elected to serve Edmonds. The main number to City Hall is 425.771.0248 Email Council and the Mayor. Send them letters. We have a voice that they need to hear.

    Would it surprise you that most people probably still don’t know about this issue. Tell your neighbors about it. Encourage them to follow Myedmondsnews.com. Encourage them to contact the Council and the Mayor.

    I know that the issue has been covered on the online Everett Herald today and on AM570 KVI three days this week. We need to make sure more residents know what’s going on so they can chime in and let Council and the Mayor what they want.
    Where else has this been discussed outside of MEN?

    1. Great point Rebecca. We only succeed if we stand together as a community united against those who don’t share our same love for this town.

      Here are the 5 email addresses of the people responsible for this mess. Let them hear your voice!!

      Mayor Mike Nelson: carolyn.lafave@edmondswa.gov
      Adrienne Fraley-Monilas: Adrienne.monillas@edmonds.wa.gov
      Luke Distelhorst: luke.distelhorst@edmonds.wa.gov
      Susan Paine: susan.paine@edmonds.wa.gov
      Laura Johnson: laura.johnson@edmonds.wa.gov

      1. MRSC’s excellent Mayor and Councilmember Handbook includes the following guidance for Mayors:

        Responding to resident complaints

        Residents often contact the mayor when they have a problem, whether it involves a land use matter, a barking dog, or a pothole. Work with staff to resolve problems, keeping in mind that you are not the individual with all the answers.

        For instance, as land use planning becomes more complex, don’t be tempted to give a quick answer or promise to a landowner before checking with the city’s planning department or reviewing the city’s development regulations. Consider referring callers to the staff person with the expertise, then follow up to make sure the matter has been handled appropriately. If a matter is normally handled by the police department, direct the complainant to the police department.

        City staff will appreciate your involvement if you make the proper referrals, and if you are careful to not make promises that are inconsistent with city procedures or policies. If word gets out that complaining to the mayor gets a more prompt response to minor nuisance problems, you are bound to receive a lot of those calls. Did the people elect you to solve the barking-dog problem, or did they elect you to make sure that city staff properly handle these minor issues?

        My comments resume here: Response to citizens is important, whether the citizen is complaining or requesting information. The last email response I received from an Edmonds Mayor was on March 9, 2012.

        I stay involved with City government and have sent in hundreds of emails over the years.

        For example, I have asked Mayors and City Staff to please make sure all citizens know what percentage of the Code Rewrite has been completed. I have never received any response to this request.

        1. MRSC’s excellent Mayor and Councilmember Handbook includes the following guidance for Councilmembers:

          Responding to constituent complaints

          Residents often contact a councilmember when they have a problem, whether it involves a land use matter, a barking dog, or a pothole. Don’t hesitate to send them to the appropriate city staff person for resolution of their problems. Keep in mind that you lack the authority to take action in administrative matters.

          My comments resume here: Response to citizens is important, whether the citizen is complaining or requesting information.

          I have recently emailed all elected officials the following simple request: Please advise as to the status of the CEMP and ECC Chapter 6.60.

          Even though the September 15, 2020 City Council Agenda Packet claims the Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan (CEMP) is due to be updated this year, I still do not know the status of the CEMP or ECC Chapter 6.60. I did receive a response from Councilmember Buckshnis that stated she is waiting too.

          I would hope a request for the status of something as important as the update to the Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan (CEMP) would be responded to. It is now December 19th and there are no more Council Meetings this year. Does that mean City government has decided to miss the deadline to update our Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan (CEMP)? The CEMP adopted under Resolution 1386 states that this CEMP will be updated every four years and that the revised CEMP will be submitted to the Washington State Emergency Management Division for review.

          Unlike the CEMP document, Resolution 1386 states that Washington State law requires the CEMP to be reviewed and updated at least once every two calendar years; If the Resolution is correct, our CEMP has been out of date for roughly 2 years already.

        2. I point out the March 9, 2012 date as it speaks to CULTURE. When our Mayors model the conduct of not responding to citizen emails, I believe such conduct sends a message to City Staff that they do not have to do so either. In 2020, none of my emails to the Finance Director or the HR Director have been responded to. I have emailed the Public Works Director many times since 2017 and received a total of 2 responses since January 1, 2017.

          In defense of former Finance Director Scott James, I was later provided an email indicating he had asked Mayor Nelson if he could share information with me. Apparently, he was not allowed to. It is possible other Directors have asked permission of the Mayor before responding also.

          The culture of not responding to citizen emails is one reason I think it prudent to consider a different form of City Government. City Manager is not perfect either, but why not periodically research whether we are using the best form of City Government for citizens of Edmonds?

          I am not sure why Mayor Nelson referred to a compassionate, caring, and welcoming city in his December 15, 2020 Press Release. How can Edmonds City Government be “welcoming” when Mayors choose to not respond to all citizen emails? Mayors also have a full-time Executive Assistant to help them. The last email I received from a Mayor’s Executive Assistant was March 12, 2012.

      2. Thank you Rod for listing the email addresses of Nelson, monillas, distelhorst, Paine, and Laura Johnson. I will be emailing them to express my dissatisfaction with their lies and antics. I suggest others do the same. After reading their “explanation” of events I would imagine they are not reading readers comments in any comment section; these people are not in reality, but exist in a narcissistic dystopia.

  33. When I was a kid my parents described this as “guilty by association”. The big issue with politics today, in this case – a group of progressives, is the “ally” or “comrade” mentality or system (yes they are actually using this verbiage now – that should scare everyone). They all agree to agree on everything they individually agree on. In more recent years, this was summarized best by the speaker of the house when referring to the affordable health care act “Obamacare must be passed, to find out what is in it”.

    These council members are guilty by association. The three no’s on this vote all asked for a week to decide their position. All four members voting yes and the mayor decided to move forward anyway.

    Think about that for a second. The three council members in this article where given an opportunity to shelf the decision for one week by the three council members who, in essence, weren’t ready to vote yet (because they wanted to make sure they had support from their constituents).

    These three council members chose to “ALLY” instead. They chose to “TEAM-UP” instead. They chose to “BULLY” instead. They chose not to listen to you but to make a selfish “progressive” driven decision in line with their “allies”.

    Wake up Edmonds, Wake up America, This is your time to remember and next time you vote actually vote for a candidate that has the same beliefs you do and, above all, is not a political activist but a genuine citizen of Edmonds wanting to help with governance of the city.

  34. Is anyone going to bring up the larger political issue in Edmonds? Adrienne Fraley-Monilas is a horrible council president. She makes decisions happen by bullying people into them, including the 3 who voted with her to rush the confirmation of Pruitt. I actually feel sorry for them as newbies because, even though they should have known better, trying to speak when Adrienne is in charge is a lost cause. They should all be prepared for the moment she throws them under the bus because she certainly will now that they spoke up in an attempt to make right and separate themselves. Adrienne is incredibly unprofessional and is focused solely on herself. She treats the council seat as her throne and sadly has been allowed to continue even though she should be warned about the way she speaks to the public, the media and quite frankly her peers.

  35. I’m late to the party, but what the what!!?? I realize we all have different communication styles, but….holy cow. I was so hopeful when I saw that the council members had ended their silence by releasing a statement, and this is what we get. The only messages I could decipher are: it’s not their fault, political-speak is fun, and they don’t know what to do.

  36. I have done a search back to 2018, there has not been one candidate for any position in Edmonds, who has taken money from George Soros, and his Open Society Foundation.


    The only Council Person who does not show up is Luke Distelhorst, who was placed onto the Council via an Appointment, non-applicable in Luke’s situation.

    There are small cash contributions, but I doubt any donation from Open Society would be in cash.

    If you have any proof of this, it is not listed with the State of Washington.

  37. I would like to hear from the other 3 council people how the communication is with the 3 authors of this interesting document and the mayor. The divisions on the webinars is obvious.

  38. This letter is nothing but a cover your butt for incompetence, arrogance, and contempt towards the civic community of Edmonds. Elections have consequences, this is a supreme example.

  39. Susan, Luke & Laura, would Mayor Nelson have brought forth Sherman Pruitt as his choice for chief without knowing that he had the majority vote with the council?? With all of the public’s concern about the nominee, why did you go along with Adrienne Fraley-Monillas changing the meeting agenda at the last minute (literally, it was posted at 6:54pm the day before the meeting!!) and moving the meeting up a week? Is this what you mean by being transparent? After re-watching the Dec 8th city council meeting, you had a least 4 opportunities during that meeting to take a step back and take a closer look at the candidate’s past record, but you chose not to. During the deliberations you had an opportunity to ask questions, but you chose not to. You knew then that there were serious issues with Pruitt that needed to be vetted out, but you still went forward with your vote in favor of Pruitt. With what you knew then and what you know now, I am wondering if any of you are willing to cast your vote for Jim Lawless as Chief of Police. In order for us to get past this, Mayor Nelson needs to bring forth Lawless as his candidate for chief and the council needs to vote him in. You can make this happen by strongly encouraging him to do so. If he insists on going back to a public search, this will continue to cause undue angst and emotional distress for the citizens of Edmonds & the candidates. Any trust that we have in your leadership will be gone forever. If you are not willing to listen and respond to your constituent’s thoughts and concerns, it’s time for you to resign from office.

      1. I agree! After wasting 27k for a head hunting agency who didn’t vet their candidate, stop wasting taxpayer money and go with Lawless, if he’ll even take it.

        1. Kari – Under those circumstances maybe asking for return of the $27K would be reasonable.

  40. The “beginning” of the issue starts with electing Mike Nelson as Mayor. According to a 2019 My Edmonds article, “Nelson said he is committed to giving Edmonds citizens “a voice in the future of our city. To have influence on where infrastructure investments are most urgent so our children and seniors are able to walk safely in our neighborhoods. To have a say on public safety priorities so our community feels secure in their homes and on our roadways. To have a voice on how we can best protect our natural environment to ensure our community is healthy. To have a say on how we can support our local businesses that serve a vital role in the strength of our economy.
    “We need a mayor who will listen to you,” Nelson said.”
    In retrospect, it’s clear neither the Mayor or City Council members listen to their constituents.

  41. There’s been a hiccup in the COVID vaccination deliveries. Yesterday the general responsible for distribution said that it was his mistake and he apologized. When a four-star general is able to state that he made a mistake and then apologize, it shouldn’t be asking too much to have a mayor and four council members do the same.

  42. Difference is the four-star general’s mission is service. The mayor and four council member’s mission is their ideology so they don’t think they have to apologize.

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