Letter to the editor: Edmonds — governed under the influence?

Editor:

On July 27, the people of Edmonds came to the second in person council meeting, since council had gone to Zoom in early 2020.  The residents were eager to speak about issues that concern them. Approximately 75 people attended this in-person meeting. The residents made public comments for nearly two hours. Topics ranged from requests for traffic calming on Dayton; concerns over the newly implemented “hate & bias reporting portal”, concerns about housing densification and more. Multiple people expressed feeling ignored by and invisible to the council, and that many decisions concerning Edmonds had been made in the dark.  It was a night of impassioned speeches from people participating in our public process.-

On Aug. 3, Mayor Mike Nelson responded from the bully pulpit, dismissing the people’s outpouring of heartfelt, honest opinions. He took comments out of context, falsely accused citizens of name calling, behaving uncivilized and he unabashedly slandered citizens saying “they were seen drinking beforehand.” Perhaps, instead of criticizing his constituents, Mayor Nelson should be evaluating his own team. The hypocrisy is hard to miss.

During the Zoom-only council meeting on Aug. 24, I was one of the many viewers who were appalled to witness a councilmember noticeably impaired while voting on decisions for Edmonds. Councilmember Adrienne Fraley-Monillas kept her screen dark and was only visible when called upon to vote. When on screen, she was seen drinking red wine clutched in two hands and clearly had limited control over her speech and faculties. This behavior is concerning on many levels and creates a breach of trust between council and constituents. This calls in to question, with a four/three vote often deciding Edmonds’ future, and with 80% of meetings viewable on screen only over the last eighteen months, how often has that deciding vote been made after drinking alcohol? The fact that Edmonds is being governed under the influence is frightening.

This unacceptable conduct is enabled when the council abandons publicly held live meetings. The mayor has falsely accused the citizens of drinking prior to a council meeting, yet in reality a member of his own voting block is drinking wine while on duty and voting on important decisions for us. Other members of this voting bloc, appeared to be covering for Adrienne’s behavior by advising her to keep her screen off. The mayor’s misdirection of accusations towards the people, while one of his own is drinking, leaves the citizens of Edmonds with no confidence in city leadership.

While the councilmember’s behavior saddens and concerns me, I hope that appropriate, urgent action will be taken to resolve this situation to assure residents that this will not happen again. Ultimately it will be up to the people on Nov. 2 to choose true leaders who are willing to address the fundamental problems at city hall and to bring competent functionality back to our city government. As a candidate for city council, my mission is to raise the standard of professionalism, accountability and transparency in our city government and to rebuild trust between the people and council.

Janelle Cass
Edmonds resident and candidate for City Council Position 2

  1. Thank you for the letter Janelle Cass. It is clear that you are passionate and genuinely care about this city.

    I am not very concerned with Council Members drinking a moderate amount, even during council meetings. For me, the issue of a lack of transparency and civility towards reasonable constituent concerns is far more troubling. There have been multiple incidents where both the mayor and AFM have been slanderously dishonest about constituents just because they disagree with their decisions.

    Having a variety of viewpoints is good for our city, especially when there is mutually respectful and productive debates about the merits of the ideas. However, what we have been seeing from the Mayor and some of his allies is vicious attacks on anyone who disagrees with them.

    I would like to note that while I have serious problems with the lack of judgement from councilmember Distelhorst, he has not engaged in the type of bully pulpit tactics that Mayor Nelson and AFM have.

    1. You are correct sir. Thank you for you honest and civil answer. Remember when they agree to only one day for the partying and fun and one for the citizens and the retailers. They agreed to that and then something happened and they didn’t get their way and the very next day he says I believe he said we are taking both days or something to that end. A pout and a take back because he didn’t like the way something went. It wasn’t the first either. It won’t be the last. This guy has a attitude issue and apparently a huge ego! I can’t trust this mayor at all and neither can anyone else R or L in my humble opinion which is my right.

  2. I sympathize if she also had pain killers in her system. Best wishes to everyone’s health. Susan Paine did a terrific job trying to coach AFM to keep her camera off. Is there a way to call a recess next time? If the meeting was onsite, it may have been easier to spot someone on substances and handle it tactfully.

  3. To me, this shows a lack of respect to the elected position and the people she represents. Talk about privileged!!! This is not the first time AFM has made our city look bad. This now seems to be a pattern. Maybe she knows her time is up as councilmember and she is now showing her true colors. Either way, it’s good to know that on November 2nd we can elect people who respect the position, people that bring class back to the city council, people who are true leaders, people like Janelle Cass and Neil Tibbott.

    As far as the Mayor is concerned, he was just whining because he knew that night that one of his voting buddies, Luke Distelhorst had just lost his bid for city council and he was taking it out on the people that were responsible for Luke not getting elected. Sore losers usually name call and make up false facts when they know they have lost the narrative. So I am not surprised that Mayor Mike did this. Yes Mike, we live in a democracy and when a leader makes bad decisions or has an alternative agenda from what they are telling us, they get voted out. Your next!!!

    Thank you Janelle for having the courage to address these important issues head one. You are a true leader and it shows you care deeply for Edmonds and the people who live here.

    1. Who knows . It doesn’t matter I don’t want votes to be made by people drinking alcohol. Come on… So if there is mention of this in council by-laws it should be changed to No Alcohol consumption before any vote…

    2. Per MRSC, Elected Officials are not an employee of a local government. See, generally, RCW 50.04.140.

      The City’s Director of Human Resources represented during the June 1, 2021 City Council meeting that Councilmembers are not employees.

      On January 25, 2021, Edmonds City Council adopted a new Code of Conduct by motion. The new Code of Conduct will be part of the new, proposed Council Rules of Procedure. Edmonds City Council has been unable to finalize adoption of the new, proposed Council Rules of Procedure – such was postponed once again Tuesday night. That may be fortunate as it affords opportunity to improve the Code of Conduct before it is formally adopted (via Resolution).

      As a foundation for an improved Council Code of Conduct, I like the old Code of Conduct (Resolution 1306) that Council was subject to prior to passing Resolution 1470 on April 6, 2021.

      Resolution 1306 said:

      In the course of their duties, all participants, including leaders, will:
      1) respect the individual talents and contributions of others,
      2) avoid offensive comments and behavior,
      3) avoid intimidating comments and behavior,
      4) listen courteously and attentively,
      5) conduct public business in an open and transparent manner,
      6) assist leaders in ensuring fair treatment of all members, and
      7) assist leaders in controlling disrespectful or intimidating behavior.

      Using this foundation, Council can expand its Code of Conduct to include things that history now indicates may be needed, such as prohibiting Councilmembers from consuming alcohol during Council Meetings.

      Even though City Council isn’t, Mayor Mike Nelson is still subject to the following under new Resolution 1470:

      1) respect the individual talents and contributions of others,
      2) avoid offensive comments and behavior,
      3) avoid intimidating comments and behavior,
      4) listen courteously and attentively,
      5) conduct public business in an open and transparent manner,
      6) assist leaders in ensuring fair treatment of all members, and
      7) assist leaders in controlling disrespectful or intimidating behavior.

      In light of new Resolution 1470, I wonder if the Mayor’s comments made during the August 3, 2021 Council Meeting will be reviewed for Code of Conduct compliance.

  4. I expect that the mayor will give a passionate speech about drinking before or during a council meeting and that it will be targeted towards partisan drinking. I generally cannot make it through a council meeting without a drink as well.

    I, like Matt, don’t wish ill health on anyone. I have dealt a nasty infection and they are debilitating. I hope Adrienne is able to recover quickly and with as little pain or complications as possible.

    With that being said, there’s a difference between a council person drinking during a council meeting and me having a Basil Hayden during a council meeting. I am not voting, nor am I representing the City and it’s citizens. A sick day might have been a wiser choice. The good thing is that the votes made last night would’ve passes without AFM. The bad thing is that it calls into question the votes in the past.

    Tom brings up a good question. I am not sure if Council Members are subject to personnel policies, but Page 92 of the City of Edmonds policies sums it up. It would be a double standard if it didn’t apply but I am not an HR person.

    If nothing else, a strong statement by Mayor Nelson is in order. Adrienne apologized for a lack of judgment, gave a reason, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t consequences.

    Again, on a personal level, I hope Adrienne is able to get the medical issues fixed, they suck, and I certainly have empathy and compassion for having to deal with any sort of malady. On a professional level, it was, at best, poor judgment, if not a violation of public trust. The appearance of impropriety in itself, for an individual in a leadership position, is subject to scrutiny.

    Adrienne, I do hope you feel better.

  5. Empathetic to anyone with dental pain. Better judgment would have been to medicate with ibuprofen then with Cabernet Sauvignon while participating in Council meetings.

  6. Sam Walker in another thread points out that citizens who attended the City Council meeting when the Online Hate Portal was first rebuked where accused of attending a City Council meeting drunk by the mayor and city council members. This is a total lack of self awareness. I like AFM, definitely understand the need for meds and wine. It’s just a weird situation, a camel’s nose under the tent, caused by remote meetings.

    1. Matt, I just think it is hypocritical for the mayor and council to rebuke citizens for only being “seen” and based on hearsay having a drink beforehand but not to rebuke a council member who was obviously drinking and voting during a council meeting. It seems like a double standard to me and shows the mayor and councils lack of responsibility.

  7. Mike Nelson, Adrienne Farley Monillas, Luke Distelhorst, Susan Paine, and Laura Johnson, all “cover” for each other. They are literally Drunk with Power. We all need to vote this band of leftist ideologies out of holding any elected position in Edmonds, and to those running for council who are endorsed by any of the named above we should not vote into power. Birds of a feather……..

  8. This LTE really relates significantly to Mr. Ken Reidy’s (full disclosure a recently new found friend of mine) frequent assertions about the Edmond’s City Government’s lack of having an up to date and clear code of ethics and it’s frequent failures to even follow the law in many cases, not to mention an obvious arena of incompetent legal advice from the contracted City Attorneys who basically just dance with the partners who brought them to the dance.. For example, putting things on the agendas to be voted on before required public hearings and then having to back track, wasting time and progress. Happens all the time with our part-time slip shod legal advice set up. A competent city attorney would have advised our Council and Mayor that Zoom conducted City Council meetings MUST be conducted with the same decorum and process as in person meetings to the greatest extent possible. Attendance and participation should be verified at all times with clear video and audio contacts being mandatory. When that isn’t possible the meetings should be discontinued until the process is workable. Personally, I don’t think our current form of city government can be fixed without a major overhaul. The coming election will just be a band-aid in the end. Changing people can’t fix a process that is fatally flawed from the start.

  9. I am not pleased with people who use hate language towards our Mayor and council members! What about mean spirited people who threaten with hateful events & phone messages to residents & business owners for putting a sign to support a certain city council candidate? Using hate tactics & hateful language towards anyone is plain Wrong! We love Edmonds. We are better than this type of terrorizing behaviors!

    1. Raymond:

      Obviously any form of hate is 100% wrong and should not be tolerated. Can you please describe specifically what you mean by hate language towards our Mayor and council members and the other events you reference.

      What other forms of hate are you referencing and do you have specific examples of the phone messages to residents and business owners?

  10. Thank you Janelle Cass for your comments. I can only say, the lack of common sense with some elected officials in our local government continues!

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