On November 26, 2018, at the regular scheduled Winlock City Council meeting, Mayor Don Bradshaw walked out of the meeting over the amendments to the agenda which included adding back in public comments. City Hall had removed the ability for the public to comment. The tension came from a variance granted to Desarno's Treasures at the previous Winlock City Council meeting. At that meeting, Desarno's Treasures was given 14 days to pay to have her water meter connected or her building would be red tagged and she would not have been allowed to enter to retrieve her goods.
The agenda included reversing the variance for Desarno's Treasures, the first reading of the budget and the Memorandum of Understanding with the Union on Officer Curtis Flatray. The consent agenda included payment of vouchers but Clerk Theda Curry was not there to explain questions on the vouchers, nor were previous Minutes available for approval. Councilwoman Barbara Pedersen presented the amendments to the agenda, which included striking the consent agenda, the agenda and adding back in public comment.
At the beginning of the meeting Mayor Bradshaw stated, "There will be no public comment." Council asked City Attorney Erin Hillier, "Is this legal?" at which time she replied that public comment is a courtesy and is not mandated. Council then asked attorney Hillier "Isn't this a council decision?" Hillier explained that the Mayor runs the meeting but the council sets the agenda per the RCW's as it is a council meeting. This is why council must approve the agenda prior to the meeting.
Discussion continued with the city council and attorney Hillier regarding the variance granted to Desarno's Treasures. After a lengthy discussion, the council made the decision not to rescind the variance until the city attorney can work out the details as to what they need to do to keep Desarno's Treasures open.
Mayor Pro Tem Anne Randt made a motion to terminate the contract with the city attorney's office, which was seconded by Andrew Maloney. Mayor Bradshaw stated "No!" He also stated they could not fire an attorney in the middle of a lawsuit. Council was surprised at the mention of a lawsuit being filed because they were not told any such lawsuit had been filed. Councilwoman Connie Sneed stated, "and you said we aren't" in a lawsuit.
Mayor Bradshaw then tried to state that the issue of the variance came about because of interference of the press, specifically the Town Crier and Lynnette Hoffman, and the audience and council erupted in a loud "No!" After a few more minutes of discussion Mayor Bradshaw stated to his Mayor Pro Tem, "Anne since you are hell-bent on running this meeting, you can take the rest of it. I will not be part of what you are doing." The mayor then left the room.
The council continued with the agenda, adding back in public comment and striking the consent agenda and the agenda. The council also struck from the agenda the first reading of the budget, and commented that workshops were needed to go over the numbers.
During public comment, Amy Smith, owner of the building across from IGA spoke about it taking over five months to get her business license. She stated she has been told several different incorrect items. Several people spoke about not receiving records as a result of public records requests. The audience spoke and the council listened. After the meeting, several individuals thanked the council for standing up for Desarno's Treasures and keeping the business open.
The city council was notified later that the mayor had called a Special Meeting for Thursday, November 29, 2018 at 8:00 a.m. to go over the vouchers and to have a budget workshop. Mayor Bradshaw violated the Open Public Meeting Act by not publishing the notice on the Town Crier website or facebook page. The Open Public Meeting Act requires publication of the newspaper on record at least 24 hours in advance of a Special meeting per RCW 42.30.080. That was not done.
During the Special Meeting, the council objected to a budget workshop at that time and scheduled a budget workshop on December 6 at 9:00 a.m. City Council has shared with the Town Crier the financial information they've requested for the 2019 Budget. The Town Crier has been informed that some information was given to council at the Special Meeting but not all of the documents have been received. Mainly they were given training material by the Mayor.
On Friday morning, Winlock City Council delivered a list of financial information they need to make an informed financial decision which included debt schedule, projection calculation for all revenues and expenditures. The council also asked for information regarding special projects the city is doing. This information has yet to be received by council.
On Friday evening, Mayor Bradshaw had a letter delivered to each city council member by the City Police stating the council was in violation of Separation of Powers. Chapter 9 states the Mayor is to provide the Council with information they need to make an informed decision for the budget and the Mayor has not done this. Instead, the Mayor referred council to review the 2016/2017 Annual Report.
In the same letter, Mayor Bradshaw stated council was in violation of the Open Public Meeting Act but the city council has informed the Town Crier they have never met as a quorum outside of the city council meeting or special meetings called by the mayor.
The city council called a Special Meeting on December 4 at 1:00 p.m. On Monday, December 3, 2018, Council members Anne Randt and Barbara Pederson delivered the Special Meeting notice and Agenda to City Hall hand-delivering it to Cris Dodd, Assistant Clerk. Anne Randt also posted the Agenda on the window of City Hall while councilwoman Barbara Pedersen took a photograph of Anne posting the notice on the window. Someone at City Hall promptly removed it from the window. The RCW for Special Meetings states: A special meeting may be called at any time by the presiding officer of the governing body of a public agency or by a majority of the members of the governing body by delivering written notice personally, by mail, by fax, or by electronic mail to each member of the governing body. This was done.
The agenda for the Special Meeting delivered to the Town Crier includes termination of Hillier, Scheibmeir and Kelly, moratorium on spending, cancel lawsuit with the City of Toledo and postpone the budget workshop scheduled for December 6.
The Town Crier has received notice of the public hearing for the 2019 budget which will be at the beginning of the Winlock City Council Meeting scheduled for December 10, 2018 at 6:30 p.m. at Winlock City Hall. The public is encouraged to attend if they have any questions about the budget.