On December 9, the new Winlock City Council members took their seats and held their first council meeting. On the agenda was a hiring freeze and city attorney contract, along with a few others, but these two items seemed to drive the mayor to call an executive session.
The council did not have their groove after the executive session and for good reason. The executive session was allegedly illegal. Mayor Bradshaw had the city attorney's use the executive session to intimidate the new council members, even threatening them with being personally financially responsible. The strong-arm tactics were facilitated by the Mayor and executed by the city attorneys Sam Satterfield and Erin Hillier.
This is not the first time this law firm facilitated an alleged illegal executive session. Hillier, Scheibmeir, and Kelly held a purported illegal executive session in Napavine over 2 years ago. It is for this and other reasons that they no longer have the position of city attorney for the City of Napavine. When the law firm's contract is on the agenda, it should not be reviewed in an executive session. It should be reviewed and discussed in open session, and remain available to the public.
The executive session was initiated by City Attorney Sam Satterfield, who stated to the new council that if they continued with the hiring freeze or defunding they could be sued personally. City Attorney Sam Satterfield was educating them on the Collective Bargaining Agreement. An executive session can not be called for the purposes of education and should have been discussed in the city council open meeting.
The attorneys stated the insurance company was there to witness the attorney advising them against continuing. The insurance company was there to witness the attorney advising the client. The council was informed that the city insurance would not cover any lawsuit and council members would be personally responsible for paying attorney fees. This is not true, the council would not be personally responsible. Insurance will cover a lawsuit under errors and omissions if it was done in the best interest of the citizens. This same insurance company just paid a claim for the City of Winlock under errors and omissions when Mayor Bradshaw falsely accused a Toledo Police Officer.
It's important to remember that while former Mayor Lonnie Dowell was in office, he successfully negotiated Winlock's contract with the union to dissolve the Winlock Police Department. The attorneys at the time were Hillier, Scheibmeir and Kelly. The mayor, city attorneys, and city insurance company all colluded to give false and misleading information to the Winlock City Council.
Brandon Svenson, a new council member stated, "The residents of Winlock recently voted in much-needed change. Mayor Bradshaw had none of his candidates elected and for good reason. During our first council meeting, he conspired to kill the agenda items by threatening the newly elected city council. He enlisted the help of the city attorneys, city clerk, insurance agent and I suspect even our county commissioner Mr. Bobby Jackson, who was in attendance." Commissioner Jackson does not attend Winlock City Council meetings regularly, was it a coincidence that he was at the first meeting where the council was threatened and left shortly after the tabled items?"
Svenson continued, "The citizens of Winlock have the constitutional right to a government that functions properly with the correct separation of powers. The legislative branch of the Winlock government will no longer be suppressed by Mayor Bradshaw. This is not a dictatorship. I was elected to serve the citizens of Winlock not Mayor Bradshaw."
The Washington State Attorney General has written a synopsis. "If potential litigation is the reason for meeting in executive session, it is defined to mean matters protected by attorney-client privilege concerning a) litigation that has been specifically threatened to which the district is, or is likely to become a party; b) litigation that the district "reasonably believes" may be commenced by or against the district; or c) litigation or legal risks of a proposed action or current practice when public discussion could result in adverse or financial consequences.
Educating and giving misleading information to the city council does not fall under executive session criteria.
The first council meeting for this new council started with manipulation along with false and misleading information. Mayor Bradshaw started with his new council by putting them at risk to be sued for an illegal executive session.
Mayor Bradshaw did not respond to requests for comment.