Winlock City Council gets down to business

By Lynnette Hoffman

The Winlock City Council meeting on December 23 showed that this new council wants transparency, and transparency is what the citizens saw for the first time in two years. The new Winlock City Council was elected for change, and change is exactly what occurred.

At the beginning of the meeting, the agenda was changed to allow Mike Hogg time to speak on his experience with the city law firm Hillier Scheibmeir & Kelly PS.

At one time, Hogg was not allowed to attend Winlock City Council meetings, which is a clear violation of the Open Public Meeting Act. In documents, provided by Hogg to Winlock City Council members, it shows a pattern where the city attorney assisted the mayor in violating Hogg's civil rights.

Also, on January 28, 2018 Erin Hillier with Hillier, Scheibmeir and Kelly, PS., sent a letter to Mike Hogg giving the mayor legislative authority to remove Hogg from a council meeting. RCW 42.30.50 is clear "In the event that any meeting is interrupted by a group or groups of persons so as to render the orderly conduct of such meeting unfeasible and order cannot be restored by the removal of individuals who are interrupting the meeting, the members of the governing body conducting the meeting may order the meeting room cleared and continue in session or may adjourn the meeting and reconvene at another location selected by majority vote of the members. In such a session, final disposition may be taken only on matters appearing on the agenda. Representatives of the press or other news media, except those participating in the disturbance, shall be allowed to attend any session held pursuant to this section. Nothing in this section shall prohibit the governing body from establishing a procedure for readmitting an individual or individuals not responsible for disturbing the orderly conduct of the meeting." It is the governing body who must remove disruptive individuals.

During the meeting on Monday evening, the Winlock City Attorney Erin Hillier gave 90 day notice that they will no longer be representing the City of Winlock.

Hillier immediately left after tendering her resignation, leaving the Winlock City Council with no attorney during the meeting even though she is not resigning for 90 days. City Council Member Lonnie Dowell made a motion to request for qualifications so they can begin searching for a new city attorney.

Theda Curry, Winlock City Clerk, quit her position when City Attorney Erin Hillier resigned. The city clerk used extreme foul language when she resigned. Council Member Connie Sneed stated she was leaving as well, but did not. The city council then called a recess due to the disruptive behavior of the clerk and councilor Sneed. As the mayor left the room, he too used foul language when referring to a member of the audience.

During the recess the city clerk informed the audience the mayor did not accept her resignation. MRSC is clear, this is not a two step process when it comes to appointments or elective officials. Once a resignation is tendered, it is complete. The Winlock City Clerk must be reappointed and confirmed by the Winlock City Council. As of press time, the Mayor had reappointed the Winlock City Clerk, but no confirmation by the council. The City of Winlock also has an ordinance that requires the Winlock City Council to confirm all new hires.

The Lewis County News was also voted on to be the newspaper of record. The council voted 3-2 in favor of returning to the Lewis County News. The mayor then stated, "I am vetoing it, simply on economics." The mayor does not have veto powers on financial matters and he publicly stated this was for economic reasons.

Several audience members stated that he could not veto it because of financial reasons, but that did not stop Mayor Bradshaw from vetoing it.

The Winlock City Council meeting was definitely a change from the past, there was a lot of discussion for each item on the agenda. Previous city councils did not deliberate, they immediately passed everything without any discussion. This new council was well prepared for the meeting, deliberating and discussing the citizens business as they should.

Before the council meeting adjourned, the Winlock City Council voted to have a special meeting about the budget. The special meeting is scheduled for December 30 at 6:00 p.m.