After watching its July 1 meeting on streaming video, you have to wonder: Are some members of the Kirkland City Council credible elected officials? Or do they just try to play them on TV?
I’ve been to a lot of city council meetings up and down the Eastside. While I’ve seen substantial craziness in just about every one of them, what I saw of Kirkland’s council meeting takes the cake.
Without going into gory details – and they are gory – toward the end of the meeting the council was butting heads over one of its totally messed up development issues. Councilman Tom Hodgson, with Mayor Jim Lauinger’s laughing approval (shall we now call him Jolly Jim?) then openly defied what appeared to be the wishes of a majority of his colleagues — and his duty as an elected official — by brazenly slipping confidential legal opinions given to the Council in executive session to a party in a dispute pending before the Council.
To watch this and the resulting stink that erupted is the ultimate in must see TV.
To her credit, Councilwoman Joan McBride forcefully protested and called the dirty deal for what it was. Council Member Dave Asher demanded, without success, that the ever present Kirkland cop go grab the proffered-then-pilfered papers from what clearly was Hodgson’s favored party in a quasi-judicial matter where he not only has the duty to be fair, but also to appear to be fair.
Hodgson and Lauinger’s appearance of fairness were no-shows July 1.
Understandably, people are aroused – and they’re demanding action. City Hall is already receiving demands for the resignations of both Hodgson and Lauinger.
If the potential consequences to the city weren’t so serious, you’d have to chuckle at what can only be called the Kirkland Klown Kar Kapers. The problem, however, is that when the laughter dies down, some enterprising lawyer is going to get a nice, new car from the fees generated by his suit against the city on behalf of the other side in the dispute.
On another front — annexation — things got even worse for the Council when it received a July 7 letter from King County signed by County Executive Sims and the three county council members who represent portions of the three Proposed Annexation Areas of Finn Hill, Upper Juanita and Kingsgate.
The letter essentially told Kirkland to shove off; Bothell is now the preferred choice to annex the PAAs. King County government now officially endorses Bothell’s annexation effort, sending the Bothell City Council its own letter to that effect. Executive Sims and the county council members gave Kirkland a drop-dead date certain to make a final decision.
July is turning out to be a disastrous month for the Kirkland City Council.
Kirkland has botched annexation to the point where former Kirkland mayor, State Rep. Deb Eddy, who has been an enthusiastic supporter of it, now encourages the county and PAA residents to talk to Bothell or any other city with a serious interest in solving the problem.
She told me: “The cities, as much as the county, created the scenario of orphaned neighborhoods in the urban area over the past 30 years. Kirkland has had about 12 to 14 years to figure out how to absorb this area… Kirkland’s proposal to reconsider the issue later is just not persuasive, under the circumstances.”
“Orphaned neighborhoods” is a perfect description of the PAAs. Right now, their hitherto presumptive adoptive parent, Kirkland, is in the process of losing custody for being unfit for the job.
Scott St. Clair plays his bagpipe and looks at the world from his Kirkland home. Learn about him at www.scottstclair.com. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.