MUKILTEO, Wash., June 25, 2021 – Councilman Bob Champion addressed the Mukilteo City Council at its June 21 Business Meeting, with concerns that their vote on the Housing Action Plan (HAP) was a violation of democratic procedure given the motion to vote was made before the council had the opportunity to discuss.
Councilman Bob Champion’s Comment on possible HAP procedural violation
“I would like to say a few words that convey to you, the council, my thoughts on how citizens lose faith on democracy,” Champion said to his fellow colleagues during Public Comment. “Our democracy is a form of government in which the people hold political power and rule through their elected representatives. For our democracy to thrive specific procedural norms must be followed and the civic rights of every citizen must be respected.
“From the discussions at our last meeting, the norms of our council rules and procedures were transgressed. And while procedures alone do not define a democracy, their presence is indispensable to its survival. In my opinion, any council that fails to impose restrictions upon itself, that fails to follow the rule of law with regards to its own procedures, that does not discuss, deliberate on, investigate, or ascertain all of the available facts before making a motion on their own conclusions as the foundation of their official quasi-judicial action cannot be considered democratic.
“The biggest threat to the democratic rule is the temptation for leaders to fiddle with established procedures and undermine the principles of contingent consent. At our last meeting this council violated our own process and procedures, and based on the social media chatter, the citizens of our town have taken note, a keen interest, and they’re watching what we’re doing. We have a lot to do before the end of this council session. In order that this council restore the faith in our democracy, let us take note of our violation of procedure, acknowledge it, and not repeat our mistakes.
“And further let us vow to conduct the people’s business in a fair, impartial and non-partisan manner. I believe by working together, within the framework of our rules and procedures, we will accomplish great things,” Champion said.
HAP Motion Recap and Meeting Minutes Challenged
Champion contested the accuracy of the minutes for the last council meeting held June 7,that read, “Councilmembers continued discussion on aspects of the proposed HAP (or Housing Action Plan).”
During the June 7 meeting, Councilman Louis Harris was the first councilmember to be given the floor by Mayor Jennifer Gregerson after calling for council discussion on the HAP. Just earlier the council heard about an hour of public comments, predominantly against adopting the HAP resolution.
Harris made a motion to adopt a modified version of the HAP – changes to the Comprehensive Plan language, educate the public about programs to assist residents to stay in their homes, and improve senior housing actions. The motion was seconded by Councilwoman Elisabeth Crawford.
“If you listen to the tapes, it went immediately to motion, so council did not have the chance to discuss all of the elements of the business item that was placed before them. Before they had to go to a discussion on the motion that was made,” said Champion, who requested that line be struck from the records.
Mayor Jennifer Gregerson agreed with Champion, that councilman Louis Harris put forth the motion to vote before the council had the opportunity to discuss it and that the line in the records would be removed. There was no opposition from the rest of the council.
Other Council Business
The council was then joined by City Administrator Powers who led a discussion on the rules and next steps in funding working towards a list of upcoming projects.
Other topics discussed during the meeting were:
- Local currency, such as a “Muk Bucks” option
- IT infrastructure and digital transformation of City operations
- City operations and communications
- Economic development, tourism, and business support
- Replace lost revenue, such as General Fund (including Recreation), Streets Fund, Lodging Tax