LYNNWOOD, Wash., November 9, 2023—The Lynnwood Public Facilities District (PFD renamed the District) held an impromptu Special Meeting Thursday, October 26, to discuss its By-Laws and Charter changes. For the first time in years the District did not include a zoom link to this meeting limiting public access.
The notice of a Special Meeting was sent out 25 hours before the meeting was to take place, which legally falls within the 24 hours of notice required.
As of November 9, the minutes have not been made available on the District’s website. However, the agenda notes the meeting covered an update to its Strategic Plan, a discussion on its ED Review, a discussion on its budget process, its strategy for the next 90 days, and By-Laws and Charter discussions as well as Board recruitment.
This latest lack of transparency comes amidst allegations of discrimination against fellow board member Vivian Dong, as well as multiple failed attempts to reveal its books to the Lynnwood Times pending an investigation of the District into its alleged unlawful attempt to remove board member Dong for attending a rally in support of Olympic Spa.
In a shocking decision, the Lynnwood PFD (otherwise known as The District) unanimously approved a vote of no confidence, back in July, of Dong, for her support of the spa, which is a District business currently entangled in a legal battle regarding a Human Rights Complaint.
As part of that vote, which was originally phrased as removing Dong from her position, something the Board may not have the authority to do, became a recommendation of her resignation. Dong declined to do so.
In June. Western Washington District Court Judge, Barbara Jacobs Rothstein, ordered the Lynnwood-based Korean spa to allow pre-op transwomen access to its female exclusive facility after a complaint filed with the Washington State Human Rights Commission. A rally in support of the spa was held on June 17 at the Lynnwood Convention Center, who’s governing board owns the property of Olympus Spa.
Approximately 250 people attended the protest, by both groups in support of the spa and in support of trans rights, but projections were that up to 2,000 people were expected to attend. The District hired a private security team, Jones Lange LaSalle (JLL), of nine people for an 8-hour shift, plus overtime as needed to plan for the worst. Additionally, the LPD placed a riot team on the 13-acre site with other local police departments on standby.
Olympus Spa owner Sun Lee was not in favor of the rally, fearing it would hurt his business and reputation. Pope wrote in an email, on June 13, that Lee was “pretty angry with the Lynnwood Times for misquoting him,” however in our original coverage of the spa incident we wrote “Lee declined to comment further on the incident, citing the controversial nature of the situation, and deferred all questions to his lawyer, Tracy Tribbet with Pacific Justice Institute.”
According to Article VII Section 3, “The District shall keep appropriate and complete books of account” and according to Article XI, “at its principal office… The records shall be open for inspection at any reasonable time by any Director and by any member of the public to the extent under applicable law.”
The District’s Executive Director Janet Pope informed the Lynnwood Times that the “Lynnwood Public Facilities district will not be able to meet your request for a meeting” for a Tuesday, July 25, inspection. The PFD failed to respond to our request for a 12 p.m. Thursday, July 28, inspection as well.
In total, the Lynnwood Times made requests on: July 23, 2023, for July 25, 2023, that was denied; July 24, 2023, for July 27, 2023, that was denied; July 28, 2023, for July 31, 2023, that was denied; September 1, 2023, for September 5, 2023, that was denied; September 10, 2023, for September 12, 2023, that was denied.
The Washington State Attorney General’s Office has advised the Lynnwood Times that the City of Lynnwood is the regulatory agency for the Lynnwood Public Facilities District. The Lynnwood Times has requested multiple times for the City’s assistance in this matter to enforce the Inspection of Records of the Lynnwood Public Facilities District, without any response from the City of Lynnwood.
Mayor Christine Frizzell was notified on November 9, to immediately assistance in this matter or the Lynnwood Times will be forced to take legal action against the City of Lynnwood and the Lynnwood Public Facilities District.
Citizen Action Defense Fund launched a separate investigation into the District’s alleged discrimination against Dong by Board Chair Mike Miller and Executive Director Janet Pope for their treatment of the newly appointed board member during a Lynnwood Luau on August 19.
In his letter to Lynnwood Mayor Christines Frizzell, City Council, and The District Board members, Maynard cited a possible retaliatory motive by The District’s Board and a “strong likelihood that violations of the state Open Public meetings act occurred” as justification for CADF’s investigation into the actions by Pope and the Board towards fellow Board member Vivian Dong. To view the letter in its entirety, click here.
The Citizen Action Defense Fund (CADF) in October filed a lawsuit against the City of Seattle for its failure to provide public records pursuant to a request made by unDivided Media LLC and podcast host Brandi Kruse regarding a controversial vote by a Seattle Councilmember.
On October 9, the Lynnwood City Council rejected reappointing Vivian Dong and Mike Miller to the Lynnwood Public Facilities District (PFD) board in a 4-2 vote during its Business Meeting. Most of the almost 40 speakers during the nearly two hours of public comments either voiced their support for Dong (two-thirds) or the PFD board and Miller (one-third).
Councilman Hurst, during the Business Meeting, read a letter emailed from Senator Marko Liias (D-Mukilteo) and signed by in addition to Liias, Senator Jesse Saloman (D-Shoreline), and Representatives Cindy Ryu (D-Shoreline), Lilian Ortiz-Self (D-Everett), Strom Peterson (D-Edmonds requesting the city council to not reappoint Dong.
On September 12, the council heard from eight members of the community either advocating for the reappointment of Dong, criticizing the politicalization of the Lynnwood Public Facilities District by the Board, and/or requesting the resignation of PFD Board Chair Mike Miller.
The PFD, a public entity that receives over $1 million of taxpayer monies annually from the City of Lynnwood, oversees the operations of the Lynnwood Event Center.
As the Special Meeting held on October 26 was announced 25 hours before it was to take place and its minutes have not yet been released publicly, it is unclear what the changes to By-Laws and new Board recruitment entail. The Lynnwood Times will be following up on these discussions and publish an update as soon as the information is available.