May 25, 2024 4:37 am

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Mukilteo council suspends oral public comments for virtual meetings

MUKILTEO, December 18, 2023—The Mukilteo council approved restricting virtual public comments, a 2023 budget amendment with hundreds of thousands of dollars in increases, fifty-thousand dollars in 2024 Community Grants, and 13 organizations for no-cost facility use at its last Business Meeting for the year on Monday, December 18. The Council presented outgoing councilman Riaz Khan with a plaque for his years of public service.

Mukilteo public comments
Councilman Riaz Khan (right) with Mayor Joe Marine at the Mukilteo Business Meeting on December 18, 2023. Lynnwood Times | Mario Lotmore

Within one minute of the call to order, Mayor Joe Marine called an Executive Session. After an 18-minute closed-door meeting, Mukilteo Council Vice President Louis Harris motioned to only allow written public comments in lieu of oral remote public comments.

“I want to take the opportunity to make a motion before we get started with the majority of business,” said Vice President Harris. “It has come to our attention that there is a troublesome trend of people, anonymous people, disrupting meetings and using the cover of the First Amendment to espouse certain things unrelated to city business and cities all over the region. So, we wanted to get ahead of that by making a motion which I will do now to prevent oral comment virtually and only allow written comment via virtual attendance until we are able to update…our council comment rules.”

Councilman Riaz Khan seconded the motion, whose request later in discussion to limit oral comments by in-person attendees from three to two minutes was shot down.

Prior to the motion passing unanimously, Mukilteo Councilman Steve Schmalz clarified that starting at the current and future meetings that virtual attendees (those on Zoom) would only be able to submit public comments via email at Also, the requestor must specify for their comment to be read.

During public comments, in-person members of the public expressed their dismay with the council’s decision. However, the Council acted within its authority per RCW 42.30.240. Ever since the October 7 terrorist attack against Israel by Hamas, a group of individuals have been exploiting public comment privileges within government meetings throughout Puget Sound spewing racist, homophobic, and antisemitic remarks.

“The resolution that just passed is premature in that no public comments were solicited, we have no history of disruptive behavior in our public meetings and it is discriminatory to a portion of the attending public attendees,” Ilona Bell Vann Duser commented on the City’s Facebook live feed of the council meeting.

Later in meeting, in a bit of irony and just minutes after sitting Councilman Schmalz voted to suspend oral comments of virtual attendees because of hateful speech, his wife Christine appeared to attack on the same feed as Duser, two engaged residents of the Mukilteo community who were attending the meeting in person calling their views “deadly,” “full of hate,” and “prejudice.”

Mukilteo public comments
City of Mukilteo Government Facebook live feed of the council meeting on December 18, 2023. SOURCE:

“The Damoffs hog all public comments,” Christine Schmalz wrote. “Some of their views were deadly upsetting and full of hate and prejudice. But you are correct they have a right to speak but to what end?”

It is unclear to what specific “public comments,” past or present, by the Damoffs of Mukilteo Mrs. Schmalz was referring.

On December 20, 2023, The Lynnwood Times was notified by Mrs. Schmalz that what was posted to the Mukilteo City Council meeting Facebook feed was in error due to the autocorrect feature on her cellphone. The original post did not accurately reflect her views and below is the now edited version, replacing the words “deadly upsetting” with “very upsetting.”

The Council adopted Ordinance No. 1491, with a unanimous vote (6-0, Council President Elizabeth Crawford was absent from the meeting), amending the 2023 Budget for Facilities Maintenance, Fund 518, and formalizing a previous approved expenditure, adjusting award amount of Hotel/Motel Lodging Tax grant to the Lighthouse Festival City Staff Support.

The 2023 Year-end Budget Amendment addresses the following changes:

  • General Fund: Additional transfer-out to Facilities Maintenance, Fund 518, to increase various line-item expenditures by a total of $245,594.
  • Facilities Maintenance
    • Additional transfer-in from the General Fund to increase the Facilities Maintenance fund by $245,594.
    • Additional increase to City Hall expenditures: $18,794.
    • Additional increase to the Mukilteo Police Dept expenditures: $24,205.
    • Additional increase to the Mukilteo Fire Dept expenditures: $32,955.
    • Additional increase to Public Works expenditures: $41,186.
    • Additional increase to Recreation and Cultural Development expenditures: $77,509.
    • Additional increase in Hawthorne Hall Utilities expenditure: $860.
    • Additional increase for Lighthouse expenditures; $6,406.
    • Additional increase in Salary/Wages expenditures: $29,735.
    • Additional increase in Benefits expenditures: $8,427.
    • Additional increase in Facilities Maintenance general operating expenditure: $5,517.
  • Hotel/Motel Lodging Tax: Formalizing the approved Hotel/Motel Lodging Tax grant award to the Lighthouse Festival City Staff Support from $29,000 to $33,000. Staff incorrectly recorded the grant award as $29,000 instead of $33,000

Supporting documents: AB 2023-176AB 2023-176 Exhibit 1AB 2023-176 Exhibit

2024 Community Support Grant Recommendations

Prior to the vote, Paul Ellis, Past Chairman and current Board member of the Mukilteo Chamber of Commerce, voiced his concern that the Community Support Grant Committee awarded $14,000 of $50,000 (28%) in grants away from businesses to the City of Mukilteo. The committee consisted of Council President Crawford, Council Vice President Louis Harris, and Councilman Jason Moon.

The Council voted unanimously, 6-0, to approve the following 2024 Community Support Grant recommendations:

  • City of Mukilteo Recreation & Cultural Services Senior Programs, $7,500
  • City of Mukilteo Recreation and Cultural Services Indoor Playground, $6,500
  • Mukilteo Firefighters Benevolent Fund Egg Hunt, $1,800
  • Mukilteo Seniors Association Osher, $2,000
  • Mukilteo Food Bank Refrigeration System Replacement, $7,950
  • South Mukilteo Rotary Foundation Rotary School Food Pantry, $2,000
  • South Mukilteo Rotary Foundation Rotary for Kids Holiday Shopping, $2,000
  • South Mukilteo Rotary Foundation Rotary Thanksgiving Baskets, $4,000
  • Mukilteo Mukfest Pirates of Salish Sea Mukilteo Mukfest Pirates, $1,250
  • Kiwanis Club of Mukilteo Lighthouse Festival Kiwanis Salmon Bake, $1,000
  • Mukilteo Police Foundation Police Activities League, Shop with a Cop, Chief for a Day, $4,000
  • Mukilteo Community Garden Mukilteo Community Garden Infrastructure Replacement Project, $1,500
  • Mukilteo Chamber of Commerce Connect Mukilteo Website, $1,500
  • Sound Salmon Solutions Environmental Education for Mukilteo Schools, $2,000
  • Mukilteo Family YMCA Community Nights at the YMCA, $3,000
  • Mukilteo Community Orchestra Mukilteo Consolidated School Student Musicians and Mukilteo Community Orchestra Joint Multigenerational Performance in Spring 2024, $2,000

Every year, the City of Mukilteo awards $10,000 in Community Grants. For both fiscal years 2024 and 2025, the award amount has increased to $50,000 each year following action from the City Council allocating American Rescue Plan Act dollars for that purpose.

Supporting documents: AB 2023-187AB 2023-187 Exhibit 1AB 2023-187 Exhibit 2AB 2023-187 Exhibit 3AB 2023-187 Exhibit 4

Co-Sponsorship Grant Awards

A motion by Councilman Richard Emery to amend the list of the proposed Mukilteo co-sponsored facility use grant awardees to include one night for the Mukilteo Chamber’s annual Community Awards Gala failed after no other councilmember seconded his motion.

The City’s Co-Sponsorship program provides an opportunity for community members and groups to use facility space at Rosehill Community Center and the parks at no cost. These are nonmonetary awards and constitute facility use only.

The Council approved, 5-1, to the following recommended awards for City Co-sponsored facility use grants with Councilman Emery dissenting:

  • Project Linus Make a Blanket Day
  • Kamiak Performing Arts Booster Club Big Band Dance
  • Mukilteo YMCA Community Campaign Kickoff Fundraiser
  • Hugs for Ghana International Cultural Night Fundraiser
  • Packs for Kids Annual Luncheon Fundraiser
  • Mari’s Place for the Arts Annual Fundraiser
  • Mukilteo Chamber of Commerce Lunch Hour Speaker Series, Music at the Beach, and Beer Garden
  • Pathfinder Manufacturing Class of 2024 Graduation
  • Everett/Mukilteo Rotary Scholarship Luncheon
  • Mukilteo Little League Coaching Clinics
  • Mukilteo Lighthouse Quilters
  • Bloodworks NW, Blood Drive Series
  • Mukilteo Lighthouse Association for the Mukilteo Lighthouse Festival and Beer Garden

“This is a travesty,” Jim Tinsley, Board of Director, Mukilteo Chamber of Commerce, told the Lynnwood Times regarding the Council not approving the amendment to include one day for the 2024 Community Awards Gala.

Councilmembers Emery, Tom Jordal, Schmalz, and two Recreation Department staff (Dahl and Trofimczuk) reviewed and scored the co-sponsorship grant applications.

Supporting documents: AB 2023-186AB 2023-186 Exhibit 1AB 2023-186 Exhibit 2AB 2023-186 Exhibit 3.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Article updated 5:15 p.m. on December 20, 2023, to reflect the edit due to an autocorrect error in a Facebook post by Christine Schmalz.

5 Responses

  1. Just for the record, none of my comments are “full of hate and prejudice.” Instead of vaguely accusing me of that–publicly on the city’s official Facebook page–Christine Schmalz should provide exact quotes from what I or my husband has said to back up her accusation. She can’t. And it is absurd for her to say we “hog all public comments.” Any member of the public who would like to speak gets 3 minutes. It’s not like there is only one comment slot, and we take it. The reality is that very few people attend, and even fewer want to speak.

  2. All you have to do is listen to your public comments in the city council meetings to know that you speak In falsehoods and prejudice against our local tribes at every meeting. You often refer to the local tribes as slave owners in the past . In one meeting you said that the tribes should pay reparations. . The local tribes were never slave owners . I find your comments offensive and insulting to the indigenous peoples o f this area .

    1. You are completely wrong, and you need to stop making defamatory statements about me. Instead of mischaracterizing my comments as you have repeatedly done, you should quote my exact words if you want to criticize me, because then it will be obvious that you are not correctly representing my comments. At least some of the local tribes did own slaves. Article 11 of the 1855 Point Elliott Treaty states, “The said tribes and bands agree to free all slaves now held by them and not to purchase or acquire others hereafter.” Chief Seattle owned slaves. Of course, I do not hold that against the modern-day Tribes, because modern-day people are not responsible for what long-ago people did. I have never once criticized the modern Tribes. In fact, this past Monday night, when you decided to start defaming me, I had praised and thanked the Tribes for their beautiful display of Christmas lights. And even the slave-owning Tribes of previous times were not out of step with their time. Virtually every civilization in the world practiced slavery until Western civilization ended it. I always speak about the ending of slavery as a positive result of Americans coming to this area, not as a criticism. I do not believe in modern people paying reparations, because they are not responsible for previous people. Last January, when the council was discussing a land statement, I proposed one that was full of respect and good wishes for the Tribes. I emailed it to all the council members and spoke about it during a meeting. Instead, they adopted a statement that is intended to denigrate America (which is the point of virtually all land acknowledgment statements), which I think is a shameful thing. So instead of letting their bad statement stand unchallenged, I point out that the true legacy of Americans coming to this area is that it enabled the descendants of the 1855 Tribal signers to have the precious gift of American citizenship, and it ended the only slavery in our area, both very good outcomes. I have routinely expressed that I am happy the Tribes have the precious gift of American citizenship, which I would not do if I were racist against the Tribes. I have repeatedly expressed my good wishes for the Tribes. If the council did not read the bad land statement at every regular meeting, I would not have to push back against it at every regular meeting. I have stated that to the council many times. (Note: It was your husband who pushed to have it read at every meeting.) Again, none of my comments to council have been “full of hate and prejudice,” and it is defamatory and dishonest for you to say that. As I said, if you want to disagree with something I’ve said, please quote my exact words, because you have proved yourself unwilling or unable to accurately paraphrase. You accused a commenter of shaming you, but actually you are the one who has tried to shame me and my husband in a far worse fashion by falsely calling us racist.

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