Fact, fiction and fluff

By Kevin Stoltz, Mukilteo City Councilmember | Jun 08, 2011

Last month, when I normally write this monthly piece, frustration had gotten the best of me.

The excuse I gave to the Beacon’s editor was that my experience as a councilmember the past several weeks had been negative, and I really had nothing constructive to say.

The reply back was she understood, but she then asked if my experiences as a councilmember, whether positive or negative, were important for readers to know about. Of course the answer is yes, so I thought I’d share what happened at a recent council meeting that I believe is cause for concern.

I’m not a fan of the way the city deals with community groups and events in general. That’s not to say there aren’t those who are perfectly happy, because recent Beacon letters will attest to that fact.

But the way the city handles community groups is arbitrary and capricious at best. I now believe that’s because the council has allowed policy to be set by the administration and, for the most part, is nothing more than a rubber stamp for policy items that come before the body.

The April 25 council meeting addressed “Co-sponsored Event Policy” and “City Facility Use Policy.” Translated, the council meeting dealt primarily with adopting policies that defined which community groups and activities can use city facilities without charge and how that would be determined.

The policy approach the administration presented to the council defined a grant process that would co-sponsor (i.e not charge rental and/or permit fees) community groups and events for a limited number of slots in Rosehill and Lighthouse Park.

The Point Elliott (large multipurpose) room would be available for a total of four co-sponsorship events per year, the other four general meeting rooms in Rosehill would be available for a total of eight co-sponsorship events per year, and Lighthouse Park would be available for four co-sponsorship events per year.

Here’s where the meeting went sideways in my opinion:

1) The policy recommendations from the administration never went before the Parks and Arts Commission prior to being brought before the council.

Considering the Parks and Arts commission primary duty is to advise the council on matters such as this, allowing the administration to bypass the input from the PAC tells me the council has finally completely relinquished their policy making duties to the administration.

2) At a previous council work session, I presented a room availability chart that showed between 85 percent and 96 percent availability on average for the four general meeting rooms during peak usage hours.

Even though the council president and vice president supported the concept of allowing community groups to use rooms that were available, the policy recommendations the administration presented to the council completely dismissed this information.

3) The mayor decided to weigh in and make accusations regarding his perceived use of the meeting rooms at Rosehill.

Unfortunately, the council chose to not only approve the information presented to them but also allowed the mayor to disrupt the reasonable flow of council business with his personal attacks. The audio of the meeting is available on the city’s website.

Not having council support is a concern for me and is really the underlying reason for me skipping last month’s column. I really needed to step back and observe the situation.

Having done that, all I can conclude is there’s a lot of fluff and fiction mixed in with a few facts in Mukilteo government. I’ve also concluded that questioning the wisdom of decisions made regarding the new community center will be met with punishment and intimidation from the administration.

After all, when all one does is take a deep breath and sigh when the flag is flown half mast for a full week after Memorial Day instead of a day at Rosehill, I’ve learned my lesson.

The preceding feature is published the second Wednesday of each month for The Beacon and is the opinion of Kevin Stoltz and may or may not represent the views of the Mukilteo City Council.

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