Below are observations from the City Council’s six hour workshop on Monday, February 7.
* The main topics were Council Role & Responsibilities, City Manager Role & Expectations and Vision for Puyallup.
* The council almost failed to talk about the rules relating to citizen comments at meetings until someone asked if they were going to talk about it. There was some hesitation, but then they began the conversation. It appeared, Kathy Turner, Nicole Martineau and Tami Brouillet were trying to establish rules as to what and how citizens could speak. They appeared to have an “anti-citizen bias” and a disdain for open government based on their comments. Hansen, Boyle, Malloy and Knutsen behaved in a more civil manner and refrained from whining. They were more in favor of free speech, with Malloy being the more dramatically vocal. Kathy Turner cherry picked comments by Tim Ford (Ombudsman to the AG’s office) by reading from an e-mail a citizen sent her and representing it as the actual letter from Mr. Ford until asked where she got the info. Rick Hansen derailed her maneuver by reading the actual letter authored by Mr. Ford himself. There was no definitive outcome of the conversation other than the Mayor saying “we prefer if citizens don’t use council member names”.
* When the facilitator asked council members to list how they perceived their role vs. the role of the city manager, Nicole Martineau said she felt council members were “vessels”. She had a hard time articulating what she meant exactly. She also said council members should be role models and that was easier for citizens to understand what she meant as they all watched her unwrap her lollipop and suck on it through the remainder of the discussion.
* A quarter way through the meeting, the facilitator asked several council members to stop rolling their eyes, smirking and displaying other facial expressions and body gestures that to her indicated that they were not respectful of fellow members. She said if council members can’t behave in a respectful way toward each other, how can they expect the citizens in the audience to respect them. Citizens had been watching Nicole Martineau and Tami Brouillet (sitting next to each other) do this from the beginning of the meeting. The facilitator told the council that perhaps they have “trained” the citizens how to act due to the public disrespect shown between council members. And, if they are indeed role models, why should they expect a different behavior from citizens at the podium than they are displaying themselves at the dais.
* Nicole Martineau and Tami Brouillet said they have felt threatened at times stating they had been followed after council meetings, citizens had asked for their emails (shame on citizens), citizens had rushed the dais after meetings (not!) and their car tires had been vandalized. That’s some accusation to infer vocal citizens are somehow responsible for vandalism.
* Kathy Turner, Kent Boyle and Tami Brouillet asked why other council members and citizens keep calling the AG’s office and/or Tim Ford, stating the AG’s office opinions are no more valid that that of the city attorney. City Attorney, Cheryl Carlson, expanded on the comments. Tami Brouillet said we need to trust our staff.
* Nicole Martineau said John Knutsen was encouraging citizens to be vocal, complain, speak at the podium during meetings, etc. She also said Knutsen misrepresents council positions on various issues at Pierce County Regional Council meetings which makes her uncomfortable.
* Kathy Turner, Nicole Martineau and Tami Brouillet also disapproved of a study they say Knutsen told the acting city manager, Police Chief Collyer, to perform regarding Sounder commuter city addresses. Apparently when Collyer was acting city manager for several days, Knutsen had asked him if such a study “would be appropriate”. Seems like Collier made the decision to do the study, not Knutsen.
* Nicole Martineau spun the “fear card” into the discussion regarding citizen comments at meetings. She used one more reason we had not heard earlier, that her reason for calling a “Point of Order” (during a citizen’s comment at a previous meeting) was to somehow disarm inflammatory rhetoric, similar to that which may have contributed to the incident in Arizona toward a congress woman. We found her statement both non-sense and demeaning as to the character of citizens present at council meetings.
* Mayor Turner stated she wants the ability to sanction other council members.