Sparks fly over chamber’s letter to city council

A strongly-worded letter from the Enumclaw Chamber of Commerce – which took certain city leaders to task for alleged unprofessional conduct – sparked verbal fireworks during the Jan. 26 meeting of the City Council.

A strongly-worded letter from the Enumclaw Chamber of Commerce – which took certain city leaders to task for alleged unprofessional conduct – sparked verbal fireworks during the Jan. 26 meeting of the City Council.

The letter, written and signed by chamber president Beverly Olson, had been delivered to council members several days earlier.

In her five-paragraph missive, Olson alleged there has been “a pattern and campaign of intimidation and harassment” initiated by City Hall and directed at the chamber’s executive director, Cathy Rigg.

Specifically, Olson complained about visits paid to Riggs’ office by Mayor John Wise and City Attorney Mike Reynolds and a subsequent phone call from City Administrator Mark Bauer. All complained about the chamber’s decision to survey members and determine if there was support for a new logo the city was considering adopting.

“Using one’s perceived power to intimidate our director will not be tolerated, anymore,” Olson wrote, adding a request that future meetings between city officials and the chamber director also include the chamber president.

Reynolds has explained that he visited as a chamber member and not in his city capacity.

The tense scene during the most recent council meeting began when Councilman Kevin Mahelona noted that all council members had received the letter and wondered aloud what should be done about it.

Councilman Jeff Coats noted that it was a personal issue that should be worked out privately between the mayor’s office and chamber leadership and fellow Councilman Jeff Beckwith suggested that a council committee work to set up a meeting between the two entities.

Councilman Mike Ennis took the discussion in a different direction, noting that “council has a vested interest” when accusations are made against those holding the city’s highest office. Beckwith agreed that council needed to get involved, as the letter also lodged complaints against Bauer and the city attorney.

Councilwoman Liz Reynolds, raising her voice slightly to be heard, noted “this is not to be taken lightly.”

Wise asked that the matter be discussed in executive session, meaning it would go behind closed doors, out of public view and away from the all-seeing eye of Enumclaw City Television.

The city attorney agreed that the matter qualified for executive session, but council members chose to keep the discussion public.

“There’s no reason for you to get involved,” Wise said, pointing out that no allegations were made against the council. He made it clear that he was unhappy with the matter being discussed in a public setting and said it was “inappropriate” that the letter had not been sent to him.

Olson had e-mailed the letter only to council, but her final line noted that each should feel free to share the letter with administration.

“We need to have transparency,” Liz Reynolds said, defending the council’s right to be part of the discussion.

Ennis complained that the “contents of the letter are being swept under the rug.”

In the end, Wise said he would be happy to meet with both Rigg and Olson in an effort to iron out their differences.

Rigg was out of the chamber office last week due to a family emergency, so a meeting had not been arranged by Friday afternoon.

In a related matter, toward the end of the Jan. 26 meeting, Beckwith held up a resolution in support of the chamber that was, he said, written by Ennis with the help of other council members.

The resolution acknowledged “the professionalism and competence” of both Rigg and assistant Kim Peterson while also city the chamber’s board of directors as “a strong and able body with the necessary resolve to issue positive guidance” in support of the chamber’s mission.

The resolution, though introduced, was not acted upon.

Reach Kevin Hanson at khanson@courierherald.com or 360-802-8205.

More in News

Former Plateau resident lands role with Marvel T.V. series

McKay Stewart, who spent much of his childhood in Enumclaw and Bonney Lake, will be joining the Marvel universe in a new episode of “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” airing Friday, Jan. 19.

Black Diamond hits the reset button

The new Black Diamond City Council wasted no time on settling in and testing the political waters. On their first meeting of the year, new Councilwomen Melissa Oglesbee and Erin Stout and returning Councilwomen Tamie Deady and Janie Edelman marched through a long list of agenda items, many of which reversed council policies and goals set over the last two years.

Citizen group urges council to start pool planning

With the Sumner High School pool closing at the end of the 2018-2019 swim season, residents are asking the City of Bonney Lake to build a city pool to house the Panther and Spartan swim teams. A presentation on why the council should start planning a pool as quickly as possible is being held Tuesday, Jan. 23.

Bonney Lake releases findings on water meter tests, ends internal audit

Dozens of residents complained to the council last October about what they called impossibly high water bills. After several months performing an internal audit of the water utility system, including testing 43 water meters from homes that received a high water bills, the city holds there is no bug in the system, and residents used the amount of water recorded on their bills. But some residents, and even councilmembers, remain unconvinced.

White River Valley Museum opens “Suffer for Beauty” exhibit

Corsets, bras, and bustles, oh my! The White River Valley Museum is hosting its new event, “Suffer for Beauty,” which is all about the changing ideals of female beauty through the ages. The exhibit runs through June 17.

Teacher, student reconnect at living center after 66 years

A person can change in 66 years. At the very least, they’re going to look pretty different. So when Robert Terrell, 96, and Margaret (Peggy) Burley, 75, ran into each other at Bonney Lake’s Cedar Ridge assisted living facility last August, neither of them realized they had met before — at an elementary school, where he was a fourth-grade teacher, and she was a part of his first ever class.

Library’s art and writing contest returns to Pierce County | Pierce County Library System

Pierce County teens are encouraged to express themselves through writing, painting, drawing and more for the annual Our Own Expressions competition, hosted by the Pierce County Library System.

Sumner School District seeks name ideas for new elementary school

Want to name your new local school? Just fill out a short form by Jan. 26

Judge reproaches Black Diamond mayor, former city council majority

In a summary judgement hearing, King County Superior Court Judge Janet Helson said she was troubled by both the actions of Black Diamond Mayor Carol Benson and former City Council majority Pat Pepper, Brian Weber, and Erika Morgan over the last two years concerning potential Open Public Meetings Act violations.

Most Read