The State Supreme Court recently approved three charges against Black Diamond Councilwoman Pat Pepper in a recall effort. The petitioners — Neighbor to Neighbor Black Diamond — now has 180 days to collect 366 signatures before the recall effort is sent to a special election ballot. Photo by Ray Still/contributed photo

State Supreme Court OKs Black Diamond recall effort

The State Supreme Court has approved three recall charges against Black Diamond Councilwoman Pat Pepper. However, some changes were made to the charges against Pepper, so the signature gathering process for the election has restarted, said King County Elections spokesperson Kafia Hosh.

The State Supreme Court has approved three recall charges against Black Diamond Councilwoman Pat Pepper.

This case is Washington’s fifth-ever recall case approved by the courts. Another recall effort against Yakima County Clerk Janelle Riddle was approved at the same time on the same day.

However, some changes were made to the charges against Pepper, so the signature gathering process for the election has restarted, said King County Elections spokesperson Kafia Hosh.

The recall effort officially began April 10 when Neighbor to Neighbor Black Diamond filed papers with the King County Superior Court.

Judge Beth Andrus ruled May 10 four of the five charges against Pepper were legally and factually significant to move forward with a recall.

“A review in court must not consider the truthfullness of the charges, but instead must accept the allegations as true, and then determine whether those charges, if true, support the conclusion that the officer abused her position,” Andrus said during her ruling. “I do not decide whether the allegations are true or not true, and therefore by finding the allegation legally and factually sufficient, I would not be finding that Ms. Pepper violated that law — merely that there is sufficient evidence to support the allegation to let that go to the electorate to decide.”

Andrus approved the charges alleging Pepper violated the state Open Public Meetings Act, violated her oath of office by cancelling or not attending meetings, failed to pass a budget by deadline and improperly voted to amend city contracts with consultants on the city’s Master Development Review Team, which works to oversee the permitting process of developer Oakpointe’s projects in the city.

The fifth charge — that Pepper hindered the ability of the city to receive legal services by firing former City Attorney Carol Morris — was ruled legally insufficient to approve.

The Supreme Court met in an en banc conference on Sept. 7 to review the lower court’s decision, and whittled down the approved charges from four to three.

The court found the OPMA charges, the violations of her oath of office charges, and the failure to pass a city budget charges legally and factually significant to allow voters to decide whether Pepper should remain in her elected position.

The charge that Pepper voted improperly to modify the MDRT team was legally insufficient to move forward onto the ballot.

“(The superior court) concluded that once a developer’s permit rights have vested under law, the city council members cannot interfere with those rights merely because they do not think the permits should have been issued,” the Supreme Court wrote. “We agree with the superior court’s legal conclusions about vested rights. However, we find the evidence presented to support this charge insufficient.”

In between the court reviews, Neighbor to Neighbor gathered enough signatures to have the county set an election date for Dec. 5.

But since the Supreme Court struck down another charge as insufficient, Neighbor to Neighbor now has 180 days from Oct. 27 to once again collect the necessary 366 signatures.

“If the required number of signatures are submitted, an election on the recall charges will be scheduled in accordance with state code,” Hosh said,

Neighbor to Neighbor collected 639 signatures during their first round of collection.

Pepper’s lawyer Dennis Reynolds of the Bainbridge Island-based Dennis D. Reynolds Law Office said they are considering a motion for the court to reconsider its findings.

“All the recall charges include other councilmember actions or non-actions but they are not challenged,” Reynolds wrote in an Oct. 30 email. “In other words, the recall is personal, not substantive in terms of any negative impact on city operations. But what is really questioned by the recall is the conduct of a majority of the City Council.”

Washington state Supreme Court ruling on Pat Pepper recall by Ray Still on Scribd

More in News

‘I never worried about his heart’

A Bonney Lake family is raising awareness of the prevalent dangers of sudden cardiac arrest in the military.

Drivers take notice: busy bridge near Buckley will close for four weeks

The 82-year-old span on state Route 162 (also identified as Pioneer Way) will be shut down from 6 a.m. Monday, Aug. 20, to 6 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 20.

Levy money to aid senior programs in Enumclaw, Black Diamond | King County

By 2040, more than a quarter of King County’s population will be seniors. Healthy lifestyles and social engagement are keys to living long and living well.

Rabid bats found on Auburn sidewalk | Public Health Insider

Any person or animal that touched or had contact with the bats or its saliva could be at risk of getting rabies, which is almost always fatal once symptoms begin.

Enumclaw woman admits to multiple bank heists after recent arrest

Jaycee E. Kimberling, 27, was arrested Aug. 4, along with her longtime boyfriend, Kasen San, 39, of Sumner, for robbing a bank in Maple Valley.

Bonney Lake’s Chief For A Day officially sworn in

Rory Thayse was diagnosed with leukemia during the last winter holiday season, but six months of intensive treatment look to have been successful so far.

UPDATE: Buckley Spiketon Bridge early | Department of Transportation

The bridge was originally going to close Aug. 20. Instead, the bridge will close Thursday, Aug. 16.

In step with helping out

This was the third year the EHS track team worked to improve the trail at Nolte State Park.

Buckley traffic light replacement under way

The signal light project has been in the planning stages for some time and, according to a DOT press release, work was set to begin Monday, Aug. 6.

Most Read