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

Abigail Hill, 19, is crowned Miss Washington by the 2017 title winner, Alex Carlson-Helo. Photo courtesy Jerry and Lois Photography
Local Miss Washington prepares for national stage

That’s right — Enumclaw is competing in Miss U.S.A. Abigail Hill, the city’s newest star, was recently crowned Miss Washington , clearing the way for her to compete nationally in the spring.

Suspect faces possible ‘third strike’ after alleged car chase, kidnapping

A suspect with a long criminal history finds himself in “third strike” jeopardy, the result of an alleged robbery in Enumclaw and ensuing car chase out of town.

Why now is a good time for a flu shot | Public Health Insider

With the holidays drawing near, many of us look forward to travel or seeing family and friends. And just as our schedules get busier, it’s also the time of year when the flu starts to circulate. We turned to Libby Page, manager of our immunizations program, to get the scoop on flu vaccine.

Election 2017: Change in Enumclaw; Buckley mayor race close

The 2017 general election is over, and although the results are still two weeks from being certified, many candidates are in the clear to take up their elected positions come winter.

Proposed recycling center sparks environmental fears

A proposed material processing facility outside of Enumclaw has some local conservationists worried about how it may affect the Green River and other natural environments. “The location of this, next to this natural area, just is not right. It doesn’t make sense to us at all, for a variety of reasons,” said Bernie McKinney, president of the Green River Coalition, a non-profit preservationist group.

Get your fill of winter activities on Mount Rainier

Mount Rainier’s landscape undergoes a dramatic transformation in winter.

Holiday shows bring out the classics, family favorites

Sumner’s two performance arts groups have a slew of holiday shows for you to enjoy.

Sumner students spent summer learning to define, defy boundaries

Four Sumner High School students explored the world of boundaries last summer when they attended the International Baccalaureate (IB) Organization’s World Student Conference in New York.

Antibiotic resistant gonorrhea found in King County | Public Health Insider

Public Health – Seattle & King County’s STD Clinic Director, Dr. Lindley Barbee, MD, MPH has found antibiotic resistance in a drug that is used to treat gonorrhea. We talked to her to find out more.

Bonney Lake, Sumner gear up for holiday festivities

Plateau holiday festivities are right around the corner.

Enumclaw, Buckley busy during the holidays

What’s going on during the holiday season on the Plateau? Here’s a list of activities you and your family may enjoy!