City Of Everett Cuts Out Part Of Public Comment Recording Of Recent City Council Meeting

June 3, 2021

Everett Government

Council

The Everett City Council and Mayor Franklin..

Remote meetings have proven to be a challenge for many and the Everett City Council has not been immune. City Councilmembers and City of Everett Administrators are working to get back to in-person meetings but are also looking to keep some features of the online meetings such as the ability for citizens and presenters to participate remotely. A serious problem has developed recently that may hamper that effort. By phone anyone can claim to be someone and make unverified allegations. The question becomes how to involve the most people while guarding against false identities and information. Here’s what happened recently.

At the May 26th Everett City Council meeting a person called in and made an allegation against an Everett public official. The person did not provide their address as asked and their identity could not be verified. A second person repeated the allegation apparently sharing a telephone as the first and the discussion was halted.

Had this been an in-person meeting there would have been a video recording of the exchange and the public could see the person making the statement. As had been the practice in past meetings where allegations were brought forward the parties likely would have been directed by Council to the appropriate City department for assistance. In this case that did not happen.

MyEverettnews.com checked with the City Administration and the Everett Police Department and they say they have no records of a formal complaint regarding the allegation made. MyEverettNews.com asked for the contact information for the person on the phone making the original allegation and was advised by the City that they do not have contact information for that person.

That night the Video of the full meeting was posted on the City Council Archives page on the City of Everett website. MyEverettNews.com listened to the full exchange via the website. On Saturday morning (5/29) we went back to the website to listen again and the video had been removed from the website.

On Saturday May 29th MyEverettNews.com sent an email to Everett City Council President Brenda Stonecipher asking her if as President of the City Council she had the video taken down. On Wednesday June 2nd we received an email from Council President Stonecipher advising she was not consulted on the decision to take down the video and she forwarded the question to Everett City Attorney to David Hall.

The Video of the Everett City Council meeting was back on the City Council Archive on Wednesday June 2nd but the first portion of the video was cut off including City Councilmember reports and comments and the video starts abruptly with the consent agenda.

On Wednesday June 2nd we received an email from Everett City Attorney David Hall regarding the video in which he advised that the City Council President was not involved in any decisions concerning publication of the video. He advised the video was re-posted without what he called the inflammatory remark because the City has not been able to contact the speaker or verify his identity. Hall said the City determined that under those circumstances it did not serve the public interest to republish an inflammatory, unverified comment, that portion of the video has been retained, and as a public record is available upon request.

MyEverettNews.com has learned there are discussions behind the scenes on how to proceed with public comments at City Council meetings. Arguments range from eliminating public comments completely, limiting comments only to those items listed on the agenda or as one City official told us, “With remote public meetings, there will always be difficulties but we do our best to ensure that anyone who wishes to address City Council is able to do so.” There was no mention of the comment issue publicly at last night’s Everett City Council meeting.

With Everett moving to Council Districts there will be lots of change on the Everett City Council. Three incumbents are not running for re-election. MyEverettNews.com will continue to observe and report on the happenings with the council.

Publisher’s note: MyEverettNews.com is not reporting the allegation as we attempted to confirm the identity of the person making the statements and could not verify that identity nor the validity of the allegations. Leland Dart, Publisher.



About myeverettnews

My Everett News is a hyperlocal news website featuring breaking news and events in Everett, WA. We also cover City of Everett information and items of interest to those who live and work in Everett. It's written by Leland Dart a former Snohomish County based radio reporter born and raised in Everett.

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