All Politics is Local

Council addresses recall petition in heated board time

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Councilor Tom Mielke, a Republican, filed a recall petition against fellow Republican Councilors Julie Olson and Jeanne Stewart and Council Chair Marc Boldt, no party preference, on Tuesday.

If you have five minutes and 19 seconds to spare this holiday weekend, spend it listening to Wednesday’s short board time meeting.

It was the first time the councilors had the opportunity to speak publicly and candidly after Councilor Tom Mielke filed a recall campaign against Councilors Julie Olson and Jeanne Stewart, and Chair Marc Boldt.

What proceeded was a brief but heated exchange, particularly between Olson, Mielke and Councilor David Madore. I’ve transcribed it below.

***

Olson: In light of yesterday’s events, I just have a couple questions. In the spirit of transparency, and according to Councilor Madore, the truth fears no light, I have a question for Councilor Mielke. Did you write the petitions?

Mielke: I sure did.

Olson: And you did with no help from anybody else?

Mielke: Hmm?

Olson: You had no help from anyone else?

Mielke: Yeah, I did.

Olson: You did? OK, who would that be, just out of consideration for the rest of us?

Mielke: My attorney.

Olson: OK. And I have a question for both of you actually. It’s pretty basic, straightforward. Prior to Jan. 1 of 2016, did you two ever meet behind closed doors on the sixth floor to talk about county policy with or without staff available.

Mielke: No.

Olson: No? OK.

Madore: No.

Olson: OK, so you’re not under oath, but you are on the record, and there’s an number of folks up there who can probably help your memory.

***

Whoa.

Now, anyone who has read anything Mielke has written knows that clearly he did not write this on his own. We’ve documented Mielke’s struggles to string sentences together on this blog, and frankly, he’s usually so incoherent in county meetings that I frequently don’t even bother to try to translate what he’s saying so I can tweet it.

Olson’s suggestion that Mielke had help, therefore, is a fair one, and a question I posed to him in a voicemail after he filed the petition.

Guess what?

I didn’t hear back.

As for whether Madore and Mielke ever violated the Open Public Meetings Act by meeting one-on-one when the council was still a three-member board, well… If Olson’s hinting was any indication, we’re likely to hear more on that in the coming weeks.

To that end, Stewart also took a turn grilling Madore at board time.

***

Stewart: I do have a question for Mr. Madore. And this is based on a need to know, because of the nature of executive session. Did you participate in any way in writing the recall? Any part of it?

Madore: Uh, this is Tom’s lead, his attorney—

Stewart: That’s not the question.

Madore: I’ll let Tom answer that question.

Stewart: Well then you’re not answering.

Mielke: You can answer it. The attorney wrote it. I gave him the information—

Stewart: I have my answer. I have my answer.

***

Mielke went on to say “there’s nothing personal” about the recall petition he filed.

“There’s nothing personal in my opinion that we’ve violated the law, and it’s been brushed over,” he said. “It needs to be worked out and get through it.”

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Kaitlin Gillespie

I'm the education reporter at The Columbian. Get in touch at kaitlin.gillespie@columbian.com or 360-735-4517.

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