Gathe: Council would have violated public notice requirements

Following Monday’s Clash That Wasn’t, an attorney for petitioners announced that since the Vancouver City Council didn’t follow orders to put the light-rail initiative on the ballot, the group would sue.

As reported, the petition wasn’t even on Monday’s agenda.

Initiative king Tim Eyman sent me an email: “City officials are in charge of every meeting and they can discuss anything they want,” the Mukilteo resident wrote. “They are always free to talk about any topic they want. They can change the rules any time they want. They could have gone into executive session and discussed the pending lawsuit. They didn’t. They are not bound by anything other than their own predilections,” Eyman wrote.

But the specific request from attorney Stephen Pidgeon, as described in Eyman’s email to Mayor Leavitt and councilors on Sunday, Feb. 3, was to take a specific action.

“If you refuse on Monday to allow this initiative to qualify, then you will force local taxpayers to pay for the city’s and county’s attorneys to prevent perfectly valid voter signatures from being counted and to block the people from voting,” Eyman wrote. “You will force the handful of leaders and signers of Vancouver’s Stop Light Rail Initiative to privately fundraise $20,000 in order to pay for Stephen Pidgeon’s legal services. A simple majority vote of the city council on Monday night will avoid all that time, effort, and expense.” (bold face added)

And taking action, said City Attorney Ted Gathe, would have violated state law regarding public notice requirements.

“The e-mail from Mr. Pidgeon to the City Council and others was sent on Sunday February 3 and referenced the February 4 City Council meeting,” Gathe wrote. “The request or demand – however it is characterized – was to either place the initiative on the ballot (despite the determination that there were insufficient signatures) or in Mr. Pidgeon’s words ‘to otherwise provide for an initiative on this subject matter’.”

To do the latter would, at the least, have required a public hearing, Gathe said, so that the city council could hear from everyone who wanted to talk on the topic – not just those demanding action.

“There was clearly not time to adequately advertise this matter for a public hearing on Monday night,” Gathe wrote.

Stephanie Rice

Stephanie Rice

I cover Vancouver city government. Reach me at or 360-735-4508.

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