By Lynnette Hoffman Why did the City of Napavine ask Governor Inslee's office to interfere with the fiduciary responsibility of the county commissioners to appoint Napavine Council Members? The Revised Code of Washington (RCW) 42.12.070 reads, "If a governing body fails to appoint a qualified person to fill a vacancy within ninety days of the occurrence of the vacancy, the authority of the governing body to fill the vacancy shall cease and the county legislative authority of the county in which all or the largest geographic portion of the city, town or special district is located shall appoint a qualified person to fill the vacancy." The only time the Governor's office should appoint a city council member is when the City fails or refuses to act (as Napavine has), and also when the County Commissioners fail or refuse to act. It is well known the County Commissioners were set to take action on Tuesday, February 28, 2017. So why did Napavine ask the Governor's office to take away the county's ability to act? Why was the first petition to the Governor's office signed only by Slemp and not Sayers or Sullivan? What was the reasoning for petitioning the Governor to take over and not allow our County Commissioners, who have a pulse on the county affairs, to act? In the revised petition to the Governor, Mayor Sayers and Council Members Jennifer Slemp and Craig Sullivan petitioned the Governor to appoint three council positions. What they neglected to include is those three positions were filled illegally under the leadership of Mayor Sayers and City Attorney Mark Scheibmeir. The petition to the Governor failed to include a timeframe explaining how the city of Napavine got in this position in the first place. Per the February minutes, the Mayor of Napavine was aware that the city council had only 90 days to fill the city council positions. So why didn't the Mayor or the City Attorney refer this to the County Commissioners when the 90 days expired? The next issue is, does the Mayor have the right to appoint Sullivan to the city council position? In order to answer that one, we have to go back to the RCWs and look at 42.30.020 which defines a governing body: "Governing body means the multi-member board, commission, committee, council or other policy or rule making body of a public agency, any committee thereof when the committee acts on behalf of the governing body, conducts hearings, or takes testimony in public comment." Nowhere in RCW 42.30.020 does it state the Mayor is included in the governing body. Is this council position illegal as well? Mr. Sullivan has now been appointed three times in the past year. Napavine has a couple of other looming issues, first is the budget. The budget was negotiated prior to approval by the city council. Was a public hearing completed on the budget? There is no indication a meeting was held and, with the illegal appointment of Sullivan, it does not appear that Napavine has an approved budget. Another issue is well number 6. Has it gone to bid? Again, there is no indication the budget was approved in compliance with Napavine's process for public bidding. Finally, there is talk that there are sodium problems with well number 6. Are the citizens aware of the high readings? Will a new city council be able to correct all of these issues in the short time they are needed?
Prior to the city council meeting on Monday, the Mayor and Council Member Slemp were in a closed-door meeting. Was that meeting in regard to? No explanation was made to the public as to the reason for the closed-door meeting. Instead, the door was closed promptly by Penny Jo Janey, Napavine City Clerk.
Governor Inslee's office has properly declined to review the case. The County Commissioners are moving forward to appoint city council members on Monday, March 6, at 6:00 p.m. at Bethel Assembly of God in Napavine.