December 10, 2014
Councilman again takes exception to city contract By Tom Corrigan email@example.com
Though he took some shots from fellow council members, Sammamish City Councilman Ramiro Valderrama-Aramayo continued what has been his largely one-man crusade against how the city approves its contract for legal services. At a council meeting Dec. 2, a contract for 2015 legal fees was to be passed as part of the council’s consent agenda. Usually, the consent agenda is intended for routine items and is adopted with little or no comment. Valderrama-Aramayo asked the
legal contract be moved to the council’s normal agenda, allowing discussion. As he has in the past, Valderrama-Aramayo argued the city’s attorney should not be treated as a city employee. He further said the city needed to justify why the Kenyon Disend firm was automatically given the contract with no competitive bidding. Kenyon Disend has been providing local leaders with legal services even prior to the incorporation of Sammamish in 1999. For 2015, the firm will receive a contract valued at $188,000 or $15,677 monthly.
The numbers represent an increase of 2.3 percent, equal to the cost-of-living increase given to city employees, according to information provided by the city. Valderrama-Aramayo argued that amounted to Sammamish treating its city attorney as an employee and not a paid consultant. In 2016, Kenyon Disend will earn $16,083 per month. In looking at the number of hours worked and the amount paid to Kenyon Disend in 2013, City Manager Ben Yazici said the firm was making an average of $266 an hour. After jokingly asking attorney Bruce Disend
to cover his ears, Yazici said the same figure for the first seven months of 2014 dropped to $162 an hour. While he was present for the entire discussion, Bruce Disend, a partner with Kenyon Disend, made no comment. An attorney herself, Councilwoman Nancy Whitten said she could vouch that Kenyon Disend’s fees are more than reasonable. “You do this every year,” Whitten told ValderramaAramayo, “and it’s almost embarrassing.” “I am honestly not sure what you are trying to accomplish,”
Councilman Tom Odell added. “Frankly, I’m getting tired of it.” Valderrama-Aramayo made a motion to table the contract for legal services until the city provided an explanation of the noncompetitive contract. The motion died for lack of a second. Valderrama-Aramayo said several times he has no problems with the legal work of Kenyon Disend. He said his objections stem from the way the city handles the firm’s contract. In the end, the contract was approved, with only Valderrama-Aramayo voting against it.
Board and commission vacancies not attracting applicants By Tom Corrigan firstname.lastname@example.org
City officials are seeking to fill several openings on four Sammamish boards and commissions that report to the City Council. The city Planning Commission is probably the most visible of the advisory groups, but the others with openings to come are the Arts Commission, the Beaver Lake Management District Board, and the Parks and Recreation Commission. Current terms on the boards and commissions expire in January, with new terms beginning in February. With a few exceptions, including two spots on the parks and rec board, appointments are for four years. The city has been
advertising the openings on its website and by others means. Still, applications don’t seem to be pouring in. “We have not gotten many,” City Clerk Melonie Anderson said. She said that in past years when there have been openings, applications have either arrived in trickles or the city was flooded with volunteers. The trickle of applications this year has apparently been even slower than usual. In the case of the Planning Commission, there are two coming vacancies. Commissioners Michael Luxenberg and Mike Collins both have decided not to seek reappointment. So far, Anderson has received only two applications for the two spots.
There are four vacancies on the parks and rec board and only two applicants as of last week. Two positions are fouryear spots being vacated by members not seeking reappointment. The board members leaving are Krist Morritt and Brad Conner. Two other coming vacancies on the commission are for three and two years. The threeyear term would fill the vacancy to be left by Ann Precup, who is moving; the two-year term is to fill the spot emptied by mem-
ber Pauline Cantor, who is stepping down. For the Arts Commission, one fouryear term is opening. The Beaver Lake Management District Board meets only a few times a year to study the quality of water in the lake. Applicants must live in the Beaver Lake District. There have been no applicants for either the Arts Commission or the Beaver Lake board. The deadline for applications is Dec. 31, though Anderson said that deadline could be extended.
However, the City Council likes to interview candidates and must do so in a public meeting. As new commissioners or board members normally take on their new duties in February, that leaves little time for interviews, especially if the application deadline goes beyond the end of this month. Full details about each position are on the city’s website. From the homepage, follow the links on commissions and boards
to download an application. Besides completing an application, you will be asked to submit a letter of interest and a résumé showing any relevant experience. Anderson said women and minorities always are urged to apply. “We want to encourage anybody to apply,” Planning Commission Chairman Ryan Kohlman said, adding that some diversity of opinion would be welcome.
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