At a recent regularly scheduled public meeting of the Bellevue City Council, the council took public comment from concerned citizens regarding their criticisms of Puget Sound Energy’s Energize Eastside project. Since the environmental impact statement for this project is under Bellevue’s primary supervision and control as EIS lead agency for the five affected Eastside cities, the council has a special fiduciary duty to the residents of all five cities to listen to public comment on Energize Eastside in an attentive, fair, unbiased and respectful manner.
That did not occur at the June 13 meeting. When Mr. Ken Workman, a descendant of Chief Seattle and council member for the Duwamish tribe, approached the speaker’s seat to offer his testimony, over an open mic Bellevue Mayor John Stokes said to Deputy Mayor John Chelminiak, “They’re shameless.” Mr. Workman was dressed in a fashion reflective of his pride in his Native American heritage, including a unique hat and a pouch slung over his shoulder. The mayor’s slur was heard by those present in the room, and it was recorded on the video of the proceedings at http://bellevue.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=3&clip_id=5022. The relevant excerpt from that video is posted on YouTube at https://youtu.be/biEO1Eq126g.
Now either Mr. Stokes was referring to Mr. Workman and his tribe as “they’re shameless,” or he intended to castigate CENSE for somehow fostering what Stokes thought was some kind of publicity stunt. In either case, there is no acceptable excuse for the language he used and the seemingly hostile attitude he expressed. This is the Bellevue’s mayor speaking to the deputy mayor in a way that could be heard by other council members and the public at large. Yet despite an apology Mr. Don Marsh of CENSE sought for this seeming misconduct, none has been forthcoming as of this writing.
The entire Bellevue City Council should be ashamed of themselves. As noted in my attached letter of May 23 to the council, there is already too much evidence of bias in the city’s lopsided and cozy dealings with PSE, while the council offers only minor token input from the public and concerned experts who cannot possibly state their case in three-minute public comment sound bites. The June 13’s unguarded utterance from your top elected official is yet one more outrage in this pattern of misbehavior.
Bellevue needs to recuse itself as lead agency for the EIS and be replaced by a trustworthy entity capable of conducting the EIS process in an open, fair and unbiased manner. Any draft of the EIS, whether the current Phase 2 draft or the final EIS, will be otherwise hopelessly tainted by bias towards PSE.
Larry G. Johnson
Attorney, Citizens for Sane Eastside Energy