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Council member to get public hearing

 


An Electric City council member has asked for a public hearing after being reprimanded by city authorities during a city retreat in January.

Birdie Hensley asked for a public hearing so the matter would become public, and she recently sent out invitations to a number of people asking them to attend the hearing.

Hensley was reprimanded by other council members and Mayor John Nordine II, after she had communicated with various agencies by email suggesting that her inquiries were officially on behalf of the entire council.

The legal issue is called “ultra vires,” meaning acting outside the powers or authority allowed by law. The phrase is Latin for “beyond the powers.”

The reprimand, The Star learned, carried over later in another meeting, which caused Hensley to ask for a public hearing.

The hearing was originally set for 6 p.m., Wednesday, April 13, at Electric City Hall, but has been rescheduled for 5:30 p.m. on May 10.

The council, at its last meeting, March 8, didn’t make it clear if visitors would be allowed to speak or how the hearing would be conducted.

Hensley had contacted the State Auditor’s Office in regard to the city’s plan to build its Pathways trail with hotel/motel funds.

She had also contacted Sunnyside Chamber of Commerce in regard to their trail that was done with hotel/motel funds. Both times, according to her emails, suggesting that she was making the contact on behalf of the entire council.

The state law on holding closed executive sessions of the council states that if one is held to review complaints about a city official, that official has the right to have them heard in an open meeting.

In the invitation notice Hensley sent out she stated: “I have been reprimanded twice by the mayor and staff of Electric City for calling the state auditor’s office and asking about the hotel/motel tax usage for the Electric City trail. Once at the public meeting (retreat) and one other time. I have been told that I have the right to have a public hearing in accordance with RCW 42.30.11(f). I am hoping by holding a public hearing that the public will realize what restrictions are put on their public officials. I am for a transparent government but sometimes this is difficult with the present regulations. Please attend and show your support.”

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