PORT ANGELES — This week promises to be a busy one for two boards that will decide if Deputy Mayor Cherie Kidd and Councilman Dan Gase violated the city’s code of ethical conduct at a Feb. 2 City Council meeting.
The first ethics board will meet at 9 a.m. today to consider a complaint by Marolee Smith against Kidd.
She accuses Kidd, who favors fluoridation, of engaging in “abusive” conduct of residents who were present Feb. 2, many of whom spoke against fluoridation.
The board that will meet at 2 p.m. Thursday will consider a similar complaint by the anti-fluoridation group Our Water, Our Choice! against Kidd that also accuses Gase of being unethical by not objecting to her conduct.
Kidd said she won’t bring a lawyer to today’s meeting.
She does expect to bring one with her Thursday, unlike Our Water, Our Choice!, which had a lawyer but no longer does in an effort, an anti-fluoridation activist said, to lower community tensions.
The three-person boards will hear the complaints in the City Council chambers at City Hall, 321 E. Fifth St.
The board that meets today, which comprises Frank Prince Jr., Grant Meiner and Danetta Rutten, will take statements and take witnesses’ testimony, if any is offered, in public before possibly deliberating behind closed doors.
Board members might emerge to announce a decision.
Kidd said she expects to make a statement in her defense.
Smith said Friday in response to an email from the city about today’s meeting that a video of the Feb. 2 council session, her complaint and an addendum to the complaint “are all the ‘facts’ that you need.”
Smith shared her email response with the PDN.
Neither she nor Kidd “should be asked to provide ‘evidence’ or a list of witnesses,” Smith said.
“It is YOUR duty to investigate, and you should call witnesses and ask questions, if you so desire,” she said. “It should not be my burden.”
Smith also sent an email — also shared with the PDN — to city officials Friday requesting documents after she took issue with providing evidence or a list of witnesses.
She asked that all emails between City Attorney Bill Bloor and City Council members regarding council rules of procedure, the council chambers sign ban and adjournment procedures be sent to her and the ethics board members.
She also requested written statements from or witness appearances by anti-fluoridation Councilwoman Sissi Bruch, pro-fluoridation Councilman Brad Collins, and council members Michael Merideth and Lee Whetham on the council rules that were followed in the Feb. 2 meeting.
“I would also like to know what they witnessed regarding gavel pounding by Ms. Kidd. (Was it excessive, and loud?),” Smith said in the email.
She also requested that city staff who were present at the Feb. 2 meeting make written statements or witness appearances regarding council rules and procedures “and the frequency and volume of the gavel pounding by Ms. Kidd.”
Thursday’s meeting will be the first time the ethics board made up of Ken Williams, Jerry Dean and William Yucha will meet to hear the complaint against Kidd and Gase.
Port Angeles lawyer Peter Perron will not represent Our Water, Our Choice! in an effort “to ratchet down the stress of the whole community,” longtime anti-fluoridation advocate Eloise Kailin said in a recent interview.
Kailin said she is hoping a city fluoridation advisory committee “will come back with a satisfactory answer to stop fluoridation,” she said.
The committee is headed by Collins and Bruch.
“The concept by Bruch and Collins, that they could find a compromise that takes care of the concerns of pro-fluoridation [residents], needs to be given a chance.
“We are hoping they come back with a decision that leads to no fluoridation. That’s our bottom line. Fluoridation is the thing they are fighting about, of course.”
But after learning of the decision by Our Water, Our Choice! to ask Perron to withdraw from representing the group on the complaint, Kidd and Gase said they will keep their lawyer, Issaquah municipal lawyer Mike Kenyon.
Kenyon was retained after Perron, also a fluoridation foe, signed on to represent the group.
“I’m not going to have a knee-jerk reaction to everything they do,” Kidd said. “I’m not responsible [for the fact] that they keep changing.
“They brought the charges, they brought the attorney. We are just trying to deal with this calmly and fairly and work through it.”
Gase also said last week Our Water, Our Choice! is unpredictable.
“They could come back with another attorney tomorrow,” Gase said.
“Frankly, I think having [Kenyon] will help us speed the process up.”