Our evolution into an oligarchy
Last updated 7/6/2018 at Noon
Mill Creek’s City charter has our legislative chamber consists of seven elected officials. That group elects their mayor from among its members.
These individuals’ are elected to think independently to develop legislative actions, fiscal policies, ordinances, hiring and the firing of a city manager (CEO). The city manager is the only employee of the city council.
Legally, our city manager is under the executive branch whose turf includes hiring, firing, evaluating and managing city staff members and overseeing the overall operations of the city.
So how did Mill Creek’s city council and CEO form change into an oligarchy system, which is made up of a small clique of unchecked dictatorial powers?
Our oligarchy started slowly, but surely escalated around the cover-up concerning former Councilmember Sean Kelly.
Kelly ran for reelection last fall. Both the city manager and every member of the council at the time knew Kelly could not legally be a candidate since he had moved out of Mill Creek. But our elitist group chose to keep this information from the public.
Apparently they did so knowing if Sean was elected to a new term he would have to step down from the council. After he resigned, the oligarchy would be the ones to “elect” another “yes” person that they could control.
Let’s think about these points on how our municipality became governed through an oligarchy format.
Since April 24, our CEO Rebecca Polizzotto has not been in her city-provided office. When questioned about the extended absence, Mayor Pam Pruitt responded by explaining the city manager had been working 12 hour days before she became ill, but continued to handle the day-to-day operations of the city through a shuttle service provided by the mayor.
Under our legal city charter, neither the mayor nor the city council have exclusive authority to run the city. If we had back our legal governing system, then our city council would have appointed an interim CEO to serve until the city manager was able to return to city hall on a full time basis.
What about our city’s charter which mandates a separation of chamber powers?
Due to the continuous passive approval of the oligarchy, Pruitt became both the mayor and the CEO. It’s said Pruitt told a state auditor to send the finished audited report to her, which in fact should have been sent to the city manager and not to anyone else. Then legally it would be the city manager’s responsibility to present the report to city council.
And not the other way around.
Without any objections from members of the council, Pruitt began the special meeting of the council on June 8 by informing the audience that had gathered to hear how the council would deal with criticism that the special session was a closed meeting “so there will not be any public input.”
Whereupon, Pro Tem Mayor Brian Holzclaw read his prepared statement into the record. When he finished, our elected oligarchy blindly accepted Holzclaw’s placated and supportive statements about their hero Polizzotto.
Then without any councilmembers objecting, the group refused to take any questions or input. And Pruitt announced an extended recess so the council could go into an executive session to address “some possible litigation.”
It was the Mill Creek Beacon’s constant front page Polizzotto coverage which led other media outlets to pick up the variety of tumultuous Mill Creek stories. And with all this added negative press our oligarchy buckled and finally took the correct action for our city.
Bob Stowe, one of our many previous city managers, has been hired as our interim city’s CEO. But this council’s appointment of Stowe does not give our so-called representatives a Get Out of Jail Free card.
They still must publically answer to the voters on:
Why did it take not days but months before our elected leaders finally placed their star Rebecca on administrative leave?
Since the recent finding of the state auditor identified several administrative concerns, some around the misuse of the city credit card, why didn’t the city council take stronger corrective action against Rebecca?
Why is our Mayor Pro Tem Holtzclaw down playing that Princess Polizzotto put $269 worth of alcohol and over $900 meal purchases not on her own credit card but rather on the city’s card?
Holtzclaw called these purchases just an “isolated issue”! Apparently it’s okay to misuse the city’s bankcard if one does so on an isolated basis?
Evidently the state auditor didn’t see it this way because these were two of the many areas, which the Office of the Washington State Auditor identified as needing to be addressed?
Darn right since our elected officials failed us, we are grateful to the Beacon press the voices of Mary Kay Voss , Donna Michelson, Kathy Neilson and to the independent probing by the State Auditor’s Office since they are helping to topple both our oligarchy and Polizzotto’s atrocious management behavior and actions.