Plenty of City Councils have spats or disagreements. Plenty of City Councils and Mayors get into heated discussions over issues critical to their community. But it is truly rare to see things devolve into the kind of personal vitriol that Woodinville citizens have witnessed from our Mayor over the past year.
As isolated incidents, we might forgive, forget and move on. But taken as a whole, as a pattern of behavior, it is easy to see why stricter rules are needed to keep Councilmembers (and Mayors!) with a strong personal agenda in check.
Let us review the pattern of bullying and abuse that Woodinville has witness from Bernie Talmas and his supporters over the past year alone.
The Councilmember responded in a later statement that if Mr. Talmas’ claim is true that he saw Bank of America loan documents, "then these loan documents are private and could only have been obtained unethically, illegally, or both.”
This understandably left that Councilmember with a great deal of concern for his family’s privacy, and said in a tearful public plea: “It makes me nervous to think that someone is watching my wife and son’s home after dark when I am not around to protect them.”
2) On March 4, 2013, one of Talmas’ political lieutenants challenged a Council member’s voter registration with King County Elections. The challenge was dismissed, but at what cost to the council member in energy, hassle and attorney fees to prove it false?
3) On May 18, 2013, Councilmember Bounty-Sanders sent an email to a group of Talmas supporters about campaigning against another Councilmember. She said “Bernie and I recruited heavily” to find an opponent. The email, which seemed to be written by both Talmas and Boundy-Sanders (using “we” and “us” throughout to refer to herself and Talmas), referred to certain citizens that she and Talmas do not like as a “bitch” and “evil” and “mean cafeteria lady.” These are not exactly words used by civil-minded public servants working for the good of the community.
In response to the culture of bullying and nastiness that Talmas has allowed and even fostered at City Hall the City Council was forced to explore tougher standards for Council conduct.
5) On July 2, 2013, Talmas voted against having staff write up these new ethics rules and bring them to the City Council for a vote. He assumed they were targeting him. Given all that Bernie Talmas has done to bully and abuse other Council members and private citizens, he just might be right about that.