An allegation toward Councilmember Scott Hageman was the main topic of discussion at Tuesday evening’s Woodinville City Council meeting.
The meeting began with Mayor Bernie Talmas suggesting an agenda change. Deputy Mayor Liz Aspen made a motion to remove the discussion on Hageman’s residency from the agenda.
“It is not the business of the council to be checking residency of citizens. This is a private citizen matter and they need to file a charge,” she said.
While the item was officially removed from the agenda, it did not go un-discussed. As the public comments section of the meeting began, the tension was palpable. The feeling continued to escalate as the proceedings continued.
At the previous council meeting Talmas began the proceedings by announcing, “It has been brought to my attention that Councilmember Hageman no longer lives in the city of Woodinville and therefore is no longer qualified to be a council member.”
Members of the community spoke out – some in support of the mayor, and others in support of Hageman. However, a larger issue arose around the question of professionalism.
Community member Marcella Maddox addressed the council and asked the mayor, “Where was the professional courtesy due to a fellow councilman? The mean spirited vindictive blind-side was obviously meant as a way to humiliate Councilman Hageman. But I contend it had the opposite effect. These were not the actions of a leader, but (of) someone who appears to have a hidden agenda or personal vendetta.”
Others supported the mayor’s questioning and believed it was the council’s right to know this information. A few Woodinville residents pointed out that a simple question was asked and it could have been addressed with something as insignificant as an address, something that all community members are asked to state before expressing their comments to the council.
After the public comments concluded, Talmas said: “I allowed people to comment tonight even though they were personal attacks. That’s not really the point of our meetings.”
He later declined to read a group of letters sent to the council by citizens. He said in the interest of time they were not worth repeating because the content was similar to what was already covered in the meeting.
Deputy Mayor Aspen reminded Talmas that citizens had requested that these letters be publicly read at the meeting. “If you won’t read them now, I will read them during council comments,” said Aspen.
As tension once again escalated, the mayor hesitated to hand the floor over to Hageman.
Hageman became visibly upset and struggled to begin addressing the council and audience. He addressed his hesitancy to respond to the mayor’s comments at a previous meeting. “I was not at liberty to discuss very private matters without first speaking to my wife,” he said.
He explained that while he still resides in Woodinville, he does own a house in Kirkland. It is for his wife, who has some serious health concerns. “Her health-care provider advised her to shorten her commute to work to reduce her pain,” said Hageman.
Later, he asked Talmas to release to his attorney the private documents that he referred to in a previous meeting. He also asked that the mayor tell the people he consults with (to) stop stalking his wife and son.
“I have not reviewed any private loan documents,” Talmas responded. “I have no people following you around. I have never followed you around anywhere. I haven’t made any private request of the city attorney. I am not aware of any doctored documents of any kind.”
Hageman concluded his address by speaking to community members and said “Thank you for your phone calls, concerns and kind thoughts about the privacy and safety of my family. I am hopeful that we can put this issue to rest.”
(Amanda Morton is a student in the University of Washington Department of Communication News Laboratory.)