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City Attorney: Foster’s L.I.D. contract approval an internal matter for council,
The council has been weak in holding Foster accountable,
Yelm’s council should do their job – oversight!

Yelm City Council Zoom Meeting, November 23, 2021.
Credit: City of Yelm YouTube screenshot

Yelm’s City Councils of the last 20 years have all had majorities that were weak and/or “rubber-stamped” the mayors, lacking responsibility of Executive branch oversight, costing taxpayers in the millions!

Yelm’s Mayor has a maximum contract limit without going to the council of $35,000. Any contract over that amount must be directed by the Yelm City Council via an Action item in a public meeting. Yet Foster unilaterally signed a contract for $2.1 million dollars.

+ Seattle’s Foster Garvey was hired as the law firm to advise the city on resolving the L.I.D.’s foreclosure.

+ Foster Garvey Attorney Steve DiJulio gave a complete overview Nov. 23 to Yelm’s council.

+ The key part of the presentation was DiJulio’s response to a question put to him by Council member and Mayor-elect Joe DePinto.

+ DePinto asked if Mayor Foster had the “blanket authorization” to sign into the Dec. 2017 L.I.D. contract regardless of the amount.

+ Mr. DiJulio responded that he understood his firm, in working with the city, had the authority to proceed with that $2.1 million contract, which Foster signed. Who gave him that idea? Foster?

+ Yelm’s Mayor has a maximum contract limit without going to the council of $35,000. Any contract over that amount must be directed by the Yelm City Council via an agenda Action item in a public meeting.

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+ The Yelm Protocol Manual states the Council’s authority is to approve contracts: 2.02 A 1e, “Summary of Council Duties and Responsibilities as Provided in, but not Limited to, the Washington Administrative Code and Revised Code of Washington, Establish Policy, Approve contracts.”

+ RCW 42.30.070, “No governing body of a public agency shall adopt any ordinance, resolution, rule, regulation, order, or directive, except in a meeting open to the public.”

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+ Attorney DiJulio said, “The question is whether or not the mayor had authority independent of the council to implement the council’s direction in July 2016, is a question that the city will ask internally.” DePinto said Foster perhaps would speak to it – yet Foster said nothing! Click here for the video, start at 1:44.

+ Where are the voices of the other council members in doing their job of oversight in asking Mayor Foster why he signed a $2.1 million contract independent of the council!

+ If this council remains silent through the rest of Foster’s term (ending Dec. 31st), then the State Auditor should be informed for an investigation into the council not doing their job of oversight.

BOTTOM LINE:

DiJulio’s answer was correct, as he and his law firm do not adjudicate the council’s responsibilities in oversight of the city’s Executive branch.

Mayor Foster has continued to remain silent on why he did not follow the RCW and the Yelm Municipal Code.

The Yelm City Councils of the last 20 years have all had majorities that were weak. The minority of council members that wanted to hold Mayors Rivas, Harding and Foster accountable have always been overridden by a majority of councilors wanting to keep the status quo. This has cost the city dearly in the cumulative millions of dollars in poor decisions borne on the backs of local taxpayers.

With Mayor-elect DePinto’s state legislature experience, he understands the process of governing. A new dawn is arising here.

The time has come for a directive to be issued that each and every council member read the Yelm Municipal Code (YMC) cover to cover, plus council’s duties and responsibilities as outlined in the Revised Code of Washington (RCW).

Yelm is now a city of over 10,000 people, and the new council needs to take governing seriously, and follow their number one responsibility – oversight!

+ UPDATE: November 30, 2021 from the Nisqually Valley News:

“Foster signed to receive the deed of the property in December of 2017, acquiring the 640 acres in lieu of the then property owner’s delinquent LID contributions, in addition to about $1.8 million that went into the LID fund.

“According to public record, Foster did not seek council approval of the move at that time, which resulted in the city owing money into the future for the property’s LID contributions. Because of this, DePinto raised the question of whether the council actually needed to have approved the allocation of the 640 acres, a question the council will have the opportunity to address if it sees fit.Read more

Posted by Steve on November 30, 2021 at 12:31 am | Permalink

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