City hired attorney will represent the city, not individual citizens, protestors told

by Jack Mayne

People expecting an attorney hired by the Des Moines City Council to advise them of ways they can appeal in the Woodmont area drug and substance rehabilitation facility will be disappointed.

“Any lawyer hired by the city will make decisions for the city and not the citizens of Des Moines,” Councilmember Bob Sheckler told the Council audience at the meeting (Oct. 15). If citizens want a lawyer to tell them their rights, they need to hire their own lawyer, Sheckler said.

The meeting came as the Council was informed the proposed facility will be placed on hold until at least 2016, giving Valley Cities time to find another location for some or all of its operations.

Mayor Dave Kaplan said everything was on hold, “particularly the final design review decision and the building permit application…”

Kaplan said the City of Des Moines will do nothing more on the proposed area drug and substance rehabilitation facility until at least 2016, giving Valley Cities time to find another location for some or all of its operations

Still want a lawyer
But some wanted to continue the search for facts on the State Environmental Policy Act and earlier appeals.

Resident Sheila Brush said the Woodmont project is only on hold and there could come a time in the future when decisions are made that people may want to appeal and a lowering or waiver of the city’s $800 administrative appeal fee.

Urquhart said City Manager Tony Piasecki had the power to waive the fee that is higher than other cities. For example, she said, Kent charges $250 for an appeal, Federal Way charges $120.50, and it is $500 in Normandy Park but the city’s website shows how to get the appeal free waived.

“The City of Bellevue charges zero,” she said.

Piasecki said he could make changes, but only after he reviews the issue.

No courtesy to Des Moines
Brush then told of seeing online a presentation by Ken Taylor of Valley Cities to the Federal Way City Council on Feb. 17, before the Des Moines land was purchased.

“The project is huge, the largest thing I have ever undertaken in my 30-plus years. Technically it is not in Federal Way but in Des Moines,” she quoted Taylor as telling the Federal Way Council. ‘As far as I know, it has never been done before.’”

Brush said, “that is so scary and I know it may be moving (to a new location) but the fact that he acknowledged the City of Federal Way and didn’t have the courtesy to come before you, like I am doing now, and before all of you, and let us all know what was coming down the pike.”

Brush told the Council it would take a lot of work “so we don’t get into this pickle again.”

Outside lawyer
Candace Urquhart wanted to make certain the Council’s hiring of an outside lawyer would continue despite the pause in the Valley Cities’ project.

“Let’s use this time, educate ourselves.”

She noted the city attorney had told prospective lawyers to look at the city’s web site, but since they were potentially charging $400 an hour, that was not a wise decision.

City Attorney Pat Bosmans said it was up to individual lawyers to decide what sort of research they needed to do.

Bosmans said that any attorney hired by the city must speak for the city.

“The attorney can’t speak for the citizens, generally. That is just not the role,” Bosmans told Urquhart, who said she was “disappointed at this use of money.”

Councilmember Bob Sheckler he has never been able to answer what is it we want from outside counsel.

“If we are looking to get an opinion to see if there were any missteps in the SEPA determination, then that is wrong. To imply that, I think is wrong, too, and if people think that is what we are trying to do, I am sorry to say that that isn’t true. Any opportunities for those appeals have long … passed.”

Sheckler said if responsible lawyers review the matter they are going to say there is nothing the city can do, the issue is beyond that.

“If there was an attorney brought in on this, it is going to represent the city, it isn’t going to represent the city, it is not going to represent the public,” Sheckler said.

“If we hire them, they are not going to represent you,” he said to a person in the audience who questioned his logic.

“If you wanted an attorney to represent you, then you have to get your own. But, again, any attorney who is responsible is going to look at the SEPA determination that was made and the LUPA (Land Use Petition Act) appeal and say, ‘I am not going to touch it.”

Mayor Pro-Tem Matt Pina said a meeting has been set to discuss what the Council wants from the outside review.


28 Responses to “City hired attorney will represent the city, not individual citizens, protestors told”
  1. John Castronover says:

    Bob Scheckler, not surprised at all just what we expected from you, Your a real piece of work a real beauty pal.
    You have done more then your share to help tear this city down, you can’t be gone soon enough.

  2. RedondoRick says:

    A lot of people have spent hundred’s of thousand’s of hours in what we believe in. Whether your pro-con on the subject, the Woomont Recovery Campus has no business in the location that Valley Cities wants it. Valley Cities has no guarantee that the local surrounding’s would be safe. They have NEVER, as any health clinic, took on such a large project, with such a huge responsibility that goes with it. All we’re trying to do is keep the children safe. If we can save one child, then all our efforts were worth it. We understand the need for these facility’s, but we must use caution, where caution is do. Sadly our city council has failed us once again. They have been secretive since the very beginning! I’ve always felt there’s more to this story, kickbacks etc? If you ever want Des Moines to be what it once was, a quite little city by the bay. Then YOU must vote out those who run this city. Only higher taxes, and more disappointments will follow. Help us take back our city from these incompetent’s…Rr

  3. BirchCreek says:

    I must be confused. Here I thought that the Citizens of Des Moines were the city? Isn’t this where we live, pay taxes, vote? Aren’t the elected and hired officials servants of the citizenry? In what theory of political science are the two separate? Despotic or Fascist State?
    “Any lawyer hired by the city will make decisions for the city and not the citizens of Des Moines,” Councilmember Bob Sheckler told the Council audience…” Mr. Sheckler, did you really say this? Please, on what political theory and belief system did you base this statement? You’re sounding like a Despotic Oligarch to me.

    • Jack Mayne says:

      Yes he said that and he was correct. The Washington Bar Association’s code of ethics says this about lawyers hired by a city:
      “If staff members, officials, or members of the public appear to believe that you represent them in their individual capacity, clarify to them that you represent the municipality as a whole, as directed by the public officials authorized to give direction … ” Further, RPC l.13(f) states that “[i]n dealing with an organization’s directors, officers, employees, members, shareholders or other constituents, a lawyer shall explain the identity of the client when the lawyer knows or reasonably should know that the organization’s interests are adverse to those of the constituents with whom the lawyer is dealing.”
      In other words a lawyer hired by the City of Des Moines represents the corporate entity of Des Moines and NOT citizens who may have views, opinions or motives at odds with city as an organization. The only way individuals can get representation in this or similiar matter you have to hire your own legal assistance NOT depend on the city.

  4. Bzob Czechler says:

    Did anyone else laugh when they saw the horribly photo-shopped head of appointed Councilperson Luisa Bangs on the body of former Councilperson Burrage’s body in the scrolling photo above?

  5. bob says:

    Remember the good ole days where the people and citizens could vote to decide what we wanted…. now mismanaged councilmen decide for us, and we are required to lawyer up if we want anything to do about it.

  6. Dr. Alexander Szabo says:

    Yes, I agree with the previous writers !

    A city is its citizens !!

    The Gettysburg Address says that “government is of the people,
    by the people and for the people!

    Also, I would add that there are “meeting points” of government and its citizens”that are regularly called for. The adversarial commentary of one of the Des Moines council members is unfortunate at best as is the lack of explanation as to why the law firm is being hired. There appears to be denial and defensiveness as part of these behaviors and hopefully the Federal Way Mirror sees as as a city unto our own and not a neighborhood of Federal Way.

    • Ken says:

      You’ll agree to anything if it helps to get you elected.

      • Dr. Alexander Szabo says:

        Sorry you feel that way.

        As a Professor of Ethics and Social Justice, my values matter much more to me than any elected office, even one where I and my family live. Also, language is one of the definers of what any of us says in response to real-time events that happen or are spoken about.. Of course, your interpretation of what others say matters and is of significant importance.

  7. Bzob Czechler says:

    Szabo is the solution to a problem DM does not have. His academic, “social justice” platform would do better up in Seattle where they shoot that stuff like heroin. Councilperson Khsama Sawant would be fabulous would be fab-u-lous together.

    What we need in DM is some “street justice” (and I don’t mean infrastructure). Not sure if Bangs can provide that for our particular situation, but its what we are left with…

    • John Castronover says:

      During the last several months now councilman Bangs has sat quietly in her chair, she has told us ” it was her learning curve? ” Durning this whole Woodmont Mess many of us have learned first hand just how incompetent and deceitful our own city government is here in Des Moines, the last thing our city needs is another do nothing say nothing city councilman to only go along to get along, and for that reason I will not be voting for Ms. Bangs.

      • Bzob Czechler says:

        But Bangs is “endorsed by your firefighters.” That MUST mean she is a real public safety candidate, huh? (What a joke-endorsement nowadays).

        While I agree, any Council appointee approved by Mayor Kaplan and ‘Ol man Sheckler should normally be dismissed out-of-hand, Szabo is clearly going to try to spend our tax money on BLM and other inane socialist causes that have no place here in DM. I’d rather vote for someone who dallies around the edges of art policies and votes in lock-step with the Mayor’s ineffectual leadership than vote for someone who will actually make DM worse than it is. Hard to believe that is possible.

        I’m left with a profound sense of ennui with these two “meh” candidates.

        • John Castronover says:

          We are getting a little off topic here, however you do bring up some strong points and it is hard not to agree with you on most of what you have to say.
          Luisa Bangs has already showed us during her try out session that she will be nothing more then just more of the same of what we already have on our city council, the last thing our city needs is more of the same, that’s why the current city council members have pulled their money together and paid for her yard signs that we see littering our city every ten feet now.
          Dr. Szabo is change and will be a needed breath of fresh air that our city so deeply needs.

      • RedondoRick says:

        Ms. Bangs has had enough time to address her feelings. Instead, she’s been on the safe and narrow. With the lies and deceits that’s been the NORM with this council, we need to find more law abiding council members to correct the wrongs within. Not just another follower, who gives no value, to our problems…Rr

    • BirchCreek says:

      Bzob, how in the world did you pull that out of what he has posted? Seems you might be trying to obfuscate the discussion with false information.

      • Bzob Czechler says:


        Go back and listen to Szabo’s “interview” before the Council a few months ago. His rambling, long-winded answers to their questions and his public statements since will help you understand why I said what I said. It’s all out there for you. Do your due diligence before voting.

        • BirchCreek says:

          Bzob, it would have been helpful if you had given the source for your criticism of Dr. Szabo with your primary comment. So, you could take a bit of guidence from the guidline of your own instructions, be diligent to state all the information before posting.

  8. John Castronover says:

    Our city is broken, bankrupt and near insolvency, all our mayor and council members can do is shout obscenities from there thrones durning a live council meeting on a live mic.
    This is just Unacceptable Behavior anyway you choose to look at it.

    • Greg Wright says:

      For those who don’t bother clicking the link, Mayor Kaplan was actually pretty laid-back in commenting on the “same obnoxious b.s. every week.” Not shouting by a long shot, fwiw.

      • John Castronover says:

        Yes you can say there is always two sides to every story, but don’t lose sight that Kaplan’s outburst was in response to Public Comments on the proposed 16% tax increase to our water bill and other taxes, citizens that spoke and hit the mic were not happy to say the least, Kaplan’s outburst speaks for itself regarding the Public Comments from our city’s citizens on this proposed tax increase.

    • DM Resident says:

      I don’t know how you got this and while funny he was not screaming or yelling this at people. While I don’t agree with Kaplan a lot, this is propaganda and you know it. You are no better than what you are accusing him of!!!

      • Erin E. says:

        You would only post “I don’t know where you got this” because you did not attend City Council on 10/29/15, please at least watch the entire video of the meeting, for those of us who show up, week after week, Mayor Kaplan’s outburst was highly dis-respectful and yes he was yelling, he cut the sound off and this is what he said when it came back on after it had calmed down. Don’t have an opinion until you have the facts, it’s unfair to those of of us who are trying to save all of you from a massive illegal tax hike, while the City staffers keep giving themselves raises!

        • DM Resident says:


          I was there and also attend most meetings. He was not yelling this at the public, he had a speaker that was completely out of order and failing to comply with the rules of the public comment time. Rick is obnoxious and annoying and frankly I think the mayor should’ve had him arrested. The mayor is right, it is the same BS from Redondo Rick every meeting. Also, don’t speak on my behalf as a Des Moines citizen, I’m willing to pay the tax increase and I think it’s appropriate to maintain the minimal government services we currently have.

          Also, if you don’t pay the city staffers and reasonable and comparable wage this city will become a revolving door and training ground for other cities as employees will only stick around a short time. It’s very expensive to hire and train many of the staffers.

          • John Castronover says:

            It amazes me how some in our city can still stand by and support Dave Kaplan,Tony Piaseski, Bob Sckeckler these three people have all but destroyed our city! Our current council members continue to stand by and watch and take no action no action at all.
            Our city is sinking we are all at our muster stations waiting to board the life boats.
            What part of Bankrupt and Insolvent don’t you understand?
            Let’s go back two, three, four no even five years name one thing that this current city goverment has done to benefit this city?

          • RedondoRick says:

            DM, I did apologize for my outburst. Unless you were there to see that the mayor kept interrupting me, maybe you could understand. I’m not to sure you know anything on the going on’s with this council. The facts that I bring up are not made up. Everything I say is the truth. Have you not heard their financial adviser say that this city will be out of money by the 1st half of 2017! That they had to borrow to pay the latest city payroll! That they put in about $1 million into the Beach Park! Letting the insurance lapse on the Redondo Boardwalk! Their inability to let the city know the dealings with the Recovery Campus! Their disregard of the Washington State Auditor’s Accountability Report, that says it’s been over 5 years that this city has slowly been declining in it’s ability to run this city! There’s so much more. Know DM, I’m not a public speaker, I’m just a concerned citizen that cares about our city. Until you and many like you, wake up to the facts that this city is in trouble. And raising taxes that are illegal, while giving out pay raises is not the answer! If anything in this post is not true, please inform me…Rr

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