The Bellevue City Council passed an ordinance Tuesday night that allows council members to discipline other elected officials for misconduct, but did so without the most controversial sanction that allowed for the removal of elected officials from office.
Councilman Thomas Burns introduced an amendment to strike removal from office as a sanction in the proposed amendment. That amendment passed 4-2 with councilmen Paul Cook and Don Preister voting no. Burns, Bob Stinson, Pat Shannon and Kathy Welch voted for the amendment.
Another amendment added to the ordinance, introduced by Cook, added removal from a task force, loss of seniority and loss of standing as council president as possible sanctions. That amendment passed 6-0.
Bellevue Mayor Rusty Hike said after the meeting he was surprised the way the votes went based on conversations he was hearing among council members, but hoped the passage got the attention of the individual whose behavior prompted the proposals in the first place.
City officials received pushback on the proposals both in direct communication and multiple public hearings, particularly regarding the potential removal of office of elected officials.
Hike said he hoped the ability to sanction elected officials addressed the issue moving forward.
"I don't see it as our job to vote on differing ideologies of the Constitution," he said. "We're trying to make Bellevue better and there's an issue that needs to be addressed. I don't know that we've addressed the issue."
During the discussion leading up to the votes, Cook pushed back on comments Shannon made during a Nov. 27 press conference announcing his intent to initiate a recall drive against Kathy Welch, comments Cook said suggested Welch's behavior was prompting the misconduct proposals before the council.
Cook said examples of alleged statements he aired during the Nov. 19 council meeting, which he said were all made by the same individual and included sexual innuendos and other comments about female city employees, were not made by Welch.
Welch, reading from a statement, said, "Despite efforts of another City Council member to intimidate and harass me into voting no on this ordinance, I am voting yes," referring to the ordinance that was amended by Cook and Burns.
In other action, the council tabled its votes to annex the Normandy Hills and Cedar View Sanitary Improvement Districts to Feb. 4. The council previously tabled votes to annex the SIDs in October because a lawsuit was filed against the city by Darling International Inc. after the city annexed the company's plant earlier in the year.
The Darling property is between Normandy Hills and Bellevue city limits, and if the city loses the Darling lawsuit then Normandy Hills would not be contiguous and therefore ineligible to be annexed.
An attorney for Normandy Hills also threatened a lawsuit if the SID was annexed during the October meeting.
The council also approved new ward boundaries, an ordinance amending the city's zoning code, spending $16,812 on a Civil War memorial at Bellevue Cemetery and the application for a privately owned farmers market in Washington Park for next spring and summer.
The council waived the three readings on the zoning ordinance and voted 6-0 to approve because, Shannon said, a major employer who will bring "a lot of jobs" to Bellevue is close to finalizing plans.
Corrections: This article previously said Shannon said an employer would bring thousands of job, but he said "a lot of jobs."