At Monday night’s Bellingham City Council meeting, contrary to the Bellingham Herald’s reporting, Tim Eyman created a serious disturbance. Just as the meeting was about to begin at 7 p.m., Eyman took over the council chamber, yelling questions and demanding to be heard. His refusal to stop created at least a 25 minute delay to the start of the meeting. Eyman was demanding that the council immediately change, that night, the wording of an emergency bill. The bill in question was to set up a council of three that, in times of emergency, could make decisions and enact provisions quickly; their emergency powers are broad, and were the point of Eyman’s objection. He also demanded that he and each of his 17 supporters be allowed to speak to the council. Council had notified the public over a week ago that for safety reasons there would be no live comments, but it welcomed email. Eyman did not care.
It took Fleetwood several minutes, using quiet, soothing words, to finally calm Eyman down. Police officers put themselves in the well of the chamber as a protective measure. Eyman would not leave when council president Gene Knudson asked him to, so the council evacuated the chamber. It was a total disruption of the meeting - and increased the danger of the virus spreading among those present. Video shows Eyman’s complete disregard for social distancing.
Knudson did the right thing. At the end of the council meeting, he apologized for getting as worked up as he did. Yet, had the council taken comments, it would have been mob rule. The rest of us, who stayed away from the meeting, were not there to counter Eyman’s supporters, so the opposing view would not have been heard. Of course that is not even the point. The point is, Eyman is not shy about disrupting and disturbing a public meeting to serve his own causes.
But now the mayor is down playing it, and the incident is not included on the city web page report of the meeting. The official summary report says the meeting started at 7 p.m, when it did not actually start until at least 7:25. And Knudson’s apology is left out of the meeting summary - pretending there was no incident. It must be included in the public record of the meeting. It happened. The City of Bellingham web page should be corrected to reflect the facts.
A couple of us at NWCitizen were watching the meeting live on BTV. We decided that because no one was hurt, and the meeting was eventually held, we would not report it. Now, the Herald online has a 16 minute video of Eyman holding the council chamber hostage. But the print edition minimizes it all. Mayor Fleetwood reportedly sent an email to the Herald saying there was no disturbance. Well, that was nice of him to want to downplay it, but it is not the truth. So there it goes, down the memory hole.
The council held their meeting, no public comments were taken, and the emergency bill was passed unanimously. To watch the video, you need not go to the Herald, as you can . By the way, Eyman did not even know the mayor of Bellingham. He was arguing with Fleetwood but did not know his name or that he was mayor. Eyman drove here from Seattle with the apparent intent to disrupt our city council meeting and try to bully our council members.