In the original Whatcom County Council Agenda for Tuesday, February 23, 2016, the Finance Committee was scheduled to hear an “Update from Whatcom County Sheriff Bill Elfo regarding jail use agreement negotiations with the City of Bellingham (AB2016-100).”
At 2:30pm on February 22nd, an agenda revision was issued removing the sheriff’s presentation from the Finance Committee and moving it to an executive session of the Committee of the Whole, citing RCW 42.30.110(1)(i) as the authorized purpose for the closed-door meeting.
RCW 42.30.110(1)(i) provides that such meetings can be held “To discuss with legal counsel representing the agency matters relating to agency enforcement actions, or to discuss with legal counsel representing the agency litigation or potential litigation to which the agency, the governing body, or a member acting in an official capacity is, or is likely to become, a party, when public knowledge regarding the discussion is likely to result in an adverse legal or financial consequence to the agency. This subsection does not permit a governing body to hold an executive session solely because an attorney representing the agency is present. For purposes of this subsection, “potential litigation” means matters protected by RPC 1.6 or RCW 5.60.060(2)(a) concerning:
(i) Litigation that has been specifically threatened to which the agency, the governing body, or a member acting in an official capacity is, or is likely to become, a party;
(ii) Litigation that the agency reasonably believes may be commenced by or against the agency, the governing body, or a member acting in an official capacity; or
(iii) Litigation or legal risks of a proposed action or current practice that the agency has identified when public discussion of the litigation or legal risks is likely to result in an adverse legal or financial consequence to the agency…”
So it appears that the County is 1) considering taking enforcement action or 2) believes they are or may be threatened by litigation, or 3) feels a proposed action or current practice creates legal risks with adverse consequences.
Inquiries to knowledgable sources went without reply prior to this writing. Ordinary citizens may never know the specific concern, but it is clear that the defeat of the proposed jail tax is still reverberating through the fabric of Whatcom County.