Lynnwood council demands mayor step down, limits power to hire, fire

LYNNWOOD – The City Council passed a resolution tonight calling for Mayor Don Gough to resign and changing the city’s employment policies and practices to require virtually all hiring, promotion or disciplinary action be submitted for review and confirmation by the council.

At a meeting where Gough was absent, the council voted 6-0 to pass the resolution. Councilman Ted Hikel abstained from the vote. The council is basing its decision to call for Gough to step down on a report into alleged misconduct with city staff that hasn’t been made public.

“We have to abide by the golden rule,” Councilman Jim Smith said. “We have to treat people the way we would like to be treated and that has not happened.”

Gough missed the meeting after reportedly having had oral surgery earlier in day. He has declined to talk about the council’s resolution since it first surfaced last week.

The Herald sought the report about Gough under public records laws. Reporters also asked council members and city officials last week to share copies or what they know regarding the investigation’s conclusions. All the requests were denied.

Instead, officials said they were advised by a special attorney hired by the council to give Gough up to 10 days to consider taking legal action to try to block disclosure of the report.

They said their deadline for Gough is 5 p.m. Thursday — three days after tonight’s vote.

The city’s 10-day deadline is not part of state public records law nor is it found in the city’s written policy for handling public records.

The council sought the investigation of Gough in April after his administrative assistant, Stephanie Simpson, accused him of demeaning and belittling her. The city paid the woman $49,500 and three months of benefits and she left her job.

So far, the city has paid $31,375 to the Seabold group of Seattle for the investigation and report, city clerk Lisa King said. She did not immediately know how much has been paid to the attorney hired by the council.

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