Lynnwood Mayor Christine Frizzell speaks during a ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate the completion of the 196th ST SW Improvement Project near the 196th and 44th Ave West intersection in Lynnwood, Washington on Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2023. (Annie Barker / The Herald)

Lynnwood Mayor Christine Frizzell speaks during a ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate the completion of the 196th ST SW Improvement Project near the 196th and 44th Ave West intersection in Lynnwood, Washington on Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2023. (Annie Barker / The Herald)

Jarred by anti-Semitic rants, Lynnwood council approves tax increase

Three people spewed hate speech via Zoom at a council meeting this week. Then, the council moved on to regular business.

LYNNWOOD — It was supposed to be a public hearing about the city’s first property tax increase in two years Monday night at the Lynnwood City Council.

Instead, three commenters disrupted the meeting with a series of anti-Semitic and racist comments over Zoom.

The first speaker called for a city declaration condemning Israel’s actions against Palestine before descending into a vulgar anti-Semitic rant. He nearly finished his allotted three minutes for public comment, before Mayor Christine Frizzell told him to “clean up” his language.

Another speaker, who gave an Everett zip code, rambled about anti-Jewish conspiracy theories.

The mayor cut him off: “Do you have any comments that are relevant to the city of Lynnwood?”

The third commenter shouted slurs, when asked to keep his remarks relevant to Lynnwood.

Other public meetings around the region, and the country, have been disrupted by so-called “Zoom bombers.” Callers disrupted an Everett City Council meeting in a similar manner in September, when they joined the meeting via Zoom to make racist and anti-Semitic remarks.

On Tuesday, city staff were working with Lynnwood City Attorney Lisa Marshall to adjust the public comment guidelines. At the hearing, she noted the open comment session was a “limited public forum,” and therefore not a free-for-all under the First Amendment.

“There is no room for hate speech in Lynnwood and we’re taking steps to make sure this doesn’t happen again,” city spokesperson Nathan MacDonald said.

Council President Shannon Sessions agreed the comments were out of line.

“We need to protect free speech,” she said. “Those (comments) are hate speech and will not be tolerated.”

More tension — over tax increase

After the public comment, the council moved on to regular business, approving a 5% property tax levy increase by a 5-2 vote. This was much lower than the 22% the mayor proposed to stay in line with future budgets.

The 5% increase will raise about $250,000, compared to $1 million under the mayor’s original plan. City Council members Josh Binda and Sessions voted against the increase.

The increase will cost the average homeowner an additional $11 in property taxes per year, said Michelle Meyer, the city finance director. A 22% hike would have raised taxes by $58 annually.

“If anyone is $58 away from the poverty line … I think that’s a bigger problem as a city, what we’re doing for our community, than it is about our property tax,” Binda said. “That’s what I believe. Fifty-eight dollars?”

Council member Jim Smith initially motioned for no increase, but changed his mind to allow a 5% increase after hearing from fellow council members.

Smith, who lost his re-election bid this year, was worried a 22% increase would be too much of a burden on residents.

“Kindly I think there’s a bit of hypocrisy with some things that have been said, in that we’re always hearing about how we need to take care of the less fortunate … yet we’re going to tax the heck out of them,” Smith said during the meeting.

Smith noted he would not be on the council next year, so he didn’t have to “hold back.”

Sessions, who did not run for re-election, accused Smith of “grandstanding.”

Some council members expressed distaste for tax increases, but said it was necessary to move the city forward.

“Five percent isn’t enough,” Sessions said in an interview. “While I’m not in favor of tax increases, the property tax levy is important for the long-term health of our city.”

City Council member Shirley Sutton motioned to bring an outside auditor to look into the city’s funds, but the council voted to table that idea.

Ashley Nash: 425-339-3037; ashley.nash@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @ash_nash00.

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Local News

A view of one of the potential locations of the new Aquasox stadium on Monday, Feb. 26, 2024 in Everett, Washington. The site sits between Hewitt Avenue, Broadway, Pacific Avenue and the railroad. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
20 businesses could be demolished for downtown Everett stadium

Some business owners say the city didn’t tell them of plans for a new AquaSox stadium that could displace their businesses.

Kathy Purviance-Snow poses for a photo in her computer lab at Snohomish High School on Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2024, in Snohomish, WA. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
To ban or embrace ChatGPT? Local teachers fight AI with AI — or don’t

“It has fundamentally changed my teaching in really stressful and exciting ways,” an EvCC teacher said. At all levels of education, ChatGPT poses a tricky question.

In this Feb. 5, 2018, file photo a Boeing 737 MAX 7 is displayed during a debut for employees and media of the new jet in Renton, Wash. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)
FAA gives Boeing 90 days to develop plan to fix quality, safety issues

The agency’s ultimatum comes a day after a meeting with CEO Dave Calhoun and other top Boeing officials in Washington, D.C.

A heavily damaged Washington State Patrol vehicle is hauled away after a crash killed a trooper on southbound I-5 early Saturday, March 2, 2024, in Marysville, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
State trooper killed, 1 arrested in crash on I-5 near Marysville

Authorities said Trooper Chris Gadd had been stopped along the freeway around 3 a.m. near 136th Street NE. An SUV driver, 32, of Lynnwood, was arrested.

A man walks by Pfizer headquarters, Friday, Feb. 5, 2021, in New York. Pfizer will spend about $43 billion to buy Seagen and broaden its reach into cancer treatments, the pharmaceutical giant said. (AP Photo / Mark Lennihan, File)
Pfizer backs out of Everett manufacturing plant after $43B Seagen deal

Pfizer finalized the acquisition of the Bothell-based cancer drug developer in December.

Madi Humphries, 9, Rose Austin, 13, and Eirene Ritting, 8, on Thursday, Jan. 25, 2024 in Bothell, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
No grades, no teachers: Inside a Bothell school run by student vote

Each day at The Clearwater School, 60 students choose their own lessons. It’s one vote per person, whether you’re staff or student.

SonShine Preschool inside First Baptist Church Monroe is pictured Friday, March 1, 2024, in Monroe, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
SonShine preschool in Monroe to close at the end of the year

The preschool, operated by First Baptist Church, served kids for 25 years. School leadership did not explain the reason behind the closure.

Providence Hospital in Everett at sunset Monday night on December 11, 2017. Officials Providence St. Joseph Health Ascension Health reportedly are discussing a merger that would create a chain of hospitals, including Providence Regional Medical Center Everett, plus clinics and medical care centers in 26 states spanning both coasts. (Kevin Clark / The Daily Herald)
Following lawsuit, Providence commits to improved care for Deaf patients

Three patients from Snohomish County sued Providence in 2022 for alleged Americans with Disabilities Act violations.

Cars drive through snow along I-5 in Snohomish County, Washington on Thursday, Jan. 11, 2024.  (Annie Barker / The Herald)
In March, 7 p.m. sunsets are back for Western Washington

Washingtonians will finally start seeing more sun starting March 10. But a little more winter could be on the way first.

One of the parking lots at Stevens Pass Thursday afternoon on December 30, 2021.  (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Stevens Pass to charge $20 for parking reservations on busy days

Two-thirds of spaces will remain free for early arrivers on weekends. Cars with four or more occupants can also park free.

Lynnwood
Days after shootout with Lynnwood police, suspect checks into hospital

Police learned the 18-year-old was in a hospital in Portland, Oregon. His alleged role in the shooting remained unclear.

Everett
Snohomish County pharmacy tech accused of stealing 2,500 opioid pills

Rachel Langdon stole oxycodone while working at a Snohomish County pharmacy, according to state Department of Health allegations.

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.