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Some members of City Council upset over lack of agenda notification on library update

Several councilmembers raised questions this week about a downtown library update that was improperly labeled on the June 9 City Council agenda.

The second item listed on the agenda for the meeting was a “Park Board” presentation, but when the council reached that item, a representative from King County Library System was introduced to give an update on the construction timeline of the library, including the closure date and the location of the temporary facility.

Given the contentious nature of the issue, several councilmembers questioned why the public had not been notified that there would be an update.

City Administrator Jay Covington took responsibility for the agenda item and said the presentation from KCLS had been planned, but it was listed wrong on the agenda, which he called “unfortunate.”

“We completely messed up,” he said. “We didn’t. I did.”

He also said they decided to go forward anyway because the item was an information-only update and no council action was necessary or would be taken and said perhaps he should have included the update as part of his “administrative reports.”

Councilman Greg Taylor this week said the council was “blindsided” by the change at the meeting and said it follows a pattern laid out by this administration.

“This was no accident,” Taylor said. “It’s problematic and it’s typical of how this administration likes to communicate.”

Even though the update was information-only and that information is readily available at multiple outlets, such as the library website, the city website and posted at the library itself, Taylor said because of the history of this issue and the lack of trust many people have toward the City Council as a result, the city needs to “overcompensate” on the library and make sure that they get “vital information” out through every possible outlet, including council meetings.

“Experience has taught us that we messed it up completely, so they should be walking on eggshells with how they handle it,” he said. “There’s a wound with a scab on it; very sensitive.”

Councilwoman Marcie Palmer also questioned the agenda item as did Councilman Randy Corman, though Corman said he didn’t think it was necessary to make the City Council and its meetings the primary information release for this issue.

Covington said KCLS has been invited back to give the same update at the June 16 meeting, though as of midweek it was unknown whether it would be on the agenda.

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