By Richard Van Winkle, News of Mill Creek.
Mill Creek City Manager Rebecca Polizzotto isn’t really missing, but she hasn’t been at city council meetings since April 3, 2018.
Quite a backlog of city council business has accumulated in her absence.
There has been no public outreach from the city until now to explain Polizzotto’s disappearance, but Mayor Pam Pruitt wrote in a number of her “City News” columns published in other local papers that Polizzotto has been suffering from a respiratory illness brought on by overwork.
Mill Creek Beacon Editor Dan Aznoff wrote a June 6th article that addressed Polizzotto’s absence, which prompted a reply from the city council.
At a special city council meeting on Friday, June 8th, the city council issued a statement including their explanation of Polizzotto’s absence.
It said, “The Mill Creek City Council understands there is interest in the current situation in light of the article posted online yesterday by the Mill Creek Beacon. The City Manager, Rebecca Polizzotto, has been out on medical leave. As you can appreciate, federal law prevents the Council or anyone at the City from commenting on her leave and we trust that her privacy will be respected.”
Coincidental with Polizzotto’s absence, each week beginning on April 24th the city council has held a series of special city council meetings and closed-door executive sessions without her.
The April 24th executive session concerned “performance of a public employee.” Before the executive session City Attorney Scott Missal announced in public that Polizzotto was not feeling well and went on to say she decided at the last minute not to attend the meeting.
All of the subsequent closed executive sessions had to do with “pending litigation” and again Polizzotto was not in attendance.
There are a number of important city council discussions/decisions that have been postponed until the city manager’s return. Here is a partial list:
- Wrap-up Strategic Planning.
- Exploration Park Construction Award.
- Freedom Field Grant and Construction Contracts.
- 2019-2020 Capital Improvement Plan Policies.
- 2019-2020 Biennial Budget Calendar.
- Washington State Auditor Report.
- East Gateway Urban Village Development Agreement.
- Partnerships with Everett School District.
- Senior Center Contract Renewal.
- Redevelopment along Mill Creek Boulevard.
- First Quarter 2018 Financial Report.
- Beaver Management Plan.
- Mill Creek Municipal Code Revisions.
- Sports Tourism Feasibility Study.
- WRIA 8 Interlocal Agreement.
Aznoff’s article quoted former City Councilmember Donna Michelson saying, “The taxpayers deserve to have somebody on the job. Working from home does not cut it.”
According to Aznoff’s article, “The 18-year council veteran (Michelson) said the situation is ‘unprecedented,’ explaining that she has never seen any city or public agency go more than a few days without proper leadership in place, ‘even if that means appointing an interim city manager until she is back on her feet.’”
The June 8th Mill Creek City Council statement said, “The Council looks forward to Ms. Polizzotto being able to return to work soon. In the meantime, we will have no further comment and not provide any interviews until further notice.”