Roy mayor, council express concerns regarding communication, transparency

Councilor accuses mayor of concealing city information


Roy Mayor Kimber Ivy and the Roy City Council traded jabs and accusations about City communications during its Monday, July 8 study session.

Ivy returned to the council dais from maternity leave and shared a seven-minute statement with the council addressing concerns about the operation of meetings held in her absence. Among her concerns, she claimed that Mayor Pro-Tem Yvonne Starks has left “many” emails unanswered, including attempts to discuss current communication practices.

Ivy said, at one of the meetings, the mayor pro-tem offered to assist Ivy while she was on maternity leave.

“These statements seemed very theatrical as she did not once reach out to me directly,” Ivy said. “She left many emails unanswered, and had I not watched the meeting, I would not have known that you wished to assist.”

Ivy also claimed that she was informed of an interaction that took place with Councilor William Starks at City Hall in June regarding a rumored special meeting on the appointment of a legal team and city clerk-treasurer.

“Bill Starks came to the city and made statements that there will be no special meeting and that the Starks will not be attending the regular meeting, either. Statements were made in front of staff and other individuals in the lobby,” Ivy said. “Bill then said, ‘We are still reviewing the packet we just received last week. We will get to it when we get to it. We’re not bending over backwards for $25 a month. We will review it in a meeting on June 10.’ We had previously been told that the Starks would probably not be at that meeting and confronted Bill about this response, which he said, ‘If we don’t get to it, it will wait until we do. There will be no meeting before the 10th.’ This statement was said to the staff members very finally and very rudely.”

Ivy expressed her concerns with how the meetings were operated during her absence, telling councilors that Open Public Meetings Act (OPMA) regulations were violated when citizens interrupted others during their requests to be heard.

“Allowing others to interrupt citizens during their time is a violation of OPMA and rude. These meetings are to be run with order and decorum,” Ivy said. “To have a more open discussion, a town hall would be a more appropriate setting. A regular meeting is for city business.”

She also condemned personal attacks against staff and herself because it could lead to potential litigation against the City and staff leaving the city, among other consequences.

“Personal attacks against staff and myself are not OK. If you have any questions or concerns about staffing or performance, bring it to me, please. Attacks against me are not appreciated and must cease immediately,” Ivy said.

Lastly, in her statement, Ivy emphasized her value for transparency amid councilors’ repeated statements that they are not informed about city projects, including the improvement of the city’s water quality.

“I have made every effort to keep everything transparent and involve the council in their legislative role. Legislative and executive branches need to work together as a team for things to be functioning for the betterment of our community,” she said. “Statements like, ‘The mayor doesn’t keep us informed on everything’ are inaccurate, slanderous and misleading to our constituents. There is no project that the City is faced with that the council is not aware of. We are supposed to operate as a team, and your actions seem to be more geared to denying anything the mayor, myself, suggests and are very personal. The mayor pro-tem stated that they are not personal attacks that are happening, but it appears to be the opposite to me and to some of our constituents.”

In response, Yvonne Starks claimed that she requested via email to be contacted via landline phone, and that she does not know why city staff thought the Starks would not attend future meetings.

She accused Ivy of taking decisions out of the council’s hands, including deciding on the city’s engineers and the city attorney when the mayor conducted interviews and presented her recommendations to the council.

“When we were asked to hire an engineer, we’re normally given several to choose from, but you gave us one. We asked about the others, and you said you did the interview and this is who you picked,” Starks said. “We didn’t get a choice. It was your choice. Everything seems to be your choice.”

Starks told Ivy that she “seems like you’re more of an authoritarian,” and when Ivy responded that the remark was a personal attack, Starks countered that it was not and repeated that she takes decisions out of the hands of the legislative branch.

William Starks addressed Ivy’s remarks about his incident at City Hall, claiming that “some of the wordings you say are totally incorrect” and that Ivy did not divulge which council member informed her of the incident because she believed “he would take retaliatory action.” He did not indicate that he would indeed take any retaliatory action. Starks added that there was talk of a meeting happening on Friday, June 7, before a regular business meeting the following Monday and that he told staff that he didn’t think there would be a meeting three days before the same issues would be addressed.

“I don’t appreciate your derogatory statements toward me disparaging my character,” Starks said to Ivy.

Starks also accused Ivy of “trying to cover stuff up” after the mayor told councilors that recently departed City Clerk-Treasurer Michael Malek returned to help acting City Clerk-Treasurer Beth King with her duties and helping the City with its payroll and accounts payable.

Starks expressed his displeasure with Malek being paid by the City of Roy despite his recent resignation to take a job with another city.

“Once you resign, you’re no longer a city employee. We have his resignation letter. In accordance with our city handbook, employees who resign turn in all city property, computers, cell phones, etc.,” he said. “So how can you still be a city employee if you resign, and if he’s getting paid, how is he getting paid? Why is he getting paid without City Council approval? If he was made a contractor, how come we did not see a contract for council approval?

“This seems to me that you’re trying to cover stuff up, in my opinion. In my opinion, you’re trying to do things underhandedly by not passing information,” Starks continued. “I feel that you’re trying to cover things up and keep things beneath where we don’t know where it’s at and where we can question them.”

In response, Ivy said, “I’m very sorry that that’s how you feel.”

Councilor Harvey Gilchrist suggested the council host a retreat to discuss how to effectively communicate. William Starks mentioned an investigator that the City hired to look into “a hostile work environment” asked the council how it would move forward.

He added that “immediately” after the council agreed to refrain from any fighting or disrespect in meetings, Ivy posted a press release to the City’s website and to the Nisqually Valley News condemning recent conduct by council members. Ivy’s release cited statements and behaviors exhibited toward candidates for the then-vacant council position and the Roy Planning Commission.

“I thought we had come to an agreement, but apparently not. We have tried to work this out and get a clear cohesiveness, but apparently the information flow we asked about hasn’t happened,” Starks said. “We have addressed that issue, and we want to work as a group, but apparently there’s a disconnect somewhere at the City staff level.”