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Councilmember Olson to be formally admonished at Tuesday’s City Council meeting

Ferndale City Councilmember Kate Bishop return council to open session after being in executive session regarding an employee matter that led to an admonition of Councilmember Keith Olson (August 19, 2019). Photo: My Ferndale News

FERNDALE, Wash. — Citing findings from an investigation led by Councilmember Kate Bishop into an employee grievance filed by Ferndale Police Chief Kevin Turner, it was approved during the August 19th City Council meeting that Councilmember and former mayoral candidate Keith Olson be formally admonished by the council.

The City Council Meeting agenda for the Tuesday, September 3rd, regular meeting includes a staff report from City Attorney Dannon Traxler along with a Declaration of Admonishment (links to PDF file). According to Traxler,

On August 19, 2019, in executive session, the Council reviewed an investigative report (the Report) of an employee grievance filed by Ferndale Police Chief Kevin Turner against Councilmember Keith Olson. In response to the findings, conclusions, and recommendations in the Report, the Council voted and found that Councilmember Keith Olson had engaged in conduct of a harassing, discriminatory, and retaliatory nature and directed staff to draft a Declaration of Public Admonishment (the Declaration) to be read into the record at the next regular Council meeting. The Declaration has been prepared based on the record reviewed by Council and is attached.

The Report and associated documents are not currently included in the Council packet with the Declaration, because they are subject to pending public records requests. The affected parties named in the public records have been notified in accordance with RCW 42.56.540 and have the right to seek judicial intervention. The documents will be released on September 5, 2019 if the City is not enjoined by a court order from releasing them.

During the August 19th City Council meeting, the councilmembers entered executive session to discuss an employee matter. They returned to open session and voted to exclude Olson from the executive session and then returned to executive session without Olson. They later returned to open session and a motion to issue the admonition was made, seconded and passed by a 6 to 1 vote with Olson opposed. The meeting was then adjourned.

My Ferndale News was holding this story due to the lack of information about how the investigation came to be, why it was delegated to a councilmember and the specifics of the complaint filed by Chief Turner. A public records request was made in an effort to obtain this information but, as noted above by Traxler, such requests are not expected to be fulfilled until September 5th. A followup story can be expected once that information becomes available.


  1. Brendon Orth-Sheridan August 30, 2019

    What is going on with our City leadership? A possible ethics investigation, a council person investigating another council person? All seriousness what is going on? What are the long term effects for the confidence in the City leaders when things like this happen? More and more questions. I hope to see something on the 5th of September after the FOIA request is filled.

  2. Eugene Goldsmith September 1, 2019

    I see that this administration and council are going to admonish Councilman Keith Olsen this coming Tuesday. If I were Keith, I would consider this action a badge of honor as I look at the actions of this administration and council; from the profane resolution, the campaigning on public property, the proposal to buy unusable property, the ethics complaints filed against our current Mayor, the water, sewer and storm water proposals, etc, etc, etc.
    It appears to me Councilman Olsen is looking out for the people, not the council, administration, and bureaucracy.

  3. Amanda Johnson September 1, 2019

    Not surprised at all. This “elected supposed” council to represent the best interest of our community and keeping to prove to disappoint. Olson and Watson were the only two Councilmembers who looked out for the best of the City. The Mayor has extremely unethical behavior and asking Police to coverup crimes that the other Councilmembers over look. But hey our community believed the elected Councilmembers would actually do right now we have to unfortunately suffer from it. Also, his hired Head Department does unethical behavior too. Not surprised this is going on.

  4. Cathy Watson September 2, 2019

    Council voted to exclude Councilmember Olson from the executive session, so he wasn’t able to defend himself in any way from these accusations nor hear any of the supposed evidence against him. He still hasn’t received a copy of the report of this supposed investigation. Council also didn’t follow its own procedures for an ethics investigation and the Mayor Pro Tem has no authority to conduct an investigation of another councilmember.

  5. Steve Malpezzi September 2, 2019

    I tend to concur with Cathy. What even happened to innocent until proven guilty! Or, the accused has the right to face their accuser….Has the rest of the Council had the opportunity to review the written “investigation”? Councilmember Olson (and the public!) should have the right to review the relevant material PRIOR to any public admonishment vote!

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