By Pepper Fisher and Todd Ortloff
SEQUIM – The Sequim City Council voted 4-2 Monday night to relieve City Manager Charlie Bush of his duties.
The last item on Monday night’s agenda was announced by Mayor William Armacost.
“We are now entering in executive session to evaluate the qualifications of an applicant for public employment or to review the performance of a Public Employee. We will start with a 30-minute time limit.”
Councilmember Brandon Janisse objected immediately, moving that the discussion be held in open session for the public to hear.
“I would like to make a comment and ask the presiding officer to pull this from executive session and put it in the open.”
Janisse got no support for that suggestion and the Council went into executive session for a total of 80 minutes.
When they emerged, Armacost made the following statement.
“I move to direct the Mayor to negotiate with the City Manager relating to his resignation. I further direct the City Attorney to prepare such agreement for presentation to Council after the Mayor in the City Manager has reached an agreement.”
Before they voted on the Mayor’s motion, Janisse had this to say.
“Can I make a statement real quick?” “Go ahead.” “Charlie, I don’t agree with what’s going on here, and I’m sorry that you are being put through this. And that’s all I gotta say.”
The Council then voted on whether to negotiate Bush’s resignation. Voting in favor were Mayor Armacost and councilmembers Keith Larkin, Sarah Kincaid and Mike Pence. Voting against were councilmembers Brandon Janisse and Tom Ferrell. Councilmember Dennis Smith resigned his seat on January 8 for personal reasons unrelated to the Charlie Bush issue.
Under Bush’s management Sequim has emerged in better financial shape than many other cities. The city has been able to issue a half-million dollars in grants to Sequim businesses struggling due to the pandemic. The city has not had to lay off a single full-time employee and issued 100 hours of COVID-19 leave for each employee to use at their discretion to deal with family issues related to the virus.
On the other hand, some councilmembers have made no secret of their opposition to the Jamestown Tribe’s MAT clinic, already under construction, and blame Bush and his staff for the approval of the construction permits.