FERNDALE - With only one month left in office, City Council member Lloyd Zimmerman faces discipline for what other council members say was a "disrespectful and demeaning" comment Zimmerman made on The Bellingham Herald's website.
Zimmerman also is not allowed to attend council executive sessions because of a separate incident one month ago. He provided details to a member of the public about an executive session, Mayor Gary Jensen said. Those meetings are closed to the public so council can discuss legal disputes, real estate transactions and personnel issues.
"He released information or conversations from an executive session. It's technically illegal. We could have pressed it," Jensen said.
Instead, Zimmerman agreed to no longer attend executive sessions, Jensen said. Zimmerman could not be reached for comment on Friday, Nov. 29.
The controversy over the online comment will play out at the Monday, Dec. 2, council meeting. Council will consider a resolution from member Keith Olson that would remove Zimmerman from his committee and liaison assignments. Zimmerman is on the council's Planning and Land Use, Finance and Administration, and Lodging Tax Advisory committees.
Zimmerman's comment appeared on his public Facebook page and underneath a Nov. 19 Bellingham Herald article about Ferndale hiring a new police detective in 2014. In the comment, Zimmerman mentioned he was asked to resign by other council members, whom he called "my religious right wing military institutional angry retired cohorts."
"This follows the lead of our skinhead leader," Zimmerman continued, in a clear reference to Jensen, who shaves his head.
In a phone interview Friday, Jensen said he responded to Zimmerman in an email, telling him his statement was out of line.
Olson and Jensen both said Zimmerman has been frustrated over being on the losing end of votes and not meeting the goals he had while in office. Zimmerman himself cited this as a reason for deciding not to run for re-election this year. In particular, he never found traction for his proposed "double dome" project, a community swimming pool that Zimmerman said would require no public funds.
"Lloyd's frustrated and getting to the end of his term," Jensen said. "You'll see he types things (on The Herald's website) early in the morning, and I don't know where his head's at."
Olson acknowledged the discipline he proposed didn't amount to much. Only one more set of committee meetings remain in Zimmerman's term. Jensen said he advised the council to ignore Zimmerman's online outburst, but Olson said it was worth pursuing.
"We're not just going to roll over and let you have your way until the end of your term," Olson said Friday in a phone interview. "You can decide whether to go out graciously or go out ashamed, and he's made his choice."
Zimmerman was formally admonished by the council in February 2010 for signing a purchase agreement for a $1.08 million Ferndale property without other council members' permission. The discipline was only symbolic. Jensen asked Zimmerman at the time to resign, and he refused.
ATTEND THE MEETING
The Ferndale City Council is scheduled to discuss rebuking member Lloyd Zimmerman at its 6 p.m. Monday, Dec. 2, meeting at council chambers, 5694 2nd Ave.
Reach RALPH SCHWARTZ at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 715-2298.