City council votes to censure Mike Regis, again

POULSBO — Jeff McGinty hadn’t slept well for days.

A week ago the Poulsbo City Council member had voted against censuring fellow councilman Mike Regis for violating the rules of executive session. But minutes after casting his decision at the Nov. 7 session, McGinty asked whether he could change his vote.

He opted not to though and stayed with his “nay.” The choice had been bothering him for a week. Meanwhile, his phone kept ringing with calls from the public questioning why he had voted not to censure Regis for his breach of council code.

Last Friday, a memo of councilman Regis’ verbatim but “confusing” statement began circulating throughout Poulsbo, adding to McGinty’s unrest and the public demands for a reconsideration.

Councilwoman Jackie Aitchison said she was pretty much in the same boat as McGinty.

“After having received several phone calls and additional consideration, I think I voted incorrectly and would like the opportunity to change my vote,” she explained.

Aitchison was granted this chance Wednesday when McGinty made a motion to reconsider the censure of Regis, a vote which had failed last week 5-2.

Referring to Regis’ verbatim statement, several council members said they were baffled by its tone and uncertain of its sincerity.

“I don’t feel it adequately addressed the seriousness of the offense,” McGinty said, pointing out that the city council had discussed Regis’ behavior on several occasions, but apparently hadn’t made an impression on the councilman.

Last week, it was revealed in a city council meeting that Regis had discussed private matters pertaining to ongoing contract negotiations between the city and the Poulsbo Police Department with a law enforcement officer. Whether his actions negatively impacted the year-long process is uncertain, as neither party has commented on the matter. However, last Wednesday city council voted unanimously to go to arbitration over the police contract.

Despite the ramifications of Regis’ actions to the police agreement, council members Jim Henry and Ed Stern were reluctant to reconsider the motion for censure. Both Henry and Stern, who were in the minority of the 5-2 vote last week, changed their votes this week and found themselves in the majority as the city council decided 5-1-1 (with Regis abstaining and Connie Lord against) to censure the councilman.

“The horse is dead,” Henry remarked. “I know how I voted.”

“The point of censure is a public rebuke. That was accomplished,” Stern agreed, implying a second motion was unnecessary. “What was intended was delivered.”

Nonetheless, other council members felt strongly enough about the matter to push forward — some more cautiously than others.

“I agree it wasn’t really that satisfying,” councilman Dale Rudolph said of the original reprimand, before warning the elected group not to rush its vote. “I found the written statement unintelligible. The point is if you did something wrong, admit it.”

But Regis stood by his earlier statements, leaving the majority of council little choice but to vote for the censure.

“The bulk of my statement was okayed by the city attorney. I’m done with it,” he said.

Councilwoman Lord was the only member who voted against the censure, reasoning that discussions on the issue not only lacked clarity but adequate opportunities for Regis to explain his position.

In closing, Regis remarked, “When you’re in politics it’s recommended that you not only have a thick skin but a metal plate in your head to deal with all the thumping.”

As to enduring a second vote on censureship, he said, “You can’t cook lutefisk twice.”

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