Inclusive city ordinance proposal returns, again

The long awaited first reading of an inclusive city ordinance is set for Monday night at city hall.

The Langley City Council is expected to deliberate on the draft ordinance at its regular monthly meeting at 5:30 p.m. in the council chambers. The council’s options include declining the draft ordinance in favor of a non-binding resolution that declares Langley a sanctuary city, revising the draft ordinance to address code conflicts and/or adopting the draft ordinance as written.

City Attorney Mike Kenyon sent the council a revised draft ordinance on Thursday with proposed amendments that were requested by the council at its May 15 meeting, as well as a letter explaining the proposed amendments.

One change to Section 9.01.60 “makes clear” that the ordinance would not be “construed to prohibit Langley Police officers from fulling their duties under LMC (Langley Municipal Code) Chapter 2.18 to investigate and make lawful arrests for violations of city, state and federal criminal laws.

Another proposed change aims to avoid a conflict between the draft ordinance and the oath taken by Langley officials. Kenyon included a new subsection, LMC 9.01.080(B) in the draft ordinance, which makes clear that a violation of the ordinance would not be grounds for disciplinary or other “adverse administrative action.” A violation would also not be deemed as a violation of any oath of office.

Kenyon covered the concerns surrounding potential oath of office violations for city officials in detail. He said research conducted by his firm found that city officials are not required to take an oath under Langley Municipal code. They are, however, required to take the oath specified in RCW 29A.04.033.

Kenyon wrote that the oath taken by Langley elected officials is also the Municipal Research and Services Center’s recommended oath. He said the oath includes additional affirmation that the official will “support and maintain the laws and Constitution of the State of Washington and of the United States of America, and all local ordinances.”

Advocates of the inclusive city proposal were not pleased with the contents of Kenyon’s letter to the council, which is included in Monday night’s agenda packet. Fran Abel, a spokeswoman for the community advocacy group Inclusive Langley, thought the letter was contrary to the wishes of the community to protect its neighbors from the Trump administration and that Langley leaders are trying to dodge “the real issue.”

Belinda Griswold, a member of Inclusive Langley, expressed concern that Kenyon crossed over from giving legal counsel to political advice. Kenyon said in his letter to the city that he is a city attorney and is neither for nor against the draft ordinance. But, Griswold took issue with Kenyon’s closing remarks when he said “it makes little sense from a research standpoint for Langley to become a lightning rod in an effort to definitively resolve political and legal issues of national scope.”

“The fact that Kenyon is basically advancing far-right legal arguments, instead of focusing on how Langley can perfectly properly write an ordinance as so many other cities have done, is strange to say the least,” Griswold said.

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