As Sammamish’s city manager, Dave Rudat led the city through the COVID-19 pandemic, when he stabilized staff and kept up morale and work productivity during “extremely difficult times.”
That’s according to a page-long letter, signed by Mayor Christie Malchow on behalf of the City Council, detailing Rudat’s accomplishments during his two years as city manager. But the review doesn’t mention it was written as part of a separation agreement between Rudat and the city, after a monthslong investigation into allegations, which Rudat has denied, that he mishandled confidential city information.
City officials have yet to publicly say why they chose to part ways with Rudat — the third time the city has done so with a city manager in under four years. A motion by a city council member to release the full, unredacted report of an investigation into Rudat for the City Council to view was voted down this week.
Rudat departed the position March 31, after the City Council voted to offer him a separation agreement that included severance pay, half his annual base salary of $225,000, and the letter acknowledging his accomplishments in the Eastside city.
The March 29 letter, obtained by The Seattle Times, includes a list of several of Rudat’s positive contributions to the city. It details how Rudat, first as interim city manager and then city manager, led the city in implementing alternative and remote work during the pandemic, and developed a return-to-City-Hall work plan launched this month.
In 2021, the City Council hired legal counsel and authorized an investigation into allegations that Rudat mishandled confidential city information. A 10-page summary of the investigative report found Rudat, on certain occasions, failed to effectively safeguard city communications that fell under attorney-client privilege. Rudat “more likely” didn’t affirmatively disclose the information, the investigator wrote, but it instead was overheard by a family member who disseminated the information. Rudat has denied all allegations.
The full report of the investigation hasn’t been publicly released; the city denied a public records request “in anticipation of potential litigation.” Rudat this week said he never saw the report in its entirety.
On Tuesday, Councilmember Karen Howe made a motion to direct city officials to give all six City Council members — the council has one vacancy that members haven’t been able to agree on who should fill — unredacted copies of the investigative report. Copies would be watermarked with individual names and returned to City Hall two weeks after they were received, Howe added.
Giving each City Council member a copy, to read in their residences, Howe said, would save the city from having to invest in an attorney to “sit and babysit us” to make sure that nothing happened to the report, which includes attorney-client privileged material.
“Two weeks is ample time to review the document thoroughly to understand its intent and what should happen perhaps later with it, if anything at all,” Howe said during Tuesday’s meeting.
Councilmember Kent Treen said he wouldn’t support the motion and didn’t want a copy of the report “sent to me, my residence or in any form.” Councilmember Karen Moran echoed Treen, and said in a later interview that releasing the information would be a liability to the city and pointless, because Rudat already has departed.
Howe, Deputy Mayor Kali Clark and Councilmember Amy Lam voted in support of the motion. Malchow, Treen and Moran voted against.
“It is critical this Council be forward thinking for the benefit of our residents and the staff that serve them,” Malchow said in an email. “We have a new city manager position to fill, staff to provide some stability to, and if we are looking in the rear view mirror constantly, how will we assist ourselves in filling that city manager void and how can we possibly move forward to get city business accomplished for our residents?”