Following months and months of rancor and protests having to do with Everett city government there appears to have come a calm in the storm.
The news airways have quieted down.
It does not seem like the ship of state is sinking.
In fact, it is difficult to assess exactly what is going on.
The quiet is as confusing and off putting to clear thinking as a thick fog.
Mainly, it seems as though not very much is going on.
That being said, the biggest news outside all of this sudden quiet came about last week when the city wanted to get its legal bill paid with Greenberg Traurig.
According to documents that were discussed at last week’s city council meeting, the city has changed its ask for funding to be provided to pay the legal fees from $250,000 to $350,000 – which is frankly quite a leap in spending.
The money is needed to fund the ongoing Federal probe into racism and discrimination now being conducted by the US attorney’s office and the Justice Department.
The need for an additional $100,000 came as a surprise to several councilors who have asked to be informed about what the money is being spent on.
Councilor Stephanie Smith, primary among the councilors who ask such questions about larger than usual city expenses, made a motion to keep the appropriation of the $350,000 in committee, where it has been stuck for longer than a month.
Such a move is not inconsistent with Smith, who is a bit of a wonk when it comes to city spending.
When it comes to this probe, there are only a handful of people at city hall who have any idea what is going on and where the probe is heading.
Whoever those few people are, they are remaining as quiet as the fish who swim around at the bottom of the sea.
Mum is the word when it comes to federal probes.
Loose lips sinks ships is the operating standard when it comes to sharing information about the probe.
Bottom line – no one is sharing information.
Greenberg Traurig would like to be paid.
Most law firms take being paid very seriously – and when the bill is hovering at $350,000, you can believe there is some insistence that the bill ought to be paid.
Smith says that Greenberg Traurig generated Everett billing hours for five months before being paid the first $500,000 the firm was owed several months back.
Smith believes if they could wait five months before telling the city that how much in legal hourly billings had been dubbed, “then they could conceivably wait to be paid on this next go around.”
The billings generated by Greenberg Traurig are expected to be over $1 million by June.
According to those who know, the US Attorney’s office and the Justice Department are set to begin interviewing individuals in city government regarding racism and discrimination and maybe even about retaliation.
We have not yet heard of anyone locally being interviewed by Justice Department lawyers.
That doesn’t mean interviewing isn’t already happening.
We repeat – there is a great deal of quiet that has enveloped the city during this retrograde news reporting spring season.
Sooner or later, we will find out what has been going on and whether or not it will add up to a hill of beans.
That’s how it goes with federal probes that are based on confidentiality.