Bainbridge officials present Peltier with letter of reprimand

Bainbridge Island’s top elected city officials have issued a letter of reprimand to embattled first-term Councilman Ron Peltier.

The city released a copy of the letter of reprimand Thursday, following a public records request for the document that was made by the Bainbridge Review.

In the letter, the city’s mayor and deputy mayor reference violations of the city’s ethics code and ask Peltier to act more like “a role model.”

The letter to Peltier follows the council’s vote on July 2 in response to an ethics complaint against the at-large councilman by Lisa Schulze, the wife of Doug Schulze, Bainbridge Island’s previous city manager.

Lisa Schulze accused Peltier of conducting an extended and ongoing “campaign of harassment” against her husband after his departure from the island for a new job in Banning, California.

The letter of reprimand, dated July 16, says:

Councilman Peltier,

On July 2, 2019, a majority of your colleagues on Council voted to reprimand you for your behavior underlying the Article I violations found by the Ethics Board in Advisory Opinion/Determination 2019-05. As discussed by the Council at the meeting, the reprimand will be in the form of a letter.

This letter is the formal reprimand for your behavior.

We believe we can speak for the Council in saying that it is our sincere hope that you do not engage in similar behavior in the future and instead choose to act as a role model for our community and to serve the public in accordance with the standards and requirements of the City’s Ethics Program.”

The letter was signed by Mayor Kol Medina and Deputy Mayor Matthew Tirman.

The basis for the letter of reprimand — basically a political face slap that carries no other penalties — was the complaint that Peltier had dogged the former Bainbridge city manager soon after he left the island.

The harassment continued for months.

Peltier repeatedly corresponded with a Banning councilman and critic of Doug Schulze, and shared information about Schulze during his time on Bainbridge that was used to belittle and degrade Schulze on social media.

In its opinion on the Schulze complaint, the Ethics Board said that Peltier has been engaged in activities that appeared to violate the city of Bainbridge Island Code of Ethics, and the bad behavior started soon after Schulze submitted his letter of resignation to the council.

Ethics officials said Peltier’s behavior was “unprofessional,” “unacceptable” and “bullying, pure and simple.”

“In the simplest terms possible, the Ethics Board’s opinion is: Stop this harassing behavior,” the board said in its report on the complaint.

Ethics officials said Peltier had violated core values of the Bainbridge Island Code of Ethics on areas of integrity, mutual respect, obligations to others and fairness. Officials also said it was Peltier who initiated the contact with a council member in Banning so Schulze could be discredited, and the board added Peltier had colluded with the Banning City Council member to create a hostile work environment for Schulze.

The Ethics Board also said Peltier’s actions had put the city at risk of a lawsuit.

Peltier has faced a string of complaints centering on bad behavior since last year.

Peltier has not responded to previous requests from the Review for comment on the Schulze complaint.

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