One North Olympic Peninsula city hall passing on Martin Luther King Day holiday

PDN Commentary Columnist

Traffic and commerce slow down today across the North Olympic Peninsula to honor the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr.

City, county state and federal offices are closed in Clallam and Jefferson counties for a national holiday that for two decades has honored the slain civil rights leader.

All government offices are shut — that is, except for the city of Sequim.

I talked with Sequim City Manager Bill Elliott and Teamsters Local 589 representative Pat Clark and Mayor Walt Schubert about why the city of Sequim stands alone today in ignoring Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

“As mayor, I don’t have a stand on it,” Schubert said.

He did not know why city offices remained open, but didn’t know Monday was Martin Luther King Jr. Day until he read about it Friday in the PDN.

“If I had known City Hall would be open, I probably would have asked the city manager why,” he said.

“It’s up to the city manager to make that call,” Schubert said. “If we had known about it ahead of time and someone on the council felt strongly about it, it probably would have come up.

“Again, it’s not my call. It’s not something the City Council is part of.”

When I phoned Elliott, he said it wasn’t up to him, either.

“It’s not my call that this should be a holiday. It would be a negotiated thing with the union. It’s a decision that a lot of people would need to make.”

He referred me to Teamsters Local 589 representative Pat Clark, in Port Angeles. The union represents Sequim city employees.

“I can’t comment on what we proposed or not,” Clark said.

“If you want to talk to Elliott, you are free to do so. I suggest you call him and confirm it’s never been brought up by the union.”

Back I went to Elliott.

He said the last time the holiday was brought up was during contract negotiations in 2000.

Back then, “the union requested the additional holiday and it got bargained away,” Elliott said.

He added there’s no slowdown at City Hall on Martin Luther King Jr. Day despite the country’s slower pace.

Clark, Elliott and Schubert all agreed it was important to honor King’s memory.

“I see it as a real holiday,” Schubert said.

“It represents a man who died and did a tremendous amount of good in the world and brought segregation to the forefront and helped solve a lot of those segregation and bias problems.”

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