Editor’s note: this story includes offensive language.
A hot mic moment caught some foul language towards a Sequim area citizen at the end of last Monday’s city council meeting.
Six seconds after adjournment on April 12, a woman’s voice can be heard on city councilor Mike Pence’s video screen during the virtual meeting.
Off screen, she says, “That Karen Hogan, everybody knows what a c––– she is, and she has to be the first …”
Pence replied to the woman, “First words out of her mouth,” and the woman said, “every week …” before the meeting recording ends.
Pence was the only one on camera at the 3:08:30 mark as all other councilors had exited the meeting.
He could not be reached for comment and city officials have not issued a statement on the incident.
City Attorney Kristina Nelson-Gross said via email on April 14 that staff are not aware of any violations of council rules or protocols being broken.
She wrote the only “action” staff made with the video was placing a “truncated” version on the city’s website, removing the portion of the video after the meeting adjourned.
Hogan said in a phone interview that the overheard comment is “really offensive.”
“What a thing to say; because I participate and make comments?” she asked.
Contention between Pence and Hogan recently stems from she and Marsha Maguire calling for his resignation in late March after finding job title discrepancies on his council résumé while working for the City of Liberty, Mo.
Pence wrote he was director of Public Works for the city from October 1988 to October 2009, however city staff there said he never held that title.
Records obtained through Liberty’s Deputy City Clerk Janet Pittman state Pence held titles as Director of Utilities and Maintenance from 1988-1994, Maintenance Superintendent from Jan. 1994-Nov. 1994, and Crew Leader/Maintenance Supervisor from Nov. 1994-Dec. 2009 when he retired.
Previously, Steven Hansen, a former Liberty employee, said he was its public works director from 1994 to June 2016 and that Pence had “misrepresented himself” claiming he was public works director on his résumé.
He said they were co-department heads with Pence before Hansen became Public Works director in 1994 when the department was created. Hansen was Pence’s supervisor where he was maintenance supervisor, he said.
In a previous interview, Pence said he did not intend to mislead people and that confirmed his original title as “director of utilities and maintenance,” “which is public works.”
When the Public Works Department was created in 1994, Pence said he became the maintenance superintendent and no longer oversaw water and sewer operations.
In that interview, Pence said his résumé was a summation of his highest qualifications over his career and that “Maybe I should have made (the application) clearer.” He also took offense to being called a liar and felt he wouldn’t have had a long career in municipal government if he was one.
Pence previously said he felt targeted by Hogan, Maguire and others and that he’d seek advice from a lawyer because he feels they are bullying and defaming his character.
Hogan previously said they weren’t targeting him but “uncovering something that’s not true.”
The City of Sequim’s administrative staff said Pence didn’t violate city council rules with having a discrepancy in his résumé.
More on Monday
A majority of city councilors on Monday agreed in a 4-3 vote to move public comments from the beginning of the meeting to the end. Mayor William Armacost read a statement to open the meeting saying, “for the past months, despite my denials, a few members of the public have falsely claimed that I support what is known as QAnon.
Last August, Armacost encouraged Coffee with the Mayor listeners to watch a video that outlined QAnon theories alleging that a secret cabal of Satan-worshipping, cannibalistic pedophiles is running a global child sex-trafficking ring.
“Recently, many of those same individuals have falsely claimed that Councilor Pence made misrepresentations on his application to become a member of this City Council,” Armacost said on April 12. “They are so rabid as to characterize his statements as lies.”
Armacost continued to say Pence’s “application was accurate although somewhat confusing in describing the evolution of the Department of Public Works during his years of employment with the City of Liberty, Missouri.”
He made the motion to move public comments because he anticipated “more of these venomous comments” that “detract from the business portion” of the meeting. Fellow councilors Sarah Kincaid, Keith Larkin and Pence voted for the motion.
Larkin seconded Armacost’s motion but said he was reluctant to do so because he believes “it gives our citizens the opportunity to comment on agenda items” but he didn’t want distractions as they try to “take care of business” either.
In public comment, Hogan was one of three to speak saying moving the comments “did a real serious blow to freedom of speech.”
She also expressed her concern whether or not Pence can be trusted.
“Do any (councilors) find it disturbing that Mr. Pence falsified information on his resume? How can he and they be trusted to vet a candidate if they have no problem with someone falsifying information on a résumé? Or being confused about what their job title was?” she said.
In a phone interview, Hogan said the actions to move the public comments and the meeting’s foul language suppresses free speech and encourages intimidation.
“It shows an attitude that can be intimidating to keep people participating in their civic duties,” she said.
Hogan feels some of the councilors aren’t transparent and “don’t feel they should be held accountable; they only listen to people who agree with them.”
She asks “why did Pence feel like he need to misrepresent his career? Why did he have to lie?”
“It’s a lie. He was not a public works director for 21 years,” she said.
In a later statement, Hogan said: “Mr. Armacost’s April 12th opening statement and motion to move Public Comments to the end of the evening because he anticipated concerned citizens would comment on the matter of Mr. Pence’s falsified résumé were antithetical to transparent government where public servants must be accountable to the people.
“Mr. Pence’s and Mr. Armacost’s bullying and mendacious behavior flies in the face of the words they recite in the Pledge of Allegiance, ‘indivisible, with liberty and justice for all,’ she said.
She called for Armacost and Pence to resign.
The next virtual Sequim city council meeting is held at 6 p.m. Monday, April 26 with more information at www.sequimwa.gov.