Thursday, January 31, 2008

Lake Whatcom Treatment Center

In regards to recent questions about my sources of information regarding my story about the extension of water service to the Lake Whatcom Treatment Center – please see below.

How long does a Conservation Easement Last?

“A Conservation Easement lasts in perpetuity. Title to the land may change, but the easement remains.” Whatcom Land Trust Web Site under Frequently asked Questions:

“An easement is a voluntary agreement between a property owner and a land trust in which the land owner donates to the land trust specific property rights in exchange for the land trust’s promise to protect the conservation values of the property forever. The land owner retains ownership of the land with the ability to sell it or pass it on to heirs, and may receive an income tax benefit from the easement donation.”

“Each easement is unique to the site and the owner’s personal wishes. A single feature can be preserved, development can be limited or the entire landscape may be conserved…” The Land Trust is responsible for ensuring that the terms of the easement are honored.

A copy of the Whatcom Land Trust Easement for the Lake Whatcom Treatment Center can be obtained by visiting the Whatcom County Assessor’s Office and requesting it. I considered printing it, but in lieu of the “attacks” that have been launched against me, I'm urging opponents to go get a copy for themselves. No one is paying me to do your research. - Parcel #380324 168197 0000.

Treatment Center caught in center of debate about development in Lake Whatcom Watershed:

Whatcom Land Trust Newsletter:

Whatcom Watch Article linking Vineyard Development Proponents to Lake Whatcom Treatment Center project:

Lake Whatcom Water and Sewer District Construction Standards: Brief description below:

2.1.2 Minimum Pipe Size
Minimum pipe size for new or replaced water lines is eight (8) inches in diameter. Dead end lines are only permitted where there is a cul-de-sac and where it is not possible to make a loop. Blow offs or fire hydrants shall be installed at the end of a dead end line.

Feasibility Studies:
Definition of a Feasibility Study: a preliminary analysis of a proposed business idea, plan, project, or strategy to provide an overview of the primary related issues and to assist a project proponent to determine if the proposed project is a viable strategy, financially and operationally. It may also include an analysis of POTENTIAL scenarios and a recommendation on the best solution to use. Feasibility studies are prepared by project proponents -- not the government agency being petitioned for service, not neighboring property owners.

What a Feasibility Study is not: a contractual agreement to provide services. Feasibility studies are a basic analysis submitted by a project proponent.

Whatcom County Council decision: Please see January 28, 2003 regular meeting minutes.

Domestic water systems are included in the Growth Management Act's definition of rural services according to the Dept of Health's Interim Planning Guidance for the Municipal Water Law (DOH Publication#331-256) attachment 8.

WA State Dept of Health Water System data: Water System Id - 00653

There’s much more, but I risk boring everyone to death. Let’s call it a day.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Legislature goes after Initiative Process (Again)

A few weeks ago, I posted an article “Wanted, Dead or Alive, Signature Gatherers" warning readers that some form of the two bills aimed to restrict citizen signature gathering were likely to be reintroduced in the 2008 legislative session. Both bills have been reintroduced in the House.

HB 2601 requires licensing of businesses engaged in the pursuit of signatures on behalf of initiatives and referendum. The bill requires all paid signature gatherers to register with the Public Disclosure Commission.

Opponents raised a number of constitutional concerns at the January 18, public hearing. For example, under New Section 2, the bill reads, "When gathering signatures, a person registered under this section must display evidence of registration including the registrant's photograph and registration number." Opponents testified, "Requiring that signature gatherers wear identification is impermissible insofar as such a requirement would require signature gatherers to display their names. Such a requirement discourages participation in the political process by forcing name identification at the time they are delivering their political message and when reaction may be the most intense, emotional and unreasoned.” Bill proponents want each signature gatherer to have an ID card with their picture and name.

The measure does not provide signature gatherers a means to check ID or verify identity of signers, but it does include a clause that eliminates a signature gatherer from ever circulating a petition again if a fraudulent signature is found on one of the petitions they have circulated. How can someone be prosecuted for a crime when they are not provided the means to verify signatures or voter identification?

I have included additional comments in the detailed information taken from Bill and House Reports at the end of the post. A copy of the bill can be located at:

HB 2019 requires all signature gatherers to sign an oath. The declaration states: “I, __ Swear or affirm under penalty of law that I circulated this sheet of the foregoing petition, and that, to the best of my knowledge, every person who signed this sheet of the foregoing petition knowingly and without compensation or promise of compensation willingly signed his or her true name and that the information provided therewith is true and correct. I further acknowledge that under chapter 29A84.RCW, forgery of signatures on this petition constitutes a Class C felony, and that offering any considerations of gratuity to any person to induce them to sign a petition is a gross misdemeanor, such violations being punishable by fine or imprisonment or both.” It also requires signature gathers to identify themselves and where they live when collecting signatures.

Those opposed to the measure testified, "The initiative process is fundamentally important to the state and created as part of the State Constitution. To interfere with the Constitution, there must be a good reason. The reason cited is fraud, but the Secretary of State's office has found no instances of fraud. The other issue is requiring signature-gatherers to provide their addresses. Signature-gatherers are often subjected to harassment and vandalism. If they are required to provide their addresses, they will be subjected to this harassment and vandalism at their homes."

The proposed legislation does not provide a means for signature gatherers to check voter ID to verify a signer's identity, but it does create a (Class C Felony) under which signature gatherers can be prosecuted if someone signs a false name on the petition. A copy of this bill can be located at:

I'm beginning to feel a "chill" coming on...

Please see Parkenfarker's blog for a guest editorial by Tim Eyman and other bill opponents regarding signature gatherer intimidation and the fight to prevent the legislature from forcing signature gatherers to wear identification.

Detailed information is listed below:
Legislative Background Information on HB 2601 and SHB 2019: This information is taken directly from House Bill Reports, Bill Analysis and Fiscal Notes.

On January 18, 2008, a hearing was held in the House State Government and Tribal Affairs Committee on HB 2601 and SHB 2019.

HB 2601: Bill Title: An act relating to signature gatherers; amending RCW 29A.72.170, 29A.72.110, 29A.72.120, 29A.72.130, and 29A.72.170 and amending RCW 42.17.020.

Brief Description: A measure regarding signature gatherers for petitions. If passed, would require businesses engaged in the collection of signatures for state or local initiative, referendum or recall petitions – and using paid signature gatherers to register with the Public Disclosure Commission. (PDC). The measure also requires the employees of businesses engaged in the collection of signatures for state and local initiatives, referendum or recall petitions using paid signature gatherers to register with the PDC and requires all signature gatherers to sign initiative and referendum petitions.

Constitutional Considerations: Initiative and referendum are protected free speech under the First Amendment. Meyer v. Grant 486 U.S. 414 (1988), the United States Supreme Court held that petition circulation is core political speech. Because political circulation involves interactive communication regarding political change, the Court opined that First Amendment protection is “at its zenith”. Nonetheless, it is established law that elections, including initiative and referendum processes, can be substantially regulated in order to maintain that they are “fair and honest”. Storer v. Brown 415 U.S. 724 (1974).

In Buckley v American Constitutional Law Foundation, 525 U.S. 182 (1999), the Court further defined the parameters of First Amendment protection for petition circulation and signature gathering. The Buckley Court held that states have considerable discretion to protect the integrity of the initiative and referendum process and while there is no “litmus-paper test” for alleged violations of the First Amendment, there are some bright line rules for the signature gathering process:

States may not require that signature gatherers be registered voters. Such a regulation would eliminate non-registered voters from participating in the political process, and there are less burdensome methods of meeting the states interests in administrative efficiency, fraud detection, and providing voters with information in the process.

Requiring that signature gatherers wear identification is impermissible insofar as such a requirement would require signature gatherers to display their names. Such a requirement discourages participation in the political process by forcing name identification at the time they are delivering their political message and when reaction may be the most intense, emotional and unreasoned.” In contrast, affidavits are not instantly accessible and are not prohibited under the First Amendment.

SHB 2019: Bill Title: An act relating to the accountability of signature gatherers for ballot measure petitions.

Brief Description: Requiring signature gatherers of ballot measure petitions to sign petition declarations under oath.

Background: In 2005, the Legislature passed a law requiring a declaration be printed on the back of initiative and referendum petitions. The declaration states: “I, …. Swear or affirm under penalty of law that I circulated this sheet of the foregoing petition, and that, to the best of my knowledge, every person who signed this sheet of the foregoing petition knowingly and without compensation or promise of compensation willingly signed his or her true name and that the information provided therewith is true and correct. I further acknowledge that under chapter 29A84.RCW, forgery of signatures on this petition constitutes a Class C felony, and that offering any considerations of gratuity to any person to induce them to sign a petition is a gross misdemeanor, such violations being punishable by fine or imprisonment or both.”

In 2006, the Attorney General’s office published an opinion stating that the law as passed does not require a signature gatherer to actually sign the petition.

Summary of public testimony in support follows: The Legislature already passed laws requiring that the declaration be printed on the back of petitions. This was necessary because there have been incidents of fraud and abuse of the initiative process. The declaration provides a degree of accountability and helps to improve the process. Indeed, this was the intent of the bill in 2005; this bill is only a clarification…

Summary of public testimony against: The initiative process is fundamentally important to the state and created as part of the State Constitution. To interfere with the Constitution, there must be good reason. The reason cited is fraud. But the Secretary of State’s office has no found instances of fraud. The other issue is requiring signature gatherers to provide their addresses. Signature gatherers are often subjected to harassment and vandalism. If they are required to provide their addresses, they will be subjected to this harassment and vandalism of their homes. There is no need for an emergency clause on this bill as there is no emergency other than preventing a referendum by the people. The Washington State Constitution requires that law governing the initiative and referendum process must further the process rather than frustrate it. Prior to the use of paid signature gatherers in the 1990’s, it was incredibly difficult to get initiatives on the ballot. This measure will make it more difficult again. If there is an actual problem with the validity of signatures, then the remedy is for the Secretary of State to conduct actual verifications.

There is a multiple agency fiscal note attached to this bill.

Estimated expenditures to PDC and Secretary of State - $145,054.00
Estimated expenditures for staff: - $130,474.00
Annual salaries: $42,720.00 dollars
Employee benefits: $12,682.00
Estimated expenditures from General Fund: $14,580.00

Those testifying for: Rep. McDermott, Pat Thompson, WA Council of County and State Employees; Clifford Traisman, Washington Conservation Voters/WA Environmental Council; Al Ralston, Washington Business Roundtable; Diane McDaniel, Washington State Labor Council; Katie Blinn, office of the Secretary of State; and Maudie Jordan, Citizen Solutions.

Opposed: Mike Dunmire and Tim Eyman, Tax Protection Initiative; Ed Agazar, Garry Jacobson, and Roy Ruffino, Citizen Solutions; Doug White and Jayne Anderson.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

"The public’s right to know of the financing of political campaigns… far outweighs any right that these matters remain secret and private.”

This is the second post in a series of posts reviewing Public Disclosure Commission Hearings regarding alleged campaign violations. Complaints are routinely filed by citizens, political parties, candidates, candidate staff, supporters, political organizations and employees of the Public Disclosure Commission, when alleged campaign violations have taken place.

Second Case: Geoff Simpson, State Representative from the 47th Legislative District

Background Information: On September 19, 2000, a complaint was filed by Senator Don Benton, who at the time was the chair of the Washington State Republican Party alleging violations of RCW 42.17.130 by Mr. Geoff Simpson, a successful candidate for State Representative from Covington, for use of City of Kent Fire District property and personnel in his 2000 election campaign ads. The Public Disclosure Commission held a Hearing In January of 2002.

RCW 42.17.130 forbids the use of public office or agency facilities in campaigns.

“No elective official, not any employee of his office nor any person appointed to or employed by any public office or agency may use or authorize the use of any of the facilities of a public office or agency, directly or indirectly, for the purpose of assisting a campaign for election of any person to any office or for the promotion of or opposition to any ballot proposition. Facilities of public office or agency include, but are not limited to, use of stationary, postage, machines, and equipment, use of employees of the office or agency during working hours, vehicles, office space, publications of the office or agency, and clientele lists of persons served by the office or agency: Provided, that the foregoing provisions of this section shall not apply to the following activities: (3) activities which are part of the normal and regular conduct of the office.”

Senator Benton filed a complaint against Geoff Simpson alleging a violation of 42.17.130 for the use of City of Kent Fire District property and personnel in his campaign literature. Attached to the complaint were portions of Mr. Simpson’s political advertisements containing: 1) pictures of Simpson wearing business attire sitting at a City Fire District desk, photos of Simpson outside with his family wearing a polo shirt with fire logo, 2) photos of Simpson garbed in fire gear, holding a fire hose, and wearing a helmet; 3) an ad with pictures of Simpson, the first dressed in fire bunker gear, the second in a fire department uniform taking someone’s blood pressure; 4) an ad containing pictures of Simpson working on a car in fire gear working on a car with other firefighters in firefighter gear; and a picture of Simpson standing outside of City Hall in business attire.

On December 21, 2000, Mr. Simpson was interviewed under oath by the PDC. Simpson told the PDC that the "4N" marking shown on the firefighter’s helmet is not an official fire department designation; that the other firefighters and all of the fire gear photographed were from the SEA TAC Fire Department, not the Kent Fire District. Furthermore, Simpson stated that it was his understanding that Fire Chief Jim Downs of the SEA TAC Fire Department gave verbal approval for Simpson to have photos taken at the SEA TAC Fire Department, provided that no department insignias were visible in campaign brochures.

Calvin Hoggard, City Manager for the City of SEA TAC told the PDC that “the City has a long standing policy prohibiting the political use of City facilities and equipment and prohibiting political activity by City employees while on duty or on City premises, in accordance with RCW 42.17.130.” The prohibition against political activity is clearly outlined in the Employee Handbook.

The Public Disclosure Commission filed administrative charges against Mr. Rojecki, a City of SEA TAC Fire Department employee and firefighter, who was also president of the local firefighter’s union, coordinated the photo shoot and arranged for the use of on Duty City of SEA TAC firefighters. In other words, the PDC is serious about enforcing 42.17.130, which forbids employees of public agencies to use facilities to assist in political campaigns.

This is a long and complex case with pages of testimony and evidence. But it is good example of how the Public Disclosure Commission interpets the use of public facilities and property for political use. If you would like additional information, please click the links below.

The Public Disclosure Commission fined Mr. Simpson $2,500 (with $500 suspended) for violating RCW 42.17.130.

The Public Disclosure Commission April 2006 Strategic Plan Progress report noted that 94% of candidates file reports on time.

“The public’s right to know of the financing of political campaigns… far outweighs any right that these matters remain secret and private.”

This is the first post, in a series of several posts to review past Public Disclosure Commission Complaints and Enforcement Decisions. The purpose of the series is to emphasize the diverse range of alleged violations received by the Commission and the agencies Enforcement Decisions regarding citizen, political party, political organizations and agency-generated complaints.

I hope that this series will help shine a light on the role the Public Disclosure Commission plays in enforcing campaign laws in the State of Washington.

First Case: Anacortes Port Commissioner Pat Mooney:

Background Information: On March 10, 2004, the Public Disclosure Commission conducted an Enforcement Hearing before the Full Commission to review Case #04-310, regarding campaign violation allegations filed against Pat Mooney, a former Anacortes Port Commissioner.
The PDC Enforcement Decision can be found at:

The matter was originally presented to the Commission at its February 24, 2004 meeting. The Commission found that there were apparent violations by Pat Mooney of multiple PDC statutes and rules including RCW 42.17.040, 42.17.080, 42,17,090, and WAC 390-16-105.

In a review of the evidence, the Commission observed that the expenditures and contributions in Mooney’s campaign exceeded mini reporting limits. (Mr. Mooney, in his initial PDC filings chose mini reporting over full reporting). The PDC found that exceeding the limits of expenditures and contributions upset the balance that existed between the candidates, and issued a statement that the upset could have affected the outcome of the election.

Mooney eventually admitted that he raised approximately $5,379 and spent $4,944 dollars which exceeded mini reporting spending limits by $1,444 dollars. Mooney won the General election in November of 2004 by 21 votes.

The Public Disclosure Commission referred the case to the Attorney General’s Office because the Commissioners felt the remedies the Commission could impose were insufficient considering the "number and quality" of the apparent violations and the possible effect of the violations on the outcome of the election. The PDC had determined that there was a 95% chance that the alleged violations provided Mr. Mooney with an unfair advantage that affected the outcome of the election.

Mr. Mooney was ordered by a Skagit County Judge to pay a $7,500 civil penalty, $5,000 of which was suspended on the condition that he not serve as a treasurer for any political committee, choose the mini reporting system in any future campaigns and that he not commit further violations of the Public Disclosure Act.

In certain circumstances, state law provides that a court may void an election and order a special election if the court finds that a campaign-law violation affected the outcome of the election.

Pat Mooney resigned his position as Anacortes Port Commissioner.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

When, if ever, is it Appropriate to Withhold Essential Water Service from Seriously ill Patients?

For years, the Lake Whatcom Treatment Center has provided badly needed mental health services to the seriously mentally ill. The non-profit treatment center cares for 350 patients, half who are from Whatcom County. Approximately 67 patients live at the Agate Bay Residential Facility at any given time. Considering how underserved the mentally ill are in other communities across the nation, we are very lucky to have a facility like the Center in Whatcom County.

30 years ago, a policy designed to move mentally ill patients out of centralized state hospitals resulted in the construction of a handful of local treatment centers. The idea of removing patients and reinstalling them into programs – in patient – out patient – in their home communities -- near families and friends was a good one. But in most communities, it was never effectively implemented. The money that was supposed to be saved by eliminating state hospital beds never followed the patients to the community. The costs of providing a diverse range of programs for a variety of mentally ill patients turned out to be much more expensive than originally anticipated. As a result, more and more mentally ill persons are winding up in jail, untreated, because there is no other place for them to go.

Today, a higher percentage of mentally ill people are jailed than in 1936, an unenlightened era where mental illness was punished, rather than treated. Many communities can’t come close to providing the level of care provided by the LWTC.

The Lake Whatcom Residential Treatment Center has historically had an inadequate supply of water during summer months. Ten years of studies demonstrate the presence of bacteria that can signal fecal contamination is present in well water. In 2003, E. coli was found in the system. Improving public sanitation and providing a clean water supply are the two steps needed to prevent most water-borne diseases and deaths.

In 2005, the Treatment Center approached the Lake Whatcom Water and Sewer District and requested permission to hook up to the Districts Agate Heights water system. At the time, grant money was available for this kind of project. But in July of 2007, the Water District voted to reject all bids on the Lake Whatcom Residential Treatment Center Water System Improvement Project and directed staff to work with the Treatment Center to apply for additional grant money to reduce the district’s share of the costs and to have value engineering done. The motion passed.

In October of 2007, in an attempt to address LWTC water quality and inadequate fire flow issues, the Whatcom County Council denied an appeal from the Squalicum Valley residents, who fear that the waterline extension is somehow a cover up for extending water service to a proposed high end gated community development on Squalicum Mountain.

On Friday, January 22, 2008, Whatcom County Superior Court Judge Ira Uhrig remanded the City and Squalicum residents challenge of the Conditional Use Permit because the County did not properly notify the public and concerned parties of the hearing regarding the delivery of water service into "rural" lands. The reopening of the case will allow opponents to introduce arguments that the Water and Sewer District has no right to make any new hookups.

In an E-mail posted two days ago on the Lake Whatcom Discussion thread, Greg Kirsch, Squalicum Valley Community Association, told Rick Dudley, Executive Director of the Treatment Center “That your foundation and the treatment center are willing to be used as pawns in that game is what it is.” (What ever that is supposed to mean).

Apparently, Kirsch and other Squalicum Valley residents believe that the Treatment center is somehow involved in a back room deal between the water district and the proposed Vineyard Development to deliver water to the top of Squalicum mountain. In the next round of public hearings, the Squalicum Valley residents intend to introduce the argument that the Water and Sewer District suppressed details about an agreement with the proponents of the proposed Vineyard gated community. In other words, the City and Squalicum residents are holding the patients at the LWTC hostage until they can force the County and Water District to deny the proposed Vineyard Development project water service. Never mind that the two projects are unrelated.

Executive Director Dudley referred Kirsch to a 2003 agreement between the LWTC and the Whatcom Land Trust in which the LWTC entered into a three way transaction to protect the beautiful 75 acre wooded tract from future development. In the agreement, Whatcom County agreed to give up its 2028 purchase option in return for the LWTC providing a conservation easement to the Land Trust.

On the same Lake Whatcom discussion thread, Jenny Billings, LWTC facilities director, told the Squalicum Valley residents that the Whatcom Land Trust agreement contains a clause that prohibits any and all development except development that would benefit the Treatment Center. According to Billings, the land trust agreement states that water lines can not extend past the new tank and that sewer lines can not be placed on the Treatment Center’s property.

The Squalicum Valley Association asserts that the LWTC doesn’t need an 8 inch water main and that the installation of an 8 inch main is proof positive that the Water District intends to provide service to the Vineyards site from the new LWTC line. But both Washington State and Whatcom county fire marshal regulations require 8 inch mains to provide fire flow to the 22,000 square foot building. Additionally, the Center’s existing fire hydrants are already fed by 8 inch water lines.

The legal challenge raises a thorny question. When, if ever, is it appropriate for a City or grassroots community association to endanger the health and safety of seriously ill mental health patients who reside in a licensed mental health treatment facility by delaying badly needed water service? Is it fair or ethical to hold the LWTC hostage in a war to prevent a proposed development by a different development group?

What purpose does this lawsuit serve except to punish the patients who reside in the facility?

60% of our nation's mentally ill are in jail on any given day. These statistics tell me that in retrospect, we haven't come very far as a society after all.

Thank you to the members of the Whatcom County Council, Commissioners of the Lake Whatcom Water and Sewer District and the Lake Whatcom Treatment Center for attempting to address ten years of serious water quality and fire flow issues.

Thumbs down to the City of Bellingham and the Squalicum Valley Community Association residents for exposing seriously ill patients to waterborne illness and possible death by fire. It is never socially acceptable to hold seriously ill patients hostage in order to achieve other goals. The center already exists at the site. Closing the Center means that we will have to build a new, expensive treatment center in town or risk throwing patients out in the street.

I hope nothing happens to Center patients while the City and Squalicum residents tie up the courts with bogus claims of backroom deals and carpet-bagger development schemes for the LWTC project.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Campaign E-mail sent from Dan Pike's SCOG account during working hours.

According to a posting on the Washington State Justify FullOffice of Financial Management website, "the Public Disclosure Commission administers and enforces the Fair Campaign Practices and Disclosure Law. The law calls for complete disclosure of information pertaining to the financing of political campaigns, lobbying, and financial affairs of elected officials and candidates for many public offices. This law includes prohibitions on the use of public agency resources to assist in campaigns, restrictions on personal use of contributions, and provisions regulating political advertising. The Commission is also responsible for enforcing the contribution limits and other campaign finance restrictions established in law."

Below, I have posted an example of E-mail that was sent by former SCOG Transportation Director Dan Pike to a campaign associate and former Skagit County Planning Commission Member, Bobbi Kregs-McMullen, from his official Skagit County Council of Governments e-mail account during regularly scheduled work hours. (This is not a private web-based e-mail account – this is the Skagit County Council of Governments E-mail account).

Any citizen can request copies of Dan Pike’s e-mail from the Skagit County Council of Governments. Any correspondence Director Pike sent to people from his official e-mail account at work is a matter of public record and is subject to release under Washington State Public Disclosure laws.

Please know that I take no pleasure in publishing either of the E-mail. Nor will I publish all of the e-mail that was received from the public disclosure request.

Unfortunately, I have been accused of libel by one of Mayor Pike’s supporters and I have no choice but to publish examples of the actual evidence that was retrieved from public disclosure request.

One of Mayor Pike’s supporters posted a comment on Sam Taylor’s blogs stating that he/she wouldn't be surprised if Mayor Pike is considering filing a libel lawsuit against me.

That same supporter asked me what kind of legacy I hope to leave - My answer: "A community where candidates and elected officials respect and obey Washington's campaign and public disclosure laws."

No one, not even a mayor, is above the law.
From: Dan Pike
Sent: Wednesday, August 22, 2007 1:19 PM
To: 'Bobbi Krebs-McMullen'
Subject: RE: McShane for Mayor Campaign Update

Your little birds probably know about this, but in case you had not gotten the word…

Dan Pike
Transportation Director,
Skagit Council of Governments
204 W Montgomery
Mount Vernon, WA 98273
fax: 360.416.7831

From: Bobbi Krebs-McMullen []
Sent: Thursday, July 19, 2007 9:18 PM
To: Dan Pike
Subject: Re: McShane for Mayor Campaign Update

Wow, Dan! Thank you for the good words with Kelley. I'm flattered.

The old saying goes "there are three things you can do to win a political race. The first one is doorbell. The second one is doorbell. And the third one is DOORBELL! You're doing the right thing. Keep it up, and do it even more if possible. The best way to raise money at the same time is to have someone who believes in you with all their heart stumping for money while you DOORBELL. Hope you have someone like that in your camp.

You're a great guy, a good politician, brilliant, and a hard worker. What else could the public want???? - B
----- Original Message -----
From: Dan Pike
To: Bobbi Krebs-McMullen
Sent: Thursday, July 19, 2007 11:09 AM
Subject: RE: McShane for Mayor Campaign Update

Hi Bobbi,

Good to hear from you as always. The campaign is going well, but keeping me crazy. Had a forum last night, was on KGMI yesterday morning (if you are bored, you can hear the interview on the web—I was on the Brett and Debbie Show; the link is on the lower right-hand part of the page), and have another forum in Fairhaven tonight. I am also doorbelling with my mother later this afternoon. Mom flew out from NJ to help on the campaign.

I am doing well, but figure at this point I’m probably in 3rd—but climbing. The challenge will be to get to 2nd by Aug 21st (or by the time people mark their ballots, which is likely a bit earlier). If I get through the primary, I feel about 80% likely I’ll win the general, largely because if how the field plays or does not play to public sentiment. At this point I would peg my odds of being 1st or 2nd at about 40%, but I have a lot of doorbelling left. The biggest challenge is raising $$ and doorbelling simultaneously. Haven’t really figured that out to my satisfaction—at least not while working mostluy full time, too. Using lots of vacation time, but can’t play hooky full-time…

Any chance I know the little birds that talk to you? If you can’t disclose, that’s fine, but I’m curious...

Hope you’re doing well, and enjoying your stint at the Lincoln. I put in a word on your behalf with Kelley, should I leave this post…

Dan Pike
Transportation Director,
Skagit Council of Governments
204 W Montgomery
Mount Vernon, WA 98273
fax: 360.416.7831

From: Bobbi Krebs-McMullen []
Sent: Wednesday, July 11, 2007 7:48 AM
To: Dan Pike
Subject: Fw: McShane for Mayor Campaign Update

Hi Dan: Thought you might be interested in this. Haven't reached Craig. Have a call into him, but he's been on the road a lot. I've talked with him through Mary Kay Becker about other matters, but I know that's not much help to you. Little birds tell me you are doing well in the race. Stay in touch - Bobbi

----- Original Message -----
From: Team McShane
To: Team McShane
Sent: Monday, July 09, 2007 11:33 PM
Subject: McShane for Mayor Campaign Update

Dear Friend,
The race is on and I'm having a great time! The most dynamic mayor's race in my memory in Bellingham is now in full swing and I'm walking the neighborhoods meeting voters at their doors and discussing the issues that matter to our future. This election brings hope of a new way forward in Bellingham: a city where neighborhoods can plan for a great future, where our children can be certain of having clean, affordable drinking water, where citizens are included in decisions and where we make sure that spending is transparent and efficient so that we see steady improvements where it matters—in our neighborhoods and our downtown. Neighborhood PartiesPeople have been hosting neighborhood parties throughout Bellingham and a few more are scheduled. Feel free to stop by, meet new and old friends and talk with me about the issues. If you'd like to host a gathering in your home, or have a party with your neighbors to talk about the City, please send Team McShane an email. These have really been a great way to have in-depth discussions and hear your ideas.Contributions More than 190 of you have contributed to my campaign to bring a new way forward to Bellingham. This is a grassroots effort and I'm proud and humbled to have the support of so many citizens both in contributions and in volunteer time. Join us! I'd be honored by your donation to my campaign. Our funding comes from regular citizens and from every neighborhood. Your contribution will get our message of hope and change directly to the voters. In a primary race with 7 candidates, your contribution counts. Get Out The VoteThe campaign season is red-hot this July and Team McShane will be hitting the streets with dozens of volunteers going door to door to talk about a new way forward for Bellingham. Sign up to join us! We'll be out the weekends of July 21st and July 28th. Upcoming ForumsIt's time for forums and a number of citizen groups have stepped forward to host large forums to bring information directly to voters. (To see my responses to some recent questionaires, please go here.) Please attend! This is a terrific effort by people volunteering their time to inform and engage voters. Your presence is important and this is a great opportunity to hear directly from all the candidates. Upcoming forums: Thursday, July 12 7:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. Silver Beach ForumBloedel Donovan, 2214 Electric AvenueWednesday, July 18 Starts at 6:30 p.m. League of Women Voters' Forum Municipal Courthouse, corner of Girard and C StreetThursday, July 19 7:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. Southside ForumSponsored by the Coalition of Southside NeighborhoodsFirehouse Performing Arts Center, 1314 Harris Avenue For more info, contact Pam Went at 671-1035Wednesday, July 25 Starts at 6:30 p.m. Bill Mize ForumRome Grange, 2821 Mt. Baker Hwy.Tuesday, July 31 Starts at 6:30 p.m. Whatcom Independent Forum Whatcom County Council Chambers, 311 Grand AvenueYard SignsBy now you've seen our yard signs—we have a great sign team of volunteers placing these in supporters' yards all over town. We've installed hundreds of them. If you'd like a sign for your yard, please let us know!EndorsementsMore endorsements! In addition to a sole endorsement from Washington Conservation Voters, I'm proud to be endorsed by the Whatcom Democrats and Progressive Majority.Family NewsI have news from Kenya! If you've visited our website or seen our materials, you'll know that our daughter Raven is serving in the Peace Corps in Kenya. She's been in training and just received her assignment to Bungoma where she'll be working with orphans at the Bungoma Family Helper Project. Bungoma is in western Kenya near the Uganda border, between Lake Victoria and Mt. Elgon. It's similar in size to Bellingham, and Raven says it's astonishingly beautiful and looks like a cross between Ireland and Hawaii. For more information on the work of the Bungoma Family Helper Project, visit this site.
Best regards,Dan

© 2007 McShane for Mayor 1451 Grant St., Bellingham, WA 98225 303.3252 mailto:team@danmcshane.com
RCW 42.17.130: use of public office or agency facilities in campaigns - Prohibitions-Exceptions
"No elected official nor any employee of his or her office nor any person appointed to or employed by any public office or agency may use or authorize the use of an of the facilities of a public office or agency, directly or indirectly, for the purpose of assisting a campaign or election of any person to any office or for the promotion of or opposition to any ballot proposition. Facilities of a public office or agency include, but are not limited to, use of stationary, postage, machines and equipment use of employees of the office or agency during working hours, vehicles, office space, publications of the office or agency, and clientele lists of persons served by the office or agency..."

Re: release of public employee documents: 42.56.060Disclaimer of public liability.
"No public agency, public official, public employee, or custodian shall be liable, nor shall a cause of action exist, for any loss or damage based upon the release of a public record if the public agency, public official, public employee, or custodian acted in good faith in attempting to comply with the provisions of this chapter."

Friday, January 18, 2008

How do we Avoid that Great Big Sucking Sound?

America's urban and downtown areas entered a period of decline in the 50's when a booming post WWII economy allowed many families to purchase automobiles and commercial activity shifted from downtown to suburban malls and shopping centers.

During the 60's and 70's, more families fled the city for homes in the suburbs and a number of downtown businesses closed because of population declines or pressure to follow customers who relocated to the suburbs. Bellingham also witnessed the decline of its downtown. Some blame Bellis Fair Mall for the decline, but most of us understand that shifts in demographics were responsible for the economic down turn. After all, why would someone pay for parking downtown when they can park for free at Bellis Fair Mall?

But rapid growth and a changing world economy have presented new challenges for Bellingham. The expansion of W.W.U. and increases in urban population are stimulating renewed economic interest in downtown. Many new retail establishments have opened - fast food restaurants, coffee shops, banks, jewelry stores, businesses, night clubs, furniture stores and other specialty shops have sprung to life in once abandoned buildings. The City is working hard to encourage economic growth by widening streets, building new sidewalks and providing an attractive gateway entry into our city.

But I worry that renewed economic interest in downtown will wane as the City and Port focus the lion's share of their attention and financial resources on Waterfront Redevelopment.

Last week, the Port of Bellingham released the third in a series of artistic renderings of the Port's vision for the New Whatcom Development. Many citizens were shocked and outraged by the size and number of tall buildings that circled the waterfront. I don’t think any of us envisioned the core of our downtown lost in the shadows of tall buildings that will destroy our city's historical connection to the bay.

With all of the Port and City’s energy going towards waterfront redevelopment, what will happen to downtown?

Will a lopsided waterfront redevelopment effort create a third decline in downtown economic recovery? Shouldn't the city balance economic redevelopment of the waterfront with revitalization efforts for the downtown core?

Research shows that a healthy, vibrant downtown boosts the economic health and quality of life in a community. Specifically, it creates jobs, helps small businesses grow and reduces sprawl. A bustling downtown is the symbol of a community’s pride in its own unique history.

If we hope to retain a healthy downtown core, the city will need to plan for a multi-functional downtown. In other words, we will want to attract a wide range of individuals by providing housing, work, shopping, culture, entertainment and tourist activities.

Success, in part, requires that we:

1. Attempt to develop a broad strategy for continued revitalization of downtown areas. Successful revitalization efforts target several areas at once; they do not use a piecemeal approach to development. No one should be left behind in community revitalization efforts.
2. Attempt to create partnerships between private business and government. Downtown revitalization requires cooperation of local government, private businesses, civic organizations and other key organizations.
3. Focus on developing the unique historical aspects of downtown.
4. Secure multiple sources of funding.
5. Get local governments involved in several areas. The Port is asking the City to provide significant financial support for its waterfront redevelopment. What is the Port willing to do to help offset potential negative effects of waterfront development for the downtown merchants?
6. Develop genuine, open public spaces. Careful planning can provide the community with public spaces that are inviting, and draw people downtown to shop and relax. Currently, we have very little public space downtown. In Boulder, Colorado, the City closed a main city street and turned it into a boulevard for pedestrians. The city also adopted a 50 foot height limit on city buildings.
7. Focus community attention on downtown, the heart and soul of our community.

Before we get carried away with waterfront redevelopment, we need to know what plans, if any are currently under consideration for downtown. Otherwise, we may be in danger (once again) of hearing that great big sucking sound as businesses flee our downtown core to relocate to the Port’s flashy new waterfront.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

The Fight for Clean Campaigns

What would you think if I told you there is a way for candidates to run for office without being wealthy or indebted to big $$ money special interests?

It's hardly a surprise that campaign donors expect a return for the big checks they write to candidates during campaigns. Special Interest lobby groups, like the Washington State Realtors spend big bucks getting “like-minded” candidates elected to office. To add insult to injury, the lion's share of the funds being donated is raised outside of the legislative district that it is being spent in.

Remember the Building Industry Association hit piece accusing Ken Mann of bringing “outsiders” to Bellingham to tell us local Yokels how to vote? The Progressive Majority didn’t do anything that the Washington State Building Industry Association or Realtors aren’t already doing. The Realtors and Building Industry Association have National Organizations that are based in Washington D.C. They also have branch offices located across 50 states.

In the world of special interests, funds raised in Seattle are spent on local races in Spokane, Bellingham, and Olympia to secure seats for candidates that will cast sympathetic votes for the special interests that are funding them.

Political paybacks wreak havoc on our political system. Large sums of special interest money flow into an incumbent Legislator’s campaign account on a regular basis. For many incumbents, the funds come unsolicited, at regular intervals as allowed by law. Over time, these contributions fill campaign coffers with large sums of cash that will almost certainly ensure the defeat of any challenger during the next election cycle.

The constant flow of special interest money drowns out the voices of ordinary citizens and small business owners who can not afford to regularly contribute large sums of money to campaigns. Granted, special interest organizations will tell you that is the reason they formed, to provide a voice for the little guy - but what happens to the rest of the "little guys" who are not represented by a special interest lobby?

Publicly funded campaigns remove the sense of indebtedness that candidates feel towards campaign contributors. In other words, elected officials are free to vote according to their constituent’s needs, for the first time, they can place the public’s interest over special interests.

With public funding, candidates still face the challenge of overcoming name recognition of a incumbent, but each candidate receives an equal amount of money for their campaign which frees them from the responsibility of having to raise funds.

How does it work?

States create an optional fund that can be financed in various ways. Candidates qualify for public funds by gathering a set number of $5 dollar donations with signatures from voters in their district. Former roommates in Michigan are not allowed to contribute. If a candidate meets a certain threshold of donations, they will receive funds sufficient to run their campaign as long as they agree not to use their own money or accept additional private contributions.

Public financing is affordable. Washclean estimates that in Washington, "a program for all state executive offices, all legislative races, and all upper-level judicial races would cost less than $4 per person, per year - less than a grande coffee mocha!"

Washclean asks citizens not to "fall for the line that we can't afford it, or that it's welfare for candidates, or that it diverts money that would have otherwise been used to fix potholes. The truth is: When lawmakers reward today's big campaign donors for their "investment", it costs more NOT to have voter owned public campaign financing."

Many voters are disgusted with the favoritism that is created by private campaign financing. Public financing offers an affordable alternative – an informed public can change the way campaigns are financed.

For more information, please contact:

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Don't Shoot the Messenger

When it comes to free speech, it appears that the constitution and laws are not quite enough to protect whistleblowers from public condemnation and public criticism.

Recently, a local resident, Tim Paxton, submitted a public disclosure request to the Skagit County Council of Governments for the newly elected Mayor of Bellingham's internet use from July to October of 2007, back when Mayor Pike was still working as Skagit County’s Council of Government Transportation Director.

Mayor Pike tells us in a Skagit Valley Herald article dated January 11th, that, like many people, he did "online banking and responded to personal correspondence through a web-based e-mail service during his lunch hour.”SCOG’s attorney, Kevin McGoffin, told Skagit Valley Herald reporter, Marta Murvosh that SCOG has a duty to review Pike’s web history to ensure that personal information, such as passwords or bank account numbers aren’t released to the public.

I wonder why this is even an issue, when the majority of public agencies have written policies that prohibit personal use of publicly owned equipment. No one authorized Pike to put his personal passwords on his work computer. All he has to do is change those passwords if he is worried about privacy. It would be prudent to do that anyway, since SCOG will be hiring a new Transportation Director.

Critics state that Paxton has somehow crossed the line by asking SCOG to produce Pike’s former web browsing history. But Paxton believes that Pike was posting comments on local blogs during working hours. If these allegations are true, then Pike owes the taxpayers of Skagit County, (his former employer), an apology for the misuse of publicly owned equipment.

SCOG claims that it does not have a specific policy addressing personal use of its equipment, although Kelley Moldstad, SCOG executive director, told Murvosh, "like other public agencies, it’s generally expected that SCOG employees use the web for SCOG business."

SCOG’s attorney disagrees with the Attorney General’s office (The Attorney General's Office wrote a letter to SCOG requesting that it comply with the public disclosure request) that SCOG computer records are a public record. SCOG's attorney claims that public records must be identifiable, and that a government agency is not obligated to create a new record. Which in my opinion begs the question - Paxton didn’t request a copy of a “new" record; he requested a copy of the existing record of Pike's web browsing history from July through October of 2007.

Recently, Washington State was issued an “F” in a national study that reviewed each state’s compliance with the Federal Open Meetings Act. I tend to agree with the Attorney General. SCOG should turn over the records, (with redactions of personal account numbers and passwords as required by law) so Paxton can review the web history and determine if Pike was using publicly owned equipment to post campaign comments on blogs during his regularly scheduled working hours.

Many Journalists depend on public disclosure requests as a tool to gather facts for articles and stories. So let’s close with this thought, “When laws, regulations, courts and the Constitution itself are not enough to protect freedom of speech and freedom of the press, there is more than just good government at risk.” Courtesy of Paul K. McMasters. First Amendment Ombudsman at the First Amendment Center.

Link to Skagit Valley Herald Article:

Sunday, January 13, 2008

How much is that Park worth in Cold, Hard Cash?

Washington residents cherish the natural beauty that surrounds them, the majestic mountains, clear cool lakes, fresh and salt water estuaries, tidelands, rivers and bays that are unique to Puget Sound.

Northwest residents enjoy being outdoors and most urban residents consider open space in urban centers priceless. Green Lake in Seattle is a fine example of treasured green space around an uban lake. Traditionally, economic value is measured by attributing monetary value to something tangible like real property. Until recently, few studies have been conducted on the economic benefit of trees and open space to a community. But that trend is changing, now that researchers have determined that a number of emerging studies confirm that trees, parks and open space increase the economic value of commercial development in both suburban and urban settings and can act as a catalyst for economic revitalization within the community as a whole.

Real estate market studies tell us the value of a single mature tree can account for a minimum of $10,000 of resale value of a home and typically is 15% of the property’s value, according to the National Arbor Day Foundation. On a residential street lined with trees, the cumulative impact for property values is greater than the cost of the individual trees. The removal of trees changes the quality and character of the area for decades and that value is not always regained by the residential development that removed it.

A study in Beverly Hills, CA estimated that removal of trees along streets would decrease property values by as much as 25%; and its not just street trees that make increased density more acceptable. Parks, greenbelts, trails and other open space is essential as density increases. Residential sale surveys demonstrate that homeowners are showing a preference for homes that have easy access to shared open space than for homes on larger lots without open space area. Studies have shown that homes located near parks, greenbelts, trails and wetlands are easier to market, sell more quickly, at a higher price, and pay more taxes than homes not located near open spaces.

Using an urban park to stimulate economic development and revitalization is not a new idea. During the mid 1800s, Frederick Law Olmstead justified the purchase of Central Park in New York City by estmating the increased value of land surrounding the park and the tax revenues it would generate.

But it’s not just residential property that benefits from the inclusion of open space, trails and parks in neighborhoods. As urban density increases, so do the economic benefits derived from open space, plazas and courtyards in urban centers. With urban centers, open space provides public gathering spaces that are esential to our health and quality of life.

Bryant Park, also in New York, was recently transformed in to flower gardens and lawns. Nearly 4,000 office workers visit the park each day. The park has stimuated renovation of the derelict retail area and occupancy rates, property values and rents have gone up. Local coffee shops and retail shops are thriving. City officials estimate that the park will be economically self-supporting in the next five years.

Chattanooga, Tenn invested $356 million (private and public funds) in the revitalization of its downtown riverfront. Within the area, the number of jobs and businesses increased, assessed property taxes jumped $11 million (a 127.5% increase) and property tax revenues for both the city and county combined rose 99% for an increase of $592,000 per year.
In Oakland California, a three mile greenbelt around urban Lake Meritt added $41 million a year to surrounding property values.

Golden Gate Park in San Francisco is responsible for increasing property values $500 million to $1 billion for properties located within walking distance of the Park. The value of the park generates $5 million to $10 million annually in property tax revenue.
In San Diego County, a developer found that he could increase the sales price of his houses by 25% by scaling back development 15% and adding more open space for each home.

The City and Port of Bellingham have told residents that Parks are too expensive, that a large community park, open space, trails and generous shoreline buffers don't make economic sense for our waterfront and other parts of our community. I encourage readers to think about the long-term economic and quality of life benefits that parks, open space, greenbelts and trails provide citizens. Please do not fall prey to the City and Port’s false claims that open space and parks are too expensive.

And, how can the Port claim that there isn’t enough property on the waterfront to create a signature park for the benefit of the people who live and work downtown? The former G.P. Pulp mill site has 138 acres by itself!

Many communities have derived great economic benefit from the value added by open space. I think it’s time for the citizens of Bellingham to take a second look at the economic benefits our neighborhoods may reap from the inclusion of open space and natural features to our city.

Photo of Stanley Park courtesy of City of Vancouver, British Columbia

“A city that has been carved out of the forest should maintain somewhere within its boundaries evidence of what it once was, and so long as Stanley Park remains unspoiled that testimony to the giant trees which occupied the site of Vancouver in former days will remain. “The News Herald - October 30, 1939

Additional background information about the economic value of open space is available at:

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Rare Tornado hits South West Washington

Authorities confirmed that a tornado touched down in Vancouver (Hazel Dell to the Yacoult area) about 12:35 p.m. last Thursday, causing no injuries but considerable property damage. Nearly 1,000 people were without power, after the twister ripped down power lines, uprooted trees and tossed cars, trucks and semi trailers around like toys. Our eyewitness told us that all of the shopping carts at Fred Meyers were picked up and thrown onto highway 99.

There were no immediate reports of injuries as the funnel cut a swath through a residential neighborhoods. The twister was classified as a F-O or F-1 tornado, the lowest level possible with wind speeds of 75-100 miles an hour. Many, many families lost the roofs of their homes.

A huge thank you to Poindexter’s mom for providing Latte Republic with a eye witness report. We are very relieved to hear that Poindexter’s family was not injured by the tornado!

(Please click links below to start tornado video clip)

Wanted, Dead or Alive - Signature Gatherers

1n 1912, Washington State adopted processes for initiatives and referenda. Through these processes citizens may petition the Legislature to enact a proposed measure, submit a proposed initiative, or order that a referendum of all or part of any act, bill or law, passed by the Legislature be submitted to voters. From 1912 to 2006 there were 957 initiatives to the people; 129 were certified to the ballot and 64 passed into law. During this same period, there were 381 Referendums to the Legislature and 28 were certified to the ballot and passed into law.

The Washington State Constitution specifies how many legally registered voters must sign an initiative or referendum petition. Initiative petitions require 8% of the total number of votes cast for governor in the last gubernatorial election. For Referendum it is 4%. Based on the 2004 gubernatorial election, initiatives require 224,880 valid signatures and referendum petitions require 112,440 valid signatures. If certified by the Secretary of State, the measure will be placed on the ballot and full and true copy shall be included in Washington State’s Voter Pamphlet. Additional information about initiatives and referendum petitions can be found on the Secretary of State’s web site.
In January of 2007, (last legislative session) House Democrats introduced HB 1087 which would prohibit the payment of signature gathers based on the bill proponents allegations that paying signature gathers on a per-signature basis increases the possibility of fraud; and, another bill, HB 2018, a measure that would require the licensing of paid initiative signature gatherers.
In HB 1087, proponents allege that the practice of paying signature gatherers on a “per signature” basis might encourage signature gatherers to misrepresent a ballot measure; apply undue pressure on a person to sign a petition that the person is not qualified to sign; encourage signing if the person has already signed; or, invite forgery.
If enacted into law, a person who pays or receives consideration based on the number of signatures obtained on an initiative or referendum is guilty of a misdemeanor.
Another 2007 relic, HB 2018 would require the licensing of paid initiative signature gatherers. The proponents of this measure would require that “businesses” who are engaged in the activity of collecting signatures for initiative and referendum petitions must apply to the Department of licensing (DOL) for a license to conduct such business in the state of Washington. These businesses must apply to DOL for a permit for every individual it employs to collect signatures, whether they are “regular or contract” employees. Upon application, the “business” must show proof that each employee has completed training on the laws and rules governing the petition process in the state. Such training must be conducted in consultation with the Secretary of State. Permits are only valid for one signature gathering process (or business transaction). In the event that an employee gathers signatures for more than one petition, a separate permit is required for each petition.
If this legislation passes, signature gatherers will be required to display the permit while collecting signatures. If that individual submits fraudulent signatures, the permit is revoked and that person is prohibited from obtaining future permits. Both of these bills died during 2007 Sine die, but could be re-introduced in the 2008 session.
Washington state did have a statute prohibiting paid signature gatherers and it was overturned in Federal court because the state did not have evidence of abuse. Thus, the court found “no compelling state interest.” The Court rendered it’s decision in the 1990s.
Secretary of State Sam Reed is supporting the amendment because he believes that “paying on a per-signature basis as opposed to paying by the hour or using volunteers creates an incentive for initiative workers to forge voter signatures or commit other kinds of fraud.” On the other hand, most volunteer signature gatherers could be accused of also having an incentive to commit fraud, the expectation of benefit if the petition passes. Which raises the question, why would Reed claim that per-signature compensation causes more fraud than other compensation?
Secretary of State Sam Reed’s position is that signature verification is good enough to prevent fraudulent ballot signatures but not good enough to prevent fraudulent petition signatures. Yet, the only documented cases of false signatures being accepted in Washington are on ballots, not on petitions.

Things that make you go hmm.
Full text of bills and bill reports can be found at:

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Port of Seattle enacts Reforms

The U.S. Attorney for Western Washington has begun a criminal investigation of the Port of Seattle as a result of Washington State Auditor Brian Sonntag’s performance audit and the findings that the Port is vulnerable to fraud, waste and abuse. The audit revealed the doctoring of documents and the intentional concealment of facts from the commission.

Tay Yoshitani, Chief Executive of the Port admitted that sometimes “shortcuts were taken and records were not kept up to date.” Yoshitani blamed a global rise in material costs for cost overruns and said it was not good public policy to call the difference between estimates and bids “waste” because it would encourage agencies to inflate bids to avoid the poor comparison – something the audit already accused the Port of doing.

The Legislature is holding a 1 pm public hearing on Wednesday regarding the port’s performance audit in Senate Hearing Room 4 of the John L Cherberg Building in Olympia.

State Auditor Brian Sonntag recommended that the Legislature clarify the laws governing to the competition required in procurements that result in the expenditure of public funds.

Photo is courtesy of Port of Seattle

For detailed information regarding the newly adopted reforms, please visit:

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

McKenna requests legislation for Public Meetings Act

A Washington State public audit of local public agencies found dozens of government employees who violated state law by witholding documents that the law says they must release.The audit was the first of it's kind to examine Washington's Public Records Act, which defines a public record as any document prepared, owned, used or kept by a state or local agency. These records are presumed to be public, unless specifically exmpted from public disclosure by law.In 1972, the Washington State Legislature declared, "Government isn't a secret business or club." It belongs to the citizens, and the public has every right to access records and participate in government proceedings. A national study of Open Meetings Act compliance awarded the State of Washington an "F" for compliance.

On January 4th, citing that there is a general lack of consistency in how governments comply with Open Public Meetings Act (OPMA), Washington State Attorney General Rob McKenna announced that he intends to request legislation that will direct the Attorney General’s Office to develop advisory model rules for the OPMA to clarify: Agencies subject to the OPMA; meetings and actions that should be conducted openly; Notice requirements for meetings; Matters that may be conducted in closed sessions; any other issues pertaining to the Open Public Meetings Act.

Public notice will be achieved by requiring an agency to: post a notice of the special meeting on the agency’s web site; Post in an open area to the public at the agencies main office; deliver written notice to each local newspaper of general circulation; and, deliver a notice to each local radio or television station only if the station has a request of file with the agency.

In response to State Auditor Brian Sonntag’s 400 incidents of concern discovered during agency performance audits, McKenna is requesting taping legislation that would let judges review conversations from government executive sessions and determine if officials are abusing the law that protects some legal, real estate and other discussions from public disclosure.

The following principles govern the Open Meetings Act. 1) People do not yield their sovereignty to the agencies which serve them. 2) People do not give public servants the right to decide what is good for the people to know and what is not good for them to know. 3) People remain informed so they may retain control over the instruments they have created.

Details of the OPMA statute: Any action taken at meetings failing to comply with the Open Public Meetings Act is null and void. RCW 42.30.060. See Clark v. City of Lakewood, 259 F.3d 996 (9th Cir. 2001). Any person may commence an action either by mandamus or injunction to stop violations or prevent threatened violations of the Open Public Meetings Act. RCW 42.30.130. Individual members of the governing body who attend a meeting in violation of the Open Public Meetings Act with knowledge of the fact that the meeting is in violation of the OPMA are subject to personal liability in the amount of a $100 civil penalty. RCW 42.30.120(1) Any person who prevails against a public agency for violation of the Open Public Meetings Act shall be awarded all costs, including reasonable attorneys' fees, incurred in connection with such legal action. RCW 42.30.120(2).

For more information about the Attorney General, please visit: