The question lives on over whether an operating permit for a gun
club is an issue of safety or land use. Wednesday morning lawyers
for the county and the Kitsap Rifle and Revolver Club made their
arguments in front of a Court of Appeals commissioner in
The club is appealing the preliminary injunction that stopped
shooting at the Seabeck Highway property in
April. Commissioner Eric Schmidt said he hoped to have a
written decision on the appeal before a Kitsap Superior Court
hearing on whether to make the preliminary injunction permanent
until the club files for an operating permit. What’s in place now
is an emergency measure.
Dennis Reynolds, speaking for the club, told Schmidt the
club believes the operating permit, which he referred to as a
“special use” permit is essentially the same as a conditional use
permit, which makes it a land use issue. As such, he said, the
county doesn’t have the right to stop operations at the club for
noncompliance with the new law, unless it can show what the
legal world calls “great injury.” He said the injunction
should not be in place until the courts sort out how the new law
should be enforced. “Right now we have a club that’s effectively
put out of business,” Reynolds said.
The land use issue has been effective before on another court
involving the same two parties. An earlier Court of Appeals
ruling agreed with a Pierce County Judge that the club was a
“public nuisance,” because it had expanded beyond what it had been
granted under a conditional use permit, but disagreed with that
judge that shutting the club down was the right remedy.
The county argues that the conditional use permit and the
operating permit are separate issues. Christy Palmer, deputy
prosecutor said the conditional use permit deals with zoning, while
the operating permit deals with safety. “We want to ensure the
safety of the community. We want to make sure bullets don’t leave
the range,” she said.
An operating permit would require the club to show, using
descriptions and drawings, how it will maintain a safe range. The
Poulsbo Sportsman Club applied and, last I heard, was one drawing
short of approval, but is still in operation. KRRC didn’t apply,
which is why they’re not allowed to be in business, Palmer
Reynolds, who earlier said the club had lots of respect for
Kitsap Superior Court Judge Jay Roof and that it took its time
considering whether to appeal, later in the hearing questioned
whether Roof had been able to rule fairly. The club has taken issue
with the comments Roof made in April when he rendered his decision,
saying he had been threatened and praising the County Prosecutor
Tina Robinson for thinking beyond politics in seeking the
On Tuesday we posted a story showing voter turnout in
Kitsap County at right around 12 percent as of Monday.
With Tuesday numbers we’re now at about 13.2 percent,
according to data released by the Washington Secretary of State’s
As low as our turnout is, across the state it is worse at
10.2 percent. That does include incomplete data from a couple
of counties. Okanogan County is so far reporting that out of 5,357
ballots sent out for two primary races, only three ballots have
been returned. The Secretary of State’s Office confirms that number
is incorrect, but the correct number won’t be reported until
The only county larger than Kitsap that has higher turnout is
Spokane County, which as of Tuesday is at 15.6 percent. King County
turnout is at 8.3 percent. Pierce is at 7.5.
Douglas County is the highest at 41.6 percent, but that’s among
322 votes. Jefferson County is at 22 percent and Mason is at 18.4
Secretary of State Kim Wyman predicted 26 percent turnout, but
as we pointed out in Tuesday’s story, if April is any indicator we
are two-thirds the way of where we will be by next Tuesday, which
would put the state’s projected total at about 16 percent. It will
take a significant late run across the state to beat that.
Here are the state numbers county-by-county, with the total,
Kitsap and its neighbor counties highlighted. Five counties are not
included because they do not have primaries.
If you have been paying attention at all to politics lately it
has either been for the primary we have going on right now or for
the presidential election next year. We do have candidates running
for governor in 2016, however, and two of them have a connection
that at least one of them didn’t know about.
Bill Bryant, the first person to officially throw his name in
the ring running for Washington governor in 2016, is in town
for Whaling Days this weekend, invited by friends here. He stopped
by the office to meet us and to talk about his thoughts on
what a governor should do. We’re assuming incumbent Gov. Jay
Inslee, a Bainbridge Island Democrat, is running, too, unless he
has other plans. We asked once, but he didn’t confirm or deny.
Bryant grew up in Hoodsport, then Olympia, went to college at
Georgetown and returned to Washington, where he runs an
international trade company in Seattle . He is also a
commissioner for the Port of Seattle.
Republicans haven’t had one of their own in the governor’s
office since John Spellman left the office in 1985. Bryant believes
he can win because he will do better than other Republicans have in
Seattle, having represented the city for the port. We’ll get to the
issues later next week.
Make no mistake, Bryant cites big differences between
himself and the governor. But in 1994, when Inslee was
running for a second term in Congress from Yakima, Bryant was one
of his contributors. According to the campaign finance tracking
site OpenSecrets.org, Bryant gave Inslee $500. Inslee lost
that campaign as part of the Republican Party’s “Contract with
America,” then moved to Bainbridge Island, and a few years later
began a new Congressional career.
Bryant didn’t remember contributing to the campaign, but said
that in his business he was working with international
governments, the Washington apple industry and government
officials, including Inslee, to open up foreign markets for the
state’s signature crop. He said he probably had a friend who
invited him to a fundraiser and that he likely made a
In 2009 he gave another $500 to Democrat Patty Murray for her
U.S. Senate re-election bid against Republican Dino Rossi, though
he voted for Rossi, he said. Bryant has contributed often to
political campaigns, most often, but not always, to Republican
candidates. He financially supported Rossi’s runs for governor,
John McCain’s 2008 presidential run and George W. Bush during both
of his campaigns.
Next week I’ll write more about the visit and will discuss the
encouragement to run he received from 25 House Republicans,
including three from the Kitsap Caucus.
If you ever wondered what the Federal Election Commission does,
for the last few years it’s pretty much been not much, if
That’s troubling to some and not others. Troubling to many
because the agency is charged with being the referee when it
comes to campaign finance. With a presidential election on the
horizon the agency’s oversight of the millions raised and spent
could play a factor in the race. Others say the agency’s inertia is
just fine, that things should be obviously bad before the agency
determines money was raised or spent in violation of federal
U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer, D-Gig Harbor, takes the view that
gridlock on the commission is hurting democracy. He introduced a
bill, nabbing a couple of Republicans to join him that would make
it easier for the commission to make a decision, something it
hasn’t found easy to do for some time now.
The FEC was created in 1975 as a response to the Watergate
scandal. Election violation questions go to the commission. To
prevent partisan decision-making on the oversight board Congress
decided to have it made up of three from each of the two major
parties. In the past the commission has been able to make decisions
by breaking ties on a regular basis. Not so much lately.
The commission has become so clearly divided that for a
party celebrating the organization’s 40-year anniversary,
commissioners could agree whether to sever bagels or doughnuts,
according to a New York Times piece that goes to
painful detail into how dysfunctional the commission is. Members
compromised and provided both, a rare act of the commission
actually accomplishing something.
Kilmer would change that by changing the makeup of the
commission to two from each party and one non-partisan
representative. Finding a non-partisan is possible, and the concept
appears to have worked with Washington’s Redistricting
There is reason to suspect the bill won’t go far. Despite the
appearance of two Republicans as cosponsors, party members
generally are not inclined to do something to make the commission
more active. The Times piece illustrates this.
Republican members of the commission see no
such crisis. They say they are comfortable with how things are
working under the structure that gives each party three votes. No
action at all, they say, is better than overly aggressive steps
that could chill political speech.
“Congress set this place up to gridlock,”
Lee E. Goodman, a Republican commissioner, said in an interview.
“This agency is functioning as Congress intended. The democracy
isn’t collapsing around us.”
And a Time Magazine piece (Kilmer is quoted
in the article.) detailing how the agency can’t even hire a lead
attorney seems to make the same case that getting this to the
President’s desk is going to be a tough sell.
GovTrack.US gives the bill a 2 percent chance
of becoming law.
We’ve had conversations about offensive words and phrases here
before. This On the Media segment offered
what I thought was a new angle. Someone wants to trademark a phrase
some would consider offensive, but it’s happening at the same time
that NFL team from Washington, DC was rebuffed in its efforts. If
that hadn’t been happening, my guess is this request would have
In competing press releases sent out on Tuesday Tim Sheldon
takes teachers to task for missing work for a strike and for not
using a strike day to come to Olympia. Washington State
Democrats say that’s Sheldon operating under a “Do as I say, not as
I do,” program, citing his absences from county meetings.
With final filing results in there are 13 races in which no one
expressed an interest in running. As much as it might offend your
sense of public participation in democracy, this is probably a
For example, three of the races are for the Crystal Springs
Water District. All three commissioner positions are available and
no one has applied. What this means, assuming that continues
through next Friday, is that all three positions will go to whoever
is in office now.
I don’t know exactly how many customers the water district has,
but it can’t be many. In 2011, according to a Washington State
Auditor’s Office report, the district reported $3,840 in
Since local agencies participating in elections have to pay
their share for them, a public agency taking in less than $4,000 in
revenues is probably not going to be criticized by its constituents
for avoiding the election completely. If someone gets tired of
being commissioner, that commissioner can quit. The other two board
members can go through the process of picking a new one, and then
that commissioner can fail to file to run forever and still keep
the job for life.
As long as everyone in the district agrees to avoid elections at
all costs and because of all costs, this works out. I haven’t
talked to anyone at Crystal Springs, or at the Old Bangor Water
District, which also has three positions available, or the Port of
Waterman, which has two spots in play. I can’t say they’re doing
what I’m suggesting could be done. I am saying they probably are
and that it’s probably OK with everyone who lives there. Someone
can prove me wrong by filing to run.
countywide organization that gets local governments working as
a team in a quest for federal and state dollars could be on the
verge of a losing its biggest city.
On Tuesday the executive board of the Kitsap Regional
Coordinating Council voted 8-4 to maintain the status quo in
determining how best to develop countywide policy when it comes to
voting. This concluded, according to Poulsbo Mayor Becky
Erickson, 16 months of disagreement primarily between
representatives from Kitsap County and the city of Bremerton.
It’s possible that vote could spell the end of Bremerton’s
membership in KRCC. Greg Wheeler, Bremerton City Council
president, said this is sure to be a big topic at the council’s May
13 study session.
And in the end, no matter what happened Tuesday or what happens
in the future, no one besides those in government might notice a
tangible difference. This is a bigtime inside baseball dispute
we in the newsroom were not sure was worth covering, because it was
potentially inconsequential no matter how the board or the city
Under the existing interlocal agreement among the KRCC
members, for any policy measure to pass there must be a quorum
present and two county commissioners must vote “yes” and at least
two cities must have a majority voting “yes” as well. All three
county commissioners are members of the board. Bremerton has three
members, Bainbridge Island, Port Orchard and Poulsbo each
have two and the Port of Bremerton has one.
At Monday’s KRCC meeting Bremerton City Council President Greg
Wheeler said the Bremerton City Council was not comfortable with
what he called the county controlling the process. He made a
motion to change the voting requirement to a regular quorum. In
that situation, if no county commissioners were in favor of a
proposal but everyone else in the room was, motion carries.
Rob Gelder, county commissioner, said the county was the one
agency in the room representing every resident of the county. And
even if all the incorporated areas were taken out of the county’s
resident count, it still represents two-thirds of the county’s
residents, those who live in unincorporated areas. Furthermore, he
argued, the county can’t act unilaterally, because two cities have
to be on board for any measure to pass.
KRCC acts as a local conglomerate of interests designed to
coordinate pursuit of state and federal funding. The group sets
priorities and then acts more or less in unison with the Puget
Sound Regional Council or the Legislature. It’s not always exactly
like that, because as Wheeler said every member of either KRCC or
PSRC is there to represent their government’s interest, but for the
most part the group operates as if working as a team nets better
results than trying to go it alone.
Wheeler said the issue first arose when in response to KRCC
Executive Manager Mary McClure’s decision to retire. She was
working for KRCC as a contractor and there was some talk of hiring
staff instead. As part of that consideration the way local agencies
paid for membership also came up. Wheeler said the cost of having a
staff went up a lot, and the reconfiguration of the funding formula
hit Bremerton pretty hard.
KRCC pulled the funding question, but the board voting formula
remained an issue for Bremerton.
That’s not universal. Patty Lent, Bremerton’s mayor, said
Tuesday she was against the motion forwarded by her city’s
council and voted against it.
Port Orchard Mayor Tim Matthes, Port Orchard mayor, supported
it, saying he didn’t think anyone would take advantage of the
process. “We’ve been so cooperative, so I don’t see this little
change making a difference,” he said.
Erickson disagreed, saying the KRCC board had been arguing these
issues for 16 months. “We don’t get along very well,” she said. She
said the change could eliminate the county’s voice completely,
even though it represented everyone.
A hybrid proposal would have kept the current quorum
requirements in place for major policy issues, but gone to a more
simple quorum process for smaller matters.
Ed Wolfe, county commissioner, said he applauded the
steadfastness and passion of Bremerton, but voted against the
proposal. His biggest argument was that the issue has to stop
taking up any more time. “It’s time to put this to bed and get on
with the people’s business,” he said.
The “yes” voters included Wheeler, Daugs, Matthes and Axel
Strakeljahn, Port of Bremerton commissioner.
The “no” votes came from Gelder, Wolfe, Lent, Erickson Poulsbo
City Councilman Ed Stern, Bainbridge Island City
Council members Anne Blair and Wayne Roth and Port
Orchard City Councilman Jeff Cartwright.
Charlotte Garrido, county commissioner, was absent from the
Wheeler said Bremerton leaving KRCC is on the table, but
said even if the city does leave it doesn’t mean it won’t still
work in cooperation with the county’s other agencies. Should the
city decide to quit its KRCC membership, it would take six months
under the KRCC agreement to completely sever the tie, so the
organization and the city wouldn’t be free of each other until the
end of the year at the earliest.
KING-5 TV has some pretty strong evidence that
Lt. Gov. Brad Owen, who represented the 24th and 35th Legislative
Districts in the Legislature for 20 years, is considering
retirement at the end of this term. Owen’s office is not giving any
public clues, but the station got emails through public records
requests that make the case retirement is a real possibility. And
there’s the rationale for keeping that consideration mum:
(Owen aide Ken) “Camp recommends not announcing plans to retire
as it could result in the office losing some of its funding:
‘Another consideration is that if we let them know you’re
definitely retiring, the Governor and the Legislature may try to
reduce the budget. I’m not a fan of telling OFM [Office of
Financial Management] that you’re retiring at this point so that
they don’t have a reason to cut our budget and because if we
formally tell people you’re retiring they’ll just start writing you
off and making you irrelevant.'”
Owen’s Lt. Gov. bio mentions that he’s been in office since
getting elected in 1996. He lives in Shelton and represented the
24th Legislative District in the House from 1977 to 1983 and the
35th Legislative District in the Senate from 1983 to 1997. When he
left the Senate after getting elected as lieutenant governor, he
was replaced by party appointment by Lena Swanson, who then lost
the next election to Tim Sheldon.
The job entails acting as governor while the governor is away,
being president of the Senate and taking a large role in the
state’s international trade missions.
The Los Angeles Times has an informative piece showing
why Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton have one clear edge in seeking the
presidential nomination from their parties.
Because neither are currently working for any government,
they’re free to pile up money using Super PACs as long they don’t
say that they are running for president. For Clinton, who for the
time being seems to be the only serious contender on the Democratic
side, this could be a moot issue until she emerges as the
For Bush it’s a bigger deal, because as of right now the
Republican field is competitive. To his advantage is that the other
main contenders all have government jobs.
“Bush did declare he would impose a total cap on how much each
donor could contribute, according to the Washington Post. But it
wasn’t the $5,000 maximum that those in the race are limited to
asking for by law. It was $1 million.”
Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz and Rand Paul are all prohibited from
coordinating with Super PACs. The governors, Chris Christie and
Scott Walker, might have state rules prohibiting them from raising
money from organizations that do business with their states.
Bush is under no restriction, he believes. The Federal Elections
Commission could argue otherwise, but critics contend it doesn’t do
that often enough.
UPDATE: Turns out Ted Cruz has proven adept at raising money, at least the
Super PACs supporting him have. The Washington Post reports the
Super PACs supporting Cruz $31 million in a week.
On Friday some activists got on their iPhones and agreed that on
Saturday they’d throw on their Wolverine work boots to beat
tracks down to Olympia to protest the “communist” Chinese flag
flying on the capitol campus.
I first learned of the controversy from a Facebook thread
started by Mason County Republican Party Chairman Travis Couture,
who asked, “So can someone please explain to me why the hell we are
flying a communist Chinese flag at our capitol? (Rhetorical) We
cant have a ‘Christmas’ tree or a Gadson flag but we can have a
As for the tree question, that call is made by the Association
of Washington Business, because it’s their tree and it’s part of a
fundraiser they’ve been doing for kids for 26 years, according to
this story from the (Spokane)
The governor’s office answered that the flag was up because
there was a delegation visiting from China and that the flag was
removed after they left. The same was done earlier this year when
delegations from Austria and Finland were here. On Monday the flag
of Scotland was raised in honor of Tartan Day.
The video in one of the links above shows the flag being
lowered, with a couple of Gadsden-flag bearing witnesses and a
voice on one of the videos saying, “This is what happens when
America speaks.” That the activists had anything to do with the
flag’s removal is questionable, but not completely clear to me.
First of all, it looks to me that the state staff removed it, not
some roving gang of patriots. The guy has a specific tool to lower
the thing. It all looks quite orderly. Jaime Smith, a spokeswoman
for the governor, said it was state personnel that removed it. But
she also told Huffington Post, “Our state’s
Department of Enterprise Services was going to lower the flag
shortly after that anyway.” The “anyway” in that statement makes me
wonder if even if the protesters didn’t remove it themselves, if
the lowering was expedited by the complaints. She clarified in an
email to me later that, “The flag would have been lowered anyhow,
was my point to HuffPo.”
China makes products we use, like boots, phones, most of our
shoes, other clothing and even, according to one Amazon reviewer,
Gadsden flags. (That’s the one
with the snake and the “Don’t Tread on Me” mantra.) We as a nation
also owe China, or the Chinese, a lot of money. I can’t argue
whether it’s a good idea to fly any other nation’s flag at our
capitol campus, but if you’re going to, how do you decide which
nation to exclude?
And obviously I don’t know what kind of phones the protesters
use or the boots they wore, but they might want to check the
labels, even on those flags.
UPDATE: I asked state officials from the governor’s office and
from the Department of Enterprise Services some additional info.
Some on Facebook are asking about flag protocol.
Smith sent me a list of other nations’ flags that have flown in
the same place for the same reasons. Here they are.
United Kingdom 2014
Japan 2013 and 2014
We also received a detailed explanation from Smith on the flag’s
placement and the criteria for when a foreign flag gets raised.
“We fly the flag of a foreign country in the Flag Circle when a
high level government representative of a country recognized by our
government meets with a statewide official. Countries like Iran and
North Korea are not recognized and we would not fly their national
flag under any circumstance.
“The US government formally recognizes countries. A state does
not. In 1980 the United States formally recognized the People’s
Republic of China.
“International flag standards and the flag code of the United
States specifically state that the flags of sovereign nations need
to be flown from separate staffs and at equal height. No national
flag should be higher than any other national flag. State flags and
banners are different.
“When the US and other national flags are flown together, the
U.S. flag should be in the position of honor and to the right of
other flags. We orient our flags to the north steps of the
Legislative building as the prominent feature of the most
significant building. So looking at the flags from the steps, the
U.S. flag is always to the right and a foreign flag is to its left.
If you look at the flags from the Temple of Justice, however, it
looks backwards. The flags have been oriented in this way for more
than 20 years. With the flags in the conference room they are
oriented to whomever is speaking at the podium, so to the speaker’s
right, but audience’s left.”
Regarding the lowering of the flag, I’ve got a second person
saying it was state staff that removed the flag during a normal
course of duty. Linda Kent from DES sent the following.
“DES received an email Friday afternoon from the Governor’s
office informing us that the Chinese ambassador had departed, and
that the flag could be taken down. The email also contained a
reminder that the Scottish flag should be put up by Monday
“In the past, there has not been a specific time frame for flags
to come down. Basically the building and grounds crew works the
changing of flags in between other duties on the Capitol
I agree with one critic who said we have bigger issues to worry
about. My reason for diving in has much to do with Fox News’
coverage, which was shown Monday on the show “Fox and Friends.” The
coverage obviously involves no original reporting and seems to rely
solely on the accounts offered on sites like Gateway Pundit.
Somehow I expect more from the news organization with the tagline
“Fair & Balanced,” and the one that can legitimately brag that it is
the most trusted news network in the nation.
Senate Republicans offer a tuition cut and reject a collective
bargaining agreement the governor’s office reached with state
employees. The party then offers $1,000 per year to all state
employees. A statement issued by the Washington Federation of State
Employees argues that the Legislature can reject an agreement, but
not make a new proposal.
“If contracts are rejected, the process calls for a return to
negotiations. In this instance, Senate budget writers have
by-passed our rights by instead authorizing flat raises of $1000
per full-time employee (prorated for part-time positions) per year
of the two-year biennium. Under the collective bargaining statute,
they cannot offer alternatives. In this case, the Senate has
offered an alternative that is illegal under the law.”
State Sen. Jan Angel, R-Port Orchard, highlights the “no new
taxes” feature of the Republican budget, making no mention of the
state employee clause. State Sen. Tim Sheldon, the Potlatch
Democrat who caucuses with the Republicans, also highlighted the
“no new taxes” feature of the Senate budget, but also addressed the
collective bargaining rejection. He said the budget, “Provides a
flat $2,000 annual cost-of-living increase for state employees –
meaning 25,000 state workers will see a larger increase than under
agreements bargained between the governor’s office and public
It took a while, but
we heard back from state Sen. Jan Angel, R-Port Orchard, regarding
an email blast Friday critical of her from initiative guru Tim
This issue comes from a bill Angel cosponsored with
two other Republicans and a Democrat. It passed 41-8 in the Senate
earlier this month, with all three Kitsap senators voting in favor.
All but one of the eight who voted “no” were Republicans. That’s
seven Republicans voting, “no,” which means 18 favor the bill.
The legislation is in the House now.
The bill would require that any initiative that the
state budget office determines will either add more than $25
million in costs or cut more than $25 million in revenues to the
state have the following statement added to the initiative title on
the ballot, “The state budget office has determined that this
proposal would have an unfunded net impact of [amount] on the state
general fund. This means other state spending may need to be
reduced or taxes increased to implement the proposal.”
Eyman said the emails reveal Angel’s true intent was
to stop some initiatives from happening, naming possible voter
actions authored by the Washington Education Association and the
Service Employees International Union.
“This is extremely disturbing. Having legislators plotting and scheming to
‘stop’ certain initiatives ‘from getting on the ballot’ is a gross
abuse of power. It doesn’t
matter whether it is politicians conniving to block liberal
initiatives or politicians scheming to undermine conservative
initiatives,” Eyman wrote.
Angel responded by email saying, “I am a co-sponsor
of this bipartisan bill SB5715 which is a ‘transparency’
issue for the voter to help make a decision when voting. It
passed in a strong bipartisan fashion off the Senate floor with a
vote of 41-8. The ballot title would include a fiscal note
only under certain circumstances and doesn’t affect the citizen
initiative process at all.”
What follows is Eyman’s email blast to supporters and
reporters, Angel’s response and video from Wednesday’s House
There was far more material than I could use in the story about
the passing of Adele Ferguson. Here are some more comments I think
you’ll enjoy. There could be a few more. I received some written
stories, but I’m double-checking to make sure the writers would be
fine with me including them. Check back. They’re good ones.
“I always liked Adele because she would stab me in the front.” —
Former Gov. Dan Evans. This quote actually was told to me by David
Ammons, former AP statehouse reporter now with the Secretary of
State’s office, but Evans confirmed that he said it.
“She was the den mother in a moveable feast. She was absolutely
hilarious; I’ve never known a better story teller.” John Hughes,
former editor of the Aberdeen Daily World, now overseeing the
Secretary of State’s Legacy Project.
“They called her’Senator Adele,'” Rachel Pritchett, former
Kitsap Sun reporter who met Adele in the 1980s. Pritchett was a
communications staff member in the state Senate at the time.
“She was tough as nails, but she was also very feminine and
dressed smartly. She was not feminist in the modern sense of the
word. She pushed for the right for women reporters to wear pants on
the floor.” — David Ammons
“She was a phenomenal asset to Bremerton. She defended Bremerton
and she defended the Navy to the hilt.” — Ralph Munro, former
Washington Secretary of State
“Adele was great. She could swear and drink with the
best of the backroom politicians. I remember one time
late in Warren G. Magnuson’s career he came into the office
assisted by two of his aides. They had hold of each of his elbows
so he wouldn’t fall down. He stopped right next to my desk to
steady himself and catch his breath. He still had about 30 feet to
go to get to Adele’s office and made it in another couple minutes.
The next day in her column Adele called Magnuson ‘robust and
healthy.’ That was so far from the truth, but only Adele could get
away with that. All the top politicians made appearances in her
office. She was one of a kind, and I really liked her and got along
great with her because she called them like she saw them, except
for Warren G.)” — Terry Mosher, former Kitsap Sun reporter
“She was the only media person who sat through the Gamscam trial
from day one to day end, so she had an opportunity of hearing all
the testimony and listening to the various witnesses. She was a
steadfast in my defense in that time and continued to be so.” —
Gordon Walgren, former state legislator who served about two years
in prison in connection with the Gamscam scandal.
“She was such a person of such stature. The Kitsap Sun should be
so proud.” Rachel Pritchett.
“She never did go for a tape recorder to record. She was about
the last reporter who depended on her own shorthand, but she easily
the most accurate reporter that covered me.” — Dan Evans
“Adele could punish when she thought you did something wrong.
Several times she would lay me out, but we were always friends.”
Norm Dicks, former congressman.
“She was bigger than life for me when I was very young.” —
“She gave as good as she got. She was deliciously bawdy and
funny. Boy could she write.” — John Hughes.
“She had more insight in the capitol building than anyone, by
far. She could smell a story two or three days before the next guy
knew there was even one coming.” — Ralph Munro
“At times she would be salty. She could be critical, but she was
always fair.” — Norm Dicks
“Feisty. Opinionated. Conservative. She had her own ideas and
carried them out as best she could. Most of all she was a good
friend.” — Gordon Walgren
“If Lehman (John Lehman, former secretary of the Navy) was at
the Rotary or the Chamber of Commerce and he and I had gone fishing
that day, she wanted to know all the details.” Norm Dicks,
explaining Adele’s love of salmon fishing.
Dan Evans said Adele was covering an event in Washington, D.C.
and was sitting next to him. A button came off his sport coat. She
looked in her purse and found a sewing kit and sewed the button
back on. “It was the last thing you would expect out of adele. She
said, ‘You tell anybody about this and I’ll kill you.'”
“I was sitting next to her. I asked her what it would take to
get onto the Bremerton Sun. She said, ‘Not much, apparently.” —
One of Adele’s fellow Olympia reporters was on deadline to send
in a column, but “he was so drunk there was no way he could have
written that column.” Adele said, “‘I wrote the column for him. I
knew how he wrote.’ I don’t think you could get away with that
nowadays.” — Dan Evans
“She would invite people into her office and say, ‘Don’t sit
down.” — Rachel Pritchett
When I got to spend those four days up there, (Hughes
interviewed Adele over four days for the Legacy Project oral
history about Adele. about the fourth day I decided it would not be
imprudent. I allowed myself to have a little beaker; I think it was
MacNaughton’s. I kissed her on the forehead and she said, ‘Don’t be
fresh.’” — John Hughes
“She was a superb political reporter. She feared no one and she
was always up front in her feelings.” Dan Evans
Point of personal privilege: In the first six years I worked for
the Kitsap Sun beginning in 2002 I knew Adele Ferguson mostly
through her columns in the local biweeklies and from her questions
at debates during election season. It was in 2008 that things
changed for me. We attended both county party conventions, offering
coverage for our different publications. Again, she was writing for
the biweeklies. I was writing for the paper she had been the voice
of for almost five decades.
At the Republican convention the party gave her a Barnes &
Noble gift card. I sat next to her at the Democratic convention and
the party didn’t give her any gifts, but several delegates came to
the table to say “Hello” to her. This was the first time I ever had
a lengthy conversation with Adele and I was charmed like you
wouldn’t believe. Maybe if you ever met her you would believe
A few things charmed me. One, she was a vivacious story teller,
and I’m a sucker for stories. Secondly, she had all kinds of
respect from a large number of Democrats that day. Certainly they
didn’t like her politics, but they loved her. Third, she said she
used the gift from the Republicans to buy Barack Obama’s books.
Fourth, for all that she had accomplished she didn’t ever treat me
as anything but a peer, and given her history and all she
accomplished she had every right to act superior.
After that I got to meet with her at her home in Hansville when
the state made her one of three oral history subjects. At other
times I would call her when I needed a quote about someone with
political history here in Washington or for other various reasons.
In every instance she was gracious to me. I know others can’t say
that. I guess I was a lucky one.
It is true that she wrote columns later in life that were
unsupportable. Not that many, but how many does it take? Set that
aside for a moment and consider the woman’s life as a whole. We,
both women and men, walk through doors she opened. It’s hard for me
to imagine some of our open government laws existing without
reporters like Adele Ferguson, who called nonsense on secrecy.
Women, particularly journalists, owe their opportunities to Adele
and others like her.
I’m 53 and I enjoy political reporting, but I’m content in the
reality that my chances of ever filling Adele’s shoes as a
political reporter are slim. Perhaps that time has passed for
anyone, but even if it hasn’t it would be akin to matching the
greatness of a Willie Mays or Sandy Koufax. She meant that much.
For me, even though Adele will be remembered generally for her
work as a political reporter, I’ll remember her most through two
stories she told me at that Democratic convention. From that moment
on I was a fan. She also told them to John Hughes, who wrote her
biography and oral history for the state’s Legacy Project. Those
stories will conclude this insufficient memorial. Allow me to add
one more thing. I’m really going to miss Adele. I feel lucky that I
ever got to meet her.
It is not lost on
us as reporters how much work our governments dedicate to
fulfilling requests for public records from the likes of us and
citizens. We, most of us anyway, try to be reasonable.
We know it also might seem unfair that we can and do attend
meetings some government officials would rather we didn’t. I was
once asked by a well-intentioned elected official to not attend a
meeting. Asked. Then when I attended I was asked what I was doing
there. Neither question was legally justifiable, though I trust
there wasn’t malice in either of them.
Perhaps you know some government folks who you could encourage
to partake in some training. Perhaps you are a government official
willing to get a refresher course. Washington State Auditor Troy
Kelley is offering to provide it. From 3-5 p.m. on March 24 he will
offer a free Open Government & Transparency training session in
the Auditor’s Office building in Tumwater. The office did
open-government trainings across the state last year it says were
For what it’s worth, most government officers I’ve worked with
have been entirely cooperative about sharing what was needed. But
the law being the law and open government being something we value,
this kind of training can save a local government a lot of A.
money, B. time, and C. embarrassment when something that should be
in the sunshine is hidden, intentionally or not.
Jim Brunner of the Seattle Times wrote a story detailing a
disconnect in what oil and gas industry officials say publicly and
how they’re responding to Gov. Jay Inslee’s cap-and-trade proposal.
Industry officials say they support cap-and-trade, but they’re no
fans of Inslee’s proposal or of what’s happening in California.
When asked what kind of proposal they would favor, they don’t offer
Included with the story, however, is a chart that is useful, but
illustrates how easy it is to make a false equation in politics.
The chart shows that state Sen. Tim Sheldon, D-Potlatch, has
received more campaign money from oil and gas interests than all
but one other legislative politician in the state. State Sen. Jan
Angel, R-Port Orchard, comes in at No. 8 for donations she received
for her 2013 campaign. Here is a list of the oil and gas industry
contributions that went to Kitsap candidates in 2013 and 2014.
The easy accusation is to say that a legislator, once gifts are
offered, is paid for. I won’t argue that money has no influence,
but its bigger influence is in who gets elected, not in what the
politician does once in office. To illustrate that point, let me
ask you this question: If the oil and gas industry hadn’t
contributed $13,700 to Tim Sheldon’s campaign, do you think he
would then favor Inslee’s proposal? I seriously doubt it. If you
doubt me, do you think that same amount of money would have
influenced Irene Bowling’s vote?
I could give you new evidence about the impact of money and
politics, but instead I’ll give one I’ve offered before.
More than years ago This American Life, addressed
the issue. Andrea Seabrook asked Democrat Barney Frank if money
Barney Frank: People say, “Oh, it doesn’t
have any effect on me.” Look, if that were the case, we would be
the only human beings in the history of the world who, on a regular
basis, took significant amounts of money from perfect strangers and
made sure that it had no effect on our behavior. That is not human
Andrea Seabrook: On the other hand, he
says, there are things that influence a politician besides
Barney Frank: If the voters have a
position, the votes will kick money’s rear end any time. I’ve never
met a politician — I’ve been in the legislative bodies for 40 years
now — who, choosing between a significant opinion in his or her
district and a number of campaign contributors, doesn’t go with the
And I have had people tell me — and we talk honestly to each
other, we don’t lie to each other very often. You don’t survive if
you do. As chairman of a committee, I’d be lobbying for votes.
I have had members say to me, Mr. Chairman, I love you.
Barney, you’re right. But I can’t do that politically because I’ll
get killed in my district. No one has ever said to me, I’m sorry,
but I got a big contributor I can’t offend.
I’m not defending anyone here. I’m just suggesting that the oil
and gas industry ponied up money for Tim Sheldon and Jan Angel
because they knew Tim Sheldon and Jan Angel. I don’t think either
has ever shown any sign of being a fence sitter on cap and
Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman is proposing the
state’s political parties use the presidential primary results
to allocate at least some part of their delegates to the national
political conventions. And she has provided a carrot, or maybe it’s
a stick, to get them to go along.
Some history is in order.
In 2008 Washington Republicans allocated half
their delegates from the February primary, which according to the
Secretary of State’s office is what they have always done. The
Democrats allocated none in 2008. It would have played more of a
factor on the Democratic side, too, because Barack Obama won by a
big margin in the caucuses, but just by a few points in the state
primary, a reflection of what happened nationwide. Clinton fared
much better with everyday Democratic voters across the country,
while Obama did well with people more willing to take a day off to
weigh in at the caucuses.
Of the state’s pledged 78 Democratic delegates
in 2008, 52 went to Obama and 26 went to Clinton. Had Democrats
done what Republicans did, the margin would have been 26-13 from
the caucuses, and something like 20-18 from the primary, with John
Edwards picking up the straggler. The final delegate count
combining the caucus and primary would have been Obama 46, Clinton
31, and Edwards 1. The Edwards delegate would have probably ended
up in Obama’s totals.
Obama ended up winning the national pledged
delegate count by 102 delegates, but didn’t secure the majority
until June. And by the time the Feb. 9, 2008 caucuses began he was
only up by 11 delegates overall.
Looking back at how the election played out,
had Washington Democrats done what Republicans did with the primary
in 2008, the ultimate result would likely have been the same. Obama
would have won. But perhaps there are some who could argue that a
five-delegate shift, which amounts to 10 points in the margin,
could have made a psychological difference. The fact is, though, we
don’t know how many people skipped out on the 2008 Washington
presidential primary or voted Republican, because the Democratic
primary was a taxpayer-funded beauty contest.
The reason we have a presidential primary at
all is because voters submitted an initiative to the Legislature in
1989 asking for one. In 2012 (Just as it did in 2004.) the state
suspended the presidential primary to save $10 million. As the law
stands now the parties don’t have to recognize the numbers from the
primary. Bills in the House, HB 2139, and Senate, SB 5978, would change that.
If each party agrees to allocate part of their
delegate count from the primary, voters would have to declare a
party for that election and choose among that party’s candidates.
Your party prefence selection would be a matter of public record,
so if you pick a Republican or Democratic ballot, everyone in the
state has the right to know that. If you sit out the election no
one will know which party you prefer. If the parties don’t
agree the state would create a single ballot with every candidate’s
name. In no circumstance would anyone know who you voted for.
That, in fact, is where the carrot and stick
come in. The state Republican and Democratic parties both love
getting the lists of which voters picked which party. They haven’t
received one of those since 2008, so a fresh list would update
their data for fundraising and mailing. Under the terms of this
law, if they don’t each allocate at least part of their pledged
national delegates from the primary, there is no such list, because
the Secretary of State would create one ballot that tells the
Presidential primaries do more for parties in
years when there is no incumbent running, because in theory each
race has a real contest. Another reason for parties to like
primaries comes in years when candidates at the extreme end of
party philosophy capture less affection from regular voters than
they do from the more devoted. In 2008 any of the Democratic
frontrunners could have fared well in November and Dennis Kucinich
wasn’t getting enough support even at the caucuses to threaten
Obama, Clinton or Edwards, so strategically the party could afford
to ignore the primary. For Republicans in 2008 the thorn to the
party bosses was Ron Paul, who received 8 percent of the
primary vote (compared to 50 percent for John McCain), but 22
percent at the state caucuses, just 3 percentage points behind
The Legislature has to allocate funds to have
the primary. Kitsap County would spend an estimated $345,000 to
hold the election, but like all counties would be reimbursed by the
A story we reported in 2008 from the
presidential primary follows.
UPDATE: Pam Roach received a letter from Lt. Gov.
Brad Owen regarding her behavior in this hearing and others. The
link to the story is at the end of this post.
NOTE: We have placed a survey on the right relating
to this post.
John Stang from Crosscut provided us a great rundown on a
hearing of a bill that made it into committee last week in the
Senate but isn’t likely to make it out.
I got interested in the legislation, which would call for more
reporting and training on paid signature gatherers, because in
Tim Eyman’s email he described it as the hearing blowing
up. He was right. For me it was an amazing show mostly by
Senate Government Operations Committee Chairwoman Pam Roach, an
I’ve never witnessed a Roach-led hearing before and if they’re
all like this I don’t think I ever want to miss another one. It
began when the Fred Meyer/QFC’s Melinda Merrill dared say store
customers were being harassed by signature gatherers at their
stores. Roach was willing to entertain that idea for somewhere
south of a couple seconds. As Stang reported, Roach wondered if
Merrill could provide names. Merrill could not but vouched for the
honesty of their customers and store employees.
There were four reps from grocery stores there, and Roach took
every opportunity she could to interrupt to turn the conversation
to one about her last election, which she reminded the audience she
won. This was less a hearing about the deportment of signature
gatherers than it was about payback for grocery store lobbyists
favoring her opponent in November.
It was a show that didn’t need Eyman to spice it up, but he was
there. Eyman, if you’re new to these parts, is most often
identified as Washington’s “initiative guru,” having turned a
passion into a living several years ago and working every year to
generate mostly tax-saving ballot measures. Eyman not only
dismissed the claim that a signature gatherer would harass any
customer, he said it was a strategy by opponents of his initiatives
to go into store managers and falsely claim that they were
And while I don’t cotton much to conspiracy theories, my own
experience makes me wonder if he has a point. So here, and in the
right rail of this blog, is my question. I think Sen. Roach would
appreciate you answering, too. Have you ever been verbally harassed
by a signature gatherer?
Yes or no, go answer the survey. If yes, Sen. Roach wants to
hear from you if you’re willing to provide your name. At least
that’s what I think she was inviting at the hearing.
The reason I ask is because I haven’t told a single signature
gatherer “yes” to signing any initiative in the 14 years I’ve lived
in this state and I’ve only experienced anything close to
harassment twice. Both times it was when a reporter tried to
explain that we reporters don’t sign those things, ever.
The first one was at the Seattle Center when a friend of mine
made the mistake of trying to explain why to someone who clearly
had ingested so much Red Bull that the sensitivity
portion of his brain had been snuffed out. I say my friend made a
mistake because there was plenty of room to walk away from the
miscreant, but my friend wanted him to agree.
The second time, though, was here in Bremerton when there was a
meeting about Washington State Ferries and there was a petition
being circulated dealing with a local ferry initiative. A reporter
from a rival paper tried to explain why she wouldn’t sign a
petition and the ferry zealot tried to talk her into it, as if
her several minutes of badgering would override years of being told
by journalism professors and bosses that signing a petition is no
better than planting a campaign sign in your yard or your copy.
Still, she persisted, shutting up only because the meeting was
Other than those two incidents, I can’t remember a single time
an initiative gatherer tried to get strong with me. I say “No,
thank you.” and walk inside the store. I’ve sensed disappointment,
but I don’t stick around long enough to verify it.
This is why I want to ask you whether you’ve ever been addressed
more aggressively by a signature gatherer than you’d like. Story
commenter dardena said he was by someone gathering ink for
Initiative 502, the one dealing with marijuana.
Lest you worry, this legislation’s sponsor, Democrat Marko Liias
of Lynnwood, told Stang he didn’t think the bill would make it out
of committee. If true, this means we don’t need to discuss the
merits and cons of the legislation. A similar bill that received 71
votes in the House last year got blasted by newspapers and
didn’t get far in the Senate.
Again, though, the entertainment factor provided by Roach was
stellar. I’ve never seen a committee hearing that was so much about
the committee chair. If only someone had thrown Roach a
football she could have spiked like Gronk.
UPDATE: Rache La Corte from the AP’s
Olympia bureau wrote the story Monday (Feb. 16) that
Lt. Gov. Brad Owen sent Roach a letter admonishing her for her
behavior as chairwoman in this committee and others. Writes La
The four-page letter obtained Monday by The Associated Press was
sent to Roach on Friday. In it, Owen states that her “abusive
behavior” must stop. He also informs her that she can only meet
with nonpartisan committee staff when in the presence of another
senator on the committee, Republican Sen. Kirk Pearson.
Roach said Monday that she hadn’t yet read the letter in its
entirety, but said it was a “very unfair assessment.”
“I am a fair chair,” she said. “I am a tough chair.”
In the original post here we didn’t mention a couple other
moments that might be sparking the concern from Owen. At one point
a committee staffer reads the information about the bill. There is
nothing remarkable about his reading and is done as it has been in
every other bill hearing I’ve witnessed. These bills are also
discussed at length after these reports, so in some sense the
non-partisan staffer’s reading appears some pro forma. But Roach
told him that next time he ought to slow down. She wasn’t harsh,
but that’s not something I’ve ever seen in committee, and his
reading was not at all unusual.
Another piece that Owen doesn’t mention is that during the
committee hearing Don Benton, a Vancouver Republican who with every
Senate Democrat helped Roach take the Senate Pro Tempore position
away from Democrat Tim Sheldon, questioned Sen. Marko Liias’
argument that Washington State Patrol had nine investigations on
signature gatherers during a recent election, but because of lax
reporting requirements could only fully investigate one of them.
Benton said he found that hard to believe. At the end of the
hearing Liias wanted and opportunity to respond with his evidence,
but Roach wouldn’t let him, saying she had to keep control of
According to La Corte’s story Roach is crafting a response to
Owen, part of which argues that she has “been the most unfairly
treated senator in state history.”
UPDATE — I might have painted too optimistic a picture
on the chances on this bill. On Feb. 5 the Senate Law and Justice
Committee voted 4-3 to send SB 5006 to Ways & Means. But it
wasn’t as easy as all that. The explanation follows the original
“Time makes more converts than reason.” — Thomas
A year ago a bill dealing with the rights of men who prove the
children they support financially are not biologically theirs
received enough support to make it to the state Senate floor, but
not enough to get a vote on time.
By all indications the bill, SB 5006, should have an easier time of
it this year than last.
The legislation would not apply to children conceived through
fertility treatments or for children who were adopted by a
non-biological father. Existing law would allow a man to question
paternity within four years of accepting it, but judges have more
discretion in allowing testing than the new law would dictate.
We wrote about the
bill last year, giving some attention to how it came to be.
It was presented to Angel by Naomi and Andrew Evans of
Bremerton. They have been dealing with the kind of situation in
question for some time, saying Andrew was told when he was 19 that
he was the father of the baby his girlfriend was carrying. They
married and divorced and both sides have seen their share of days
in court. Andrew questioned whether he was the father, said he got
tested and found out he wasn’t. The way the law stands now he has
no recourse. Should the bill pass the courts would have to give him
We reached out to the mother in question and someone who
contacted us on her behalf said there would be no comment.
The disagreement between adults is not the child’s fault, which
is why opponents of the bill argued last year that the welfare of
the child should not be threatened as this new legislation could
But Angel and others have said this is a fairness issue, that
fathers who are led to believe they are biologically responsible
and therefore financially responsible should not have to continue
being responsible if genetic testing proves they were wrong or lied
to about paternity.
If a mother is financially harmed by this legislation, she could
turn to the state to make up for it, so there could be a cost to
taxpayers. But again, Angel argues that a duped non-biological
father shouldn’t pay the price for a child that isn’t his. The mom
needs to go where anyone would go when faced with a new financial
And this time, by all indications, legislators seem to agree.
The House companion to Angel’s bill, sponsored by state Rep.
Michelle Caldier, a Port Orchard Republican, was sent to Judiciary
and has seven co-sponsors, three of them Democrats.
A delay in the bill moving forward is happening, Naomi Evans
said she was told, because state officials want to be sure that men
who have been paying won’t be entitled to back payments, so an
amendment is in the works.
Naomi Evans said she and other advocates spent a day in Olympia
talking to 50 legislators from the Senate and House committees that
are home to the bill and found only one legislator who outright
said he would oppose the bill. Another one or two were iffy. All
others expressed support, she said.
If that’s true it looks like legislators getting a year to think
about it has made a difference, because any changes to this year’s
version of the bill were not substantial, according to Angel.
The angst about the child being harmed over the loss of
money does not seem to be trumping the question of
fairness in dictating who pays the bill.
Earlier in the session I questioned whether that was the case. I
wondered if opponents were waiting for a House hearing to pile on
in hopes of swaying a more sympathetic Democratic leadership. That
might also be the forum where any perceived substantive technical
problems could be aired, making it too late to pass. But I’ve seen
no evidence of that.
Time, which seems to have won some legislators over, will
UPDATE — As mentioned earlier, the Senate Law and Justice
Committee voted 4-3 to send an amended bill to the Ways and Means
Committee, from where it could go to the floor.
The amendment does specify that non-bio fathers would only be
saved any future payments, that the state wouldn’t be liable to pay
them back should genetic testing prove the father was not
biologically related to the child. A man who was behind in payments
would still have to make up however much he hadn’t payed, perhaps
ensuring that no dad just stops paying in anticipation of expected
developments in the future in court.
The one-vote split reflected party differences, however, with
the four “do pass” recommendations coming from Republicans and the
three “do not pass” votes coming from Democrats. Should that hold
it’s fine for the Senate, but could present problems in the House,
even though three Democrats co-sponsored the House version.
The bigger problem is one of the Republican votes was from state
Sen. Pam Roach of Auburn. Democrat Jamie Pedersen said he had
problems with the bill because he said it undermines a state
policy on what parentage is and because of the way it could
affect parenting plans.
Roach, while she agreed to send it on, said she had concerns and
that the bill needed work. She said she wondered if fathers would
still have access to the children, and while she agreed with the
overall aim of the legislation, I wouldn’t take her willingness to
move it as a guarantee she would vote for it on the floor. “I vote
it out and I say I think it needs some work,” she said.
According to the report on the bill the Department of Health
would like implementation of the law delayed so it has time to
develop policies to match the mandate.
Meanwhile, in the House there has been no movement at all on the
We haven’t talked about this in a while here, and probably with
good reason. Once I saw the birth certificate and newspaper
clipping showing our current president was born in a hospital in
Hawaii it seemed pretty clear to me that Barack Obama was qualified
at birth to run for president once he turned 35.
But others who continue to fight this battle want clarity on
what it means to be a “natural born citizen.” Tracy A. Fair is one
of those, and in a press release which follows this post she makes
the case that the Supreme Court needs to define it. She’s using
that question to challenge the presidential candidacies of Florida
Sen. Marco Rubio, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Louisiana Gov. Bobby
Some years ago there was talk of revisiting the whole
requirement about being born here to qualify as president. This was
when some people were seriously talking about Arnold Schwarzenegger
as a presidential candidate.
What do you think? Is this requirement outdated? Should there be
other requirements in place instead?