Some Were :-( While Others Were :-) — Updated

Steven Gardner writes:

UPDATE: I’ve had a couple e-mails sent directly to me that I want to respond to here, and a couple of comments that merit some response as well.

First off, my motives for obtaining the documents and writing the story had everything to do with a simple interest in understanding better how the process unfolded. My interest was sparked by a single e-mail that was forwarded to me, a communication that suggested a pretty organized campaign to counter ISC’s lobbying efforts. In the end, I don’t think the stack of e-mails showed as organized an effort as that first e-mail suggested, but it’s clear to me legislators took the issue seriously and did the work they needed to do to keep the bill from getting anywhere.

Almost any information that could have come from the e-mails would have been interesting to me. Had they shown that some legislators waffled during the session, that would have been news. Had there been disinterest, that would have been news. As I wrote to one e-mailer, I’m a sucker for backstory, so almost anything would have been worth a story to me. It helps me understand better how the game works. Personally, without trying to get too high on a soapbox here, I think that’s better for all of us.

As for seeing ISC’s e-mails, I’d like that too. What are the odds I’ll get them? I will say that one time during this process I overheard a strategy session they didn’t know I was hearing. What I heard, about a local election to approve the track, was interesting then, but not so much anymore. There was nothing as interesting as “I want this dead, dead, dead.”

Finally, I think it worth mentioning again that legislators could (probably) have withheld a lot of the communications I saw. I thank them and their staffs for turning them over.

Scheduled for Sunday’s Kitsap Sun is a story disclosing some of the e-mail exchanges between legislators while the NASCAR bill was still alive. It begins right before the session and ends a few days after ISC announced it was done pursuing Kitsap County.

On Feb. 20 the NASCAR legislation was heard in Senate and House committees. In between there was a press conference during which Seaquist told media that ISC was a bad citizen, the type that would put junky cars in the yard and try to get around the law.

The next morning Rolfes wrote Kilmer about ISC Vice-president Grant Lynch’s assertion that legislators weren’t really opposed to the bill. She talked to Lynch afterward. “I wanted to make sure that he knew that I was unconditionally opposed to the bill. He told me I wasn’t and that even if I was, the other legislators weren’t. I’m still angry about his arrogance. I sicked Sherry on him,” she wrote.

Seaquist wrote that he’d enjoyed the hearing, then later added, “Since I typed the above I was just hauled off the floor to learn that I’d been quoted in the S. Times this morning calling these folks bad citizens. I guess I’m about to get a lesson in guarding my words.”

The story comes from a document request I made asking the nine Kitsap legislators for copies of e-mails they shared with other government officials. I’ve been told by two sources that the legislators had the right under the U.S. Constitution to withhold much of what I received, so I’m grateful for the access.

The story in print is abridged. The online version should be about twice as long.

91 thoughts on “Some Were :-( While Others Were :-) — Updated

  1. …”…Eickmeyer wrote that NASCAR would not happen in the Legislature….”

    I”m amazed Eickmeyer had the energy to dictate a letter to anyone, considering his voting record…or rather, his non-voting record for his district.
    Sharon O’Hara

  2. It seems apparent from the article that some of our legislators were dead set against any bill at all.

    Appleton wanted it “dead.” Rolfes seems to have felt the same way with her total opposition. Seaquist appeared to be against any version — and never lifted a finger to make the bill better.

    I would like to know what Appleton’s email exchange with Simpson said. What invalid points did she raise other than “full faith and credit” that led Simpson to conclude that Appleton hadn’t learned even the basics about the bill?

    Kilmer is the only one who seems to have behaved the way I would want a legislator to act — stating his objections to the proposal and his intention to push for remedies to those objections. In other words, he appeared willing to accept the speedway proposal so long as the unacceptable parts of the package were eliminated.

    The others seem to have taken the stance that nothing could possibly be done to make any proposal acceptable.

    Ironically, the “no under any circumstances” crowd could have obtained their goal (killing the proposal) merely by insisting that ISC/GWS pay taxes like the rest of us do. That seemed to me to be a reasonable thing to require of ISC/GWS, but it was “totally unacceptable” to Grant Lynch and ISC.

  3. Steve- Great article today!! It reconfirms the impression I have of Geoff Simpson after I had exchanged several emails with him. It’s not fit for print, but I really believe it now!

  4. No wonder Kitsap County has so many homeless and poor citizens. With politicians like the ones in this state, Kitsap County doesn’t ever stand a chance of rising above poverty level. We hve some of the highest rates of unemployment in this county and yet the politicians slap us in the face time and time again because they would rather have all the entertainment in the immediate Seattle area rather than spread it out around the state so that each county can prosper. I would surely have attended several races and other events put on at the race track had it won out her in Kitsap County, but I’ll be d***** if I will travel to King, Pierce Thurston or for that fact any other county to see NASCAR racing in this state. Why should I spend my hard earned money for another county to profit, when thecity and county I live in are struggling so hard to house and feed the citizens we have here.
    Donna

  5. If those emails are any indication, it would appear only Kilmer exhibited behaviour one would come to expect of a legislator – and leader.

  6. Taking these emails out of context–including many comments from both sides at hearings in the House and the Senate, and discourse with the public–is a bit disingenuous. Also, the proposal was from ISC/GSW. At any time, ISC/GSW could have changed the proposal—and they had plenty of the best, highest priced lawyers and PR people in the state, not only to change their proposal, but to accomodate the concerns of local legislators and citizens. ISC/GSW got a fair hearing for their proposal, not only from the legislature, but from Kitsap County, its Commissioners and citizens. The answer was no. And the Kitsap Sun needs to get over it…and move on.

  7. Mr. Van Dyk seems to think something has been taken out of context. If he has a factual basis for his opinion, then he must know the missing context.

    Why, then, is the context still missing after he finished typing and clicked “post”?

    And, why the adolescent “move on” bit?

    It is important in a republic to know how our elected representatives behaved.

    If Mr. Van Dyk would like to change the subject, maybe he should start his own blog and invite people over.

  8. I had e-mails from Geoff Simpson that were virtually unprintable as well. However, I did have good talks with other legislators including track supporters, like Chris Strow and Hans Dunshee, who stated clearly that they only signed on to see if they could land the track in their corner of the state.

    There was never any interest from any legislator that I am aware of who believed that Kitsap was a good track location. So, Eickmeyer had it right from the beginning.

  9. “Not in Kitsap” seems to understand why all the thunder and lightning ended in the best interests of all of us — present and future — who live in Kitsap and Mason counties. The site selected was so grossly inappropriate that all who would support such an assault on person and place should be embarrassed
    for their lack of concern.

  10. The site selected was grossly inappropriate? Really? Have you been out there lately?
    I drove past again yesterday…NASCAR
    would have been perfect.
    The activities beyond car racing would have been a boon for both counties AND citizens.
    Bike racing for example would appeal to kids of all ages and tend to keep them out of trouble…as well as bring revenue to Mason and Kitsap.
    Why is revenue unappealing to some folks?
    Its hard to believe our legislators were so against NASCAR…harder to believe they represented the citizens viewpoint.

    Yes the roads needed improvement to allow for emergency vehicles …and its a moot point ..both counties lost.
    In my opinion. Sharon O’Hara

  11. This article is particularly enlightening of the closed mindedness of so many of our elected officials. Senator Kilmer excluded from those thoughts. It is a shame those that that are elected forget that the actually represent real people. Even if the final result was a rejection of the ISC proposal of legislation I expect my legislators to engage in intelligent discourse of factual information. Their actions make one question their ability to work for the public they serve as opposed to running their own ship. Sadly, there is a real lack of understanding from our contingency that a priveleged position of being a legislature does mean representation, not their own agenda.

  12. After these revelations can anyone tell me that ISC was at the table with folks dealing in good faith?

    It is now verified that they were openly hostile, refused to try and work out a better deal, and were never going to allow this project to move forward under any circumstances.

    I for one am impressed by our electeds (sarcasm). Regardless of how you feel this “could” have been one of the largest deals for Kitsap in County history. But our top notch electeds don’t even consider it for a second, instead they go to “battle stations.”

    That is bush league work!

  13. Those leaders of ours will pay for their underhanded ways when it comes to getting re-elected. South Kitsap is 55% Republican and about the same number won’t vote for them in 2008. I have two labrador retrievers who would do quite well, compared to them.

  14. I would really like to see some of ISC’s emails and communications. If you think our Legislators acted in bad faith, what do you call ISC’s media manipulations, end runs and secret agendas? REMEMBER, Kilmer was there for them, All they had to do was ANSWER HIS QUESTIONS! They never did….

  15. What is disingenuous is asserting emails and other comments were taken out of context when they were rather straightforward. If one is going to adopt a hostile level of advocacy against a potential company looking to locate its business in the region, at least own it versus attempting to spin it into a reasoned and open-minded approach after the fact.

    Misinformation and scare tactics existed on both sides of this endeavour. Some didn’t want the track here no matter what, and some wanted it no matter what. Indeed, ISC had the power to change its offering based upon legitimate concerns, but legislators also had an opportunity to negotiate beyond the level they did. Signs on a door which indicate no one for NASCAR should enter isn’t that level. Nor do NIMBY charges rise to the occasion.

    Stop giving free passes to sides you favour when there is an example in Kilmer which citizens from all sides can respect.

  16. There needs to be repercussion for Geoff Simpson to lie to the public and other legislators to advance his agenda. I’ll be presenting this to Speaker Chopp as evidence of his conduct unbecoming of a Washington State Legislator

  17. Rich,

    I knew you couldn’t resist. I would like a little clarification on what you perceive as media manipulations, end runs, and secret agendas. It all sounds like someone may be embarking on a journey towards Jacob land 🙂

  18. I forgot, the legislature cost us about 4 billion dollars in money that track would have brought into our County.

  19. Well Mr. Bronson, there are parts of this issue that you and I agree on, parts that Jacob and I agree on, heck, if you read Dona’s (sorry about the N) previous post, you’ll see that she agrees that BOTH sides participated in “misinformation and scare tactics”, don’t tell me you’re headed towards El Gordo land! Besides, what’s wrong with a little openness on ISC’s part now that this process is over? What’s wrong with honesty?

  20. End run- Making a deal with Bremerton to annex the site, while pretending to negotiate with the county.
    Media Manipulations- getting positive play on TV, local newspapers and the internets while never addressing the negative impacts or questions that people had.
    Secret Agenda- Well, that’s why it’s called “secret”! But seriously, the agenda was to use other peoples money to pay for risks that shareholders of a publicly traded company are supposed to assume.
    Far fetched? Hardly…. I’d ask Steve to get comments from the local Legislators as to why they were so adamantly opposed to the project. My Senator, Tim Sheldon, reversed course on it after he took a survey of his constituents. Does anyone really think there was a 50-50 split of support for NASCAR? If so, I got some land on Staten Island I could sell you.

  21. Rich,

    At the end of the day, honesty or not ISC is not held to the same standard as our elected officials. I do agree that both sides played a part here but the local electeds set the tone. Once they went adversarial the ISC folks still tried to work with them. But at the same time ISC had to protect themselves because as we all know now there were electeds out to get them.

    I strongly believe that there is more maturity running through the halls of your local middle school and maybe our electeds need to go back for a few days and get some lessons in civility. Except I think Sherry would give teenagers a bad name.

  22. There is a long history of Geoff Simpson being caught red handed lying in order to advance his agenda (IE Sound Politics.com “PDC Expert”)and I am going to be taking this up with Speaker Chopp, Governor Gregoire, Chairman Dwight Pelz, HDCC chair Sam Hunt and Washington State Conservation Voters. His unethical actions are well below the code of conduct of a legislator and elected official in our party.

  23. “Media Manipulations- getting positive play on TV, local newspapers and the internets while never addressing the negative impacts or questions that people had”

    – LEED certified Green
    – $1 Million in offsite land protection
    – Protection of onsite wetlands.
    – 100% capture of storm water runoff
    – Traffic management by the best in the world
    – Public vote
    – Local jurisdiction veto power
    – Commitment to try and run alternative fuel races

    Should I continue?

    “End run- Making a deal with Bremerton to annex the site, while pretending to negotiate with the county”

    Chris Endresen was running ramp shot spreading misinformation every way she could. She, Josh Brown, and the Legislators needed to know that there was another way to get the deal done and to come to the table.

    The point is that no matter whether you believe that the deal was ultimately a good thing or bad, their conduct was ridiculous. They were entrenched in a war they created.

  24. Steve, I was somewhat disappointed in your Sunday article. According to your story NASCAR was a dead deal from the outset. If so, then CHECK and other like organizations really did not need to exist. All of the hundreds of letters and emails sent to our local representatives made no difference in the outcome. Same with the “Back the Track” group. All their time and money went was a waste of time. Per your article the “people” played no role in winning or losing, just spun their collective wheels while the important email flew around Olympia. Sorry I can’t agree with you Steve. I think the voice of the people was heard loud and clear and our elected officials responded by saying NO to NASCAR.

  25. Rich, El Gordo land? It’s a land where government doesn’t tax us into poverty and a land where companies are given a fair shake to live and work in our State. Let’s take a look at Danison Land. That’s where government makes all the decisions on how to spend money. Especially if it’s taxpayers money. Now Tim Botkin and those of you who live in his territory want to spend 32.5 million tax dollars to start with, to develop SKIA and bring jobs into Kitsap County, so we don’t have to take the ferry to get to work. I’ll take my land to yours any day Rich. That’s a land where free enterprise is given a chance to make it. In your land, communism prevails. Where have you seen that form of government succeed Rich?

  26. Steven,

    You are right. All it shows is how C.H.E.C.K. was icing on the cake (but wasn’t necessary) and the “Back the Track” people had a mountain the size of Everest to climb.

    We all knew this was the case. Just now we have concrete evidence.

  27. Bronson,

    That wasn’t the point I was making in my response to Ray. I think CHECK did have a significant impact. Legislators continually referenced how the e-mails against the track far outnumbered those for it. I’m certain CHECK was a large reason.

    The point of my story was to show how the legislators interacted with each other and other government officials to get the outcome they wanted.

    When we did our document request it was for legislator interactions with other government officers. One reason was because the letters from constituents would be so voluminous as to be unworkable. But I also thought it would be interesting to see how the electeds interacted — with each other — on the issue.

  28. Steven,

    I apologize for the misunderstanding. I should have made a new paragraph after “You are right”. I meant you are right that it did not diminish what people did. My point (not putting words in your mouth) was that it just shed light on the situation. CHECK was not in the fight of their lives. The deck was stacked in their favor from the beginning and nothing ISC did was going to change that. It doesn’t take away from the fact that CHECK put forth a valiant effort. But it just wasn’t ever really needed. That opinion was solely mine.

  29. Let me start by saying I in no way condone the things that were said — it certainly wasn’t the kind of thing I’d like to hear from my elected officials. Moreover, I wasn’t for or against NASCAR.

    I’m disappointed at the level of journalism here. After sorting through what must have been thousands of pages of emails, you did nothing but cherry pick quotes to suit your story, free of any context at all. And did we learn anything new? Not really.

    I’m wondering what this story accomplishes, besides reviving interest in a dead blog.

  30. Francis,

    I feel it actually accomplished a great deal. If you followed the process you would have known that all along certain electeds in question were adamant about saying that they were giving ISC a fair shake. They accused the company of acting in bad faith. They said they were listening to constituents on both sides of the aisle.

    They lied to us, and it is extremely important that we found that out.

  31. Bronson,

    You just now figured out that your elected officials lie to you?? I figured that out years ago when I was about twelve (I am over forty now). Politicians tell everyone what they want to hear, true Statesmen do not exist.

    CJG

  32. Thanks to Steve Gardner for his reporting throughout the ISC/NASCAR debate. Steve, you have consistently done the job a true reporter should do and your latest effort sheds some new light on the nature of the debate and the sometimes juvenile antics of some of our legislators. The propensity of a couple of them to say one thing to your face while knowing that the words spoken had no meaning because they had no intention to negotiate in good faith is now known. The goalposts kept moving and ISC finally realized that they could never do enough for some folks.
    ISC/NASCAR suffered death by a thousand cuts.
    What comes next? Will any business thinking of locating their operation to our area look at the treatment ISC recieved and think “no way”? We want business development in our region but we want the “right” kind. Are we so arrogant that we think that businesses are crawling all over the area looking for the right place to land and we are it? The State of Washington in not known for its business friendly policies and one needs to look far and wide to find a business of any significance that has chosen to relocate to our region. The job gets tougher now to find those willing to consider coming here to share the ever growing tax burden we property owners face. Ladies and gentlemen, get out your wallets because someone has to find the dough for library levies, port levies, fire and rescue fundss and repair and improvement of our crubmbling infrastructure and you are the cash machine.
    Throughout the months of wrangling and posturing on the speedway issue we kept hearing the “no state funds for a private, for profit company”. And yet many of those standing on that issue now seem to think that our tax dollars for something like SEED is just what we need. While the SEED project might seem like a novel idea to some, programs like SEED are taking place all over the world. Today, I Googled “Sustainable Energy Research Organizations”, and came away with 5,570,000 hits. SEED is not exactly an exclusive endeavour and the chances of it ever sustaining itself with its own funding is problematic at best. Does anyone think that our $32 million investment will show any return in our lifetime? One of our local legislators intoduced me to the term “evidence based decision making”. Where is the evidence that SEED is worthy of $32 million?
    So now we move on to more process debates and legislating in the margins. It will take a crisis to break this chain of paralysis.
    Permit me a quick note to a truly annoying person. Jason Metcalf, I have known a number of inportant people in my long life and allow me to give you a piece of unsolicited advice. Someone who needs to drop names and trumpet his own self importance, isn’t.

  33. Francis, if you want your journalism in a more professional manner, try the Kitsap Sun’s home page. Personally I like choices and enjoy the more relaxed atmosphere of this blog. Here Steven can talk with us like a community member with his own perspective rather than the more impartial tone of a published journalist. Keep up the good work Steven.

  34. Bronson, you said, “Chris Endresen was running ramp shot…”
    Do you mean pinball? archery? What could this have to do with the race track?

    ISC stopped talking to all three County Commissioners and would only talk to the one who had no questions for them and would go along with their scheme. Then, they tried to bypass the County entirely by dealing with Bremerton.

    My legislators and my County Commissioner paid attention to the voters. The majority of people did not want the track, as proposed, and they were vocal about it. Democracy worked!

  35. Mr. Bronson- Everyone agrees that Derek Kilmer was willing to listen to ISC. He was there for them. All they had to do was answer his questions to his satisfaction and then he could come down either for or against. The common theme with Kilmer and all the other politicians is that ISC never fully answered the questions the locals had. You can argue that ISC bent over backwards, but in light of the one Legislator who maintained a professional attitude not coming out in favor of the proposal speaks volumes. How do you explain Kilmer not endorsing the Bill? It’s was a horrible one and when the locals attempted to make it palatable ISC pulled out. Call Derek and ask him.

  36. I knew of a proposed development ultimately fought down by a neighbor. For good cause, as it turned out.
    The neighbor was even threatened that if the development didn’t go in, a pig farm would.

    Rather than a pig farm, maybe the owner of the NASCAR property would work with people to make some or all of the property into a wild animal refuge set up in a natural setting and offer tours for folks to see animals they would never see otherwise….maybe even save a species or two.
    Sharon O’Hara

  37. The revisionism in these comments is amazing.

    When were you lied to? Pat Lantz and Larry Seaquist were against the NASCAR proposal from the very beginning, and were upfront about it before the elections last fall. Their stance never changed.

  38. Rich,
    Welcome to the “I’ve been called a communist by El Gordo” club. It isn’t very exclusive – you’re member number 41,672. We’re holding our next annual meeting at Qwest Field.

    Dick Davis,
    Wrong. Googling “Sustainable Energy Research Organizations” (plural or singular), results in zero hits. Unless you put quotes around the phrase, Google returns hits on every individual word and combination(s) of words in the phrase.

    Claims that the phrase “Sustainable Energy Research Organizations” is a common one are useless if you didn’t search properly.

  39. Sharon, there is a great place like this in the Pacific Northwest already. It is called Northwest Trek and we go several times a year. Kitsap needs to be unique.

    To truly be successful, Kitsap County needs to grow in ways other than cramped overpriced housing developments and retail jobs. It needs people who are willing to keep an open mind and accept new ideas for both recreation and industry. Right now this county is being strangled by groups of individuals and organizations like CHECK who are trying to enforce their narrow minded vision on the rest of us. It is the nature of the horrible beast they have created to be opposed to as much as they can. We have nothing that makes us special or unique with either recreation or industry. Nothing that entices people want to first visit and then possible relocate here. We are a pass through community for both jobs and fun. The downtown Bremerton revitalization is a great start and I commend Mayor Bozeman for his vision. But it is a small pebble in the greater pond of Kitsap.

    One example of this I am dealing with on a personal level is school enrollment. It has been reported by the Bremerton School Board that enrollment is down 1000 kids in the last several years. They are not going to other districts. Central Kitsap representatives report it is even worse there. This is not a sign that families are beating down the doors to live in Kitsap County. Why? Because it goes back to the fact that we have little to offer in the way of either jobs (other than retail and service) or fun.

    I can understand that our community leadership said no to the raceway proposal. I may not agree or like it, but I understand. What was completely unacceptable from the start was the way in which it was handled. They managed to alienate a huge cross section of the country from ever bringing their tourist dollars here for any reason even non racing related. They also sent a message to the business world that unless you meet our narrow minded, everything for nothing criteria we will litigate against you, slander you, and refuse to negotiate with you until you just go away.

    Last one out, turn out the light please.

  40. Elliot- I’m on the list-twice. El Gordo labeled me so long ago, he’s probably forgotten that he did it. Heck, It’s not even fun being on the list anymore, too many members.

  41. Rich,
    If History is truly written by the “winners” then there is no one to write the true story of why NASCAR left Kitsap and probably Washington state. NO ONE WON in the NASCAR issue. If anything we all lost, in many ways.

    Colleen, you said:

    “Last one out, turn out the light please.”

    Unfortunately that is exactly what CHECK and others want to happen. That way they can have all of the good things about Kitsap to themselves.

  42. Actually, CHECK is championing broad visions for this community. One of which is to build an International Environmental Research Center at Hood Canal that would employ dozens of professionals and offer undergraduate and graduate educational opportunities.

    As far as SEED receiving $32 million, where does that figure come from? I believe the legislature approved $1.1 M for SEED this year – a far cry from $32M.

    If you keep it up Dick Davis, you will turn off more and more people when you want to come begging for school monies.

    As far as alienating tourist dollars, not everyone is a racing fan and those who aren’t would have been turned off by us turning the beautiful, pristine Kitsap into a racing mecca. So, we are saving tourist dollars.

    If you want to leave Colleen, please take the all the annoying race fans with you.

  43. Dear Mr. Kitsap. Is your real name Not In Kitsap or is that one you hide behind?
    If you have something to say to me or any of the rest of the real people who post please give us the courtesy of making yourself known.
    If not, I suggest everyone ignore your posts.
    As for “begging for school monies”, I am quilty and proud of it. I believe in making my community a better place and I will do that every chance I get.

  44. Lou, I realized I made a mistake of not using a big enough crayon to relate to the lower comprehension level of elitist posters like “Not in Kitsap”. My reference regarding the light was directed at potential business prospects who are guaranteed to be humiliated, slandered and turned away by current organizations and leadership here in this county. I have no intention of leaving, but business and entertainment prospects will.

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