A complaint by Dave Kimble to the Washington State Auditor’s Office regarding arrangements between the Port of Manchester and the Manchester Water District has been addressed. But first this important announcement:
The Manchester Community Association will host a forum on two measures that will be on the April 17 ballot. The event is set for 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Manchester Library.
First up on the agenda is discussion of South Kitsap Fire & Rescue’s levy. Voters served by SKFR will be asked to renew a special property tax levy that generates more than 12 percent of the fire district’s annual budget of around $14 million. The six-year levy would replace the current levy lid lift, which expires at the end of 2012.
The MCA also will facilitate discussion of a proposal to decrease terms for Port of Manchester Commissioner from 6 to 4 years. The measure was placed on the ballot by citizen initiative, spearheaded by Kimble. MCA President James Derry says he hopes the discussion will be informative and remain civil.
“As an organization, the MCA does not oppose or support either initiative,” Derry said. “Our goal, in accordance with our mission statement, is to sponsor programs to help educate the residents of Manchester on issues of local importance. We hope to foster public discussion without confrontation or rancor, where neighbors can learn, share opinions and make their own decisions.”
Likely Derry is concerned about civility due to ongoing friction between Kimble and port commissioners. For most of the past year, Kimble has been riding the port on multiple fronts, including the term reduction issue. Kimble asserts the measure is needed to break up what he describes as a good-old-boy network.
Kimble’s complaints to the SAO centered on allegations that the port and the Manchester Water District had violated bidding and small works roster requirements. That allegation was deemed by Port Orchard Audit Manager Brian Taylor to be unfounded.
Taylor did recommend that the port formalize a 2006 agreement it had with the water district for accounting and administrative services, and a verbal agreement that water district staff periodically check on port facilities and conduct minor repair and maintenance, since the port has no staff. Projects that went beyond “usual and ordinary” required action by the port commission.
Taylor met on March 13 with port officials, including the port’s attorney and “one of the commissioners who sits on both the port and water district boards,” as well as the water district manager who serves as the port’s contract administrator. One of Kimble’s beefs is that port commissioners Steve Pedersen and Jim Strode serve on both boards.
Taylor recommended the written and verbal agreements be formalized as an “interlocal” agreement, provided for under the state’s Interlocal Cooperation Act. The port complied and approved the interlocal agreement at its regular meeting March 13. Minutes of the meeting are not yet available on the port’s website. On March 22 the document, signed by both entities, was filed with the Kitsap County Auditor’s office, as required by law.
On March 23, Taylor sent a letter to Kimble indicating the upshot of the investigation. Taylor noted the next regular audit of the port will be in the fall of 2013.
Kimble also claimed another gotcha against the port when he noted last week and reported to the state’s Public Disclosure Commission that the port’s website contained an improper notice against Proposition 1, the term reduction measure. A screen shot Kimble took shows a message on the home page, “The Port of Manchester does not support Proposition 1. Vote NO on shorter commissioner terms.”
State elections laws prohibit the port, or any other public agency, from making a public statement for or against a ballot measure. Strode and the port’s attorney hastened to have the message taken down as soon as Kimble informed them of it. According to Strode, the message was posted by the woman who updates the website. “She just thought she was doing the right thing,” Strode said.
PDC Compliance Officer Kurt Young, to whom Kimble submitted the complaint, asked if, other than the website statement, the port had distributed any other information encouraging a “no’ vote on Prop 1.
Young wrote in email to Kimble Wednesday, “If the answer is no to that question, then staff will be sending an e-mail reminder to the Port of Manchester, reminding them of RCW 42.17A.555 and attaching a link to Interpretation 04-02, Guidelines for Local Government Agencies in Election Campaigns. No additional enforcement action will be taken, since the port took corrective action about the information on their website.”
Here’s a copy of the letter Young of the PDC sent to the port.
Kimble has also submitted reports to the Kitsap County Sheriff’s office alleging that 26 of his campaign signs have been stolen since March 18. Kimble said he believes the theft of election signs is a felony. It is a misdemeanor. KCSO Spokesman Scott Wilson noted the reports, but said there is not enough information about possible suspects for the sheriff’s office to pursue the case. Unfortunately, Wilson said, reports of sign theft are common in the run-up to elections, and like other property thefts, hard to prosecute.