Category Archives: Civil Rights

Kitsap Marriage Alliance responds to Monday’s gay marriage hearing

Brynn writes:

When news broke that Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen, D-Camano Island, would support a Senate bill legalizing same-sex marriage, I was asked by my editors to call our local supporters and opponents of the measure to get a reaction. Haugen’s announcement gives the Senate the votes it needs to pass the measure, which has become the most high-profile issue before the Legislature during this short session.

I was able to reach Marcie Mathis, co-chair of the Kitsap Pride Network, but I had no luck getting in touch with the three members of the Kitsap Marriage Alliance’s leadership team. I left phone messages and emails, but I had already left for the day before one of them got back to me.

Because I want to fairly represent both sides of the issue, I am posting leadership member Chris Moore’s response via email that he sent me on the issue. Moore was in Olympia yesterday for the hearings. He estimated there were around 50 people from the 23rd Legislative District that he knew at the hearing.

Here’s Moore’s email to me:

 

“On behalf of Kitsap Marriage Alliance, I would say that we are disappointed but not surprised. We anticipate that there will be a referendum drive and we will be actively engaged in collecting signatures.”

While in Olympia Moore’s group met with Sen. Christine Rolfes, D-Bainbridge Island, and Rep. Sherry Appleton, D-Poulsbo, to discuss the legislation. Moore said they talked about setting up a meeting with Rolfes and Appleton similar to the one the alliance held Jan. 9 at the Gateway Fellowship church where Rep. Matt Shea, R-Spokane Valley, and other anti-gay marriage advocates spoke about the need to voice opposition against the proposed bills.

During the meeting the legislators would make themselves available to discuss their views and would make themselves available to questions from constituents. Moore said his group will “actively seek to schedule such a meeting for some time after the current session closes.”

When a date has been set, I’ll let you know about it.

Drew Hansen’s floor speech on Martin Luther King, Jr.

We had a story Monday on state Rep. Drew Hansen, D-Bainbridge Island, having written a book on the “I have a dream” speech and his assignment to introduce a House resolution honoring King. Here is the speech Hansen delivered, in which he states he makes the case that King’s losses offer moments as instructive as his victories.

Same-sex marriage gains higher profile with governor’s backing

When I wrote the story last week about Heather Purser, who lobbied to get same-sex marriages licensed and recognized within the Suquamish Tribe, it was done with the idea that the issue could be a big one in the upcoming legislative session. Gov. Chris Gregoire’s decision to put forward her own bill now guarantees it.

As part of the story the interviews included discussions about the possible political realities and addressed questions that were not part of the piece on Heather. A story has its focus, and that one was more about her and her possible upcoming role. This might be a good time to discuss some of those other conversations.

We should start with some of the arguments against expanding marriage rights. Two Republican state legislators’ e-mails arrived in my inbox. State Rep. Matt Shea of Spokane Valley said he was surprised the governor and Democrats were making this an issue when the state was still in a budget crisis. He referenced how people have taken advantage of the state’s domestic partnership rules.

State Sen. Val Stevens of Arlington was more direct about the issue itself:

“Marriage between one man and one woman gives strength to society. Marriage and the family, instituted since the beginning of time, is the cornerstone of our nation and gives stability in our society. Children look to their mother and father to teach them family principles, which gives them a foundation to become contributing members of society.

“Same-sex marriage will erode that foundation. It will undermine the value that is statistically upheld for children being parented by a mother and father.

“Domestic partnership claimed to be the goal of the homosexual community, in order to give them the legal foundation they claimed was needed. However, only one-quarter of one percent of Washington citizens have taken advantage of the domestic partnership legislation passed in 2009. But now they want marriage.

“This is a tactic to divert attention from the emergent issue of the state’s financial crisis.
“The Washington State Constitution protects freedom of conscience and our religious heritage. I will oppose this legislative proposal for the sake of maintaining our stable society.”

That third paragraph was a particular point I addressed with Joshua Friedes, director of marriage equality for Equal Rights Washington. I asked if Washington voters approved the “Everything but Marriage” measure in 2009, don’t gay and lesbian couples already enjoy all the same legal protections that straight couples do. He said it hasn’t worked out that way.

People pressed with legalities and policies and rules understand what “marriage” offers someone, particularly in a crisis situation. They can’t be assumed to understand what rights a “domestic partner” has, he said. The classic example of gay couples not being able to exercise decisions or even visitations in hospitals still exists, he said, even if the law has changed in their favor.

The bigger stumbling blocks are with federal rules, he said. Gay couples don’t get the same benefits straight married couples do when it comes to taxes and Social Security benefits, he said. Providing marriage rights to gay and lesbian couples won’t change that, he said, but it will send a message.

“What’s important is Washington will be making clear for the first time that gay and lesbian families deserve the same rights as other families. That in itself is very important. We will have equal dignity in Washington state as we continue to work for the federal rights and responsibilities,” Friedes said.

And, he continued, the federal government’s Defense of Marriage Act is bound to fall. When it does, Washington gay and lesbian couples would be among the first to benefit if marriage rights are extended.

State Rep. Sen. Christine Rolfes, a Bainbridge Island Democrat, will support a same-sex marriage bill and protections for religious institutions to be sure the churches are not forced into supporting something they are opposed to. I asked if she knew of any ways churches had been harmed by same-sex marriage laws in other places, and she didn’t.

The website for PBS NewsHour show sheds some light. Every expert takes time to illustrate that churches won’t have to marry same-sex couples, which when you’ve read that for the sixth time gets old. There are ways, however, that churches could be affected. Churches that deliver services to the public could be targeted if they’re found to be denying them based on marriages it doesn’t recognize. There are issues of health benefits for employees and hiring practices generally. Another site pointed to a lawsuit in New Jersey in which the owner (a church) of a park site, didn’t want to allow a same-sex marriage ceremony to be performed by someone renting space.

For Friedes I asked the question if they weren’t afraid the same-sex issue wouldn’t have the same impact some thought it had in 2004. Many states had measures they called, “Defense of Marriage” initiatives or ballot items and some thought it helped get George W. Bush re-elected, because it ignited a base on the right that might otherwise have skipped the election. Were that to happen in Washington, would it hurt the chances of Jay Inslee, who supports same-sex marriage, in his run for governor against Rob McKenna, who is against it? Friedes said he thinks public sentiment has changed dramatically in the eight years since that election. And, he said, they’re working to get the measure passed in the Legislature. He has no delusions that it wouldn’t likely end up on the November ballot anyway in the form of a referendum. But, he said, what was a wedge issue for the right has in the last eight years become a wedge issue for the left.

Gay marriage in Suquamish; What’s next and what’s in the past?

In covering the Suquamish same-sex marriage story, there were a few conversations that happened after deadline had passed. The story itself appears to be more of symbolic value than anything practical for now, because we haven’t heard of anyone banging down the doors of the tribe’s offices to actually get married.

Even Heather Purser said she just wants that option should she choose to get married later.

Where the story takes on some importance that could matter later is its place in the same-sex marriage movement generally and specifically among Indian tribes.

Brian Gilley, associate professor of anthropology at Indiana University, said the Suquamish Tribe is probably only the second federally recognized tribe to recognize same-sex marriage.

Some of the news that spread Tuesday was that most tribes don’t address it. That might be true, but a large number of tribes have actually passed measures similar to the federal government’s Defense of Marriage Act. That act doesn’t outright ban same-sex marriage, but it defines marriage as between one man and one woman.

The Suquamish Tribe’s willingness to take a different path than tribes nationally is in line with what tribes in the Pacific Northwest do, Gilley said. “It’s just sort of been their history to be different than the rest of Indian country,” he said.

Part of that, he said, is because the stakes are different for them here than they are in other parts of the country. The culture that surrounds the tribe and the possible consequences are different in Washington than they are, say, in Oklahoma.

The issue was huge within the Cherokee nation when two women received an application for a marriage license and were actually married, but then the tribe denied them the opportunity to actually register their marriage certificate. During that time is when Indian Tribes across the country created their DOMA-like standards.

Gilley figures largely in a story published on the Indian Country Media Network website. The writer says gay couples were not uncommon within tribes until Indians began adopting religious principles taught (or demanded of) them by the white people.

Leonard Forsman, Suquamish tribal chairman, said the issue that reached finality Monday wasn’t that big a deal. He confirmed Purser’s recollection that there was no opposition. That the ordinance change proceeded slowly was more a fact that other issues took precedence, not that there were any real naysayers.

“We had an existing marriage ordinance under code. It had to be updated. We’ve got a lot of ordinances that need updating,” he said.

Forsman said he hasn’t seen much written and there isn’t much oral history about same-sex couples in Suquamish history. That seems to be the case in other tribes, that there isn’t much institutional memory of same-sex couples, but backers of a “two-spirit” movement contend they had their role within the community. That fact that there may not be much tradition or oral passed along could be because tribes didn’t see it as a big deal until their new religious beliefs cast negative light on them.

Forsman said that might be why there isn’t much said in Suquamish history. “I think that tells us that it was not anything that was extremely abnormal or judged in the past,” he said.

One question that remains is whether a marriage of a gay couple will, in fact, be recognized in Washington. The state doesn’t marry same-sex couples, but it recognizes those marriages performed elsewhere. The question then becomes whether Suquamish, in this case, is “elsewhere.” It will take someone actually getting the Suquamish marriage to test that out.

Keep your eyes on Tiananmen Square

If all this government-overthrowing going on in Africa has had you wondering how it all might be playing in China, William J. Dobson writes in the New Republic of one experience he had there recently after he got to his hotel room in Beijing.

“Listening to CNN as I unpacked my suitcase, the anchor interviewed an analyst on the deteriorating situation in Libya. As soon as the anchor asked how Beijing might be viewing events, my television went dark. Roughly 60 seconds later, the TV screen came back, just in time for the anchor to thank the guest for his analysis.”

Stop whatever it is you’re doing right now and read the rest of this piece if you want to feel like you have a heads up on the news of the future.

I think China is on notice.

Should Port Orchard Relinquish its Role in Hearing Land Use Appeals?

The Port Orchard City Council last week heard testimony on a contentious land use issue — should a Gig Harbor advertising company be allowed to put eight billboards within city limits?

The issue grew thorny after the city initially turned down the applications, submitted in batches last spring. James Weaver, director of development, took the most “stringent” interpretation of the city’s code, which is allowed and called for in another part of the code, he said. The billboard company owner appealed to the hearing examiner, and now the case has come before the council.

Like most cases that reach the appeal stage, there are a number of questions in play:
Did Weaver correctly interpret the code? (The city’s hearing examiner says so.)
Should the billboard company’s application be vested under old rules, even though the city has since passed an ordinance banning billboards? (The hearing examiner agrees with the owner here.)
And was the city’s ban on billboards a violation of constitutional rights? (The hearing examiner declined to rule on this question.)

During the hearing, the attorney representing the billboard owner questioned the council’s ability to rule on the case since none of them are attorneys. He railed against the process by which the city countered his appeal, bringing the matter to the council. He called the actions of City Attorney Greg Jacoby and attorney Jennifer Forbes, representing the city, “frivolous” and “in bad faith.” He said the process had gotten unnecessarily drawn out and was wasting taxpayers’ money.

“I see a lot of blank faces here,” William J. Crittenden told the council. “Do you think your money is being well spent?”

Before 2008, the council used to be the first stop (not the second) in hearings on land use issues. The change was made, in part, because of the tremendous amount of council time involved in preparing for and conducting the hearings. The city now uses a hearing examiner for preliminary review of land-use applications. Where open-record public hearings on such issues were formerly held before the city council, the open-record hearing is now held before the hearing examiner. If the hearing examiner’s ruling is challenged, the appeal moves to the city council.

In a work study meeting, Feb. 15, before the billboards hearing, Councilman Rob Putaansuu questioned whether the council should be involved at all, or whether the city should switch to a model as such the one adopted in 2010 by Kitsap County. Appeals that formerly came before the county’s board of commissioners now go directly to Superior Court.

Kitsap County Commissioner Steve Bauer proposed the change, because he said having the board hear appeals created confusion among the public. The board can only rule on whether the hearing examiner has erred. Their ruling does not necessarily reflect the position the board would have taken on a proposed project, Bauer said.

Hearing examiners generally are attorneys, and they are required to have extensive knowledge of land use codes. A city council or board of commissioners, on the other hand, oversees matters on a wide range of topics, meaning they are arguably less well-equipped to navigate the labyrinth of motions, counter-motions, arguments and counter-arguments that make up the appeal process.

Putaansuu suggested as much, and he reminded the council that, although they’ve only heard one other matter since going to the new system, it, too, turned nasty. A proposed birthing center was turned down by the hearing examiner over neighbors’ concerns about traffic (a needed re-zone was denied). The council initially backed the hearing examiner’s decision. They agreed to revisit the proposal, however, as part of a legal settlement with the owners of the center, who took their case to Superior Court and threatened to challenge the city’s comprehensive plan before the Central Puget Sound Growth Management Hearings Board. The city ultimately approved the center.

Jacoby told the council that cities vary in their methods for hearing appeals. Appeals in Gig Harbor and Fife go straight to Superior Court. The Poulsbo City Council, like Port Orchard, hears appeals.

“It’s sort of an issue of how much control the council wants to have over the process,” Jacoby said. “There’s no right answer, but we can certainly change it.”

The council could appeal any ruling of the superior court with which they disagree, Jacoby said.

Most of the council said they would support a resolution switching the process up. Councilman John Clauson said he could go either way.

As for Crittenden’s criticism of the process, the council sat in shock as he bad-mouthed the city up one side and down the other, particularly Jacoby.

“I’ve been treated like crap by your city attorney for six months,” Crittenden said.

Mayor Lary Coppola challenged Crittenden’s “rudeness.” “He’s acting like a spoiled child,” said the mayor.

Shortly afterward, Coppola banged his gavel and cut short Crittenden’s testimony. “That’s over. We’re done,” Coppola said angrily.

When Crittenden continued his tirade, Coppola got up and walked out of the hearing. (The mayor does not rule on an appeal, only the council, so his absence did not delay proceedings.) He later said he felt he had to excuse himself in order not to say something inappropriate to Crittenden.

Councilwoman Carolyn Powers, later in the hearing, advised Crittenden that he would present a more convincing argument “if you would spend your time talking about the particular questions that are pertinent to this whole case as opposed to talking about our counselors spending a lot of money and time … Can you do that?”

“If my anger has spilled over on you, I apologize,” said Crittenden, who remained angry with Jacoby, Forbes and the process in general.

If nothing else, I guess, the change in procedure would spare the council similar tongue-lashings in the future.

Heads Up on the Agenda

MONDAY
Port Orchard
7 p.m.: The Kitsap County Board of Commissioners will meet at the county administration building. Notable on the agenda: The board will honor local civil rights pioneer Lillian Walker, whose memories are featured as part of The Legacy Project, an oral history program established by the Office of Secretary of State in 2008. Also on the agenda, the board will consider resolutions:
* establishing an Energy Conservation Committee to develop and implement a comprehensive energy efficiency and conservation plan for Kitsap County.
* approving the purchase and sale agreement for the Harborside Condominium Unit T-102.
* freezing salary rates of elected officials and providing for self-pay of health care premiums.
* designating Kitsap County as a recovery zone for purposes of issuing recovery zone economic development bonds under the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

TUESDAY
Port Orchard
7 p.m.: The city council will consider Ordinance No. 019-10, Approving the Annexation Request for Sidney Glen, File No. A-24-10.

WEDNESDAY
Bremerton
5 p.m.: The Bremerton City Council will hold a study session and discuss a request from the city engineer to apply for an Economic Development District.

A Civil Rights Clam Bake

The news about the kid in Gig Harbor who lit up a joint following a plea for pot legalization didn’t strike as too much at first. But then I heard a talk show host talking about it. The host, I believe, said the high school junior’s stunt was stupid, but allowed that some might see it as a brave act of civil disobedience.

Well that got me thinking, having recently rewatched Gandhi and also being near the finish line of Taylor Branch’s book Parting the Waters: America in the King Years 1954-1963.

Both the film and the book are magnificent, but I have a hard time equating the independence of India and the civil rights movement with the criminalization of marijuana. Nonetheless, given the long history of individual events that had negative or negligible impact on the eventual outcome, one could make the case that in the effort to decriminalize pot, the 17-year-old’s action could one day be a paragraph in the long story of the legalize pot story.

There is some credence to the notion that the drugs we allow to intoxicate us are legal because all the cool people were using them back in the day, while the ones that are illegal were being used by those considered loathsome by the people making the laws. So the kid was at least making a logical argument.

Furthermore, read a few sentences from the News Tribune story I linked to at the top and you could take the same comments and put them in a different context and you’d have what police were saying in the late 1950s and 1960s.

Pierce County sheriff’s spokesman Ed Troyer said, “If people want that law changed, they need to go about it the right way.”

I don’t have the book in front of me, but civil rights activists were also seen as “lawbreakers.”

Then comes the comment from the story that makes me come around to thinking that one day this event could be at least a footnote in the history of the marijuana movement.

He did admit, though, that the student’s action will prompt discussion.

“It sure will probably bring a lot of attention to the issue,” Troyer said.

Maybe we’ll see a day when people start having “smoke-ins.” They’d have to find someone’s house to hold it in, because it’s tough to find a place to smoke anything legally anymore. Then they’d probably want to advertise it, to make sure the police show up and arrest people. Then they can have marches.

Even then I think people will say, “Really? You’re marching for that?”

The other place where Tuesday’s demonstration fails goes back to civil rights leaders who were criticized when the kids in Birmingham marched and got themselves jailed in massive numbers. In the larger context of the bigger cause, though, it was a minor point, especially when the Birmingham police responded with fire hoses and dogs. The Children’s Miracle turned out to be a major turning point in the movement.

I wouldn’t predict the same thing for the pro-pot crowd. This protester was 17, nearly an adult. Kids getting wasted and then getting jailed is never going to be a solid sell. If you’re going to try to get the rest of America on your side, I suggest you not involve the kids.

And don’t smoke where anyone not wanting a buzz could get a second-hand high. Keep the smoke inside, as much of a clam bake as you can.

Governor to Sign Domestic Partner Bills

We offered earlier that the next step in what could be a November ballot initiative is the governor’s decision on whether to sign the legislation.

On Friday her office sent a press release headlined that she will “sign” three bills dealing with domestic partnerships.

One bill essentially gives registered domestic partners everything but the right to call their partnership “marriage.” The other two deal with retirement issues for partners.

Following is a portion of the governor’s press release.
Continue reading

Married to the Word ‘Marriage’

The e-mails I’m not getting make me wonder if all the hubbub really is as simple as being about a single word:

Marriage.

The Washington Secretary of State’s office sent notice that the governor plans to “take action” on Senate Bill 5688 on Monday. The legislation gives same-sex couples registered with the state in a domestic partnership every legal right and responsibility married couples have, except for one. They can’t call it “marriage.” That’s why the bill was called “everything but marriage.”

I have signed up for e-mail alerts from those for and against same-sex marriage. Last week I received notices about efforts in Washington, D.C., New Hampshire and Maine, in addition to a hotel boycott in California and the reaction to the beauty pageant contestant who said in her country marriage is between a man and a woman, no offense.

This was during the week when opponents of same-sex marriage filed a referendum against the “everything but marriage” law the Washington Legislature approved. There has been nothing so far. In fact, there are those who would normally be against same-sex unions who are choosing to not participate in this battle.

Here’s the fifth reason why, from Pastor Joe Fuiten:

” . . . if we make a referendum effort and fail, the other side will conclude the public is with them on this issue. That will embolden the other side to take the final step of marriage in the next session. I think we can win on the marriage issue but if we deplete our capital of money and goodwill in a failed referendum, we will not have the strength to win the marriage battle.”

There is some friendly pushback against that argument from Larry Stickney from the Washington Values Alliance:

“A Referendum to roll back SB 5688 (which grants full spousal rights for homosexual couples in everything but the name) will keep the law from going into effect and put the measure in front of the voters in November. If we wait, the new law goes into effect in June and the Defense of Marriage Act will be challenged in the courts and likely overturned this same time next year. We have no time to waste, we have no other recourse, they are inside the wire . . .”

In other comments the reason the Defense of Marriage Act would be challenged would be because in Washington we would be recognizing relationships that look like marriage. So legally what would be the point of not calling it by that name? Perhaps the key here is that it would be challenged in the courts, not by crafting new laws in the Legislature or by voter initiative.

What is now being referred to as Referendum 71 will not become official until the governor signs the bill as is. If she vetoes any part of it, there would need to be a new filing.

We did get a press release from the local Catholics in the announcement that the Knights of Columbus Bremerton Council endorsed the referendum. Maybe I’m jumping the gun by interpreting the early quiet as disinterest. Perhaps the governor’s signing will mark the launch of a half-year debate on the state’s recognition of committed relationships between people of the same sex.

For now, though, it feels like as long as you don’t call it marriage, you’re not going to get much opposition.

Some History on ‘Everything but Marriage’

We have the AP story on the referendum filed to overturn the “Everything but Marriage” bill passed during this year’s legislative session.

In 2006 Tim Eyman was first to the altar Secretary of State’s office with a referendum to undo the original legislation that included “sexual preference” in the state’s anti-discrimination laws. He was joined later by religious groups, but they and Eyman did not end on good terms and did not get enough signatures to get anything on the ballot.

In 2007 the Legislature created rights for domestic partnerships. That bill put into law the rights of partners in same-sex marriages in relation to probate, health care and other issues. No one petitioned to challenge that law.

Those rights were expanded in 2008. No challenge.

2009’s legislation, Senate Bill 5688, attempts “for all purposes under state law, state registered domestic
partners shall be treated the same as married spouses,” according to the House bill report.

I’ve included after the jump the copy of the summary of testimony in the committees that held hearings on this year’s bill.
Continue reading

KIRO Found A Felon Who Votes

Actually, KIRO said it found thousands.

An exclusive KIRO Team 7 Investigation discovers the state will send ballots to thousands of convicted felons in the next week, even though many can’t legally vote.

The Secretary of State’s responded, saying its ongoing work to purge ineligible voters continues, but that the data KIRO has is flawed. Says state Elections Director Nick Handy:

“The KIRO data stretches back to the 1800s and contains no information about whether voting rights have been restored,” he said. “Most of the cases involve files that have already been closed by the Department of Corrections.
“There is no definitive list of people who are ineligible to vote and we not simply revoke registrations based on speculative data or mere statistics. The government must have real evidence before we go cancelling a person’s registration. To do otherwise would violate citizens’ civil rights.”

Read the KIRO story here.

Read the Secretary of State’s office response here.

Protesters Get Lampooned

On Sept. 20 there was a march in Port Angeles in protest of the U.S. Border Patrol’s increased presence and activity in this area.

According to Paul Richmond, an attorney who also ran against Norm Dicks as a Democrat and lost in the primary, Border Patrol agents were seen videotaping the event. Richmond said an agent later confirmed at a community meeting that they had recorded the march. Richmond said he filed a Freedom of Information Act request for copies of the video and photos taken.

This morning Richmond sent a follow-up e-mail, saying video footage of the protest had been posted on YouTube. Richmond wrote that the footage is from the agent. I’ve contacted him asking how he might know that. The video itself is designed to mock those in the march. And it’s pretty clear by watching it that some of the footage is not from the Port Angeles event at all. Richmond wrote:

The agent appears to have taken the footage they shot while on duty, intermixed it with some homo-phobic video from a gay pride event, and added some strange signs to the demonstrators, through photoshop or a similar program.

This would simply be tacky were it not done by a federal agent. Is this illustrative of the respect they have for the “war on terror” and our tax dollars?

Again, I don’t know that the footage in the video was shot by the agent. Here’s the video:

Dismiss Richmond and others as “dingbats” as the videographer does, but it’s pretty apparent from the comments after the story linked above that many in this area do not take a kind view to the checkpoints and other border patrol activities that having six times as many officers allows.

After leading in with the Alan Parsons Project music, the soundtrack shifts to “Yakety Sax,” which most of you will know from Benny Hill. There are other YouTube videos in which “Yakety Sax” is used as an experiment to prove that putting that as the soundtrack makes anything, and I mean anything, funny. Some don’t agree. Whoever did post the video, by the way, has another video of cats fighting on his porch. I thought that one was pretty funny, probably because “Kung Fu Fighting” was the music behind it..

Poulsbo Activist Quits State Post After Investigation, Says He Was Targeted Because He’s Gay

The Olympian has a report on the resignation of Poulsbo human rights activist Jerry Hebert from the state’s Human Rights Commission. He resigned after an investigation showed he spent $4,764 on a state-issued credit card. Of that, an audit determined $939 was reimbursable and a proper use of the card. The auditors reported that Hebert exceeded credit limits and didn’t make payments on time.

Hebert, who disputed the findings, also was found to use rental cars without first clearing it with the commission’s chairman, under terms of a 2006 policy. The auditors’ 13-page report also says he had multiple vehicles checked out the same day, and that he was unwilling to meet a second time with auditors to explain.

“I just think the totality of the whistleblower report was such that it was the right thing to do,” said Marty Brown, Gregoire’s legislative director, who asked Hebert to step down and received his resignation Aug. 6.

Hebert argued:

“The entire investigation was slanted …” Hebert said, adding: “All the expenditures on my credit card were paid out of my own pocket, and I did not ask for reimbursement.”

He told auditors he spent close to $7,000 on food and other focus-group expenses, “which he considered a ‘charitable donation’ ” to the state that furthered the commission’s work.

Hebert said no taxpayer dollars were spent improperly and also claimed he did not know the rules for credit-card use.

Hebert also contended that he was targeted because he is an openly gay member of the five-person commission.

Mentoring

In Sunday’s print edition we have two stories that deal with diversity, in particularly the mentoring that some kids get when they find themselves in danger of not graduating from high school.

It’s a critical crossroads. Those who don’t graduate end up in one of three places, according to mentor Robert Boddie:

1. Homeless
2. In jail
3. Dead

To get a taste of what you’ll read Sunday, listen to a snippet from my conversations with Boddie and two Central Kitsap High School students he has mentored.