Chairwoman of PDC to speak at money and politics forum

Katrina Asay, chairwoman of the Washington State Public Disclosure Commission, will be part of a panel of speakers on the topic of money and politics at a forum hosted by the League of Women Voters of Kitsap Thursday in Poulsbo.

The panel will speak on how money influences state, local and national elections, especially since the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision in 2010.

The Public Disclosure Commission oversees campaign finance in state and local elections, hosting a public database of campaign contributions and expenditures, including sources of funding for and against candidates and ballot measures.

Campaign finance was a hot topic in Port Orchard elections during the 2016 election season.

Asay, a former member of the state House of Representatives and former mayor of Milton in Pierce County, will be joined by PDC spokeswoman Lori Anderson.

Also on the panel is Dean Nielsen, principal of Cerillion N4 Partners, a political consulting firm, and Serena Larkin, a senior communications associate with Sightline Institute. She was a member of the communications team for the Honest Elections Seattle campaign.

The league promises “a lively discussion about a timely issue affecting political campaigns at all levels.”

The forum will be from 6:30 to 9 p.m. at Poulsbo City Hall, 200 NE Moe St.

It will be recorded for future broadcast by BKAT, Comcast Ch. 12 and WAVE Broadband, Ch. 3.

For information, visit, or e-mail Kim Abel at

From Poulsbo to Paris: Brenda Prowse says Parisians ‘not afraid to celebrate life’


Josh Farley writes: 

Like many of us, Brenda Prowse and her husband, Hugh, spent Friday night watching the harrowing coverage of a series of terror attacks that killed more than 120 people in Paris.

But Prowse happened to be watching it from her apartment near the Eiffel Tower.

The former Poulsbo realtor has lived in Paris since January 2013. As gunmen and suicide bombers carried out the worst violence in Paris since World War II, she arrived at their apartment for the evening in the 7th arrondissement not knowing it was happening.

“We were unaware of the horror last night until we returned from dinner and started receiving text messages from friends,” she told me.

They watched the news until almost 4 a.m. Saturday. Only days earlier, they had gone to a bar near Place de la Republique, where two of the shootings occurred. While it feels close, in some ways, it also feels distant, this being Paris, she said.

“Three miles is not that far away but in a city this densely populated it is almost another world,” she said.

When they awoke Saturday, she went for a run. Their apartment manager lit a candle in the foyer. And while the streets were a little quieter, she said people were still going about their business.

“Buses, metro, taxis were all operating this morning,” she said, adding a visiting friend took the train to London without incident. “Cafes were serving lunch.”

Even as the memorials grow around the city, it seems there’s an incredible resiliency in the City of Light, though its iconic Eiffel Tower is dark for the moment. 

“Parisians are out and about today and though wary, are not afraid to celebrate life,” she told me.

BSD beefs up its legal fund in light of Kennedy issue

After our story Sunday on how Bremerton School District and Joe Kennedy are handling legal costs related to their dispute over whether Kennedy has the right to pray on the field after games, district spokeswoman Patty Glaser gave me some updated information.

As mentioned in the story, when and if Kennedy sues the district, the matter will be turned over to BSD’s insurance risk pool. The district’s annual premium for the risk pool (School Insurance Association of Washington) is $579,536, Glaser said in an email Monday.

Glaser and others took me to task for implying in the original story that legal posturing between Kennedy and the district short of a suit is not directly impacting the district’s budget and diverting money that would otherwise go to the classroom.

On Monday, I updated the story to clarify that legal costs the district has incurred so far in its dispute with Kennedy are covered by a legal fund that is part of the general fund, and so potentially have a direct impact on the classroom.

Last week, when I spoke with Glaser and Superintendent Aaron Leavell, they said the legal fund had been adequate so far to cover legal counsel related to the Kennedy issue. On Monday Glaser said that the dispute arose at the start of the district’s fiscal year and the fund could fall short, requiring the district to tap other sources. Furthermore, money in the legal fund is money that, were it not needed, could be diverted back to the classroom, she added.

On Monday afternoon, Glaser got back to me with updated legal costs in October (which were not available for the story Sunday). The district in October incurred $10,512 in legal costs. The legal bill in September, when the issue arose, was $6,600. The district has increased the amount in its legal fund from $140,000 to $190,000 “in anticipation of legal costs for JK.”

“We have not calculated the staff time diverted to this matter,” Glaser said in answer to a question raised by several people who read the story.

Matthes apologizes to city for tussle with opponents, stands by his interpretation of campaign finance law

Port Orchard Mayor Tim Matthes was contrite Monday following an altercation Friday over campaign finance records that involved Matthes, running for re-election, former mayor Lary Coppola, Teresa Osinski, executive vice president of the Home Builders Association of Kitsap County, and others.

Osinski’s request to review Matthes’ campaign contributions and expenditures, as allowed by law, devolved into a tug-of-war between Matthes and Osinski over the the folder containing the records. In an audio recording by Matthes’ supporter Robert Parker, there are sounds of scuffling and broken glass shortly before an abrupt end to the meeting, held at the Bremerton Bar & Grill.

“I apologize that this is reflecting poorly on the city,” said Matthes who stressed he was acting in his capacity as a candidate not as mayor at the meeting. “I apologize to city residents and to my supporters, too. I let them down, and myself too, by allowing this to get out of hand.”

The meeting, already tense in tone, went south after Coppola arrived, and Matthes told Osinski he would not show her the records while Coppola was present. Coppola, who lost the 2011 election to Matthes by five votes after a contentious campaign, is a member of the HBA’s board and was there as a witness to the proceedings, Osinski said.

Osinski said Matthes at one point “lunged across the table” reaching for the documents, causing and injury to her hand. Parker said it wasn’t a lunge and that Osinski appeared the aggressor. Osinski reported her hand hurt after the incident. Matthes got a paper cut.

Coppola and Linda Simpson, a Bremerton resident there on behalf of Matthes, both told Bremerton police that Coppola tried to take a video of the altercation with his cell phone and Simpson tried to block him. Simpson and Parker say Coppola at one point pushed Simpson. Coppola did not respond to requests for comment on Friday. The audio indicates a verbal confrontation between the two of them. See the partial transcript from the audio recording at the height of the confrontation, below.

“This was a candidate Tim thing. I was not representing the city or city staff,” said Matthes. “It saddens me that political stuff gets this bad. Sometimes the rhetoric, the viciousness just gets out of control. I think this is prime example of things getting out of control. I apologize for my part.”

Matthes raised and spent under $5,000 on his campaign and opted for “mini-reporting” of his campaign spending. The law allows people to inspect mini-reporting records within eight days of the election, and Osinski had an appointment to do so.

Both Matthes and his supporters say a revision to state law (RCW 42.17A.235) put them within their rights to bar Coppola from the meeting and to end the meeting when he wouldn’t leave. However, a spokeswoman from the state’s Public Disclosure Commission and a local legislator who co-sponsored the bill that effected the change say the new law doesn’t speak to the presence of witnesses.

HB 1819 adds to the RCW the requirement, “A person wishing to inspect the books of account must provide the treasurer with his or her telephone number and must provide photo identification prior to inspecting the books of account. A treasurer may refuse to show the books of account to any person who does not make an appointment or provide the required identification.”

Michelle Caldier, R-Port Orchard, a co-sponsor of the bill, said the intent of the legislation is to impose requirements on the person asking to look at the records, not to prevent people coming along to watch the proceedings. That also was the interpretation of Lori Anderson, PDC spokeswoman.

“I don’t know that that change necessarily prevents someone from accompanying” the person inspecting the records, Anderson said. In the PDC’s view, Coppola’s presence was irrelevant to the role of the PDC, which is to ensure the candidate’s compliance in sharing campaign finance records, Anderson said. “They have the burden of proof to whoever wants to see them.”

Matthes’ group asserts the last sentence refers to people who accompany those requesting to see the records. Simpson said Coppola was close enough to Osinski to be able to see Matthes’ campaign ledger. Matthes said, “When you’re in a room like we were, if you’re witnessing it or in the room where it’s being discussed, I believe it’s the same thing as inspecting.”

Anderson acknowledged that the recent dust-up at the Bremerton Bar & Grill exposes a gray area of the new law. “You’ve brought up a situation that the PDC hadn’t thought about, and maybe we need to do some rule making around if other people come they need to be announced.”

Simpson said she contacted the PDC before the meeting so they would be aware of the rules. Nothing in there speaks to witnesses, she said.

Parker and Simpson argue that it was a private meeting, so Coppola shouldn’t have attended. Osinski said she was not made aware that Matthes would have other people with him.

Matthes on Monday said he has raised $1,600 in campaign contributions (other than funds provided by himself to his campaign). He has spent $2,889.30

Partial transcript of audio recording by Robert Parker on Oct. 30 of a meeting between Teresa Osinski of the HBA and Tim Matthes, cadidate for Port Orchard Mayor, for the purpose of Osinski viewing Matthes’ campaign finance records, as allowed by law.

Matthes to Osinski: “I’ll be more than happy to show you these records … if you just follow the prescribed law, you can see them.”

Matthes to Coppola: “I’d ask you now to wait in the outside area.”

Coppola: “I’m not going anywhere.”

Matthes: “OK, that pretty much ends this.”

Osinski: No, it doesn’t, I have an appointment and I’m going to look at your books.”

Matthes: “No you’re not. Not as long as he’s (Coppola) sitting here. As long as he’s sitting here, you’re not going to look …”

Osinski: “(Coppola) doesn’t need to look at them. I do.”

Matthes: “Would you give the books up?” (sounds of scuffling)

“Osinski: “I have the book.” (more sounds of scuffling)

Matthew: “No you don’t have the books.” (glasses breaking) “No you don’t have the books. Now you don’t have the books.”

Osiniski: “Give me my book.”

Other person: “It’s not your book.”

Osinski: “I have a book under there. Give it to me.”

Simpson: “Don’t touch me. Don’t touch me.”

Coppola: “Don’t you touch me.”

Simpson: “I didn’t, you touched me.”

Coppola: “I haven’t touched you.”

Matthes: “Under these circumstances I’d say you all need to be out.”

Matthes, citing RCW 42.17A.235, told Osinski he’d show her the records when Coppola left.

BHS JV game cancellation not related to prayer issue, school officials say

Monday’s Bremerton High School JV game at Centralia was canceled Sunday, but it had nothing to do with the school prayer issue, staff from both schools say.

BHS JV coach Joe Kennedy, an assistant coach for the varsity team, is embroiled in a legal battle with the district over his right to pray after games.

BSD officials, including head football coach Nate Gillam, said the game was cancelled because the Centralia team had a number of injuries and could not field a team.

Chamberlain, the Centralia athletic director, said that was partly true, although his team would have been ready to play. There was, Chamberlain said, a miscommunication among himself, his coaches and Bremerton’s coaching staff.

In days leading up to the BHS homecoming game, Chamberlain and his coaches agreed to touch base on Monday’s JV game before the weekend. The Centralia JV’s quarterback had had a concussion, and the previous week’s game was cancelled.

Chamberlain was out of town and didn’t speak with the coaches before they headed to Bremerton. At the game, the Bremerton coaches heard about the injuries, and on Sunday BHS athletic director Jeff Barton emailed Chamberlain calling the game off.

“I talked (with) a couple of your coaches Friday night about Monday’s JV game,” Barton said. “They stated that they would have to piece-meal a team for a JV game on Monday. After considering this and where we are at this time, I feel it is in the best interest of our program and possibly yours that we cancel Monday’s JV game.”

Chamberlain notified Kennedy by email late Sunday that the game was cancelled. On Monday, he said, he spoke with his coaches and saw how the decision had evolved.

“There might have been some misunderstanding,” Chamberlain said. “It was kind of a mix of both teams saying maybe this isn’t the best for everybody. … They didn’t say anything about coach Kennedy. That was never mentioned.”

Early Monday, after Kennedy opened the cancellation email from Chamberlain, he emailed back, “Bummer we couldn’t play today. Just wanted to say that your Team and Coaches are incredible!”

“Us to (too),” Chamberlain replied, citing the email from Barton. “We were ready to play.”

North Kitsap Fire receives new heart monitors

North Kitsap Fire and Rescue loads one of the new heart monitors into a medic unit Tuesday.
North Kitsap Fire and Rescue loads one of the new heart monitors into a medic unit Tuesday.

KINGSTON — Harrison Medical Center Foundation publicly launched part of a $1 million project to improve cardiac arrest survival rates in Kitsap County as it delivered to updated heart monitors to North Kitsap Fire and Rescue on Tuesday.

The two monitors, worth about $40,000 each, allow emergency responders to better view heart rates while CPR is in progress, said Steve Engel, with North Kitsap Fire and Rescue.

NKFR_heart-monitorThe monitors also send heart readings directly to Harrison Medical Center to see if patients require surgery for blocked heart arteries.

The hospital began receiving heart readings from emergency responders at a scene in 2014, although not all area fire authorities have monitors capable of sending readings.

South Kitsap and North Mason do not have the technology, according to Kari Driskell with the hospital foundation.

The foundation’s goal is to supply five monitors to South Kitsap and North Mason. A grant for one monitor in South Kitsap has been secured, Driskell said.

The Suquamish Tribe donated the funds needed for North Kitsap’s two monitors, although fundraising continues for a third one in North Kitsap.

Bremerton, Poulsbo and Bainbridge Island already have updated heart monitors.

The foundation’s $1 million project is to supply each of the county’s fire agencies with updated heart monitors and CPR machines, as well as launch a CPR smartphone app.

The app, called PulsePoint, aims to alert those who know CPR when they are in the proximity of someone experiencing cardiac arrest in a public location.

PulsePoint also would notify users where the closest automatic external defibrillator, or AED, is.

The CPR machines provide nearly-perfect CPR at the proper speed and depth — 100 compressions a minute at a depth of 2 inches — and can perform accurate chest compression while a patient is in an ambulance.

Officials from North Kitsap Fire, the Suquamish Tribe and the Harrison Medical Center Foundation at the North Kitsap Fire headquarters Tuesday.

Myhre’s becomes a campaign issue

Flames of speculation about Mansour Samadpour’s political leanings and plans for the Myhre’s building were fanned by the recent circulation on social media of a Sept. 8 memorandum from the city’s code enforcement officer, Doug Price, to Development Director Nick Bond.

In the document, posted on Facebook on Oct. 4 by South Kitsap resident Robert Parker, Price discussed an inspection of the building that was made in early September, citing safety issues including water damage to the underside of the deck and the possibility pieces of the deck could fall on pedestrians.

Price quoted Don Ryan, who was then acting as property manager for Samadpour, as saying new property managers would take care of the safety hazards right away. “As to the long-term situation, he said the owner is waiting and hoping for a change in mayor, council members and comp (comprehensive) plan, to support construction on 6-8 stories; otherwise it is not cost-effective to repair/rebuild,” Price has Don Ryan saying.

There are two topics of concern in comment threads on Parker’s post and others where the memo is cited and shared, including an Oct. 4 post on the South Kitsap Politics page by Marcus Lane, running against incumbent Cindy Lucarelli for city council. The first topic is, what can or should be done about dilapidated buildings downtown? The second is speculation that candidates who have received campaign funding from the Homebuilders Association of Kitsap County and realtors’ organizations are catering to special interests of these groups and developers in general.

A subtopic is whether Samdadpour wants to built higher than the current code allows: up to three stories on the (north) water side of Bay Street and up to five stories on the south side of Bay. Doing so would require an extensive public process to change the code.

Neither Samadpour nor representatives of his company Abadan Holdings have been willing to comment for news articles about plans for Myhre’s and rest of the 700 block, which he owns along with other downtown properties.

Robert Baglio of the BJC Group, a commercial contractor in South Kitsap, has worked with Abadan Holdings before and confirmed that Samadpour’s immediate plans are to make a cosmetic fix to the exterior of the building.

Baglio was contacted by Samadpour about three weeks ago about the code issues and Samadpour’s interim plans. According to Baglio, Abadan Holdings will work within the parameters of a plan filed with the city by the previous owners, which did not include a change in height, and Abadan will not address the interior of the building.

Baglio said he doesn’t know Samadpour’s ultimate plans for Myhre’s. His understanding is that the cosmetic fix is both for general purposes and the possibility of re-selling the building.

Samadpour met this summer with mayoral candidate Rob Putaansuu, and council candidates Shawn Cucciardi and Clancy Donlin, according to the candidates. A few other people, including Don Ryan, attended the informal meeting at McCormick Woods Clubhouse, where Cucciardi is the general manager.

“It was more of a meet and greet,” said Putaansuu. “There was nothing substantive in the discussion.”

“It was just an exchange of ideas,” said Donlin. “Everybody threw around ideas, and there was no conclusion.”

The subject of the meeting was “how can we bring business to Port Orchard?” Donlin said.

Samadpour was aware of the election, but politics were not discussed, according to Putaansuu.

There was no mention of specific building heights, all three candidates recall. Neither Putaansuu nor Cucciardi remember any talk of density. Donlin, however, remembers Samadpour talking about the cost to build on the water side of Bay Street and touching on the topic of “adjustment” to density and height allowed there.

If improvements to buildings aren’t penciling out, as the saying goes, developers, not Samadpour, would be the most likely people to say why, according to Putaansuu.

Samadpour received no pledges from any individual at the meeting or the group as a whole about possible changes to city building code, the candidates say.

“There were no agreements made,” said Putaansuu. “Obviously when the time comes and we get recommendations, there’s going to need to be a public process to make sure everybody’s involved, and that’s going to be taking testimony from everybody in the community.”

Any proposed changes to zoning, density or allowed building height would be subject to review by the planning commission, the city council and the public.

Establishing current rules for the “downtown overlay district,” including building heights, was a contentious and drawn out process, lasting about two years and involving a great deal of public testimony and debate.

“I just think the cart is so far ahead of the horse,” said Cucciardi of the social media uproar over the memo.

The candidates describe Samadpour, a world renowned microbiologist, as a pleasant but busy man who owns a great numbers of properties far and wide. His reputation among some as callous and scheming is undeserved, Donlin said. “He’s not the guy who sits up in the city hall clock tower saying, ‘How can I take over the city?'”

According to Donlin, one of Samadpour’s rough sketch ideas for downtown was a branch of Olympic College, which would draw young people to the area.

Donlin takes exception to suggestions that he and the other candidates are in collusion about development in downtown. “We’re not getting together and plotting this thing. We just happen to think alike,” he said. “Nobody’s in anybody’s pocket.”

Putaansuu feels justified in meeting with Samadpour this summer and in reaching out to him by phone on Sept. 9 to discuss a pending code enforcement action on Myhre’s that was brought up at a city council meeting the night before. Putaansuu at the time had no knowledge of the memo from Price to Bond.

“I left that meeting and I thought nobody’s reached out to this guy,” he said. “He was apologetic that this had fallen through the crack. He doesn’t live in our community, so I could see how that would happen. It’s unfortunate, but I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt.”

Mayor Tim Matthes has asked his staff to draft a derelict building ordinance, which would address buildings like Myhre’s. Matthes has criticized Putaansuu’s outreach, saying it was out of line and a blurring of roles.

Putaansuu disagrees. “Meeting with property owners, business owners, citizens, it’s part of my job as a city council person. It would be part of my job as mayor to engage individual people,” he said.

Parker said he hadn’t been fishing for the memo but stumbled on it as part of a public records request he made regarding code enforcement in general. When he saw Ryan’s speculation about Samadpour’s plans and comments on the outcome of the election he felt compelled to share it.

“I believe it was politically motivated, and I’m disappointed,” Putaansu said.

Campaign finance reports through the Washington State Public Disclosure Commission show that Putaansuu and Cucciardi have received contributions from the Affordable Housing Council of Kitsap County (the HBA’s PAC) and from the Washington Association of Realtors PAC. The National Association of Realtors has made independent expenditures on behalf of both their campaigns.

The National Realtors also are supporting John Clauson through indirect expenditures, and he has received direct contributions from the HBA’s PAC and the Washington Realtors. Clauson was not at the meeting with Samdadpour, both he and Putaansuu attest.

The National Association of Realtors did not support Donlin.

Details of direct contributions to Donlin’s campaign are not available at this time, since he is raising less than $5,000 and eligible for mini-reporting. Anyone wishing to view the records may do so by making and appointment with Donlin within eight days of the election.

A recent mailer by the National Association of Realtors supporting Putaansuu seems proof that the Chicago-based group is abiding by the regulation that they can’t coordinate with the candidate or his campaign. The mailer shows the home of a Port Orchard couple well-known for their opposition of the city’s proposed Bay Street Pedestrian Pathway. Not shown, on the other side of the home, is a sign supporting Putaansuu’s opponent Matthes.

And one more footnote: Cindy Lucarelli, who in 2009 ran against incumbent John Clauson Carolyn Powers, was one of the outspoken opponents of additional height being proposed under the downtown overlay district plan at that time. Addendum Oct. 11: My apologies. In my original post, I neglected to say the National Association of Realtors also made independent expenditures on behalf of Lucarelli.

This blog post was corrected on Oct. 15 to correctly show that Cindy Lucarelli in 2009 ran against incumbent Carolyn Powers. Powers prevailed. The wrong candidate was named in the earlier post.

Videos candidates Christensen, Donlin up at Kitsap Sun

Clancy Donlin, candidate for the at-large position on the Port Orchard City Council, and write-in candidate Bill Christensen, who joined the race in early September, met with the Kitsap Sun’s editorial board. Videos of the interviews follow. Usually the board interviews candidates together, but Donlin missed the scheduled interview, Sept. 22, and was interviewed separately on Oct. 1.

For your convenience, I have re-posted the Ed Board videos from all other council races and the mayoral race. As a reminder, I report on the races and am not part of the Editorial Board’s endorsement process. I do sit in on interviews, as my schedule allows.

PO Mayor: Matthes and Putaansuu

PO Council, position 5: Lucarelli and Lane

PO Council, position 1: Cucciardi and Law

PO council position 4: Clauson and Whittleton

PO candidates can’t give back realtors’ contributions

Questions about the influence of outside groups and big money on Port Orchard city government races have been raised by Port Orchard blogger Todd Penland. Penland’s posts about campaign spending in four local races have generated chatter on Facebook and letters to the editor of the Kitsap Sun.

Recently, Penland posted an online petition through calling on four candidates, including mayoral challenger Rob Putaansuu, to reject campaign contributions from the National Association of Realtors, which are recorded in the database of the Washington State Public Disclosure Commission. The contributions, totaling nearly $25,000 in the four races, are listed as independent expenditures.

The petition had 32 signatures as of Wednesday.

In the interest of transparent campaign finance, the state requires all candidates for elected office to detail direct contributions they take in (including from themselves) and expenditures they make during their campaigns.

Individuals, organizations and political action committees who make independent expenditures on behalf of a campaign (either for or against a candidate or cause) also must log their revenue and expenditures with the PDC. But here’s the difference, the candidate has no control over independent expenditures. In fact, state law requires contributors not to coordinate in any way with the candidate, according to Lori Anderson, PDC spokeswoman.

The National Association of Realtors, based in Chicago, has spent $8,307 on mailers, phone calls and online ads supporting Putaansuu’s campaign and $5,449 apiece to support the campaigns of city council candidates John Clauson, Cindy Lucarelli and Shawn Cucciardi. All four candidates have been endorsed by the Kitsap County Association of REALTORS.

The no coordination rule will make it tough for the candidates to return the money, because it never was actually in their control. As current campaign finance logic goes, candidates have no say over the free speech of individuals, organizations and PACs who wish to campaign on behalf of or against them.

The bottom line is, Putaansuu, Clauson, Cucciardi and Lucarelli can’t decline the expenditures no matter how may signatures Penland gathers.

Penland’s concerns that the National Realtors’ donations will erode local control of city government were echoed in a letter to the editor of the Kitsap Sun by Dianne Gardner, who worries that the “bigwigs out of Chicago” have their eyes on Port Orchard to make a profit. “What’s more, I am completely against outside money influencing voters,” Gardner writes.

Mike Eliason, CEO and government affairs director for the Kitsap County Association of REALTORS, fired back with a letter stating, “Although our national organization headquarters are located in Chicago and Washington, D.C., political candidate endorsement decisions and funding are decided by local Realtors within Kitsap County.”

Eliason described the Realtors as a “bottom up” association. Local groups aren’t directed from above, he said, but visa versa. A portion of local dues goes to funds with the state and national organizations for “government affairs,” which can cover lobbying or political campaigns, potentially on state or national issues. But local groups retain interest in and proportionate control over these funds.

When election season rolls around, the Kitsap Realtors draw on the local, state or national funds to support the causes or candidates of their choice. What fund they tap depends on a variety of factors, including the balance in each, Eliason said.

Members of the Kitsap realtors group also have the option to donate to RPAC, the association’s political action committee. The committee, which anyone can join, is the group that makes endorsements and devises the campaign spending strategy, Eliason said.

Eliason said the Kitsap realtors group routinely makes independent expenditures as well as direct campaign contributions. While Washington State campaign finance law limits donations to candidates in city council or mayoral races from any one person, group or PAC to $950 per election, there is no limit to independent expenditures.

Direct contributions to city of Port Orchard races from the Washington Association of Realtors on behalf of the Kitsap Realtors stack up as follows: $950 for mayoral candidate Rob Putaansuu and $700 each for Shawn Cucciardi and John Clauson.

Lucarelli (the position 5 incumbent) has registered with the PDC for mini-reporting, which requires she raise and spend no more than $5,000 and which exempts her from detailed reporting. So we don’t know at this point if she has received direct campaign contributions from any Realtors group. Anyone who’s curious can request an in-person meeting to view details of a mini-reporting candidate’s records within eight days of the election.

Lucarelli is not alone. All other city of Port Orchard candidates (aside from the four named above) this year have gone with mini-reporting.

Eliason said he wasn’t free to discuss independent expenditures made by the Kitsap County Association of REALTORS in this year’s election because of the “no coordination” rule. Were candidates to read his statements in the media, they could be construed as a form of communication. But he pointed to past activity as examples of how it works.

“In the past decade, we’ve had independent expenditures in the city of Poulsbo supporting candidates, also in the city of Bremerton,” Eliason said. In 2008, the realtors supported three candidates, including Clauson with independent expenditures. Whether the money is listed as coming from the local, state or national level, it is directed toward campaigns in Kitsap County by the local RPAC, Eliason said.

All four candidates who received the independent expenditures said they were not contacted by the National Association of Realtors about spending to promote their campaigns, and they were unaware of the expenditures until the chatter started online and about town.

“I heard about the situation, but I have no idea what they’re doing or what they’re spending the money on,” Clauson said.

But these expenditures do show up on candidates’ PDC summary reports, which anyone can access.

Remember People for a Better Port Orchard, the group that spent $2,785 in 2011 on advertising aimed at defeating then-incumbent Mayor Lary Coppola? You’ll see their spending in the mayoral campaign listed on Coppola’s PDC disclosure page as an independent expenditure (IE, against).

Are independent expenditures bad in and of themselves? Not necessarily, but they’ve gotten a bad name. The lack of spending limits and the potential for groups to game the system are sticking points in the ongoing debate over campaign finance reform. Eliason says his organization plays by the rules and shouldn’t be lumped in with the bad guys.

It is interesting and perhaps significant that of the 53 mayoral candidates around the state listed by the PDC in this year’s election, Putaansuu is the only one with an independent expenditure. And among the more than 600 candidates for city councils, the three in Port Orchard are among a mere 20 candidates with independent expenditures. In the council races, the donations aren’t all from Realtors. The National Association of Realtors, as of the most recent reporting, had donated at total of $129,264 for city council candidates, including those in Port Orchard (total $24,857), plus candidates in Renton, Seattle and King County.

It’s no secret that a hot button issue for Kitsap realtors (and the Home Builders Association of Kitsap County, contributing through their PAC the Affordable Housing Council of the HBA of Kitsap County) is a proposal in the city of Port Orchard to impose development impact fees. The Kitsap County Association of REALTORS took out a large display ad earlier in the discussion stating their position. The HBA’s PAC by the way has donated $950 apiece to Putaansuu, Cucciardi and Clauson.

Eliason said the realtors, unlike some PACs, will always put their logo on campaign materials (or identify their organization in phone calls), and as an organization they eschew slamming opponents of those they endorse.

“In all of our activities, we’ve always run positive messages about our endorsed candidates. We don’t run negative ads about our opponents,” Eliason said.

As for endorsements, the Kitsap realtors do “early endorse” incumbents whose records suggest they’ve represented the group’s interests, Eliason said. This year, they endorsed Clauson and Lucarelli before the filing deadline and did not hold interviews with the challengers, Marcus Lane and Nick Whittleton. Lane, who filed on the last day of filing week, said he has been invited to a couple of realtors’ luncheons and has accepted the invitation.

Cucciardi and his challenger Keith Law were both invited to interview before the RPAC, Eliason said. Only Cucciardi responded to the invite, according to Eliason.

When it comes to campaign contributions, it’s understandable that people watching local races may become concerned by relatively large expenditures on races for mayor or council seats. There is no doubt that groups like the HBA and Kitsap County Assocition of REALTORS are well heeled and well organized. But ultimately they don’t hold the pen to individual ballots. The public at large may or may not be swayed by their materials.

Would it be overly optimistic to think that Port Orchard residents are capable of critical, independent thought when it comes to evaluating the source and content of campaign materials, blogs and articles in the media? Or that on election day the results will be the product of the democratic process, imperfect though it may be? You tell me.

I’m open to receiving or hearing about campaign materials related to the Port Orchard race that you receive from any candidate or group. I’d like to know what’s out there. So thanks in advance for keeping me up to speed by emailing or calling (360) 792-9219.

— Chris Henry, Kitsap Sun

Kingston residents can learn about road projects, local programs at upcoming meetings

The West Kingston Road Bridge will be closed for eight months during construction, which is scheduled to begin in April 2017.

Two major community meetings are on the horizon for North Kitsap, updates on the Kingston Complete Streets project Tuesday and a community open house for local organizations and events later this month.

The county is presenting the latest design renderings and plans for the complete streets project, which includes reconstruction of the West Kingston Road Bridge.

The project also includes road construction from the ferry terminal to Lindvog Road and from 3rd Street to the Village Green off West Kingston Road.

The meeting is schedule for Tuesday, Sept. 15 from 4 p.m to 8 p.m. at the Kingston Community Center, 11212 NE State Highway 104.

The new bridge and culvert will cost about $2.9 million, and is being funded by the U.S. Navy, according to Kitsap County.

The road will be closed about eight months for the project, which is expected to start in April 2017.

Read more about the project on the county’s website.

The Kingston Community Open House later this month will feature county departments with local project information and North Kitsap organizations that provide local programs and services, such as The Port of Kingston, the North Kitsap School District and other nonprofits.

The open house is scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 29 from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Kingston Middle School on West Kingston Road.

Kingston Complete Streets meeting
Tuesday, Sept. 15 from 4 p.m to 8 p.m.
Kingston Community Center, 11212 NE State Highway 104

Kingston Community Open House
Tuesday, Sept. 29 from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Kingston Middle School, 9000 NE West Kingston Road