Mayoral Candidate Misused Grant Funds During OC Tenure

Update 3:40 p.m July 27: Dear readers, I updated this entry with a link to Lary Coppola’s farewell column (see below).

Politics is a messy business in which a candidate’s past can and often does come back to bite. Such is the case for Port Orchard Mayoral Candidate Kathleen Dolan-Bowes, who in 1997 was dismissed from her post as head of the Olympic College Office of Women’s Programs for misappropriation of grant funds.

Articles from the Kitsap Sun archives detail her downfall.
Dolan-Bowes, then Kathleen Dolan, was dismissed from her position as manager of the Office of Women’s Programs at the college March 31, 1997, after the state auditor’s office reported that she had used thousands of dollars in college grant funds to pay for personal expenses, including $2,266 toward her own master’s education and more than $800 to pay for her granddaughter’s child care expenses.
The allegations against Dolan-Bowes were submitted to the auditor’s office under the provisions of the Whistleblower Act, which allows state employees to confidentially report the misuse of state funds.

Dolan-Bowes subsequently filed a lawsuit against Olympic College for unspecified damages, claiming the termination of her employment at OC was retaliatory. But a Washington State Executive Ethics Board hearing determined the college had “reasonable cause” to believe Dolan’s violations had occurred, according to an article in the West Sound Sun, May 31, 1999. In a negotiated settlement, the story says, she admitted several violations and agreed to repay the misappropriated funds.

Dolan-Bowes, reached by phone Thursday, had no comment.

And while we’re on the topic of candidates’ past, the Kitsap Sun has a history with mayoral hopeful Lary Coppola. A former columnist for The Sun, Coppola was released from that appointment in June, 2004, for plagiarizing material from an editorial by Erin Shannon of the Building Industry Association of Washington.

In his farewell column, Coppola took his lumps and apologized to his readers. He also explained his actions, saying, “I’ve had blanket authority from BIAW for years to publish materials without attribution in any manner I found appropriate. … BIAW has permission to, and does, use my editorial material occasionally for its membership as well. … In retrospect, because I expressed myself partially in Erin’s words and not my own, I should have given credit to her, or quoted her directly. Because of my longstanding agreement with BIAW, I mistakenly didn’t see the necessity of doing that.”

Today, Kitsap Sun editors and I considered how to report on this episode of Coppola’s career as a community figure. In light of what we had learned about Dolan-Bowes, it seemed at first we ought to mention Coppola in the story. Later, I thought maybe a side bar. Ultimately, Editor Scott Ware and Local News Editor David Nelson decided that to include Coppola’s plagiarism in with Dolan-Bowes’ misappropriation of funds was inappropriate. Using others’ words without attribution is serious, yes, but not in the same league as using state grant funds for personal gain, an action that apparently had repercussions for another OC staff member and for its women’s programs. And besides Coppola did publicly admit to and apologize for his actions.

Just to be fair, we searched our archives for any other dirt that might be hiding under the rug on Coppola and the third candidate, Tom Saunders, covering the same span of time in which we searched for information on Dolan-Bowes, 1996 through the present. We found nothing on Saunders. And except for Coppola’s recurrent ability to raise people’s hackles in his columns and letters to the editor — especially on the issue of NASCAR, which he favored — he came up clean, as well.

6 thoughts on “Mayoral Candidate Misused Grant Funds During OC Tenure

  1. It sounds like you were fair in handing this matter. Lary did apologize. It’s not always easy working for the Sun, nor for Olympic College apparently.

    I have heard good things about Tom. It would be nice to learn more about how they will serve Port Orchard.

  2. Just this past year, a former Port Orchard City Councilman was convicted of fraud and was forced to resign his position. Now, here’s a candidate for Mayor, who has also committed fraud.

    I really believe these so called criminal politicians should get into another line of work. Like making license plates in prison.

  3. Hi Chris,

    I sent the below info to you before and didn’t remember that my E-mail is blocked to most addresses not on my authorized list. So I don’t know if you have responded. A response on your blog will work for me.

    TIA,
    Gene

    I see you are a reporter with the Kitsap Sun and cover Port Orchard and South Kitsap. Below, please see a letter which I sent to Jim Campbell, Kitsap Sun’s Opinion Page editor.

    My letter was in response to Chris Dunagun’s article about auditor findings at Karcher Sewer District and Annapolis Water District.

    Your thoughts about what’s going on, please.

    Sincerely,
    Gene

    Dear Editor,

    According to my reading of a recent report, Washington State auditors could find no public purpose for a weekend stay in Europe by three of our sewer commissioners here in Kitsap County. To date, the expense to the public is approximately $2,700.

    Also, according to my reading of that report, our commissioners are misusing, if not politically abusing, the General Manager. They are misusing him to resist and refuse to reimburse the public for our sewer commissioners’ personal and private expense.

    Meanwhile, I’m listening to words and tunes, and hearing –

    1. “Your weekend stay in Europe is an unauthorized expense to the public.”

    2. “We want you to reimburse the public, please.”

    3. “Will you reimburse the public, please?”

    4. “Reimburse the public, please.”

  4. Gene – Thanks for your e-mail/blog comment. I have forwarded your comments to environmental reporter Chris Dunagan, cdunagan@kitsapsun.com, who reported the story, and who is in a better position to give insight than me. Chris Henry, SK reporter,

    Next time, if your e-mail doesn’t seem to be getting through, feel free to give me a call, (360) 792-9219

  5. …strange to think anyone would consider Olympic College hard to work for when an employee in a position of trust steals money and is fired from the job. (did she repay the money as promised?)

    ..stranger yet is to see that same employee, possibly looking for deeper pockets, running for public office, Mayor of Port Orchard.
    Does P.O. deserve such a mayor?
    …in my opinion,
    Sharon O’Hara

  6. When the Coppola plagiarism issue was recently raised on the 26th district Democrats’ web forum, http://groups.yahoo.com/group/26thDistrict/ (subscription required), Lary claimed that he’d only copied about 50 words from the BIAW editorial. However as I pointed out in a response, about 60 percent of Lary’s approximately 800-word column in The Sun consisted of material that appeared to have been lifted word for word or with slight alterations from the BIAW article. Lary didn’t respond to my post.

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