Rolfes and Lowe debate ferries and film

Rep. Christine Rolfes and her Republican challenger Mark Lowe staked opposing positions yesterday on the state ferry system, eduction and aspects of the very debate they were taking part in.

Rolfes, a Bainbridge Democrat and former Bainbridge City Council member, objected when she noticed that island resident and Republican activist Jim Olsen (and frequent commenter to this blog) was filming the event for use on BITV.

Read Steven Gardner’s story below.

23rd District Candidates Showcase Differences
By Steven Gardner

A Republican is calling for action in Olympia and the Democrat said she’s been a legislator of just that.

State Rep. Christine Rolfes, D-Bainbridge Island, faced off against Republican challenger Mark Lowe of East Bremerton Tuesday morning as part of the Bremerton Area Chamber of Commerce’s Eggs & Issues debate series.

Lowe said it’s time for the government to fix roads and ferries, keep criminals in jail and roll back spending. He accused Rolfes of working for King County interests over Kitsap.

Rolfes said she has worked to freeze ferry fares and get passenger-only ferry service running, get telecommuting funding options in Kitsap County and worked on other issues important to this county.

The candidates agreed on a few things. They’re against unfunded mandates, support work to get more manufactured housing available as an affordable housing option, and that the Kitsap Sustainable Energy and Economic Development project at the Port of Bremerton has received enough state funding for now.

Otherwise the differences were mostly stark. Lowe said state government has added too many government jobs. Rolfes said most of those jobs have been in needed areas of corrections and education.

Rolfes favored sending $67 million in higher education money into the general fund because that meant a larger investment in higher education. Lowe said money earmarked for that purpose should stay in a place where it can’t be moved to another purpose.

Lowe criticized the current ferry boss David Moseley, saying he’s “learning as he’s going.” Rolfes said Moseley’s strengths are in working with budgets and with communities.

On ferries the two differed on the contracts for building new boats. Lowe said the contracts should have been made available to firms outside the state. “The bottom line was there was no competition,” he said. Rolfes said the bidding process was competitive, that “we want to build in Washington. We don’t want to ship our jobs to Mississippi.”

Lowe said he would throw out the state’s Growth Management Act, while Rolfes said she supports the act’s purposes.

Part of the debate was derailed for a while by a disagreement over whether the event should be filmed.

Bainbridge Island resident and political activist James Olsen said he wanted to film the debate and offer it to Bainbridge Island Television and Bremerton Kitsap Access Television.

Lowe gave his OK, but Rolfes said in the debate that she hadn’t been notified ahead of time and didn’t want the camera on her throughout the event. After the debate she said she objected to the filming because of Olsen’s history as a “Republican operative.”

Olsen, who said he was there wearing his Shining City Media hat, has recorded other Eggs & Issues events with the permission of the candidates and those in the audience.

14 thoughts on “Rolfes and Lowe debate ferries and film

  1. Editor

    I am an independent video producer who has volunteered my firm’s time, money and energy to record and broadcast Eggs Issues Political Forum. Kitsap County and Legislative debates for Kitsap Judicial, Kitsap Auditor and Kitsap Commissioner were recorded and have been seen by thousands of voters on Bremerton-Kitsap-Access-Television (BKAT) and Bainbridge Television (BITV).
    Candidate Mark Lowe expressed total support of the filming. However at today’s Lowe/Rolfes Eggs Issues debate, Ms Rolfes’ banned the filming. As a direct result thousands of voters were deprived of the opportunity of hearing these candidates answer tough questions.
    What is it about transparent and open government that troubles Ms. Rolfes to the point of denying public access to a public meeting? Ms. Rolfes was asked a pointed question by Reporter Adele Ferguson why she (Rolfes) banned the taping. Ms. Rolfes answered enigmatically “I didn’t want the camera on me the whole time.” Candidate Mark Lowe answered the same question saying he fully supported open government and real information to the voters.
    My question to Representative Rolfes persists: what is it you don’t want the voters to hear and see about you? I find Representative Rolfes’ actions to be very cynical and evasive towards the voters.
    James M. Olsen
    Shining City Media

  2. Craig P — Rolfes appears at events at COBI, Olympia, League of Women Voters and her own fluff pieces where cameras are there. What so troubled Ms. Rolfes was apparently JUST fine for Canidate Mark Lowe.
    Also at previous Eggs and Issues candidates Wall, Dalton, Danielson, Clark, Washington, LaCelle and Bauer all had no problem with open government and providing the voters with knowledge.

    Craig P — nice try on the spin. We have an incumbent in the 23rd LD, Democrat Rolfes, who does not support and empower open government. Why? You and I both know why and it has nothing to do with courtesies. Nice try.

  3. I see no reason to resort to name calling, Craig. These are candidates (one is even an incumbent) for a public office, talking about public issues, and in a public forum. As a citizen, I could sit in the crowd and record the whole thing on my home video camera and there isn’t a thing anyone could do about it. Political affiliation has absolutely nothing to do with a constitutional right. Ms. Rolfes is dead wrong on this one.

  4. I have filmed several Eggs & Issues events this year myself without asking “permission” and it is very easy for the candidates to know in advance since there’s always several people in the front row doing the same. I was even asked at the Issues event for LaCelle and Bauer to return and film Garrido/Mathes by a representative of the county Democrat party.

    Rolfes is an elitist who violates the Fist amendment and shortchanges her constituency by trying to deny access to the public. What else does she not want us to know?

    If a Republican tried this tactic we’d be told they are FASCISTS. If the shoe fits Mrs. Rolfes…

  5. Let’s not play games. The reason Ms. Rolfes objected to Mr. Olsen’s filming the debate was due to his much deserved reputation for smearing people with whom he does not agree. She was damned if she did and damned if she didn’t. If Ms. Rolfes would have allowed the filming, Mr. Olsen would have edited it (spun it) to cast her in unfavorable light and posted it on YouTube as he has done already in a video about the COBI mayor. Since she refused his filming, now he can jump up and down and make allegations that she wants to hide something. Please!

  6. The issue here isn’t the videotaping – it is WHO IS DOING the videotaping…

    Olsen may be an “independent video producer” – if “independent” refers to owning his own business, or not being affiliated with any specific media organization.

    But he’s as far from “independent” when it comes to his political views – he’s very active in local Republican party politics, and it’s telling that he neglects to mention that, or even conceed that this is a legitimate concern for someone in Rolfes’ position to consider.

    I doubt that Rolfes was opposed to being videotaped per se – it’s being videotaped by someone who might have a partisan agenda in how they frame the shots, edit the final product, or who they make it available to.

    Does anyone doubt that Olsen would make his tape available to the Republicans for use in a campaign commercial if Rolfes had made a serious gaffe during the debate? And does anyone think he’d give equal access to the Democrats if Lowe had made a mistake?

  7. JKS, it looks like Rolfes was the one playing games here. She has absolutely no right to tell Olsen (or anyone else) to not film her in public. Her excuse is because of Olsen’s favored political party? The fact that Olsen voluntarily agreed to not film in this case speaks for itself. He chose to not unnecessarily disprupt the forum. If a public official doesn’t like what he/she says in a public forum preserved for posterity, then they simply need to keep their mouth shut. Or perhaps Mr. Rolfes would feel more comfortable if everyone in attendance had signed a loyality agreement.

    Where are all those people that come out in an uproar over public disclosure and government transparency? The issue here is not Mr. Olsen, but Ms. Rolfes. Just like the public disclosure request, it does not matter why someone is requesting a public record. Would Rolfes told CNN, the networks to go away because they don’t necessarily agree with her point of view? I wonder what any of the watchdog public disclosure or government accountabilty groups would have to say about Rolfes stifling public access to a public forum?

  8. Rules of a debate are spelled out clearly before it starts. If there was no discussion of video, then Rolfes has every right to not allow a non media member to take video.

    James should have approached both candidates at least a week before the debate and asked permission to video the debate.

  9. Hunter, your words lost credibility with me when you confessed to driving around the parking lot at the Quay apartments noting the makes of the vehicles parked there.

  10. JKS,
    I see you are changing the topic to avoid the issue at hand. Yes, I verified the existence of some nice vehicles owned by the supposed “down on luck folks” at those apartments. I know I can’t afford a Land Rover, can you? You must still be sore at the loss of all that tax money. It would seem that some folks are apologists and aren’t too awfully concerned about the rights of the people for a transparent government. I find it odd that some seem focused on who is doing the filming. If someone wanted to splice together an attack film of Ms. Rolfes, there is plenty of footage already out there in the public domain to manipulate.

  11. The fact of the matter Ms. Rolfes had reason to deny the filming: she did not want her constituents to see her on her feet answering questions. Ms. Rolfes has a carefully shaped image by her party and if you see her on her weekly video missives from Olympia, you will clearly see that quality.

    Ms. Rolfes is a card-carrying public figure and is in the public speaking to the public, taking questions from the public and as such she should expect her words and demeanor are watched. To close down the filming like the Michael Moore had forced his way into her living room is patently silly.

    Ms. Rolfes does not stand square with open government and empowerment of the voters. Her actions in denying the filming deprived thousands of voters of their right to see a public event.

    Ms. Rolfes may attempt to strike back at the messenger but no one forced her to deny access. She deserves all the glory for that call.

    By the way, Candidate Mark Lowe did a fabulous job in the debate and the reporting of Steve Gardner captured part of the action. Unfortunately you cannot see and hear Ms. Rolfes’ answers to form your own opinion.

  12. NoSpin — Now your statement is choice fascism: “But he’s as far from “independent” when it comes to his political views.” So the humble independent producer is not entitled to have a political leaining without your approval. Are you the Commissar of Political Orthodoxy who will give permission for anointed types to film and deny that right to those that don’t agree with your world view?

    Where are you from? Is your homeport Pyongyang DPRNK? It sure seems that way. Watch those tendencies or you will start acting on them.

  13. The issue was about public interests i.e. telecommunicationss,ferry services etc. So I think public has full right to watch this kind of debate programmes to know the views and strategies of the political leaders.They should know what exactly these political leaders are doing or want to do for the development of the education , telecommunication or ferry transports systems of their country.

Comments are closed.