Category Archives: Government Process

FEC – Frozen Election Commission

If you ever wondered what the Federal Election Commission does, for the last few years it’s pretty much been not much, if anything.

That’s troubling to some and not others. Troubling to many because the agency is charged with being the referee when it comes to campaign finance. With a presidential election on the horizon the agency’s oversight of the millions raised and spent could play a factor in the race. Others say the agency’s inertia is just fine, that things should be obviously bad before the agency determines money was raised or spent in violation of federal election laws.

You can have a bagel or a doughnut at the party because the commission couldn't agree on which to provide. You think I'm kidding, don't you.
You can have a bagel or a doughnut at the party because the commission couldn’t agree on which to provide. You think I’m kidding, don’t you.

U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer, D-Gig Harbor, takes the view that gridlock on the commission is hurting democracy. He introduced a bill, nabbing a couple of Republicans to join him that would make it easier for the commission to make a decision, something it hasn’t found easy to do for some time now.

The FEC was created in 1975 as a response to the Watergate scandal. Election violation questions go to the commission. To prevent partisan decision-making on the oversight board Congress decided to have it made up of three from each of the two major parties. In the past the commission has been able to make decisions by breaking ties on a regular basis. Not so much lately.

The commission has become so clearly divided that for a party celebrating the organization’s 40-year anniversary, commissioners could agree whether to sever bagels or doughnuts, according to a New York Times piece that goes to painful detail into how dysfunctional the commission is. Members compromised and provided both, a rare act of the commission actually accomplishing something.

Kilmer would change that by changing the makeup of the commission to two from each party and one non-partisan representative. Finding a non-partisan is possible, and the concept appears to have worked with Washington’s Redistricting Commission.

There is reason to suspect the bill won’t go far. Despite the appearance of two Republicans as cosponsors, party members generally are not inclined to do something to make the commission more active. The Times piece illustrates this.

Republican members of the commission see no such crisis. They say they are comfortable with how things are working under the structure that gives each party three votes. No action at all, they say, is better than overly aggressive steps that could chill political speech.

“Congress set this place up to gridlock,” Lee E. Goodman, a Republican commissioner, said in an interview. “This agency is functioning as Congress intended. The democracy isn’t collapsing around us.”

And a Time Magazine piece (Kilmer is quoted in the article.) detailing how the agency can’t even hire a lead attorney seems to make the same case that getting this to the President’s desk is going to be a tough sell.

GovTrack.US gives the bill a 2 percent chance of becoming law.

Training on government transparency offered by state auditor

Screen Shot 2015-03-02 at 4.23.38 PMIt is not lost on us as reporters how much work our governments dedicate to fulfilling requests for public records from the likes of us and citizens. We, most of us anyway, try to be reasonable.

We know it also might seem unfair that we can and do attend meetings some government officials would rather we didn’t. I was once asked by a well-intentioned elected official to not attend a meeting. Asked. Then when I attended I was asked what I was doing there. Neither question was legally justifiable, though I trust there wasn’t malice in either of them.

Malice or not, there are rules when it comes to how government officials meet, share emails and what they can and cannot discuss away from us.

Perhaps you know some government folks who you could encourage to partake in some training. Perhaps you are a government official willing to get a refresher course. Washington State Auditor Troy Kelley is offering to provide it. From 3-5 p.m. on March 24 he will offer a free Open Government & Transparency training session in the Auditor’s Office building in Tumwater. The office did open-government trainings across the state last year it says were well attended.

For what it’s worth, most government officers I’ve worked with have been entirely cooperative about sharing what was needed. But the law being the law and open government being something we value, this kind of training can save a local government a lot of A. money, B. time, and C. embarrassment when something that should be in the sunshine is hidden, intentionally or not.

The auditor’s invitation follows:

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Traveling rich on your dime

Mark Greenblatt, Scripps national correspondent in DC did a nice piece highlighting how federal employees are flying first class on your dime. Come to think of it, that’s on my dime, too. The cost is staggering to me, such as a $16,000 flight that should have cost about $1,000. And that one actually fit within the rules. Another issue is just how bad the record keeping is.

Greenblat’s stories ran a couple of months ago, so I apologize for delivering this a bit late. But for me the real theater in this story comes from the DecodeDC podcast in which Greenblatt plays recordings of his conversations with federal officials. You have GOT to hear this.

Look, I understand wanting to fly first class. In 1992 I cashed in frequent flyer miles and flew first class from Salt Lake City to Raleigh, N.C. to catch a couple of Springsteen shows. When the flight was over I didn’t want to get off the plane, ever.

Contrast that experience with the one I had a few weeks ago. The company sent me to Cincinnati, for which I am grateful to the point of weirdness. I had to fly from Seattle to Chicago. For a man of my dimensions flying coach feels like being wrapped in cellophane. I was in the last row on the plane, so my seat didn’t recline, but the one in front of me did and was a few inches from my face for about four hours. Plus I was next to the window, which I like, but that seat gives you the least wiggle room. To call it “torturous” would be an insult to torture. Let’s say it was significantly unpleasant. Flying isn’t as fun as it used to be.

Deficits are not the fun they once were either, and I’m guessing the bigger issue for most people is why there appears to be such a cavalier attitude about costing the taxpayers so much more money. Anti-government types like to accuse government employees of being careless with American tax dollars and this whole story gives them ammunition. How does anyone not think of that? Maybe it’s the free booze in first class that makes it easy to forget.

Tweet the state House Republicans

Washington State House Republicans will hold a Twitter town hall forum from 12:30 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. Monday. State Rep. Dan Kristiansen and J.T. Wilcox will answer Tweeted questions.

Use the hashtag #solutionsWA.

The party’s press release is below.

No word on when the counties will meet to replace Jan Angel in the House. Josh Brown’s replacement on the commission might happen Monday afternoon.

Washington House Republicans to host Twitter town hall January 9

Washington House Republicans will host the Legislature’s first-ever Twitter town hall, January 9, from 12:30 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. Participants can ask House Republican leadership members Rep. Dan Kristiansen and Rep. J.T. Wilcox a 140-character question using the hashtag #solutionsWA.

House Republicans are not the only government entity to make use of this communications trend nationwide. President Obama held a Twitter town hall last July.

“This event will enable people to ask questions and provide their ideas in the days leading up to the 2014 legislative session,” said House Republican Leader Dan Kristiansen, R-Snohomish. “This is a new platform for us. We look forward to hearing from Washingtonians on the issues that are important to them.”

According to Pew Research, nearly one in 10 U.S. adults uses Twitter to share information. And, more than 50 million people in the U.S. use Twitter to get news. However, just like all social media, Twitter has its limitations. Participants and the responding representatives will only have 140 characters to relay their questions, answers and ideas.

“It’s our job as elected officials to involve the public at every opportunity. This is why we use a variety of forums like Twitter, which has a lot of active followers that we may not otherwise hear from on statewide legislative issues,” said House Republican Floor Leader J.T. Wilcox, R-Yelm.

The public is encouraged to participate in the January 9 Twitter town hall using #solutionsWA. Those unable to participate or have trouble with #solutionsWA can visit the House Republicans’ Twitter page @WaHouseGOP.

Visit for more information about House Republican members, solutions and results.

Spotlight on Patty Murray, y’all

ED NOTE: There is at least one element of the budget Congress is about to pass that is causing significant heartburn locally. Inflation guarantees for military retirees younger than 62 were reduced. Tom Philpott, whose column appears in the Kitsap Sun, addressed the issue this week.

Spotlight on Patty Murray, y’all
(Yeah, Yeah)
The press is all aghast
(Yeah, yeah)
She got a budget passed
(Yeah, yeah)
Oh yeah! Oh oh yeah.

— Arthur Conley’s “Sweet Soul Music”, as written by a reporter who happens to be wearing tennis shoes at the moment.

There would probably be no better time for U.S. Sen. Patty Murray to run for another term in the Senate. Washington’s Democratic “Mom in Tennis Shoes” is being heralded at Christmastime as the Senator who saved the holiday for many. To do it she worked with the House Republican who would have preferred to be Vice President about now. Together they crafted a budget deal, something we’ve seen scant few of in recent years.

That deal has something for everyone to dislike, for sure, but the bar is really low right now for the things we celebrate out of Congress. Murray worked as the Senate rep with House Republican Paul Ryan of Wisconsin. The deal was timed so well politically Speaker of the House John Boehner felt the moxie to knock the heads of a subgroup of Tea Party conservatives within in his own party, something lots of folks noticed.

Murray and Ryan got to a deal by working their own rooms, by keeping their negotiations out of the press spotlight, and by keeping the White House more or less out of the process. Murray had to get support from House Democrats, which was not easy particularly because of the cuts to federal retirement benefits, including for military retirees. She told them that Ryan wanted much bigger cuts, and for many of them that was at least enough to get support.

Kitsap’s congressman, Democrat Derek Kilmer, had long said Congress needed to at least get a budget done, and that was the tone he took in his comment following his vote.

“While there are parts of this budget I don’t like, I have spent the last year calling on my colleagues to set aside their partisan differences and pass a budget. I’m encouraged that Democrats and Republicans have found a way to work together, help avert a government shutdown, and halt most of the damaging across-the-board cuts that have hurt our region. Congress must now continue to work together on a plan that deals with our long-term fiscal health and grows our economy so we can get folks back to work.”

Murray’s effort has generated tons of media attention.

From CNN: Patty Murray emerges as bipartisan figure after budget deal

“Murray, a Democrat from Washington state serving her fourth term, is considered a steady hand in the Senate who shuns grandstanding and garners respect from both sides of the aisle.
“She is a liberal, but can be pragmatic and has some conservative thoughts on budget issues.”

From Politico: How Patty Murray won over Dems on budget fight

“President Barack Obama was on the phone repeatedly with Sen. Patty Murray during the high-stakes budget talks and asked how he could help.
“Murray’s response: I got this.”

From U.S. News & World Report:The Real Value of the Budget Deal

“House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, a conservative Republican and his Senate counterpart, Patty Murray of Washington, a liberal Democrat, should be praised for breaking an impasse that has stymied the most basic function of a government over the last many years – adopting a budget. Even if the agreement falls short of addressing the fundamental federal budgetary challenges that confront the country’s future, and it does, it nonetheless demonstrates that two very different political philosophies can still find common cause in a polarized country and a divided Congress.”

There are naysayers about the budget bill.

From Katrina vanden Heuvel in the Washington Post: Undeserved applause for Ryan-Murray budget deal

“There’s something troubling, even farcical, about lawmakers applauding their own mediocrity, handing themselves medals of participation for showing up to work on time.”

Murray herself acknowledges the deal isn’t perfect in a column on Huffington Post, but urges the Senate to pass it so government stops “lurching from crisis to crisis,” such as another potential government shutdown. The Senate voted to end debate on Tuesday, meaning the budget bill is ready for a vote in the chamber. It only needs to a one-vote margin for approval. With 67 senators voting to end debate, bill passage seems likely.

It’s enough to make people watching politics to shine a spotlight, and to sing. I’ll spare you that and leave the singing to the experts.

We just might get a budget, ending sequestration

Derek Kilmer, Democratic congressman from these parts, was in the office last week talking about a lot of issues. Of particular import was his estimation that the House and Senate in Washington, DC will work out a budget that ends sequestration. It won’t be an overly ambitious one that settles things for years, but it would avoid another government shutdown and perhaps would not in and of itself become a campaign issue in 2014.

According to this Politico story, Patty Murray, Democratic senator from this state, has been negotiating with Congressman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin to get a deal Republicans and Democrats can live with, even if there are parts both sides will hate.

Sequestration hurts, but no wolves appear, according to WaPo

In science the “observer effect” supposes that the act of observing an phenomenon changes it. So it goes with a Washington Post story from Sunday with the headline “They said the sequester would be scary. Mostly, they were wrong.

The headline comes from claims made mostly by the Obama Administration of what sequestration would cause. Many of the scary things predicted have not happened. Some of it is because Congress created more flexibility than the meat cleaver that was initially part of the sequestration threat.

But U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer, D-Gig Harbor, has said on several occasions that the technical definition of the kind of cuts made under sequestration is “dumb.” And there are people locally, civilian employees at Keyport as one example, who have felt the real impact of sequestration. And there are cuts that have happened that could take a long, long time for anyone to notice. And by that time they might have forgotten about sequestration. Here are three paragraphs from the story that show some of the impacts and the places where the government cried, “Wolf!”

“Across the government, more than 125,000 employees have been furloughed from the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Internal Revenue Service, and other agencies. About 650,000 Defense Department civilians will start taking 11 unpaid days next week. Public defenders are losing up to 15 days of pay.

“In 24 cases, however, The Post’s review showed that the predictions were wrong — sequestration had not lived up to the administration’s alarms.

“That included some cases in which furloughs were threatened but then reduced or eliminated. Customs and Border Protection agents, for example, faced up to 14 unpaid days before the Department of Homeland Security shifted money around last month to avoid the furloughs.”

Other parts of the story show where government agencies have made cuts that will benefit taxpayers. There is much less of a tendency to send employees to conferences, which should certainly reduce the likelihood of seeing high-profile abuses like that of the General Services Administration $820,000 conference in Las Vegas. It also means scientists won’t meet as much.

The Post’s story’s emphasis is primarily on the fact that the widespread (It’s important to emphasize “widespread,” because 11 furlough days in my family would be calamitous to us, just not to the entire nation.) calamity predicted by sequestration has not happened. In fact, in some cases it has created effects that could prove to be positive in the long run. Another sequestration round begins in October unless Congress passes a budget. If Congress doesn’t, it’s going to be harder for those who predict disaster to find a believing audience.

Following SB 5454, requiring HIV-testing in infants

Brynn writes:

In January I wrote about Mary Jones, the Central Kitsap woman who has cared for some of the state’s most medically fragile babies while they were placed in state custody. (Read that story here).

Jones started fostering 31 years ago, but in December she terminated her foster care license with the state because she’d finally had enough with the state’s Department of Social and Health Services.

It takes a lot to get Jones that upset — this is a woman who has the patience of a saint — but after an infant in her care was not tested for HIV, even though the child’s mother gave permission, Jones had had enough. She was told by DSHS officials that a court order was needed to test the child, but it took close to six months for that order to be issued. Testing the infant as soon as possible would have been in the baby’s best interest, because if the infant tested positive it would have been given necessary antiviral medication to potentially keep the disease away.

It wasn’t until Jones terminated her license and the baby was moved to a different foster family that Jones received a call from the baby’s caseworker saying the court order had been issued. But even then if the infant tested positive for HIV, the state wouldn’t tell Jones the results because she longer was caring for the child — even though she’d cared for the baby for three months, potentially exposing herself to the disease.

This isn’t the first time Jones has run up against DSHS about its lack of policy on whether to test infants at birth for HIV. She has tried since 2004 to get legislation passed that would test infants for HIV if the status of the mother is unknown, and if the mother is at high risk for the disease (i.e. an intravenous drug user). Many pregnant women whose children enter state custody after birth receive prenatal care, so the percentage of women whose HIV status is unknown at the time of delivery is low. But it’s the babies born to women who are intravenous drug users, or who don’t receive any medical attention during pregnancy, and who don’t know if they’re HIV positive, that the bill aims to reach.

Working with Sen. Christine Rolfes, D-Bainbridge Island, Jones hopes to see legislation passed this year that would update state law to require the test in infants whose status is unknown.

The bill, SB 5454, made it out of the Senate Human Services and Corrections Committee and after a detour through the Senate Ways and Means committee (an inaccurate fiscal note was attached to the bill, which is how it ended up there) the bill is now waiting on the rules committee to be brought to the floor for a vote.

This is the first time this legislation has made it out of committee. Rolfes is optimistic the bill will pass once on the floor, but she’s also pragmatic and knows it faces an uphill battle.

“The challenge is right now we have hundreds of bills waiting to get to the floor for a vote,” Rolfes said Wednesday. “We have another week or so to get the bills out and the Senate moves very slowly. Whether I can get it to the floor is the big ‘if.'”

Jones has been holding her breath, waiting to see if the bill finally passes. Seeing this legislation approved might help heal Jones’ wounds — the 63-year-old planned to retire this spring when her license ran out; terminating her license early was an act of desperation. While she knows she did the right thing, there’s still a part of her that is upset she didn’t get to retire the way she wanted.

Even though she’s no longer caring for the medically fragile babies, she’s still fighting for them in Olympia.

“When I go down there to testify I am always just focused on who I am there for, which is always my babies,” she said earlier this month.

If the bill doesn’t make it to the floor this session, Rolfes isn’t discouraged, in fact she’s optimistic that it will be even easier to get it passed during the next session.

“A lot times when the bills get this far you can get them out the next year,” she said. “Where we are right now is strategically a good spot. We’ll know in another couple of weeks if it’s still alive. It’s certainly my priority.”

Here’s some excerpts from SB 5454, which updates RCW 13.34.315:

When an infant under one year of age is placed in out-of-home care under this chapter, the department or other supervising agency shall request that the infant’s treating physician test the infant for human immunodeficiency virus, if the human immunodeficiency virus status of the mother of the infant:

(i) Is known to be positive; or

(ii) Is unknown and the department has specific information indicating that the mother is at increased risk of human immunodeficiency virus infection, including, but not limited to, a history of drug abuse.

The bill goes on to indicate the supervising agency must then follow a treating physician’s recommendation for follow-up testing and care for infants that test positive. It also says the child’s parent must be asked for consent. If they object for any reason, including conflicts with religious beliefs, a court order is required to perform the test.

Click here to see the TVW footage of the Feb. 12 Senate Human Services and Corrections Committee hearing on SB 5454.

Click here for a history of SB 5454, which includes links to a pdf of the original bill.

Local governments have been listening to you at their pleasure

When I covered the city of Bremerton and watched the council ask for public comment before consent agenda items, I thought it was a good-will gesture. Turns out I was wrong, not that it wasn’t something councils did not have to do, but in thinking councils had to do that any time. They don’t. They can make whatever decision they want and don’t have to bother with the two or three minutes time they give you to testify.

The only exceptions are items dubbed “public hearings,” which happen mostly for land use issues, according to Roger Lubovich, Bremerton city attorney.

House Bill 1197 would change that by adding the following language:

Before taking final action on any ordinance, resolution, rule, regulation, order, or directive, a governing body of a public agency must allow for public comment regarding that ordinance, resolution, rule, regulation, order, or directive. The public comment may be taken at the beginning of a meeting at which final action is scheduled, or at a prior meeting for which notice of the comment period on proposed action has been provided.

The bill in the Washington State Legislature, sponsored by state Rep. Gerry Pollet, D-Seattle, would require local governments to allow for public comment before making any decision.

The legislation would also require that documents related to the agenda item be made available at least by the time the meeting begins. It was sent to the Government Operations & Elections Committee. No one from the Kitsap Caucus has signed on as a co-sponsor yet.

That local governments do offer time for public comment falls under the categories of smart political moves and good customer service. And more than once I have seen a governing body swayed by something said by a constituent.

UPDATE: I had placed a call to Tim Ford, the state’s Open Government Ombudsman in the Attorney General’s office. He told me, and provided the link to the state law, that council-manager city governments are required to provide public comment opportunities. No other local government is. Again, HB 1197 would change that.

The revenue public officials love to hate

Every year about this time, give or take, city and county officials oversee distribution of lodging tax revenue collected in their respective jurisdictions. And in every city hall or county chambers there is a greater or lesser degree of wailing and gnashing of teeth, as public officials haggle over amounts that typically make up a but fraction of their budgets.

The law allows for collection of a tax of up to 2 percent from hotels, motels and B&Bs to be poured back into the community to bring more “heads in beds.” Under state law, citizen committees recommend how the money should be distributed to applicants. Lodging tax advisory committees are made up equally of those who pay the tax and those who receive the tax.

While the process sounds logical and equitable, recommendations of the committees and subsequent discussion by city councils or boards of commissioners can all too easily come off as a popularity contest or power struggle.

In Port Orchard, for example, the council’s recent discussion of its LTAC recommendations grew heated at a meeting Sept. 18 when Councilman Jerry Childs, who chairs the council’s economic development and tourism committee, presented a significantly different set of proposed numbers from those of the lodging tax committee.

Port Orchard’s estimated lodging tax revenue for 2013 is $87,000. The council on Sept. 11 had already voted (but not unanimously) to set aside $10,000 as a reserve for yet-to-be-identified needs. Voting against the reserve were Fred Chang, the councilman who chairs the lodging tax committee in a non-voting capacity, Rob Putaansuu, who said he didn’t like the idea of a reserve for an unspecified expenditure, and Carolyn Powers, who at the meeting the following week spouted off about the tourism committee’s “wholesale” revision of the LTAC’s proposal.

We should note that among the 17 applications for the city’s lodging tax money, four were made by the city itself. The tourism committee wants to put directional signs in strategic city locations. The city’s Festival of Chimes and Lights grows bigger every year and draws people from around the region. The city contributes to holiday and Sunday foot ferry service, and there’s a need for police overtime to staff festivals.

Applicants’ requests for funding totaled $151,786, compared to $77,000 available. The lodging tax committee’s total for city-sponsored applications was $17,000. The economic development and tourism’s total was $24,400. Child’s said his committee’s recommendations were more in line with “historic” distributions. He cited the LTAC’s $16,460 allocation to the Port Orchard Bay Street Association as one that jumped out at him and fellow committee members, Cindy Lucarelli and Jim Colebank. The economic development committee recommends $6,750. And yes, Lucarelli is involved with Cedar Cove Days, another LTAC applicant.

Other applicants are community groups like Fathoms ‘O Fun, the Saints Car Club and the Sidney Museum and Arts Association. Committee members who are part of an applicant group excuse themselves during discussion of their group’s request.

“To me it warrants oversight. It warrants more than just a kick down the road,” said Childs.

Powers blasted the economic development committee for putting its two cents’ worth in before the council even had a chance to digest the LTAC proposal. She also dug in her heels over what she described as a radical departure from the LTAC figures.

“If we tweak one or two, I guess I could live with that, but I can’t live with a wholesale change of everything the LTAC committee has recommended. That just doesn’t seem right to me,” Powers said. “We have all these groups that are working their tush off, as they say, and actually do all these great things for the city, and I just can’t see us (the city) taking such a big chunk of it.”

City Attorney Greg Jacoby noted that the council’s relative interest in the LTAC process waxes and wanes. This council is particularly hands-on, he said. And, Jacoby added, council members are well within their rights under the law to be as hands-on as they see fit.

“What if each one of us brought in a whole list like this?” Powers asked.

“You could!” Jacoby replied.

“Then why even have the LTAC committee in the first place?” Powers said.

“There’s a lot of people who wish the law was written differently. That’s a good point,” Jacoby said.

Lodging Tax committee member Don Ryan, speaking after the Sept. 18 meeting, said he and his fellow LTAC members had invested considerable time in four meetings over a two-month period to study the numbers and make thoughtful recommendations. Like Powers, he took exception to the economic development committee’s rewrite proposal. Ryan, it should be noted, is president of the Port Orchard Bay Street Association.

Also at the center of the council’s debate is how much the council should lean on LTAC funds for items like police overtime that aren’t directly related to marketing the city and its attractions. A law allowing for the use of LTAC funds for operations (in addition to marketing) in festivals and special events is set to sunset in June 2013. Chang supports the sunset. Childs, Lucarelli, Powers and Putaansuu support a more flexible use of LTAC funds, so no sunset.

The council will take up lodging taxes again at its Oct. 16 work study meeting.

If you’re in the hotel-motel business, or are part of a community organization involved in promoting tourism, would you make changes to the LTAC law? What if anything can be done to make the distribution process less likely to breed resentment?

A commissioner apologizes

Brynn writes:

Last night at the Kitsap County Commissioners regular meeting board chairman Robert Gelder apologized for how things went down at the board’s April 9 meeting.

I wasn’t at the meeting, but a review of the tape shows that a number of supporters of the Kitsap Rifle and Revolver Club attended the meeting to speak out during the board’s allotted public comment period. People were upset with the county for not inviting the KRRC to a meeting at the end of March that dealt with a proposed update to a shooting range ordinance. The ordinance would impact the county’s existing ranges by requiring them to apply for an operational permit and dictating their hours of operation, among other regulations.

Apparently as people continued to line up to speak, Gelder announced no more public comment would be taken on the rifle range. He then adjourned the meeting. The scene was tense and it appears one woman was in the process of testifying when the meeting ended.

On Monday Gelder apologized for how he handled the situation.

“I want to extend to Mrs. Cooper, who was making comments at the time, an apology for potentially cutting you off and handling that poorly,” Gelder said.

The board wants to provide a forum for the public to talk to commissioners and that didn’t happen April 9, Gelder said. While the public comment period is not a time for commissioners to interact with the audience, it is still a time when the public can be heard.

Gelder wants the communication to remain respectful — from both directions, he said.

“I am sorry that I did not show you that respect at that time,” Gelder said to Mrs. Cooper. (I don’t know whether she was in the audience of roughly 80 people at Monday’s meeting).

Contrary to some opinions, commissioners are committed to seeing KRRC reopen and come into compliance under the county’s land-use code, the board said Monday. Gelder tried to convey that message following Monday’s public comment, where people blamed the commissioners for the lawsuit against the club saying it appeared the county had a vendetta against the facility and wouldn’t be happy until it was closed for good.

“Overall it’s really about moving forward and that’s what I would like to emphasize,” Gelder said. “I look forward to us being able to move forward in a constructive manner so KRRC can open and be available to the public.”

Commissioner Josh Brown also commented about his reaction at the April 9 meeting, saying he was upset with a comment suggesting the commissioners only sold the club its land in 2009 so it could shut it down. He called the allegation ludicrous.

“I know a lot of you are frustrated. I appreciate that, I am frustrated too,” Brown said. “I really believe in my heart that we need to have shooting ranges that are safe and open for people to use in our community.”

Brown said the shooting range ordinance update the county is working on will allow the county’s existing gun ranges to continue operation in the future, while taking into account the concerns of the surrounding neighborhoods that have built up around the ranges.

“I really believe we’re going to have a good document that the community can be proud of that’s going to balance these competing interests,” he said.

Forum set Tuesday for SKFR levy and Port of Manchester term reduction proposals

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.

Appeals Court upholds Top Two

The bulk of the Secretary of State’s announcement follows this brief conversation.

If you’re reading this blog you’re probably informed enough to know that when Washington votes in a primary the top two vote getters make it to the ballot in November. This is a fairly recent development that like many things sprung from problems in California. (I grew up there, so your problem with me originates there.)

In California it used to be that to vote in a party’s primary you actually had to be a declared member of that party. When the state changed that the parties sued and it ended up wrecking things for Washingtonians, who had voted for whoever the heck they wanted in the primary regardless of party. The Supreme Court struck down that system, and Washington eventually responded with the Top Two system.

The Secretary of State explains in what follows.

Continue reading

Last call (tonight) for comments on redistricting of commissioner boundaries

Tonight (10/24/11) at the Kitsap County Board of Commissioners’ meeting, the board will hold a public hearing on three proposed options for redistricting commissioner boundaries. The meeting is at 7 p.m. at the county administration building.

The county’s been working on this for some time. They held information workshops in late September and early October. County officials also met with both parties on the redistricting, which is intended to even out representation within North, South and Central Kitsap commissioner districts, based on 2010 Census data.

Eric Baker, the county’s special projects manager, and his staff have put forth three options, one of which is to do nothing, leave the boundaries as is. The other two options attempt to even out population discrepancies by shifting boundaries between Central (the smallest, population-wise) and North Kitsap (currently with the largest population). Option 3 also adjusts boundaries between Central Kitsap and South Kitsap in the Tiger/Panther/Mission Lake area.

According to Baker, comments on the three proposals have been pretty tame.

“Largely, there has not been a lot of public outcry about these alternatives,” Baker said Monday. “Our alternatives attempted to minimize change where possible, which was appreciated by people who made comments.”

Many people have asked if there will be changes to downtown Bremerton boundaries, which would affect residents of South Kitsap and Central Kitsap districts. The answer, said Baker, is “no.”

The commissioners may but, according to Baker, likely will not adopt one of the three options at tonight’s meeting. More likely, they will consider public input and make their decision by or before the Dec. 1 deadline.

Today’s county redistricting meeting location changed

Due to a broken water main at the Island Lake Community Center, an informational meeting on redistricting of Kitsap County Commissioner district boundaries has been moved to the Silverdale Community Center (A-Frame Off of the Upper Parking Lot), 9729 Silverdale Way NW, Silverdale.

The meeting will begin at 6 p.m. rather than the originally posted 6 p.m. to ensure time for people to reach the new location.

State law requires the county to adjust the boundaries to roughly equalize the number of residents per district. The county’s board of commissioners will adopt the revised boundaries by the end of 2011. The boundaries become effective in 2012.

One option would be to make no change to the boundaries, which were last adjusted in 2002. The difference between District 1 (“North Kitsap”), the largest district, and District 3 (“Central Kitsap”), which is the smallest, is 6,300 people, which is within allowances of the law, county officials say.

A second option would reduce the difference in population to 1,200. This option would affect residents in the Olympic View area east of Highway 3 and south of Mountain View Road in Central Kitsap.

A third option would result in a population difference of 1,400 and would affect people living in the area east of Silverdale Way and west of Ridgetop Boulevard.

Another information meeting has been set for 6 p.m. Oct. 6 at the county administration building, 619 Division St. in Port Orchard.

For more information, call (360) 337-4495.

What’s the big deal on code cities?

I’ve been following Port Orchard’s efforts to become a non-charter code city since late March, when it was brought up as an aside to a city council conversation about the relative merits of a city manager versus strong mayor model. The code city classification has nothing to do with strong mayors or city managers, so maybe people got confused.

I followed the code city issue through the presentation stage and the hearing stage and finally the stage at which the council actually decided to start the process to become a code city. At each stage, I’d explain the story to co-workers and watch their eyes glaze over, as yours may be doing right now.

What at first blush seemed like a relatively simple story became complicated for a cluster — and I use this term in only the most polite context — of reasons. What should have been a “glance” became a short story, what should have been a short story became a long story, and what should have been a wrap-up became a long, tortuous and emotional story.

And yet “code city” doesn’t exactly say “read this” like bikini baristas or reports of a giant candy bar on the Tacoma Narrows Bridge.

These days, when I walk over to my editors with another code city story on my list, I may as well have a stinking albatross around my neck.

So, what’s the big deal on code cities? Here it is: They can do anything not prohibited by state law, unlike second class cities that can only do what is allowed by law.

Huh? Yeah, I get that a lot.

“It sounds like a nuanced difference, but it’s not,” said Poulsbo Councilman Ed Stern.

Poulsbo has been a code city as far back as anyone can remember, according to Stern, now in his fourth term.

Port Orchard right now is a second class city, no disrespect meant. It’s just a way the state has of defining a city based on its population and types of government. Other cities Port Orchard’s size can and have become code cities. Of the roughly 200 eligible Washington code city cities, 189, including Poulsbo, have made the switch.

Stern said being a code city has worked well for his town. For example, Poulsbo wants to create a broadband utility. Back in the mid-20th Century, when code cities became allowed under Washington State law, there was no such thing as broadband. But look at Poulsbo go. It doesn’t mean they’re ramming it down residents’ throats, Stern said. The public process still applies — meetings, hearings, public votes … elections if you don’t like what goes on at meetings.

Being a code city makes Poulsbo just a little more nimble, puts “another tool in the toolbox,” said Stern. Rather than playing mother-may-I with the state, code city officials simply need to make sure whatever they do isn’t against the law.

But what if you believe your city government is inclined to backroom deals? That’s another kettle o’ fish, Stern said.

“If you have problems trusting your council or mayor that’s an altogether different question than your city having available to it the widest array of tools to represent the public interest,” Stern said. “Do you trust these bastards or not? I understand. That’s a different issue from retaining freedoms.”

Stern presumably was speaking in hypothetical terms and not dissing himself or his fellow Kitsap officials.

In Port Orchard, those who signed a petition to put the code city question on the ballot (a moot point since the city scrapped the idea … for now) may mistrust their government. Some at Tuesday’s meeting said they just want more information.

Petition organizers Gil and Kathy Michael said the nearly 500 people who signed the petition had not a clue that the city was marching toward reclassification. Even Tim Matthes, running for mayor, and Ben Pinneo running for council, who spoke at Tuesday’s meeting, seemed to be newcomers to the whole discussion.

This despite discussion of the issue at a minimum of three meetings or work study sessions, two public hearings and a public vote of the council in late May to set the reclassification process in motion (subject to challenge by petition). This despite the issue being listed on agendas available on the city’s website and notices of the hearings in local media, plus articles in local newspapers and online.

People felt left out of the loop, petition organizer Gil Michael said, “In the past 3-and-a-half years, I think there’s been an active effort to decrease citizen awareness.”

Michael, a member of the city’s planning commission and a fairly regular council meeting attendee, cited, for example, the switch from BKAT coverage of city council meetings to video coverage, with videos posted on the city’s website.

Port Orchard residents may well have felt out-of-the-loop. To stay on top of the code city issue, one would have needed to actually read agendas (available online or by request at 360-876-4407), read public notices in local newspapers and attended meetings (preferably paying attention at least most of the time).

I know, I know. You’re busy. You’ve got places to go, things to do. But you’re in luck. That’s what the E.W. Scripps Company hires me to do. Your other best bet is Port Orchard resident and city council groupie Gerry Harmon, who shows up faithfully in her tan van parked in front of city hall and walks to the microphone to have her say. I’m pretty sure Harmon could slam dunk most members of the press as far as council meeting attendance goes. But E. W. Scripps doesn’t hire Gerry to write articles, so you’re stuck with me … and other local publications.

This would mean, of course, that you’d have to place a certain amount of trust in … the media. That may be a scary thought. But, hey, I advocate a healthy skepticism on everyone’s part, and thoughtful comments are welcome on all of the Kitsap Sun’s stories. Many heads are better than one, as the saying goes.

Bryan Petro, a Port Orchard real estate agent, at Tuesday’s meeting suggested the timing and execution of the Michaels’ petition was politically motivated. I’ll let you readers be the judge of that.

I will share one headline for today’s story that was floated, but, alas, rejected, “Thanks to couple Port Orchard, remains a second class city.”

Chris Henry, local government/South Kitsap reporter

Veterans and Human Services Levy Resolution – Read it Here

Comments on today’s story about the county’s Veterans and Human Services Levy, approved for the Nov. 8 ballot by the Kitsap County Board of Commissioners, indicate there is considerable lingering disgruntlement about the board’s decision in 2009 to defer collection of the the veterans assistance fund levy in 2010, a move made to help balance the county’s general fund budget.

Please note that the fund that would be created if voters approve the special Veterans and Human Services Levy is separate from the county’s Veterans Assistance Fund, but because they both are aimed at helping veterans, people have connected the dots.

Commissioners Josh Brown and Charlotte Garrido, who were on the board at the time, seemed at last night’s meeting well aware of the sense of mistrust and long memories of those who disagreed with that decision, the net result of which was $320,000 that did not go into the fund.

Garrido and Brown commented more than once to that effect.

“Levy proceeds can only be used for the stated goals of this program. Levy funds cannot be used to supplant the county’s general fund.” – Charlotte Garrido

“We want to make it very clear that if this levy is approved, these monies go in a lock box. The monies cant be diverted.” – Josh Brown

I’ve attached a copy of the Veterans and Human Services Levy Resolution to the story (and put a link to it here). The document goes into considerable detail about how the money will be tracked and allocated. Revisions were made in response to public comments, said Leif Bentsen, who coordinates the county’s Veterans Assistance Program. Whether provisions of the resolution adequately provide for efficiency, transparency and effective use of the $1.4 million per year is open to debate between now and Nov. 8.

Several readers also commented that they would prefer a sales tax over a property tax. Commissioner Rob Gelder got back to me today and reaffirmed what he said at the meeting. While state law allows for the county to collect sales taxes for a host of purposes, a human services levy is not among them. The closest the law comes to that is a provision for mental health funding, Gelder said.

Chris Henry, reporter

Here’s the entire document for those who can access it.

Homeless Levy

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.

Bremerton’s Akhimie responds to the resignation story

We got word from multiple sources that Vincent Akhimie, public works director for the city of Bremerton for the past year, had resigned, or been fired, one of those. It took a couple hours to get official confirmation.

I spoke with the mayor, Patty Lent, about Akhimie’s resignation, and at the end of our conversation she provided his cell phone number for me to call, a number I did not have. I called it and left a message. I then began writing a story based on the information I had and hoped Akhimie would call while I was writing. He didn’t, so we posted a story initially that said we could not reach him.

In my limited experience with Akhimie over the last year he was always helpful to me in my purposes. I was away on vacation last week and fellow reporter Chris Henry filled in for me at the city council meeting. Akhimie was helpful then, too. He went back to his office after the meeting to email a document to her.

Around 5 p.m. he called me at my desk after the story was already posted. I thought he was responding to my phone call, but in fact the phone number I had received from the mayor was Akhimie’s work cell phone number. Since he was no longer an employee of the city he no longer had that phone. He provided his version of the story, much of which appears in print.

I asked him what he was most proud of during his time and he said there was a list he’d like to write and send to me later in the evening. I said I would welcome the list, but that later in the evening would be too late for print. I did say I could post it on the Kitsap Caucus blog. The letter arrived in my email box today, Wednesday, at 3:37 p.m. Here it is:


TO: Steven Gardner, Reporter, Kitsap Sun

Below are my comments regarding the Kitsap Sun article, “Public Works Director Resigns,” as you suggested at the conclusion of our 7/12/11 evening phone conversation.

When I took the job of Public Works Director with the City, I made it clear to the Mayor at the outset that the Department’s challenges could not be resolved overnight and that it would likely take at least two years to turn things around. The Mayor wanted to accelerate changes in her administration and so did I. However, based on my twenty-plus years of experience in government, I suggested to the Mayor that gradual, incremental and well thought-out, vetted changes would be more sustainable and effective. I communicated to her the potential negative consequences of moving too fast. The Fifth Street debacle is an example of how things can go wrong when forced.

Despite any differences in style or opinions, I was able and willing to modify my approach to carry out her direction. In my career, I get things done, to the satisfaction of my clients when I was a consultant and to the satisfaction of my supervisors when I serve in the public sector. I respect the Mayor and her position. My separation from her administration was amicable.

Your July 12th article reported the Mayor as stating, “Communication was lacking.” Actually, there was more than enough communication between me and her, Public Works staff, the public and all branches of City government. The problem was that there was too much unproductive communication circumventing my office, top-down and bottom-up. An example is the recent surprise one-way Fifth Street implementation which ultimately involved the Finance Director. The Fifth Street one-way change, which met with opposition from Council and the public to some extent, was done without my authorization or sign-off as the City’s Public Works Director.

I am certain that I could have continued to make more significant contributions to the progress of the City of Bremerton. A lot has been accomplished under my leadership as Public Works and Utilities Director during my tenure with the City working with staff, as exemplified by: reducing the Department’s cost of operations by approximately $750,000 while increasing service levels in the Department; facilitating $3,000,000 in grant-funded Lower Wheaton Way road improvements; facilitating the start of $800,000 in grant-funded stormwater improvements for Anderson Cove including public waterfront access; resolving the approximately 15-year old Harrison Medical Center issue, allowing this major employer to move forward to expand their kitchen and surface parking facilities in East Bremerton; reprioritizing the Department’s Capital Improvements Program and moving ahead with the $2.5 million Cross Town pipeline project in order to avoid emergencies due to recurring breaks in this major sewer line without the use of outside consultants; obtaining additional remediation funding of $230,000 from the State Ecology Department to allow site work to be completed within budget for the City’s Evergreen Memorial Park; encouraging and fostering community outreach programs such as the public event marking the completion of the City’s Combined Sewer Overflow Reduction project, at which the Governor and Director of Ecology commended the Mayor and the City Bremerton as “a leader and role model” in water quality in the State, and a public campaign to improve water quality at Kitsap Lake.

Best regards,


Three Kitsap mayors among state’s highest paid

According to an article in the May 23 South Whidbey Record, the Langley City Council is wrestling with how much it should set as the mayor’s salary in the upcoming election.

Port Orchard has been there, done that. In a recent discussion, the city council quickly and without much controversy concluded that running the city of Port Orchard was a full-time job. The salary, as advertised in the 2011 Kitsap County candidate guidelines document, is $60,150.40 (exclusive of benefits). Port Orchard Mayor Lary Coppola makes $62,150 (exclusive of benefits). Coppola in 2009 convinced the council that the position was deserving of greater compensation that the roughly $20,000 it commanded when he took office in 2008.

But back to Langely. The council originally took up the issue when “controversy over vacation pay for Mayor Paul Samuelson created intense scrutiny of the size of his compensation package. Shoddy work on the ordinances that set the mayor’s salary prompted the council to rescind and rewrite the laws that gave Samuelson annual earnings that topped $53,000.”

As it turns out, they crafted an ordinance that needs some revision.

The Langley council next week will discuss “a revised ordinance that strips away a requirement that links the council’s approval of the mayor’s ‘plan of administration’ to any possible pay raise.”

If that sounds vaguely familiar, it may be because the Port Orchard City Council had hoped to tie Coppola’s salary to annual performance reviews, which the mayor was all on board with. They later found they could raise the salary during his term of office, but the only time they could lower it was at an election.

And remember, the Port Orchard council just decided that, regardless of who gets the job, it’s a full-time position.

On Monday, the Langley council was to take a big-picture look at its mayor and his compensation. The article, which was excellent on many levels, drew on data to from Washington Association of Cities to show that Samuelson’s salary ($53,532) is among the top 25 in the state. That’s significant, considering the population of the town he governs is only 1,115 (compared for example to Port Orchard, which is about 10 times that many).

In fact, Samuelson, at 24th in the state, is ranked right behind Coppola, who is the 23rd best paid mayor in the Washington. Poulsbo Mayor Becky Erickson, paid $65,400 (pop. 8,920) ranks 21. Bremerton Mayor Patty Lent, paid $117,672, (pop. 36,190) is in 6th place.

(Bainbridge Island does not have a mayor. It’s city manager is paid $94,788 in salary and benefits in 2011 to run a city that serves about 23,000 people.)

No surprise, Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn is the highest paid mayor in the state with $169,956.

Washington State has 281 cities and towns.

Significantly, the ranking does not correlate to population (as you can see from a quick Poulsbo-Port Orchard comparison). Certainly looking at Samuelson’s pay-to-population ratio, one would have to conclude a big-picture analysis is in order.

As the South Whidbey Record’s Brian Kelly reported, “A Record review of mayoral pay, based on the 2010 salary survey conducted by the Association of Washington Cities, shows that in the 92 cities and towns with populations between 715 and 5,000, only 17 mayors in those towns make more than $10,000. Six receive no pay at all for serving as mayor.”

“On a per-capita basis, with the cost of the mayor’s salary divided by the number of residents, Samuelson’s pay is at the very top of the 129 cities examined by the Record. …The cost of the mayor’s pay to each Langley resident is $48.01, according to an analysis conducted by the newspaper.”

“The next highest is Coupeville, with a per-capita rate of $33.73, followed by Yarrow Point, at $30.15.”

Most cities have a per capita rate of $3 to $5, the Record showed in the article, which included a list of the top 25, plus population, annual budget and number of employees. Rock on South Whidbey Record!

Ranked on a per capita, bang-for-buck basis, Kitsap’s mayors come in as follows: Bremerton $3.25 per resident to pay its mayor for a year; Port Orchard comes in at $5.69 and Poulsbo is on the high end at $7.33 per resident.

Pay: $117,672
Population: 36,190
Budget: $146 million
Employees: 367
Mayor annual per capita cost: $3.25

Pay: $62,148
Population: 10,910
Budget: $11.9 million
Employees: 70
Mayor annual per capita cost: $5.69

Pay: $65,400
Population: 8,920
Budget: $14 million
Employees: 93
Mayor annual per capita cost: $7.33

and by comparison …

Pay: $53,532
Population: 1,115
Budget: $4.3 million
Employees: 19
Mayor, annual per capita cost: $48.01

Pay: $63,756
Population: 1,890
Budget: $5.3 million
Employees: 15
Mayor annual per capital cost: $33.73