Monday, July 14, 2014

Mayor Matthes Takes Another Cheap Shot

I have made it a point NOT to publicly comment on anything Port Orchard Mayor Tim Matthes does, doesn’t do, or what passes for leadership and/or management these days at City Hall. The ONLY exception was to point out the blatant lies contained in his Citizens Report on the annexation of the Bethel Corridor. In that report, he stated the Council NEVER discussed the costs of service delivery — in spite of the fact there was more than a YEAR of public process — including numerous Finance Committee meetings, several City Council meetings, and in a number of public hearings involved.

In that report, he stated, “When discussions were happening regarding the Bethel Corridor annexation, it was touted that the annexation would bring in a lot of revenue. What was never discussed was the costs to provide service and what the impact would be to the City.”

That is either a blatant lie — or the words of someone completely uninformed about the entire annexation process for Bethel, and how the City went about it — in spite of his being a member of the City Planning Commission at the time. You can find my response here.

Last week, Matthes attempted to imply that I was involved in some kind of sinister back room deal that gave away the City’s water right to C&M Golf LLC, owners of McCormick Woods Golf Course. Nothing could be further from the truth. C&M Golf owns the well in question — NOT the City. With this mind, Councilman Rob
Putaansuu was quoted in the Port Orchard Independent as saying, “This is petty politics, it really is. I think this whole situation is politically motivated and Matthes is trying to point to something Lary Coppola (former mayor) did wrong.”

According to the Independent, Putaansuu said Matthes' questions about the Well 4B water rights have been answered. He noted Matthes sent out an email asking the questions, but he doesn’t think the Mayor really wanted answers to those questions.

“He never included the city attorney (Greg Jacoby) in the email requesting the information,”
Putaansuu told the Independent. “He (Jacoby) is the one who could have provided the information. There was an email send out Friday (July 4) by the attorney that answered all of the mayor’s questions.”

The agreement he is questioning was originally approved by the City Council in 2003 — when Jay Weatherill was Mayor. The Department of Ecology (DOE) didn’t approve it until 2005, when Kim Abel was Mayor, and the City didn’t receive the final DOE approval paperwork until 2008. Why it took the state so long to issue that approval and deliver the final paperwork to the City is a mystery that can only be solved in Olympia. However, City Attorney Greg Jacoby has confirmed this timeline, and in 2008 it was he that advised me to sign the agreement — just as the sitting Mayor is obligated to sign any other Council-approved document.

Had the agreement been delivered to the city in a timely manner by DOE, either Mayor Weatherill or Mayor Abel would have signed that document and this would be a total non-issue. So if petty politics ISN'T the reason for this to come forward now, any thinking person has to wonder WHY Mayor Matthes and his political mentor Gil Michael, have brought it forward at all, because in the end, the City benefited. As
Putaansuu has suggested, it appears to be petty politics at its worst. Or perhaps my wife and I looking at homes in McCormick Woods recently has spooked Matthes, who is rumored to want another term as Mayor.
 
Michael also called for Councilman Jerry Childs and Putaansuu to recuse themselves from this issue because they play golf at McCormick Woods. This is an inane request, that borders on the absurd. All he is doing is trying to cast doubt on Putaansuu and Childs' integrity in the minds of low-information voters — something that in my view he’s no stranger to doing.

The truth is, Childs and Putaansuu have done absolutely nothing wrong. Michael also points to Putaansuu's support of C&M Golf partner Shawn Cucciardi when he ran for Port Of Bremerton Commissioner in 2011 as another reason to recuse himself — in spite of being Chair of the City's Utility Committee. His support of Cucciardi has nothing at all to do with THIS issue, and it was done as a private citizen — NOT as a council member. It is absolutely no different than Michael’s political support of Council members Fred Chang and Bek Ashby. Using Michael’s logic, they both should have to recuse themselves as well.

In the future, I would appreciate it if the Mayor and Mr. Michael would acquaint themselves with the actual facts before implying I'm involved in something sinister, and attempting to implicate me in it with NO proof whatsoever. Their cheap shots at me, at my character, and at my integrity, have gotten real old.

Monday, June 30, 2014

SCOTUS Decision on Hobby Lobby Fuels Fundraising Firestorm

Within hours of the Supreme Count decision on Hobby Lobby being announced, I received no less than 13 emails from various Progressives — starting with Senator Patty Murray — and from organizations with high-minded sounding names, dribbling all the way down to local candidates who have zero horsepower to change anything. What they all had in common was an obvious "outrage" at the SCOTUS decision, attached to an angry demand that I send them money immediately — anywhere from $1,000 to $3 — so they can "fight" this "evil decision."

And how exactly are they going to do that? Just like Citizens United case was, it’s a SUPREME COURT decision! That’s the end of the line legally. Game over! Do they REALLY think I’m so stupid, or so uninformed, that I don’t know they can’t do a damn thing about it — especially local politicians? They obviously think a lot people are that dumb, or they wouldn't be sending this stuff out in blanket spam emails to hundreds of thousands of people across the country.

I’m not commenting either way on the decision itself, only on the fact that the political fundraising machine didn’t lose a minute's time to try and capitalize financially on it — even though just like Citizen's United, all the money in the world isn’t going to change it. Don't get me wrong. I get the same kind of things from the Republicans and their conservative cohorts on a pretty regular basis as well. Today it included a few looking for money to celebrate "Religious Liberty" — whatever that means. It's just that this one seemed well prepared in advance — by both sides — as the first one arrived at about 8 a.m — or 11 a.m. in Washington D.C. where the SCOTUS is located.

Is it just me, or does anyone else think this kind of political fundraising gamesmanship has contributed to America becoming so polarized as a nation? Does anyone else wonder why we are being pitted against each other by nameless, faceless "organizations" from both sides masquerading as advocates for issues we believe in, when in reality we're pretty clueless about who is behind them? Have our elected officials intentionally given up on the ability to compromise — even on things that are good for us — because it's become more about the money than about servant leadership? Consequences for the country be damned — it's become some kind of perverted  contest to see how bad they can make the other side look than it is about doing what's right for America — which, in my view at least, is why America is in the pitiful shape it is today.

Time for a change...

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Port Orchard Ponders Tightening Up Pot Zoning


The Port Orchard City Council will vote On June 24, on an ordinance to restrict marijuana retailers, growers, and processors from locating within 1,000 feet of home-based day care businesses. While there are restrictions about where marijuana enterprises can locate, home-based day cares are excluded under the state’s Liquor Control Board’s rules, while nursery schools and preschools are not.

On June 10, the city staff presented the revised ordinance for the council’s consideration. At that meeting, Development Director Nick Bond said the city wasn’t aware of the state’s omission of home day cares in May, when the council approved the current ordinance. What he meant to say, was HE was not aware of the omission — which isn’t surprising.

Bond is in so far over his head in what is his first job as a planning director, it isn't even funny. He’s barely worked as a planner, much less a planning department head. Makes me wonder if that isn’t exactly why Mayor Tim Matthes and puppetmaster Gil Michael picked him. His inexperience has allowed them to run amuck unchecked, proposing things any experienced planning director might recommend against. But that’s an entirely different story that deserves looking into.

On the surface, one would think passing this should be a no-brainer. Sadly, Councilman Fred Chang opposes it, saying in a Kitsap Sun article, that he sympathizes with daycare owner Terri Squires, who owns a home-based child care business inside the proposed 1,000 foot buffer, but said, “It sort of pains me a little bit that we might curtail activity in an industrial center where we have so little (industrial zoning.)”

Chang is obviously clueless about how economic development actually works, and/or the fact the city receives ZERO TAX REVENUE from marijuana enterprises. The Port Orchard Industrial Park is meant to be a place for businesses to locate that create jobs, and whose sales generate tax revenue for the city. Marijuana businesses do neither — and there are FOUR — yes count ‘em, FOUR — marijuana producers at the industrial park. The number of jobs created by marijuana enterprises in comparison to a manufacturing operation using the same amount of that scarce, industrially zoned square footage Chang is so worried about — including other businesses located at that industrial park — is laughable.

ALL the tax money marijuana businesses generate goes directly to the state, while local governments are forced to deal with the negative impact, and local taxpayers get to foot the bill. I’m not opposed to legalized marijuana, but do believe local taxpayers shouldn’t be forced to deal with the consequences of it while the state treats it like a cash cow with no responsibility for the outcome.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Handicapping the Kitsap Prosecutor's Race

For the first time since his initial election, when he challenged and beat incumbent C. Danny Clem 20 years ago, Kitsap County Prosecutor Russ Hauge has drawn opposition. But it isn't just one opponent, it's three — including one from his own party.

In the primary election to be held in August, the top two vote getters will face each other in November. The big question is whether or not Hauge will survive the primary. In a poll on the Kitsap Sun, he ran dead last — well behind the other three. Hauge seems to have drawn the ire of the community over what has amounted to a taxpayer funded, personal vendetta against Marcus Carter and the Kitsap Rifle and Revolver Club (KRRC) — that has gone on for over 15 years. According to a Public Records Request we filed, Hauge has spent nearly a half million of our tax dollars losing this well-publicized case in court to Carter — who acted as his own attorney — four different times.

In the meantime, because he isn't going to win this case in court, Hauge has unleashed the county's Department of Community Development (DCD) against the KRRC, trying to basically shut the club down using land use rules. A source inside DCD has told us a controversial new ordinance currently under consideration that would all but shut down the club's operation, is being driven by Hauge's office — not the commissioners. We are currently preparing a Public Records Request to see if that's true or not. Apparently, the fact the ordinance would wreak havoc on local businesses, homeowners, and home sellers countywide — giving county code enforcers the authority to come on to your property at will, uninvited, is considered collateral damage in Hauge's fight to prevail in this vendetta. 

But back to handicapping the race...
Hauge is a Democrat, and his opponents are Republican Tina Robinson, a public defender; Democrat Bob Scales, former City Councilman and Mayor of Bainbridge Island, and Independent Bruce Danielson. All three are practicing attorneys. 

Bruce Danielson: Danielson challenged Hauge four years ago and came close to unseating him, garnering 47 percent of the vote. I don't see him getting anywhere near that total this go around, as in my view, a lot of people didn't vote "for" Danielson, but voted "against" Hauge. While the sheer number of Democrats on Bainbridge Island made the difference for Hauge, this time, voters countywide have more choices. 

I'm not sure Danielson, who leans heavily conservative, will survive the primary. A lot of his support last time came from Republicans, who didn't have a candidate four years ago, but who will support Robinson — their party's candidate, this time. 

Tina Robinson: Robinson is a smart lady, who prior to becoming an attorney was a business manager with Group Health, and had a successful career there. Her Achilles heal is that while she is a competent defense attorney, with the experience to run the business end of the Prosecutors Office, she admittedly has zero experience in the civil arena — which includes land use — a blood sport in Kitsap County. She said in an endorsement interview I was part of, that she believed the office has experienced, competent civil attorneys, and she would rely on their expertise. The problem with that is it leaves the inmates running the asylum. 

The Republicans smell blood in the water and will make a strong financial push to support Robinson. She's already raised more money that Hauge, and could wind up in the Top Two. But in the end, her lack of civil experience could make the difference between winning and losing.

Bob Scales: Scales is, in my view, far and away the most qualified candidate, and should be a no brainer best choice for voters. He has significantly more actual courtroom experience than almost all of the other candidates combined — especially Hauge, who has almost none, save losing to Carter and losing the case of the police dog that was shot and killed. He also brings the requisite administrative experience from King County and Seattle, as well as having served on the Bainbridge island City Council, where he was selected by the Council to serve a term as Mayor.

The Bainbridge Island Democrat isn't as well known here as he is in Seattle, where he's spent his career practicing law for King County and the City of Seattle. Whenever there have been thorny issues to deal with — such as the Department of Justice's (DOJ) probe of the Seattle Police Department — Scales has been the "go to guy" to get to the bottom of things and solve the problems, because he knows how to get things done.

The problem Scales has is his own party's Precinct Committee Officers (PCOs) who have closed ranks behind their incumbent, Hauge — in spite of his pathetic record. This is the same group of crybabies that publicly whined in the Kitsap Sun like spoiled children when County Commissioners Charlotte Garrido and Rob Gelder had the integrity to select the most qualified candidate — Linda  Streissguth — to replace Josh Brown over their preferred choice, Leslie Daugs. The fact Daugs has zero administrative, budgeting, financial, or personnel management experience didn't matter to them. It was all about Daugs openly admitted ultra-liberal politics — not her qualifications. What's wrong with this picture?

But if Hauge is eliminated in the primary — which is a very real possibility — the party will unite to support Scales just as it has Streissguth in her battle to hold on to the Commissioner's seat against formidable Republican challenger Ed Wolfe.

Conclusion: The election will come down to Scales vs. Robinson. There is just too much anti-Hauge sentiment in this county over the issues with Carter and the KRRC. Republicans will push hard for Robinson, but in the end, with Hauge out, the Bainbridge Island Democrats will cinch it for Scales — which will be a good thing for Kitsap County.

Friday, April 25, 2014

How Much Money Will Hauge's Vendetta Ultimately Cost Us?

If you follow local news, it shouldn't come as a shock to you that Kitsap County Prosecutor Russ Hauge has spent most of the entire time he's been in office trying to put Kitsap Rifle and Revolver Club (KRRC) Executive Director Marcus Carter in jail. After losing in court — three times, with Carter acting as his own attorney — on some bogus trumped up charges that Carter modified a rifle to become an illegal, fully automatic weapon, Hauge enlisted the Kitsap County Department of Community Development (DCD) to help him shut down KRRC by using the land use code. 

You know DCD — that's the same County department that threatened a Southworth home owner with having to tear down the tree house he built for his kids because it wasn't an allowed use under the zoning code, didn't meet the building code, and was constructed without a building permit.

The latest episode in this sad saga revolves around the county convening a 5-member committee made up of Carter, and four gun range opponents — including one of the Commissioner's favorite partisan lapdogs — a loudmouth blowhard who is a self-styled "expert" on any and all things — just pick a subject and ask him. Their job was to propose a countywide gun range ordinance that in the end proved to be nothing more than your basic predetermined outcome from the get go. Carter was the only one to vote against sending it to the commissioners for adoption. 

This entire thing is nothing but an absolute farce. It's gone on for about 15 years now, and is simply a personal vendetta against Marcus Carter that Prosecutor Russ Hauge is financing with OUR tax dollars — so far over a half a million of them. Personally, I resent my tax dollars being wasted this way when we have so many other, more important needs that money could be used for.

It's time for this to come to an end. The County Commissioners have the power to call a halt to this vendetta, however, I don't see that happening. I personally asked Commissioner Linda Striessguth in a recent endorsement interview if she would be willing to stand up to Hauge on this, and she talked all around it, and never answered what was a very direct question. In my book, such a non-answer IS an answer, and apparently the answer is, NO, she won't.

If this ultimately ends up in the Supreme Court — which is a very real possibility — it will be us, the taxpayers of Kitsap County, who foot the bill. Also, if Mr. Carter takes the County to court after winning, it will also be us who get to pay his legal costs and most likely millions in damages, all because one elected official has severely abused the power of government to further his own personal vendetta, while the County Commissioners — who control his budget — refuse to stop him.

Enough...

BTW, how many of you are aware that CK Safe and Quiet is NOT a non-profit citizens group, but a for profit L.L.C.? Inquiring minds are curious why...

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Bubba goes to the Waffle House: So what?

After his victory at The Masters in Augusta, Georgia, pro golfer Bubba Watson understandably celebrated with his family, The fact he chose the Waffle House to do it, seems to have raised the hackles of a self-appointed, elitist, nanny-state guardian of nutrition by the name of Katherine Tallamage. Tallamage, who as you can see from her picture, appears to be borderline anorexic, is perhaps best known for cozying up to Michelle Obama in support of her questionable school lunch menu program. Personally, I think Tallamadge looks like she could use a visit or two the Waffle House herself.

Watson tweeted pictures of his Waffle House visit that went viral, and apparently that caught the attention of Tallamage, who immediately swung into action condemning his choice of eating establishments — as if it's any of her business — saying it sets a bad example for the rest of the country. Exactly who was it that appointed her our National Food Nazi anyway?

For our readers who have never had the pleasure of a Waffle House visit and meal, it can as much of an entertainment experience — especially at 2 a.m. — as it is a culinary delight. The food is cheap. The last time I ate there — steak and eggs was about seven and half bucks, and you can get up to four eggs, and add cheese to them if you want. Of course the steak is only about a quarter inch thick, but what do you expect for seven and a half bucks? The hash browns are the best in America, and you can get them any way you want them. My personal favorite is — "Smothered" (with onions), "Covered" (with cheese), "Chunked" (with hickory-smoked ham), and "Peppered" (with jalapenos). I'm not real big on having them "Diced" (with tomatoes) or "Topped" (with Chili). But lot of folks are, or they wouldn't offer them that way. 

Primarily located in the South, I think the western-most Waffle House is off I-10 in Phoenix, and it's a few hundred miles between there and nearest other one. They only play two kinds of music — country and western — and they don't accept credit cards. But it's the people who make a visit to the Waffle House as much fun as it can be. It is a true slice of American culture — at all levels — as Watson proved.

Eating at a Waffle House — or anywhere else for that matter — is a personal choice, and at this point, we're still allowed to make those kind of  choices — at least until ObamaCare prohibits them. But it was Tallamadge's rant, based upon her apparent powers of mental telepathy, that got the attention of right-wing talk show host Rush Limbaugh. According to published reports, Tallamadge stated on one of Neil Cavuto's Fox programs that she just knows that Watson's. "a complete phony about what he really eats."

Limbaugh accurately described Tallamadge's career success as, "...based on pestering people over what they eat." Apparently she also thinks of herself as a Washington D.C. insider, using a picture of Michelle Obama on her Web site to promote the Obama administration's dubious, heavy-handed obesity battle.

Now I don't particularly like Rush Limbaugh and don't listen to his show — or any right-wing talk radio for that matter. For the most part, I think Rush is a pompous, blowhard, ass. But he's spot on in this case. You can see for yourself what he had to say about Tallamadge and this whole incident by clicking here.

The bottom line is, what business is it of anyone — much less some self-appointed elitist busybody like Katherine Tallmadge — where anyone else eats, or what they eat? Do America a favor Katherine. Mind your own business.

Saturday, March 01, 2014

Time to draw a line in the sand...

It’s no secret to any non Kool-Aid drinking person actually paying attention to the world around them, that the Obama administration’s corrupt practices have led to a systematic dismantling of the protections guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. Now that I have your attention, of course I realize that sounds blatantly partisan — like an alarmist Fox News rant, with a cup of Tea Party flavoring mixed in. However, if you’ve read George Orwell’s classic novel 1984, you know it isn’t.

The novel, originally published in 1949, is set in the superstate of Oceania, in a world perpetually at war, and where highly intrusive government surveillance of its citizens is omnipresent. Can you say NSA?

Public mind control is dictated by a political system known as “Big Brother.” It enforces the government’s invented language, “Newspeak” — or in our case, political correctness — both of which basically take away the right of free speech. In 1984, it’s all controlled by a privileged class of governmental elitists that prosecute all independent thinking and individualism as “thought crimes.” Sound familiar?

Nowhere is the scary comparison between 1984 and what is currently happening in America more evident than the recent announcement the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will be sending people to “investigate” television and radio newsrooms across America. Under the guise of something called the “Multi-Market Study of Critical Information Needs,” the agency plans to send “researchers” to grill reporters, editors and station owners about the news philosophy of their stations, and openly demand to know exactly who decides which stories are covered.

Quite frankly, that’s none of the government’s damn business! That’s what the First Amendment is all about.

How long before this administration invades newspaper city rooms — which have become primarily Internet-based? How long before they use the government’s control over Internet access to regulate independent, web-based news content? And finally, overrun that last bastion of independent thought, bloggers?

MSNBC and the rest of the Lamestream Media — except for Fox — has become little more than the press office of the Obama administration. So they’ve not resisted this heavy-handed government initiative to control what news we get to see and hear. I have to wonder, why not?

However, the Radio Television Digital News Association has stood up to fight back, condemning the administration’s actions as, “ill-conceived,” and having the potential to, “...chill every journalist and every station which prides itself on journalistic independence.”

American University professor John Watson noted, “Whenever I hear of the government going into a newsroom to do something other than deliver coffee, I become frightened. Because the government should not, as a general rule, be any part of journalism.”

And former FCC commissioner Robert McDowell questioned, “How much government coercion might there be with all of this? Is the government trying to ultimately dictate speech and dictate how journalists are supposed to do their jobs?”

This certainly appears to be the first step in that direction.

The very last thing we need is the government involved in deciding news content. This Big Brother-ish effort by the FCC is little more than a Trojan horse meant to integrate federal officials into the newsroom — where they don’t belong.

And before all you Kool-Aid drinkers get your shorts in a wad, ask yourselves, what kind of outrage would you be expressing if this kind of government intrusion was proposed under the Bush administration?

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Inslee's hypocritical Death Penalty Move

“I don’t question their guilt or the gravity of their crimes. They get no mercy from me,” stated Washington State Governor Jay Inslee when he announced that he would suspend all executions for prisoners on Death Row during the balance of his term in Olympia.

Well, that’s an all too obvious lie. Suspending all executions is merciful — although not to the families and loved ones of the victims who wait for justice. Whether the Death Row inmates deserve Inslee's mercy or not is a totally different question. But his action is merciful nonetheless — in spite of his denial.

I’m not altogether convinced the death penalty is a deterrent to murder, but do believe it should be preserved — although used sparingly. IMHO, there are just some people who are sociopathic predators, and some who simply commit crimes so heinous they deserve nothing less than death — Charles Manson for example, whom the taxpayers of California have supported for decades longer than he was a free man. Gary Ridgeway, AKA the Green River Killer, and Jonathon Lee Gentry, who killed 12-year old Cassie Holden by bludgeoning her with a rock in 1988, fall into that same category as well. 


And what was the reason Ted Bundy openly admitted committing his crimes in Florida was his only mistake? Florida is a Death Penalty state that actually executes those who run out of legal appeals — as Bundy found out.

Gentry has been on Death Row for 27 years now. Meanwhile, Inslee said, “It costs the state more to carry out a death sentence than to lodge a person in prison for life.” Personally, I’d like to see the numbers that prove it has cost the taxpayers less to house, feed, and fund more than a quarter century of his ongoing legal appeals, compared to the cost of filling a syringe and sticking it into this convicted murderer’s arm.

If that’s Inslee’s idea of cost-effective government, Washington has significantly larger problems than the question of the death penalty.

Thursday, December 05, 2013

Get Ready To Be Taxed For Every Mile You Drive

Road usage charge options and tolling being discussed at Washington State Transportation Commission hearings Dec. 10 and 11

Transportation revenue options are a focus of the Washington State Transportation Commission’s meeting next week in Olympia. The commission is completing an evaluation of the business case for ways to replace the gas tax with a road usage charge system (Read: Vehicle Miles Driven TAX). What this means is you will be charged to drive on roads you've already bought and paid for.

 Commissioners also will hear a SR 520 tolling update and discuss the future Interstate 405 express toll lanes.

The meeting will start at 9 a.m. each day, Tuesday and Wednesday, Dec. 10 and 11, at the Transportation Building, 310 Maple Park Ave. SE, on the Capitol Campus in Olympia. The meeting is open to the public and persons wishing to speak to the commission may do so during the public comment period scheduled at the end of each day.

Tuesday’s agenda begins with a continuation of discussions regarding the I-405 express toll lanes rates and policies. The project is currently under construction between Bellevue and Lynnwood and is expected to open in 2015. It is the first phase of a planned 40-mile-long express toll lane system that will ultimately run from Lynnwood to Renton on I-405 and connect to the existing State Route 167 HOT lanes. Local officials representing the I-405 and SR 167 corridor presented their recommendations to the commission in November. 

The commission will host a public input process in early 2014 as they work towards setting the toll rates and policies for the express toll lanes by spring 2014. Unless you want to pay to drive on the roads you already own, make it a point to attend these hearings and make your voice heard.

Tuesday afternoon, staff from the Oregon Department of Transportation will brief the commission on the passage and implementation of Oregon’s new road usage charge legislation. Following this, the commission will consider recommendations developed by a broad-based steering committee for the next steps of Washington’s Road Usage Charge Assessment which has been in progress for over a year. The legislatively directed assessment has looked at the feasibility and the business case for a possible road usage charge system in Washington State that could replace the gas tax in the future. The commission will submit its final report and recommendations to the Legislature in January 2014. 

On Wednesday, Washington State Department of Transportation staff will brief the commission regarding tolling operations, including financial, traffic and revenue updates for the SR 520 Bridge and Tacoma Narrows Bridge. The commission also will receive a briefing on the Results Washington program and WSDOT’s implementation of Lean management.

For more information about the commission and complete meeting agendas, visit: http://www.wstc.wa.gov/

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Local Republicans shoot themselves in the foot... again

I’ve written many times over the years in the Business Journal that it’s my belief there isn’t a way for the Kitsap County Republican Party to shoot itself in the foot that it hasn’t thought of, but that I have great confidence in its ability to invent new ones. And once again, they haven’t let me down. The most recent blunder came when the party mailed out a campaign piece in South Kitsap endorsing Democrats over its own Republican incumbents in the recent election. Yes, you read that correctly. 

You have to feel sorry for local party chair Chris Tibbs, who is being undermined by his own people — people’s whose personal agenda is more important than the good of the party, or in this case, the good of Port Orchard.

The first time I met Tibbs, he was running for county commissioner in Central Kitsap, and like many of the Republicans recruited to run for office here, I found him to be uninformed about basic issues any candidate seeking the commissioner’s seat should have known. Afterwards, the Republican Party elected him chair, and as I’ve gotten to know him, have come to realize he’s really not a bad guy at all. He also keenly understands what must happen for the party to succeed in drawing electable candidates into its fold — the main thing it’s failed miserably at for almost two decades under its former ultra conservative leadership. 

Tibbs understands the infighting between the conservative and moderate factions in the party has to stop or it will just be business as usual — no one running for anything who is close enough to the center to actually win a local election in a decidedly liberal county, and a party that’s been marginalized into near obscurity by its own actions. Tibbs has made it his goal to turn that around and is building on a number of small successes. However, situations like what happened in South Kitsap negate any progress he makes.

Although the election has been decided, there's an ongoing battle in Port Orchard for the hearts and minds of voters. There were two issues combined on the ballot — Proposition 1 — the change from a second-class city to a code city, and changing from the strong mayor form of government to a council/city manager form — plus four City Council seats up for grabs.

As Mayor, I brought both these issues forward, separately, in 2010. The Council passed the code city change — it doesn’t require a vote of the people — but later rescinded it, caving in to political pressure brought about by a bogus petition worded to scare low-information voters into signing, and would have cost the city about $30,000 to have on the ballot. That petition was engineered by one of the very same people behind the Republican mailer endorsing Democrats — Gil Michael, who is also referred to by many as Mayor Tim Matthes’ puppetmaster.

A second-class city must have a planning commission of three to 12 members. A code city must have a planning agency — which can be a planning department, a person, staff or body, rather than a planning commission. The Port Orchard Planning Commission is Michael’s base of power. Had Proposition 1 passed, his power base would have dissolved — which in my opinion would be a good thing for Port Orchard.

It’s no secret in Port Orchard that Michael would like to control City Hall — and to some extent already does. He hand-picks slates of candidates he can control every election. His choices this time — whose names appeared on that mailer — were Eric Gonnason and Bek Ashby. Fred Chang, who was unopposed, was already aligned with Michael and the mayor.

Since Michael is the Republican PCO for that area — and Chang the Democratic PCO for the same area — am I the only one who finds it unusual that incumbent Republican Jerry Childs was not endorsed, but his challenger, Gonnason, a newcomer surrounded by residence issues, was?

A source of the Business Journal met with Gonnason and confronted him with proof about his lack of residence, and some other issues before the election, Gonnason openly admitted he had been personally recruited by Matthes during a meeting in the Mayor's office to challenge Childs, and that Matthes made a call from the Mayor's office phone at City Hall to Michael, to introduce him. He further said the plan was for Gonnason to challenge Childs, Jeff Braden to challenge Rob Putuansuu, Ashby to win the open seat vacated by longtime council member Carloyn Powers, and for Chang to run unopposed. Combined with the mayor he already controls, Michael would own the four votes needed to control City Hall with an iron fist.

Somewhere they got their wires crossed because Gonnason and Braden both filed against Childs. Braden dropped out, but too late to avoid the city paying for a runoff election. The end result is that Michael now controls Ashby and Chang — and to some extent Putuansuu, who fears Michael because the plan was to run an opponent against him.

Oh yeah, Michael also opposed Proposition 1, for which the flyer recommended a “No” vote on as well. Since that would also eliminate his puppet mayor along with the Planning Commission, I can’t say I’m surprised. This is clearly a case of Michael's personal agenda trumping what’s best for not only the city, but the local Republican Party as well. Meanwhile, Chris Tibbs is one of the most frustrated people I know. Personally I think it’s time for state party chair Susan Hutchinson to step in and clean up this mess. The question is, will she?