Thursday, July 31, 2008

Editorially Trashing Angel

I read a story in the Peninsula Gateway written by one Paige Richmond, that must have slipped by the editor somehow, because it's bias against Jan Angel and for Kim Abel, is so obvious, it belongs on the editorial page — not the front page.

After reading the story, I'm convinced Richmond must have failed Journalism 101. Obviously, she doesn't know where to find PDC campaign contribution information, as every one of folks she interviewed favoring Abel, has a conflict of interest in the fact they are all campaign contributors — or else she intended the story to read exactly as it does.

Quoted in the story are Kitsap County Commissioner Josh Brown, Ray Garrido, and Port Orchard City Councilman Fred Chang — all Democrats.

Garrido is the husband of former Kitsap County Commissioner Charlotte Garrido, who Angel unseated, and then beat again as an incumbent. Now, with Angel out of the way, Garrido is running again. Chang is one of Abel's largest private (read, not a labor union) campaign contributors, donating $1,000 to her.

Brown, who can be abrasively partisan, also donated to Abel, and is quoted in the story as saying Abel was an “instrumental leader in securing money for education” who “has the experience” for a state representative position.

As the guy who will spend most of my first year in office cleaning up the huge mess she left as Mayor of Port Orchard, I have to take serious exception to that — unless Brown's idea of "experience" is micromanagement, and turning over experienced staff. While I've been beat up in some of the Kitsap Sun's blogs for making three replacements at City Hall, almost half of the City staff changed during Abel's administration — with extremely few retirements. The City Engineer/Public Works Director, Larry Curles, who had been there over 20 years, quit after less than 60 days working for Abel. Curles was out of work for only a matter of hours. The West Sound Utility District — which recognized the opportunity of a lifetime — hired him immediately.

It seems every time we peel back another layer of skin on the onion Abel left us, we find something else that either wasn't done, done correctly, followed up on, deadlines missed, or another project over budget due to lack of mayoral oversight.

One example is the Tremont Gateway Project. This was the top prioritized Kitsap project for PSRC funding, yet paperwork to secure $3.3 million was never followed up on, causing it to fall off of PSRC's funding list. And while we've gotten it back into the funding que, because of the delays that lack of follow up caused, the project is years behind schedule and has ballooned in cost from $9 million to an estimated $15 million.

Another example is the repaving of Bay Street, which is a state highway. Paperwork for this was never completed and returned to the state. Consequently, the City almost missed out, and if it wasn't for the intervention of Sen. Derek Kilmer with WSDOT, this may have only been a much abbreviated project, or not happened at all.

But perhaps the most negligent thing Abel is responsible for, is leaving office with the City's Comprehensive Plan almost four years out of compliance with the Growth Management Act (GMA). Her blatant violation of the GMA has locked the City out of literally millions of dollars of grant money it would otherwise be eligible to compete for.

Paige Richmond somehow managed to neglect mentioning any of this in her story, while allowing Josh Brown to completely distort Jan Angel's record while in office. In fact, she failed to even talk to anyone critical of Abel.

Brown goes on to trash Angel by saying, "Commissioner Angel’s record during her eight years has been one of deficit spending."

The truth here is that Angel has spent years on the losing side of numerous 2-1 votes after arguing against dipping into reserve funds to balance the County's budget. She was outvoted by Democrats Chris Endresen and Tim Botkin, as well as Endresen and Brown himself. If Angel is a deficit spender, so is Brown.

Brown continued his trash talking with, “She’s had no leadership when it came to higher education. And she’s been unable to deliver on big transportation projects, like corridors in Port Orchard."

Again, the real story here is that she was outvoted by the her fellow commissioners when they intentionally diverted millions away from funding Port Orchard's Bethel Corridor improvements to pay for that boondoggle reconfiguration of the Waaga Way interchange on Highway 3 (which is in Brown's district). Now, Brown wants the voters in Port Orchard to tax themselves to fund widening Bethel. They also outvoted Angel when they appropriated money for widening Highway 305, which also took money away from projects in Port Orchard.

Brown winds up his diatribe against Angel by saying, "The bottom line for choosing a candidate isn’t just about the amount of terms served in office — it’s the work done in those terms."

That statement is exceptionally lame, considering the Democrats have held the commission's majority for most of Angel's two terms in office — including conspiring to deny her the chairmanship when it was her turn — and intentionally blocking almost every initiative she's attempted to move forward. In spite of that, she's accomplished a great deal for the citizens of South Kitsap.

Obviously, the 27-year old Brown's political inexperience has led him to (perhaps unknowingly) break the unwritten rule that electeds stay above the fray and refrain from campaign rhetoric against other electeds.

However, the real "bottom line" here is that Jan Angel is a skilled leader who’s record proves she accomplished much more as County Commissioner than Kim Abel ever did as Mayor — and in my view is far more qualified to serve as our State Representative.

1 comment:

  1. More people need to read this blog to get an insider's view on our local politics that differs from the Sun.