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Letters to the Editor - September 26, 2011

  • Written by Readers

Homeowners initiate; governments authorize

Much is being said about the authority of the Woodinville Water District during my re-election campaign. There is passionate public debate about forced connections to the sewer system.

If your home is serviced by a healthy and working septic system, no one will bother you about your septic system.

In practice, the water district is a business of pumps and pipes that operates and maintains the water and sewer systems.

In application, the district is just one step in a permit process that is administered by one of the local governing bodies, i.e., the cities of Bothell,  Kirkland, Redmond  and Woodinville, or King County (for the unincorporated areas), that are within the  district’s boundaries.

The permit process is kicked off by the homeowner who wants to remodel or construct a building.

The first step is to apply for a permit with the governing body that has jurisdiction.  If the governing body, which has the permitting authority over the homeowner’s property, deems a project needs to connect to the sewer system, then the homeowner contacts the water district to determine if sewer service is available for that property.

Next, the homeowner returns to the governing body to complete the course of action resulting in a building permit being issued.

Clearly, this is a homeowner-initiated process from start to finish.

Governmental agencies deal directly with the homeowner. Woodinville Water District is not directed by these governmental agencies to connect people to the sewer system.

The entire course of action of connecting to sewers is a homeowner-initiated process between the homeowner and their city or the county.

Karen Steeb, Woodinville Water District commissioner

 

Explanation requested

As a member of the  Woodinville Board of Fire Commissioners for Woodinville Fire   & Rescue, Clint Olson is tasked with ensuring that taxpayer resources are used appropriately and to safeguard them against waste and fraud.

Given that, why would Commissioner Olson give approximately $500,000 to the Summit Law Group over the past two years — yes, half a million dollars of a relatively small fire district budget in a poor economy —and tell them that they do not WANT an itemized receipt?  How are the citizens better protected by giving lawyers free access to the checkbook?

When Commissioner Olson and the Board of Commissioners signed the contract with Summit Law Group, a section was purposely inserted into the contract that stated they would only be provided with “summary” billing.

This means that the bills contain an amount, say $18,000, but no record of how that figure was obtained.

Most attorneys don’t bill this way — their clients expect itemized billing.

The commissioners then approve the bill without any question of what they are being billed FOR.

How can they assure the citizens that the bill is correct? Furthermore, how can they possibly justify this massive expense in legal fees?

The Woodinville fire fighters and others have requested itemized legal bills.  To this date, none have been provided.

We have found it highly unusual for a fire district to retain an attorney for a long term without any specific reason; to spend such exorbitant amounts on legal fees; and to continually pay huge legal fees without any knowledge or explanation of what the district is being charged for.

That is why I offer Commissioner Olson an opportunity to explain how spending large, blanket amounts of taxpayer dollars to an attorney provides better protection to the community.  Since Clint Olson is asking for the taxpayers to vote for him, I think they deserve an explanation.

Greg Garat

Executive Board Member

IAFF Local 2950


What constitutes a fitness walk and a P.E. class?

As a resident of the Northshore School District and someone who works in downtown Woodinville, I would pose this question to the district, administration and the physical education instructors.

On days that Woodinville has “block days” (two hour classes alternating on Wednesday and Thursday) PE students have been given the option to partake in a “fitness walk” through downtown Woodinville.

Students “en- mass” walk from the high school through the downtown corridor and back to the high school.

The permission slips state that they can bring money for snacks.

From the perspective of a taxpayer, I wonder if the teachers pay is reflective of this non-teaching time.  From the perspective of a business person, I wonder if the students are supervised. From the perspective of a parent, I wonder what they are buying.

The reality is that the students are in groups of 1-5 walking with no real purpose through downtown. They are stopping at Top Foods where they are loading up on donuts and Monsters.

My favorite this week was the basket with three packages of cookies and two Rockstars. They are going to Jamba Juice and Starbucks buying giant-sized beverages.

It is not an aerobic walk.There are no teachers or supervision that I could see on the two days I witnessed it, and it poses the questions of what is the curriculum?

I guess the most disturbing part is I was told that the students were told if they didn’t bring in the permission slip and therefore couldn’t go on the walks, they would spend their time in the library.

K. Brady, Woodinville

Homeowners initiate; governments authorize
Much is being said about the authority of the Woodinville Water District during my re-election campaign. There is passionate public debate about forced connections to the sewer system.
If your home is serviced by a healthy and working septic system, no one will bother you about your septic system.  
In practice, the water district is a business of pumps and pipes that operates and maintains the water and sewer systems.
In application, the district is just one step in a permit process that is administered by one of the local governing bodies, i.e., the cities of Bothell,  Kirkland, Redmond  and Woodinville, or King County (for the unincorporated areas), that are within the  district’s boundaries.
The permit process is kicked off by the homeowner who wants to remodel or construct a building.  
The first step is to apply for a permit with the governing body that has jurisdiction.  If the governing body, which has the permitting authority over the homeowner’s property, deems a project needs to connect to the sewer system, then the homeowner contacts the water district to determine if sewer service is available for that property.  
Next, the homeowner returns to the governing body to complete the course of action resulting in a building permit being issued.  
Clearly, this is a homeowner-initiated process from start to finish.
Governmental agencies deal directly with the homeowner. Woodinville Water District is not directed by these governmental agencies to connect people to the sewer system.
The entire course of action of connecting to sewers is a homeowner-initiated process between the homeowner and their city or the county.
Karen Steeb, Woodinville Water District commissioner


Explanation requested
As a member of the  Woodinville Board of Fire Commissioners for Woodinville Fire   & Rescue, Clint Olson is tasked with ensuring that taxpayer resources are used appropriately and to safeguard them against waste and fraud. 
Given that, why would Commissioner Olson give approximately $500,000 to the Summit Law Group over the past two years — yes, half a million dollars of a relatively small fire district budget in a poor economy —and tell them that they do not WANT an itemized receipt?  How are the citizens better protected by giving lawyers free access to the checkbook?
When Commissioner Olson and the Board of Commissioners signed the contract with Summit Law Group, a section was purposely inserted into the contract that stated they would only be provided with “summary” billing.
This means that the bills contain an amount, say $18,000, but no record of how that figure was obtained.
Most attorneys don’t bill this way — their clients expect itemized billing.
The commissioners then approve the bill without any question of what they are being billed FOR.
How can they assure the citizens that the bill is correct? Furthermore, how can they possibly justify this massive expense in legal fees?
The Woodinville fire fighters and others have requested itemized legal bills.  To this date, none have been provided.
We have found it highly unusual for a fire district to retain an attorney for a long term without any specific reason; to spend such exorbitant amounts on legal fees; and to continually pay huge legal fees without any knowledge or explanation of what the district is being charged for.
That is why I offer Commissioner Olson an opportunity to explain how spending large, blanket amounts of taxpayer dollars to an attorney provides better protection to the community.  Since Clint Olson is asking for the taxpayers to vote for him, I think they deserve an explanation.
Greg Garat
Executive Board Member
IAFF Local 2950



What constitutes a fitness walk and a P.E. class?
As a resident of the Northshore School District and someone who works in downtown Woodinville, I would pose this question to the district, administration and the physical education instructors.
On days that Woodinville has “block days” (two hour classes alternating on Wednesday and Thursday) PE students have been given the option to partake in a “fitness walk” through downtown Woodinville.
Students “en- mass” walk from the high school through the downtown corridor and back to the high school.  
The permission slips state that they can bring money for snacks.
From the perspective of a taxpayer, I wonder if the teachers pay is reflective of this non-teaching time.  From the perspective of a business person, I wonder if the students are supervised. From the perspective of a parent, I wonder what they are buying.
The reality is that the students are in groups of 1-5 walking with no real purpose through downtown. They are stopping at Top Foods where they are loading up on donuts and Monsters.
My favorite this week was the basket with three packages of cookies and two Rockstars. They are going to Jamba Juice and Starbucks buying giant-sized beverages.  
It is not an aerobic walk.There are no teachers or supervision that I could see on the two days I witnessed it, and it poses the questions of what is the curriculum?
I guess the most disturbing part is I was told that the students were told if they didn’t bring in the permission slip and therefore couldn’t go on the walks, they would spend their time in the library.
K. Brady, Woodinville

Letters to the Editor - September 19, 2011

  • Written by Readers

FIRE COMMISSIONER

A review of the articles and comments over the last year regarding the Woodinville fire district reveals the fact that the issues of great concern to the Woodinville firefighters also resonate with the public at large.

The firefighters of Woodinville began a campaign to educate the public about the direction of the fire district as soon as they saw that the decisions and policies being put in place by the Board of Fire Commissioners and the former fire chief were having a negative impact on the services they were able to provide to the community.

The fire district closed a fire station and laid off firefighters while it added to the size of the administrative executive staff, including a personal assistant to the fire chief. Other new staff positions added were the deputy chief of safety and risk management, finance manager and the emergency manager.

The Woodinville fire district may be the only fire department in the country that hires a personal secretary for its fire chief while at the same time laying-off firefighters.

The Woodinville fire district eliminated the public educator position, as well as most positions in the office of Fire Prevention and Community Risk Reduction.

It compromised its responsibility to provide adequate fire and emergency medical services to the Hollywood Hill area after the closure of the Kingsgate fire station.

And finally, it raised the tax rate for the entire district. What a bitter pill for the citizens of Hollywood Hill – a higher tax rate and less coverage!

At the center of all these decisions is the staunch supporter of the former fire chief and these dubious policies — Woodinville Fire Commissioner Clint Olson. Mr. Olson’s term is up this year and he is running as the incumbent for another six-year term.

Mr. Olson does not say much in the public forum during BOFC meetings, but when the firefighters began making public their concerns about a year ago, he made a special statement where he declared his support for Chief Daniels and the much derided policies of the Woodinville fire district.

He stated, “As the immediate past chair of this board, I thought it essential to share with you my unequivocal support of Chief Daniels and his administration. Government boards cannot be effective unless their management team works to advance the board’s policy decisions.”

Clearly a new direction is needed at the board level. The Woodinville fire district cannot afford another six years of this kind of leadership.

Please vote for Mark Emery for Woodinville Fire Commissioner.

He has the experience, knowledge, and the right oversight philosophy to return the Woodinville fire district to its core mission – the provision of public education, fire-prevention, fire suppression, rescue, and emergency medical services to the community of Woodinville.

Ted Klinkenberg

Executive Board

Local 2950, Woodinville Firefighters

Guest Editorial - Emergency Preparedness

  • Written by from Woodinville Fire & Rescue

“Be prepared for at least three days in the event an emergency or disaster causes you to be self-reliant,” Dee Totten, Woodinville Fire & Rescue Emergency Manager stated. “Everyone should be ready to function independently for a minimum of three days without utilities and electricity, water service, access to a supermarket and possibly without response from police, fire or rescue.”

Family members should also have a plan for how they will respond and reconnect after an emergency or disaster — remember, cell phone communications are usually jammed quickly after an emergency or disaster.

Totten, participating along with City of Woodinville’s Administrative Team, Alexandra Sheeks and Zach Schmitz, are in the midst of a public relations campaign to get the “Preparedness” message out to citizens as part of September’s National Preparedness Month. The trio is currently distributing information on emergency preparedness to our community.

“Preparedness is a shared responsibility,” Totten said. “It takes a whole community. This September marks the 10-year anniversary of 9/11. We will remember those lost, honor our first responders and renew our commitment to prepare and plan for emergencies and disasters.

“Being prepared means staying informed, knowing how to get information and alerts from local, state and federal agencies and understanding the specific risks in your community and preparing against them,” Totten said. “We’re taking steps as an organization to become better prepared and to help you prepare, and we urge you to take time to do the same at home, at work, for your car and for your pets to create a more disaster resistant community.”

What should individuals and families have in an emergency supply kit? Here are some of the suggested items:

— One gallon of water per person per day for at least three days for drinking, and 5 gallons to include sanitation needs;

— At least a three-day supply of non-perishable food and non-electric can opener, for foods that you like to eat;

— Wind-up or battery-powered radio and a NOAA weather radio (have extra batteries for both);

—  Lightsticks or flashlight and extra batteries;

— Whistle to signal for help;

— Dust mask to help filter contaminated air and plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place (protection from air-born contaminants);

— Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation;

— Medical information, prescription medications and extra glasses;

— Cash; and

— Local maps.

Those are the basics, but some items citizens may also want to consider adding are:

— Infant formula and diapers and special supplies for the elderly;

— Pet food and extra water for your pet;

— Copies of important family documents (insurance policies, identification, bank records);

— First aid material

— Sleeping bag or warm blanket;

— Complete change of clothing, including a long-sleeve shirt, long pants and sturdy shoes, additional clothes in cold-weather climates (get ready for winter);

—Household chlorine bleach and medicine dropper (In an emergency you can use it to treat water by using 16 drops of regular liquid bleach per gallon of water. Do not use scented, color safe or bleachers with added cleaners);

— Fire extinguisher and know how to work one (PASS system);

— Matches in a waterproof container;

— Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities;

— Feminine supplies and personal hygiene items;

— Mess kits, paper cups, plates and plastic utensils, paper towels;

— Paper and pencils; and

— Books, games, puzzles and other activities for children.

Individuals and families should also consider having additional emergency kits — one full kit for home and a smaller portable kit to “grab & go” if required to leave the home quickly — one to have in the workplace and one for your vehicle(s).

The City of Woodinville currently has a Preparedness display case presentation in City Hall for citizens who want to view it first hand during September, National Preparedness Month.

Woodinville Fire & Rescue will hold a Safety Fair on October 29 from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. at Station 31, the Main Fire Station, at 17718 Woodinville Snohomish Road. All citizens are welcome to attend to learn more about all-hazards preparedness and participate in some fun activities.

Please look for more website information in the weeks ahead about our 2011 Safety Fair special features.

More preparedness information and sources are available from websites such as:

Federal: www.ready.gov; State of Washington: http://www.emd.wa.gov/preparedness/prep_personal_preparedness.shtml;  King County: http://3days3ways.org.

Letters to the Editor - Sept. 5, 2010

  • Written by Readers

NEW POLICE BEAT WRITER IS DOING A GREAT JOB

I would like to say that I am very happy to have a new writer for the Police Beat section.

Maggie Inahara has been able to fill some very talented and entertaining shoes after the departure of Kelly.

We are a local business here in Woodinville so we receive the weekly addition of the paper and whether I have time at work or while getting my hair cut at Great Clips in town, I always particularly enjoyed this section as it always brought a smile to my day. Just wanted to say thank you and keep up the good work!

Michell Wellwood, Operations Manager, TW Metals, Inc., Woodinville

 

TRANSPARENCY IS A CORNERSTONE

Dear Woodinville Fire and Rescue Commissioners,

As taxpayers in the Woodinville Fire District we have been following with interest the financial obligations of the district to its former chief, I. David Daniels.

Our concern is that the district entered into a contract with Mr. Daniels that was very prescriptive regarding financial compensation upon termination of the contract.

Our concern is that a settlement may be reached which grants Mr. Daniels more compensation than is prescribed. In the end, the cost of the added compensation would be borne by the taxpayers.

We expect full disclosure of any financial agreements made with Chief Daniel’s legal team regarding his separation from the district. That would include the terms of the agreement, and a comparison to Daniels’ current contract, which is still in force as of this date.

Transparency is a cornerstone of open governing.

We expect that Richard Mitchell, the fire district’s attorney, would agree, noting that transparency is one of his candidacy platforms in his bid for office as a King County council member.

We hope that the district’s taxpayers will be proud of how the commissioners resolve these negotiations.

Steve Maloney, Jim Hartman, Paul Bonifaci, Peter Tountas, Sharon Peterson, Hank Stecker, Phil Relnik