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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

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