At last week’s board meeting, the four-term commissioner and 33-year Woodinville resident sounded off, reading from a prepared statement he later copied to the Woodinville Weekly.
It began: “I am deeply disturbed and upset by the rancor and false statements about events that have occurred lately about the fire district. Those of you who know me know that I do not lie. Things have been said that are not true. Remember that just because lies are repeated does not make them true.”
He said the annexation by Kirkland had been in the works for over three years, and a statement made that the commissioners did not have to release the service area was not true.
“Voters in the annexed area decided they wanted Kirkland to be their service provider,” he said. “I didn’t want this, the chief didn’t want this and none of the other commissioners wanted this. We had no choice. It is the law that unincorporated areas inside the urban growth area MUST go into adjacent cities.”
He said it was impossible for WF&R to keep the Kingsgate station open.
“How? Would some suggest WDVL (Woodinville) taxpayers pay for service in Kirkland?”
Miller said WF&R firefighters met with representatives from Kirkland government and agreed not to oppose annexation so long as WF&R firefighters would be hired in Kirkland.
Miller said WF&R firefighters “volunteered” to keep Station 34 open the last two weeks in June, “but the truth is we paid overtime to staff” to keep the doors open.
He added the board agreed to release six WF&R firefighters the last two weeks before the transfer for training in Kirkland while the board paid their salary.
He said he was dismayed when all six firefighters did not attend a planned celebration in their honor before the transfer occurred. “I ask why?” Miller said.
(In a May 9 letter to the Woodinville Weekly WF&R firefighter Ted Klinkenberg — not one of the six — said the transferees chose not to attend in protest because “they feel that they were neglected throughout the annexation process and feel that they were used as pawns by Woodinville’s administration.”) Miller was rankled further when commissioners were criticized for not attending the decommission ceremony of Station 34.
“Truth is we were not invited,” he said. “We all would have been there.”
He added that when the station closed, WF&R had three “excess” lieutenants. “We could have reduced those six to firefighters but chose not to.”
In his summary, he said the following: “These are hard times. Written articles about fire departments from all over cite reduced revenue, loss of programs and layoff of firefighters. I don’t want that. I started with the district in 1987. I love this district. I want us to continue to deliver the quality of service the citizens deserve and expect. I expect the chief, firefighters and commissioners all to work together to address annexation, budget and personnel issues. I feel if we don’t work together the fire district will not survive. I hope this is not what happens.”
Later, Miller was asked why he felt it important to deliver this statement now. “Because I’m tired of all the lies,” he said.