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Letters to the Editor - Oct. 24, 2011

  • Written by Readers

INITIATIVE 1183

Isn’t it a coincidence now that 1183 is on the ballot that every state liquor store is displaying over-sized posters touting all the money the liquor system “returns” to local communities? What those posters don’t tell you is how much money our state currently wastes every year operating those liquor stores. It takes almost $100 million a year to run the antiquated and unnecessary government liquor store system in Washington. The state charges huge markups on liquor to pay for that system and returns only the “leftovers” to local communities.

Initiative 1183 gets rid of the state liquor store system and the state markups on liquor that pay for it.  Instead, 1183 requires private distributors and retailers that get licenses to sell liquor to pay a percentage of their sales as license fees.

1183 returns all of those fees from liquor sales back to state and local governments to be used for public services. 1183 keeps liquor taxes the same, and 100 percent of those taxes will be returned to the state as well.

The State Office of Financial Management estimates that 1183 will provide over $400 million more than the current system over the next six years.  And more than $200 million of that will be returned to local governments.

That means $566,000 for Woodinville.

Now that makes sense.  Check the facts – and Vote YES on 1183.

Jennifer Burke, Woodinville

WRITE-IN CANDIDATE

It is imperative that Woodinville has candidates who represent all the citizens’ views in a fair and balanced manner.  I would do this.  I am constructive in my approach to finding the solutions to problems.

I promise if elected, the citizens will never have to worry about my using the council position for personal gain.

Giving the voters a choice for position 6 is now a reality.   Write in Nancy Montgonery

Nancy Montgomery, Woodinville

WOODINVILLE WATER DISTRICT

Why all the heat and light in the letters to the editor last week?

The WWD challengers are accusing the incumbents of playing politics but it was the challengers who first raised the issue and used it to play politics on the incumbents. If it truly is an issue, and such an important one to boot, why didn’t the challengers raise the issue before they became challengers?

If it truly is an important issue, it was the right thing to do for the incumbents to get a definitive answer to the question and let the water district customers know.

Lets face it, it’s just politics as usual, which is to say the challengers seem to be having more fun trying to trash the reputations of the incumbents than truly getting the job of commissioner. Which raises a question, do the challengers really want to get on the water district commission to serve the people or to bring sewers to the White Stallion shopping center?

Don Brocha, Woodinville

On September 28, via a public records request to King County, I found out that my opponent wrote King County’s Christie True a letter implying that my website information was not factual.

That is how my opponent’s letter became public knowledge, not via any voluntary admission.

That original letter was sent from my opponent’s personal email address, yet the reply was addressed to Ken Howe at the WWD email address. Is it normal practice to reply to a different person at a different email address from the one that wrote you?

Why was it not addressed to my opponent to her personal email account? Just a simple question, folks.

Of course we know why that was done. As Ms.True said in her correspondence with KC staff: “I am thinking it is a letter from me to the Woodinville district manager with ccs to the commissioners.”

I am compelled to contest their misleading assertions since everything on my website is documented.  Since I never mention King County on my website, how could I be making misleading claims about King County WTD? It does not take a course in logic to answer this. It is simply not possible.

These are the facts:

• The Woodinville Water District can force you to hook-up to sewer. This is written in WWD code 4.48.020 and initially Resolution 3725.

• The county’s second letter only reinforces my direct challenge to Ms. True and my opponent. Quote any part of my website that is not factual.

Reciting that WWD is the regulating authority is exactly what I state. WWD is the authority that can force hook-up to sewers.

Thank you for agreeing with me.

• My opponent uses a district meeting to read a misleading political letter deliberately sent to Ken Howe. Why?

Please read RCW 42.17.130 forbidding use of public facilities for political activities.

My opponent is working very hard to gain traction refuting what is indisputable evidence of everything listed on my website and avoiding the real issues.

Bottom line is the Woodinville Water District is spending your money on extravagant $8,500 retreats and at the same time saying rates have to go up because of reduced water consumption; argue that the very laws they pass for forcing sewer connections are not true; have no written WWD accounting standards for commissioners to follow; and are suppressing public comments via the new two-minute rule.

Transparent? No.

How can anyone call that professional conduct in a $31+ million dollar district?

Jack Vermeulen , candidate for Woodinville Water Commissioner

During this campaign I have chosen not to respond to the numerous and frequent false statements and half truths made by my opponent, however, they have become so outrageous I am compelled to set the record straight.

1.  Sewers are being built from the city limits to Avondale and septic system customers will be forced to hook up.

False, it is illegal to build sewers in the rural area and no plans exist to do so.  It is fear mongering telling people that they will be forced to hook up to sewers, costing them thousands of dollars.  No customer has ever been forced to hookup to our sewer system, it is completely voluntary.

2.  Eighty-five percent of the district is not represented by the board.

False, we represent 100 percent of our ratepayers.  It makes no difference to us if you own a home, rent a home, live in an apartment or a trailer. If you are legally connected to our system you are represented and receive first class customer service.

3. Ken Goodwin charges the district $625 per hour, spending only 12 hours a year on meetings, and traveling to Florida, San Diego, Toronto, Chicago and D.C. and charging the district over $10,000 in travel expenses in 2010.

False,  the state Legislature sets commissioner meeting compensation at $104 per day with a maximum of $9,270 per year, I commit over 300 hours a year attending District board meetings and committee assignments. My opponent was salaried at $7,200 per year as a city councilman for meeting compensation.  Meeting compensation for commissioners is required by the state auditor to be reported on expense reports.  My out-of-pocket-expense reimbursements were less than $500 in 2009 and 2010. In 2011 I attended a national training conference in Washington, D.C. The cities mentioned by my opponent were for training conferences attended over a 15-year-period. It was at a prior national training conference that I learned of an alternate method of selling bonds.

We now save hundreds of thousands of dollars each time we sell bonds, a substantial return on investment for attending a training conference.

4. District retreats are expensive vacations for commissioners and staff.

False, while these two day retreats have been valuable for planning and establishing  communication and trust between commissioners and staff, they were eliminated in the 2012 budget, which was adopted last fall.

Because of the extraordinary financial challenges we are all struggling with, all of the District’s programs are being evaluated, from those that are mission critical to nice to have, and everything in between.

5.Commissioner Goodwin is not a resident of Woodinville.

False, I have been a continuous resident of Woodinville for 19 years. I owned a home on Hollywood Hill for 15 years and have rented for the past several years. He states I have homes in Seattle and Decatur Island. The Seattle condo was purchased as a rental income  property 20 years ago and my Decatur Island property is a vacation cabin.  When did property ownership become a requirement of residency?

Providing you and your family safe water and a dependable sewer system is serious business. Clean water and a sanitary sewer system are basic necessities of life and health.

For the past 15 years you have entrusted me with that responsibly, open and honest communications is vital to that trust.

If my opponent is willing to make false statements, mislead and twist facts to win an election, can he be trusted to manage the district in your best interests?

Woodinville Water District Commissioner Ken Goodwin

Ed. Note: Because Commissioner Ken Goodwin’s letter was posted on the Patch last week, Hank Stecker, candidate for water commissioner, wrote a response at that time. His letter follows:

I always find it interesting when a person calls someone out as you have. Most of the times it is because they themselves are the parties of concern.

Is it a half-truth for my opponent to say that no one has ever been forced to hook up to sewer in Woodinville but it is already happening to families in adjoining jurisdictions and not voluntarily. What do my opponent’s comments about past hookups mean to us now that Brightwater is online?

Is it a half-truth for my opponent to pass a resolution like 3725, with no legal obligation to do so and without prior notice to the community that  WWD can hook us up to sewer for any matter of public interest? But then my opponent says he won’t force hookups. Why did you pass this unnecessary resolution?

My website is very clear that there are efforts to extend sewer into the unincorporated area and yes that is true. If it was illegal would the thousands of high density homes in Redmond Ridge be illegal because they are in unincorporated King County?

I  never accused my opponent of not being a resident. But it is very disconcerting that 85 percent of the district is on septic and we have three renters and two property owners on sewer watching out for us. If property owners on septic were on the board my opponent never would have snuck through resolution 3725!

As far as my opponent’s expenses and travel are concerned all the facts on my website are accurate and drawn from his expense reports.

If my opponent wants to justify two hours of meetings a month at the district as a rational reason to expense over 270 hours of meetings a year away from the district you go right ahead. The voters will have to make the decision of my opponent’s stay at the Grand Hyatt in D.C. for seven days is how they want their money spent.

If last fall my opponent cancelled all future commission retreats, then why did all the commissioners approve expenditures of over $8,000 of tax payer monies for (a trip) to the Salish Lodge at Snoqualmie Falls in February 2011?

We have the expenses and receipts for anyone who wants to review this.

When I was in office at the City Council, we were spending 20 hours a month in meetings at City Hall not the two hours a month you contribute. Not only is this an outrageous comparison but how can my opponent run a district in two hours?

My opponent has been in office for 16 years and still no one knows what goes on at the Water District. There are no audiotapes or videotapes of your meetings or discussions to review. Is this the open government you profess we should all trust and be comfortable with?

Hank Stecker, candidate for Woodinville Water  District commissioner

The most disheartening thing about the Stecker and Vermeulen campaigns for water district commissioner positions is that their alarmist and largely inaccurate accounting of what is going on in our community policymaking could easily distract well intentioned citizens away from focusing on the actual threats to the “country living” lifestyle that we have been cultivating around Woodinville.

If they want to expose a real boogeyman, in terms of keeping sewers out of our rural areas and keeping those rural areas “rural.” they need to look no farther than the current efforts to move the Urban Growth Boundary (UGB) at the south end of Woodinville in the Sammamish Valley.  Yet Stecker and Vermuelen are curiously mum on this unfolding issue.

On May 10, 2011, our own County Councilmember Kathy Lambert pushed through Motion 13475, which directs the County administration to study the feasibility of moving the UGB to put several properties in rural unincorporated King County onto the urban side of the line. The ultimate intent is for these rural properties to be incorporated into the City of Woodinville.

Some might wonder what harm there could be in rezoning a few properties at the edge of town. The effect of allowing such piecemeal movement of the UGB and the associated rezoning would be to set a precedent for this to continue to occur across King County, opening the door for just the kind of strip mall sprawl that we have been working to avoid.

For those of us concerned about sewers being extended into our rural unincorporated neighborhoods, the best way for us to find ourselves “forced” to hook up would be for the UGB to be moved to put our properties on urban side of the line. And there are plenty of people and interests who would be happy to do just that. An example of this is embodied Lambert’s Motion 13475, above.

Fortunately, the county administration has come out with a “do not support” ruling on Lambert’s motion. This is not the first time that moving the UGB around these properties has been proposed. The county administration has been consistent in upholding the protections for our agricultural and rural areas in this case, but its recommendation must still go before the county council and it is possible that the council may vote to pursue this inadvisable change to our UGB.

Threats are nothing new to our largely successful local efforts to guide our community in positive ways and to avoid the observable mistakes in growth patterns others have made. Over the years, there have been all sorts of assaults on our well intentioned, if imperfect, growth management policies. And there will continue to be others. That is why it is imperative for us, as a community, to keep focused on the real issues and not be distracted by false alarms such as those put forth by the Stecker and Vermeulen campaigns.

MichaelTanksley, Hollywood Hill

The Northshore Youth Soccer Association has noted that in his recent profile, Candidate Hank Stecker lists his community involvement as “assistant coach for my son’s ... and NYSA soccer teams,”  While we appreciate all parents who support the opportunities soccer provides for our young people, and our coaches certainly appreciate parental help from time to time (most of our teams are volunteer based), we do have certain procedures we operate within to assure the best possible soccer education and safety for our players.  We require coaches to be registered, licensed, and risk management cleared.  We require  assistant coaches be registered, risk management cleared and suggest they be licensed as well.  We require all parents who actively engage with the players to be risk management cleared.  According to our records, Mr. Stecker is not currently licensed, registered or cleared for risk by the Washington Youth Soccer Association.

As a reminder to all our dedicated parent volunteers for our 5,000 members, it takes only moments of your time to log on to our website www.northshoresoccer.org and click the link for the risk management application, which is free of charge.

The purpose of NYSA is: To provide the infrastructure and programs supporting player development and competitive opportunities,  To teach good sportsmanship. To promote physical health. To develop, govern and promote the game of soccer.  The principles governing competition among our teams includes development of physical fitness, mental alertness, leadership and good sportsmanship; recognition that the manner of play outweighs a victory, and encouragement of courtesy, gentlemanly conduct, and respect for authority by players, officials and spectators.

Thank you to all who have supported our association mission, players, and scholarships. With your support, particularly through scholarship opportunities, we continue to welcome all players and strive to give them the best possible soccer (and life) experience.

Jim Bates, president, Northshore Youth Soccer

FIRE COMMISSIONERS

Clint Olson has served with integrity, always putting the public first. The public has been well represented against “special interest groups and those with something to gain” at the cost of the public.  Clint has used his integrity to represent the public, not using unfair labor practices or position for his personal gain. Clint’s deeds precede his service progressing from a protector of the public in “laws and actions” to a protector of the vulnerable in “fire and life safety” issues.

Clint’s judgment to protect and serve all parties, public and fire professionals alike, has been impeccable. Clint has been fair and honest to all concerned and is definitely worthy of re-election to the board of fire commissioners. Clint can withstand the implied pressure by those with an “ax to grind” and will represent all of us as a fire service leader and team player. Clint is an honoree by his peers, acknowledging his leadership and service to the fire community. Clint has “walked the walk” and can “talk the talk” with respect and dignity for all. Please re-elect Clint Olson.

Mark Freitas, Woodinville

The leadership of Local 2950, Woodinville Firefighters, has never suggested that the Woodinville Fire District ever had the authority to stop the Kirkland annexation after it was approved by the Kirkland City Council. As far as I can tell, this is the “lie” that Fire Commissioner Miller has alleged (“WF&R Commissioner Sounds Off,” Oct. 10, 2011). We have, however, suggested that the Woodinville Board of Fire Commissioners has failed to fulfill its obligation to provide adequate fire and emergency medical services to parts of the fire district that remain within Woodinville’s jurisdiction, such as Hollywood Hill. If Commissioner Miller doesn’t understand the difference, that is unfortunate.

During negotiations in the latter part of 2010, the firefighter’s local was in favor of staffing an aid car to at least provide emergency medical services to the areas impacted by the Kirkland annexation. And yes, if necessary, locate this aid car temporarily at Station 34 until a more favorable location was provided. Unfortunately, this model was not agreeable to the representatives of the fire district. Instead of keeping “boots on the street,” the fire district began building an administrative empire that included five brand new executive staff positions. This is when the firefighters’ local cried “foul.”

It is disappointing to see Mr. Miller grousing about events that occurred almost six months ago when he should be spending his time and energy tending to the very real challenges facing the fire district today.

Alternatively, Commissioners Osgood, Coughlin and Vucci have chosen to move on from the acrimony of the past and have confronted the current issues with a much greater degree of openness and collaboration. These efforts are starting to bring about positive results.

Mr. Miller has unfortunately maintained a policy of zero direct communication with the firefighters’ leadership as the district has been wrestling with the controversies over the last couple of years. This is not helpful and his comments reflect the fact that he has only been interested in hearing one side of the debate. As always, we are willing to meet with Mr. Miller any time.

These allegations by Mr. Miller are not only untimely, they are frankly without merit and they have been levied without any references or supporting documentation. Where the leadership of this Local has made factual statements, we stand behind them. Where we have speculated and/or shared our opinions, we have noted these and have made the appropriate distinctions.

Incidentally, Fire Commissioner Clint Olson has taken a similar approach as Mr. Miller when confronting the complex problems that face the fire district; he is not speaking openly with the firefighters’ leadership and he has failed to move on from the ill-advised policies of the former fire chief and the acrimony of the past. It is imperative that he is not re-elected as he attempts to secure another six-year term. Please support and vote for Mark Emery in the upcoming election.

Greg Ahearn, president, Local 2950 Woodinville Firefighters

I’ve been listening closely to the firefighters and the board of commissioners issues this year, and I’ve been looking forward to the opportunity to vote in new leadership. I am genuinely impressed by Mark Emery. I think there are two problems with a lot of people who want to get elected to any office. One is the lack of a genuine understanding of how things work on the ground; and the other is no practical experience on how things work at the top—no idea how to work with a budget, or be an administrator. These really are two different things, and usually you get one type or the other, and the imbalance shows in their decision making and the impact shows in the people they fail to serve.What I really like about Mark Emery is he has the necessary experience in both sides of the spectrum. He was a firefighter for nearly 30 years, so this guy GETS how things work on the front lines — what equipment is needed, how the team works; and how families are affected by injuries and loss, how people are affected by response times, and homes are affected by fire. But he’s also spent years in the administrative side of things as a battalion chief, and has extensive education on how to run a fire department and frankly, seems to have inadvertently trained for years for just this job — to be a fire commissioner.

I don’t think we could ask for a more qualified, well-rounded person for this position than Mark Emery. I look forward to seeing the change he’ll bring to Woodinville Fire and Rescue.

Tony Montecalvo, Woodinville

WOODINVILLE FARMERS MARKET

The Woodinville Farmers Market has just concluded its 18th season. Our mission for all these years has been to be a resource for fresh local produce, flowers and crafts supporting both our community and our vendors. For those of you who visited, we thank you for helping us meet our goal. A special thanks must be extended to some local businesses and organizations who have quietly supported us making this a true community effort.  First is the Northshore YMCA who has allowed us access to the Carol Edwards Center keeping us in compliance with local health code requirements and for providing space for us to store some of our equipment.  Next is the Woodinville Weekly staff who have provided the creativity behind our ads and some well written articles about the market. Also thanks go to Woodinville Patch editor, Annie Archer, who has consistently published information each week on what’s fresh at the market.  Finally, John Shephard who operates Woodinville Counseling has set up and played some nice tunes on his guitar around lunchtime each week and certainly added to the ambiance of the market.

It has been a pleasure working with all of you.

Michael Charlton, WFM Board President

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