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Miller mum after abrupt resignation

  • Written by Don Mann
miller
Bob Miller. Photo courtesy of WF&R
It remains unclear which Woodinville fire commissioners Bob Miller was referring to when he said some were “seemingly beholden to a select few and not the citizens at large” before he abruptly announced his resignation and walked out before adjournment at last Monday’s board meeting.

Miller did not return phone calls and email from the Woodinville Weekly.

Board chair Tim Osgood, who missed the drama because he was on duty at Northshore Fire, does not believe he’s among them.

“I certainly do not believe so,” he said two days later. “My record speaks for itself and I stand by it.”

Osgood said he received a phone call after the meeting from one of the commissioners.

“I was shocked … shocked and disappointed. Bob is a very good guy and I’m still trying to make sense of it.”

Newest commissioner Mark Emery said he did not think Miller was speaking of him specifically.

“I don’t know what evidence he would have to support that. I believe he tied it to a fiduciary compromise of some sort, but where’s the evidence? Where’s the money being wasted? Where’s the special interest? I’m disappointed he threw that out there without evidence.”

Boardmember Kevin Coughlin, who was acting chair that night, said he thinks he has an idea of whom Miller was speaking, but declined to go on record.

Coughlin  did say he was “absolutely floored” by the announcement and days later was still coming to grips with it. “I’ve known Bob for a long time and I had no idea he was so upset.”

Boardmember Gerry Vucci, who replaced Randy Ransom in October, could not be reached for comment.

Miller, who served as Woodinville mayor from 1996 through 1998, has been a Woodinville fire commissioner for over 20 years.

At the end of an otherwise routine meeting, Miller read from a prepared statement during the commissioner’s report segment.

In it he said the following: “As a fire commissioner, our fiduciary duty is solely to the citizens. It is not to any special interest group or small segment of the populace. It is not to the unions … A fire commissioner is to serve as a watchdog for the citizens ... To make certain that the policies and procedures implemented and formulated by the District are for the benefit [of] the greater citizenry — not a select segment.”

He continued: “Several commissioners, who are supposed to act as fiduciary watchdogs for the citizens, are now seemingly beholden to a select few and not the citizens at large … As I can no longer add value to a commission that fails to consider anything other than what is good for a select few at the expense of the entire district, I have decided to resign.”

After thanking the district and its citizens for the privilege of representing them, he closed his notebook, stood up and left the building.

It was not the first time Miller sounded off at a board meeting with a prepared statement. Last October he publicly fired back at Local 2950 — the Woodinville firefighters’ union — for criticism directed the board’s way for the closing of Fire Station 34 after Kirkland’s annexation of the Kingsgate area.

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. Just because lies are repeated does not make then true.”

It continued: “Voters in the annexed area decided they wanted Kirkland to be their service provider. I didn’t want this, the chief didn’t want this and none of the other commissioners wanted this. We had no choice.”

It concluded: “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.”

Miller sent copies of his prepared statement to local media outlets. When asked why he felt it was important to make that statement, he said he was “tired of all the lies.”

Emery, a retired Woodinville firefighter and former Local 2950 member who unseated Clint Olson in November running on a ticket supported by the union, said he was “shocked and surprised” by Miller’s action.

“I’ve known Bob a long time and it’s unfortunate he chose to walk out because that’s a lot of knowledge and experience I was hoping to work with.”

The remaining four WF&R board members held a retreat in LaConner on Saturday. The preliminary agenda included five topics of discussion: 2009-2012 overview of major events; financial overview; organizational structure; litigation update; statement of strategic plan.

Presumably they added a sixth: fill board vacancy.

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