Fire District Commissioners ponder future of citizen committees
by Al Hooper
During the recent Fire District Commissioner's meeting of May 20, the board debated the issues of requiring some form of identification from members of the public who wish to address the board, and also talked about the purpose of the Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC).
Robert Vogt, speaking as the representative of the CAC, was in the middle of reading a statement expressing satisfaction with the board's recent decisions regarding Stations 32 and 35 when he was interrupted by Commissioner David Callon, who said he wanted to make a point of order with Chair Sue Dickson.
"This isn't the Citizens Advisory Committee, they didn't have any meeting, this person doesn't represent the CAC, and we shouldn't have to listen to this," Callon said.
Instead of debating the challenge presented by Callon, Vogt opted to speak at a later point in the meeting. When the meeting appeared to be ending without time for him to speak, Vogt addressed the chair, and Dickson informed him that the public comment section of the agenda had been stricken by the board earlier in the evening. Vogt left the meeting expressing displeasure at being unable to read the prepared statement.
Later in the meeting, Callon defended his actions by stating that he wanted to be assured that he and the board were being addressed by a "true representative" of any given organization. Toward this end, he proposed that any person approaching the board for public comment, as a representative of others, must present a letter of credentials, preferably under the letterhead of that association.
Near the end of the discussion, Commissioner Ben May expressed regret for the way Vogt had been interrupted earlier, and asked Callon to "personally apologize to Mr. Vogt at (Callon's) earliest convenience."
Callon responded, "I'm tired of people representing themselves to be speaking for others without proper identification."
After continued discussion, the board approved a motion by Commissioner Don Leggett to draft a policy regarding the identification of speakers. The policy will be made public via publication in the Woodinville Weekly and will be handed out at each meeting to individuals who wish to speak.
The future of the Citizens Advisory Committee
During the meeting, Callon noted, "I haven't seen any progress from the CAC. Aren't we supposed to be in control of them?"
Chair Dickson replied that the CAC has "its own identity." She said it is "both the stated policy of the board and the desire of this board not to control the CAC, but instead to listen to them for public input that otherwise might not be heard."
Callon expressed a desire to rename the CAC and to bring it under the control of the board so it could be used to help the district. He said he thought members of the renamed organization "... could help out in the office, volunteer to staff non-critical positions in times of need ..."
Attorney Clark Snure volunteered to provide examples of what other districts are doing in this vein. The topic was tabled for discussion at another time.
Other business before the board
On the topic of Station 35, Callon asked the board to appoint him as its representative to the general contractor, giving him the authority to approve any change orders that might affect the cost of the remodeling job, with a limit of $1,000 per change order. He said the reason for the request was that the contractor shouldn't have to wait up to two weeks for permission every time a change came up.
Leggett moved that the board make the authorization, with a limit of $2,000, and May seconded. Leggett, Callon, and May voted for the motion, Dickson voted against. Commissioner Jim O'Dell was not present.