FEBRUARY 10, 1997
Fire Board looking for CAC members
by Jeff Switzer, senior staff reporter
Citing the need for a more responsible and responsive citizen advisory group, the Woodinville Fire District adopted a new advisory structure some months ago and are asking for citizens within the district to step forward if they are interested in participating.
The Citizens Advisory Council will be a nine-member panel providing a link between the fire district, commissioners, and the community, serving as sounding board and educator, and working with the public and other agencies, fire district officials said.
Commissioner Don Eddy proposed the new structure to the Fire Board last year after saying his own experience with the Citizens Advisory Committee was less than stellar. Eddy said it was difficult to know when the Citizens Advisory Committee was meeting, that there was no responsibility to meet regularly, and that those wanting to participate had to spend months finding a way in.
"That's not citizen involvement, that's clique involvement," Eddy said. "I'm not discounting the other group's contributions, but if that was good, this can be better. It's a maturation that goes beyond a little closed group."
Eddy said the previous CAC rebuffed commissioners' requests for formalization of the committee structure. He also indicated that spokespeople would approach the board as representing the group, but would have no minutes to refer to for position statements.
"There should be something to refer back to--not necessarily a stenographer--otherwise there is license to say anything they want," Eddy said. "The new structure is designed to make the group a little bit more responsible as I see it, not only to us, but to the citizens out there." He also said the goal was to enhance and lend structure to the volunteerism and activism that already exists in the community.
Of the nine members, four are to be from the district at-large; two will be residents from the City of Woodinville; one is to be from the medical community, one from the Woodinville business community, and one from a local professional agency, such as the Red Cross or Puget Power. Those nine are to have voting privileges at the four set meetings per year plus any additional meetings scheduled, times and dates of which are to be published one week ahead in the Woodinville Weekly and the Eastside Journal newspapers.
Beyond the nine members, two Fire Commissioners, the fire chief and a Woodinville City Councilmember will serve as ex-officio members. Local residents who have expressed interest in serving on the group include Kevin Coughlin, Andre Head, Jeff Clayton, Dave Shipway, Al Hooper, Tom Norton, and Jim McInerney.
Fire Board Attorney Clark Snure told audience members that the membership on the board had shifted, and that the board is allowed to recognize whichever group they wish.
"If we don't keep going out and getting fresh blood to see things a bit differently, we become the establishment," said Eddy. He noted the panel is not designed to be a permanent body; members would serve two-year terms.
Eddy said the Citizens Advisory Committee chaired by Mary Baum is not being disbanded, but that the board has taken a vote to recognize the structure of the Citizens Advisory Council.
"Anybody can meet. We're not stopping anybody from meeting, but if we're going to recognize a group, we have to be comfortable with how they operate," Eddy said. "I don't see a transition. This is a new direction we're taking."