Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Hauge's vendetta — $338,000 and climbing

Kitsap County Prosecutor Russ Hague recently filed yet another lawsuit against embattled Kitsap Rifle and Revolver Club (KRRC) Executive Director Marcus Carter. This is a civil suit against Carter personally, not against the KRRC. 

Carter has beaten Hauge in court three different times, without the benefit of a lawyer. When Hauge couldn’t win that way, he resorted to using the land-use code to try and shut down KRRC — which is still in litigation. Now this. Am I the only one who believes that Hauge is using our tax dollars to finance what amounts to a personal vendetta against Carter?

We filed a public records request asking just how much of our money Hauge has spent pursuing this personal vendetta. The total had exceeded $338,000! That’s prior to the land-use action — which went to Superior Count and is on appeal — and the most recent civil suit. At this point, I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if it’s topped a half a million dollars.

This is unconscionable! There are so many other, more pressing needs that money should have been spent on — more deputies on the street; the meth problem; helping the homeless; supporting food banks; recreation for kids. The list goes on.

If you believe it’s time the taxpayers stopped financing Hauge’s personal vendetta and for the county commissioners to rein him in, call your commissioner today — 360-337-7146.

Enough is enough

Monday, September 09, 2013

An Open Letter To Mayor Tim Matthes...

If you live in the City of Port Orchard, by now you may have received a copy of the Mayor's Report on the Bethel Corridor. What appears below is a copy of an email I have sent to him about the contents. It is SO fraught with inaccuracies and either ignorant misinformation, or intentional lies — I'm not sure which, but either way, the citizens aren't being told the truth.

Dear Mayor Matthes,

As you are probably more well aware than almost anyone, since leaving office, I have refrained from publicly commenting on your administration, or what passes for leadership and/or management at City Hall. However, I read your report to the citizens on the Bethel Corridor with great interest, and feel that I can no longer quietly sit by as the citizens of our City are deluged with what appears on the surface to be intentional misinformation. Therefore, I would like to point out some general inaccuracies in the report, and offer some unsolicited insight on moving forward.

You state in the report that, "When discussions were happening regarding the Bethel Corridor annexation, it was touted that the annexation would bring in a lot of revenue. What was never discussed was the costs to provide service and what the impact would be to the City."

This is patently untrue. It was actually publicly discussed at great length at several Finance Committee meetings, at several City Council meetings, and in public hearings. For you to tell the citizens of our City that such a significant cost was "never discussed" is little more than either a blatant lie — or the words of someone completely uninformed about the entire annexation process for Bethel, and how the City went about it.

The fact the City would incur costs for Bethel several months prior to any revenue being generated, was not only known by the Finance Committee and City Council, but planned for financially as well. As Mayor, you should be aware of that, and if you aren't, perhaps you should sit down with the City Treasurer and have him explain the process that was agreed upon and where the funding came from to you.

Also known, anticipated, and planned for were the increased costs for law enforcement, and the two additional officers that would need to be hired and outfitted. Former Police Chief Al Townsend found grant money to cover part of that cost for, if memory services me correctly, a three-year period, on a diminishing schedule. The balance of the cost was to be paid from the anticipated $1.3 million in additional sales and property tax revenue generated by the annexation. It was also anticipated that the Court would see an increased workload, and that cost was budgeted for as well.

Other items you should be aware of include the fact that to reduce the cost of right-of-way acquisition, former Development Director James Weaver authored a plan that would require developers to cede the necessary right-of-way to the City as a condition of being granted a permit to develop, as well as either installing or reimbursing the City for any necessary public works infrastructure such as water and sewer lines to service their projects.

You are correct in stating that the planned revenue generated by the annexation that the City had anticipated holding in reserve, isn't nearly enough to construct the project in any kind of timely fashion. However, I'm surprised to learn that you didn't know that was never the plan either. What was planned, was to use that as match money for state and federal transportation grants, where it could be leveraged on either a dollar-for-dollar or one dollar for every two in grant money. A dollar-for-dollar match effectively cuts the cost of the project in half, and a two for one match by 2/3. The City also has the bonding capacity to offset any shortfall in match money, with debt service coming from future revenues already being generated from the Bethel Corridor.

Has the City begun pursuing any such state or federal money yet? If not, I would suggest you get busy, as these processes take an extraordinary amount of time. There are annual funding cycles, and these are the only times during which grant applications are considered. If you miss one, it's another year before you can apply. I would also suggest you engage the City's lobbyist — if the City in fact still has a lobbyist — in pursuing this money, as it is available, but awarded on a highly competitive basis.

As I found, the lobbyist we used did an excellent job of securing money for the DeKalb Pier restoration — finding $700,000 in state Capital Budget money for a cost to the City of only $25,000, as well as the money they found for the Pedestrian Pathway, and other projects you've recently cut ribbons on as if they were your own ideas. Although you were adamantly opposed to the City hiring that — or any other lobbyist — in retrospect, you have to admit, they provided an excellent Return on Investment. That same firm also provides lobbying services at the federal level, and there are other similar resources available to you. I'd be happy to point you in the right direction should you care to ask. Also, perhaps you should establish relationships with our elected state representatives, as they tell me, the City has been MIA in Olympia since you've taken over. Perhaps you should reach out to our new Congressman as well.

It's truly a shame you refused to take the time to meet with me during the transitional period for more that the 12 minutes we did. As you're aware, we only met then because Mr. Jacoby insisted upon it. Had you done so, I would have gladly passed all this information — and much more — on to you. During that meeting, as you may recall, you asked me only 2 questions — both concerning the establishment of a Parks Commission. Finally, considering all the documented inaccuracies in this report, I would strongly suggest you rescind it, and re-issue a corrected report that states the actual facts, so the citizens of our City have accurate information. It will go a long way towards re-establishing some level of credibility.