Articles by Cliff Howard

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Mayor Scott Dudley has given notice that he will not be running for reelection. This is a very sad day for Oak Harbor and for a Mayor that has given his all for our city and its residents.

From the start of Mayor Dudley’s term he was undermined by the City Council. Remember the one way street fiasco? The fiasco that city residents are still paying for in their utility bills? That was the reason the City Council gave for falsely claiming a fiscal emergency for our city. Interesting that this fiscal emergency only effected the Mayor’s office. The Council decided to lower the amount the Mayor could spend to $10,000.00 without City Council approval. It was not the Mayors fault that the city found Native American bones during this project, the mayor fought against this project to no avail but it was him and his office that was the one that was directly affected.

Remember when the council removed the power for the Mayor to hire his own staff and department heads without city council approval? They made it impossible for the mayor to hire those that he felt would be great personnel for the city and the City Council fought every one of his appointments. It was all about politics for them not what is right for the city.

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I was asked four years ago to run for mayor of the City of Oak Harbor since our existing mayor and city council were not listening to the citizens of Oak Harbor during the Pioneer Way project. I did run for mayor and was overwhelmingly elected.

I have not forgotten who I work for and whose money it is we are spending. I continue to give back 20 percent of my salary as promised and continue to focus on the priorities I ran on, which are public safety, economic development, and a more open and transparent government. I am proud of what I have been able to accomplish with such an adversarial city council.

It is because of that city council and the outlook of it not changing that I am choosing not to run again for the position of mayor. I have no desire to put myself through another four years of trying to work with a city council that has acted like children and has done everything in its power to undermine any authority that I have had.

The one bright spot on the city council continues to be Councilman Jim Campbell. He continues to meet and listen to the citizens of Oak Harbor. He questions our actions to ensure that what we are doing is in the best interest of Oak Harbor.

I would strongly suggest that the residents of Oak Harbor vote for and elect individuals to the city council and mayor’s office that have their best interests in mind, not those that come from the same group of friends who have consistently made bad decisions and are thus hurting our citizens. We need individuals on our council that represent the citizens not the same old power structure that has brought those bad decisions to our city.

The City of Oak Harbor is about to make at least $113 million mistake with our new wastewater treatment facility, which will unnecessarily burden our citizens for the rest of their lives. The existing city council will push this project through no matter what the cost is. The citizens of Oak Harbor are still paying on a monthly basis for our last mistake, the Pioneer Way project, and now are about to see their wastewater rates be one of the highest in Washington as well as see our main park, Windjammer Park, lose space due to an ever-increasing size of a new wastewater treatment plant. I have no desire to be associated with such a mistake.

I have learned quite a bit since taking office. I have learned the importance of patience and developed thicker skin. I thank the citizens of Oak Harbor for allowing me to represent them over the last four years.

Sincerely,

Scott Dudley

Mayor

Oak Harbor, WA

Original Letter

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Many of you may remember the Whidbey General Reformers blog which was located online at whidbeygeneralreformers.org during 2011 and 2012. The owner of that blog who authored 41 investigative reports about Whidbey General Hospital was Rob Born a local Whidbey Island resident.

Mr. Born is back! He has a new blog about the same subject, Whidbey General Hospital. As of today he has 6 articles published, one of them about the Linda Gipson trial which ended on April 10th. He spent all seven days at the trial and has the best knowledge on the subject of anyone, read his article about his 7 days in the courtroom at his blog.

His new blog is named “WGH Blogger – News and Views” and is located at:

http://www.wghblogger.com.

Pay him a visit! He has a very educated view on our local hospital and he has some great insight and information that everyone should read.

If you have any tips or concerns about our local hospital you can contact Mr. Born at wghblogger@outlook.com

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On April 21st the Republicans of Island County (RIC) will hold a special presentation by Eric Marshall editor and publisher of the Whidbey Weekly.

The event starts at 6:30 PM and ends at 9:00 PM and will be held at the Coupeville Library 788 NW Alexander St, Coupeville, WA 98239

For more information view the flyer for this event

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Oak Harbor City Councilman Bob Severns filed with the Washington State Public Disclosure Commission on 3-16-2015 as a candidate for Mayor of Oak Harbor. His committee is named Committee to elect Bob Severns, Mayor.

I don’t think too many people are surprised at him officially announcing as he previously “announced” to the Chamber of Commerce by stating in his BIO that he was “Mayor Elect”.

You can view his PDC filing here.

Councilman Severns has an interesting history in the Oak Harbor Council, he voted for the Pioneer Way one way street “revitalization” project even though there were claims he should have recused himself for being partners in property along the Bayshore DR. He was at odds with the Washington State Attorney Generals Office over the legality of the standing committee meetings which were considered at the time directly against our open government and transparency rules.

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Helen Price Johnson visited Washington DC with the Washington State Association of Counties last week and met with Navy officials in the Pentagon. She discussed the local “community impacts” from the Growlers at the Coupeville NOLF and gave the officials a letter signed by her and co-signed by Coupeville Mayor Conard which is linked below.

The letter sounded like it was written by COER (Citizens of the Ebey’s Reserve) the anti Navy special interest group here on the Island.  In the letter to the officials she mentioned “significant impact”, harm to “water, air, soil and wildlife” and health effects like “sleep disruption, hearing damage,blood pressure and cardiac problems, effecting “community members, medically fragile, senior citizens and children”.

Helen Price Johnson IS COER. She is their representative not ours. She is representing a small, increasingly out of county, special interest group over the entirety of the citizens of Island County. At least now we know for sure where she stands on the issue of the US Navy on the Island.

Letter to the Naval Facilities Engineering Command Atlantic from Helen Price Johnson and Nancy Conard

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It’s official, the downtown “revitalization ” project known as the Pioneer one way street and revitalization project has led to more empty businesses on Pioneer Way than I and many other long time residents have ever seen. I recently walked our historic downtown and was shocked at the number of empty store fronts. Many businesses have gone under since this revitalization project, some have been replaced by new businesses but many others have not. On Pioneer Way between Midway BLVD and SE City Beach Street I counted 14 empty store fronts. (See images at biottom of article).100_1825

In 2007 the board of Island County Commissioners awarded the city $1 million in Rural County Economic Development funds to help move this $8.35 million project forward and it has been everything but a revitalization or economic development success.

Hundred of pages of documentation was presented to the council about the plan and how one-way streets are detrimental to residential shopping areas. All of that evidence was ignored.

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At the City Council meeting on March 3rd 2015 some of the Oak Harbor City Council went full bore in attempting to make every problem the city has a Mayor problem. Instead of informing themselves, staying educated on city issues and tackling problems our city has they seem only to want to point fingers at the Mayor. I will outline a few of those issues below and also some of the finger pointing that went on…

Whidbey Ave crosswalk:

Rick Almberg questioned the Mayor whether he did or did not direct the police department to target enforcement on jaywalking on Whidbey Avenue as recommended by the traffic engineer. Mr. Almberg apparently believes that the city police force has the resources to station a police officer on Whidbey Avenue to control the illegal jaywalking. As Councilman Almberg has done everything in his power to delay this crosswalk and throw up roadblocks to its installation it is no wonder that we still see problems in this area with recent car-pedestrian accidents. This project should have been started and completed months ago why has it not? Rick Almberg and the council has delayed every effort to start and complete this project. Why? Citizens went to the Mayor with their concerns so the council has decided to make it as difficult and costly to the Mayor as they can in able to obtain this obviously needed crosswalk. This issue should be a non-issue and the crosswalk should have already been built. Of course with political hay to make this council wants to make it a political issue as was done tonight by Councilman Almberg.

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The new Kraken sculpture is in place on Oak Harbors main street Pioneer Way and it is almost finished. I took a look at it

CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE

CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE

today and to say the least I am shocked. It is not the sculpture, the artist, Bill Hunt, did a quality job for what it is a depiction of, a fantasy. It is just so out of place I have serious question questions about the why. $33,000.00 is a lot of money for the city, or the residents of the city through our utility tax, to spend on fantasy art that does not fit in at all with our city. At all…

We have no ties to the Nautilus, a fictional submarine in the Jules Verne novels, we have no ties to a Kraken which is a fictional creature, a legendary sea monster of large proportions that is said to dwell off the coasts of Norway and Greenland. We have no ties to Jules Verne who was French and as far as I know never visited the US much less Whidbey Island. I am struggling to see just where this fits in anywhere in Oak Harbor much less at the entrance to our historic downtown area.

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At the 2-20-15 meeting of Island Transit a resolution was passed in an attempt to bring Island Transit in compliance with RCW 46.08.65 in regards to the marking of publically owned vehicles.

As of yesterday 3-3-15 we still have unmarked Island Transit vehicles being used by administration employees on Camano Island.

In the below images you will see the following vehicle:

car- ADMIN-631-2007-TOYOTA PRIUS-JTDKB20U373217214- 81872C-HYB/GAS

This vehicle is still not compliant with RCW 46.08.65. The resolution passed by the Island Transit board reads as follows:

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The planned new Oak Harbor Clean Water Facility or as it is more commonly known as the Waste Water Treatment plant is way over budget and there are apparently no answers from the city administration as to why.

Talking with Mayor Dudley who recently had a meeting with the city staff he stated that the city staff had no answers as to why this project has grown so over budget.

The City Council had decided to go with a general contractor/construction manager approach to this project instead of a Design Build approach under the guise of keeping costs low. Under this approach the city has no idea what the final costs will be for the project as they would have under a Design Build method. For a good overview of the differences between the general contractor/construction manager model and the Design Build model follow this link.

As of this date the city council has still not hired a construction management firm and the meeting to determine the qualifications and come up with a contract to put out for interested parties has still not occurred. As this project has been mismanaged from the start by the city council this comes as no real surprise.

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Thanks to Gayle Z. the videos of the February 20th Island Transit board meeting is now online at this location:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCH1b0HquEszZlk6sjqUL5Ag

Some pretty interesting information in these videos. During the discussion about what information should be posted online before the meetings like the agenda packet given to the board, Jill Johnson wants to be sure that she and her subcommittee controls what financial information the public is privy to. She made a motion that the finance committee which is comprised of Jill Johnson and Jim Sundberg have a chance to make a recomendation to the board as to what financial documents are available online. Never mind the fact that these document would be available through a public document request anyway it just means the public will need to take more steps to find this information out. As we have an agency that has kept the public in the dark for over 20 years this is not a good omen going forward.

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Bob Clay previously the chairman of the Island Transit Board of Directors has been replaced by the City of Coupeville. He is no longer chairman of the Board or on the Board of Directors of Island Transit.

He has been replaced by Councilwoman Jackie Henderson as the representative from Coupeville on the Board.

The only board member remaining after the Island Transit fiscal crisis is Jim Sundberg from Langley.

Hopefully the change in the board will have a positive effect on this agency. We can always hope…

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The Washington State Senate transportation committee just released it’s proposal for a 3 year 11.7 cent increase in the fuel tax. Along with that increase the proposal also includes another 3.7 Billion dollars in bond debt that will be issued passing the costs onto the next generation. In addition the yearly car tab fees would rise by $15 to $35, plus $8 more in 2022.

The state’s 37.5-cent gasoline tax would increase 5 cents in July, 4.2 cents next July, and 2.5 cents in July 2017, for a total of 11.7 cents if the package is approved.

The only cost saving measure that I can see in the bill is the inclusion of wording that will add an exemption for “certain workers” to prevailing wage laws. This will more than likely not be in the final bill knowing our State Government is beholding to the unions interests.

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