Articles by Cliff Howard

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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…

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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From CNS News by Rudy Takala

(CNSNews.com) — The Federal Election Commission (FEC) is holding a hearing today to receive public feedback on whether it should create new rules regulating political speech, including political speech on the Internet that one commissioner warned could affect blogs, YouTube videos and even websites like the Drudge Report.

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This should make a lot of our politicians happy, especially those that like to hide from the sunshine of independent blogs like Island Politics…

Partial summary of bill:

“A person who sells cigars, cigarettes, tobacco, or vapor products to a person under the age of 21 is guilty of a gross misdemeanor, and a person under the age of 21 who purchases, possesses, or obtains, or who attempts to purchase or obtain, cigarettes, tobacco products, or vapor products commits a class 3 civil infraction. A person under the age of 18 who has parental authorization, or a person who is at least 18 but under 21, may participate in a controlled purchase. The sign that retailers and wholesalers must display concerns the prohibition of tobacco sales to persons under the age of 21..”

http://app.leg.wa.gov/billinfo/summary.aspx?bill=1458&year=2015

I don’t believe anyone should be for tobacco use at any age but I do believe this bill is going too far. With legal age in this state being 18 years old you can fight and die for your country, be legally responsible for your actions but you cannot buy tobacco products until the age of 21 in this state. This will criminalize previous legal actions and I pity the under 21 military members that smokes and gets transferred to this state. More nanny state government from our legislature.

 

During the Sixty-Fourth Legislature, the Washington State Senate is conducting a Remote Testimony Pilot project to expand opportunities for citizens across the state to actively participate in the legislative process from locations outside of Olympia, Washington. Under the pilot project, the current use of remote testimony from invited participants during legislative work sessions will be expanded to include public testimony.   Through the use of videoconferencing technology, the public will be able to testify remotely on proposed legislation scheduled for public hearing during selected Senate standing committee meetings.

Read more below:

http://leg.wa.gov/Senate/Committees/Pages/RemoteTestimony.aspx

“AN ACT Relating to allowing voters to return a voted ballot and signed declaration by fax or email; and reenacting and amending RCW 229A.40.110″

http://lawfilesext.leg.wa.gov/biennium/2015-16/Pdf/Bills/House%20Bills/1143.pdf

Nothing to see here folks, don’t worry about voter fraud, our legislators are looking out for us…

The Seattle Times by By Jim Brunner and Hal Bernton

Gov. Jay Inslee on Wednesday laid out an ambitious plan for cutting Washington’s carbon emissions that would vault the state to the forefront of global efforts to combat climate change.

The sweeping proposal drew cheers from a crowd of environmentalists, labor leaders and other supporters on hand for Inslee’s climate-plan unveiling at Seattle’s flagship REI store.

Read the rest of the story at the Seattle Times

A new bill in the Washington State Senate will stop citizens from being able to touch or hold their cell phone while driving, even to call 9-11.

Senate Bill 5656 calls for a ban on all handling of a cell phone while driving, sitting at traffic lights or stop lights. In addition to not being allowed to text and talk on your phone you will now not be allowed to e mail, enter phone numbers, touch, handle or pull up websites on your device.

The new law is supposed to encourage you to use hands free devices for all users of cell phones in your car.

If you are fortunate enough to have a newer vehicle with these features built into your vehicle you will be allowed to use them, if you have the means to purchase after market hands free systems these will also be legal to use. If you happen to have a vehicle with a noisy interior you will find these hands free devices to be useless. Your only option is to purchase a newer quieter vehicle or pull over to the side of the road to talk. The option to use a headset is also in question. As you will no longer be able to type in or select a number without voice control these will also be outlawed.

Meanwhile, eating, drinking, smoking, putting on makeup, reading and tending to your children will still be allowed as long as you are not distracted while doing so. All of the other distracted driving offenses are handled under our regular distracted driving laws with the exception of cell phones.

Why is Washington State enacting these stringent proposals? Federal Grant money… so it is not really about public safety it is about making Federal dollars available to our state.

 

The Washington Times by Wesley Pruden

Everybody’s for free speech — until somebody says something he doesn’t like. But the genius of the First Amendment is that it is so direct and plain that even a lawyer or a judge can understand it.

The amendment does not guarantee thoughtful speech, polite speech or even responsible speech. The Founding Fathers wanted to say only that speech must be free, unfettered and at liberty to flower. The guarantee is unique among nations, and it sounds so good that a lot of politicians in other nations pay it lip service but are aghast if their constituents want to try it at home.”

Read the rest of the story at the Washington Times

 

Today the motion to dismiss brought by the Island County attorney was dismissed by the Judge in the Emerson VS Island County lawsuit. The trial is now going forward to a jury with the date of the trial so far unknown.

The lawsuit brought by Ken and Kelly Emerson over the agreement that was broken by Island County is going forward to a jury trial. The agreement made and unilaterally defaulted on by the county was designed to resolve the long standing dispute over the non existing wetlands and stream the county claimed was on the Emerson’s property. The county refused to recognize the agreement after the Emerson’s followed the agreement to the letter by hiring another wetlands specialist and he also found that there were no wetlands or stream on their property. This lawsuit is the result of that default by Island County.

More to come…

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