Last April there was a “CLOSED” “workshop” meeting scheduled for the EDC to discuss the future of the Fairgrounds Strategic Plan. Commissioner Price-Johnson stated she planned to attend
I said at that time “This just another example of Price-Johnson and followers choosing not to involve the public in the planning of the future of the Fairgrounds.
I was wrong. Commissioner Price-Johnson has no legal control over the Island County Economic Development Council
However, HPJ’s quotes in WNT at that time painted a picture that her Strategic Fair Plan was in fact not DEAD”. At all the public meetings regarding the Fair Grounds Strategic Plan, the only people in favor of this proposed plan were those on the steering committee, and their voices were only aclnowledged
Price-Johnson was responsible for Resolution C-87-13 approved by the Commissioners September 23, 2013, authorizing a grant of Rural Development fund to EDC to create a strategic plan for the Island County Fairgrounds property in the amount of $71,000.00
BUT, Pam Dill later stated the Commissioners chose not to use rural Development funds and authorized the grant from CURRENT EXPENSE funds to create a Fair Strategic Plan.
That was a BAD decision! They are now using those Rural Develpoment dollars for the new Langley Boat docks…Price-Johnson wants to be reelected
Those current expense funds should have remained available to provide for the safety and security of the citizens and to build and maintain a solid infrastructure that provides for the needs of the community
I requested the Attorney General investigate and advise whether a meeting of the Economic Development Council, a 501(c)(6) nonprofit corporation in Island County, Washington can hold a closed meeting under the Open Public Meetings Act that involved the grant of $71,000 of tax payers’money.
AG’s staff advised The Open Public Meetings Act (OPMA) applies to public agency boards/commissions, not private agencies. RCW 42.30 states,
“Public agency” is defined there to include: Public agency” is defined there to include:
(a) Any state board, commission, committee, department, educational institution, or other state agency which is created by or pursuant to statute, other than courts and the legislature;
(b) Any county, city, school district, special purpose district, or other municipal corporation or political subdivision of the state of Washington;
(c) Any sub agency of a public agency which is created by or pursuant to statute, ordinance, or other legislative act, including but not limited to planning commissions, library or park boards, commissions, and agencies;
(d) Any policy group whose membership includes representatives of publicly owned utilities formed by or pursuant to the laws of this state when meeting together as or on behalf of participants who have contracted for the output of generating plants being planned or built by an operating agency.
The OPMA does not apply to an entity simply because it receives public funds (such as grants or contracts).
Instead, the Attorney General has suggested a four-part test to be used in determining whether an entity is a “public agency” and subject to the OPMA: “(1) whether the organization performs a governmental function; (2) the level of government funding; (3) the extent of government involvement or regulation; and (4) whether the organization was created by the government.”
Therefore, a private entity can become a public entity for the purposes of the OPMA, if these factors are met and it is determined to be the “functional equivalent” of a public agency.
The primary source of funds for the Island County Development Council is from their members who unlike the Washington State Association of Counties (WSAC), and the Washington State Association of County Officials (WACO), which are totally funded with public funds by their members.
So, in answer to my question, a private entity can hold closed meetings, and it is not subject to the open meetings requirements of the OPMA unless it satisfies the factors.
Commissioner Price-Johnson’s $71,000 grant to fund was probably legal but a big waste of tax payer dollars.
The county is scheduled for a visit from the State Auditor in a few months. Maybe they will have a concern when they find 2 of the 3 Island County Commissioners approved Resolution C-87-13 September 23, 2013, authorizing a grant of Rural Development funds to EDC to create a strategic plan for the Island County Fairgrounds property, BUT then at the last minute the Commissioners chose not to use Rural Development funds and authorized grant from CURRENT EXPENSE funds (tax payer dollars) to create a worthless Fair Strategic Plan
We must never forget all the tax dollars County Commissioners, especially Price-Johnson, wasted on “feel good” vote getting PROJECTS for their re election efforts starting with:…
the $71,000.00 paid for the worthless, no facts Fair plan to spend $10,000,000.00, 10-year plan to change the Island County Fairgrounds that failed because citizens wanted was “a slower, more public approach to saving the property…
and the tax dollars wasted on the bogus $40,000,000.00 Freeland sewer, financial fiasco…
and the payment of over $21,045.00 + to get rid of Bob Pederson, Planning Director. They also agreed to provide him a glowing letter of recommendation highlighting his accomplishments, etc to get him to agree not to take any/all rights to bring a future claim (aka sue) against the county…
and the $24,000.00+ spent on a plan for Swan Lake restoration to an Estuary as Homola claims it was over 100 years ago, but no facts to prove it
This type of fiscal insanity will continue as long as we tax payers allow Price-Johnson to have the clout to do so!
Please remember this waste of your tax dollars this year when voting for a new County Commissioner for District 3 and don’t elect another RINO!
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