Oak Harbor City Council

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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 Many businesses have gone under since this revitalization project, some have been replaced by new businesses but many others have not.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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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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- Oak Harbor City Council attends out of town conference, holds private quorum outside of the conference at a private residence. City Council has a breach of trust with the citizens?

– Another Oak Harbor City Council meeting with the Council member’s bad behavior on display. And two firsts for the Council.

– Oak Harbor City Council is Broken and Out of Order

– Rick Hannold’s Excellent Analysis of Island Transit’s Financial Debacle

– Oak Harbor’s Country Club City Council

– Warning Labels for COER and other Idiots

– County’s GMA Plan Includes ex- Commissioner Homola’s Failed 2012 Plan to Make Swan Lake a Salt Water Estuary

– Is the Oak Harbor City Council following Parliamentary Procedures? Or are Parliamentary Procedures being used as a disruptive tool by the council?

– Attention Whidbey News Times

– Whidbey Has Future Leaders in Three Young Girls

Recently we have seen our city council meet in private while at an out of town convention that was paid for by the city. We have heard reports from many citizens that private meetings on boats in the marina or at local homes in our area are a common occurrence with many on this council. Why should this be troubling to the residents of Oak Harbor? While these meetings may not be a direct violation of the Open Public Meetings Act (or not a provable violation because they are private meetings)  it does show that this council considers themselves members of a cozy elite group that has no problem wining and dining among themselves, their own little country club so to speak.

We elect members to the city council not because they belong to some elite group of people, we vote them into office to represent the citizens of this community and we elect them as individuals. I am not sure how representative of the people this council can be if they are a member of some cozy elite group that often meets together in private, they should be meeting with the residents of this community and taking input from them not each other.

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Updated 8-20-2014 See update at bottom
The city council recently attended a Municipal Finance Conference held at Leavenworth Washington where a quorum of the city council attended the meeting. The meeting, hotel, food and travel was paid for by the taxpayers of our city. The history, practice and policy of Oak Harbor is to prepare and publish a special meeting notice whenever a quorum of city council members is present whether or not any city business is discussed or action taken. The city clerk prepared a special meeting notice for the Municipal Finance Conference and published it in accordance with Oak Harbor policy on the city website.

Here is the Special Meeting Notice.

A special meeting notice needs to include the date and location where the quorum will be present to be a valid notification

According to reports another quorum of the council occurred outside the location listed on the Municipal Finance Conference notification on the evening of the 14th of August and at a different location than the conference. This quorum was present at a home owned by Rick Almberg and included the following quorum of the city council and administrative staff; Councilman Rick Almberg, Councilman Bob Severns, Councilman Beth Munns, Councilman Joel Servatius, Councilman Danny Paggao, Councilman Jim Campbell, City Administrator Larry Cort, finance director Doug Merriman and City Attorney Nikki Esparza. Tara Hizon did not attend the conference for some reason and was not present at either quorum.

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At the last city council meeting and in our local newspaper we saw several of our council members making claims that the Mayor was not following proper Parliamentary Procedures in many of his actions. Tara Hizon stated that she was “horrified” and “It was the most unprofessional thing I have ever seen,” in our local paper.  A great disruption was made at the meeting by at least 2 of the Council with several out of order interruptions during the meeting that appeared to show very poor respect for any rules. As it turns out the council’s basis was wrong in every one of their disruptive claims and if Tara Hizon was truly “Horrified” she was horrified for all the wrong reasons.

I broke open my copy of the Sturgis Rules also known as The Standard Code of Parliamentary Procedure which is the parliamentary procedures used by our council and searched it for information about the claims made at the most recent meeting.  I referenced the council special rules which is the separate set of rules that the council uses. I also contacted a friend who was a debate leader in college for the explanation of why comments are not mentioned or covered under Sturgis or Robert’s rules Let’s go over the claims that were made.

Claim #1- Councilman Tara Hizon stated, during a debate on a motion “I believe this motion was already made and passed so I don’t think we can make the same motion again” she also made the claim that once an item was brought to the floor and passed or rejected it could not be brought to the floor again at a different meeting.

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Gallup released a poll today that shows that the most important problem Americans are facing today is the government.

View the Gallup Poll here

The question posed to the survey recipients was as follows:

What do you think is the most important problem facing this country today?

The results showed that dissatisfaction with Government/Congress/Politicians; Poor leadership/Corruption/Abuse of power lead the poll results as the most important problem.

We have our own problems with dissatisfaction of the Government right here in Oak Harbor. It is time that the citizens wake up and take back their city that has been overtaken by those that do not have the best interest of the citizens in mind. We have an out of control city council that micromanages every aspect of our city government if they possibly have a chance. We have seen decisions made that have consistently resulted in poor outcomes for the citizens and businesses and that have benefitted those special few people that pull the strings behind the city councils decision. Why do we allow only those special few prosper when the citizens are footing the bill?

Wake up citizens of Oak Harbor before it is too late.

From our comments section:
There is something that is worth mentioning here… Joel Servatius refused to comment or give any substantial reasoning why he rejected Cliff Howard’s nomination for the planning commission. Jim Campbell simply asked “why?” and Joel refused to answer. “No Comment,” yet he demanded the Mayor give a reason why he fired Tamara Snipes as the marathon coordinator. Joel Servatius raised a motion to give the Mayor more time to speak, insisting he give an answer.

 

Any person with the ability to think and reason can see a number of reasons why the Elks club is better suited to run the Marathon than one person. The Mayor’s answer was perfect. He simply wants to make it better, and more economical for the city. The “if its not broke, don’t fix it attitude,” as Paggao suggested shows City Council’s lack of inititiative and inability to make this city a better place. This is the Mayor’s job, and why the people of Oak Harbor elected him, but Joel Servatius has to find any reason to disagree with him… Right Joel? At least he answered a simple question posed to him, something you refused to do.

 

Beth Munns, Tara Hizon and Joel Servatius’s comments on what took place in that meeting adds to the unprofessional behavior that is Oak Harbor City Council. Tara Hizon comments on the Mayor acting “unprofessional” are comical and one-sided. I watched that meeting start to finish. If Beth Munns had ANY respect for the office of the Mayor she would have let him speak and handled it afterwards. Instead she chose to interrupt him over and over again, THAT is extremely unprofessional. Mrs. Munns as a COW (commanding officer’s wife) should know enough to respect the position, whether or not she agrees with the man.

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A month or so ago I received a phone call from Mayor Dudley where he asked me if I would be willing to serve on the Oak Harbor Planning Commission, a volunteer position…

 As the Mayor knows a bit about my background and that I have been a local resident for most of my life he felt that I would make a good person to place on this board. I was reluctant at first knowing that I have been a vocal opponent of the council but he assured me that the position is chosen by the Mayor, confirmed by the Council and that political affiliations are to be disregarded in the selection and confirmation of members to this board. Being a civic minded individual I could not refuse when asked to serve.

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The Garry Oak Tree at the Oak Harbor Post Office was cut down this Sunday morning.

The City gave very little notice that it was to be cut down but the condition of the tree is what is caused the expedited action on the cities part.

Last May a 100 pound branch broke off in a windstorm and last June another 300 pound branch fell on the sidewalk. This spring and summer when the tree is in full leaf and the sap is running would have more than likely caused more limbs to fail.

It is certainly sad to see a tree of this age cut down but the years were not been to kind to it. This tree was more than likely planted alongside a wagon trail some 400 years ago and the since then that wagon trail has turned into the city we know as Oak Harbor. Once you pave over a trees roots the tree suffers and eventually the tree needs to be removed. (Pictures below the fold)

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We have sent 10 questions to all of the candidates for the upcoming Oak Harbor City Council election. In the following weeks we will be posting the answers that the candidates supplied us for your information. All of the candidates for all of the council seats were sent these questions with the exception of Skip Pohtilla whom we could find no contact information for.

All of the candidates were asked the following questions:

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The city of Oak Harbor is at a crossroads. The citizens of this city have a choice to make this November that will greatly change the direction of our city.

At stake in this election is control of the City Council.  A majority of the council has decided to obstruct the new Mayor that was elected on a platform of change and openness by a wide majority of the citizens.  For the last several years we have seen a great deal of contention between the Mayor and those that have the most control over the future of Oak Harbor, the City Council. When the citizens of Oak Harbor elected a new Mayor, Scott Dudley, by a 12.93% margin over his opponent and incumbent Mayor Jim Slowik they were hoping for change and a new way for our city to be managed. This change cannot happen with the current members of the City Council as they have chosen to be obstructive since the day the new Mayor was elected.

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The video below is an example of why we have some local politicians that cannot be trusted to speak honestly and why we have a City Council that is misinformed on the issues. We have a local politician, one that should know better, attempting to clarify to the Council that the the Hotel Motel tax is somehow not a tax. This politician calls this tax pass through dollars, reimbursed dollars or designated reimbursed dollars and attempts to avoid the concept that these are taxes and that real people pay this tax.

Oak Harbor has one of the highest lodging tax rates in the State and certainly in our local area. The “2%” tax is a tax make no mistake about it. Yes it is passed through the state. But it is a real tax real and real people pay it. It makes no difference to the visitors to our city whether it is “passed through” the state or not as it comes directly from their pockets. While it is called the “2%” tax our city taxes 2% under RCW 67.28.180 and also taxes an additional 2% under RCW 67.28.181 for a total of a 4% tax on all hotel motel sales. So in Oak Harbor this should be referred to as the 4% tax…not the 2% tax as stated by this politician.

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