Feeds:
Posts
Comments

The Kitsap County Deputy Sheriffs Guild sent this press release out late yesterday:

The Kitsap County Deputy Sheriffs Guild hasn’t determined which candidate it will endorse in this year’s Kitsap County prosecutor’s race, but it has decided who it will not endorse — incumbent Russ Hauge. The Guild announced today, in a strongly worded statement, that while it was still assessing the other three candidates for the prosecutor seat, it had decided to officially oppose Hauge and encouraged the voters to consider one of the other three candidates in the August primary.

Guild President Jay Kent explained that the Guild took the unusual position of issuing an “anti-endorsement” because of its strong opposition to Hauge. “The prosecutor’s office is a mess” Kent said “and Hauge is responsible for that. We are not going to get the office’s problems fixed until he leaves the office.” Kent said the Guild wanted more time to assess the other three candidates — Bruce Danielson, Tina Robinson, and Bob Scales — but that it was “firmly set” against Hauge’s reelection. Continue Reading »

It’s July, and chances are you don’t know anything about the candidates listed on the primary ballot that came in the mail this week. You may not even know there’s a primary, but your ballot is due August 5.

Photo credit: Facebook page of Bob Scales for Prosecutor-D

Photo credit: Facebook page of Bob Scales for Prosecutor-D

It might be worth your time, though, to tune in to the small local drama playing out in the four-way primary contest for Kitsap County Prosecutor that illustrates why so many of us have a distaste for party politics.

Russ Hauge, a Democrat, is an 18-year incumbent who has drawn three challengers. The Kitsap Sun has called the number of opponents in the race an indication of “a critical mass of dissatisfaction with Hauge.”

Hauge has garnered detractors for a variety of deficits, including a reputed bad temper, his failure to fire a deputy prosecutor after two drunk driving arrests, and his expensive and largely unsuccessful fifteen-year crusade against the Kitsap Rifle and Revolver Club.

Tina Robinson, the Republican challenger, has limited legal and prosecutorial experience, and the Independent, Bruce Danielson is a far-right, self-described “constitutional fundamentalist” who has lost to Hauge before (though not by much).

Bob Scales, a Democrat and former Bainbridge council member who has spent his career in public safety, has shaken up the race as a same-party challenger to Hauge. As a result, the Hauge crowd has been playing hardball as the primary winds to a close. His supporters are particularly targeting Bainbridge Island because of our history as reliable primary voters who are mostly Democratic. The strategy depends on discrediting Scales, who has lived on Bainbridge for fifteen years, and has served the island during two terms on city council.

Scales is highly qualified. He was a King County deputy prosecutor for six years. He was a senior policy analyst for public safety for the City of Seattle, and worked on developing programs to enhance police accountability, firearm safety, drug enforcement tactics and treatment programs, and community engagement, to name just a few. He has been nationally recognized for his work on strategies for prosecuting juvenile firearm offenders.

Now that the ballots have dropped, Hauge’s campaign is showing the ugly side of politics: when your candidate’s qualifications and track record aren’t enough for the win, go for lies and propaganda.

One example is today’s letter to the editor in the Bainbridge Review and the Islander, signed by several precinct committee officers and board members of the 23rd Legislative District Democrats (signed as individuals, not as representatives of the 23rd).  Continue Reading »

In an editorial today, the Seattle Times has lauded the decision by Kitsap Superior Court Judge Jeanette Dalton in our public records case.

The Times editorial begins with a problem all too familiar to open-government advocates:

“A spate of public-records cases in Washington state are raising a question that shouldn’t have to be asked at all: Should public officials be allowed to evade public-records requests when they use their own cellphones, computers and email accounts? Of course not, but that hasn’t kept them from trying.”

Discussing several public records cases making their way through the Washington courts, the Times said this about Bainbridge Island:

“A private cellphone really is no different from a private email account; and where email is concerned, the courts have been clear. A series of rulings have established that, whether a public official uses a personal mailbox or an official one, the emails still must be disclosed.

“The state Supreme Court laid down that rule in a City of Shoreline case in 2010, and last month a Kitsap County Superior Court judge further clarified the issue. Two Bainbridge Island council members, David Ward and Steven Bonkowski, did public business from their personal computers, and they deleted their emails before two island residents filed public-records requests. Judge Jeanette Dalton ruled the council members were subject to the same records-retention requirements as the city, and she ordered Bainbridge Island to conduct a forensic investigation of the council members’ home computers. Continue Reading »

Last August, we filed a Public Records Act lawsuit against the City of Bainbridge Island and certain individual councilpersons, after learning they had been conducting City business from their personal email accounts, and had failed to produce these records after receiving our public records request.

As we said in our press release at the time, “The last thing we want to do is sue the city….But the way the Public Records Act is written, we have to sue the city in order to require rogue officials to obey the law.”

We have tried to make clear throughout this litigation that our primary concern was not with individuals on the City’s staff, whom we had found to be cooperative and professional. It was unlawful activity by the councilpersons that troubled us, because they have consistently placed themselves above the law and have refused to turn over public records. Council members Dave Ward and Steven Bonkowski have admitted under oath that they deleted emails concerning City business, relying upon their own personal definition of what constitutes a public record, and without seeking advice from the City. In doing so, they ignored guidelines that were provided to them on multiple occasions.

In a 32-page decision issued May 29th, Kitsap County Superior Court Judge Jeannette Dalton agreed with us, finding that the councilpersons’ refusal to turn over the records was of “grave concern for the people of Bainbridge Island.” Judge Dalton found that the City failed to do an adequate search for the requested records as required by law, because even after the City knew the council members were conducting City business on their personal accounts, it did not make any effort to search those accounts. She ruled that the City violated the Public Records Act and ordered the City to pay our attorneys fees and sanctions for the violations.

Continue Reading »

Three Council members, Val Tollefson, Wayne Roth and Roger Townsend, sent this letter to the press this morning on City of Bainbridge Island Executive Department letterhead. Although I am not aware of any Council vote taken to approve this letter, it appears to be the City’s official statement, sent out by City press release. It is also posted on the City’s website. 

As many already know, the Kitsap County Superior Court recently issued a ruling in a Public Records Act lawsuit brought last year by two Bainbridge Island citizens against the City and two current members of the City Council. The City has decided to ask the Court of Appeals to review the trial court’s ruling. As the three members of the City Council who were not members of the Council last year, we thought it important to share our justification for supporting this decision.

This case began at a time last year when the emotions of a number of Bainbridge Islanders, both on and off the City Council, were high. To a casual observer it would have been clear that there was little trust and collegiality among some members of the Council, and there were a number of Island interest groups who had little faith in some members of the Council or indeed, in the Council and City government as a whole. Continue Reading »

Here’s the press release we sent out this morning. We received Judge Dalton’s opinion late Friday afternoon. I’ve attached her opinion at the end of the post. The Bainbridge Review’s article is here. The Inside Bainbridge article is here.

Kitsap Superior Court Judge Jeanette Dalton ruled Friday that the City of Bainbridge Island violated the Public Records Act (PRA) by failing to turn over emails from the personal email accounts of council members David Ward and Steven Bonkowski, after public records requests were made by Islanders Althea Paulson and Robert Fortner. Judge Dalton awarded monetary penalties, attorneys fees and costs to Paulson and Fortner, who filed suit last August. Ward and Bonkowski are also required to turn over their personal computers to the City to be searched for missing emails.

Paulson and Fortner made separate requests beginning in June 2013 for public records relating to the City-run water utility. The City produced responsive records that were stored on the City’s server. In addition, council member Sarah Blossom turned over emails from her personal email account showing that Blossom, Ward, Bonkowski and council member Debbi Lester had been conducting city business from their personal accounts. Continue Reading »

After a week of daunting climate news, here’s your Friday reward: Internet news sensation, Kitsap Report TV, in a no-holds-barred interview with Bainbridge mayor Anne Blair on pressing topics like our city council’s military coup, fast food and twerking. Be sure to look for Councilman Bonkowski’s wink.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 58 other followers