Posts Tagged ‘Whatcom County’

Updated 10/23/11: In Hopes that Local Media will Shed Some Light

Monday, October 17th, 2011

I haven’t found the time to post much lately, homework, work, kids football and the list goes on, but as our next chance to vote fast approaches I’m finding that one crucial issue has not come fully to light.  The issue is whatever went on in the Whatcom County Treasurers Office between Steve Oliver and one of his employees as well as how our County Executive Pete Kremen handled it.   I can’t tell you what went on for sure, only that something apparently has gone on, but that is the point of this post.   I hope that our local media will shed some light on what has gone on, before we receive ballots asking us to again vote these men into public office.  The people of Whatcom County deserve to know.

For months now I’ve heard rumors of a scandal between County Treasurer Steve Oliver and one of his employees as well as a subsequent hush hush dealing with the situation by County Executive Pete Kremen.   I’ve seen no direct evidence of the situation, so these rumors have remained rumors from my standpoint; I’ve never repeated them.  I frankly had hoped that both County Executive Pete Kremen and County Treasurer Steve Oliver would quietly end their political careers by not seeking re-election this year, or  in Mr. Kremen’s case, election to a new position on the County Council.  Withdrawing candidacy could have left what is undoubtedly also a sensitive personal issue to be dealt with on a personal, not public level.   Sadly it doesn’t look like that is the way it will go down.

Both these men were recently questioned on this subject in open public forums and both seemed to acknowledge the situation, taking it out of the realm of gossip and rumor.  Yet, neither shed light on the facts of the situation and, as of several days later, I’ve read nothing in the news.  So in lieu of the real media at this point, I’ll pass along what I believe to know in hopes that we can make more informed decision.

At a recent NW Business Club forum, County Executive Kremen was asked if he bypassed the human resources department in dealing with a serious situation at the Whatcom County Treasurers office and his response apparently confirmed that he did.

Next, Whatcom County Treasurer Steve Oliver was asked at a Birch Bay candidate forum if he, while in office, did or did not engage in a relationship with a female employee that involved any form of affection, physical contact, sexual contact, or any other inappropriate conduct.  And as a follow up he was asked how that kind of behavior would affect his ability to conduct the duties of the Treasurer’s office.  His response was along the lines that there was no complaint, no grievance, no lawsuit, no threat of a lawsuit and that there had been no liability.  And as far as I know, he didn’t deny anything and as far as I know, he didn’t answer the followup about the effect of this on the Treasurer’s office.

The lack of denial by either Pete Kremen or Steve Oliver gives substance to what had been only  rumors.  Apparently scandal did occur at the County Treasurers office and apparently it was dealt with in a less than standard fashion at the County Executive level.

I think the smartest move at this point would be for Pete Kremen and Steve Oliver to withdraw themselves from candidacy, however I won’t be holding my breath.  But with ballots now close at hand, I sure hope that someone in our local media (Herald, KGMI, Cascadia) will step up and bring some facts to light so that voters may make more informed decisions.

Updated 10/21/11 – In response to a couple of comments suggesting that this post is based on rumor, I added the following which is from the Birch Bay candidate forum.  As you read the exchange ask yourself how you might respond to a similar question and how Steve Oliver responded.  I think for most of us the answer would be something like no or heck no!

Question from audience:

“Mr. Oliver, yesterday I attended a forum in Bellingham, where Whatcom County Executive Pete Kremen was asked if he was aware of a personnel situation in the Treasurer’s office.  The County Executive confirmed that there was a very serious matter, a very serious situation.

Now it is appropriate to ask you directly, did you or did you not in your term as County Treasurer engage in a relationship with a female employee of the County Treasurer’s office that involved any form of affection, physical contact, sexual contact, or any other inappropriate conduct? Yes or No.

Furthermore, please explain to this audience how you as an elected official, how this kind of behavior would affect your job, the ability to conduct the duties of the Treasurer’s office.”

Response from Steve Oliver

“Well, I wasn’t at the forum the other day, but, you know, what, what I would say is that, you know, there has been no complaint, there’s no grievance, been no lawsuit, there’s been no threat of a lawsuit, there’s been no liability, and there was due diligence performed to substantiate that issue completely. I, all I can say is, I love my wife, I love my kids, and I’m not going to do anything that’s going to hurt them, end of story.”

 

Updated10/23/11 – Glad to see that the Herald has posted an article on this situation, although for me most of the articles content brought up even more questions.

Treasurer Steve Oliver said he has not been involved in any inappropriate or sexual relationship with any of his employees,

…his denial wasn’t worded strongly enough to squash the rumor.

So why did he dance around the question at the forum instead of answering it out right, Yes or No as he was asked?   “No” is a pretty strong word and he was offered the chance to use that word yet he didn’t.  Was he caught off guard?  Was he channeling Bill Clinton?

Now, I have to go back to work on my State of the Union speech. And I worked on it until pretty late last night. But I want to say one thing to the American people. I want you to listen to me. I’m going to say this again: I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky. I never told anybody to lie, not a single time; never. These allegations are false. And I need to go back to work for the American people. Thank you

And what about this?

The rumor stems, Oliver said, from a person not employed by the county who had come into County Executive Pete Kremen’s office in spring 2010 with allegations of an inappropriate relationship between Oliver and one of his employees.

Who was the person not employed by the county and what was the allegation?

Was any part of the allegation true?

What was their relationship to those involved?

Did the Herald start their investigation before these issues were raised publicly?  If so why?

As I think I said before, rumors abound, did the Herald ask for other records to address or lay to rest other rumors?

Some Youtube footage available at the Whatcom Excavator brings even more questions

I could go on, but suffice to say that something did occur at the Treasurers Office.  And regardless of what that something was, the something was squelched by Pete Kremen and Steve Oliver to the extent that it took an election race to flush them out.

I won’t be voting for either of these men and I suggest that you don’t either.

 

Signs and Taxes in Ferndale

Wednesday, July 6th, 2011

I had a chance to drop in on last night’s Ferndale City Council meeting. I was an hour late, but enough in time to hear a little public as well as council opinion on a couple of the latest news items: the proposal for an add on gas tax and political signs.

In my opinion the thought of boosting the retail price of gas in Ferndale by even 1 penny, is ludicrous. We already buy gas only as needed in Ferndale, trying to save fill ups for trips we are already making to Costco or Fred Meyers. The bigger the price difference, the more we’ll avoid Ferndale.

I’ve also thought it pretty chump of the council to consider this tax at all, because it is authorized as a way to fund road repairs from all the Canadian traffic. Well the Canadians are wearing out the roads around Costco and Bellis Fair, not here in Ferndale. Councilman Malpezzi was the only one I heard make reference to this fact, while the dishonest nature of considering this didn’t seem to bother others.

In the end the council tied on whether to propose this to the voters and then failed the measure after Mayor Jensen cast the tie breaker vote.

I found it a bit surprising coming from a mayor that has headed so much spending, but I guess that’s why Ferndale has so much debt. Politically it was probably a good move from a man who is campaigning to keep his seat as Mayor of Ferndale; nothing will kill a campaign quicker than stomping on small businesses and telling voters that they need to pay higher taxes.

On the other interesting topic in Ferndale, the Council voted unanimously to firm up campaign/political sign rules and allow 4′ x 8′ signs in areas other than residential. Since everyone there readily admitted that they never enforced the existing rules, ya gotta’ wonder why they are making a change at all?   And today in a FB post about the newly annexed areas, City of Ferndale made a special note that,

The City also will enforce the City’s sign code in this area. Offsite signs that were not permitted by Whatcom County are to be removed.

You wonder where all this is coming from and with the little tiff over Norbert Rojsza display, are they planning on starting signage enforcement now, and if so on who will the enforcement fall?

And did I mention also that at the Ferndale Council Meeting there was a point made that the fine for violating the sign code was not just $500, but $500 per day and penalty could include jail time?   And did I mention that this discussion brought a lot of smiles and a chuckle or two from the Council, City employees and Mayor?  Check it out Audio Clip

Where were the Ferndale Sign Police when the mondo casino sign went up off Slater?   Oh, that’s right the City worked with the Tribes to put up that sign which advertises gambling and smoking, yet they seem poised to come down hard on anyone seeking office in Ferndale.  What the heck?

2011 Election Season

Monday, June 13th, 2011

Update: Instead of continuing to update this post, I’ve added a page for the 2011 Elections and will update that as my positions evolve.

As of Friday the candidate filings are closed, so they’re off and running.  The Herald has covered the filings both in the news and in their politics blog.   In turn, the Whatcom Democrats have also  covered the Herald politics blog with a layer of partisan comments from some of their officers.  On Saturday the Whatcom GOP had their first endorsement of the season, with their  endorsement of Sen. Doug Erickson’s for County Executive.

It may seem contrary to the somewhat political nature of this blog, but I really don’t find it much fun to speculate about who will file and why.  I don’t find fantasy football of any interest either.  But now that the dust has settled for the moment, I did go through a quick assessment of where I stand at this moment on some of the more important races.

UPDATE: I’ll just keep updating this post as things move along and I learn more about each candidate.

Whatcom County Executive

  • Jack Louws  – I’ve heard good things, but right now its difficult to think of a better candidate than Sen. Ericksen
  • Smile Doug Ericksen – Doug has represented us well for years in Olympia and I’m all for him now working at home to make this a better area to live.
  • Tom Anderson – Don’t know anything at this point.
  • Sad smile David Stalheim – So in the last 4-5 years he left a community development job for the city of Wenatchee, for a community development job for the city of Ashland, which he left for a job as Whatcom County Planning Director, which he left for a job with the City of Bellingham as Planning & Community Development director and shortly thereafter sues his former employer Whatcom County for problems with their planning.  Now he want’s to quit with Bellingham to become the executive of the county he is sued?  ROFLMAO, oh and no.

Whatcom County Council District 1, Position B

  1. Smile Tony Larson – I find Tony to be an independent, level headed guy who has given a lot to this community.  I see him asking all the right questions rather than just rubber stamping status quo.    I supported him before and especially after seeing him in action, I’ll do it again.
  2. Pete Kremen  – I’m not really sure why he’s running yet ????

Whatcom County Council District 2, Position B

  • Smile Sam Crawford – I like what I see of his values and he has thus far shown he is more than up to the challenges of the position he has had for more than a few years.  He’s a keeper.
  • Sad smile Christina Maginnis – Our county already throws way too much of our money towards stormwater issues and Lake Whatcom without much in the way of results.    Having a DOE water quality expert on the council seems a bit like voting to have someone beat your head against a wall.

Whatcom County Council District 3, Position B

  • Barbara Brenner – I like watching her on the council because like Tony Larson, she is always asking good questions.  I don’t get the impression from her that she has already made up her mind on things, like I do from a couple of the other council members
  • Alan Black – don’t know much yet.

Whatcom County Treasurer

  • Smile Brian Smith –  So I had a chance to meet Brian today and I can report that the good things I had heard were all true.   His qualifications to handle county finances were definitely there and he struck me as someone who would take his duty as a servant to the people of Whatcom County very seriously.
  • Sad smile Steven Oliver – Well, I haven’t met our current treasurer either, but I’ve suspected in the past, that he was playing politics while at work and I just can’t vote for someone to watch the bank accounts that I have a shady/slippery feeling about.

Whatcom County Auditor

  • J. Lynne Walker  – don’t know much about her yet.
  • Debbie Adelstein – don’t know much about her yet either

Whatcom County Sheriff

  • Steve Harris – perhaps someday he’ll have half the experience of Sherriff Elfo.
  • Bob Taylor – perhaps someday he’ll half the experience also.
  • Smile Bill Elfo – What can I say, we live in a county that borders another nation and there is a lot of potential for crimes due to our location.   He’s been the tough but fair Sheriff that we need.

Bellingham Mayor – I don’t live in Bellingham, but Bellingham is such a large part of Whatcom County that what happens there has significant effects on all of us.  If they raise taxes we pay when we shop.  The more unfriendly they make it for people to live and work in the city, the more sprawl is encouraged.

  • Sad smile Kelli Linville – She lost her 42nd district State Rep gig to Vince Buys primarily due to her over spending issues.  I haven’t heard that she has mended her ways, so I don’t see supporting her doing the same in Bellingham.  If Bellingham over spends like our state has for the last few decades, the money will be coming out or your pocket whether you live in Bellingham or not.
  • Sad smile Dan Pike – Too bad I couldn’t bold the frowny.   As I’ve brought up numerous times here in this blog, Dan Pike has such a gift for taking money away from others that he really had only two career paths, criminal or liberal leaning politician.  I’ve never heard of him passing on a chance to take from taxpayers, so there is no way in Hellingbam that I’d give him an ounce of support.
  • Clayton Petree – Ok, he rides a bike, but so does the current mayor, so no decision yet.  Much more to learn here.
  • Steve Moore – don’t know much yet.

I’ll add more when I have had more time to think on the mayor races and a couple of other positions.  I’ll also be  adding or adjusting the smileys and frownies as I learn more about the candidates.

Town Hall Meeting with 42nd District Legislators

Sunday, March 13th, 2011

IMAG0116I along with few hundred others attended a Town Hall meeting in Lynden yesterday afternoon.  The meet was put on by Vince Buys, Doug Ericksen, and Jason Overstreet, our freshly elected representation for the northern half of Whatcom County. 

After a brief introduction by our well known Sen. Ericksen, Rep. Buys and Rep. Overstreet spent a little time familiarizing us with how the 42nd District Legislators are approaching things down in Olympia.  Their goals, and I think they are good ones, are to balance our states budget without raising taxes, to strengthen the economy and to allow businesses to create more jobs.  They described the principles they would employ as they approached our already very out of whack state budget.

  • No new taxes
  • No fund transfers
  • No Federal Bailouts
  • No tricks, gimmicks or shell game tricks

They also referenced some thoughts that Microsoft’s Bill Gates had on state budgeting.  He said that state budgets have received a puzzling lack of scrutiny and have been "riddled with gimmicks"  and “when you get down to it, the guys at Enron never would have done this.”

The next two hours were spent in Q&A.  The lines of questioners were long within seconds and even though they proceeded quickly, their sheer volume had the program running over by 30 minutes.    Questions, and comments, ran the gamut, but most seemed to be centered on protecting funding for educators of one variety or another.  Their were also a couple of comments regarding Pregnancy Center regulation and the proposed coal export terminal being planned for Cherry Point.  The other thing that was brought up several times was the notion that our legislators were somehow union busters.  One questioner asked if they were operating from the same playbook as Wisconsin, to which Doug Ericksen replied, we live in Washington, I don’t even know what Wisconsin’s playbook is.  On that subject, I find it interesting that so many unions, union members and media refer to the new Wisconsin legislation as a stripping away of collective bargaining rights, when once the facts are read, we find that the employees of Wisconsin will have more collective bargaining rights than Federal employees have had since President Carter signed into law the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978

With the 42nd District covering northern Bellingham and much of rural Whatcom County, the wide variety of views did make for a lively meeting.  Perhaps the most entertaining comment I heard came out in the hallway near the end, when a young man collecting business cards asked one of the legislators assistants if Jason Overstreet was a liberal.  I guess he missed the question where stepped center stage and made it extremely clear that he was unequivocally pro-life and that he would never measure the life in economic terms. 

Overall the Town Hall was great event and I look forward to the next.

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