The opinions expressed here are my own.
The mayor of Issaquah, Ava Frisinger, has admitted that the City Administration directed one of its staffers to “reserve” two Internet domain names that are virtually identical to two held by the Sammamish Plateau Water and Sewer District. These differed only in the dot extensions from the Districts home address, www.sammplat.wa.org and www.letstalkaboutourwater.org.
(The same story linked above also is in the Issaquah Press.)
Frisinger dodged admitting that more than “reserving” the virtually identical URLs, they were activated and directed people to City of Issaquah websites. People who mistyped the Water District’s domain names were sent to the City’s website.
The practice is called cybersquatting, and it is considered in Internet circles to be unethical and under certain circumstances to be illegal.
Issaquah and the Water District are engaged in a protracted dispute over water quality and the City’s plan to resume injecting stormwater into what’s known as the Lower Reid Infiltration Gallery (LRIG), which collects stormwater runoff from Issaquah Highlands. LRIG was ordered shut down by the state Department of Ecology in 2008 when fecal coliform (bird poop and other pollutants) was found to have infiltrated a nearby drinking water aquifer.
Frisinger has accused the Water District of misleading the public and that “customer confusion” exists within Issaquah over which agency, the City or the District, provides water and sewer service to the small portion of the District that lies within the City limits.
Frisinger wrote the District after the District discovered the bogus URLs and cybersquatting that the city “Administration” told an employee to obtain the bogus URLs.
This brazen, deliberate action to hijack the public who sought to go to the Water District’s web sites is astounding, and Frisinger’s response to the Water District is equally appalling.
I spent eight years in Sammamish City government on committees and commissions and 12 years working on political campaigns and I thought I had seen everything. This takes the cake. For the Issaquah city government to not only condone but to initiate this is beyond belief.
Frisinger, the Chief Executive Officer of the city, chose not to seek reelection this year. Is this the legacy of her years of public service that she wants to have? Pursuing a plan to allow inadequately treated stormwater to threaten drinking water? Pursuing a hostile takeover of a sliver of the Water District that could cost taxpayers $12 million? Keeping information from its taxpayers until “outed” by the Water District? And finally condoning and initiating cybersquatting?
Apparently the answer is Yes.