Issaquah Press rebukes Fred Butler, endorses Forkner for mayor

In yet another rebuke to Issaquah’s old guard politicians, the Issaquah Press endorsed Joe Forkner over Fred Butler for mayor in next Tuesday’s election.

It is the only contested race in the city’s council/mayoral races.

The Press cited poor employee morale and declining city ethics–specifically pointing to the cyber squatting undertaken by the administration of retiring Mayor Ava Frisinger as an example. Butler, who has been president of the City Council, refused to condemn the cyber squatting until long after the fact, when asked directly on candidate questionnaires.

Forkner also was slow, taking about a month before he stated such practice would not be acceptable in a Forkner administration. I previously noted that I know Butler and expressed disappointment that he refused to take a position on the cybersquatting. No other council members have condemned the practice.

With the Council members refusing to take a position and the Mayor and City Administrator defending the cybersquatting, no wonder there are morale problems in City Hall.

Unfortunately, Butler has the name recognition, the money and the endorsements that will likely propel him into the mayor’s seat. Forkner was appointed to the council to fill a vacancy. His run for mayor meant he’d be giving up his council seat. A loss to Butler means he’ll be out of city government.

At long last, an Issaquah official says cybersquatting was wrong

Finally, someone in the Issaquah city government said its cybersquatting of the Sammamish Plateau Water and Sewer District websites was wrong.

Councilman Joe Forkner, who is running for mayor against long-time councilman Fred Butler, who is also president of the council, took this stand in a candidate profile in the Issaquah Press. The Press wrote:

He did not pause when asked about strategies taken in the past year to defend Issaquah against perceived attacks from the Sammamish Plateau Water and Sewer District. He said that an aggressive assumption plan and cybersquatting activities would have no place in a prospective Forkner administration.

“I’m a sit-down-and-talk-it-out kind of guy,” he said. “If we have a problem, let’s sit down, talk about it and just come up with a plan that will work.”

Butler has only said he didn’t know of the cybersquatting in advance. He’s declined to take a stand on the ethics of the practice.

I’ve known Butler for years, as well as another council member, Stacy Goodman. Both refused to take a stand on the ethics of the city’s cybersquatting the Water District’s website when I asked. Goodman, who covered the City of Sammamish as a reporter for the Sammamish Review when I was on city commissions and committees, would have been all over this story as a reporter. As an Issaquah City Council member, she’s gone into the bunker, along with Butler and the rest of the city government.

It is gratifying to see that someone over there decided the cybersquatting was wrong. But it sure took long enough.

As readers of Sammamish Comment (and the local newspapers) know, the Water District and Issaquah have been fighting over water treatment issues for years. After the District launched a campaign to advise its customers of the problem, Issaquah’s staff created to domain names virtually identical to those of the Water District to hijack District customers and those interested in the issues, redirecting them to city websites aimed at countering District information.

Issaquah Mayor Ava Frisinger and city administrator Bob Harrison defended the practice. Harrison said this was done to counter “misinformation” from the District.

This is an amazing excuse.

Issaquah has two full-time employees in its communications department, Warren Kagarise (who purchased the phoney domain names) and Autumn Monahan. Both were once reporters for the Issaquah Press. Monahan also was once employed by a professional public relations firm. Council member Goodman was also once a reporter for the Press. All are well-schooled in communication and information dissemination.

With all this newspaper experience, and the understanding of communicating messages and reporting facts that goes with being reporters and a public relations professional, Issaquah still resorted to cheating and trickery to try and get its message across. And this was their first action. Slick videos and presentations came later.

Every local newspaper condemned the city for its actions.

One can only roll your eyes and shake your head at the decision-making that went into this, the lack of ethics surrounding it, the defense of it, and the lack of outrage by the city council members.

Good for Forkner for finally being the one elected official with the courage to stand up and take a position that this was wrong. But he was awfully slow to do so.

Water District vs Issaquah: video presentations tell the story

The debate is contentious. The Sammamish Plateau Water and Sewer District says Issaquah wants to inject contaminated water into an area where fecal coliform can infiltrate into an aquifer that provides up to 50% of the drinking water for the District, which serves 54,000 residents in Issaquah (including part of the Issaquah Highlands, all of Providence Point and Overdale), all of Klahanie and other parts of unincorporated King County and roughly three quarters of Sammamish.

Issaquah officials charge the Water District is resorting to scare tactics and its real “agenda” is “self-preservation” and to block the potential annexation by Issaquah of Klahanie. What’s noteworthy of Mayor Ava Frisinger’s approach on this is that by making allegations that the District has an “agenda” and personally attacking the president of the District, she’s avoiding the issues and the City is repeating tactics from 2008 when the Washington Department of Ecology forced (repeat, forced) Issaquah to shut down the so-called LRIG (Lower Reid Infiltration Gallery) in the first place.

Then, according to the press report at the time, Issaquah told Ecology:

They stated that the DOE relied on information supplied by the Sammamish Plateau Water & Sewer District, and said it was “riddled with factual errors,” and contains “inflammatory, incorrect and prejudicial statements masquerading as science and technical analysis.” They also call the monitoring program required by the DOE order “extensive, expensive, excessive, unreasonable and arbitrary.

Frisinger and her administration are following the same line of attack today.

Fortunately, you can see for yourself. Issaquah and the Water District each made presentations to the Sammamish City Council on the issue. Sammamish is trying to sort out facts and has heard from both sides. Issaquah heard the presentation from its own consultant, who also presented to Sammamish, but has so far not wanted to hear from the Water District. It’s clear Issaquah doesn’t give a damn about public opinion or scientific questions over the dispute and it’s equally clear it doesn’t want to hear from the Water District, which is why the District felt compelled to “go public” in the first place.

But you can watch the following videos:

Issaquah Presentation to Issaquah City Council (this was the same presentation given to the Sammamish City Council the same evening). This is 31 minutes.

Water District Presentation to Sammamish City Council on June 4. (Issaquah hasn’t invited the Water District to present to the City Council). Advance to 46:30 minutes for the hour-long presentation.

I think you will find a great deal of useful information that you can compare about who is more factual and more complete.

With respect to the allegation of “self-preservation,” Issaquah is attempting a hostile takeover of a small portion of the District that includes three wells (the ones using the aquifer at risk) in such a way that will dismember the infrastructure to the detriment of Sammamish residents, and those in unincorporated King County. 93% of the District lies outside Issaquah (using Issaquah’s own number) and Issaquah refuses to talk with the District or Sammamish in a way to resolve these issues and concerns. Instead, officials have made it clear that they are only interested in themselves, no matter the consequences to anyone else.

The threat to the water quality is why the Water District is putting up such a fight.

“We all drink from the same glass of water:” Mayor Frisinger in defending plan that threatens Issaquah, Sammamish and Klahanie water supplies

That’s what she said May 6 to media and on Social Media.

““We all drink from the same glass, the citizens of Issaquah and Sammamish,” Issaquah Mayor Ava Frisinger said.” Press release dated May 6, 2013, on Issaquah City website.

What if that glass of water looks like this?

Issaquah’s plan to inject stormwater runoff without adequate pre-treatment proposed by the Sammamish Plateau Water and Sewer District–threatening our drinking water aquifer that is immediately below the so-called LRIG into which the Mayor wants to inject stormwater–may not look this bad but it’s what you don’t see that will hurt you.

Fecal coliform (from bird and other animal poop), metal particles and contaminants contained in stormwater runoff from Issaquah Highlands are all in stormwater. Issaquah contends filtering it through the ground and the LRIG will be adequate. The Water District says more pre-treatment is needed. This is the crux of the battle going on between the city, the District and the Washington Department of Ecology right now. Ecology, inexplicably, is nearing approval of a Draft Permit to allow Issaquah to inject stormwater into the ground only nine feet from the District’s aquifer that serves 54,000 people mostly in Sammamish and Klahanie and including other portions of unincorporated King County and parts of Issaquah.

The Water District offered three times to co-fund a pre-treatment facility and Issaquah rejected each offer.

Frisinger says Issaquah is committed to protecting the aquifer. If this is true, you have to ask: why won’t the city work together with the Water District, which offers to co-fund a proper pre-treatment stormwater facility?

Issaquah takes the cheap route on storm water–except it doesn’t; the non-response response

Events moved quickly about the fight between Issaquah and the Sammamish Plateau Water District.

KING5 TV had a report on its 5:30 pm news May 6 about the water war between Issaquah and the Sammamish Plateau Water and Sewer District.

Most revealing was Gary Chittim’s summary in the video: “Supporters say it’s a good, cheap way to treat water and get rid of storm runoff.”

Except Issaquah hasn’t chosen the “cheap” way. It chose a $1.5 million option that has already run up huge legal bills for Issaquah and the water district, with more to come if the state Department of Ecology grants the infiltration permit, as it is gearing up to do.

The Water District three times offered to co-fund a water infiltration system to protect the aquifer, but Issaquah refused each offer. Instead it has moved toward a hostile takeover of part of the District.

The Seattle Times has this news story about the Issaquah plan and the Water District’s effort to protect the aquifer. Within the article, Issaquah Ava Frisinger and Ecology said they are “anxious” to end dumping polluted storm water into Issaquah Creek.

If Issaquah had agreed with the Water District’s plan to treat the water, this wouldn’t have been an issue in the first place. I’ve added numbers to the paragraphs for some reaction below.

Meantime, Issaquah issued a non-response response to the Water District’s highly detailed information provided to the media.

Here’s a press release from Issaquah:

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