Is ‘You can’t trust Issaquah, Part 5’ around the corner?

Is Issaquah about to equivocate on prior indications that it would release the Klahanie Potential Annexation Area if it lost the vote February 11?

It did lose the vote-albeit by a mere 32–but outside the margin for a recount. Despite Mayor Fred Butler pledging during his successful campaign for election in November saying he’d release the PAA and not gerrymander it, Butler’s been silent so far.

Councilman Paul Winterstein appears to be equivocating, however. According to The Issaquah Reporter, Winterstein told the county that “Winterstein testified that Issaquah hasn’t had time to analyze the election results and sort things out”

What’s there to sort out? Issaquah lost. Period.

Butler’s silence is disturbing. He needs to step up and honor his campaign pledge. One of the issues in the annexation vote was the inability to trust anything Issaquah says it will do. Butler, as the first new mayor in some 16 years, immediately stepped up to resolve the water wars. It’s already past due to step up and take moves to honor his word on annexation.

As for Winterstein and the Issaquah City Council: enough, already. You lost, and that’s that. Stop holding the PAA hostage. You could have annexed the area in 2005 if you weren’t greedy about the debt issue. Give it up now.

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.

Sammamish dispute over fire service may be nearing conclusion

The years-long dispute between Sammamish, the Eastside Fire and Rescue service and its Board of Directors–dominated by Issaquah–may be nearing its conclusion.

Last week Issaquah’s City Council adopted a Resolution virtually identical to EFR partner Fire District 10 saying it will buy Station 83 if Sammamish leaves EFR, as it’s been threatening to do for several years because of a dispute over financial contributions to the District.

Station 83 is the one by Sunny Hills School on Issaquah-Pine Lake Road (at the roundabout). The station was built by the developer of Klahanie and became part of the City of Sammamish when we incorporated in 1999. Most of the fire and EMT calls from this station by far are within Klahanie, Providence Point and adjacent areas within Issaquah; few are within Sammamish, and this has been the rub with the Sammamish City Council, which says our taxpayers have been paying a disproportionate share of financial support to EFR.

But Issaquah’s representatives on the EFR Board, including City Councilman Fred Butler who is the favorite to win the mayoral race, have blocked every effort by Sammamish to adjust the financial formula to one based more closely on call volume than property assessment.

Until now.

The Issaquah City Council, in addition to expressing interest in buying Station 83 has agreed to adjust the formula somewhat, not to the full 50/50 assessment/call-based split Sammamish wanted but to an alternative 75/25 Sammamish suggested. Sammamish threatened to withdraw from EFR and close Station 83 if it did, saying it didn’t make sense for our taxpayers for a fire station making most of its calls outside our city. The prospect of closing the station raised hackles of Issaquah and Fire District 10 because of the downgrading of response time to Klahanie, Providence Point and those other areas of Issaquah served by Station 83.

This movement by Issaquah apparently was behind a decision by Sammamish to delay a recommendation expected from the City Manager to withdraw from EFR.

The whole EFR controversy is the underlying cause of poor relations between the Issaquah and Sammamish City Councils, which has evolved into disputes over the Klahanie annexation and the impact of withdrawing from EFR and closing Station 83; and the dispute between Issaquah and the Sammamish Plateau Water and Sewer District over Issaquah’s plan to inject stormwater near a well fed by an aquifer than serves about 60% of the city of Sammamish.

The Issaquah/Sammamish Reporter has an editorial that pretty well sums up the disputes and impacts.

Having lived here in Sammamish since before it was incorporated, I’ve watched Issaquah pretty well thumb its nose at us the entire time. Issaquah is a “Gimme City,” that has been unwilling to cooperate with other jurisdictions unless they concede everything Issaquah wants for nothing in return. The long-running fight over EFR is the worst example of the Gimme spirit exhibited by Issaquah.

The problem with the Resolutions adopted by the Issaquah City Council last week is that the city has a history of reneging on agreements, as I’ve pointed out. This is one of those Missouri moments: Show Me you’ll live up to what you say you’ll do, Issaquah.


Within minutes of posting the above, I received the following distribution from Harry Shedd, chairman of Citizens for Sammamish, a watchdog group.

From those supporting present system (FYI)…

On Monday evening, the Sammamish City Council discussed the final report that outlined the future of fire service for local residents. The city is leaning towards leaving Eastside Fire and Rescue and starting its own “bare bones” fire department, which will cost taxpayers more and lower the quality of emergency services that Sammamish families and businesses currently receive.
The final report was incomplete and raised more questions than it answered. Community testimony was substantial:

·         The fire chief for Mercer Island (who is also a Sammamish resident) expressed doubt about the cost analysis in the report. He runs a two station fire department for close to what Sammamish claims it will cost for three.

·         A retired fire chief said regional partnerships were more cost-effective and questioned why Sammamish was the only city in the state considering a standalone department.

·         A local elementary school principal asked the council why the study called for a community based fire service when this was something we already have, as evidenced by the safety and fire prevention programs in our public schools.

·         A firefighter pointed out that local residents rate their fire service as one of the top three city services according to the city government’s own survey from 2012. (City council was sixth!)

·         Even the city’s own consultants were quoted several times as saying they could not make a final recommendation on whether the city should start its own fire department.

We had a small victory by pressuring the city council to allow for additional public input on October 29, November 5, and November 12, when the final vote to leave Eastside Fire and Rescue will happen. All meetings begin at 6:30 pm and are held at City Hall at Sammamish Commons, 801 228th Ave SE. Please plan to attend and tell the Sammamish City Council to maintain the quality and cost-effective fire service we receive through Eastside Fire and Rescue

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.

Issaquah to Klahanie in 2010: We can’t support your parks and we’re fine with giving them away

As Klahanie residents await a decision from the state Boundary Review Board whether to allow an annexation vote into Issaquah next February, it’s useful to recall that as recently as 2010, Issaquah said it didn’t have the funds to maintain the parks in the area.

Though Klahanie is in the City of Issaquah’s Potential Annexation Area (PAA), they too have said they don’t have the money to maintain the park,” the Issaquah/Sammamish Reporter detailed.

The paper also wrote, “At a joint meeting of the Issaquah and Sammamish city councils on Tuesday night, councilors had their first close look at the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) which was drafted by King County some months ago, and states ‘the parties acknowledge that the City of Sammamish has the resources and infrastructure to maintain this facility at the current or higher level of service… and agree that it is in the best interest of the general public for King County to transfer Klahanie park to Sammamish.'” (Emphasis added.)

Even Issaquah City Councilman Fred Butler took note of the Sammamish’s willingness to step up, according to the paper.

“I think it should be noted that it was Sammamish who stepped forward with a solution when one was needed,” Issaquah Councilmember Fred Butler said.

It’s three years later, and there is no indication that Issaquah is in a better financial condition to provide services that Klahanie needs. It’s also worth noting that Issaquah was fine with giving away Klahanie’s parks three years ago, which of course raises questions just how committed the Issaquah City Council is to Klahanie–or whether it wants Klahanie for what Klahanie brings to Issaquah, not what it can do for Klahanie.