“Yes” for Initiative/Referendum in Sammamish

Sammamish voters should vote Yes on the April 28 Advisory Ballot for the Initiative/Referendum.

As long-time readers of this column know, I’ve been conflicted over whether Sammamish should adopt the right of Initiative and Referendum, as provided in the 1912 Washington State Constitution. But events since the first of the year convinced me this is the correct decision on the part of the voters. The Sammamish City Council informally said it will follow the outcome of the Advisory vote. This should be the case even if a Yes vote is narrow.

King County Elections is mailing the ballot this week.

Here’s why I’ve come down for the Yes.

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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.

Why Issaquah can’t be trusted, Part 4: proof Issaquah planned an assumption of Water District despite denials

The Sammamish Reporter has a long story about Issaquah’s plans that have in the works for several years to take over part of the Sammamish Plateau Water & Sewer District.

Issaquah repeatedly denied to Klahanie that it plans to do so, and was forced to backtrack when the Water District revealed the plans. The Sammamish Reporter provides a detailed look at a 2011 Issaquah “White paper” that makes it clear Issaquah indeed had plans to assume part of the District.

Furthermore, I found another Sammamish Reporter article from 2009 that once more casts doubt on Issaquah’s track record of doing what it says it will do.

Issaquah entered a Memorandum of Understanding with the Sammamish Plateau Water and Sewer District in 2009 to treat stormwater before it entered the Lower Reid Infiltration Gallery (LRIG) and then didn’t follow through.

Pre-treatment of stormwater before it is injected into the LRIG is at the heart of the disagreements between the two governments. And it is disagreement over this that leads to the proposed hostile takeover of the sliver of the District that lies within Issaquah but which supplies 40%-50% of the drinking water to the 93% of the District that lies outside Issaquah, including most of Sammamish, the Klahanie Potential Annexation Area and other parts of King County.

Providence Point within Issaquah is one of the more concentrated areas also served by the 7% of the District within the city. Three wells also are within the “7%” and represent the heart of the District’s assets.

I previously reported that Issaquah reneged on an MOU it signed with Sammamish to transfer the Klahanie Potential Annexation Area to Sammamish.

  • The Sammamish City Council this week adopted a resolution directly the City Manager to undertake a study of potentially annexing Klahanie if the expected vote tentatively scheduled by Issaquah to do so fails.

Residents of the Klahanie PAA need to think long and hard about whether they want to be part of a city where the government is so unreliable.

Issaquah Reporter slams City’s cybersquatting–but not one word of condemnation from elected officials

The Issaquah Reporter, in an editorial, joined the Issaquah Press and Sammamish Review in slamming the City of Issaquah for cybersquatting the website of the Sammamish Plateau Water and Sewer District.

But there still has not been one word of condemnation from the elected officials of the City of Issaquah. Instead, Mayor Ava Frisinger and City Administrator Bob Harrison defended the action.

In the only contested race in the city elections this year, Councilmen Fred Butler and Joe Forkner dodged. Both said they had no concurrent or advance knowledge of the cybersquatting. Butler expressed frustration at the volume of emails received from people concerned about Issaquah’s plans to inject water into the Lower Reid Infiltration Galley, uphill from an aquifer supplying drinking water to 40%-50% of the Water District, but he didn’t make any statement concerning the city’s action. Forkner declined comment, according to the Sammamish Review.

None of the other council members has made any public statement that we are aware of.

The namby-pambyism of Butler, Forkner and the city council–especially in the face of universal condemnation–is incredulous. Frisinger’s and Harrison’s defense of the action is downright appalling.

No wonder the City of Sammamish has trouble dealing with Issaquah.

No wonder Issaquah can’t be trusted, on a variety of issues, including annexation of Klahanie.

As the newspapers said, Issaquah is lacking ethics and good government.

Issaquah Press slams city for cybersquatting, calls city government unethical

The Issaquah Press has slammed the City of Issaquah for its cybersquatting of the Sammamish Plateau Water and Sewer District’s websites, calling the city government unethical and engaging in “trickery” at taxpayer expense.

The editorial called the practice “wrong at all levels.” It called for the city administration and employees involved to be held accountable. But Mayor Ava Frisinger previously declined to denounce the practice, nor has any member of the city council, including Fred Butler, candidate for mayor to success the retiring Frisinger.

City Administrator Bob Harrison defended the cybersquatting.

The sister publication of the Issaquah Press, the Sammamish Review, published the same editorial.

 

Why Klahanie annexation, water fight matter to Sammamish

This is the “Sammamish Comment.” So why am I spending so much time on a water fight between Issaquah and the Sammamish Plateau Water and Sewer District and the proposed annexation by Issaquah of Klahanie?

Because of the impacts on Sammamish, which could be profound.

The water fight and the annexation are the crescendo of long-running disputes between Sammamish and Issaquah, in which Issaquah has basically stiff-armed Sammamish at nearly every turn–most notably years-long efforts to adjust the financial contributions of the many partners in the Eastside Fire and Rescue (EFR) service.

Sammamish, by assessed value of the homes and land, pays the largest share into EFR. But Issaquah generates more calls. By Sammamish’s analysis, Issaquah should be paying about $500,000 a year more than it is based on the actual calls.

Issaquah refuses to adjust. Relations between Sammamish and Issaquah have reached a breaking point. Sammamish will decide soon whether to withdraw from EFR and form its own fire department or possibly even an alliance with Redmond.

Sammamish might close “Klahanie” fire station

Sammamish has warned that if Klahanie annexes to Issaquah, Station 83, more commonly known as the Klahanie fire station–which is owned by Sammamish and located at SE 32nd and Issaquah-Pine Lake Road–may be closed. Issaquah, according to our information from Sammamish, has already told our leaders it won’t buy the station.

This didn’t stop the Issaquah police chief from telling Klahanie residents that he could co-locate a police sub-station at the Klahanie fire station, a comment that came as a surprise to Sammamish officials.

Issaquah’s arrogance over EFR matters–and the continued unfair financial burden Sammamish taxpayers have because of Issaquah–is an issue unto itself but it’s also tied to the Klahanie annexation.

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Why Issaquah can’t be trusted, Part 1: Mayor admits cybersquatting Water District to redirect customers to City websites

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.