I’ve never seen anything like it before

The Issaquah Press and Sammamish Review have a new general manager and new editor. The Jan. 7 issues have full, front page pleas for people to voluntarily pay subscriptions. The whole thingSamRev smacks of dying newspapers.

This may well be true. The diminishing size of the papers and the sparse advertising were clear signs of struggling papers. But the full, front page pleas? I’ve never seen anything like it. And my first full time job, at age 19, was with a community paper, The Wheaton Daily Journal in Wheaton (IL). The paper no longer exists, given up long, long ago.

But I’ve been in journalism for most of my professional career. I started two international aviation magazines, sold them, and started an paywall/freewall aviation blog, which is my full time profession with its companion consulting business. Sammamish Comment is a past time, a community service, really, started because the Sammamish Review and, later, Sammamish Reporter really don’t do a very good job of covering Sammamish on critical issues. See here for details. Last year, The Comment had record readership.

Having successfully created three money-making publications, including one that is entirely on the Internet, I think I know a thing or two about what makes a successful news outlet.

It’s called giving readers something worth reading.

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How Sammamish veterans lost their City Council races

  • Note: This is 11 pages when printed.
Nov 4 results

Click on image to enlarge.

How did two veterans of Sammamish public service lose their bids for election to the City Council in the Nov. 3 election to two unknown newcomers to the City?

They lost through a combination of miscalculation, arrogance, the split of traditional coalitions, angry opposition, tenacious newcomers and a one-term Council Member who wasn’t about to cower in the face of determined opposition.

They also had an unwitting helping hand from their own Deputy Mayor, whose obsessions galvanized the opposition to upset her allies.

This is the inside story of how Mayor Tom Vance lost to two-year resident Tom Hornish and how former Mayor and Council Member Mark Cross lost a comeback bid to a feisty young Mom in tennis shoes, Christie Malchow, invoking remembrances of another tennis shoe Mom campaign in Washington long before Malchow moved here.

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City inaction to earthquake preparedness is of shocking magnitude; Yazici mounts defense, decries political “silly season”

  • There will be a candidates forum tonight, Wednesday, October 7, at 7pm at the Boys and Girls Club, Inglewood Hill Road and 228th Ave. NE. It is sponsored by the Sammamish Chamber of Commerce and the Sammamish Rotary. It will not be videotaped or broadcast on Sammamish TV Channel 21, so this is your only chance to see the candidates and ask questions in a forum.
  • Here’s how the story evolved.

When Sammamish Comment learned last month that Sammamish wasn’t going to

Cascadia Rising is a regional earthquake preparedness drill next June. Sammamish wasn’t going to participate–until questions arose.

participate next June in Cascadia Rising, a massive earthquake preparedness drill from British Columbia to Northern California, it was shocking. It was unbelievable. It was a dereliction of duty to public safety of massive proportions.

Issaquah, Redmond, Kirkland, the county, the state, the Sammamish Plateau Water & Sewer District, the University of Washington Medical Centers, fire and police, and on and on signed up last year to participate–but not Sammamish. Training for these agencies was well underway. But not Sammamish.

The issue came to light at the Sept. 1 City Council meeting when Member Ramiro Valderrama asked why wasn’t the City participating in the drill. City Manager Ben Yazici brushed aside the question, a stunning reaction in its own right considering Yazici is a native of Turkey where devastating earthquakes occur, with huge losses to life and property. He of all people should know the importance of being prepared.

Equally stunning was that Valderrama didn’t get one word of support from any other Council Member. Not one. Mayor Tom Vance, who’s the City’s titular leader, sat mute through the entire exchange.

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Sammamish council gets an earful from public over EF&R

The Sammamish City Council got an earful from a standing-room only crowd at the City Council meeting October 29 over the prospect of the City Council deciding to leave the Eastside Fire and Rescue consortium and start its own department.

The Issaquah/Sammamish Reporter has this story.

The Sammamish Review has this story about a dust-up between Mayor Tom Odell and a principal of a school, who commented on the EF&R issue at the previous meeting.

The Review also has this story about the status of a funding model change proposed to Issaquah.

Save Our Fire Department, a new group, urged the Sammamish City Council Tuesday to stay with EF&R. Acknowledging the City Council’s legitimate concerns over the funding model, spokesman Jonathan Wiseman, president of the Eastside Professional Fire Fighters, noted that EF&R is attempting to persuade other EF&R members to reach an accommodation with Sammamish over the funding dispute. Wiseman told me before the meeting that firefighters seek a one year extension of the current agreement to allow more time for a resolution.

Odell told the crowd after public comment that Sammamish tried for 18 months to alter the funding model which results in Sammamish paying roughly 10 times per call than Issaquah for Station 83 responses.

Station 83 is the one on Issaquah-Pine Lake Road at the roundabout.

Sammamish City Manager Ben Yacizi is to give his recommendation to the City Council on November 5, likely to leave EF&R and form the City’s own fire department. The Council plans a decision on November 12.

Many speakers questioned the validity of the financial analysis and projections of the studies on which the recommendation and decision will be based.

The futile negotiations with other EF&R members is spearheaded by Issaquah, which refuses to budge on funding.

I spoke during the public comment period and suggested all parties move to professional mediation or binding arbitration, entering a stand-still agreement of 6, 9 or 12 months as mutually agreed.

Although Sammamish has publicly made this entirely about funding and finances, there are other issues that also should be part of any mediation or arbitration process.

As is its practice, none of the City Council responded to either my suggestion or those comments of others, except for closing comments by Odell at the conclusion of the public comment period.

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.