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Compensation for Tri-Cities Council Members Has Wide Range, Trumbo in Kennewick and Thompson in Richland at the Top

Kennewick City Councilman John Trumbo Richland City Councilman Bob Thompson

Based on information obtained from Richland, Kennewick and Pasco governments, in 2019 city council member compensation had a wide range. The amount depended on whether the jurisdiction provided medical, dental and vision insurance for its members, whether the members enrolled in those programs and how many family members were covered.

In March 21, 2017 Richland City Council voted unanimously to provide 100% visual and dental coverage and 88% of the medical coverage for city council members, replacing a 2001 ordinance that allowed members access to the employee insurance program. Kennewick officials could not pinpoint when the current insurance benefit was adopted but believed that it was some time before 1984. Kennewick city council members also pay 12% of the cost of the medical insurance coverage.

Kennewick City Councilman John Trumbo collected more in base pay and medical, dental and vision insurance than any other council member in the Tri-Cities, $42,339.48. Bob Thompson collected the second highest amount for the same year, $37,862.88..

The base pay in Kennewick for 2019 was $14,700. For the city council members in Kennewick who were on the Council for all of 2019, the compensation range including base pay and medical dental and vision insurance ranged from Trumbo’s $42,339.48 to $27,332.97 for Bill McKay. Don Britain received $36,546.98; Steve Lee, $35,353.68. Paul Parish who didn’t run for re-election received $35,880.72 for a partial year. Charles Torelli, appointed to replace Matt Boehnke who was elected to the state legislature in 2018, received $11,522.48 for a partial year (he did not participate in the medical or dental program). Steve Young who died in May 2019 received $13,065.70 and his appointed replacement, Ed Frost, received $6,968.17.

Base pay for Richland City Council members was $13,920.00 in 2019. Compensation in Richland for 2019 ranged from $13,920 collected by Brad Anderson and Sandra Kent to Thompson’s $37,862.88. Michael Alvarez was the second highest compensated member of the Richland Council at $34,862; Phil Lemley third at $29,753.04; Terry Christensen and Ryan Lukson each received $15,777.84.

Base pay for Pasco City Council members was $13, 379.60. Pasco does not provide health, dental or vision insurance to its members.

For purposes of comparison Social Security, Paid Family and Medical Leave and Medicare were not considered because the three jurisdictions did not treat them the same way. Kennewick pays those and treats them as a benefit. They are subtracted from the city council compensation in Pasco. Richland did not indicate how they were treated.

Richland police don’t consider bicycle-truck crash newsworthy

Early Monday morning Richland Police Department (RPD) posted some suggestions for biking safely. When a couple of commenters posted that they had passed a Sunday night bicycle-truck collision at the intersection of Keene and Queensgate Roads, several people wondered why they had not read anything about it.

Sgt. Shawn Swanson, a RPD spokesperson, explained to The Observer, “The incident wasn’t newsworthy.” Similar collisions have been reported in the past. This recent car-truck crash was also reported.

According to Facebook commenter Ryan Dudley, the crash occurred at about 6:30 p.m.

Lisa Nelson wrote The Observer, “We came through around 8:30 p.m. There were about five cop cars blocking Keene, heading towards West Richland. The bicycle was still laying in the middle of the intersection.” Nelson said that they had to detour around Target.

According to Swanson, the bicyclist ran into the side of a truck and was taken to a local hospital. Swanson said that the bicycle safety post that appeared at 6:24 a.m. on Monday morning had been preplanned the week before. “It was just coincidental that it appeared after the incident,” he noted.

Swanson said Wednesday that a full report on the collision would be available this week.

Richlanders have gone from drab to fab with front doors

If you’ve driven around Richland lately, you may have noticed that some homeowners have become more adventurous with front door colors. Using a variety of methods to choose a color, Richlanders have gone from drab to fab with a gallon of paint.

I’ve called these Richlanders by their first names like I do with all of my neighbors.

Wife picked cranberry

Crediting his wife for picking the cranberry color for their front door, Mark said, “She has a knack for color.” He added that they both thought their home’s neutral siding needed to be jazzed up.

Green is a favorite color

Molly had the same concern about her white house. She decided the look was a little boring. She explained how she chose the door color, “My two favorite colors are blue and green. Since my shutters are blue, I decided on a green door.” To decide on the shade of green she pored over paint chips at Home Depot before selecting one.

Left-over paint

Left-over paint and a door that needed it inspired Heather to paint her door a blue-green color.  She said, “The door really needed painting and I had already had paint.”

She loves previous owner’s choice

Leslie, a real estate agent, first noticed the new, energy-efficient door when she purchased her home. She noted that she would have never picked the color on her door herself, but she loves it so much that she is painting her back door to match it. She added, “Real estate studies show that an appealing outside can add as much as $20,000 to the value of a house.”

For homeowners who can’t choose from the thousands of color options for their front doors, never fear, internet decorators can help. Dozens of front door pictures with paint brands and names included can assist selection or overwhelm.

If you’re in the overwhelmed category, Barbara Meglis to the rescue. Send a picture of your house and $25 and she will suggest some Benjamin Moore paint options for your front door. Barbara Meglis | Your Home & Color Coach (yourcolorcoach.blog)

What’s the worst that can happen? You can always buy another gallon of paint and turn your door back to drab.

Randy’s Rundown: Richland Council’s April 6 agenda explained

Meeting Highlights: You can only be charged for violating certain drug possession laws if you did it “knowingly.” Five groups will have the funding they have raised for recreation projects matched by the city. Your recycle pick up charge may change. The wastewater treatment plant will be improved.

You have three minutes to comment on public hearings and two minutes to comment on anything during the public comment period. Go to the agenda and read the rules at the top.

Page numbers below correspond to the pages in the packet. Most of the items on the agenda are listed under the “Consent Calendar” and receive little discussion and one vote.

Meeting Begins

1.Ms. Celeste Blair will be honored as the first female youth in the Tri-Cities to earn the rank of Eagle Scout. Pg. 4-5

PUBLIC HEARING

2. City funds will be switched around in order to fund concrete crushing services at the landfill, to fix the leaking roof at Fire Station 71, to hire seasonal park rangers and to replace failing forensic workstations at the police department. Pg. 20-23

CONSENT CALENDAR

3. Council will vote to approve its worthless minutes from the March 16 and March 23 meetings. If you really want to know what happened at these meetings go to the videos. Pg. 7-16

4. The city code on cyberstalking will be amended to eliminate “embarrass.” The Washington State Court of Appeals ruled in State v. Mireles that it was necessary to strike the term “embarrass” from RCW 9.61.260 in order to preserve the constitutionality of the statute. Pg.17-19

5. The city funding switcheroo (see the public hearing above) will be voted on along with everything else on the consent calendar. Pg. 20-23

6. The methane gas created at the Horn Rapids Landfill will be collected and sold by a contractor that will pay the city $6000 a month. If any other gas is processed by the system at the landfill, the city will receive no less than 2 percent and no more than 10 percent of the gross. Pg. 24-30

7. Richland will provide traffic signal technical services to the City of West Richland. West Richland will reimburse Richland by paying for the salary and benefits for the hours provided by the city employee. Pg. 31-37

8. This outlines the city’s responsibility for funding shortfalls for Metro, a cooperative agreement with area jurisdictions that seeks to control substance trafficking within the Tri-Cities Community. Metro is currently comprised of the cities of Kennewick, Pasco, Richland, and West Richland, and the counties of Benton and Franklin. The City of Kennewick is currently the administrative jurisdiction for Metro. The City of Richland expects to use the Public Safety Sales Tax revenue to pay their share. Pg. 38-42

9. As a condition of project permits, the City is required to employ a third-party, cultural resources monitoring company to observe the work on the Columbia Park Trail improvement project. The contractors will be paid about $146,000 to look for any important archeological properties or human remains. Pg. 44-49

10. The city will cooperate with the Port of Benton to resurface roads. Doolittle Construction of Belleview, Washington submitted the lowest bid.  City costs are estimated to be $435,020 which includes construction, contingency, and construction inspection. The Port of Benton will pay $150,000. Pg. 50-57

11. The city will hire Culbert Construction Inc.  $1,438,905.94 for the construction of .33 miles of 1st Street west of Kingsgate Way.  Pg. 58-68

12. Monson Development Washington, LLC has applied for final plat approval for Phase 2 of its Goose Ridge subdivision. Located along the north boundary of the Badger Mountain South Master Planned Community, the final plat of Goose Ridge Estates – Phase 2 proposes to divide 8.18 acres into 22 residential lots and five (5) tracts. This brings the total residential lots in Goose Ridge Estates to 106. Pg. 69-96.

13. Five city organizations will receive matching grants for improvements to recreational facilities:  Back Country Horsemen of Washington will receive $5,000 for parking and horse trail improvements. Pg. 97-122; Crested Hills Homeowners’ Association will receive $2,287.15 for trees for Crested Hill Park. Pg. 123-138; Friends of Badger Mountain will receive $5,000 to develop a north face trail. Pg.139-152; Horn Rapids Motor Sports Complex will receive $5,000 to make their facility safer by building a fence around their track. Pg. 153-170; Sundance Ridge HOA-Richland will use $2,000 to add plants to Heritage Hills Park. Pg. 171-179.

14. This is the first of two improvements on the agenda for the Wastewater Treatment plant. This one is to upgrade the electrical supply and control for the plant digester. The project will cost $1,549,796. Vincent Brothers LLP submitted the winning bid. Pg. 180-183

15. Wastewater plants are required to have a backup generator. The city’s backup which was installed in 1985 failed and couldn’t be fixed. Prater Electric Inc. will replace the $10,000 a month rental backup with a new backup generator for $551,098. Pg. 184-188

ITEMS OF BUSINESS (There could be discussion for these.)

16. The city will amend its ordinances to reflect a state court decision that you can only be charged for violating certain drug possession laws if you did it “knowingly.” Pg. 188-191

17. The city’s Utility Advisory Committee reviewed a consultant’s report regarding the charges for sold waste disposal. Most of the recommended changes involved specific waste streams received and processed at the City’s landfill. The only collection service rate included in the recommended package of changes was for curbside recycling. Pg. 192

REPORTS AND COMMENTS

Blah, blah, blah

SECRET SESSION

To discuss current and potential litigation with the city attorney.

Randy’s Recap: Full of surprises, March 23 Richland Council workshop

Editor’s Note: This article has been edited to include a list of the city’s ten infrastructure priorities that Interim City Manager Jon Amundson provided.

Here’s a quick summary of expected and surprise items discussed at the March 23 Richland City Council Workshop. You can watch a video of the meeting at Richland CityView.

Richland police chief supports body and dashboard cameras for officers

Richland Police Chief John Bruce supports body and dashboard cameras for his officers.“They improve behavior of officers and citizens,” he said.  He added that the cameras worked well for the department in Texas that he previously headed. According to Bruce, it could take a year to put the program in place in Richland. He estimated that for five years the program would cost $1,303,951.26.

Most of the city councilmembers agreed with Bruce except Councilmember Michael Alvarez who favored a public vote in November, a suggestion that was ridiculed by Councilmember Terry Christensen.

Guess who’s paying for American Cruise Line’s new dock

ACL will pay $45,000 for the first year of a 15-year contract to have priority docking at the Lee Street dock.

Surprise!! Mexico isn’t paying for the wall and American Cruise Line (ACL) isn’t paying for their new dock at Columbia Point. Your tax dollars will. Richland Parks and Public Facilities Director Joe Schiessl said that either the city or the Corps of Engineers would build the dock and lease it to ACL. I wonder which one it will be (-:

Council doubts promises made by developer of the Columbia River tract (promises, promises ^^^)

Councilmembers wonder whether Pacific Partners out of Eagle, Idaho will compete the project they promised on the D, E and Q tracts near the Columbia Point Golf Course or will they just build apartments and skip out of town without building the offices and retail promised for Phase 2.  Remember, ACL promised to build a new dock.

Water wars

Councilmembers ponder whether the city should make a little extra from water rights assistance to Battelle and West Richland.

The state has a pot of money for trails

The city’s sudden interest in the Island View to Vista Field bicycle and pedestrian trail stems from the Washington state’s special funding pot for such projects. The trail also branches to Meadow Springs. A preliminary package will be submitted in cooperation with Kennewick for $16 million which will include the bridge over Highway 240.

Ten “secret” priority projects

Surprise!! The city has submitted 10 “secret” priority projects to Senator Patty Murray for potential federal funding. I say “secret” because Councilmember Bob Thompson said he didn’t know what they were and added, “They might not be my priorities.” After the meeting Interim City Manager Jon Amundson provided the list below:

R240 / Aaron Drive Interchange Modifications – This project will resolve a regionally significant traffic congestion issue and enable both the City’s downtown redevelopment vision and the regional industrial economic expansion.  The total cost is $30,000,000

Fire Station 76 in Badger Mountain South – The project will enable achieving the City’s standard for response time in this rapidly growing area of the City.  The total estimated cost is $6.5 million for facility and equipment.

Downtown Connectivity Improvements – This project will modify the main streets in downtown Richland to one-way streets so that improved bicycle, pedestrian, and parking options can be provided.  This is the critical infrastructure investment the City plans to make to jump-start the remaking of central Richland into a vibrant downtown that leverages the nearby Columbia River shoreline and park system.  The total cost is $16,600,000, with the possibility of implementing it in phases.  The first phase is estimated to cost $5,000,000.

Island View to Vista Field Trail Bridge – This project will provide pedestrian and bicycle connectivity across SR240 near Columbia Center Boulevard between the  Columbia River waterfront and residential and commercial development south of SR240.  The lack of pedestrian and bicycle connectivity in this area has been identified as the highest priority obstacle in the Tri-Cities to overcome to enable non-motorized travel.  The total cost is approximately $16,000,000.

1,341 Acre Transmission Line – This is a new pair of 115kV transmission lines connecting BPA’s regional transmission system to the newly annexed north Richland properties.  The lines, three miles in length, are needed to support heavy industrial development in this area.  The total cost estimate for this project is $3,000,000.

1,341 Acre Sewer Pipeline – The City and Port of Benton are developing this land transferred from the U.S. Department of Energy to local control several years ago.  The development objective is to recruit large site industrial companies to locate in the Tri-Cities on this unique property.  The sewer pipeline will provide City sewer service to the property, thus enabling it to be near shovel ready for the right industrial development client.  The total cost is estimated at $4,000,000.

Wastewater Treatment Plant Aeration System Upgrade – The City’s 35-year-old wastewater treatment plant requires an upgrade to its aeration treatment process.  The needed upgrade will position the City to continue to support residential, commercial, and industrial development for years to come.  The total cost is estimated at $8,400,000.

Dallas Road Substation – This project will construct a new 25MVA substation on City-owned land in the Badger South area.  The substation is needed to support the rapid growth of this area.  The total estimated cost is $5,000,000

Water System Resiliency Improvements – Pursuant to the federal America’s Water Infrastructure Act, the City recently completed is required system assessment.  The assessment identified facility improvements for site security and electrical energy supply resiliency that are recommended.  The total cost of these improvements is estimated at $3,200,000.

Street Light Retrofit to LED technology – This project will retrofit approximately 5,400 existing old technology street lights to the most current energy-efficient LED technology.  The total estimated cost is $3,000,000.

Rejected – developer Greg Markel’s plan for the old city hall site

Surprise!! Developer Greg Markel submitted an “urgent” offer and proposed plan to the Richland City Council for development on the old city hall site. Nobody knew why the offer was deemed urgent, but it was quickly panned and rejected. Thompson said it looked like a strip shopping center. Lukson pointed out that the so-called, mixed-use development had a total of 11 apartments. Parking seemed to be the focus, possibly to accommodate Markel’s failed Dupus Boomer’s restaurant building on the corner of Swift and George Washington Way.

Councilmembers pay a lobbyist to do their job

Surprise!! Since at least 2009, Richland has been paying lobbyist Dave Arbaugh a retainer of first $2700 a month and now $3000 a month to lobby Olympia.  Why aren’t city councilmembers, state legislators and state senators doing their job? And, if they are, why are we paying Arbaugh??  This issue merits its own article….coming soon.

Randy’s Rundown: March 23, Richland Council Workshop Explained

Police body and dashboard cameras top the agenda.  The meeting begins at 6:00 p.m. Go to the agenda to link to Zoom. Interim City Manager Jon Amundson confirms that the meeting can also be seen on Spectrum 192. When it is shown there, a tape usually becomes available the next day on Richland City View.

1.Discussion regarding Operational and Budgetary Impacts of Body Worn and Vehicle Cameras – John Bruce, Chief of Police.  We can assume that the value to public safety of the body and dashboard cameras is undisputed because the only discussion here seems to be “operational and budgetary.” Pasco Police have used the cameras for a couple of years, and they haven’t broken the bank there. 

On February 1, 2021, Richland Police Officer Christian Jabri shoot a man on a pedestrian path along the Highway 240 bypass. The Special Investigative Unit has not submitted their report to Benton County Prosecutor Andy Miller and Bruce. Without cameras it will be difficult to tell what actually happened there. The police did not file any charges against the man who was shot.

Recently Miller came out in favor of body cameras and dashboard cameras.  “For reviewing cases involving deadly force by police officers, the use of body cameras would be beneficial not only for the integrity of the investigation but also for the decedent’s family and involved police officers,” Miller wrote in an Aug. 20 letter.

A recent Herald article reported figures obtained from the local police departments on “use of force.” The Richland Police Department used forced three times more often than Pasco.  Does that have something to do with Pasco’s cameras?

The Observer asked Interim City Manager Jon Amundson and Police Chief John Bruce to confirm the Herald’s numbers since Councilmember Bob Thompson questioned them.  So far there have been no responses.

2. Update on the Proposed Development Agreement on Tracts D & E, 22 Acres of City-Owned Property located on Bradley Boulevard – Kerwin Jensen, Development Services Director.  

The city has a grandiose plan for this area that includes a million-dollar dock built by American Cruise Lines (ACL). In case you have forgotten, the city gave ACL priority right to use the Lee Street Dock for 15 years for $45,000 the first year. The contract does not require ACL to build a new dock.  The city will maintain the Lee Street dock for 15 years and the total cost to ACL will be less than the cost of permitting and constructing a new dock and maintaining it. With that deal would you build a dock?

3. Horn Rapids Water Rights Status, West Richland Wholesale Service Expansion Request, and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory Irrigation Service Request – Pete Rogalsky, Public Works Director

Water, water, water…. When will the Columbia River be sucked dry?  Not a meeting goes by without a discussion about more spending on Horn Rapids.

4. 2021 Legislative Transportation Advocacy Update – Additional Project Suggestion – Pete Rogalsky, Public Works Director

The state and the federal government are planning infrastructure improvement programs. We need to get our wish list in now.  When former President Trump asked each state to submit their project priorities, SeaTac was at the top of the list along with improvements to Interstate 5.  Broadband expansion was the top project on the east side.

Randy’s Rundown: March 16 Richland Council Agenda Explained

Bike and Pedestrian Trail lovers check out Item 8. A consultant will receive $114,270 of a $125,000 federal grant to study extending trails from the Columbia River to Meadow Springs. This includes a bike/pedestrian bridge over Highway 240.

Additional information has been added about board appointments – the number of people who applied for each board. Councilmembers have claimed that they needed to eliminate term limits due to a dearth of applicants. Several of these boards did have very few.

However, 13 people applied to be on the Parks and Recreation Commission and Maria Gutierrez was reappointed for what will be 18 years at the end of this term. With Councilmember Marianne Boring’s promotion to city council, Gutierrez becomes the longest serving member of a board or commission. Boring had close to 20 years on both the Planning Board and the Board of Adjustment.

The item numbers match those on the agenda and the page numbers match the pages in the packet. For information on how to make a public comment go to the agenda.

  1. Proclamation of Appreciation for serving on the Parks and Recreation Board goes to retiring Nancy Doran and Barry Richards. Doran helped start the immensely popular, parks department neighborhood walks that she continues to lead. No member of the city council has ever been on one of her walks. Shame on them!! Pg. 4-6
  2. Visit Tri-Cities annual report and request for $345,250 from the lodging tax fund. Pg. 7-34

3. Hanford Communities Executive Director David Reeploeg will give an update on the work of that organization. He gave this presentation to Pasco City Council at their last meeting so he’s making the rounds. Pg. 35

4. Joe Schiessl, Parks and Public Facilities Director will describe 2021 goals. Pg. 36

5. Approval of the March 2 meeting minutes. Pg. 37-44

6. Sheds less than 200 square feet need no permits unless they are for a business. The city code will be amended to conform with state requirements. Pg. 44-50

7. The city is selling 1.49 acres in the Horn Rapids Industrial Park at Kingsgate and Battelle Drive to R&R Property Enterprises, Bonnie J. Watson, registered agent, for $81,205. Pg.  51-67.

8. Bikers, hikers, walkers, will love this. A consultant, KPFF, Inc. will study extending the trail system and even a bike/pedestrian bridge over Highway 240.  The consultant will receive $114,270 of a federal grant of $125,000. Pg. 68-123.

9. The city will surplus 840 Northgate so that it can be sold. The Department of Energy gave the .68 acres with a 26,805 sq. ft. building to Richland in 2000 but stipulated that it must used for public, non-commercial use. The city used it as a city hall annex until everyone moved to the new city hall. Columbia Basin College has expressed interest in buying the property. Pg.124-127.

10. The city will give $6000 from the business license fund to SCORE a non-profit business counseling group. SCORE will create webinars to help local businesses with marketing. The fund will still have $16,690. Pg.128-136

11. The Academy of Children’s Theatre (ACT) will receive $15,070 for improvements to the outside of their building and their sign from the Commercial Façade Improvement Program that is funded by business license revenue. ACT will provide $25,311.  The façade program will provide $20,000 to 610 The Parkway for building façade and sign improvements. That group’s contribution will be $40,000. The business license fund will still have $81,531. Pg. 137-144.

12.Here’s where the council approves the $345,250 for Visit Tri-Cities. See item 2. Pg.145-149.

13. The city received 4 applications and appointed three people to the Arts Commission: Jet Richardson, Executive Director at Habitat for Humanity Tri-County Partners; Eboni “Raleigh” Lovell, an on-air radio personality for Mix 105.3; Emilie Cooper a student at Hanford High School. Pg. 150-151

14. Michael Simpson replaced Marianne Boring on the Board of Adjustment when she was appointed to the city council. This gives him a full term. He will also serve on the Personnel Committee until his term ends Sept.30,2022. Pg.152-153

15.The Code Enforcement Board had two applicants. Albert Edmondson and Ragan Faylor, a real estate appraiser will join the board. Pg. 154-155

16. The Parks and Recreation Committee had 13 applicants. Maria Guitierrez, a high school English teacher in Pasco, was reappointed for another term. At the end of it, she will have served 18 years on that committee. Meghan Brooks a HAPO Community Credit Union employee; Isaac Arnquist, who works at PNNL; and student representatives William Henry and Annabella Aldous were also chosen. Pg. 156-157

Expenditures: Checks written in February came to $26 million. Pg. 158-235

Blah, Blah, Blah, interim city manager and councilmembers give reports and comments.

Deputy who killed Dante Jones reprimanded for another traffic stop in 2020

Dante Jones

The Franklin County deputy who shot and killed an unarmed man during a 2019 traffic stop was reprimanded for behavior during a stop in 2020. 

Franklin County Sheriff Jim Raymond said Cody Quantrell’s actions during the Fourth of July stop in 2020 lacked good decision-making skills and professionalism. 

The reprimand came on the heels of a citizen complaint. Raymond concluded by saying that if Quantrell repeated the behavior, he could face more severe discipline or termination.

About five months later, Quantrell received a “meets standards” evaluation on his performance review. Raymond wrote Quantrell could improve further, having “received numerous citizen complaints concerning how he speaks and how he deals with the public.” 

Quantrell’s decision making has been called into question before. His previous boss, Toppenish Police Chief Curt Ruggles, outlined some of the same problems in a counseling memo he wrote on May 14, 2018.

Ruggles wrote that Quantrell pursued a vehicle in a reckless manner for 30 minutes for a traffic violation; pulled a gun on the wrong suspect in a motorcycle reckless driving case and then failed to report the use of force until a complaint was filed; and he damaged patrol vehicles seven times.

Quantrell joined the Franklin County Sheriff’s office two months after Ruggles wrote the counseling memo.

Quantrell repeated several of those violations during the lead up to the shooting of Dante Jones on Nov. 19, 2019.

Quantrell told Regional Special Investigation Unit (SIU) detectives that he did not stop chasing Jones when his sergeant told him to do so.

According to the May 2020 SIU report, Quantrell said he left his patrol car with his sidearm drawn and without waiting for backup.

In the counseling memo written by Ruggles, he described a similar action by Quantrell in Toppenish as “tombstone courage.”

At the time of the Jones shooting Quantrell had been with the Franklin County Sheriff’s Department for one year. An Army veteran, Quantrell was a Yakama Nation police officer from 2013-16, and a Toppenish police officer from 2016-18. 

Quantrell’s father, Tim Quantrell, is the police chief of Zillah, Washington.

Quantrell has not yet faced any consequences in Jones’ shooting. Prosecutor Shawn Sant has not announced if he will file criminal charges in the case.

The Observer obtained the performance review, a copy of the reprimand as well as the Special Investigation Unit (SIU) report on the Dante Jones shooting through public record requests to Franklin County. The Observer obtained the counseling memo regarding Quantrell through a record request to the City of Toppenish.

Pasco City Council goes live but not without controversy. Richland and Kennewick councils stick with Zoom

Pasco City Councilmembers donned their facemasks and began having live city council meetings on Feb, 22. Anti-mask protestors have already disrupted one. Kennewick and Richland councils have stuck with Zoom.

Governor Jay Inslee moved Benton and Franklin Counties into Phase 2 on Feb. 14. That allowed live meetings with 25 percent occupancy in the council chamber, mandatory masks for everyone, and six-foot distancing.

Like everything else with Covid restrictions, Phase 2 has not been without controversy. At the March 1 Pasco City Council meeting, two men in the public section of the council chamber refused to wear a mask.

According to Pasco Mayor Saul Martinez, “A couple of men wanted to express their opinions and they were very respectful. ”After a fifteen-minute recess, the two agreed to leave.

City Attorney Heather Kintzley explained the guidelines to the Richland council on March 2. That was enough to make councilmembers decide that they weren’t interested in live meetings.

Councilmember Bob Thompson who has cursed Inslee’s restrictions said, “We might be a little premature. We could be reinforcing bad policy decisions made by others.”

Councilmember Terry Christensen, whose comments during council meetings have often been hard to hear, agreed with Thompson, “We would have to speak through masks,” he said.

“Rarely do I agree with Bob and Terry, but it is too early to have live meetings,” Councilmember Phil Lemley responded..

As she often does, Councilmember Sandra Kent wanted to “go with the flow.”

Mayor Ryan Lukson, Councilmembers Marianne Boring and Michael Alvarez also supported the status quo. Zoom meetings will continue.

Like Richland, Kennewick City Council currently meets via Zoom. Councilmember Steve Lee said that next week he expected the council to consider making Zoom attendance a permanent option for council members.

Randy’s Rundown, Richland City Council Mar.2 agenda explained

Once again Richland City Council ignores the city’s charter. The new contract for the interim city manager (Item 12) allows for three months severance when the charter specifies two. Several provisions including the ethics committee have fallen by the wayside. The charter requires that city managers live in the city but it was never clear where former City Manager Cindy Reents lived. Sometimes councilmembers take the oath of office as required after they’re elected, sometimes they don’t.

The council regularly amends ordinances to “conform to current practice” but changes to the charter require a vote of the people. That’s why the council ignores the charter rather than amending it.

The agenda

The following item numbers correspond to the agenda. The page numbers will take you to the page in the packet that describes the item. Both the agenda and the packet appear here. The agenda also includes the rules for public comments. There are no public hearings scheduled for this meeting.

  1. 2020 Fire and Emergency Services Annual report from Fire and Emergency Services Director Tom Huntington. You can get a head start on this report by reading this.  Pg. 4

2. Bob Thompson emailed that he had food poisoning that’s why he never showed his face or said a word during the Zoom meeting Feb. 23. He was counted as “in attendance.” Also, up for approval are the minutes for the February 16, 2021 meeting. Pg. 6-15.

3. The municipal code will be updated to match the state requirements for permitting. No permits are required for residential accessory structures (think sheds) that are 200 sq. ft. or less but business accessory structures must be less than 120 sq. ft. to avoid having to file for a permit. Pg. 16-21

4. Rezoning 3.1 acres in Clearwater Creek at the intersection of Steptoe and Center Pkwy from agricultural to commercial. Pg. 22-35

5. This amends parking rules to allow for bike lanes on certain streets. Check the list if you didn’t after it appeared on the Feb. 16 agenda. Pg. 36-47

6. The rules for sign permits are outlined. As noted in the Feb.16 Rundown, Council wants the hearing examiner to hear appeals instead of the city council. Pg. 48-53

7. Firehouse Subs doesn’t want to lose customers to heart attacks so their foundation will give a grant for automated external defibrillators. Pg. 54-56

8. The homeowners at 1061, 1063, 1065, 1043 and 1049 Allenwhite Drive have applied for membership in the exclusive City of Richland Country Club. They are willing to pay the yearly fees. The date for a hearing on their membership application will be held on May 4, 2021. (This is also known as an annexation request). Pg. 56-59

9. Setting the date for the Tiegs annexation. Look at this as a corporate application for membership in the City of Richland Country Club. Badger Mt. Vineyard has 76.54 acres at 1106 N. Jurupa Road. They will meet with the membership committee on the same day that the Allenwhite folks have their meeting, May 4, 2021. Pg. 60-65

10. The city will pay Parametrix, Inc. $96.701 for monitoring ground water and landfill gases at the Horn Rapids landfill. Pg. 66-85

 11. A single bid from Vincent Bros LLP for the wastewater treatment plant digester improvements and replacement generator project came in at $500,000 over the estimate. The bid has been rejected and the city is back to the drawing board revising its bid solicitation. Pg. 86-89

12. Rest in Peace Richland City Charter. According to Section 4.02 of the charter, if the city manager is terminated, they “shall be paid any balance of his salary then due or accrued and an additional amount equal to two months’ salary.” Former City Manager Cindy Reents had six-months’ severance pay in her contract; Interim City Manager Jon Amundson has three-months’ severance in the contract described here. The council negotiates around the charter in the contracts with this clause (Pg. 95): “If City elects to terminate Amundson’s employment for any reason other than for “cause” as defined below, Amundson shall receive a lump sum payment equal to three (3) months salary as severance, rather than the two months provided for in the Richland City Charter.” Pg. 90-97

13. Approving a site-specific rezone on 2.9 acres located at 1769 Leslie Road from C-LB to C-3. Bless her heart, Marianne Boring is probably the only person on the council who reads the packet. Plus, after almost 20 years serving on the Planning Commission and 20 years on the Board of Adjustment, she knows her zoning. She had this item pulled from the Feb.16 consent calendar so that it could be amended to prohibit new development that wasn’t neighborhood friendly. You will not be attending a drive-in movie here. There’s a long list of approved and unapproved uses listed.  Pg. 98-120

Blah, blah, blah from the city manager and the city councilmembers

Then there will be a Secret Meeting with the interim city manager to discuss labor negotiations.

Has Bob Thompson lost his voice? Randy’s Recap, Feb.23 Richland Council Workshop

Councilmember Bob Thompson appeared as a name on a Zoom black square at the Richland City Council workshop meeting Tuesday night. During the two hours Thompson’s name appeared, he said nothing.

Mayor Ryan Lukson directed a question to Thompson. Still nothing. Was this REALLY Bob Thompson or someone masquerading as the man who never misses an opportunity to lecture on any topic.

Lukson explained, “Bob is under the weather.” Lukson was also a black square, but a talking black square.

Thompson missed the Feb. 16 meeting without making a courtesy call to Lukson. The council excused him anyway.

During the discussion about police deadly force incident investigations, Police Chief John Bruce assured the council that police officers have been well trained to consider people in the background when they start shooting.

Bruce lived in Texas when three Pasco police officers fired 17 times, gunning down a rock thrower in the town’s busiest intersection at rush hour. Investigators plucked bullets out of a convenience store, and a storefront, not to mention the victim, before giving up on ever finding all of them.

The police shooting discussion lasted for about 20 minutes with few questions from anybody. Then it was on to matters that the council really wanted to talk about – small four-wheel vehicles on city roads and speed limits for electric bicycles and scooters.

Apparently, residents in Lukson’s Meadow Springs neighborhood would like to use golf carts in their community. Kennewick and West Richland have already adopted regulations for their use.

The councilmembers had plenty of opinions on this, everybody except Thompson who said nothing.

Councilmember Phil Lemley recalled how he once accidently flipped a golf cart. Thompson did not even have a comment about that.

Next up, speed limits for electric bikes and scooters and regulations for shared scooters. Lots of spirited discussion on the pros and cons of these. Not one word from Thompson.

The council decided to request input from the public before proceeding with these changes. Thompson did not weigh in.

Richland City View’s official video of the workshop shows no black. Thompson has vanished, whoosh, gone. Check for yourself.

Thompson did not respond to a request for comment.

Benton County Prosecutor Andy Miller supports body cameras for police

Benton County Prosecutor Andy Miller wrote last summer that he supported body cameras for police. The opinion, part of a seven-page letter about his choice to not charge Kennewick police in the shooting of Gordon Whitaker, received little attention.

“For reviewing cases involving deadly force by police officers, the use of body cameras would be beneficial not only for the integrity of the investigation but also for the decedent’s family and involved police officers,” Miller wrote in the Aug. 20 letter.

The Pasco Police Department is the only agency in the Tri-Cities to use body and dashboard cameras. The department began using the cameras in 2019.

Miller also wrote about compliance problems with the new state police investigation law, WAC 139-12, that went into effect on Jan. 5, 2020. Miller mentioned the contribution of newly appointed community representatives during the Whitaker investigation. 

Read the letter here:

Randy’s Rundown: Richland City Council Feb. 23 Workshop Explained

This meeting will not be on television, nor will it be taped.  You can join the party at 6:00 p.m. by going to the agenda and clicking on Zoom.

  1. Police Chief John Bruce will explain the process for investigating the recent Richland police shooting.  To get a head start on this discussion read WAC 139-12, the new state law governing the police investing police investigations.
  • City Attorney Heather Kintzley and Public Works Director Pete Rogalsky will discuss the use of wheeled all terrain vehicles on city streets.  An all-terrain vehicle ( ATV ), also known as a quad, quad bike, three-wheeler, four-track, four-wheeler or quadricycle as defined by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) is a vehicle that travels on low-pressure tires, with a seat that is straddled by the operator, along with handlebars. It is NOT a snowmobile or a golf cart (darn). Pg. 3-9
  • Director of Parks and Public Facilities Joe Schiessl will discuss speed limits on city shared-use paths.  Electric bicycles and scooters and scooter sharing programs have inspired this discussion Pg. 9

On police shootings, local prosecutors united in their conclusions but divided in their process

Feb.21,2021

Benton and Franklin county prosecutors have never concluded that a police officer needed to face charges over a shooting. 

That doesn’t mean they see such shootings the same way, or even process them. 

Lately, Benton’s Andy Miller and Franklin’s Shawn Sant have taken very different paths when considering these cases. 

Two Black men shot and killed by police in the past couple years demonstrate some of the differences.

Miller closed the 2020 shooting of Gordon Whitaker a short time after the Regional Special Investigative Unit (SIU) completed its report. 

On the other hand, Sant hasn’t moved on the 2019 shooting of Dante Jones. Sant got SIU’s report of that shooting nine months ago.

Jones case

The unarmed Jones was shot by Franklin County sheriff’s deputy Cody Quantrell on November 18, 2019 after an on-again, off-again car chase through rural Franklin County.

Sant received the SIU report in May 2020 and the Observer obtained it a couple of weeks later.  In response to a question about the status of the case, Sant wrote in a June 23 email to The Observer:

“I am still awaiting evidence to be evaluated and returned from the Washington State Patrol Crime Laboratory. I will not be able to complete my findings until I have ALL available evidence for review and consideration. These are serious cases of public importance. Every time a life is lost, we will look closely at those cases, especially when law enforcement officers use deadly force. I continue to review this case and anticipate completion only after all reports and any additional follow up information we may request, is provided.”

On July 23, 2020, more evidence did become available. 

The Observer obtained Police Chief Curt Ruggles May 14, 2018 “counseling” memo regarding Quantrell’s record as a police officer in Toppenish, Washington. In the memo, Ruggles criticized Quantrell for some of the same actions that he took the night he shot Jones, including being overly aggressive during car chases. 

The report was not included in the SIU report, and Sant did not indicate whether he had obtained it. Franklin County Sheriff Jim Raymond hired Quantrell later in 2018.

On September 23, 2020, Sant wrote that he was still talking to relatives and friends of Jones.

Whitaker Case

In contrast to Sant’s long deliberation, Miller announced his decision on Whitaker’s February 9, 2020 shooting a few weeks after receiving the SIU report. On August 20, 2020, in a seven-page letter, he explained why he had not charged any of the police involved.

At that time, Miller released a 420-page first installment of the 2,888-page report. The Observer obtained the report in five installments received between September 2020 and November 2020.

Only the investigation team and the prosecutor had seen the evidence when Miller cleared the officers. 

SIU has two Benton County cases that have not been completed. 

One involves a man who died in a police car on December 15, 2020 and the other, the wounding of a man on a pedestrian path in Richland on February 1, 2021.

Investigators Frustrated

Kennewick Police Commander Randy Maynard, who leads the SIU,, expressed concern about how long it was taking Franklin County to close some cases. 

He explained that investigators spend months carefully going over all aspects of a case and writing a report. He said the lack of closure frustrates everybody involved.

Franklin County open cases

Sant has five unresolved cases; two are older than the Jones case. 

  • Werner Anderson died in the back of an ambulance while in Pasco Police custody on August 10, 2018. Sant received the investigation report around August 28, 2019.
  • December 14, 2019, a man was shot and killed December 14, 2019, after stabbing two Pasco Police officers. Sant received that report about March 28, 2020.

Two unresolved cases happened after the Jones case.

  • A man died in a gunfight with Pasco police on May 17, 2020. The SIU submitted their report on that case September 21, 2020.
  • On July 30, 2020, a man sitting next to a small child in the back of a car was shot by police after allegedly pulling a gun. The SIU for that case was submitted on November 13, 2020. 

Deadline for closure

The Observer contacted Sant on February 4, 2021 and asked for an update on the five open cases. He did not respond Miller explained to The Observer, “I don’t know that there is a time requirement imposed by law for prosecutors to make a decision. I try to make decisions in a timely manner while also making sure that the decedent’s family has plenty of time and opportunity to provide input.”

Richland City Council bickers about interim city manager contract

Interim City Manager Jon Amundson

City Manager Cindy Reents’ departure after 13 years running Richland did not relieved the tension at city hall. Tuesday night five of the councilmembers bickered over how to replace her. Councilmembers Sandra Kent and Bob Thompson were absent.

The council disagreed on the terms for Assistant City Manager Jon Amundson’s interim city manager contract. The majority views Amundson’s status as probationary while they keep their options open.

On Tuesday night the council argued back and forth as to whether the interim contract should last until June 30, 2021, Oct. 31, 2021, or Dec. 31, 2021. They also debated the previously announced 10 percent salary increase.

Councilmember Phil Lemley favored hiring Amundson after a short probation period and paying him a salary and benefits commensurate with the compensation received by other city managers in the Tri-Cities. Lemley pointed out that Amundson had been assistant city manager for almost 13 years.

He said, “You need to pay what the job deserves. He can do and will do the job. We can hire Jon as city manager and have a smooth transition.”

According to the Tri-City Herald 2018 salary data base, the city paid Cindy Reents $197,101.60 and Jon Amundson $148,250.40 in salary and benefits. The increases since then have been about two percent a year.

Based on documents that The Observer obtained through a record request, Reents’ interim city manager salary in 2007 was about $163,000 in today’s dollars, almost equivalent to what the council is offering Amundson.

Christensen felt that a 10 percent increase was good through the probationary period. He added, “In a year, he could get a bump and be more in line with other Tri-Cities’ city managers.”

Lemley replied, “I totally disagree. You are penalizing him for a year. We may have the most complex city in the state. You sound like you’re assuming that he can’t do the job.”

Councilmember Alvarez commented that only a city manager with 10 to 15 years’ experience should receive Reents’ salary. “I have to be responsible to city taxpayers,” he said.

As she often does, Councilmember Marianne Boring tried to take the middle ground. While saying that she agreed with Lemley she also said, “The probationary period is customary. I’m okay with the Dec. 31 date.”

According to Mayor Ryan Lukson, the council needs until Dec. 31 to decide because, he said, “We work like snails.”

Lukson made a motion to have the council appoint him to work with outside counsel on the interim contract based on the council’s recommendations for a Dec. 31 end date and a 10 percent raise. Only Lemley voted no.

Lemley was the only councilmember to support Reents when she and the council agreed to part ways.

That didn’t end the bickering. While it was unclear what comment provoked it, both Christensen and Alvarez directed harsh words at Lemley during the councilmembers’ comment period.

Christensen referred to Lemley’s comments as a “rant” and then said, “Don’t tell people what I’m thinking. Your voice is becoming small in this matter.”

Alvarez said, “I appreciate your comments but don’t assume what I’m thinking.”

Lukson gave no indication as to when he expected the contract to be completed.

Richland shooting witness wonders if police consider bystanders

Police marks on the trail where Charles Suarez was shot by Richland Police. Photo by Andrea Cameron

When Andrea Cameron went for an evening run on Feb.1, she didn’t expect to find herself within yards of a police shooting. Just a short time after she reached Duportail Road running north, Richland Police Officer Christian Jabri shot Charles Suarez on the trail ahead of her..

 “Do police consider the safety of others?” Cameron asked. “I was on a very well-used pedestrian trail. It’s hard to stop thinking about it. In just a few seconds I could have been in the line of fire.”

Cameron described running at around 7 p.m. with headphones and a headlight to see her path in the dark. When she saw a police car with lights flashing, she realized people were running just ahead of her.  She said, “I panicked and froze when I realized that it was some kind of chase.”

Cameron said that she had no idea how many shots were fired, probably because of her headphones.

She stayed at the scene as more and more police cars came. When she was sure it was safe to leave, she went home.

Cameron learned from newspaper accounts the next day that Suarez had wrecked his car, left the scene, and run from police.  She said, “Unless he pulled a gun or killed somebody, I can’t imagine why the police would shoot at him on a pedestrian trail adjacent to a residential neighborhood.”

She responded to the request for witnesses to contact police that was at the end of the newspaper story.

Police Interview

She told the police interviewer, Detective Ryan Sauve of the Washington State Patrol, she was shocked at how easily she inadvertently ran into danger.

He responded, “You didn’t match the description.”

She said she wondered, “Did the police presence increase my safety that night or put me more at risk?”

She added that in the future she would leave her headphones at home when she runs.

Cameron recalls that he asked if she would feel threatened seeing someone running toward her on the path. She replied, “I see others running and walking on the path with me regularly.”

The Tri-City Herald reported that after treatment at a hospital, Suarez was released without charges.

Independent team will investigate

Kennewick Commander Randy Maynard is the incident commander for the Independent Investigation Team made up of local officers who are not connected to the involved agency. The team will investigate the shooting and provide their report to County Prosecutor Andy Miller and the Richland Police Department.  

Miller will decide whether there is a basis for filing charges against the police officers involved. Based on the investigations that were completed in 2020, the process could take three to six months.

A new police reform law that went into effect January 5, 2020 also requires two community representatives. The police chiefs picked the representatives for their jurisdictions. In a telephone conversation that The Observer had with Maynard, he declined to say which community representatives had been chosen.

Numbers on the pavement

Cameron returned to the path the day after the shooting. She saw nine numbered marks on the pavement in two clusters, one on each path. While she wasn’t sure what the marks meant, she did know that one cluster with numbers 7, 8 and 9 was exactly where she would have been had she not frozen on the side of the road when she did.