Animal shelter plan gives Richland City Council sticker shock

Correction Oct. 21:  The price estimate given for the shelter was $550 a square foot not $850.  The city paid $400 a sq. ft. for the new city hall. Neither price includes the land.

Consultant David Robinson of Strategic Construction Management surprised the Richland City Council with a price of over $550 a sq. ft. for a new Tri-Cities animal shelter. 

Robinson recommended building the new shelter on the old site in Pasco.

Robinson estimated the total would be $4.8 to $5.8 million split between Richland, Kennewick and Pasco, the three cooperating jurisdictions.

City Manager Cindy Reents pointed out that the new city hall had cost $400 a square foot.

The City of Pasco has taken the lead in the planning of the new shelter. Pasco City Manager Dave Zabell and Pasco Administrative and Community Services Director Zach Ratkai attended the meeting to help explain the plan.

Councilmember Bob Thompson said, “We have sticker shock.  Can we find a grant?” 

Mayor Ryan Lukson asked, “Could we renovate a building at another location?  I’m looking for ways to reduce costs.”

Ratkai said, “We couldn’t find any other buildings that were compatible.”

Zabell added that he had looked at the shelter in Spokane that was built in an old Harley Davidson showroom.  According to Zabell, “It cost a lot of money but did not turn out to be the best facility.”

Councilmember Michael Alvarez said, “I like the plan but I think it is expensive.”

Councilmember Philip Lemley wanted to know, “With our exploding population, how long before we outgrow this shelter.”

Robinson replied that there was no way of knowing but a more attractive shelter would attract families who would adopt pets at a faster pace.

“Richland needs to work with Kennewick and Pasco to use a design-build contract to cut costs as much as possible and perhaps also involve Benton County. We all want a new animal shelter but we need to look for the most cost-effective way to build it.  We need to explore every option.”  Lukson concluded.

Randy’s Notes: a rundown on Tuesday’s Richland City Council agenda

New taxes and a new animal shelter

A discussion about the proposed new Tri-Cities Animal Shelter will begin the Richland City Council meeting at 5:00 p.m. on October 20. Note the earlier starting time. Before the coronavirus, supporters for a new shelter packed the council chamber. Information on how to watch the meeting and how to comment are at the top of the agenda. 

Page numbers after the items below correspond with the pages in the packet of information that goes with the agenda.

City Council Workshop:

  1. At 5:00 p.m. City Manager Cindy Reents will update the City Council with options for a new animal shelter. Pg. 5-21 Comments can be made during the public comment period.

City Council Regular Meeting – 6:00 p.m.

Welcome

Pledge of Allegiance

Approval of Agenda

Presentations

2. Extra Mile Day recognizes people and organizations that make positive change. Pg. 22-23

3. COVID-19 Update from City Manager Cindy Reents  pg.24

Public Hearing  Check the agenda for the instructions on how to comment for up to 3 minutes.

4. A proposal to increase the budget appropriation for new fire department radios, stormwater improvements in several locations, an emergency generator at the wastewater treatment plant and last but not least $560,000 to repurchase property from Energy Northwest will be discussed and comments heard. Pg. 36-40

5. Council will hear comments about the proposal to raise property taxes by 1%.  Pg. 45-54

6. If this proposal for a city surplus sale is approved, you can buy anything from a pickup truck to a front loader.  Pg. 144-148

Public Comments  Check the agenda for how you can have 2 minutes to comment.

Consent Calendar  These items receive little to no comment and one vote for all of them.

Minutes

7. Approval of the October 6, 2020 meeting minutes

Ordinances – First Reading

8. Increasing funding for fire department radios, stormwater facility maintenance, wastewater plant improvements and industrial development. This was discussed in the earlier public hearing, Item 4. Pg. 36-40

9. Potable water cannot be used for irrigation where non-potable water is available. A violation could result in your potable water service being discontinued.  Pg. 40-44

10. Property Taxes  to be increased by 1%.  Pg. 45-54

11. Property Taxes  Pg. 45-54

12. Property Taxes  Pg. 45-54

13. You’re not allowed to discharge a firearm in the city unless it’s at the airport and you’re shooting at animals that could crash an airplane.  But according to the airport officials, shooting is the last resort.  Pg. 55-58

14. If you want to repair your sidewalk and you fill out enough paperwork, the city will reimburse 25% of the costs.  If you don’t clear your sidewalk of snow, you could be in trouble.  Check the rules. Pg. 58-61

15. The definition of a potentially dangerous animal is amended to include an animal endangering someone “on the private property of another.” As written, the same behavior on public property would warrant declaring the animal as potentially dangerous, but no protections are afforded for the same conduct on the private property of another.  Pg. 62-66

16. There’s a deficiency in the definition of Second Degree Criminal Trespass. This remedies that by defining “premises” as “any real property (fenced or unfenced), vehicle, railway car, cargo container, or other similar structure.” This definition will eliminate ambiguity between second degree criminal trespass and first degree criminal trespass, which provides that it is unlawful for any person to knowingly enter or remain, unlawfully, in a building of another.  Pg. 67-69

17. The lodging tax charged to hotel guests and used for tourism promotion in the Tri-Cities will be increased from $2.00 to $3.00 a night. Pg. 70-72

Ordinances – Second Reading & Passage

18. This authorizes a franchise agreement with New Cingular Wireless PCS, LLC d/b/a AT&T Mobility. It doesn’t give the company a monopoly and each project must be approved.  There was a hearing and the first reading during the October 6 meeting. Pg. 73-118

19. The unused right-of-way on Robertson Drive will be given to the adjacent property owner. This was the subject of a public hearing and first reading at the October 6 meeting. Pg. 119-123

20. Streets will now have classifications that match state and federal guidelines.  You might want to see where your street falls in these descriptions. Pg. 124-128

21. Zoning of 7.4 acres of the old motel site on Columbia Point Trail near the Steptoe roundabout will be changed from C-2 Retail Business to Limited Business (C-LB).  Pg. 129-143  

 Following are the definitions of the two designations;  

A. The limited business use district (C-LB) is a zone classification designed to provide an area for the location of buildings for professional and business offices, motels, hotels, and their associated accessory uses, and other compatible uses serving as an administrative district for the enhancement of the central business districts, with regulations to afford protection for developments in this and adjacent districts and in certain instances to provide a buffer zone between residential areas and other commercial and industrial districts. This zoning classification is intended to be applied to some portions of the city that are designated either commercial or high-density residential under the city of Richland comprehensive plan.

B. The neighborhood retail business use district (C-1) is a limited retail business zone classification for areas which primarily provide retail products and services for the convenience of nearby neighborhoods with minimal impact to the surrounding residential area. This zoning classification is intended to be applied to some portions of the city that are designated commercial under the city of Richland comprehensive plan. 

Resolutions – Adoption

22. You can buy a surplus truck from the city or a front loader.  Check out the list of available surplus here.  Pg. 144-148

23. The city will spend $664,172.52 for a metal clad switchgear for a new electrical substation to serve the Horn Rapids industrial area. Pg. 149-154

24. The police have received a $27, 500 grant for overtime pay from the Washington Traffic Safety Commission for a high visibility enforcement project.  High visibility enforcement (HVE) incorporates enforcement strategies, such as enhanced patrols using visibility elements (e.g. electronic message boards, road signs, command posts, BAT mobiles, etc.) designed to make enforcement efforts obvious to the public.  The grant goes from October 1, 2020 to September 30, 2021.  Pg. 155-175

Items – Approval

Expenditures – Approval

25. All the City expenditures from September 1, 2020 to September 30, 2021  for $33,279,719.14 are listed.   Pg. 175-225.

Items of Business

26. Council Assignments – The Mosquito Control Board will miss former Councilmember Brad Anderson but, alas, someone else will have to be our representative to that committee.  Now that Brad Anderson has resigned, the council assignments must be shifted around. Anderson’s other positions are now open as well.   Pg. 226-229

Reports and Comments

City Manager, City Council, Mayor – blah, blah, blah.

Executive Session

27. The council has a secret meeting for 30 minutes to discuss lawsuits.

Escape Covid with a tiny town tour

“Wild Life” sculpture by Tom Otterness

Although Covid may have dashed your dreams of a cruise or some other bucket-list trip you had planned, you can still travel. In less than an hour, you can be in Connell.

The Observer highly recommends a walking tour of this tiny town of about 5,600.

In a telephone conversation Connell City Administrator Maria Pena told the Observer, “We are proud of Connell and particularly the art that you will find on our streets and trails.” She recommended the map from the town’s website.

So, grab your map and take highway 395 to northern Franklin County. 

You can stop at Country Mercantile about midway. The Mercantile has produce, both fresh and preserved, as well as a public restroom.

Exit at State Route 260, turn right at Columbia Ave., Connell’s main street. Start your tour at Franklin St. and N. Columbia Ave. 

In addition to the art, Columbia Ave. has a mix of historic, brick buildings constructed after a fire destroyed most of the town in 1905 and newer, mid-century buildings.

Four of Tom Otterness’s six bronze and cast concrete sculptures, “Wild Life” sit along the two blocks between Franklin St. and Borah St. As you walk, you will also see murals depicting local history painted by Pat Boyer.

An Otterness “Wild Life” sculpture. The duck has an ace behind his back.

One of Connell’s largest employers, the Washington Department of Corrections Coyote Ridge Corrections Center working with the State Arts Commission funded the statutes. Local businesses contributed to the Boyer murals.

Coyote Ridge, north of Connell, houses 2100 inmates and employs many of the local residents.

For lunch, both the Pizza Station at 238 N. Columbia Ave. and Papa Ray’s across the street at 245 N. Columbia have carry-out. 

Husband Bob and I enjoyed a delicious hamburger and fries from Papa Ray’s at the table with the Otterness train sculpture next to Connell City Hall and Police Department. According to Pena, “The table and sculpture sit just outside my office window.”

Pena encouraged visitors to have lunch at any of the tables with the sculptures.

Walk about five blocks south on Columbia Ave. to see the other two Otterness sculptures between Elm St. and Gum St.  

On the way to the sculptures, take a short side trip up W. Adams St. to see the 1904 Presbyterian Church which now houses the Connell Heritage Museum. Unfortunately, the museum is currently closed.

Pena pointed out that along Highway 395, the city has installed a one-mile walking path that connects Gum Street and Clark Street. Tall steel flowers by Jean Whitesavage and Nick Lyle sit along the path. Coyote Ridge and the State Arts Commission also funded these.

Connell’s impressive public school complex fills several blocks on W. Clark.

Connell grew from sheep and cattle country to a railroad town after the golden spike joined the western branch of the Northern Pacific Railroad with the eastern branch at Gold Creek, Montana in 1883. Former President Ulysses S. Grant and other luminaries traveled to Montana to celebrate the achievement.

Wells provided the town with water but growth has always strained the supply. Dry land wheat has been the most important product through most of Connell’s history. 

Randy’s Notes: a rundown on Tuesday’s Richland City Council Agenda

Randy’s Picks:  Don’t miss No. 19, 21, 23, 24 and 25

Okay, folks Tuesday at 6:00 p.m. is the regularly scheduled Richland City Council meeting.  The information on how to watch the meeting and how to comment are at the top of the agenda.

Page numbers after the items below correspond with the pages in the packet of information that goes with the agenda.

1-2 The first item of business is the appointment and swearing in of Marianne Boring to the seat vacated by Brad Anderson. Pg. 5-8

3. Then, of course, Anderson must be thanked. Pg. 9-10

4. We can’t forget to thank David Larkin for serving on the Utility Advisory Committee since 2005 and Kim Shugart for serving on the Lodging Tax Advisory Committee since 2008, and Douglas Sako for serving on the Economic Development Committee since 2006.  Pg, 11-14.  Check out the Tri-Cities Observer for responses from Larkin and Sako about their service on these committees.

5. For more information about the Tri-Cities Regional Hotel-Motel Commission Annual Budget and Marketing Plan, we are instructed to look at Resolution 139-20.   If you find that Resolution, let me know.  Pg.15

6. The City Manager Cindy Reents presents her budget.  Be sure to check out pg. 16 for the schedule for public comment.  The budget has been discussed for weeks in “Special Workshops”.  Wait until you see the minutes for those that follow on the consent calendar.  The meetings are not available on video.  Again, Pg. 16

Public Hearings – you will receive 3 minutes to comment if you follow the rules on the agenda (the link is above).

7. The City is authorizing a non-exclusive agreement with New Cingular Wireless PCS, LLC d/b/a AT&T Mobility to use city right-of-ways for small wireless facilities.  The company must apply for permits for each of its projects. Pg. 33-78

8. The city will turn over unused right-of-way on Robertson Drive to the adjacent property owners. According to the report, “the property owner concurs with this proposal.” The owner listed on the property map in the packet died in March. Pg. 70-83

9. The homeowner at 1375 Kensington Way wants part of the unused city utility easement for a shed. Pg. 113-116

10. The Port of Benton and Richland Storage Partners LLC want a city easement within their property at 2705 Fermi Drive to facilitate new development. Pg. 129-132

PUBLIC COMMENT – you get 2 minutes.  Go to the agenda for the rules

Consent Calendar   Everything under “Consent Calendar” receives little discussion and one vote.  A councilmember can ask to have an item removed for discussion and a separate vote.

11. Meeting minutes:  The city council had 3 workshop meetings and 1 regular meeting and 1 special meeting (to pick Boring) between Sept. 8 and September 25.  The three workshops were to discuss the budget and each of those lasted almost 2 hours.  Go see what passes as minutes in Richland.  No videos have been made available. The Observer reported on the police and fire department budget presentations.  Pg. 21-32

Ordinances – First Reading (this is part of the Consent Calendar that receives one vote)

12. The agreement with New Cingular Wireless that was subject of the public hearing. Pg. 33-78

13. The unused right-of-way on Robertson Drive to be given to the adjacent property owner which was subject of the earlier public hearing.   Pg. 70-83

14. Streets will now have classifications to match state and federal guidelines.  You might want to see where your street falls in these descriptions.  Pg. 84-88.

Ordinances – Second Reading & Passage

15. Under an agreement with the county prosecutor the city can prosecute these: cyberstalking, criminal mistreatment – fourth degree, unlawful possession of a legend drug (dispensed by prescription only). It also adds a civil infraction for purchase or consumption of liquor by an intoxicated person. Pg. 89-104

16. Driveways in Industrial Districts can be this wide:  a one-way driveway can be 40 feet; a two-way driveway can be 100 feet.  They cannot exceed 40% of the property frontage.

17. Oops, when the city raised the ambulance transport fees in 2012, it did not amend the code.  This fixes that.

Resolutions – Adoption

18. This was the subject of the earlier public hearing.  The homeowner at 1375 Kensington Way wants part of the unused city utility easement for a shed.

19. It’s time for the periodic Shoreline Master Program review.  Anybody interested in this issue needs to look at the dates for public comment on Pg. 122.   Pg. 117-122

20. This establishes Dec. 1 for the public hearing for comments on annexing 8 acres on Shockley Road, the Zinsli Annexation Petition.  Pg. 123-126.

21. The waiver for using city-owned property or right-of-way, sidewalks, etc for outdoor dining is extended until December 31, 2020.

22. Giving up the easement at 2705 Fermi Drive, subject of earlier hearing.

23. $700,000 is available for utility payment relief until used up or until November 30, 2020.

Items – Approval

24. Appointment of Brad Bricker and Michael Simpson  to the Board of Adjustment.  This is the committee that Marianne Boring served on for about 20 years.  Bricker has been on the Economic Development Committee since 2013 and is currently chair.  His term there was up on Sept. 30.  Simpson has served on the Personnel Committee since 2019.  Simpson’s term on Personnel doesn’t end until 2022.  According to the information provided in the packet, 2 other people were interviewed for each of these positions.  Rather than allow other residents to participate, the city has chosen once again to let people serve on more than one committee. Pg. 136-138

Expenditures – Approval

(as of Oct. 3 no expenditures listed here)

Items of Business

25. Rezoning 7.4 acres of the old motel site on Columbia Point Trail near the Steptoe roundabout from C-2 Retail Business to Limited Business (C-LB).  Pg. 139-153 Following are the definitions of the two;  

A. The limited business use district (C-LB) is a zone classification designed to provide an area for the location of buildings for professional and business offices, motels, hotels, and their associated accessory uses, and other compatible uses serving as an administrative district for the enhancement of the central business districts, with regulations to afford protection for developments in this and adjacent districts and in certain instances to provide a buffer zone between residential areas and other commercial and industrial districts. This zoning classification is intended to be applied to some portions of the city that are designated either commercial or high-density residential under the city of Richland comprehensive plan.

B. The neighborhood retail business use district (C-1) is a limited retail business zone classification for areas which primarily provide retail products and services for the convenience of nearby neighborhoods with minimal impact to the surrounding residential area. This zoning classification is intended to be applied to some portions of the city that are designated commercial under the city of Richland comprehensive plan.

26. Hiring a consultant to evaluate City Manager Cindy Reents.

Reports and Comments:

Blah, blah, blah from mayor, council and city manager

Executive Session

The council can discuss in secret  “Lease or Purchase of Real Estate if Disclosure Would Increase Price. “  They plan to discuss this for 15 minutes and you can continue to watch and time it if you want to.  Mayor Lukson has to come out and say that the meeting has ended.

State Sen. Sharon Brown’s 2005 postnuptial agreement earns her an exemption from financial disclosure.

State Sen. Sharon Brown

September 29, 2020

Editor’s note: This story is a little unusual because it involves a complaint that I made to the PDC following an article that I wrote in July.

Correction:  Sharon Brown received the second highest number of votes in the primary.

The Washington Public Disclosure Commission (PDC) retroactively granted state Sen. Sharon Brown an exemption for her financial record due to her postnuptial agreement. 

Brown is currently running for a local judgeship.

The decision means that she did not violate state rules when she failed to report her then husband’s assets in 2015, 2016, 2017.  According to the PDC, the period prior to 2015 was beyond the statute of limitations for enforcement action.

“Incredulous,” said Benton County Democratic Chair Judith Johannesen when she learned of the decision.

Johannesen went on to say that if agreements between spouses can be used to avoid full disclosure, it frustrates the purpose of the reporting requirement.

The PDC requires that each year all candidates and elected officials submit financial information about themselves and their spouses as well as report campaign contributions and expenditures.

The reports give the public the opportunity to see if there are any conflicts of interest.

John Trumbo, a former reporter with the Tri-City Herald and a member of the Kennewick City Council, submitted a 50-page complaint to the PDC.

Trumbo listed 14 limited liability companies that belonged to Brown’s husband Fraser Hawley that Brown had not listed on her financial disclosure forms.

In its response the PDC explained the decision for the exemption.  

The commission writes that it can grant an exemption if compliance “causes a manifestly unreasonable hardship on the applicant and that granting the modification would not frustrate the purposes of the Act.”

Brown’s attorney, Mark Lamb of Bothell, Washington wrote the commission that Brown “was unable to fully disclose financial information related to her former spouse due to the restrictions of a postnuptial agreement signed in 2005.”

The commission wrote that it granted her the exemption, “therefore relieving her of the obligation of full disclosure.”

Brown married Hawley in 2004.  They divorced in Walla Walla County in 2018.

The complaint from the Observer addressed the $4 million that a business, partially owned by Brown and Hawley, owed Banner Bank.  Brown had signed as a guarantor on the loan according to court records

The Commission agreed with Lamb who argued that “the debt was not owed personally by Brown.”

In closing, the PDC finds, “no further action is warranted and has dismissed this matter.”

Brown has represented Washington’s Legislative District 9 since she was appointed in 2013.  She served on the Kennewick City Council from 2009 to 2013.

Brown’s senate term will expire in 2022. This year she filed to run for a judgeship on the Benton-Franklin Superior Court.  She received the second highest number of votes in the primary and advanced to the November general election.

Richland City Council appoints Marianne Boring to fill vacant seat

September 25, 2020

Richland City Council chose Marianne Boring from three finalists to fill the open seat left by the resignation of Brad Anderson. The three were chosen from 33 applicants for the position.

In her interview by Zoom on Friday morning, Boring said, “My goal for thirty years has been to serve on the council.”

Her appointment ends on January 4, 2022. Boring has indicated that she plans to run for a full term in the 2021 election. Since 1958 only one of 16 appointees failed to be elected after they were appointed.

The Council interviewed Boring, Maria Gutierrez and Theresa Richardson during a special city council meeting Friday. 

Mayor Ryan Lukson asked each of the women the same questions which included their vision for the city, what they wanted to accomplish on the council and whether they had any conflicts of interest.

The council adjourned into executive session to discuss the selection before publicly voting unanimously to choose Boring.

During her interview Boring emphasized her land use planning experience. She owns a development related business, Allwest Services. She has served on the Richland Planning Commission for 14 years and the Board of Adjustment for 19 years.

When term limits for board members were eliminated, Mayor Ryan Lukson said of the long-serving board members, “We use these people like staff to a certain extent.”

Boring said her vision for Richland included a vibrant downtown core with a mixed-use building of five or six floors at the site of the old city hall.  She described underground parking, ground level retail, second and third floor offices and several floors of residential units that would have nice views.

“We may have to wait for the right developer,” she said.

Boring mentioned that some downtown businesses do not take advantage of grants and other services that the city provides.  She would like to encourage them to apply for these. 

“I favor smart growth so people can live, work and play in the same area,” she told the council.   She pointed to the Badger Mountain South development as an example of that.  “Your ice cream shouldn’t melt between the store and your home,” she said.

To the question as to whether she had any conflicts of interest, Boring stated that her husband works for the city.  “I would not jeopardize his position or my position,” she said.  “I would recuse after talking to my fellow councilmembers if I felt there was a conflict,” she added.

Councilmember Bob Thompson asked Boring how she felt about the council becoming involved in social issues.

Boring responded, “I support small community meetings, pinpointed to certain areas, to listen.”

Councilmember Phil Lemley congratulated Boring and added, “She has to run next year and it’s not easy.”

Councilmember Terry Christensen said, “My Congratulations to Marianne. It is nice to see her rewarded for her 20 years of contribution to the city.” 

Boring will be sworn in at the October 6 city council meeting.

Watch Richland City Council interview three applicants for open seat, appointee almost guaranteed election in 2021

September 23, 2020.

Sept 24 update: the city has published the agenda and Zoom link for the interviews.

Sept 25 correction: the Richland City Council appointed Ed Revell to an open seat a second time in August 2015.  He chose not to run in the November election.

The public can watch the Richland City Council interview Marianne Boring, Maria Gutierrez and Theresa Richardson for the council open seat Friday at 8:30 a.m. via Zoom.

The council selected the three women from 33 applicants for the vacancy created by the resignation of Brad Anderson. According to Mayor Ryan Lukson, the council will announce their decision by the October 6 council meeting.

The Richland City Council has appointed 18 people to fill open seats since the city was incorporated in 1958. Of the 16 who chose to seek a full term, only one failed to be elected.

Boring and Gutierrez have said that they would run for the seat in 2021 if the council appointed them.

Based on the city’s history, the new appointee would almost certainly be elected.

The Observer obtained Richland election records from a resident who submitted a public record request. Amanda Hatfield, manager of the Benton County Election Office, also provided the Observer with information about council election results.

Only Larna Brown lost her bid for a full term. Rita Mazur defeated her in the 1995 election.  Brown had replaced Doreen Strawick who died in office May 1995.

Two appointees did not seek election.

According to Richland records, Bertrand Field chose not to run for election “due to public disclosure law #276.”

The law, which passed in 1972, requires that elected officials and candidates report campaign contributions and expenditures and disclose financial interests. Field was appointed in March 1972 and resigned in December 1973.

The council appointed Ed Revell a second time in August 2015. He chose not to run in the November election.

The following people have been appointed to the Council in order of the dates of their appointment: Harold Morgan (April 1964), Arden L. Bement, Jr. (September 1968), Shirley Fransen (July 1970), Bertrand Field (March 1972), Bud Knore (March 1974), Madge Watson (December 1974), Shirley Widrig (November 1976), John Poytner (August 1978), James Becton (April 1979), Betty Sherman (January 1981), Jerry Greenfield (December 1990), Larna Brown (June 1995), Carol Moser (July 1995), John Fox (September 2002),  David Rose (December 2004), Ed Revell (February 2006), Sandra Kent (February 2008), Ed Revell (August 2015).

Richland Police Chief asks Council for Three More Officers, Says Eighty Percent of Calls have a Mental Health Aspect

September 22, 2020

At the Sept 8 budget meeting, Richland Police Chief John Bruce told the Richland City Council that he would like to add three more officers to his department.  The city currently budgets for 65.

But Mayor Ryan Lukson had another question — “Why wouldn’t you add more mental health training?” 

The concern stemmed from another fact Bruce laid out. Eighty percent of calls to Richland police involve a mental health aspect, the chief said.

Bruce told the council that the department already provides de-escalation and mental health training for its officers. 

What the department needs, he said, are more bodies. Having more officers per shift means more time to respond to an incident, knowing backup is close by.

“Officers need time to just slow down,” Bruce said. “Officers who rush in may have a deadly force incident. Wait for your back up. Survey the scene. Re-evaluate the decision.”

Bruce also said that he would like officers to be able to allocate 40 percent of their time in the community visiting businesses, schools and Parent Teacher Associations.

The department has mental health crisis workers who ride along with officers, Bruce said. Lourdes Outpatient Services has a grant for more than $1 million that provides these professionals to Tri-Cities police departments.

The Observer talked to Richland Police Capt. Chris Lee and Director of Lourdes’ Outpatient Services Cameron Fordmeir, who administers the grant.

Lee said each jurisdiction has a mobile outreach team that includes a mental outreach professional called a “designated crisis responder.” That person decides whether someone poses enough of danger to themselves or others that they require 72-hour detention for drug abuse or psychiatric evaluation.

The team may also include a mental outreach counselor who provides contacts for follow-up support services or counseling, and peer specialists who work behind the scenes to make sure the paperwork doesn’t fall between the cracks.

“Sometimes the Richland police drive their team member to other jurisdictions which need them,” Lee said. 

Fordmeir added that the program currently has six designated crisis responders, two mental outreach counselors and three peer specialists to cover all of Benton and Franklin counties.

“Since the program began in 2018, the teams have had 4,163 contacts and 87 psychiatric hospitalizations,” Fordmeir said.

The current grant expires June 2021. Fordmeir plans to reapply for the grant as well as look for funding from the cities and other sources so that the program can continue.

Richland Medics Want to Get You to the Hospital With More Than a Heartbeat

At the Sept. 8 Richland budget workshop, Richland Fire Chief Tom Huntington outlined how the Richland Fire and Emergency Services Department works with the community to deliver patients to Kadlec’s Level 1 cardiac unit with more than just a heartbeat.

Huntington also said that his department had not asked for new funding increases except to accommodate growth.  A fire station planned for the corner of Battelle Boulevard and Port of Benton Boulevard will accommodate new development in northeast Richland.

The department has improved what has sometimes been described as the “scoop and run” method for treating cardiac and trauma victims. While medics still rush to deliver patients to hospitals, they use the latest equipment and training to increase survival.

The department, Huntington said, starts by training people to do heart compressions until medics arrive. Participants learn to first call 911 and immediately begin quick, vigorous compressions. The puffs from the old Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) method have been eliminated.

In a telephone interview with the Observer, Huntington provided more details. “With our new community approach and technology, we can maintain a heartbeat that is consistent enough to maintain blood flow to the body and set the hospital up for success,” he said.

Richland’s five ambulances now have robots that provide heart compressions and field ventilators to help patients breathe. That frees up the medics to follow the monitors and communicate with doctors at the hospital emergency room.

According to Huntington, Richland leads the area in adopting the new methods. “We’re on the front edge,” he said. 

Lt. Mike Van Beek, who keeps some of the statistics for the department, told the Observer that last year medics saved 14 lives and improved their outcome from the previous year.

Huntington explained that medics have two years of training that includes classes, ambulance calls with more experienced medics and monthly meetings with Dr. Kevin Hodges medical program director for Benton-Franklin counties.

The department has about 38 medics for the four fire stations.  Usually each station has a medic 24-hours a day.

Richland City Council to Interview Three Women for Open Seat

Mayor Ryan Lukson emerged from a one-hour executive session of the Richland City Council to announce that three women would be interviewed to fill Councilmember Brad Anderson’s seat.

Anderson resigned on August 18 stating that health issues required lifestyle changes that were not possible while holding down a full-time job plus serving on the Council.  

The council will interview the following women:

Marianne Boring, the spouse of a staff member of the City of Richland Development Office has served longer on Richland Boards and Commissions than any other current member. When her terms are up, she will have been on the Planning Commission for 18 years and the Board of Adjustment for 20 years. She chairs the Board of Adjustment.

When the Council voted to end term limits for boards and commissions on September 1, Lukson said, “We use these people like employees to a certain extent.”

Maria Gutierrez has served on the Parks and Recreation Commission since 2007.  She currently chairs that committee.

Theresa Richardson retired as director of Habitat for Humanity.

Lukson said that the Council planned to pick someone before their October 6 meeting.

Randy’s Notes: the Rundown on Tuesday’s Richland City Council Agenda

(Disclosure: Randy Slovic, author of TriCities Observer, has applied to fill former Councilmember Brad Anderson’s seat on the Richland City Council.)

Here is the Richland City Council Agenda for September 15, 2020

The 157-page packet of information that I have summarized below.

If you want to comment, you need to click the yellow “here” on the agenda before 4:00 p.m. on September 15.

  1. City Manager Cindy Reents fills you in on COVID

PUBLIC HEARING if you clicked the yellow “here” as mentioned above before 4:00 p.m., you can comment for 3 minutes on this:

2.  The developers of Park Place Apartments at 650 George Washington Way moved the utilities and wants the city to give them the now unused utility easement for $10.

PUBLIC COMMENT PERIOD if you clicked the yellow “here” and submitted your request before 4:00 p.m.  you have 2 minutes to say whatever you want.  However, be warned, you are NOT allowed to ask a question.

CONSENT CALENDAR – this means the council can go through these with little to no comment and vote for them all at once.

Approval of the September 1, 2020 City Council Regular Meeting Minutes

First Reading on these so they have to be voted on again at the next meeting in order to pass:

Ordinance 29-20   The City can exercise more control over misdemeanors or gross misdemeanors rather than refer them to the Benton County Prosecutor if the council amends the code to include:  cyberstalking, criminal mistreatment of children or dependent persons, unlawful possession of prescription drugs (legend drugs), purchase and consumption of alcohol by an intoxicated person.

Ordinance 30-20   Allowing industrial driveways to be 40 feet for one way and 100 feet for two ways.

Ordinance 31-20   Oops, the city did not amend the municipal code in 2012 when they raised the ambulance rates.  They will fix that with this.

Second Reading on these so they pass with this vote:

  1. Ordinance 27-20  The Richland police department receives $275,250 from the Seattle Police Department for a forensic van.  Seattle is the lead agency for the state and funding is for investigation and prosecution of internet crimes against children.
  2. Ordinance 28-20 You will need a permit to work in city Right-of-Ways.

Resolutions – Adoptions

  1. Resolution 124-20   the easement at 650 George Washington Way discussed above in No. 2 is here for a vote.
  2. Resolution 131-20   It will cost $4 million to extend the city sewer to North Horn Rapids.  To  pay for it, the City will receive $3.2 million dollars from the U.S. Economic Development Administration and the U.S. Covid Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.  The Port of Benton will provide $400,000 and the City of Richland will provide $400,000.  City funding was budgeted in the Industrial Development Fund.
  3. Resolution 132-20   Visit Tri-Cities Signage.  Booth and Sons submitted the lowest bid for the signs, $452,888.66
  4.  Resolution 133-20   Maintenance agreement with Friends of Badger Mountain for extending the trail system onto Little Badger Mountain.

Items Approval:

  1. Appointing Steve Lorence to the Personnel Committee until 2023.  He has been on the committee since 2018
  2. Appointing Brad Bricker, Ken Spencer, Theresa Richardson, and Kim Knight to the Economic Development Committee until 2023.  Bricker has served since 2013.
  3. Appointing Lindsay Lightner to the Library Board until 2025.  Lightner has served since 2019.
  4. Appointing Deborah Titus and Michele Levenite to the Americans with Disability Citizen Review Committee until 2023. Levenite has served since 2014.
  5. Appointing Lara Watkins and Andrew Lucero-Montano to the Lodging Tax Advisory Committee until 2022.  Lucero-Montano has serviced on the committee since 2018.

Expenditures – Approval

  1. $28,384,167.33 of checks for the month of August for salaries, pensions and other expenditures. The check list goes from page 90 to 132 in the packet.

ITEMS OF BUSINESS

  1. Ordinance no 21-20 to restrict parking on Hains Avenue to one side of the street.  The Council will vote on this ordinance since it is not on the consent calendar.

Councilmembers will now comment

EXECUTIVE (SECRET) SESSION

20 minutes to discuss potential litigation

60 minutes to discuss the qualifications of a candidate for appointment to elective office [60 minutes for “a” candidate out of 33 who applied].

What Killed Werner Anderson While He was in Pasco Police Custody?

Werner Anderson had a heart attack and died while in Pasco Police custody moments after medics injected Anderson with the sedative ketamine while one police officer knelt on his back and another held his feet. 

The Observer submitted a public records request and obtained the 537-page Special Investigative Unit report, which Franklin County prosecutor Shawn Sant received over a year ago, on August 28, 2019. 

In addition, the Observer obtained the 2019 Schedule Drug Report from the Pasco Fire Department about the use of ketamine by medics. The Observer also had telephone conversations with Dr. Kevin Hodges, medical program director of Benton-Franklin Counties and Franklin County Coroner Curtis McGary.

On August 10, 2018, Pasco Police Officer Andrew Corral1 responded to a call from the area near Chinese Gardens Restaurant in Pasco. Neighbors reported that a man was knocking on doors, yelling and “acting like he was on drugs.”

In a statement, Corral reported that “the male was cooperative, gave his name as Werner Anderson, and gave his date of birth.”

Corral said that Warner refused to go voluntarily to Lourdes Hospital or detox and instead asked to be taken to the men’s shelter at the Tri-City Union Gospel Mission.

Minutes after officers dropped Warner off at the shelter, though, Ruben Ochoa, director of the men’s shelter, called police to report that “he saw a man flopping on the ground like a fish” and “slapping the ground really hard with his hand.” He reported that Anderson had also swung at one person and hit a second person with a grazing blow.

When Officer Adam Wright2 and Officer Alexander Busch and Corral responded to the call, they handcuffed Anderson and helped him into the shade. An ambulance arrived with Medic James McGrath and Busch and Wright walked Anderson to it. Both Ochoa and Mission Director Debra Biondolillo described Anderson as walking with assistance.

According to Busch, when Anderson sat in the medic’s chair, Busch said to him, “Hey, you know, you can’t sit there. You gotta sit on the stretcher. So he got up from there. I helped guide him up and he stepped between the, uh, bench area and the stretcher.”

To extricate Anderson, the stretcher was removed from the ambulance. Busch and Wright attempted to get Anderson to his feet, but he resisted. After a struggle, Busch held Anderson’s feet while Wright, according to his statement, knelt on “his back area, his shoulders.”

Officer James B. Vaugh, who arrived about the time of the struggle in the ambulance, said in a statement, “Officer Wright was in the ambulance and had a knee on the subject holding him down. The subject was handcuffed, face down, and screaming at the top of his lungs.”

Dr. Lawrence Heiskell, an emergency physician and a veteran reserve police officer with the Palm Springs (California) Police Department, writing in “Police Magazine,” describes the dangers of placing body weight on detainees in a prone position.

According to McGrath “the decision was made to apply chemical restraints.”  In his statement Michael Maier of the Pasco Fire Department also said, “It was determined that ketamine would be used.” Maier stated that he drew up the sedative and handed it to McGrath.

Moments after McGrath injected 250 milligrams (mg) of ketamine into Anderson’s shoulder, Anderson’s heart stopped. McGrath began CPR and other rescue methods and the ambulance left for Kadlec, the closest hospital with a Level 1 cardiac unit. Anderson was declared dead at Kadlec. 

Recently the dangers of ketamine as well as the practice of kneeling on the backs of detainees has received new scrutiny.

A young Black man died in Aurora, Colorado in 2019 after being held in a chokehold and then injected with a large dose of ketamine. Colorado and Minnesota have both reported sharp increases in the use of the drug by medics despite medical warnings about side-effects.

According to the Mayo Clinic website, injected ketamine can cause “difficult or troubled breathing” and “fast, slow, or irregular heartbeat.”

The American Society of Anesthesiologists released a statement on July 15, 2020,  that said it “firmly opposes the use of ketamine or any other sedative/hypnotic agent to chemically incapacitate someone for a law enforcement purpose and not for a legitimate medical reason.

The Observer spoke by telephone with Dr. Kevin Hodges, medical program director of Benton-Franklin Counties. When asked who “determines” when to use ketamine, Hodges said, “It is the sole responsibility of the medic as to when to use drugs in an emergency.” 

Hodges added, “Ketamine is the safest, most efficient drug available for sedation of agitated patients.”

In a document signed by Hodges on June 1, 2016 and included in the SIU report, “Protocol Title: Behavioral Emergencies” there is another option for “dangerous agitation/combativeness” — “4-point soft restraints.”

When the medics chose to use ketamine, at least four people from the Pasco Fire Department were at the scene: medics Maier and McGrath; ambulance driver, Captain Seth Rhoer; and ride along Andrew Kimball.  Four Pasco police officers were also there: Wright, Busch, Corral and Vaugh.

Hodges pointed out that “Ketamine is primarily used by medics for pain relief.”

In Pasco, the 2019 Schedule Drug Report for Ketamine lists 34 times that medics used primarily small amounts, around 15 mg for pain.  On 23 other occasions, larger doses of up to 200 mg to 500 mg were injected for conditions that included alcohol abuse, psychiatric disorders and altered mental status.

According to the toxicology report in the SIU report, in addition to the ketamine, Anderson had THC, amphetamine and methamphetamine in his blood.  

In a telephone conversation with the Franklin County Coroner Curtis McGary, the Observer learned that the coroner’s office listed “drug overdose” as the cause of death.

After over a year with the SIU report, Franklin County Prosecutor Shawn Sant has yet to announce whether any charges will be brought in the case.

1 Another SIU investigation was created on July 30, 2020 to investigate Corral after he shot Santiago Ayala-Pineda for allegedly refusing to drop a handgun.

2Wright was one of the three Pasco police officers who shot rock thrower Antonio Zambrano-Montes in 2015.

Term Limits for Richland Boards and Commissions Eliminated after Councilmember Sandra Kent Reconsiders

(Disclosure: Randy Slovic, author of TriCities Observer, has applied to fill former Councilmember Brad Anderson’s seat on the Richland City Council.)

An unusual set of circumstances resurrected for the fourth time a motion to eliminate term limits for members of Richland boards and commissions, and this time it passed.

Last month, when the council considered the motion for the third time, city attorney Heather Kintzley explained that the city charter required that a majority of the council, not just a majority of those present, had to vote for approval of the term-limit change. Only four council members out of six were present at the Aug. 18 council meeting, so the vote failed when only Councilmember Sandra Kent voted no.

For the motion to be brought up again, the side that prevailed — in this unusual case, just Kent — had to move to reconsider it. 

That meant Kent had the power to table the motion when it came under consideration last week for the fourth time. She did not.

Kent said Sept. 1 that she was offering the motion to reconsider “for transparency and to give all the members a chance to vote on the measure.” Her motion to reconsider passed 6-0.

On the next vote, which was to eliminate the term limits, Kent again voted no saying that “council could re-appoint a person ad infinitum.”

Councilmember Terry Christensen supported the change. “Council shouldn’t have their hands tied,” he said.

Mayor Ryan Lukson agreed with Christensen. “Every once in a while, a unicorn comes in,” he said. “But very rarely does someone want to serve longer than 16 years. We use these people like employees to a certain extent.”

The final vote was 5- 1, with Kent voting no again. Five of 70 people who currently serve on the Richland Boards and Commissions have been appointed for at least 14 years.

My Hat is in the Ring

I am pleased to announce that I have applied to fill the vacancy on the Richland City Council, where, if appointed, I would focus on improving residents’ access to the Council. We need more opportunity for people to have their questions answered and their opinions heard. If you agree, please contact the Richland City Council to support my appointment: citycouncil@ci.richland.wa.us

As you know, I ran for Richland City Council in 2019 and received 7126 votes, 48%. Councilmember Brad Anderson recently resigned leaving an opening that the six remaining members of the council will vote to fill.  

The council intends to appoint someone to the job by October 6.  If appointed, my plan would be to put the TriCities Observer on hiatus to minimize distractions and focus on the council.  Rest assured, I would be doing my part to keep you all informed of what the city is doing, whether it is on this blog or not. 

Last year, the Tri-City Herald as well as the National Women’s Political Caucus, the Laborers’ Local 348, the UA Local 598 Plumbers and Steamfitters and the Teamsters Local 839 endorsed me.

In the city’s 60+ year history only 13 out of 72 city council members have been women. Only one serves now. I would work hard to bring the change that the city council needs.

In the meantime, for all blog posts related to the city of Richland until the selection is made, I will include a reference to my status as having applied for the council job, for purpose of full disclosure.

Richland City Council Determined to Eliminate Term Limits for Boards and Commissions

Richland City Hall

Despite opposition from residents, on Tuesday Richland City Council will consider for a fourth time eliminating term limits for Boards and Commissions. Board members are now allowed to serve 12 years with the possibility of a one-term extension.

Councilmember Terry Christensen initiated the proposal, according to Mayor Ryan Lukson.

At the last meeting of the council on Aug. 17, for the third consideration of the matter, Mayor Lukson moved to remove it from the consent calendar for discussion and a separate vote. Only four of the six councilmembers were present: Lukson, Christensen, Councilmember Phil Lemley and Councilmember Sandra Kent. Councilmember Brad Anderson had resigned before the meeting began.

Only Kent voted “no” and said, “Twelve years plus the possibility of an additional extension is enough for anyone to serve.”

Since a majority of the council must approve the change, the elimination of term limits is once again on the consent calendar for Sept. 1. 

In a telephone conversation with the Observer, Councilmember Bob Thompson indicated that he supported the change to boards and commissions. There is no limit on council members’ terms. At the end of his current term, he will have served 27 years on the council. 

Residents can comment about the term limit change at the Tuesday, Sept. 1 meeting that begins at 6 p.m. Testifiers must fill out a form before 4 p.m. Tuesday and then call in before citizen comments begin.  The meeting is televised on Cable Channel 192 and streamed on City View   Residents can also email the city council at citycouncil@ci.richland.wa.us.

The council first voted to eliminate term limits in a first reading as part of the consent calendar at their March 17 meeting. All the items on the consent calendar are approved with one vote. 

Days later, Governor Jay Inslee shut down the state due to Covid-19 with instructions that local governments were only to consider essential business at meetings, since residents could not attend them. 

Nevertheless, the council scheduled a final vote for its April 7 meeting. After people objected, the item was pulled from the agenda. 

At the time Mayor Lukson said, “The council plans to bring up the term limit elimination proposal again when citizens can attend the city council meetings.”

Currently five members of the boards and commissions have served beyond their limit. Marianne Boring, the spouse of a member of the City of Richland Development office, has served the longest. When her terms are up, she will have been on the Planning Commission for 18 years and the Board of Adjustment for 20 years.