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.

Richland City Councilmember Bob Thompson Pleads Guilty to Reckless Driving

Councilmember Bob Thompson

After months of hearings and conferences regarding his charge of driving under the influence, Richland City Councilmember Bob Thompson pleaded guilty on July 21, 2020 to a lesser charge of reckless driving.

Washington State Patrolman James Stairet stopped Thompson for speeding at midnight on June 29, 2019, when Thompson was Richland’s mayor. Thompson’s eyes were “watery and bloodshot,” and Thompson held the driver’s side door for balance as he got out of his car, Stairet wrote in his report of the stop. Thompson declined to take a field sobriety test and said he wouldn’t complete a breath test, wrote Stairet, who then arrested Thompson.

Thompson, a lawyer, regularly defends clients who have been charged with DUI.

In a telephone conversation, Thompson likened his case to others. “As many as 75% of first offenders accept a plea agreement,” he said.

Thompson said he will lose his license for 30 days. “Probably September,” he said. 

But he’s not required to have an ignition interlock device, and a reckless driving conviction won’t prevent him from travelling to Canada, where he sometimes attends conferences to represent the city’s support for the Hanford cleanup.

According to the court docket, Thompson paid a $1,233.97 fine and completed both a victim impact panel and Alcohol Drug Information School. 

Thompson’s two-year, unmonitored probation requires that he not possess or consume alcoholic beverages, marijuana or controlled substances or drive without a valid license and proof of insurance.

He acknowledged a second incident could bring stiffer penalties. “If you’re dumb enough to have another similar incident, you’re in big trouble,” he said.

Councilmember Brad Anderson Resigns and the Richland City Council Votes to Eliminate Term Limits for Boards and Commissions

Councilmember Brad Anderson

Update Aug 19, 2020:  Last night the City Attorney Heather Kintzley advised Mayor Lukson that the vote of three members, a majority of those present, could pass a change in the term limits for boards and commissions.  However, Mayor Ryan Lukson emailed me this morning that she was wrong; a vote of four is required. According to Mayor Lukson, “Not sure if it will come up again but for now it is dead.”

Mayor Ryan Lukson began Tuesday night’s meeting by reading Councilmember Brad Anderson’s resignation letter. Anderson said that health issues required lifestyle changes that were not possible while holding down a fulltime job plus serving on the Council.   

Anderson has served on the Council since defeating incumbent Ed Revell in 2011. He ran unopposed in 2015 and defeated Shir Regev in 2019. 

The Council will pick a successor to Anderson from applicants. The appointed member will serve until the next election in 2021.

Later the council approved a Lukson motion to pull two items from the consent calendar for discussion and a separate vote, one to eliminate term limits for boards and commissions and the other to limit parking on Hains Ave.

Of the four members present only Councilmember Sandra Kent voted to maintain the term limits. She said, “We already have the ability to extend an appointment by one term beyond the 12-year limit.  I think that is long enough. We need to work harder to find qualified people.”

Terry Christensen who, according to Lukson, proposed the change said, “We need institutional knowledge that long-term committee members provide.”

Lukson and Councilmember Phil Lemley voted with Christensen to allow board and commission members to serve for an unlimited amount of terms. Councilmembers Robert Thompson, Michael Alvarez and Anderson were absent.

The other item would limit parking on Hains Ave. to one side of the street. The Councilmembers voted unanimously to postpone a decision on that until they had more information.

On the 100th Anniversary of the 19th Amendment, TriCities Women Still Struggle to Win Election to Local Government

On Aug.18, 1920, the United States ratified the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, giving women the right to vote.

Today women hold 41.5% of the seats in the Washington State Legislature but only 14% of the seats on the four local city councils and the two county commissions.

To better understand why so few women serve in the Tri-Cities, the Observer sought records from the cities of Richland, Pasco, Kennewick and West Richland, and from Benton County and Franklin County as well as the Benton County Election Office, the Franklin County Election Office and the Washington State Archive.

The Observer talked to current city council members Kate Moran and Gail Brown of West Richland and to former city council members Carol Moser of Richland and Rebecca Francik of Pasco.

They all agreed that raising money was one of the issues that prevents more women for running for local office. Plus, they all said they believe that women underrate their experiences and qualifications.

Richland

Seven members serve on the Richland City Council and the members elect a mayor after each election. Since the city was incorporated in 1958, 72 people have served on the Richland City Council. Only 13 of those were women, and they served 71 of the 434 council member years. Currently, one woman, Sandra Kent, sits on the council.

In the City of Richland, which provided more complete records than the other jurisdictions, six of the 13 (46%) women who have served there were first appointed and avoided campaigning and fundraising. Only 11 of the 59 men were appointed (19%).  

Carol Moser was appointed to the Council in 1995 and served almost 10 years until she resigned to accept an appointment from Gov. Christine Gregoire in 2006 to serve on the Washington State Transportation Commission.

Most people on the council serve until they resign. Only eight men (13%) who have run again have lost their post in a re-election, but five women (38%) have.

Moser explained the difference. “While councilmen often run unopposed, councilwomen usually have opponents in their elections. Women are viewed as weaker candidates.” 

She said that she ran in 1995 when she became concerned about the lack of parks in South Richland. At the time, that side of the Yakima River had only one large park, Claybell Park. She worked to add Badger Mountain Park to the area. 

From 1996 to 2000, three women served on the Richland City Council at the same time. According to Moser, the three referred to themselves as MazurMoserMunn as their names were read in the roll call. Rita Mazur served 14 years starting in 1995. Wanda Munn served four years starting in 1995.

Moser said, “You know it’s still a good old boy system when you see that only one woman has been mayor in 68 years.” Pat Merrill was mayor from 1958 to 1962.

Kennewick

Since the Council-Manager form of government was adopted in 1954, only six women have served on the Kennewick City Council and for only 30 of the 462 Council member years. No women have served on the council since 2013. One woman, Paula Drew Lockwood, served as mayor from 1990 to 1992. 

Pasco

The Observer obtained records for Pasco that went back to 1977. During that time seven women served on the council for 46 of the 301 council member years. Of that seven, two serve today. 

Rebecca Francik was appointed to the Pasco Council in 1996 to replace Joyce DeFelice who was appointed in 1989. DeFelice resigned to become the district director for then-Congressman Doc Hastings. 

In 2005 DeFelice, using her maiden name Olson, ran for re-election to the council, defeating incumbent Eileen Crawford 3190 to 3188.  In 2010, Olson, who had served several terms as mayor, resigned to marry her high-school sweetheart who lived out of state. 

Francik recalled, “On my first council everyone was expected to pick up their packets, read them, research and bring their A game to council meetings. It was an analytical group.” 

“As a woman and the mother of seven children, I had a different perspective than the men on the council. I had spent many hours at the swimming pool with my seven children, and I knew why residents were complaining that there was no shade there.” Francik added, “I don’t think this area appreciates the different experiences that women bring to the councils.”

Francik remembers she first worked with Pasco City Council when she proposed having the City of Pasco annex her neighborhood. Almost a third of the houses in her area had failing sewer systems and homeowners wanted to connect to the Pasco sewer system.

Francik lost re-election in 2017 to David Milne.

West Richland

West Richland has a strong-mayor system of government. There are seven council members and an elected mayor. The Observer was able to obtain West Richland records back to 1986. The city clerk directed the Observer to the minutes at the Washington State Archives and the online Benton County Election records.

From 1986 until the present, 11 women have served on the West Richland City Council and voters have elected two mayors. Kate Moran first ran in 2017 and lost. After that election, she was appointed to the West Richland Planning Commission. In 2019, she was elected to the council.

She said she ran when she discovered how hard it was to obtain information from West Richland.

“The difficulty was not deliberate lack of transparency,” she noted, “but rather poor accessibility.” She added “Covid-19 has accelerated the adoption of electronic record keeping and communication.”

Gail Brown has served longer, 23 years, than any other member of a local council except Bob Thompson in Richland, who has served 26 years.

Brown said she ran because she was “mad about potholes.” 

She noted that she went to the city council to complain and found herself spending more and more time there. Soon she was elected to serve on the council. She said that she has continued to serve because of her interest in protecting the older residential sections of West Richland.

Brown noted that as West Richland has grown, it has become more and more expensive to run for a seat on the city council. 

Brown recalled a particularly memorable vote to appoint a replacement member on the council in 2006. The council called a special meeting to decide which of two candidates, Maggie Valcich or Merle Johnson, members would choose. 

“This vote really demonstrated the difference between men and women on the council,” she remembered. 

Brown, Julie Jones and Nancy Aldrich supported Valcich. The men on the council supported Johnson. After going into executive session on and off for almost three hours, Mayor Dale Jackson broke the tie and the council appointed Johnson.

Benton and Franklin County Commissions

Since 1905, only three women have served on the three-member Benton County Commission and for only 16 commission years out of 345. Kathy Utz served from 1976 to 1980. Deborah “Debbie” Reis served from 1982 to 1986. Sandi Strawn served from 1988 to 1996.

Reis ran for Mason County Commission in 2008 but lost in the primary. Currently she serves as chair of the Mason County Board of Equalization.

The Observer was able to obtain records back to 1990 for the Franklin County Commission. No women currently serve on the Franklin County Commission. 

Since 1990, only two women have served on the commission. Sue Miller  was elected in 1992, 1996 and 2000.  She served as chair in 2001. Neva Corkrum was elected in 1992, 1996, 2000 and 2004.  She was defeated by Brad Peck in 2008.

Despite Citizen Opposition, Richland City Council will Vote to Eliminate Term Limits for Boards and Commissions

Richland City Hall

After public outcry, the Richland City Council in April pulled its proposal to change a city ordinance to eliminate the 12-year term limit for members of city boards and commissions. Proponents said the proposal would make city policy conform with actual practice.

Back in April, Mayor Ryan Lukson said that the matter would be brought up again when citizens could “attend” the meeting.

However, the matter is once again on the agenda, even though citizens cannot currently attend meetings. The full text of the proposal appears on Page 80 of the city council packet.

Five members have served beyond the 12-year limit.   Marianne Boring, the spouse of a plans examiner in the City of Richland Development Office, has been a board member longer than the other four. At the completion of her terms, she will have served 20 years on the Planning Board and 18 years on the Board of Adjustment. Some members of those boards have not been approved to serve for the full 12 years.

The proposal appears on the Consent Calendar with 13 other items. Council members approve all items on the Consent Calendar with one vote, unless a member moves to have an item considered separately.

The council meets on Tuesday night at 6 p.m. The instructions for commenting appear at the top of the agenda.

Sloppy Record Keeping for Weapons, Ammunition and Weapons Training Described by Benton County Sheriff’s Deputies

Benton County sheriff’s deputies describe sloppy record keeping for weapons, ammunition and weapons training certification in a 61-page collection of interviews given to the Observer. The interviews are part of an administrative review of the Benton County Sheriff’s Office.  

Benton County Sheriff Jerry Hatcher requested the review from Franklin County Sheriff Jim Raymond after almost 14,000 rounds of ammunition and 2 firearms, all Benton County property, were discovered at Hatcher’s former home

The findings are included in the review conducted by Franklin County sheriff’s investigators. 

When asked to describe how ammunition is inventoried and stored, Benton Detective Todd Carlson in charge of training told investigators that “there was no inventorying policy that he knew of.” The detective said he would issue ammunition to deputies who needed it. 

As to record keeping on firearm certification, the detective told investigators, that with multiple firearms trainers, “sometimes the sheets aren’t promptly turned in, or they are left in cars, etc.” 

The detective said he often did not know who used the shooting range until he got a record.

Sometimes, the detective was told when a deputy’s weapons qualification was overdue, and he then had to track it down.

Several people had access to firearms records, the detective told investigators. 

”There were a number of people who could access and make changes to the records,” the detective said, according to investigators. 

Commander Jon Law said that, “There is a policy [for inventorying firearms], but honestly it is sloppy at times.”

The review was controversial from the beginning.  The Fraternal Order of Police and the Benton County Deputy Sheriff’s Guild pointed out the close working relationship between Raymond and Hatcher. 

The unions said an agency outside of the Tri-Cities should conduct such a review.

Some of the interviewed Benton deputies pointed out that a criminal investigation into potential wrongdoing normally precedes an administrative review.  Those deputies hesitated about talking to Franklin County investigators because they feared retribution from Hatcher. At least two deputies obtained “whistleblower” protections, Sgt. Jason Erickson and Lt. Erik Magnuson, documents show.  

The two Franklin investigators, captains Adam Diaz and Monty Huber, told the deputies that they were consulting with Raymond and could not assure that he was not sharing information with Hatcher.

The review documents sent to the Observer are attached to this post.  Investigators summarized their findings starting on Page 56 of the report.

In response to the administrative review, Erickson, who recently filed to petition for Hatcher’s recall,  submitted a complaint in Benton-Franklin Superior Court (No. 20-250460-11) to obtain records he said were not provided in earlier requests.   

Erickson asked for records of all communication between Hatcher and Raymond, and between Huber and Diaz and either Hatcher or Raymond.

Erickson had obtained an email written by Raymond to Hatcher, Franklin Prosecutor Shawn Sant, Franklin Chief Civil Deputy Jennifer Johnson, and Captain Ronelle Nelson regarding his public record request of April 17, 2020

In the April 20, 2020, email, Raymond refused to turn over the Administrative Review.  He accused FOP attorney Alan Harvey of being “up to his usual antics” and “his usual crap” in making a public record request to obtain a copy of the review. 

“We (FCSO) are not going to fulfill Mr. Harvey(‘s) request as this matter belongs first completed and placed in the hands of Sheriff Hatcher,” Raymond said in the email.

The complete Complaint can be read here.