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.

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 17 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.

One appointee decided not to 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 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).

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].

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.