Turns out the Clark County Fair isn’t the only place Ted Nugent has had to scratch off his concert schedule.
As we reported, Nugent was supposed to play the fair on Aug. 5, and the news of his show prompted Vancouver resident Troy Maxcy to start an anti-Nuge petition on MoveOn.org.
Within a week the Nugent concert at the grandstands had been canceled — but only because of a contract issue, according to fair manager John Morrison. Morrison explained that fair contracts signed with artists prohibit the performers from playing other shows within a certain distance and time of the fair. Nugent’s “Shut Up & Jam!” tour includes shows Aug. 2 and 3 at the Emerald Queen Casino in Tacoma. Morrison said he only learned of the Tacoma dates on May 1, when he went online to check ticket sales.
Had he known about the Tacoma shows, Morrison said, he would have never booked the “Cat Scratch Fever” singer.
Even if Morrison had canceled Nugent because of protests over Nugent’s right-wing political views, he wouldn’t be alone. The Couer d’ Alene Casino canceled Nugent’s Aug. 4 show, saying “his racist attitudes and views,” were not welcome after a blogger from the Southern Poverty Law Center called attention to the show.
There is some good news for Nugent fans yearning to hear “Wang Dang Sweet Poontang” (sample line: “She’s so sweet when she yanks on my meat”). On Tuesday, Aug. 5, the day he was supposed to play the fair, he’ll be playing at the Portland Expo Center.]]>
I follow “Overheard in the Newsroom” on Twitter, because it produces occasional gems:
This quote came to mind during a July 7 Vancouver City Council meeting, when councilors were discussing whether the three city council representatives on the C-Tran Board of Directors should vote to terminate a contract with TriMet regarding the operation of light rail. (The next day the C-Tran board ended up not taking any action.)
Here’s from the city minutes, which I’m using because it’s too painful for me to go back and listen to the discussion:
TRIMET CONTRACT RE: COLUMBIA RIVER CROSSING PROJECT LIGHT RAIL TRANSIT
Mayor Leavitt explained that C‐TRAN may discuss whether to explore terminating the contract with TriMet regarding CRC light rail transit due to some board members’ apprehensions that allowing the contract to remain active, although idle, could potentially mean the CRC plans for light rail could be implemented if conditions of the contract regarding that project design were eventually met. Council discussed at length the potential risks involved with seeking to terminate a legal agreement with TriMet vs. allowing the contract to sit dormant; the potential of the contract conditions actually being met and the actual viability of the contract at this point; and options for working in partnership with TriMet to determine how to move forward in regards to the viability of the contract. By concurrence, Council directed its C‐TRAN Board representatives to support working in partnership with TriMet to determine the best next steps with the contract and to not support any termination action that would result in legal action against TriMet or would incur a significant cost to C‐TRAN.
When Leavitt introduced the subject he laughed a bit, as if acknowledging he thinks it’s ridiculous people are pushing to kill a contract for what he called an “idle” project.
Idle? Is that what we’re calling it now?
Councilor Jack Burkman got into the details of the contract, which was specific to the Columbia River Crossing proposal. You know, the one that died in 2013. Then died again this year.
Councilor Anne McEnerny-Ogle said, “The question comes down to, ‘Is CRC dormant, or is CRC dead?’”
“As Councilmember Burkman pointed out, there are so many restrictions that need to happen before this contract is implemented I believe there’s an opportunity to ask TriMet to void the contract,” McEnerny-Ogle said.
“It sounds like Anne hit the nail on the head,” said Councilor Alishia Topper. “Is CRC dormant, or is it dead? That’s the million-dollar question.” A lot of resources went into creating that contract, Topper said, “and until that question can be answered with a definitive response, it seems premature to terminate it.”
Wait. That’s a million-dollar question? One that hasn’t been definitively answered?
Let’s hear from Councilor Larry Smith.
“The realist inside of me says that the CRC is dead … I don’t think it’s dormant,” Smith said.
Smith said his No. 1 priority is replacing the Interstate 5 bridge and he thinks the TriMet contract will impede progress to creating partnerships with people who opposed the CRC. But then his inner realist also tells him that Oregon won’t want a replacement bridge without light rail, so it’s no use trying to win over the anti-light rail crowd.
As noted in the minutes, the group agreed to suggest asking TriMet if the contract can be voided with no penalty. (I question the accuracy of the minutes, as I thought councilors wanted assurance there’d be no legal action against C-Tran for terminating the contract, not against TriMet, and Burkman was clear that he wanted no cost, not “no significant cost.”)
But the question, “Dormant or dead?” was answered only by Smith, or at least his “inner realist.”
I guess I don’t understand the meaning of the word “dead.” And that’s fine. The Board of Clark County Commissioners took it upon themselves to define integrity, so the Vancouver City Council can decide to define “dead.”
It’s been a rough couple of weeks at public meetings. First there was the Sieg Heil dude, whose Nazi salute set the C-Tran board on edge (yet elicited a smattering of applause among the audience, who were perhaps unaware that nowhere in the tenets of National Socialism is there mention of Bus Rapid Transit). Then at Tuesday’s Board of Clark County Commissioners meeting, a man angry at the commissioners’ inability to set a new policy on fireworks in unincorporated areas despite voter approval last year to do so repeatedly asked why they hadn’t tackled the issue yet.
The discussion became increasingly heated, as the man asked the same question — why haven’t the commissioners set a date to address the county’s fireworks policy? — repeatedly, over and over, often interrupting the commissioners. County attorney Chris Horne tried to smooth things over, but to no avail. The commissioners’ responses were also not suitable. So the man asked again, multiple times, pleading for them to explain their knuckle dragging in terms that even a 5-year-old would understand (all while pronouncing Madore’s name MAY-door).
At a certain point, the commissioners just shut down and start staring at him. That elicits a near apoplectic reaction from the man, who is hellbent on getting answers. Finally, the county’s Senior Policy Analyst Axel Swanson sidles up to the seated man like a bouncer at a bar ready to 86 him. The man finally gets up and returns to his seat, but only after delivering one of the most mind-bending back-and-forth conversations I’ve witnessed between the commissioners and a citizen.
Below are two versions of the exchange. The first is a best-of video; the second is the full version.
As a local government reporter, I’m so numb to writing about ridiculous amounts of money, millions and millions of dollars, the money doesn’t seem real.
But $20,000? That’s the same amount my husband and I have saved up, over months and months and months, for a home remodeling project. I suspect other people have an easier time imagining what they could do with an extra $20k than they could playing the If-I-Won-Powerball game.
Twenty thousand isn’t enough for you and your spouse to quit your jobs and buy a vacation home in Hawaii and fly your friends and families over for parties. (And then ruin your life because everyone keeps asking you for money.)
But for most of us, $20k is a nice chunk of change.
On Monday, I went to a Vancouver City Council workshop on phase 2 of the West Vancouver Barracks remodeling project. (Unlike the remodeling project my husband and I are planning, this one will cost millions.)
The city has been working on the West Barracks since the federal government approved the transfer and allocated some money for renovations. The West Barracks are among city-owned properties in the Vancouver National Historic Reserve, and are managed for the city by the Fort Vancouver National Trust.
In 2002, the council voted for a plan to renovate the buildings, and the plan included a hostel.
Seriously, a hostel?
Probably because the buildings are old, excuse me, historic, they figured they could lure some thrifty young twenty-somethings into staying there. Or maybe the train of thought didn’t even reach that station, because I’m not convinced city officials at the time even knew what a hostel is. Hint: Hostels are located in big cities that young people actually want to visit. Since they are traveling on the cheap, they need access to good public transportation.
Hostels are not in suburbs that tout attractions like the Old Apple Tree.
How could ANYONE have thought a hostel was a good idea, let alone all seven members of the council? I wasn’t covering the city then, but I’m told the idea came from a city official who was ever the optimist.
An updated report prepared for the Trust by E.D Hovee & Company, shared with the council on Monday, includes this sentence: Based on two separate feasibility studies, it was determined that reuse of this building as a hostel was not financially feasible.
I asked Jan Bader, the city’s program and policy manager, how much those studies cost.
The first study was in 2001 by Hostelling International’s Pacific Northwest Region, Bader said. The only cost was from people to travel from Seattle to check out the site, and city records don’t indicate that the travel was paid for by the city, she said.
So, that’s fine. Invite some people to check out the place and after they politely say the numbers wouldn’t pencil out, move on. Except, no. Because, well, I’ll just let Bader say it in her own words:
“Given the Council directive for hospitality use, the City commissioned a more formal hostel study in 2002 which was done by Hovee at a cost of $20,056. When the Historic Reserve was created by Congress in 1996, federal funds were authorized to get the work of developing the site started. The hostel study was paid for from those federal funds. The results of the study showed that a hostel wouldn’t pencil out as a stand-alone operation, even if all the tenant improvements were done for them. The study also reflected some concern about whether there would be sufficient interest in Vancouver as a travel destination that would appeal to the hostelling audience,” Bader wrote in an email.
Wow. Spending $20,000 for a study on an idea you’ve already been told is bad?
Oh well, it was only federal money, right?]]>
Commissioner David Madore is living by Mark Twain’s old adage that one shouldn’t let the truth get in the way of a good story. In a Facebook post Monday, Madore spreads a baffling rumor about Scott Campbell, publisher of The Columbian.
You see, the commissioner received an anonymous note the other day. It said that the boat owner who’s causing all of the bridge lifts on the Interstate 5 bridge was Campbell. Now, instead of thinking, “Hmmmm, this sure is unsubstantiated. Logic would dictate that a business owner would have better things to do with his time than take his boat out for a joyride during the middle of the day for the express purpose of causing a bridge lift,” Madore decided to use the letter as the basis for a blog post.
Perhaps I’m biased on the matter. After all, Campbell’s name appears at the bottom of all my paychecks. But this does not appear to be a responsible or ethical use of a political platform. Madore expounds on the letter, musing, “If driver frustration can be maximized, they can be manipulated to cry for a resurrection of the CRC Light Rail tolling boondoggle as false hope to do something even if it does more harm than good.”
He ends the post with a passage from Luke 16:10: “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.” While that verges on tautological thinking, there is a smattering of truth to it, even if it’s kind of irrelevant to the discussion. I mean, if we’re cherry picking Bible passages, doesn’t it also say “You shall not spread a false report”?
I asked Campbell about his boat, and he was all too happy to share.
He said his boat causes at most two bridge lifts a year. These typically occur during the springtime, when runoff causes the river to rise and, hence, elevates his sail’s mast. It’s not uncommon for sail boats to cause bridge lifts, especially during times of high water. His vessel, which looks similar to others cruising the Columbia, is not alone in causing lifts. He’s certainly not causing any right now because his vessel is currently moored near Seattle.
The Columbian has also received tips about “problem vessels” that regularly cause lifts. So we looked into whether the rumors were true. We have a public record from the Oregon Department of Transportation that lists the names of everyone who has called in a lift during a particularly bad period of time. There are no repeating names on the list.
But, hey, as Polly Hicks writes in Madore’s comments, “Hmmm…. if true, isn’t that interesting?” Indeed, but the operable word is “if.”
Two months after announcing four possible names for its proposed bus rapid transit line, C-Tran has picked a winner. Vancouver’s BRT system will be known as “The Vine.”
The Vine beat out three other candidates — The Vibe, The Voyage and VROOM — in a survey of 157 people. Respondents were asked to rank the four choices, and gave feedback specific to each name.
Asked about The Vine, 44 percent of people said they either liked or really liked the name, compared to 29 percent who didn’t. Another 27 percent responded with a resounding “I’m neutral.”
For all three of the other names, more than half of respondents said they either didn’t like or really didn’t like it, according to the survey.
The results were sent to C-Tran board members last week. The board voted this month to commit $6.7 million in local funds to BRT, making the project all but a done deal. “The Vine” could open in 2016, according to C-Tran.
The survey results reveal some interesting pros and cons raised with the four names, which were largely panned in this newsroom when first announced.
The Vine scored points for evoking greenery, leaves and branches, seen as emblematic of the Northwest. Heck, it may also resonate with those who view high-capacity transit as an invasive species.
The Voyage “sounds too much like a long journey,” according to at least one response. VROOM was dismissed as childish. The Vibe was deemed catchy, but it “sounds like a nightclub.”
The Vine wasn’t without drawbacks of its own. A few people noted that it shares its name with a video-sharing service, and a jail reporting system. (Insert joke about transit riders here.)
Here’s one measuring stick: Could you envision someone, in an actual conversation, saying, “I’m going to take (name) downtown” in two years? The Vine may sound more natural by then.
At least they didn’t go with VROOM.]]>
As reported, Vancouver city officials have been researching whether they pay their employees enough money. They did a study and (surprise!) found in many cases, they don’t, at least according to compensation data from about 20 cities and six counties in Washington and Oregon. Non-union employees received received salary adjustments, then the city council voted to give City Manager Eric Holmes’ salary a 17 percent boost and represented groups will be next.
You’d think it’d be all flowers and chocolates at City Hall, right?
According to this email from Ron Fredin, morale among union employees is at an all-time low. Fredin, a street supervisor in public works, serves as president of AFSCME local 307VC, one of the city’s unions. Fredin emailed Mayor Pro Tem Larry Smith to invite him to a July 23 labor meeting. (The email was provided to me as part of my standing public disclosure request; Smith forwarded the email to Holmes on June 16, asking, “What is up?”)
Subject: AFSCME union meeting?
From: “Fredin, Ron” <Ron.Fredin@cityofvancouver.us>
To: “Smith, Larry” <Larry.Smith@cityofvancouver.us>
Mayor Pro Tem Larry Smith,
AFSCME, local 307VC would like to invite you to our next union meeting on July, 23rd 2014. Mayor Leavitt will be attending the meeting as well. AFSCME local have many concerns about the City of Vancouver and the direction it’s going with union labor! The meeting will be at OPS or Teamsters hall on Andersen Rd. at 4:45 pm (I will let you know as soon as I know). The local ask for the Mayor and Mayor Pro Tem, and are looking forward to talking to the both of you. Just a heads up!! Labor morale is at an all-time low! I can say as well in my 33 years with the city it’s not looking very good for labor!
AFSCME local 307VC, President
Here’s Holmes’ response:
Sent: Thursday, June 19, 2014 3:13 PM
To: Smith, Larry; Leavitt, Tim
Subject: RE: AFSCME union meeting?
I am not exactly sure but will venture a couple guesses (I have copied the Mayor here as he was also invited to join): Compensation and classification: as you know, we have been working on a fairly comprehensive update to the City’s classification and compensation system. The City has not historically had a true classification system – position classes were set by individual positions as opposed to being set in the context of an overall system. In some cases this resulted in people being classed based on what their supervisor or manager through they should be paid, not on what their actual job responsibilities were. The classification system effort is intended to realign all jobs based on what they actually are responsible for and how all positions work together in a
The other item may be compensation and, in particular, the market study that has been ongoing. Council is aware that we have begun to make market adjustments to non-represented employees based on current market data. We have begun bargaining with several labor units (not AFSCME yet – they have not given us e demand to bargain) and as wages are a mandatory subject of
bargaining, we are addressing market based adjustments at the table with those units. In 2011, AFSCME signed an MOU with the City that pretty clearly states that while we will share info on market study results, we are not obligated to bargain the results until the next contract. Here’s a link to the contract on our website (the MOU is around page 68).
It’s been over a decade since we have really looked at our class and comp, and it is causing some anxiety. I am committed to staying relevant to our market comps within our ability to pay, and bargaining these at the table is how we will address it. It may be worth noting that during the depths of the City experiencing the recession (2010 – 2011), our non-represented folks had a true
wage freeze – no wage adjustment at all (no merit, step or market/COLA), while eligible members of AFSCME and other non-public safety unions continued to experience step increases. During this same time, non-represented employees took on a larger share of their health insurance premiums as well, while union members contributions remained static.
Last issue I suspect is budget. The framework I recommended to Council keeps things pretty much status quo for staffing but for converting public safety grant positions to baseline. Streets and grounds are understaffed. No real way around it. And the folks we have do a phenomenal job with what they have. But as you know, my focus – affirmed by Council – is on sustainability of a
structural solution, not making short term decisions that make our long term financial outlook worse.
I must admit to some frustration – I have reached out to Ron a few times earlier this year, as has Jill, to set up a time to meet regularly, with no response. He attended a labor management committee just last week with HR but did not say a word. We have literally no grievances pending across the whole City except for a few technical time loss issues in Fire. I have a healthy respect for Ron and his role with AFSCME (and the work he does here for the City); I’d appreciate if he showed the same respect in return. I spoke with him yesterday briefly on the phone and now have a coffee set up with him for next week, and I look forward to that conversation and getting the open dialogue going again.
Let me know if I can provide anything else -
Eric J. Holmes | City Manager
CITY OF VANCOUVER
As I laid out in my story Wednesday about the board’s decision, that county needs to do more research into what extent newspapers contribute to stormwater pollution.
Legally, the county has to show a connection between newspaper litter and stormwater pollution and a cost associated with it. That wasn’t explicitly spelled out at Tuesday’s hearing, however. While Environmental Services Director Don Benton has claimed he has proof that newspapers contribute to pollution — costing hundreds of thousands of dollars, he’s claimed — no evidence has been presented publicly.
As previous stories have detailed, this isn’t the first time the county has attempted to charge newspapers a fee or tax and struggled with the legal restrictions in doing so. In 2011, Mielke proposed the idea of levying a tax on newspapers. That decision was swiftly swept under the rug after Bronson Potter — the county’s former chief civil deputy prosecuting attorney, now an attorney with the city of Vancouver — concluded that the idea constituted an unlawful business and occupation tax. Local jurisdictions are, generally speaking, not allowed to pass those.
Below is a photo of the email Potter sent clarifying the law, at the request of former Commissioner Marc Boldt.
Potter declined to comment about the county’s most recent attempt to charge newspapers a fee. But he did say the previous proposal was merely a blip on the radar because it was so clearly illegal.
Obviously, that won’t be the case with the current fee proposal. The county plans to readdress the matter next year.
Looking ahead, it will be interesting to see how the county’s stormwater pollution study shapes up. The findings will undoubtedly face plenty of scrutiny, in particular among attorneys. Attorneys I’ve spoken to — and there have been several — say they’ve never heard of such a fee anywhere, not just in Washington but nationwide.
Back in the day, Facebook was a convenient way for college kids to post photos of themselves at parties drinking themselves sideways. It was like an ontological study of creative quaffing practices and entitlement. It came with an added benefit. The next day, friends could go online and be all like, “BRO, partie (sic) was epic!!!! But next time more Natty Ice Just jokes, dude, Lol.” And then everyone would grab a couple hours of sleep so they could make it their 10 a.m. class, The Birth and Death of Stars (where attendance was mandatory – ugh).
I remember those days! Not to sound like an old timer, or, perhaps more befitting of my age, a young-ish timer, but back in the day you needed a college email address to have a Facebook account. Not anymore. Now, any Tom, Dick and Harry with the ability to fog a mirror is on Facebook. And that means things have gotten political and, well, self-promotional.
If there’s a local figure who epitomizes Facebook’s shifting demographics and how it’s used, roughly a decade after its creation, it would be Clark County Commissioner David Madore. He practically owns stock in Facebook (for all I know he does). His posts appear daily and typically highlight some political or county activity he’d like to promote. And when he’s not posting, he’s responding to comments at all hours of the day. It’s not uncommon to see him online at 2 a.m.
Many of his critics also claim that he has banned them from his Facebook feed after they disagreed with him. Madore has said he only bans people who are being discourteous. Obviously, that’s subjective. Among those who have seen their comments disappear is former Commissioner Betty Sue Morris, who said she simply pointed out factual errors in Madore’s post before he laid down the ban-hammer.
For his part, Madore has said his motivation for his machine-like social networking is simply to inform and engage citizens. There is no clear evidence that’s the best tactic to take. According to a study published last year in the International Journal of Communications, “most politicians online are, in fact, largely ignored by the electorate.” The study found that most politicians and most people rarely connect online.
So just how much time does Madore spend at work on Facebook, his preferred form of communication? Some enterprising folks have sifted through the commissioner’s Internet records during a range of days and graphed his time spent on the social network. These people clearly have a shockingly large amount of free time on their hands. Then again, the commissioner also spent three whole hours on Facebook on May 30, the day he wrote a post about the county Assessor’s Office completing property valuations early. On average, during this time, he spent an average of 52 minutes a work day on Facebook. These findings aren’t evidence of any wrongdoing — some might argue it’s a good thing the commissioner spends so much time on outreach, even if it’s one-sided — but they are nonetheless interesting.
My takeaway, though, is that I don’t know if I’ve spent that much cumulative time on Facebook in the past year. Maybe it’s a generational thing.
For several months now, the projector at C-Tran board meetings has displayed the same message during public comment. It warns people against using loud, disruptive or threatening behavior.
The regular warnings started last fall, when the board approved the infamous light rail contract with TriMet. The resulting fallout included a “Unite Against Tyranny” rally complete with at least one pitchfork.
Bus rapid transit has become a hot-button issue in its own right. Tuesday’s C-Tran board meeting on the subject drew plenty of impassioned testimony, but speakers remained civil. Then this happened:
After standing for the entirety of his testimony, a man ended his comments with “Sieg Heil!” as he appeared to make a Nazi salute toward the board. Then he turned around and walked out of the room. (In the video, that’s the conduct warning on the screen behind him.)
The gesture made more than a few people in the room uncomfortable. It also drew a smattering of applause.
“You clap at that?” Ridgefield Mayor Ron Onslow told the crowd. “I don’t understand. That’s ridiculous.”
I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again: Remember when C-Tran meetings were boring? Me either.]]>