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Citizen accuses councilmembers of meddling in LTAC process
A Port Orchard resident accused two councilmembers and a current Port Orchard City Council candidate of attempting to change and influence distributions during the process of the Lodging Tax Advisory Committee in 2012, during residents comments at the Oct. 8 meeting.
Resident Gil Michael noted during the past several year a pattern has developed of trying to influence the process of the Lodging Tax Advisory Committee to disburse funds.
He cited a statement from Councilman Jerry Childs during the Sept. 17 council work session regarding this year’s LTAC recommendations.
During his eight-minute speech, Michael held copies of emails obtained from the city. He claimed Councilman Jerry Childs appeared to provided Kim Punt — a city council candidate — his recommendations prior to a September 2012 LTAC meeting.
Residents comments are limited to three minutes each for items not up for public hearing, according to the agenda.
According to the emails obtained, Michael claimed that Punt leaked the final results of the LTAC meeting to Childs and Councilwoman Cindy Lucarelli.
Michael claimed the emails indicate that Childs and Lucarelli, and former Councilman Jim Colebank and City Attorney Greg Jacoby met at Childs’ home prior to an Economic Development and Tourism Committee meeting. He claimed Lucarelli set up the meeting.
He also claimed the city attorney billed the city for the meeting, but did not charge the city from a September 2012 billing statement.
“All these things happened before the LTAC results were officially presented to the council,” Michael said.
Also, Michael noted another of his concerns was the alteration of an official document to mislead a councilmember.
Before last year’s council meeting regarding the Lodging Tax, he said Punt sent an email to Childs and Lucarelli an email about the LTAC recommendations. Michael also claimed that Childs sent the same email to Councilman Rob Putaansuu with some alterations.
He said the email would be turned over to the city clerk and asked the council to investigate the matter.
After the meeting, Childs noted that all council committee meetings are open to the public.
“We were trying to put together a recommendation, because the recommendation that came forward from LTAC was the raw recommendation from the citizens’ group,” Childs said. “We were going into discussions with the council. That is what we are asked to do by the RCW.”
He said the Economic Development and Tourism Committee was trying to make a recommendation to the council concerning police overtime during events. The state Legislature has allowed police overtime to qualify for Lodging Tax money.
“I am on the council and I am supposed to be responsible to what is being put forward,” Childs said. “I was putting forth ideas to share with the council, and I did.”
Last year, Childs said his concerns came out during an open council meeting and that what he thought the LTAC amounts should.
“As members of the council, we bring ideas to our fellow councilmembers,” Childs said. “Councilmembers may bring their recommendations after they have talked to other councilmembers. This is normal give-and-take and presenting our opinions.”
Childs noted Visit Kitsap received about $17,000 in Lodging Tax money two years ago, then it was cut down to about $6,500 in 2012 and no money was recommended this year by LTAC.
“They (Visit Kitsap) continue to do better and better work for us, rather than worse,” Childs said. “There is policy being set by a non-elected committee on what the city will put forward for marketing money.”
Childs said the city markets itself, along with the Port Orchard Bay Street Association, the Chamber of Commerce and Visit Kitsap.
“I’m just making recommendations,” said Childs, a former chairman of Chimes and Lights.
Lucarelli responded to Michael’s comments Wednesday.
“As council members, we’re charged with the responsibility by the RCW to review the recommendations put forth by the Lodging Tax Advisory Committee,” said Lucarelli. “In this case, that’s all we were doing. Not sure why that’s a problem.”
Citizens respond to councilmembers’ comments
Also during citizens comments, resident Nicole Vaught voiced her concerns about comments made in the Port Orchard Independent by Childs and Lucarelli about the Sept. 24 meeting.
“By their comments to the newspaper, with their own interpretation of the truth on what happened, spun all the way up to concerns on safety,” Vaught said. “It is totally inappropriate if not absurd.”
KT Arthur said she also was concerned about the comments made in the Independent by Childs and Lucarelli.
“Comments like this in the paper harm reputations,” Arthur said.
She requested the council to show the video of the Sept. 24 meeting at the next council meeting so the public can understand at what point councilmembers felt threatened.
“Yes, I slapped the podium,” Arthur said. “I was making a point. I wanted to make sure people were hearing my concerns.”
Arthur said she didn’t feel people who spoke during citizens comments were out of control, emotional or presented any safety concerns.
“If this is the type of behavior we are to expect from certain councilmembers, I believe resignations are in order,” Arthur said.