Rutledge stymied at port commission meeting

POULSBO — Port Commissioner Jim Rutledge said his objection to Commissioner Arnold Bockus’ appointment is about the process, not the person. His persistence to address this process frustrated the rest of the commission at their last regularly scheduled Board of Commission meeting Feb. 2.

Commission Chair Tony DeCarlo and the port’s attorney, Greg Norbut, maintain that nobody qualified applied — the only other applicant lived outside the port district, therefore there is no conflict of interest.  However, Rutledge pointed out he doesn't think Bockus was qualified at the time. In December Bockus was a sitting candidate, and until his term for Position 3 expired on Dec. 31, was not eligible to take on Position 2.

DeCarlo called the situation “a circus.”

“At the last meeting [Jan. 5] we determined what we felt was done legally and proper,” he said.

Rutledge was backed by an opinion by Scott Woelfle of the State Auditor Office, who, citing state code, said “It does not appear that a current commissioner could be appointed to fill a vacancy until after the current term of office has expired. Further, if that position remains unfilled after 12/31, the appointment would be made by the two commissioners then in place (one current, one newly elected).”

Many members of the public spoke out in support of Bockus and DeCarlo’s decision to appoint him.

“Bockus is best and most competent commissioner we’ve ever had,” tenant Rodney McVicker said, adding he wouldn’t want a commissioner that had to be cajoled to apply after a three-week application period.

However, a few residents listened intently to Rutledge’s information, and also asked the commission why they were not taking the information from the State Auditor Office into account.

“Bockus is the most level-headed person on the commission,” one resident said. “But it's not about him, its about the process. I want to see the laws of this state followed.”

DeCarlo said the port has a legally seated position.

“The only way I guess things are going to change no matter what is a court case," he said.

Rutledge said the commission’s position is unfortunate, as he wanted to ensure the legal process was upheld on behalf of the port district’s residents. He would not bring up the issue again unless new information emerged.

Dan Sytman, deputy communications director for the Attorney General office, said opinions usually take about 60 days to complete.

The commissioners also attended to regular port business at the meeting. Rutledge brought up a few discussion topics the commission agreed to look into further — supporting annexation on the ballot, despite the “tough sell,” and a port-sponsored Christmas Market. The port will also be working on updating the Comprehensive Plan, and is working with the city on updating the Shoreline Master Program.


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