Letters for the week of July 31

Jul 31, 2013

The Beacon does not condone name calling in letters to the editor. We let one slip by from a reader who disparaged two councilmembers, Kevin Stoltz and Steve Schmalz. We regret the oversight. –Ed.

Who is the ‘greater fool’?

Editor, The Beacon:

Paul Archipley’s article in the July 24 Beacon about a possible new city bond to finance the purchase of 98 acres in Japanese Gulch contained an amazing revelation [“City mulls 2nd gulch bond measure,” front page].

I find it astonishing that after all the noise about saving the gulch at a price of $6.3 million, the Japanese Gulch Group never bothered to get an independent appraisal. Is the plan to pay any price asked, and send the bill to the taxpayers?

The citizens of Mukilteo already own the most scenic and accessible parts of Japanese Gulch, the 11.4 acres between Mukilteo Lane and 5th Street and 16 acres on the south side of 5th street at the lower end of the gulch.

The Japanese Gulch Group would now have us connect the dots all the way up the gulch to 76th Street and 44th Avenue W. Haven’t we reached the point of diminishing returns in Japanese Gulch?

The Japanese Gulch supporters should be commended for the work they have accomplished in the existing lower gulch. They can take pride in the lower gulch trail to Mukilteo Lane, the existing loop trail, new dog park and parking lot south of 5th Street.

The undeveloped upper gulch trail, with its tree roots, rocks and steep slopes, will need some serious work to match the finished trail in the lower gulch down to Mukilteo Lane.

How much will the taxpayers pay for those improvements? Do we even know the total cost of the complete project the gulch group has planned? What will it cost to maintain a 124-acre park and trail system?

What really raises my blood pressure is how this small group can show up at City Council meetings and get a new tax on the ballot time after time. Eventually, they get enough voters to buy into their hype and headlines, sans facts and details, and we taxpayers get the bill for a project most of us will never use.

Someone has already been the “greater fool” by paying too much for an undevelopable piece of land as evident by the fact that the gulch property is in bankruptcy.

As a Mukilteo taxpayer, I’m not interested in becoming the second fool. It’s time for the Japanese Gulchers to switch to decaf.

Robert Lowery,

Mukilteo

Mayoral candidate elimination

How do you decide whom to vote for?

Having lived in Mukilteo 43 years, being on the City Council twice, and attending more council meetings than anyone, I have a few thoughts about the candidates.

A few years ago, Joe Marine appointed friends to constitute a salary review committee, with council approval. They recommended his salary be substantially increased to full-time mayor status, a position that had been part-time while supervising a highly-paid, full-time city administrator.

Joe’s salary and benefits are far above what all other mayors of Snohomish County cities our size receive.

Joe wanted to demolish old Rosehill and build a new community center.

He got it with $18 million in payments over 20 years.

His deficit spending reduced previous large city reserves while promoting new taxes and increasing existing taxes.

Recently, he approved a building permit to double Diamond Knot’s seating that required an easement on Lighthouse Park to meet the building code. He started to bring that to council’s attention after construction was completed, but “pulled” it from the agenda.

State Parks felt the private easement was not permitted by terms of the park transfer to Mukilteo. The easement request has not been discussed by council. Non-compliance with the code continues.

Jennifer Gregerson voted for all of Joe’s major projects and requests. She was elected the first time because of substantial support from Friends of the Community Center (FOCC).

Jennifer regularly participated with FOCC, a community group that spent time and money to determine that former Rosehill could be restored and upgraded to code for millions less than the $18 million now committed to pay for the new Rosehill.

After being elected, Jennifer switched to support Joe, who wanted the new community center with emphasis on weddings. Jennifer pushed for a citizen advisory vote, delaying the restoration decision.

With that opportunity, Joe mailed a slick brochure showing a new building with a gym and features similar to the existing community center that resident surveys emphasized were most important.

Joe wrote in the Voter Pamphlet that a new community center vs. restoration would cost no additional taxes.

With that pledge, a very small turnout of voters narrowly voted to build a new center.

In 2009, Jennifer moved to demolish Rosehill and issue bonds for a new building, paid with future tax revenue.

Jennifer never communicated with FOCC prior to her 180-degree turnaround from supporting FOCC’s findings. New Rosehill has no gym or some of the other amenities that were promised.

Steve Schmaltz with his wife Christine operates a small business. Steve has a business degree. He has been on the council since the last election and frequently attended council meetings prior to that.

He understands the financial manipulations, deficit spending and frequent new taxes, which Joe Marine promoted with Jennifer Gregerson’s support.

Steve has tried to reduce expenses, but some hardcore spenders continue to find more ways to spend and tax.

Steve has a lot like about his understanding and commitment to community needs. Most important to me is being able to trust what he says.

Charlie Pancerzewski,

Mukilteo

Firefighters endorse Jennifer Gregerson

As professional firefighters, our goal is to work toward a more responsive, efficient and progressive Fire Department and to provide the highest level of service to the community we serve.

We feel Jennifer Gregerson is the candidate that embodies these very same goals, and as mayor of Mukilteo will work toward a more responsive, efficient and progressive government.

Her compassion and commitment to the community is without question. This dedication for the community is why we feel Jennifer is the best candidate for mayor.

She has proven her dedication and leadership with her 10 years of service on the City Council. She is committed to public safety, and fought to bring paramedic service to Mukilteo.

She has led the way to improve fire and EMS in Mukilteo by thoroughly exploring regionalization. As a life-long resident of Mukilteo, she cares deeply about the issues that affect the community.

Mukilteo deserves a leader who is honest and has integrity. Mukilteo needs a mayor that listens and explores all options to make informed decisions. The candidate that offers all of these qualities is Jennifer Gregerson.

Kyle Tate,

President, IAFF Local 3482

We support Joe Marine

Judith and I love Mukilteo! We love the city and its people. We love telling outsiders that we live in Mukilteo, north of Seattle, with ready access to the best the Pacific Northwest has to offer.

My family really likes Joe Marine and the great city staff. For the most part we like the City Council, except for Steve Schmalz and Kevin Stoltz, two guys bent on turning Mukilteo into a mediocre city after their own image. They have no positive agenda.

We love the Farmers Market and Lighthouse Park, that wonderful Rosehill Community Center and Japanese Gulch. Thanks, Joe Marine, because if not for you these would not be here for us.

And our special thanks to City Administrator Joe Hannan and Finance Director Scott James. They do the heavy lifting for us all under Joe’s leadership.

We need Joe Marine for four more years!

Jim and Judith Underwood,

Mukilteo

Help shape Mukilteo’s future

Mukilteo is a city in reasonably good shape thanks to the overall direction it has taken in prudently managing revenue and developing an overall vision.

Not all of this goes to the credit of any one person, nor did it just begin yesterday or, indeed, a decade ago. It has been a succession of leadership and those willing to wade in and shape a future that goes back to the city’s roots.

I spent a dozen years on the Mukilteo School Board and, while appreciating the work of city leaders, I also had some bad experiences with successive administrations and city managers. The city typically dealt with the Mukilteo School District in a high-handed fashion.

In 2002, the then-mayor and City Council president came after us demanding we allow them to use the Rosehill property for a new City Hall.

In 1977, the school district had turned the property over to the city with a 50-year proviso requiring the Rosehill property serve community recreational needs.

The city took the school district to court for a legal “clarification” – a lawsuit – to assert its right to do what it pleased with the property. The city leadership was testy with the school district for not rolling over and playing dead.

Fast-forward a few years and there is another egregious example.

For some time, the city and school district had been in earnest discussions about resolving the traffic flow issues at Kamiak High School. The need for a driveway out to the street near Chennault Beach Drive to alleviate daily traffic jams at the school in the morning and afternoon had to be corrected.

They decided the best option was to split the $500,000 cost to build the road that now exists. However, the project didn’t move forward because the city was reluctant to put forth its half of the cost.

Continued growth in Mukilteo – fueled by a combination of the economy and the demand for a Mukilteo School District address – caused the district to have to add yet another portable classroom to accommodate the bulging-at-the-seams Kamiak campus.

When the school district sought city permits to build the portable, the city said the district would have to build a new driveway on its own dime.

I don’t hold anything against city leaders for their actions I’ve disagreed with over the years – after all, I, too, understand governing isn’t always easy.

I also understand how local government cries out for new revenues to provide services just as schools do. What I do take umbrage at, however, is the my-way-or-the-highway attitude that I’ve seen from city leaders.

It’s time to elect a new mayor who won’t take that approach when dealing with the key organization that not only educates our children, but has served as the de facto parks and recreation department in many respects.

I encourage voters to cast their ballots for Jennifer Gregerson as our city’s next mayor. She understands that the relationship between city and school district is too important to waste.

Kevin Laverty,

Mukilteo

Marine is committed to Mukilteo

Mayor Joe Marine demonstrates what is lacking in politics today: integrity, humility and balance. I have known Joe for a decade, extending before his mayoral bid. He has not changed since election to office.

He is gentle, has a mild demeanor and acts according to his convictions, not based upon the whims of public opinion.

In the last edition of The Beacon, Dr. Casselman repeated in several forms that “… fear (of Joe) rules in City Hall” [“Values in public office (Joe must go),” Letters, page 5, July 24]. He gave no proof. In medical practice we are moving toward evidence based medicine.

A treatment needs to be shown to be effective in order to have merit and earn recommendation by the medical community.

The evidence that Dr. Casselman gave of the mayor’s abuses was simply a list of decisions that Dr. Casselman disagreed with. No resignations of councilmembers, no hushed voices in the halls, no evidence of stress-induced disorders among staff.

I attended a potentially rancorous meeting of the City Council and Joe was nothing but a gentleman, with the councilmembers showing no evidence of fear as the mayor wielded the gavel.

The accusation dictatorial behavior must be supported by evidence; otherwise it is simply churlish character assassination.

Mr. Stoltz has been entertaining us with his bilious letters of contempt for the Mayor for several years. In his typical fashion, Mr. Stoltz argues that Joe is taking us to Armageddon, whereas the challengers all walk on water.

Mr. Stoltz describes Mukilteo as a “mediocre little city and transit hub,” a ringing endorsement of the people Mr. Stoltz was elected to serve [“Time for Marine to move on,” The Beacon, Letters, page 4, July 24].

Contrary to his arguments, our little backwater serves as the home of entrepreneurs in telecommunications, aerospace and other significant areas of service and manufacturing which are actively courted by Joe.

Joe is dedicated to the people of Mukilteo. He left a successful position in business to step down to a $37,000 per year part time job. To make ends meet, Joe’s wife began working.

Many past mayors in Mukilteo showed up 1-2 days per week and the progress of the city matched their effort. Yes, he is now making $70,800 but he is also working fulltime on behalf of the city.

Joe is not power hungry – if he were, he would not be seeking another term in Mr. Stoltz’s “mediocre little city.” Joe lives here, works here and has raised his children in Mukilteo; has is vested in our community.

Agree or disagree with Joe Marine if you choose to over his actions as our mayor, however, do not misrepresent the man.

You will not find one more committed to the community of Mukilteo, nor will you find a man of higher integrity in public office.

Chris Beard, MD, PhD,

Mukilteo

Another failed attempt

Dr. Scott Casselman, or "Dr. Dolittle," and his grandiose attack on Joe Marine are bogus! It's obvious he doesn't know anything about real leadership and speaks for the community like a "silver spoon."

The only thing that's been "lost" in Mukilteo is Casselman's own failed attempt for City Council.

Luckily, we already have a leader that is working hard for this city – Joe Marine! And I know Joe. He has what it takes and will always be there when we need him.

Cyndi Nordstrom,

Mukilteo

More than 900 visit garden, quilt tour

“People were in constant state of smile” was the comment made by Jane Chrumka, a new volunteer to the Mukilteo Garden & Quilt Tour.

The good weather was a factor, but the real credit for our success goes to the very generous and talented owners of the seven garden locations around Mukilteo who opened their private retreats to more than 900 visitors on July 20 and 21.

Two gardens in this 2013 tour were at the homes of Mukilteo Way Garden Club members, but the other five were Mukilteo residents with no affiliation to a garden club and have a green thumb of their own, each so unique in the gardens they have created.

We cannot thank them enough for their time and their efforts, so please let us publicly say a sincere “Thank You”!

Visitors came from near and far for the opportunity to view the combination of gardens enhanced with scores of traditional and contemporary quilts created by the talented members of the Mukilteo Lighthouse Quilters.

We were able to spread the information about this event because of the generous backing of the city of Mukilteo, with grant money that came from both the Community Support Fund and the Lodging Tax fund. We gratefully acknowledge the city’s support!

Sincere thanks also go out to our very generous sponsors – Gallery Homes, In Harmony Landscaping and Evolution Homes.

Local retailers Ace Hardware, Barbara’s Floral, Mukilteo Art & Frame and Papa Murphy’s kindly helped us sell tickets here in Mukilteo, while garden and quilt stores outside of town did so, as well.

Many wonderful raffle items came from local retailers, hotels and private citizens (of which the winners have all been notified).

We so appreciate the more than 85 volunteers who were in the garden locations answering questions about the quilts and the gardens, and who were also ambassadors for our community by helping visitors get around town, finding places to eat and drink, learn about this area, and enjoy our Mukilteo community. Thank you all!

See you again in 2015! 

Jean Skerlong, on behalf of

The MGQT Planning Board,

Mukilteo Way Garden Club,

Mukilteo Lighthouse Quilters

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