This toon from Bob Englehart of The Hartford Courant tackles President Obama's use of executive orders.
The board of Island Transit needed to find someone above reproach, someone with an unblemished history, to lead the beleaguered agency forward, even if it’s only on an interim basis. Instead, the board went behind closed doors last week and chose a candidate for interim director who resigned from Community Transit in Snohomish County under the cloud of a bribery scandal 20 years ago. Kenneth Graska wasn’t indicted, but an audit report faulted his management style as autocratic and authoritarian.
Homelessness: on Whidbey Island it seems like a foreign condition, something that happens far away in busier or lesser places, not wholesome communities home to iconic state parks and charming waterfront towns. Yet, it’s real. Last year hundreds of people on the South End alone were sleeping on friends’ couches, in cars and even in camps in the woods. It’s estimated that 80 of them were children. Kids.
If the future is powered without fossil fuels, then the days of tomorrow may begin on Whidbey Island as soon as this month. At least in rural areas.
A colleague recently told me I’m “an old man at heart.” I remember thinking that I was “gruff” maybe, perhaps even “brusque” at times, but an old man?
As the saying goes, a little bit of bubbly never hurt anyone, but it sure can be embarrassing, as the Langley City Council discovered this week. Caught up in a spontaneous and celebratory moment, council members, city staff and members of the public inadvertently broke state law and violated Langley code with a Champagne toast to departing Planning Chief Jeff Arango during Monday’s regular council meeting.
November is the month of Thanksgiving. We have many things to be thankful for just in living on Whidbey Island. We also have things we appreciate that we need to actively guard, preserve, and cultivate. The quality of life here is why many people came here. Many people feel it is so extraordinary that it is worth investing their time, talents and treasure in preserving the safety, security, and peace of mind for ourselves and our friends, neighbors and family members here.
People contribute to society in different ways. Some do small things, such as shopping local or giving old clothes to Good Will, and others go big. Lucas Jushinski, a Freeland business owner, is the latter. This year he’s put his money where his heart is by extending $10,000 matching grant opportunities to three South Whidbey non-profit groups: Good Cheer Food Bank (twice), New Stories and most recently the Whidbey Veterans Resource Center in Bayview.
With decades of hard work, Island Transit grew from a veritable one-horse operation to an all-star transportation agency, one that shuttled thousands of riders across the county for years all for free. Then, in one fell swoop, it all came crashing down.
Elected officials are held to a higher standard than the rest of us common folk. It may seem unfair at times, but it’s true all the same, and none of those who have taken an oath of office can say they didn’t know that intense public scrutiny and demands for accountability, legitimate or otherwise, are part of the job. That’s one of the reasons Oak Harbor Mayor Scott Dudley has struck the war post and announced he’ll be visiting the home municipalities of Island Transit board members and lobbying for their resignations. But perhaps someone should remind North Whidbey’s raging bull of righteousness of that very same standard. Some transit directors may need to step down, but it’s not up to Dudley to decide who, not even in Oak Harbor — it’s the city council’s decision — and self aggrandizing displays of accountability are unbecoming of the office of mayor, in any town.
The state Auditors have finished their review of the Island Transit books for 2013 and confirmed there was no malfeasance. No money was stolen, but there was sloppy record-keeping and the previous management was not following standard practices in some important areas. Specifically, management of the cash-flow and documentation of the federal grant funds for the new building project in payroll and tracking inventory were of concern. The good news is the reductions in service earlier this year were sufficient to reduce expenses so Island Transit is operating in the black again and beginning to rebuild the reserve. Also a new financial officer has instituted proper record-keeping and begun a full review of internal controls to be sure best practices are being followed in all areas going forward.