Posted by: sweeneyblog | December 13, 2013

Friday Odds and Ends: PDC Fines and Farewells

Hello Readers,

It is time again for small, chewy bits of fun called the Friday Odds and Ends. So gird your hemp-swaddled loins and let’s dive in.

First on the docket, the Public Disclosure Commission (PDC). They dealt with two cases from Whatcom County recently, Ken Mann and the coal-funded PACs, SAVEWhatcom and Whatcom First.  Ken Mann had some sloppy filings left over from closing out his 2009 campaign books. I looked into this back in September and, while it was clumsy, I didn’t find anything grievously wrong. The PDC apparently agreed, giving Mann the equivalent of a slap on the wrist, fining him $300, but suspending $200 of that fine so the final charge is $100.

SAVEWhatcom: Fined!

SAVEWhatcom: Fined!

The SAVEWhatcom and Whatcom First situation was a bit more complicated. They repeatedly filed late reports, hiding for weeks at a time over $145,000 they raised and spent. It is unclear whether this was from incompetence or a deliberate attempt to hide their activities, although it should be noted that their treasurer was long-time professional accountant Orphalee Smith. The PDC found this to be troubling and levied a $4,500 fine against Kris Halterman, Chet Dow and Orphalee Smith, the financial officers of those PACs.

You can read the details of the accusations of both here. The decisions are not online yet.

Outgoing County Council members Bill Knutzen and Kathy Kershner had their final meeting last Tuesday. At the end of the night, all the council members (especially Pete Kremen) waxed poetic about Kershner and Knutzen’s contributions to the county and wished them well. You can find audio of the speeches here around the 2:00:00 mark.

Kathy Kershner

Kathy Kershner

Sam Crawford said Kershner was the “second best chair this body has ever had.” Carl Weimer didn’t miss a beat, “I appreciate that Sam.” Both Kershner and Knutzen expressed interest in serving on boards and commissions after they are done, but I was especially struck by Kershner’s eloquent closing speech.

Kershner described her time on the council as, “one of the most satisfying things I’ve done in my life.” She went on to say that the media and others have defined her for the last five years and she wanted to define herself. “I am a Christian woman, first and foremost. I’m a wife and mother of three.” She said she has every confidence that Barry Buchanan and Rud Browne will “do the job and do the job well.” She closed with an offer to, “sell the incoming members her book of tips on how to manage council member Brenner for a low low cost!”

Of all the local political figures I’ve covered, I have to say that Kathy Kershner is by far the most politically complex. I mean that in a positive way, her values, actions and ideas are nuanced and sometimes in opposition with each other, but I’ve always been impressed by her passion for public service. You can read my interview with her here.

What about Bill Knutzen, you say? While I disagreed with him about many issues (here for a start), he was always pleasant, positive and friendly. Also, he was by far one of the funniest council members. You can read my interview with him here.

Finally, my simple explanation of the Waterfront Redevelopment was a big hit. If there is another topic you would like me to tackle, send me an email here and I’ll do my best.



  1. I appreciate your “fair” comments about Kathy and Bill.

  2. My viewpoint on people who run for elected office is – they all need to be congratulated. It is pretty much a “thankless” job. Of course, I support people, generally Democrats, who bring to the office the values I agree with-ultimately, we need to practice democratic principles in our elections. Our biggest concern now is elections in the 42nd LD. Who will step-up to fill the State Senate and Representative positions? Anybody out there willing to “serve” at the State level?

  3. Riley, what is especially heartwarming is that the operative who filed the complaint against me, Chester Dow, is part of the gang who was fined $4,500. Even better is that during the course of our internal audit, we found that WAMU bank had mishandled one our 2009 deposits and credited $1,230 to the wrong account. Chase Bank re-credited the money to our account this year, which we put to good use. $1,230 credit – $100 fine = +$1,130 net gain.

  4. […] merely “probusiness”. When you raise over $150,000 from coal company subsidiaries and funnel it through a shell PAC (“Whatcom First”) so that you don’t have to list SSA Marine as one of your top donors on all your mailers and […]

  5. […] Second, it is a huge ethical conflict writing about Cherry Point without disclosing that SaveWhatcom has received hundreds of thousands of dollars from proponents of the Gateway Pacific Terminal. I realize I’m reaching here, asking for ethics from an organization that was so deeply unethical with its finances that it got fined $4,500 by the PDC for illegally funnelling campaign donations through bogus accounts. […]

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