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Potential SKIA annexation brings Angel, Brown head-to-head

Discussions about the possible annexation of the South Kitsap Industrial Area caused a tiff between South Kitsap Commissioner Jan Angel and Central Kitsap Commissioner Josh Brown this week when Angel accused Brown of misrepresenting the county’s position in discussions with third parties.

Brown countered by saying that his statements were misinterpreted, and that he did not state any part of the county’s position.

The issue first surfaced last Wednesday morning, immediately before the commissioners were due to discuss appointing a replacement for Kitsap County Auditor Karen Flynn.

Angel said she wanted to discuss “an important matter” that she said could not wait.

The dispute centered around county involvement in the proposed annexation of SKIA by the city of Bremerton. Angel said she had heard the county was in favor of the annexation, even though the scheduled meeting to discuss the matter has not yet occurred.

Angel and Brown seem to agree about the annexation itself. Brown said he wants more information before making a decision and Angel said the discussions need to go on between the Port of Bremerton and the city, without direct county involvement.

She thinks the annexation may provide the economic shot in the arm SKIA needs and that other agencies have not been able to provide.

Like Brown, she said she wanted more information.

Brown said that the premature release of information comes from other sources, perhaps the Port of Bremerton, which “is moving at light speed, and I don’t know why,” he said. “It seemed ready to dismantle the partnership between the city and county without discussion.”

Angel’s complaint — which she said has not been settled — is procedural, saying that Brown was having ”backdoor meetings with people in my district.”

Brown differs with this opinion, saying that he was “attacked for doing my due diligence.”

The difference centers around discussions with Port of Bremerton Commissioner Cheryl Kincer, first in a meeting with Angel in March and in a phone call with Brown.

During the meeting, Angel was silent and let county staffer Eric Baker do the talking.

The phone call to Kincer from Brown took place the day before she was scheduled to fly to China, at a time when she was admittedly overwhelmed by preparations for the trip.

The purpose of the call, according to both participants, was to schedule a time where the county and port commissioners could meet to discuss annexation.

This meeting is now scheduled for 10:30 a.m. Monday, April 14.

The differences arise from interpretations of what followed. According to both parties, Brown was making it clear that Angel did not speak for the county when it came to annexation, and that Kincer should not necessarily listen to a “minority” commissioner.

Brown said his use of “minority” alluded to the fact that one commissioner does not ever speak for the entire board. Angel’s interpretation — which was drawn from her conversation with Kincer and other sources — was more political; specifically, that Angel’s word meant less because she is a Republican on a board with two Democrats.

“It was odd,”

Brown, in turn, said, “Cheryl has been proven to be quite erratic.”

Brown and Angel also seem to agree that one commissioner cannot speak for the board, especially with regard to an issue that has not been decided.

At the meeting, Brown and Angel parried for several minutes and did not seem to be listening to one another, according to Kitsap Alliance of Property Owners Executive Director Vivian Henderson, who was in attendance.

Homebuilders of Kitsap County Government Affairs Director Teresa Osinski, also present, said the protocol seemed to be more important than the issue itself.

North Kitsap Commissioner Steve Bauer soon interrupted Brown and Angel, saying, “Sometimes we get so busy that we don’t have time to talk through some of these things before we act on them and there are people who are listening for what they want to hear.

“They may interpret something an individual says as speaking for the board,” he said. “We need to talk through these matters in the future, so everyone will be clear about our position.”

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