News

County PIO among positions to be eliminated

By CHARLIE BERMANT

Kitsap County writer

Personnel cuts in Kitsap County government have now become personal, as faces are attached to the trimmed jobs. Among those will be the county’s designated spokesman Clarence Moriwaki’s, whose job will be eliminated at the end of the year.

“I really like Clarence and what he was accomplishing,” said Public Works Spokesman Doug Bear. “He was doing a good job.”

Moriwaki, 52, was hired in April to fill two roles — provide information and analyze policy. This included dealing with the public and the press and providing issue-specific research to the county commissioners.

The position paid $67,766 per year, taking up a healthy chunk of the $170,000 the commissioners’ office was required to cut.

County Administrator Nancy Buonnano Grennan said Moriwaki’s responsibilities would be divided among existing staff members.

Grennan will assume much of the policy analysis, assisted by Eric Baker and Angie Silva.

Bear, who has worked as a public information officer at the county since 1991, will manage much of the media contact, with the remainder divided between the commissioners’ individual assistants.

Grennan said the current assistants have experience in writing and Web design, and will be able to use these skills to compensate for Moriwaki’s absence.

Kitsap County Sheriff’s Deputy Scott Wilson also will provide backup and everyone will chip in during an emergency, Grennan said.

What the public and the press will lose is a single point of contact, where they can go to learn anything about county government.

“The public information officer provides a way for people to access goods and services,” Bear said. “The public needs to know about what we offer.”

County Clerk Dave Peterson said a robust public information department is necessary when a county grows to a certain size, but Kitsap County is on the borderline of that need. For that reason, such positions will be cut when the budget situation becomes acute.

“A lot of the people in individual departments wonder if this isn’t something they could just do themselves,” Peterson said. “Although, when the county gets big enough, the public needs to have one place they can go with their questions.

“I’m not sure that Kitsap is quite big enough to need that,” he said. “So when they cut the budget that is the first thing to go.” 

South Kitsap Commissioner Jan Angel said she does not expect the quality of the message to change when there is no full time PIO.

“I don’t think this will change the way we do things,” she said.

While the PIO job has been cut, the commissioners did approve an extension to the contract for lobbyist Sharon Wylie, who will earn $4,166 per month for the first three months of 2008.

She is charged with representing Kitsap County’s needs with regard to the state Legislature.

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