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PFD denies conflict of interest
"The mere appearance of fairness in conducting public affairs is so important that the Municipal Research and Services Center of Washington publishes a 37-page document outlining rules of appropriate behavior.Recently, members of the board of the Kitsap County Public Facilities District (PFD) - Cary Bozeman of Bremerton in particular - came under fire by Bremerton resident Helen Miller for violating the Washington Appearance of Fairness Doctrine.Miller pointed out at an Aug. 18 PFD meeting that Bozeman, the executive director of the Olympic College Foundation, works for Linda Niebanck, who is a member of the Olympic College Foundation board.Niebanck is also president of McCormick Woods Co., which is among four applicants seeking PFD sales tax funding for a new regional center. Miller further pointed out that Bozeman is running for mayor of Bremerton, which also has submitted a conference center proposal to the PFD.Bozeman has acknowledged his relationship with Niebanck, according to PFD spokeswoman Terrie O'Neill - it was reflected in the minutes of the July 16 meeting.Miller replied, Anybody can do that, if it went to the court I don't think it would stand. He's never recused himself on (current Bremerton Mayor Lynn) Horton, he's running against her.John Morgan, president of the Kitsap Bar Association, said no laws have been broken because Bozeman doesn't have a personal financial interest in either matter. Bozeman promised he can be fair and impartial, regardless of his personal association with the hopefuls. He added that although the PFD has not retained legal counsel, he contacted several attorneys on his own about the matter, including the Bellevue city attorney. Bozeman is a former Bellevue city councilman and mayor. The PFD was scheduled to vote to retain legal council at its Aug. 27 meeting, which occurred after the Reporter went to press.There are some tough decisions and I think I should do what I was appointed to do. I feel very comfortable, Bozeman said.O'Neill said she thinks Bozeman is being targeted because he is running for a public office.It's too small of a world, O'Neill said. I think Cary is being picked out because of the mayoral race - he's in a high-profile position right now and people are squeamish about it.Rick Smith, PFD president and a Silverdale attorney, agreed that Kitsap County is small, and some conflicts are bound to appear.Another of Miller's concerns is that Cris Gears, director of the county Parks and Recreation Department, is an advisor to the PFD board. The Kitsap County Fairgrounds, which is operated by Gears' department, is another of the four applicants for the sales tax rebate. The Parks Department hopes to make improvements to the Fairgrounds.Cris has has less involvement since the application was submitted by the Fairgrounds group, O'Neill said. Prior to that he was (more) involved, (but) since then we have kept his role more formal. It makes sense for the appearance of fairness. "