Port of Tracyton still seeking a quorum

The Port of Tracyton is a political body in search of itself.

Recently appointed port commissioner Gary Keenan, was the only commissioner to show up at a July 10 port meeting.

What is supposed to be a three-member board of commissioners has suffered from a lack of a quorum, off and on, for several years. With no quorum, there can be no action taken to pay port bills or spend the port’s $70,000 taxpayer-generated general fund.

Relatedly, elected commissioner Walt Fitzpatrick had his 600-page allegation of criminality against public officials involved with the port, thrown out as frivolous by Jefferson County Prosecutor Juelie Dalzell.

Fitzpatrick, had filed a criminal complaint with the Kitsap County Sheriff’s office. Chief of detectives Mike Davis then filed a report with Kitsap County Prosecutor Russ Hauge who sent it to Jefferson County for a legal ruling to obviate any doubt on conflict of interest.

Prosecutor Dalzell told the CK Reporter via phone message July 9 “I have sent back to Mr. Hauge the complaint. I found nothing criminal in the 600-pages-or-so of allegations. I told him (Hauge) that there were a lot of allegations, but there was nothing even corroborative of evidence” of crimes.

The complaint included allegations against the Kitsap County prosecutor, county auditor, county commissioners and others — about 20 people in all.

Ever since his election in November 2000, Fitzpatrick has been trying to dismantle the port from the inside out. Lately, he has declined to go on record when speaking to the press.

Fitzpatrick has also stopped attending meetings, claiming as board chairman, he has cancelled them for the rest of the year.

“I was appointed to attend meetings,” said Keenan. “So here I am.” Keenan opened the July 10 meeting at 7:12 p.m. and adjourned at 7:21 p.m. Before, during and after the brief meeting, there was informal discussion between Keenan and a handful of district residents.

“What’s the reason to have a port...?” asked district resident Roger Page, before the meeting began. “Isn’t it to build up business and help the community?”

Resident Bob Heistand pointed out that the port commission hadn’t “blown” its money on junkets and conferences, the way certain elected bodies do.

“The money’s still all there. So it’s not hurting anything” to not have a quorum, said Heistand.

“I just wish Mr. Fitzpatrick would show up so we can appoint another commissioner... or at least have a quorum so we can take actions on things such as the meetings debt to the Tracyton Library — $440,” said Keenan. The port’s official meeting place is the library.

“I believe Fitzpatrick can be (ousted),” said Pat Wright, another resident of the district.

Page nodded his head and said it’s his belief that if a commissioner misses two meetings in a row without showing just cause, “he’ll be in violation of the port’s bylaws, and can be legally replaced.”

Keenan then recorded the “official” portion of the meeting.

“We can act on nothing since we have no quorum today,” said Keenan. “We’ve been having informal conversations before the meeting on what can be done. It’s my understanding the (county) commissioners are working at appointing another (port) commissioner.”

Since Fitzpatrick “cancelled” all meetings indefinitely, this could result in an all-appointed quorum on what is supposed to be an all-elected board — at least until appointed commissioners can be voter-confirmed at an upcoming election.

Meanwhile, citizen Wright said, “It’s now up to (county) commissioners to appoint another (port) commissioner to achieve a quorum. They can invite Fitzpatrick to come, if he doesn’t, they can oust him for not attending.”

Page and Wright are both in Fitzpatrick’s District 3. If Fitzpatrick is ousted, both Wright and Page indicated interest in Fitzpatrick’s position.

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