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Port of Tracyton has head of steam

Who’s at the helm at the Port of Tracyton?

Walt Fitzpatrick, senior commissioner of the Port, has apparently had a change of heart and has scheduled two upcoming meetings.

For several months previously, Fitzpatrick has made no secret of wanting to dismantle the port, cancelling all port meetings through the end of the year.

Port bylaws allowed him to assume the presidency when two other commissioners, Roy Anderson and Steve Hoffman, left the board. Fitzpatrick was elected in November 2000.

The board is supposed to have three voter-elected commissioners. At least two commissioners — either voted-in by the electorate or appointed to fill a sudden vacancy — are needed for a quorum.

County commissioners, led by Central Kitsap Commissioner Patty Lent, appointed Gary Keenan to the port board in May, theoretically creating a forum.

However, Fitzpatrick continued to miss meetings.

But via phone call to the CK Reporter on Friday, July 18, Fitzpatrick announced a special meeting for July 31, 7 p.m., at the Tracyton Library, to examine the legitimacy of Keenan’s appointment. The agenda, according to an e-mail received July 21, includes:

l “Challenge to Mr. Keenan’s ‘appointment’ by county commissioners and public statements regarding the lawfulness of any future county ‘appointment’ to the board of the Port of Tracyton,” according to the meetings notice issued by Fitzpatrick.

l “Comprehensive Plan discussions.

l “Review of applications and possible selection of a District 1 volunteer who will be tasked to support Mr. Gary Keenan....

l “By copy of this notice, and separate letter, Mr. Gary Keenan is offered an opportunity to construct and present a formal written business plan detailing proposed future operations for the Port of Tracyton.”

Although Fitzpatrick still declines to be quoted directly by local newspapers, he said this policy may change, depending on port coverage. He has indicated that the last agenda item above is to allow Keenan to prove the port deserves to continue as a taxing agency — or be dissolved.

When contacted July 21, Keenan said he had yet to receive notice of the July 31 meeting. Previously, Keenan had announced the next regular meeting of the port will be held Aug. 14, the second Thursday of the month, at 7 p.m., Tracyton Library.

Fitzpatrick also announced this date. It’s unclear whether either commissioner fully recognizes the other as legitimate.

Keenan has pointed out that according to bylaws, any commissioner who has missed meetings for more than 60 days, unexcused, is automatically dropped from the board.

He was referring to Fitzpatrick, who has missed three regular meeting dates. But Keenan also said, at the last port meeting, July 10, that he’s willing to invite Fitzpatrick to the Aug. 14 meeting, and see if he shows.

According to port bylaws, however, it’s possible none of Keenan’s last three meetings were legal. No action was taken at the meetings, which were informal in nature.

Keenan said he will be at both the July 31 and Aug. 14 meetings.

Meanwhile, Kitsap County Commissioner Patty Lent is asking Tracyton residents living in the port’s District 1 to apply for appointment to what is supposedly the last vacant position on the port board.

She hopes to have a volunteer appointed by Aug. 11. Those interested can contact the county Web site, www.kitsapgov.com/volunteer/frmbrdapp.htm. Or call Jan Koske at (360) 337-4650, or e-mail her at jkoske@co.kitsap.wa.us. Applications will be accepted until 4:30 p.m. Aug. 1.

“It’s a hopeful step,” said Lent about Keenan and Fitzpatrick agreeing to meet. “If there’s any kind of cooperation, I hope they can come to some conclusion.”

Lent said she hopes for a strong public turnout to show support for the port.

If Keenan and Fitzpatrick can agree to each other’s legitimacy on the board, it would then be up to them to appoint the third port commissioner. County commissioners would be excluded from the process.

Appointed commissioners must be confirmed by the electorate at the nearest upcoming election.

Auditor and county elections official, Karen Flynn, said appointed commissioners and others interested in the port positions (districts 1 and 2) must file between July 28-Aug. 1. Call (360) 337-7128 for more information.

The port has collected $70,000 in taxes. Fitzpatrick recently had 600 pages of criminal allegations thrown out as frivolous by Jefferson County prosecutor Juelie Dalzell. In those allegations, Fitzpatrick named a host of Kitsap County officials who are involved with port business.

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