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Ex-port commish nearly arrested

Acrimony grows like a weed at the Port of Tracyton.

Former Tracyton Port commissioner, Walt Fitzpatrick, was threatened with arrest if he refused to leave the Thursday, Aug. 4 port meeting.

The threat came from county commissioner-appointed port Commissioner Gary Keenan, and was repeated by uniformed Deputy Sgt. Jon Brossel of the Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office.

A few minutes before, as voices were raised in anger — and before the meeting could even start at its scheduled 7 p.m. time — several deputies waiting outside were called into the Tracyton Library, where the meeting was being held.

More than two dozen residents attended the meeting in the small venue — more people than last week, which was more than the week before. The battle royale between an ex-commissioner who’d crowned himself president of the port board and two county commissioner-appointed port commissioners is drawing larger and larger crowds.

Fitzpatrick was elected commissioner in 2000, then found himself alone on the board as the other two commissioners left for various reasons. Using his interpretation of port bylaws, Fitzpatrick assumed the duties of the missing commissioners — including president — and called off all meetings for the rest of the year due to lack of a quorum. Ultimately, county commissioners appointed Gary Keenan, the owner of a local auto shop, as interim commissioner, then William Mooney, a shipyard worker.

Fitzpatrick was ousted by Keenan for failing to show up at port meetings Fitzpatrick had cancelled. Fitzpatrick refused to recognize the ouster, or that Keenan and Mooney were legally-appointed commissioners.

The port, created in 1928, has long suffered from the lack of a quorum due to its small size. It was inactive for decades, but in recent years has begun accumulating money from property taxes. The income has been estimated in the past at up to $70,000.

On Aug. 4, Fitzpatrick began yelling, “I will not be intimidated by you people. At some point you will find out I’m the president of this board.”

To which Keenan replied, only slightly less loudly: “You are out-of-order....”

Fitzpatrick compared Keenan and Mooney to “puppets” for the county commissioners. He said Keenan has County Commissioner Patty “Lent’s hand up your back” moving your lips. Lent attended the meeting.

Fitzpatrick swore to be back for next week’s regular monthly meeting, Thursday at 7 p.m., Sept. 11 to “chair” the session.

Keenan told him he was disrupting the meeting, and must leave or be arrested for “criminal trespass.”

There was a round of applause as Fitzpatrick gave in and left under his own volition.

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