October 23, 2018
Meeting was called to order by Matthew Rainwater at 7:30am. Kevin H. led the flag salute.
Dick P. moved to accept Oct. 16 meeting minutes, seconded by Kevin H. Motion passed.
Shenna announced VIMO is holding a sock and underwear drive and the ReDiscovery program is expanding to Sequim with a new community change agent. 40% of homeless are women between 60 & 80 living in their car.
Andrew May attended this past Chamber of Commerce board meeting (filling in for Kaj). He said the city increased funding for the visitor center and Marc Abshire is pushing for a new center. Mike French added that the tourism summit is provuded by the Chamber and will be Nov. 1 and 2. They are growing that segment of the economy through regional discussions. The ice rink might have curling demonstrations and a professional ice skater, and the Lincoln Theater will hold “Lincoln in the Rough” this winter with the owner wanting to create a non-profit community theater. Station 51 will not affect the rink and Marc secured the building next door for water and power.
Program: County Prosecutor Mark Nichols.
Matthew read an email from candidate Selinda Barkhuis saying that she is visiting family in the Netherlands for the first time since 2009 and to visit barkhuis.com to watch videos on her forums.
Mark Nichols stated his office now has a victim witness coordinator who assists with referrals, paperwork, interim housing, etc. They have expanded community outreach to answer questions and help citizens understand their role and he feels their workforce has stabilized.
Peggy asked how he feels about the role of coroner being combined with prosecutor.
Mark said in WA state, for populations under 40,000 he is required to be the coroner. Home rule charter in Port Angeles says this role is at no additional cost. The budget has ranged from $120,000 – $380,000 for the coroner’s office and he enjoys the coroner function.
Andrew M asked if coroner duties require little time and would it be wise to look at it as a separate position.
Mark said eventually the county will take a look at coroner related costs, and then they might reevaluate.
Dick P. asked how big the opioid problem really is and are we enabling it?
Mark said it’s a national problem that started with freely prescribing meds, that’s when the medical profession shifted. Now the nation is moving away from it due to awareness. We’ve created a generation dependent on or addicted to opioids and we need to shepherd this generation forward.
When asked what lessons he learned through this campaign to make him more competitive.
Mark answered he had to make a fundamental choice to have faith in the community. Information is disseminated in many ways and he had to try to get information out to discern fact from fiction. He enjoys doorbelling; people will respond and word spreads. He believes in taking the high road and having responsible behavior.
Mike F. asked where we are in relation to criminal justice reform, a national movement.
Mark stated the US incarcerates more people that any other country and we can’t afford to sustain it, and haven’t solved crime. A good example here is drug court to treat the underlying problem. He’s a strong proponent of mental health court and it’s important not to have overreaction. There are some who deserve to be in jail. Restorative justice makes the community at large whole. We have a sentencing reform act that determines punishment which is not in sync with restorative justice.
Matthew asked about community custody and being sanctioned to remain in the community.
Mark said in the Michelle Card case the toddler died and she took a deal by testifying against her mom. The plea deal includes her doing certain things to help herself. Alcoholism doesn’t excuse bad behavior and they take it into account at sentencing.
Jim McEntire asked about Selinda’s flyer he received at home and did she ask permission before quoting him.
Mark said it was a statement about her work as Treasurer.
Randy asked about mental health professionals, we are short.
Mark said he had a round table discussion with Wendy Peterson, OMC, Peninsula Behavioral Health and the Sheriff’s office where they talked about how each organization handles it. Local jurisdictions are bearing the brunt of lack of funding and they need a facility to accommodate up to 16 people for forensic treatment. State facilities are full. Can they create an alternative place to stay during the intervening period where this resource is needed. They should stop waiting for state to do something. The hospital remarked that out of 22 college nursing graduates they hired 18. Housing is an issue. People can’t earn a wage to buy a house, and they can’t find one at an affordable price.
Peggy asked if he foresees an abuse of medical marijuana now that it’s legal in Canada.
Mark said there is merit in medical marijuana. The real concern is to regulate it at the same level of purity and quality. We were sold a bill of good and dealing with the aftermath of legalized recreational marijuana. Law enforcement is forced to do more and never got money to beef up their ranks. The crime lab is backed up for blood draws. Colorado has high trafficking activity, they have to track metrics. Highway fatalities are skyrocketing, domestic violence is going up, people are combining pot with other drugs and alcohol.
In his 2nd term Mark said he would continue work on public safety, working together with other branches of government, mental health court, and will continue to use the coroner’s office to help with public health issues. He has documentation available for those who want to read it in relation to his opponent’s mailer.
October 30: District Court Judge – Dave Neupert and Susanne Hayden
Meeting adjourned at 8:30am.