Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

"Pullman council takes applicants for Ward 3 seat"

I'm hoping some good candidates step forward. From today's Moscow-Pullman Daily News:
The Pullman City Council has opened an application process to fill its vacant Ward 3 seat.

The council decided at its Tuesday meeting to accept applications for the position briefly filled by Devon Felsted after the November election process. Felsted formally resigned from the position by letter Dec. 28, due to a conflict of interest.

The Ward 3 application period is officially open as of today. Applicants must be registered voters, a Pullman resident for one year prior to appointment and reside in Ward 3, which encompasses Pioneer Hill and portions of College Hill. Interested individuals should submit a letter of application and answer a set of standard questions. Copies of those questions are available in the mayor's office in Pullman City Hall.

The application period will close at 5 p.m. Jan. 31.

The council will interview candidates and choose a new member at its Feb. 5 meeting. The new Ward 3 council member will take the oath of office the same evening.

Felsted, president of Pullman Disposal, was elected to the position before it was realized he had a conflict of interest. Washington code of ethics statutes pertaining to municipal officers restrict a city from working or exchanging money with an elected official on a business level for more than $18,000 per year. The city's trash bill with Pullman Disposal is about $45,000 per year, even though the two agencies do not have a binding contract per se.

Pullman Disposal is the only licensed solid waste disposal company for the city and its outlying area. Though Felsted is not a major stockholder, his parents, Bill and Val Felsted, own the company and, in planning their estate, put stocks into a trust for their five children. This trust is considered a beneficial interest and both direct and indirect beneficial interests can be conflicts.

In other business,

The council continued its discussion regarding a potential rental property program, aimed at maintaining quality rental units throughout the city. In past meetings, the council has juggled a handful of options to ensure the safety of rental units for area tenants. The solution that has been discussed most includes instituting a mandatory rental inspection program, similar to that of a 1997 Pasco, Wash., ordinance that was held up in the court system on the grounds that it may be unconstitutional.

For now, the council has decided to abandon any mandatory inspection programs and proceed with other options, such as emphasizing the existing voluntary rental inspection program, supporting a Washington State University off-campus housing office and focusing energy on improving problem properties.

Councilman Keith Bloom said something must be done quickly, as the rental market will not correct itself.

He said as long as there are apartments they likely will be occupied - despite the conditions - especially in a college town.

Bloom said the emphasis should be on instituting a program that would identify the owners of all rental properties. He supports some kind of registration program, if only for the sake of knowing who owns what property.

"At least we know who they are," he said. "If we know who the property belongs to, we can start solving problems."

WSU Executive Director of Real Estate Operations and External Affairs Mel Taylor said the university is working to set up an off-campus housing office.

"The idea is a good one and we should do it," he said.

The council will continue to discuss the issue at a public meeting scheduled for March 4.


WHAT HAPPENED: The Pullman City Council has opened the application process to fill the vacant Ward 3 council seat.

WHAT IT MEANS: Residents living in Ward 3 - which includes Pioneer Hill and a portion of College Hill - are eligible for the position. Applicants also must be more than 18 years old, a registered voter and have been a Pullman resident for one year before appointment. The application period is open until 5 p.m. Jan. 31. The applicant should submit a letter of application and answer a set of standard questions. Copies of those questions are available in the mayor's office in Pullman City Hall.

WHAT'S NEXT: The council will interview applicants during a public meeting Feb. 8. The new Ward 3 council member will be sworn in the same evening.

WHY YOU SHOULD CARE: For those who reside in Ward 3, this council position is intended to represent their best interests.


April E. Coggins said...

How can the city not know who owns the property? Who are they sending the water bills to? In the rare case that the tenants are paying the water bill, the county assessors office has property owner records on file, easily accessible.

April E. Coggins said...

Doesn't Michael live in Ward 3?

Michael said...

I do, but I'm only interested in one political office - absolute dictator. I'd be benevolent of course.

April E. Coggins said...

Michael: In that case, you should consider running for mayor of Moscow.