Friday, February 29, 2008

Council Agenda: Mar. 3, 2008

Remember the council can amend this agenda (i. e. add or delete items) at the beginning of the meeting.

Ruston Playfield

The WR Rust Playfield has evolved into an off-lease dog park in recent years. Last year, a dog attacked a deer in the park and the deer had to be put down. It was an upsetting event for neighbors in the area.

The mayor responded with a proposal to install a fence along the outside of the field so there would be a fully enclosed area for dogs to run, which was approved by the council (at the same meeting the proposal was presented). There was concern at the time that not enough public notice was given to this action that essentially codified the change to an off-lease dog park.

Ryan Kress, chair of the park committee, said they are looking at installing the fence and improving the drainage this year. The park committee is hoping to meet the second Saturday in March and/or April. You can contact Ryan for more details at

What are your thoughts about the park? About the change to a dog park? Any memories you'd like to share?

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Commencement Condo/Ruston Lawsuit Update

Ruston's council has been fighting The Commencement condo group over the use of their sales center for over a year. The Commencement offered to pay $24,000 for rent in 2007, but the council refused to accept the offer and chose instead to try to force The Commencement out of their space at the Ruston school building by issuing an unlawful detainer. The Commencement contested that action and the trial was held yesterday.

At 9:07 today, Judge Katherine Stolz reached her decision. Paul Wagemann of The Commencement group reports that judge found that The Commencement has not violated their lease, and does not owe rent (now or in the future). They are not required to remove or abandon their sales center. It is likely that no only will the town have to absorb their own legal fees, they will have to pay for any reasonable legal fees that The Commencement incurred defending themselves.

Mr. Wagemann expressed their continued willingness to work with the town. He felt they had made good faith efforts in the past to work with Ruston's leadership. Mr. Wagemann is available to talk to any concerned resident at 627-4367.

The News Tribune has a note on their political blog as well.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Too Soon

In the midst of all the political fighting, loosing a neighbor can remind us of the fragile and precious gift we have as a community. Such is the case this weekend when our friend and neighbor Karen Hoover died on Sunday. She was much too young to leave us, but gave greatly to this town during her time in Ruston.

Karen served for many years as a planning commission member, helping to shape the Master Development Plan for the former Asarco site. Dan Wombacher, who served with Karen for over a decade, had this to say: "She was a pleasure to serve with and always kept an open mind... She served the Town well."

Karen often attended council meetings and community events and gave selflessly of her time to this town. Her brother, Steve Taylor, has worked for the town for many years.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to her family ~ as well as a heartfelt thank you for sharing Karen with us with us over the years. We will miss her greatly. May her legacy live on in a vibrant and healthy Ruston for many years to come, thanks in great part to her efforts.

UPDATE, Feb. 27th: I was struck by a comment from Hans (Karen’s husband) today about one of her character traits; that of kindness. Kindness is more than a word or a gift ~ it is in our actions. It’s treating each other with kindness. Sometimes it’s as simple as not responding to an unkind act directed at us. That’s the kindness Karen demonstrated, he said.

It is a concept I know I need to take to heart in the midst of our current political climate. I am grateful for another example of how Karen impacted this community, and how we can carry her memory forward in a positive way.

Fire Chief’s Recommendation

Here are some details about the engine the fire cheif has recommended to the council. He has been able to get the price reduced to $35,000, to include delievery and having our logo added:

1989 Beck Ottawa Pumper
Stock #616

6V92TA Detroit diesel engine - 350 HP – with turbo Allison HT740 automatic transmission
Darley 1250 GPM mid-ship single stage pump
500-gallon stainless steel tank
357.8 pump hours
7,486 engine hours
51,976 miles
50-gallon fuel tank
2 – 1 ½” Crosslays
1 – 1 ½” front bumper crosslay
2 – 6” pump inlets
2 – 2 ½” pump inlets
6 – 2 ½” pump outlets
4 – Left side compartments
1 – Rear transverse compartment
4 – Right side compartments
5 man cab with jump seats
2 – SCBA seats
2 – SCBA holders
3 – SCBA compartments
2 – Door w/ jump seats
Elkhart Model 829 deck gun with quad stack tips
Lime green with white upper cab
Slide out tray for generator
1 – 24’ extension ladder
14’ roof ladder
10’ folding ladder
Skull saver
Rear flood lights
2 – Collins FX12 telescoping lights
2 – Cab mounted spotlights
Code 3 XL light bar
Side strobes
Rear beacons
High beam flashers
Unitrol Model 280K siren
100W speaker
Federal Q2B siren
Kussmaul auto charge and auto eject
David Clarke intercom system
Dual bumper mounted air horns
Driver and passenger Bostrom air ride seats
2 – Chargers for stream light black flashlights
2 – Chargers for orange flashlights
2 – Wheel chocks
1 – Inlet ground base
1 – Streamlight light box
1 – David Clarke headset
1 – Hose clamp
One set of manuals
2 – 2 ½” double male adapters
2 – 2 ½” double female swivels
Akron 6” x 4 ½” butterfly valve
4 wheel disc brakes
2 – Stage Jacob's engine brake
Michelin 12R22.5 tires
Alcoa wheels
Power steering
GVW – 38,400
Front GVW – 14,400
Rear GVW – 24,000
Wheelbase – 167”
Height – 9’ 3”
Length – 28’
Width – 8’ 6”

Pumper is in very good condition

Asking price $47,500.00

Monday, February 25, 2008

Council Meeting ~ Feb. 25, 2008

Highlights of tonight’s meeting include:

  • Council Member Hedrick was concerned about several items placed on the agenda with no information provided by council members by Council Members Albertson and Huson. Albertson said he would discuss the issues when they came up on the agenda.
  • The new police chief, Sharon Reese, was sworn in. The mayor thanked Sgt. Kunkel for his good work as acting chief.
  • The police and fire department monthly reports were presented. Among other things, the police are looking at working with other small communities for using prisoner labor to clean up alongside streets. The fire department had 4 medical aid calls in January. The residency program is beginning soon. The first resident is scheduled to move in to the house next to town hall in mid-March. This program will provide increased fire department coverage and was strongly recommended by the fire committee study.
  • There was information presented on two more fire engines the chief has located. He recommended one in California that is well-equipped. Funding for the purchase will be on the agenda for the council meeting next week.
  • The council approved a handicap parking space in front of the Kirkevold home on Shirley Street. The handicap shuttle has have trouble finding parking when picking them up because of the nearby condo development.
  • Council Member Albertson removed a couple of items from the agenda (contract for forensic accountant and amending council rules). The issues will be discussed in detail at upcoming study sessions. A schedule of study sessions and topics will be decided at the meeting next week.
  • Council Member Albertson and Stebner authorized themselves to meet with a “former employee” who is alleging misconduct by the mayor. Since this employee has retained an attorney and has indicated he will be suing the town, the mayor felt it was unwise to meet privately with him and overstepped the legislative authority of the council. He will ask the town attorney to research whether such a meeting is legal and for the council to engage in personnel matters in this way. He asked that the council to abide by whatever the town attorney advised. The town attorney encouraged Albertson and Stebner to have the town’s legal counsel present at the meeting. The motion passed 3 to 1 with Council Member Hedrick voting against the motion, which did not include any provision for the town attorney to attend.
  • Council Member Huson then removed his agenda item about the fire truck. Huson stated he was satisfied with the presentation and information presented by the fire chief during his report.
  • The council approved moving forward with hiring an attorney that specializes in employment and labor issues. Rather than fight with the council again about a choice of attorney (as had happened with the town’s defense attorney) the mayor asked the council to decide who he should choose for this work. The council asked the mayor to pursue a contract with Mr. Wingerbougher (I have no idea how to spell the name).
  • Bills and payroll were approved with one question about why the town was paying attorney fees to have the town’s interests watched regarding the escrow on the Commencement project.
  • During mayor’s time, Transue asked the council to consider having a facilitator come in to help the council and community work through long-range planning issues. A supplemental budget will be needed, and this item could be included.
  • He suggested that the Marcott financial study be discussed at a study session soon. Mr. Marcott could give a presentation. Alberston felt the study confirmed that the Commencement development was not necessary for the town’s survival, but that there was clear need for the Point Ruston development.
  • During public comment, there was quite a bit of discussion about the cost of town planning services for Point Ruston. Mr. Cohen, owner of Point Ruston noted that the recent public comment period on the SEPA yielded 47 comments, 44 of which were very positive. He felt the official comment from the Town of Ruston was negative and not supportive of the project.
  • One audience member felt we need to have a reserve maintenance person available and the budget should be amended to cover that cost. She noted that Steve Taylor had to work yesterday even though his sister had just died.

A Visitor

We had a visitor wander through Ruston unseen over the weekend. The Tribune is reporting one of the white foxes from the zoo made a daring escape, but was captured on the other side of the tunnel.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Bring on the sun!

All this sunshine has me hankering for summer. Here is a recipe for Ruston Peach Crumb Pie and Cinnamon Ice Cream, using Ruston, LA peaches of course. Enjoy! ~ Karen

Friday, February 22, 2008

Point Ruston LID Proposal

Here is the hand out the Point Ruston provided at the last council meeting:

Ruston Town Council Presentation
February 19, 2008

1. Why does Point Ruston want to form Local Improvement Districts in both Ruston and Tacoma to complete the realignment of Ruston Way, the Baltimore Street connection and a new Yacht Club Road?

Local Improvement Districts are a desirable financing tool that allows capital improvements to be paid for over a longer period of time and at a lower interest rate than is generally available for commercial construction. Being able to use a LID makes it much easier for Point Ruston to support completing the realignment of Ruston Way in both jurisdictions at one time rather than breaking it into phased construction and phased financing.

The City of Tacoma is working on the formation of a Local Improvement District to address Point Ruston street and utility improvements located within the City of Tacoma, most notably the realignment of Ruston Way.

Point Ruston is asking the Town of Ruston to consider forming a Local Improvement District to complete certain street and utility improvements to be built within Ruston’s jurisdictional boundaries.

2. What will the proposed Ruston LID project consist of?

The Ruston LID would result in (a) the realignment of Ruston Way for that portion of the arterial located within Ruston, (b) completion of the Baltimore Street connection between Ruston Way and the alley serving homes facing 49th Street, and (c) building a new street (“Yacht Club Road”) from Ruston Way to Metro Parks’ property on the peninsula.

Improvements in Ruston would include utilities, “1 ½” roundabouts on Ruston Way and bike lanes, sidewalks & landscaping on Ruston Way, Baltimore & Yacht Club Road.

The improvements in both jurisdictions total right at a mile and a half in length:

Ruston LID
Ruston Way Realignment 1,155 LF
Baltimore Street to “49th St. Alley” 1,675 LF
Yacht Club Road 1,965 LF
RUSTON TOTAL: 4,795 LF Ruston (60%)

Tacoma LID
Ruston Way Realignment 1,870 Linear Feet
Baltimore Street from “49th St Alley” to 46th St: 1,305
TACOMA TOTAL: 3,175 LF Tacoma (40%)

GRAND TOTAL: 7,970 LF Total

3. When would the LID projects start and how long will they take to complete?

The construction of the utility and street improvements would take around 18-24+ months to complete after the formation of the LIDs and the public bidding process.

4. What is the estimated cost of the Ruston & Tacoma LIDs?

Total construction costs for improvements in both jurisdictions are estimated at approximately $12-$16 million with $7-$10 million being spent in Ruston and $5-$6 million in Tacoma. The cost to form and administer each LID would be additional expenses rolled into the separate LIDs for Ruston and Tacoma.

5. Who pays for the proposed LIDs?
Point Ruston would be responsible for the total cost of the proposed LIDs in both jurisdictions because the improvements would directly benefit Point Ruston’s property.

6. Ruston Way runs through two jurisdictions. Do adjacent jurisdictions ever coordinate LID formation and construction of improvements?

Each jurisdiction would have to form a separate Local Improvement District. However, it is not unusual for smaller jurisdictions to contract with a more experienced jurisdiction to administer an approved LID. The administrative fees incurred when contracting for LID administration are rolled into the LID financing and are repaid by the benefiting property owners -- Point Ruston in this case.

7. What is the proposed schedule for forming the requested Ruston LID?

The City of Tacoma is tentatively scheduled to form their LID summer 2008, subject to completion of the environmental review process and Council consideration. Point Ruston respectfully requests Town Council consideration and approval of the proposed Ruston LID on a similar schedule.

Contact Information:

Ralph Rodriguez, LID Administrator
City of Tacoma
747 Market Street
Tacoma, WA 98402

Hugh Spitzer, Bond Counsel
Foster Pepper & Sheffelman PLLC
111 Third Avenue, Suite 3400
Seattle, WA 98101-3299

J.J. McCament, 253-219-7962,

More Information

Trouble in the Other Ruston

Ruston, LA has its troubles, too.

Financial Report Commentary

For a short report, this one packed a lot of meat. Others will see different issues, but here are some points that I found interesting:

  • The main point is we need the Point Ruston development to survive. From the report: “Simply stated, it does not appear that Ruston is financially viable without the Pt. Ruston development.” That means we should be doing everything we can to make this happen NOW – not throwing up roadblock after roadblock. I know we need to find balance and be reasonable, but that’s just the point; let’s get reasonable. Right now the Town is making the process too costly and taking way too long.
  • The Current Expense Fund is loosing money annually. Just a note, utility funds pay for themselves from user fees, the majority of the rest of town services are budgeted out of the Current Expense Fund. Right now, about 32% of that fund comes from property tax, which has a voter-approved growth limit of 1%. Local inflation is at about 4.5%. Not a good combination. We gain a bit from new construction, but until both the Commencement and Point Ruston developments are built out, this fund is not self-sustaining. The good news is that once those developments come on-line, we cross that threshold without tax increases (at current service levels).
  • Administrative functions (both people and facilities) are currently stressed. We had a wonderful opportunity to build a new town hall facility at the school, but it has gotten lost in the squabble between the mayor and the council. Maintaining our current staff, with their institutional knowledge, is vital. Yet the non-uniform staff just unionized. I think that’s because they don’t feel they are being treated fairly and valued. Again, not a good combination at a critical time. This appears to be yet another point in the mayor/council squabble.
  • It didn’t look like the report considered the positive impact of the Stack Hill development, unless it part of the ‘construction’ growth. That would bring needed tax dollars sooner than Phase 1 of the Point Ruston development.
  • It doesn’t look like the study author had read the fire committee report. The fire committee addressed his concerns about emergency medical/ fire services and needed growth (and financing of that growth). Police services need to be analyzed, but we moved to 24-hour coverage in the last few years. That’s a big step (and costly) that has already been made.
  • The study notes that periods of growth for municipalities require some up-front costs that are recouped after the growth has slowed. For instance, new infrastructure cost hit but are paid over time with increased property values. Ruston currently has no debt, but there is proven business wisdom to use debt to maximize growth periods. The report outlines some great financial polices, including some for using debt to our advantage.
  • One of the revenue sources the report discusses is increasing the tax for our current small businesses. Our current businesses operate on a shoestring as it is. We need to encourage them, help them grow as a way to increase our tax revenue, not throw an additional tax burden on them.
  • One final note – I can’t believe we still haven’t figured out how to use the Harbor Improvement Funds. The question has been around the 20 years I’ve been watching – let’s get moving on that one!
Those are my initial thoughts. What do you think? ~ Karen

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Analysis of Ruston's Financial Condition

The Association of Washington Cities assisted Ruston with a study of the town's current financial condition. Steve Marcotte was the consultant hired for the study, which was completed on Feb. 8th. The full text is available at Ruston Reports.

More Lawsuits

In case you didn't know, The Commencement (condos) is contesting the unlawful detainer that the Town of Ruston issued for their use of a portion of the school building for their sales center. The case is set for trial next week. Here is a link to the court's web page.

Time Marches On

I've had a couple of poignant reminders today that time does not stand still. First, I saw the invitation for Myrtle Johnson's 99th birthday celebration at Town Hall today. For those who don't know, Myrtle is one of our longtime residents who lived next to town hall for decades and recently moved to Oregon to live with her daughter.

Part of the celebration is to collect 99 birthday cards for Myrtle. Please send a card c/o Vi Hall, 32196 Baxter Rd, Heriston, OR 97838. Or email Kathy Dopps at The party is this weekend, but I don't think its too late to add to the birthday card count.

Second, one of Ruston's icons is no more. The old Krillich store was demolished today. Former Council Member Mary Joyce grew up as one of the Krillich kids, making deliveries for her family's grocery store located on N. 49th. ~ Karen


This is an interesting article about the city of Half Moon Bay, California that has been hit with $36.8 million judgment related to a development project that may force the city to dissolve. There are some important principles here that Ruston's elected leaders would be wise to heed about regulations and city actions equating to seizure of private property.

Here is one of the anologies from the article: "A slow-growth bloc had won a majority on the City Council in 1996 and was already clashing with Keenan (the developer) over his plans to build a 54-room hotel nearby."

Pretty scary...


I note that Jane Hunt's application for the council vacancy is for Bob Pudlo's Council Seat #1. The current vacancy is for Bob Everding's Council Seat #4. She has applied for the wrong seat. I wonder if that means her application is void?

You'll recall that Bob Pudlo resigned unexpectedly at the Dec. 3, 2007 meeting. Could it be that she was just brushing off an old letter that she had ready for this meeting? If so, how did she hear about his resignation, or any potential for application before the rest of us did?

I've emailed the questions to Jane to see if she has any answers. I'm just wondering....

Ruston's New Police Chief

The News Tribune has this announcement today.

Here is the official press release:

"Mayor Michael Transue has appointed Sharon Reese as the Interim Chief for the Ruston Police Department, effective March 10, 2008.

“I am pleased that someone with Sharon’s extensive background and many talents has stepped forward during this important time, Mayor Transue said.” “I am confident that the members of the department and community will embrace her approach to problem solving and policing.”

Chief Reese, 54, has a long and distinguished career in law enforcement and as a public servant. It began in 1974, with the Whitman County Sheriff’s Office as a Dispatcher, as a deputy sheriff in both Snohomish and Pierce Counties, a stint in private sector security, and as a special agent with the Washington State Gambling Commission. Her management experience includes serving as the deputy director at both the Gambling Commission and the Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission (CJTC), where she oversaw the training programs for law enforcement professionals.

She has earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Criminal Justice from St. Martin's College and is a graduate of the Law Enforcement Executive Development Program at the FBI Academy in Quantico, VA. Chief Reese is a graduate of the University of Washington Executive Management Program and achieved her Executive Career Level Certification from the CJTC. She is a member of the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs and the International Association of Chiefs of Police.

While she transitions from other responsibilities, the department will continue to be led by Acting Chief Kunkel."

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Just for fun

There is a 2001 Ruston Family Cabernet Sauvignon. Maybe we should serve it at the council meetings ~ might ease tensions a bit...

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Council Meeting, Feb. 19, 2008

There was not a quorum of at least 3 council members present at tonight's meeting, so there was no action taken (or information presented on items requiring action on tonight's agenda). Council Members Stebener and Huson were absent. There will not be a study session next week. Instead, the meeting tonight was continued until next Monday, Feb. 25th at 7 pm.

Information only was presented on:

  • Point Ruston's request for an LID for public improvements on their property (there is no cost for other Ruston property owners)
  • The mayor has appointed an interim police chief, Sharon Reese. She will take over as chief on March 10th. She has a long career in law enforcement. The mayor expects it will take 4 to 6 months to complete the search and appointment for a permanent chief.
  • McGavick Graves will not renew their contract for legal services for Ruston when the contract expires at mid-year. The town needs to decide now how to handle that issue.
  • The Civil Service Board is still looking for applicants. Contact Town Hall if you are interested.
  • There was study of Ruston's finances just completed. It is available at Town Hall for the cost of the copies.
  • Town Hall employees (non-uniform) have now unionized. The only outstanding issue is whether the union status will apply to the clerk-treasurer position.
  • The council vacancy appointment will be made at the next regular council meeting on Mar. 3rd. No public interview or comment will be allowed.
  • Council Member Alberston expressed concern that the mayor and the planning staff are not getting along with the Point Ruston developers.

Action items on the agenda for next Monday:

  • Request for disabled parking permit in a residential area
  • Amendment to Prosecutor Professional Services Agreement
  • Motion to Enter into Professional Services Contract with Forensic Accountant. Albertson placed this on the agenda, but no information was provided.
  • Motion to amend Council Meeting Rules. Alberson again, no information given.
  • Motion re: Former Employee. Alberston again, no information provided.
  • Fire Truck. Huson placed on the agenda, but no information was provided.
  • Claims and Payroll

Council Applications

I did not recieve any response from my request from fellow applicants for their resumes, but a Freedom of Information request yeilded a copy. Here is what was submitted to Town Hall. Just click on the image to make it enlarge.

Council Meeting Tonight

Come one, come all! 7 pm at the school building, 5219 N. Shirley Street at the top of the south stairwell.

Monday, February 18, 2008

In The News

King 5 television has a story today on Point Ruston. Comments on the Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) for the project were due on Feb. 14th. The final SEIS will be completed this spring.

Happy Presidents Day

In honor of Presidents Day, here are some quotes I found interesting, especially in light of Ruston’s current political climate. Let's hope we can all heed these words, even in Ruston. ~ Karen

George Washington:
If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be lead, like sheep to the slaughter.

It will be found an unjust and unwise jealousy to deprive a man of his natural liberty upon the supposition he may abuse it.

Laws made by common consent must not be trampled on by individuals.

The marvel of all history is the patience with which men and women submit to burdens unnecessarily laid upon them by their governments.

Abraham Lincoln:
A house divided against itself cannot stand.

We would like to live as we once lived, but history will not permit it.

Be sure you put your feet in the right place, then stand firm.

Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.

Government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the Earth.

I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The great point is to bring them the real facts.

I am not bound to win, but I am bound to be true. I am not bound to succeed, but I am bound to live by the light that I have. I must stand with anybody that stands right, and stand with him while he is right, and part with him when he goes wrong.

I do not think much of a man who is not wiser today than he was yesterday.

I have always found that mercy bears richer fruits than strict justice.

I like to see a man proud of the place in which he lives. I like to see a man live so that his place will be proud of him.

If once you forfeit the confidence of your fellow-citizens, you can never regain their respect and esteem.

If you look for the bad in people expecting to find it, you surely will.

Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power.

Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves.

To sin by silence when they should protest makes cowards of men.

We should be too big to take offense and too noble to give it.

What kills a skunk is the publicity it gives itself.

You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.

John F. Kennedy:
For time and the world do not stand still. Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or the present are certain to miss the future.

Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.

The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie, deliberate, contrived and dishonest, but the myth, persistent, persuasive and unrealistic.

The problems of the world cannot possibly be solved by skeptics or cynics whose horizons are limited by the obvious realities. We need men who can dream of things that never were.

The very word 'secrecy' is repugnant in a free and open society; and we are as a people inherently and historically opposed to secret societies, to secret oaths, and to secret proceedings.

We are not afraid to entrust the American people with unpleasant facts, foreign ideas, alien philosophies, and competitive values. For a nation that is afraid to let its people judge the truth and falsehood in an open market is a nation that is afraid of its people.

Ronald Reagan:
Above all, we must realize that no arsenal, or no weapon in the arsenals of the world, is so formidable as the will and moral courage of free men and women. It is a weapon our adversaries in today's world do not have.

Concentrated power has always been the enemy of liberty.

Facts are stubborn things.

I know in my heart that man is good. That what is right will always eventually triumph. And there's purpose and worth to each and every life.

It has been said that politics is the second oldest profession. I have learned that it bears a striking resemblance to the first.

Let us be sure that those who come after will say of us in our time, that in our time we did everything that could be done. We finished the race; we kept them free; we kept the faith.

Peace is not absence of conflict, it is the ability to handle conflict by peaceful means.

There are no easy answers' but there are simple answers. We must have the courage to do what we know is morally right.

To sit back hoping that someday, some way, someone will make things right is to go on feeding the crocodile, hoping he will eat you last - but eat you he will.

When you can't make them see the light, make them feel the heat.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

What Others Think

The News Tribune editorial staff gave their opinion today in an editorial titled "Ruston town politics a sorry sight". Check it out and chime in with your thoughts.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

What would Mr. Rogers think?

It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood.... Jane is well on her way to taking the vacant council seat. (I don't have any resumes of the applicants yet, but Mark did provide his email ~ thanks!)

Life in this neighborhood continues on its downward spiral. Between the mayor and the council, nothing will be allowed to happen for at least the next two years. The only possible exception is that Council member Stebner will force his will on the people and disband the fire department - as illogical and unethical as that would be.

One of the commenters on the last post signed in as Hank Reardon. I have to admit my ignorance as to the meaning of that name, but a Google search uncovered an interesting character. A modern day philosopher named Ayn Rand wrote a fictional novel during the McCarthy era that highlighted the political oppression of minority voices. One of heroes in the book was Hank Reardon. Here is a link to the discussion on the book.

I don't think the council's actions have risen to this level, but the story of Hank's trial before three judges for actions that he does not consider to be illegal has some interesting application to our current state of affairs. There is one interesting quote from one of the characters who held power;

"'Did you really think that we want those laws to be observed?' said Dr. Ferris. "We *want* them broken. You'd better get it straight that it's not a bunch of boy scouts you're up against– then you'll know that this is not the age for beautiful gestures. We're after power and we mean it. You fellows were pikers, but we know the real trick, and you'd better get wise to it. There's no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren't enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws. Who wants a nation of law-abiding citizens? What's there in that for anyone? But just pass the kind of laws that can neither be observed nor enforced nor objectively interpreted – and you create a nation of law-breakers – and then you cash in on guilt. Now that's the system, Mr. Rearden, that's the game, and once you understand it, you'll be much easier to deal with."'
-- Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged , Ch. III, "White Blackmail"

Humm, this could very well be the rumbling of Mr. Huson's mind when he imposed his gag rule on public comment. Very interesting, indeed. What do you think?


Friday, February 15, 2008

Council Applicants

The following people have applied for the council vacancy created by Bob Everding's resignation as of 4:55 pm Friday:

  • Jane Hunt, loosing bidder on condo project and Ruston Connection campaign manager
  • Mark Peterson, newer resident
  • Virginia Carpio, co-editor of Ruston Connection newsletter
  • Bill Walker, Virginia's husband
  • Karen Pickett, administrator of this blog

I've submitted an information request to Town Hall and will ask each applicant for copies of the application letters and resumes. They will be posted as soon as possible.

UPDATE: Here is a copy of the email I sent to Jane, Virginia and Bill. I don’t have Mark’s email. If you happen to read this, Mark, please email your information to


I understand each of you has applied for Everding's remaining term. I would like a copy of your application letter and resume that was submitted to the Town to post for the public on the Ruston Home blog. In the interest of public disclosure, I hope you are willing to cooperate.

Please call with any questions, 253-228-8529.


Applications Due Today

Just a reminder that applications for the current council vacancy are due at Town Hall by the end of business today. As of mid-morning, only Jane Hunt (loosing bidder on the condo project and close friend of the current council majority) is the only formal applicant. There is rumor that a newcomer is planning on applying as well.

Many were expecting Jane to be appointed even before this process began, further strengthening the current grip on power by Ruston Connection faithful. As hopeless as this may seem, I hope there will be a variety of applicants for the council to choose from, even if it is a forgone conclusion and public input is not allowed.


For Inquiring Minds

Here are some details behind the issues that are being discussed in the local papers (the News Tribune's story is now published, front page in the print version on Feb. 19th):

  • Former council member Del Brewer sets the record straight about the reasons for approving the Commencement condo project at 4 times the appraised value.
  • There were very valid reasons why some audience members got angry at the Jan. 14th study session, including the deception of Council members Albertson and Stebner at the Jan. 7th meeting.
  • Fire department issues have been studied in-depth by an well-qualified committee, but it's findings and recommendations have been ignored by the council.
  • The council continues to ignore reasonable recommendations by the fire department.
  • Council member Huson's "rules" are not the actions that could help us move beyond the hatred, nor do they display the leadership the council was elected to give this community.
  • In addition to the Volcano story and the News Tribune story, Fontaine has posted more details about his various Ruston interviews on his blog. Council member Huson's interview is a typical reflection of the open contempt for our citizens that motivates this council.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

News Coverage

The Volcano has published their story about Ruston. I'll give you a snipet with a thankful amen, be sure to read the full article...


"Researching the political quagmire in Ruston and talking with residents who call the half square mile home makes one thing obvious. The majority of Ruston is not represented by Huson, Albertson and Stebner. Nor is it represented by Mayor Transue or even the old-timers who raise hell at town council meetings. The majority of Ruston is stuck between all of this ugliness. The majority of Ruston’s residents care about maintaining their small town and are embarrassed by the negative press that public record tirades, less than honest representatives, and childish political name-calling has drawn them.

The majority of Ruston just wants to be civil."
Matt Driscoll

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

In The News

The News Tribune's Scott Fontaine has posted an audio of the 'noisy' meetings and an early edition of his full story on Ruston politics. It sounds like this story will run on Friday.


Recent council member Del Brewer sets the record straight:

February 11, 2008


'Seems like all to often in our modern, progressive world that solutions and resolving of problems starts when someone is willing to take the blame, the hit, the fall and move on.

So kick me, poke me, run me out of town…..and then the rest of you can get on with banding together, supporting instead of dividing and make the dream come true by making the ugly duckling little smelter town the handsome Prince (or Princess) that it so richly deserves to be.

Now, if you are really interested ( it comes) please allow me to share and maybe clear the way with the FACTS:

* Ruston would not be in this period of conflict if a previous administration had not done something (in contrast to more recent ones) and put a nest egg of four and three-eights million dollars in the bank.

The reason: RUSTON would not exist.

Ruston was almost broke and getting there fast. For those who do not believe that and feel we could have pulled it out by having bake sales…. why did the town have to already dip into the nest egg last year to the tune of a quarter million???

Ruston would not exist, the area would likely and painfully be an unincorporated part of Pierce County waiting to be annexed by Tacoma…to the glee of some.

* The previous administration realized that doing something with the Town’s sole remaining major asset was likely to be the only realistic hope. An idea expressed as early as 1998 by none other than Councilmember Mary Joyce in the meeting notes that were clear and complete enough to know what actually happened at the meeting.

* A professional (ha!) appraisal of the school and all of the property was done and paid for ($6.5K I recall). Results: Total value; $1.2 Million (and hinted that if we tore down that ugly old building….the value might increase a bit).

* Word went out to the “development community” and at the end of the ’offering period’, five responses were in hand. Two of them basically said, “sure, we’ll give you $1.2M for it; then figure it out, be fools not to! Another one said, “how about you give our long standing and trusted planning company about $350,000 to study the problem and we’ll use that in addition to the years of data already collected, known and paid for to tell you what the best direction is for you dummies.”

One said, we’ll give you the $1.2 M for the whole package and build market rate apartments and allow a few spaces for retail shops and some community space.

The other one said, keep your school building and parking lots because we realize it is important to many of the town folks. We’ll pay the full price and throw in several bonus items like a $100K that you’ll never be likely to get from the bankrupt ASARCO groupo and remodel the school to become the Town Hall and build a Fire Station/Utility Building to improve the current facilities. We’ll use the lower vacant property to construct Upper End Condominiums that will generate on going revenue for the Town every time one of the Condos changes hands by being sold in the future.

So, being the brainless lackey that I am (recent assessment) and realizing that a multi-story condo project would be a bit out of context for the neighborhood, the trade off seemed the better of the two offers for several reasons. (1) HOPE, the sale would give hope dollars to bridge the gap until hopefully the ASARCO issues were resolved and development a la income would buoy the Town for the future. (2) Market rate apartments with multi-million dollar views of Commencement Bay, unheard of. Plus as that business goes, the year after normal wear and tear starts taking its toll, appearance starts to run down and maintenance cost rise, the complex gets sold to a investment group, foreign likely as not! (3) Change happens, something had to be done and the sands of time were sifting through the hour glass much too quickly.

After talking to several commercial real estatebrokers , I was convinced the we were WAY under priced for the land and brought back to the council a set of figures to support that. Negotiations with chips from both sides proceeded and a final purchase and sale agreement was signed for almost FOUR times the appraisal price for 40% of the property.

* Some folks did not like that decision. Imagine that!! The ‘market rate apartment’ folks launched an all out and very effective crusade to throw the bums out with the next election and take over Town government. Worked pretty well to except their hand picked Mayor has turned out not to be their YES man; but, that is being dealt with now.

Ironic how with all the friction, one of the first questions on the list and lips of the ’become Tacomacommittee’ that covertly met with Tacoma’s Mayor a few weeks after taking the oath of office was….CAN WE KEEP OUR MONEY?

* Five points of the agreement that some folks did not like were worked on and four of them were positively resolved by the interim council leaving the long term lease for efforts at a later date. It would seem that success on four of five and the fifth still on the table that a resolution could still be realized until a couple of council members dug their heels in on the issue of getting the school auditorium emptied so that ballet practice could get underway. Not to worry, that only cost the Town tens of thousands of dollars in rental revenue, plus a lawsuit scheduled for the end of this month. Don’t know what the outcome will be….. just wait for the legal costs on that one.

* Time passes, someone new owns the former ASARCO property and does have a plan. The condominium project is underway and based on what we have seen of the POINT RUSTON plans, The Commencement may turn out to be more of a transition link to the size and style of the lower shoreline development to Ruston than one might think.

The preceding is background and my perspective for people new to Ruston, those looking for newspaper filler or the spin doctors and their agenda. I love this little town and never expected to leave it until I assumed room temperature. As many of you know, family and personal reasons have taken us in a new and very different direction. I deeply appreciate having had the opportunity to serve on theTown Council for more than three full terms. Thank you.

I want Ruston to survive and prosper. It can if there is the will. I am pleased to see Town Council meetings well attended, it sure beats ‘ the hallowed and hollow’ halls we sat in for far to many years. The years to come should and can be the best ever and they will be for someone because this area can not be over looked. The potential is over the top in to many ways to count. SO, get passed the tug of war, get on the same end of the rope, dig in and pull together against the obstacles that are plentiful enough without them being yourselves. Establish and concentrate on the vision, the repairs, state and federal help, sewers and underground utilities.

Unite and support the Fire Department, it’s a work inprogress. It can sustain for the next several years and then transition into whatever the needs are as we come to know what the needs really are down the road. What is important is that they have proven time and time again that they can save your life, your families lives today and tonight !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Again, I am willing to take all the blame in an accountability free society. Spit on my grave if you must (just watch out for the recoil !) and for the good of this wonderful little piece of paradise make a plan, work for the common good, set goals, believe and achieve them and future generations will honor your labors and selflessness in one of the most beautiful places on God’s green and blue Earth.

Let me come back and visit from time to time. I look forward to being very pleasantly surprised.

Sincerely with Care and Best Wishes for ALL,
Porkchop (aka: Del A. Brewer)

SHAMELESS PLUG: For Sale- Very Nice, Comfortable, Spacious, Affordable Home in Ruston, WA. PartialPuget Sound Views in a Great Neighborhood with Fast and Large Appreciation Potential. Come take a look. Call 752-5902

Flushed Away - Opinion

Spielberg did a cute movie last year about rats that get ‘flushed away’ into a nice, clean underground world. But it’s not so pretty in real life when hard work, dedication and duty are flushed down the toilet. Ruston’s council repeated their flushing of the fire department twice at their last meeting. It’s getting pretty stinky, in my opinion.

1) Council member Stebner issued a list of demands for the fire department, demands that had been met by the fire committee that he served on. His list flushed away a year’s worth of work from a well-qualified committee who gave of their expertise and precious time. The committee didn’t reach the same conclusions as Stebner, and since he has all the power right now, he flushed their findings down the commode.
2) Besides the countless hours Chief Torbet gives to train and serve on the fire department, he sacrificed many more hours to located one heck of a deal on a fire engine ($27,000 for a repossessed engine worth twice that amount). If the council had one ounce of integrity or real concern about public safety, we would be picking up that engine right now.

Just my opinion ~ what’s yours?


Our local Ladies Workout Express has this announcement. You can email Bev Wombacher if you are interested at or stop by the gym at 4827 N. Pearl Street.

I am asking for some help this Saturday in working a water station for the Love, Love, Run event that is held in Pt. Defiance Park. We are sponsoring one of the water stations and will need about 6 people to help. Event starts at 8:45 and all participants are to be done by 12:30. This is a very easy job. Pass out water cups and provide encouragement.

We also have tickets available ($15 ea) for a pasta dinner on Friday evening to be held at the Titlow Lodge. Joeseppis is doing the dinner and there will also be an live and silent auction.

Let me know is you can help and if you are interested in tickets. You can check this out at


Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Open Meeting Act

Given Ruston's problems with appearing to violate the open public meetings law I thought this article published by The Olympian newspaper would be of interest. Seems like it isn't just the folks in Ruston who want open meetings, looks like the Auditor's Office knows the law too.


The News Tribune

A few more folks have weighed in with the News Tribune reporter on Ruston's current political scene.

Earlier today:
Scott Fontaine is finishing up his research on Ruston politics. He's interviewed a professor from Montana on the subject today.

What Happened to Old Fashioned Debate?

How many thought about Ruston when we read the news of the shooting at a council meeting near St. Louis last week? Sumner is now worried about someone shooting at them and has taken Councilman Stebner's lead in requiring armed guards at council meetings.

Whatever happened to the notion that you debated the issue, made a decision and moved on? Oh, for the good old days. The New Tribune has more...

Ruston Fire Department

There was an interesting exchange at the Feb. 4th council meeting. Fire Chief Torbet requested permission to pursue purchasing a new engine after locating a couple of good deals and Council Member Stebner responded with a list of requirements. A Public Disclosure Request verified the exchange:

Dear Mayor Transue,

As instructed, I took the La France reserve fire engine to a repair shop for an estimate. While on the freeway, the steering felt very loose and the apparatus "wandered." When I arrived at the repair shop I asked if they could look at that also.

Attached is the repair estimate. As indicated, the equipment is very old and finding repair parts is in question. About 8 years ago a steering part failed and it was necessary to have one hand made at a shop due the part being un-available from the equipment manufacture.

It is time to upgrade to a more suitable piece of equipment. As much as I would like a shiny new engine, I don't think the town is in a financial position to invest the amount of money required to make this kind of purchase. I do not have new numbers but in speaking with other departments, the dollar amount seems to begin around $250,000 for an engine with out any equipment; ladders, hose, nozzles, siren and such. For a telesquirt you can add a minimum of $150,000 for a total of around $400,000.

I believe we should look at finding a used, preferably refurbished, apparatus. The size of the equipment is also a major consideration. Space is very limited at Town Hall. Much of the newer equipment is of larger dimensions and building modification may be necessary. If the town were to make a capitol investment in this area, it would delay a large expenditure for several years while adequately looking after the needs of the Town's fire protection. In three to five years, we could re-evaluate the protection needs and funding resources while still having an asset worth most of the initial investment.

It is my opinion the next fire apparatus purchased for the Town of Ruston should be a telesquirt with a reach of 75 feet. This equipment would become our "first out" engine. Our present 1962 Mack engine would become our reserve and the La France engine would be sold.

During the last 6 months I have been searching the internet for used fire engines. There are many companies dealing in this equipment. The parameters I used were cost, equipment capabilities and condition, equipment size and finally location. The criteria was in no particular order as each was almost as important as the other. There is truly a vast amount of used equipment available. Finding something that fit our needs and our limited space however, proved a challenge. As stated earlier, our recent growth and development narrowed my query to a telesquirt with either 65 or 75 feet of reach. The physical size of the equipment created further limitations. The front engine bay inside depth is 30 feet 8 inches. The door opening height is 10 feet. I have not found a telesquirt that would fit within this space.

I would like to tell you what I have found. First I will state the positive aspects followed by the challenges that will need to be overcome.

Here a link to a page detailing what I am trying to explain.

This is a 1981 American LaFrance Water Chief. It is a 75 foot telesquirt. It was refurbished in 2001 when among other things the top two sections of the ladder were replaced and the pump was rebuilt, increasing its capacity to 1750 GPM (gallons per minute) from the standard 1500 GPM. (As a side note Ruston's La France has a 1000 GPM pump.) Many of the body panels were replaced. New brakes to include shoes, drums and air canisters were installed. In addition, all chassis springs were replaced. The refurbished costs were over $112,000.

Two years ago the fuel pump and fuel system were overhauled. Last year the motor was tuned to include all new injectors. I asked if this was due to a problem or breakdown and told it was part of their maintenance program. One tire is about 40% of new the rest are over 70%. This information was given by the repair facility used by the department. The facility rated the overall condition of the vehicle as excellent. The only known deficiency was a bit of rust to the passenger doors.

The engine is 6 inches too tall and 20 inches too long to fit in the front engine bay. The rear bay next to the garbage truck, while tall enough to accommodate the height, is over three feet too short. Throughout my search, I was unable to find any telesquirt over 50 feet that would fit inside any of our buildings. Asst. Fire Chief Bruce Allen was in the building trades until retirement. We have surveyed the front engine bay and feel it is possible to modify the building to accommodate the telesquirt outlined. Of course an engineer would have to be called in to make a judgment as to this.

This engine located in Dickson City PA, is about as far away from Ruston as it could possibly be; about 2800 miles according to mapquest. This may be the biggest challenge. I contacted a rail shipping company and received a quote of $6800. I do have people willing to drive it back but the cost will still be around $3,500. I wish there was something closer but in all my research, there has been nothing that meets our criteria.

The price listed in the advertisement is $60,000. From the research I have done this would seem a fair price for the equipment in its condition. I have contacted the department that owns the engine and was given a price quote of $47,000 as their bottom price. I believe this is a very good value for this piece of equipment.

As I continued to search for suitable fire equipment I recently came across another engine of interest. I have included a link below.

This is a 1993 Simon-Duplex-Saulsbury and would be an excellent buy at $27,000. Typically, this engine would sell for at least twice that amount. It would serve our immediate needs with the exception of a ladder unit (telesquirt). As I stated earlier, I believe a telesquirt or quint should be considered for our future needs. The need for a telesquirt type of ladder equipment is not immediate but as the town continues to expand to the building heights proposed it will become necessary to address this need. The engine listed below would fit in height but is one foot to long too fit in the front engine bay. The lengthening of the engine bay would not require extensive work or funding.

The engine was repossessed from a rural department in Tennessee and is now located in Georgia. I received a shipping cost quote Feb 1, of $5200 from the Atlanta area to Ruston from a local trucking company. I spoke to the Fire Chief of the department in Tennessee that last had the unit. He told me the engine was repossessed due to bad money management of the former chief. All required maintenance had been performed and said he knows of no problems with the apparatus. He also said they had removed most of the equipment before it was taken away. With the FEMA grant we were awarded in February 2007, we have recently purchased most of the required equipment. The remaining necessary items could be transferred from the La France to make the engine immediately operational.

There is a lot to consider and hopefully discuss. Before I proceed further I would like some guidance from the council for the future needs of the Ruston Fire Department. To move forward, the next step would be to have a building engineer give us their opinion as to the structural changes necessary.

I have additional photos and specifications and would like to further discuss the matter.

Don Torbet
Fire Chief

Town of Ruston Fire Department Plan and Budget

1. Develop an annual budget for the Ruston Fire Department for the next 10 years period; project the budget in the following increments: Immediate needs, 5 year needs, 10 year needs. Include cost estimates for providing increased services as Ruston’s population grows.
a. Budgets should include the following information:
i. Current Equipment: An inventory of current equipment plus the age of current equipment.
ii. Anticipated Equipment: A list of anticipated equipment, supplies and property needed for the next 10 years for the Ruston Fire Department. This should include cost estimates and life expectancy of the equipment, supplies and property.
iii. Personnel: A list of anticipated full and part time personnel needs, with basic job descriptions of each position.
1. Include estimates of initial training and equipment associated with each position, current and projected.
2. What is the turnover rate currently on each position in the Fire Department? Include this factor when estimated training and equipment costs for fire department staff.
2. Contract Support: Prepare a “cost” estimate to be expended on contract support (such as maintenance, training, services, etc.). List each item. If there is not cost for a service please note beside service.
3. The Washington Survey and Ratings Bureau’s have an important guideline applicable to our population growth. If we want to keep our current insurance rating as Ruston grows during the next 5 to 10 years, we will need to have a ladder truck for our Fire Department. Will they allow us to service the community with non-ladder trucks? The Fire Department need to provide the Council with a plan, supported by documentation, to satisfy this guideline and the documentation should include a letter from Washington Survey and Rating Bureau accepting Ruston’s plan to satisfy this guideline.
4. Provide a list of other Pierce County Fire Departments that have similar size budgets for their Fire Departments.

Please have this information to the council within 30 days. Following review of the above information, when submitted, the Town Council will discuss expenditures for the fire department. Note, if a pre-owned fire truck is purchased the Council would require a pre-purchase inspection done. It is essential that the Fire Department and Town ensure that all fire equipment operates to standards, and that all standard certification and all governing bodies’ requirements for the Ruston Fire Departments equipment are satisfied.

Note, per the Town of Ruston Fire Committee Report, the current fire department is adequate for the next two years. We realize that we cannot wait for 24 months to gather this information. Now is the time to start.
From Council Member Stebner

Monday, February 11, 2008

It's A Small World After All

It's way too small a world - the subject of the Ruston Foundry Superfund site is on the agenda tomorrow for the city of Pineville, LA, according to the local paper....

UPDATE, TUES AM: Here is a summary from a local news station of a meeting that the EPA held last night. It appears that operations ceased in 1985 and the site has been sitting vacant for awhile. Sounds familiar, doesn't it?

The Volcano

I just happened across another mention on The Volcano's web page from Feb. 7th, a teaser for the article they are doing for their issue later this week...

Small Towns

I'm not sure if it makes me feel any better to see other small towns struggle with small town issues, but there is some comfort in knowing we are not alone. Front page in today's News Tribune: "Feud over harrasment claim roils Roy Police Department".

More Thoughts

Here are some more thoughts on saving our town....

You are so right and there are many of us who want to demonstrate our desire to Keep Ruston and in particular, our Fire and Police. Ken suggested we get behind the Myrtle Johnson house that will be used to house fire fighters. I think that's a great idea. Don and company have already done a tremendous job in getting donations of furniture, household goods, etc. What ever else needs to be done, count me in.

I recall that during the debates hosted by the League of Women Voters and held at the Chinese Christian Church, one of the questions posed to the candidates was to tell us 3 goals each candidate had for the Town of Ruston. I don't recall anyone stating that it was their goal to annex us into Tacoma; to change our form of government to one of tyranny; to elect a king rather than a council member. I also don't recall that we ever referred to as crazed animals, rich crazy people, or filling our time because of the writers strike, just to name a few of the quotes.

We should be working towards inclusion, not exclusion;for open participation, not executive sessions and/or ursurping the Open Meeting Law. Just look at our national politics. Did anyone ever dream in our life time we would see an African American and woman as the possible next President of the United States?

Let us take the high road, and use our 2 minutes at each meeting. For those who wish to remain silent, have they allocate their 2 minutes to the next person, and so on. Let's pick a topic we want to discuss at the next meeting and use this 2 minutes of allocated time to get the best speaker to address the issue. I'm not ready to give up on Ruston and absolutely don't want to become part of Tacoma.

Karen (one of the 'other' Ruston Karen's)

Saturday, February 9, 2008

What Others Think

Our neighbor had these thoughts about the value of Ruston...


I too think Ruston is worth saving. This Town has over 100 years of History going for it.We have not been this close to prosperity in the last 25 years. Now is not the time to give up on Ruston.

With all due respect, I think this will be our finest hour. I believe that actions speak louder than words. We can achieve this by getting behind Don and the Fire Dept. They could use our help with the fix up and repair of the Johnson house. This is a great opportunity for the Town to come together. We can have fund raisers and work to better the Community.

We will end up with the safest place in the Nation to live. It is hard to find fault with those that do good. I am excited for Ruston!

What do think?

Friday, February 8, 2008

Puyallup: “Man, we’re becoming like Ruston.”

Our political antics were noticed by The Nose in today's News Tribune....

Lingering Questions

Matt Driscoll, a reporter with the Volcano (a local weekly paper) has been talking to folks around town. The Volcano has been an arts and entertainment paper, but they are branching out into local politics. What better place to start than Ruston?

I spoke with Matt on Thursday. Two questions linger from the conversation, even though we only directly touched on one of them; can Ruston survive this current struggle and is it worth holding on? I’ll share my thoughts, and hope you will join in with yours.

Let’s start with the last question: Is it worth holding onto Ruston’s independence? Yes, Yes and Yes! At the candidate debate last fall, Bradley Huson said he would not ‘sell out Ruston’s soul to save the town’ – or words to that effect. I think he meant he was unwilling to sacrifice the residential character that we have evolved into for uncontrolled growth in the name of building a tax base. I understand that concern, but Ruston’s soul is our independence as a town. If all we want to be is a quiet neighborhood, then let’s give up and fade into Tacoma.

But there is so much more to our ‘soul’. Our history, our transition from an industrial-based culture to this new mixture is important – it has lessons for others besides just ourselves. We honor that struggle by keeping our independence.

We maintain local control – control that is out of balance right now – but it’s worth keeping even if the pendulum swings too far at times. We have a stronger sense of identity than Tacoma’s neighborhoods. Our own police and fire services add to our character and provide personal service that sometimes saves lives.

There are many more reasons than I have the energy to explore tonight. There was an interesting dialog when this same question was posed by Erik Emery Hanberg, a well-known local bloger. I hope you will add your reasons and stories about the value (or lack of it, if that is your opinion) in keeping Ruston alive.

As for the second question, can we survive the current struggle; again I say yes. That is based in part on how important I think it is – it is worth the challenge to hold on. It will be two years before we can hope to change our political direction. We have to stay diligent in very trying circumstances. We have no voice and will continue to be subject to vicious attacks. But if we can hold on – watch and wait – we can turn the tide and build the promising future this little town deserves.

What do you think?

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Open Meetings Act

For those of you who wanted to be an attorney, you can wade your way through the state's Open Meetings Act, the law that requires the council to make their decisions at a public meeting.

There is a bill making its way through the legislature that would increase fines for violations of the Open Meetings Act. Let's hope any fines for violations would be borne by the elected officials themselves, not the municipality - otherwise it's one more way Ruston's leaders could hurt the town.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008


The News Tribune's editorial board weighted in yesterday on Puyallup's rush decision to hire their city manager. It was nothing compared to Ruston council's decision to appoint Dan Albertson. Even though the council majority would have chosen their favorite son regardless, it still does not justify their rush to appoint him the same night Pudlo's resignation was announced.

The process isn't much better with Everding's resignation. The council is taking applications, but no public comment is allowed at any point in the process. The folks with the tight grip on our town show no signs of letting loose of their current stranglehold anytime soon. I just hope we can hold on until free speech and open mindedness can be restored.

Points of Interest

  • For those of you interested in Ruston's history, I found this web site that reviews mining history in the western US. There isn't anything for Washington state yet - we'll have to submit something on our own piece of history soon!
  • There is a Ruston, Louisiana. It's a much larger city, but I heard from someone who grew up in the area that politics are not that much different down south.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008


As Scott blogs, I will blog. I guess even the Puyallup council can see some similarities with Ruston politics. We are getting a reputation!

Council Report

I'm still out of town, but it sounds like the council meeting was fairly quiet last night, in terms of volume at least. And unproductive - the council refused to authorize pursuit of a functional fire engine that Chief Torbet has located. The only comment was from Stebner, who wants yet another budget proposal.

Somehow the silence works both ways; keeps the public out of the decision, and provides a great cover for not explaining your actions (or lack thereof).

Council Member Huson served as Mayor Pro Tem when Mayor Transue was late. After an executive session, several folks used their precious 2 minutes to ask Bradley to resign after his comments to the Tribune about the 'crazies' that he serves. He reportedly just smiled...

Many folks wore name tags noting the current censorship and a couple of newspapers where on hand to take pictures.

All in all, a deathly quiet evening. Just what the council ordered.


Monday, February 4, 2008

The Volcano

Matt Driscoll of the Weekly Volcano has posted a preview of his "journey into weirdness" as he begins to delve into Ruston politics. Somehow the name of his publication seems appropriate to be covering our fair town at this point in time.

Good Advice

The News Tribune's editorial board gave some good advice to the Tacoma School board about their violations of the Open Meetings Act last year. Ruston's council would do well to follow their advice as well:

"Let this episode serve notice to local elected officials that it’s best to follow a strict interpretation of the Open Meetings Act. No official gets into trouble for erring on the side of openness in government."

Reality Check

It always helps to hear from folks who don't live in the midst of our current turmoil. It gives us a sanity check - are we really as crazy as Bradley says we are? This comment was posted last night and let's us know we might be sane after all...

I was following the story that mentioned Don's Ruston Market as The Seattle Traveler Top 5 Posts for January 2008. I wanted to say Best regards and way to go to the Torbets for working to keep Ruston special! I for one have parked myself at their counter many a time for old fashion fountain drinks! As I read the Seattle Traveler … I was happy for Ruston to be on the list … one thing lead to another and I came across blogs, clicking here to there, following links I kept reading and even listened to a meeting.

Now I am so sad for this little town that has brought my family special memories through “5” generations. At 54 years old I still love the feeling that just entering Ruston brings. I sit here at my computer shocked as if I just learned news of an old friend fighting to live on while being abused by the ones entrusted with their care.

Reading about this newly appointed Ruston council member #5 Bradley …~ OH my goodness, he sounds like a dictator and very full of himself. Good leaders connect with individuals, motivating them by listening with a true desire to create a socially productive community, this is not accomplished, by name calling and a command that the people have no voice … or saying things like, “I am tired of this Bull” referring to them as caged animals, and saying they are not that bright.

This is one of their leaders …?! I am shocked, how could this happen in a country with freedom of speech,... well unless you live in Ruston! How can it be that members of the town are not allowed to have any say so as to who sits on the council as well as, not being allowed to talk at the council meetings …?

Referring to: Ruston Town Council has a Council position open… There will not be a public interview process, no public comment will be taken at this council meeting or any other regarding this process or the appointment. What kind of a town council is this that the town folks are not allowed any say as to who serves the community … hmmm I wonder if there is any connection as to the problems…

As far as filling a position without the members having any say so … it appears to this reader that if the council could hand pick members to fill the vacancies then they (the council) could have anything the ‘Ruston Council’ wanted with no regard to what the town members have to say.

Here are quotes from an article in TNT, pleases NOTE this readers interpretation in parenthesis: Bradley stated, I deal with rich, crazy people all day, ( hmmm, wonder how his clients will respond when they read how he feels about them?), and I’m not going to deal with crazy people all night, (is he referring to the town folks that he is suppose to serve?). There’s nothing in it for me, (isn’t a council member there to serve the community and the good of the people). The only reason I ran for this office is to get something done (note, a lot of “I”, “I”, “I”). I’m not going to sit with a bunch of psychos in the evening under fluorescent lights and hash over crap, (wow sounds like a hostile take over).

Bottom line, the image received from reading about Bradley as to how he wants this town to respond during town meetings is: all members sitting with gags over their mouths, shaking their heads agreeing with everything the counsel members have to say ~ however, from what I gathered it sounds like they will have to put ‘something’ in the water of Ruston to get the towns people to be quiet, and agree!

Who would want to stay home and watch reality TV when one can attend a Ruston Town council meeting in person! (Just remember not to upset council member #5 because it sounds like he is full of #2).


(Just a reminder, there is a council meeting tonight at 7 pm at 5219 N. Shirley)

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Sister City?

Several folks mentioned the article in The News Tribune today about Puyallup's city manager appointment, and the concern that consensus on the decision had been reached behind closed doors - either in executive session or in private conversations by council members.

Here is a teaser from the article written by Melissa Santos: "The Open Public Meetings Act stipulates that elected officials cannot take final action or make a vote outside a public meeting. A consensus can be a type of vote, even if it occurs through a string of one-on-one conversations or an e-mail chain, Ford said." (Tim Ford is an ombudsman for the state attorney general)

Dan Albertson's appointment to the Ruston council had clearly been pre-planned at the Dec. 3rd council meeting; with a quick motion and second by Everding and Stebner within seconds after the surprise resignation Bob Pudlo was announced. Although the council is taking applications for the current vacancy, they will not allow any public input. If the majority of the council give any indication that they have spoken privately about which candidate they will appoint, they will have violated the open meetings law.

Funny how Puyallup gets in trouble for things that have become routine in Ruston.


Council Meeting Notes, Jan. 22nd

Just a few more notes about things that were discussed at the last council meeting on Jan. 22nd, besides the new rules the council adopted. The next meeting is tomorrow, Monday, Feb. 4th at 7 pm at the school building.
  • New sewer and garbage rate increases were approved, effective Jan. 18, 2008.
  • An ordinance “providing for highway access management, access permits, and administrative process…” was passed as required by the state.
  • Mayor Transue noted that he expects to hire an interim police chief in 4 to 6 weeks and have a permanent chief in place within 3 or 4 months.
  • He also noted that the town had an agreement with Pierce County for police services if needed for SWAT situations, investigations and such. The town had not renewed that contract, so Tacoma had responded under mutual aid to the recent standoff. The town would be billed for their services, along with the considerable overtime used by town personnel.
  • The Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement for the Point Ruston project is now available. The mayor did not feel the budget allowed for the town planner to do a full review.
  • He will have the town planner get the design completed for a new sewer system, but felt the budget did not allow for anything more without more funding.
  • He has agreed to compromise and will sign the contract for the prosecuting attorney that Council Member Albertson had negotiated with Christa Swain.
  • There was discussion about allowing council members to waive the requirement that they each be given written notice of special meetings if the details of the meeting were set at a council meeting with them present.
  • Council Member Huson announced that Sherri Forch will be organizing the Pancake Breakfast for Easter this year. She was not allowed to talk about it until her 2 minutes of public comment so as to remain consistent with the new council rules.

Point Ruston

There is an in-depth article about Point Ruston in today's Tribune. As a vital part of our future, I encourage everyone to stay up to speed on the project. It may not be as exciting as the council's antics, but it's important. ~ Karen

Here's a teaser from the article by John Gillie:
"When Point Ruston is done eight to 10 years from now, its costs could top $1 billion, making it the largest project undertaken by a single developer in Pierce County history."

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Don's Ruston Market Makes The List

Our own Don's Ruston Market made the top five January posts for The Seattle Traveler. Most of us would agree, they make a superb sandwich and the smoothest shakes in the state. Way to go, Don and Beth!

Friday, February 1, 2008

A Challenge

The latest issue of the Ruston Connection asks if the “political ship of Ruston government is sinking?” What do you think? No one can deny there are growing problems. We have always had a healthy dose of disagreements in this town. But the vicious personal attacks are new, especially the intensity and frequency. In my view, the attacks are coming primarily from the Ruston Connection folks – but I’ve seen some attacks thrown back at them recently.

I don’t think our ‘political boat’ is sinking. Remember, the question comes from a group that met with Tacoma to discuss annexation just a few months after taking office in 2006. The sooner the boat sinks (or appears to sink), the sooner Ruston folds into Tacoma. No grand conspiracy theory, just questions about RC’s motive for portraying our current struggle (most of which is due to their own tactics) as a sinking ship.

OK, enough pointing fingers for today. This silliness could go on forever. It's been 3 years now - and getting worse. It is way past time to find ways to mend the fences. But I don’t think you do that by requiring minority groups (or anyone for that matter) to be quiet and compromise their souls. I firmly believe that all parties can come to the table, be honest and strong in their convictions and still reach consensus.

We saw that process work in the early Asarco redevelopment planning process. It was hard, messy and gut-wrenching at times. But it worked – we found a plan that everyone bought into. The world changed and the plan didn’t materialize as hoped. But the community created a plan – it was from us and for us.

We can do that again for Ruston. I firmly believe we can develop a common vision of who we want to be, a strategic plan if you will. And I don’t think we have to pay big bucks for yet another consultant to jump in a rescue us (although an outsider might get everyone to the table). The process starts by working through the current issues as adults – not as children insulting each other or hiding things behind our backs.

I challenge the mayor and council to make this a priority. Hold roundtable meetings right now. Invite us into your homes to talk – not to talk at us, or to take our conversation out of context and use it against us later. And I challenge the Ruston Connection folks to come to the table. No name calling, no attacks, no belittling those you don’t like. You have refused any neutral conversation so far, to the great determent of our town. Let’s see who’s up for the challenge…

~ Karen