South Whidbey Record, March 18, 2015

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March 18, 2015 edition of the South Whidbey Record

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  • WEDNESDAY, MARCH 18, 2015 | Vol. 91, No. 22 | WWW.SoUTHWHIDBEYRECoRD.CoM | 75

    INSIDE FalcoNS

    Fall IN SEaSoN opENEr

    SEE...a8RecoRdSouth WhidbeySouth Whidbey schools chief looks to improve districts public records process

    By JUSTIN BURNETTSouth Whidbey Record

    Recognizing inadequacies in its ability to quickly and eas-ily satisfy some public information requests, South Whidbeys schools top official is considering a slew of improvements to streamline the dis-tricts records producing process.

    At the top of the list is the cre-ation of a dedicated public records officer, and training on the states Open Public Record Act and its requirements. Also needed is equip-ment or infrastructure that would help officials manage requests more efficiently, especially those seeking digital documents.

    First of all, we need a better sys-tem in place, said Jo Moccia, South Whidbey School District superin-tendent. But, we also need some-one trained so Im not doing it.

    Moccia currently handles most records requests. Its a time-con-suming job that, in most cases, might be better fitted for an employ-ee who is not tasked with running a school district, she said.

    And the job has become more demanding in recent months. In December, the district began including a document in online meeting agendas that identifies people seeking public documents, the details of what they asked for and an estimation of the time and financial resources it took to satisfy the request. The policy has sparked criticism from open government advocates and parents alike, and at least one has taken legal action against the district.

    Its also resulted in additional information requests, one of which highlighted the districts difficulty in searching for and producing digital documents. On Jan. 21, the South Whidbey Record asked for emails between the school board and Moccia over a period of one year that mentioned three topics: the policy, one parent and the news-paper itself.

    District officials initially respond-ed by saying the request drummed up 20,000 records and that it would take a month to complete.

    Following a clarification, which was largely satisfied by repeating the original request, Moccia wrote that she had personally spent three

    hours and an IT employee over eight hours to narrow down the fig-ure to 19,000 documents. Following another clarification, which also largely restated the original request, the number was whittled down to just 140 pages.

    T h e records were produced on Feb. 6, 14 days after the information request was submit ted , and, accord-ing to the districts new online identi-fication form, r e q u i r e d more than 15 hours of staff time and cost the district over $600 to satisfy.

    Records challengesSouth Whidbey uses a Google-

    based email system. It stores all of the districts electronic correspon-dence well, but lacks the ability to effectively and easily search for and identify specific documents, Moccia said.

    The district also has an entire room full of paper records, many that date back decades, and even more files are stored in alternate locations. While binders are clearly labeled, searching for specific docu-ments can be a difficult and time-consuming task.

    Added to that, requesters often accompany their requests with descriptors like all records. Theyre often searching for specific information in a limited time period, but state law doesnt allow district officials to make such distinctions on their own. If someone asks for all records, then its obligated by law to produce the records.

    Some have questioned why the district doesnt just digitize all its documents. In a perfect world, said Moccia, shed hire someone to do just that, but given the sheer vol-ume of records it would be a monu-mental and expensive task.

    Theres some people who think

    MocciaBen Watanabe / The RecordCity leaders and property owners hammered out a land swap this week that will allow the Kleiners to move forward with their renovation plans. The deal ends a development hiccup thats lasted for years.

    Dog House deal reachedLand swap could help preserve Langley icon

    By BEN WATANABE South Whidbey Record

    The Dog House Tavern and Langley took their first step for-ward together toward reopening the historic building on First Street with the approval of a land exchange Monday night.

    On the recommendation of the director of Community Planning and Mayor Fred McCarthy, the Langley City Council gave its unanimous support at the coun-tys regular meeting to accept the property swap. Janice and Charlie Kleiner, the taverns owners since 2010, requested the exchange so they could own the property under the stairs and deck previously on an ease-ment to get into the restaurant and upstairs residence.

    Were thankful for your sup-port, Janice Kleiner said during the meeting. The Kleiners live in Issaquah and made the trip to Langley for the decision, which was not originally expected to come down at that meeting.

    Were excited to get it started. Based on Macaulay and

    Associates appraiser Jim Dodges review of the property, the exchange is for 620 square feet of land under the stairs and deck of the historic Langley building. Langley would receive 175 square feet from the prop-ertys north side, essentially adding area to Seawall Park.

    I always thought that was a good approach, said Councilman Jim Sundberg. He also said the prop-erty the city will get adds access to Seawall Park and Langleys long-term vision to connect the park to the marina of South Whidbey Harbor, currently blocked by private property and the water.

    The citys main concern was that it cannot give away public assets, including property. The challenge in the proposal is that

    the land closest to the water is perceived as more valuable than land under the stairs and deck, which is what the tavern owners would receive.

    Despite the fact that there arent any comparable sales, I feel comfortable that the council,

    if they choose to accept this, can be assured that its a rea-sonable solu-tion, Director of Community P l a n n i n g

    Michael Davolio said in a phone interview Monday before the city council meeting.

    Langley will not get its own appraisal. Davolio said he fig-ured that the amount the city could get would not be worth the expense of paying for the appraiser.

    We could get our own appraisal done, but its my opin-

    SEE RECORDS, A11

    Were excited to get it started.

    Janice Kleiner, Dog House Tavern owner

    SEE DOG HOUSE, A11

  • South Whidbey High Schools three math teams received high marks at the Washington State Math Council Regional High School Math Contest on March 11 at Kamiak High School in Mukilteo.

    Two of the teams have qualified for the State High School Contest.

    South Whidbey High School competed in Division 2, which includ-ed nine teams. South Whidbeys team one

    included Annika Hustad and Mei Mei Hensler; team two included Grace Callahan and Kari Hustad; team three included Fiona Callahan and Sean Miles.

    In the Topic Problem challenge, South Whidbey High School team three placed first and team two placed second; in the Team Problem chal-lenge, team three placed second and team two placed fourth following a tie-breaker with the third-place team.

    The State High School Contest will take place on April 18 at Central Washington University.

    Eagle Rare Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey named Howard Garrett, a Freeland resident, a winner of the 2015 Rare Life Leadership Award.

    Eagle Rare will donate $5,000 to Garretts charity, Orca Network, according to a news

    release. Garrett founded the non-profit organiza-tion, which is dedicated to protecting the whales of the Pacific Northwest, in 2001.

    Garrett has worked with whales for the past 20 years. His advocacy began with a campaign to bring Lolita, the last survivor of the orcas cap-tured from the Southern Resident community in the 1970s, back home to Puget Sound from the Miami Seaquarium.

    The Orca Network and others continue to work towards the goal of set-ting Lolita free in Puget Sound to join the rest of her family, including her 85-year-old mother. They

    have also established a backup plan for life-long care in the event she is unable to acclimate back into her natural environ-ment.

    The Rare Life Award is a recognition program created to honor indi-viduals who exhibit cour-age, leadership, survival, devotion, character and heroism, according to the release.

    Candidates are nomi-nated by friends, family and colleagues. Their stories and photos are posted online at eaglerarelife.com, where visitors vote after reading their inspirational stories.

    Garrett was selected from 259 nominees. The

    release states that the grand prize winner was Alana Miller, founder of Blind Cat Rescue and Sanctuary in St. Pauls, N.C. Miller will receive $50,000 for her charity, a cage-free lifetime care facility for blind cats and cats with feline versions of leukemia and AIDS.

    Garrett was one of six runners-up receiving $5,000. Each runner-up embodies a characteris-tic of Rare Life: courage, leadership, heroism, char-acter, devotion and sur-vival, the release states.

    For more informa-tion on the Rare Life Leadership Award, including a full list of nominees and runners-

    up, visit eaglerarelife.com.

    PeoplePeoplePeoplePage A2 WWW.SOUTHWHIDBEYRECORD.COM Wednesday, March 18, 2015 The South Whidbey Record

    Have an item for the People page?The South Whidbey Record is always on the lookout for items about people in the South Whidbey com-munity. To submit an item, e-mail: news@whid beynewsgroup.com.

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