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Category: Lands Commissioner


Court rules against Goldmark in case that McKenna argued under protest

A local public-utility district is legally allowed to use eminent domain to take over state forest land, a court has ruled.

“We conclude that the State trust lands may be condemned as a matter of law,” a unanimous three-judge Court of Appeals panel wrote, siding with a PUD trying to build a power line in the Methow Valley and against Lands Commissioner Peter Goldmark.

I missed the ruling last week but the Methow Valley News covered it here:

The PUD can condemn state land for its Pateros-Twisp powerline, said the Court of Appeals in Spokane in a ruling issued

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How much does lack of party label contribute to undervote for down-ballot primary races?

Some call it ballot fatigue – the tendency of races that fall further down the ballot to receive less attention from voters.

Elections officials, however, call it undervote.

For example, in the just completed primary election in Washington state, 1,435,182 votes were cast — an anemic 38.5 percent. And the race for governor, uncompetitive as it was, got the most love from voters. Just 1.8 percent of those who filled out a ballot did not cast a vote for governor. In the race for U.S. Senate, the undervote was 3.4 percent.

But the dropoff gets more-severe further down the ballot:

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Will lawyer who won Goldmark’s case get paid?

State Lands Commissioner Peter Goldmark has yet to decide what his lawyer should be paid for representing him in his legal victory over Attorney General Rob McKenna.

The lack of a decision is notable in itself because Goldmark’s office said in June 2010 the private attorney would take the case pro bono:

Goldmark has retained the pro bono legal services of attorney David Bricklin, at no cost to the state or trusts.

But Bricklin said today he never intended to work for free.

“I’ve been sending them bills and haven’t been getting paid,” he said. “I wasn’t doing

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If Gregoire tweets in the woods, will Goldmark hear it?

He’d better. If he really has his “Ear to the Ground.”

This is getting to be too much for me. This morning, Gov. Chris Gregoire announced her Twitter page (and other stuff). This afternoon, Lands Commissioner Peter Goldmark announces the Department of Natural Resources blog (and other stuff).

Me, I’m just all atwitter. Actually, I’m suffering from information overload. I don’t know what all to bookmark or NetVibes or twit or whatever…

State DNR launches ‘Ear to the Ground’ blog
Blog joins other social networking tools to help agency communicate with the public

OLYMPIA – The Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) today rolled out a new blog, "Ear to the Ground." This offering is the latest ‘social networking’ feature added to the department’s Web site, www.dnr.wa.gov. The blog was named Ear to the Ground to recognize DNR’s management of more than 5.6 million acres of state trust lands.

The blog, along with social networking tools, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, Facebook and MySpace, will help support the agency’s commitment to transparency and informing the public in how DNR makes its decisions and manages state lands.

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Goldmark: Let me pay DNR workers extra money to retire early

Buyouts are getting increasingly commonplace in the newspaper industry. Trust me. We’re going through our third round of layoffs and buyouts at Tne News Tribune.

But there doesn’t appear to be much latitude for state agencies to basically pay their workers to go away sooner than they otherwise would. For several years, state agencies have had authority to pay workers as much as $25,000 as an incentive to retire. But that program is aimed at workers who already are 1 year past their “normal” retirement date.

Many of those workers are hanging around, partly because they don’t want to pay full freight for health care coverage, which is really pricey because the state has a great medical plan. It costs about $800 a month if you have to pay the full cost. (Workers pay 12 percent of their premiums today; the state pays 88 percent.)

Lands Commissioner Peter Goldmark wants some help, and he wants it in a hurry. He points out that another drawback to the current “buyout” plan is that agencies must recover the costs during the same biennium. That is, if you pay a $50,000-a-year employee $25,000 to go away, you have to leave the job open for at least six months, as long as it would take to realize a $25,000 savings from a lower payroll.

Goldmark says there isn’t time for him to recoup that money since there are only 3-plus months left in the 2007-09 biennium. (It ends June 30.)

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Goldmark voids another last-minute deal by Sutherland

Just before he left office, former state Lands Commissioner Doug Sutherland (former Tacoma mayor) signed a settlement and lease agreement with Taylor Shellfish for the harvest of geoducks on state lands.

New Lands Commissioner Peter Goldmark says he isn’t going to sign it. It’s basically a do-over.

Taylor Shellfish is getting fined for harvesting geoducks from state lands without and lease and the company is now getting the lease they should have gotten in the first place, said Goldmark spokesman Aaron Toso.

“The lease and the settlement are separate issues,” Toso said “But they were tied together (in Sutherland’s deal) and the public didn’t have a voice in the lease.”

The deal that Sutherland signed imposed a $630,000 fine on the shellfish company for harvesting geoducks and oysters from Totten Inlet. It gave the company 5 years to pay off the fine.

It also gave Taylor Shellfish Farms a 10-year lease to 10 acres of state tidelands for about 11 percent of the value of its geoduck harvest and 15 percent of its oyster harvest, plus a fee of about $11,500 a year.

Here’s the whole deal.

Goldmark said he will meet with company officials on Monday.

Also, just before he left office, Sutherland signed a 30-year lease for gravel removal from the Maury Island. Goldmark’s staff is still reviewing that agreement.

OLYMPIA – Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark today announced that he will not sign a lease with Taylor Shellfish with terms as negotiated by the previous commissioner. The terms had been set in a settlement addressing the company’s trespass on state aquatic lands in Totten Inlet.

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New Lands Commissioner Peter Goldmark names transition team

Interestingly, it includes state Rep. Hans Dunshee, D-Snohomish, who will advise Lands Commissioner Peter Goldmark, and Sen.-elect Kevin Ranker, a Democrat who also is a San Juan County Commissioner, for the moment, anyway. Ranker is Goldmark’s aquatics adviser.

And in case you wondered what happened to Gov. Chris Gregoire‘s campaign press secretary after she won reelection, Aaron Toso is on Goldmark’s transition team, too.

Goldmark announces transition plans

Public Lands Commissioner-elect taps statewide leaders for transition team

Olympia – Public Lands Commissioner-elect Peter Goldmark today announced members of his transition team. These leaders will help him usher in a new vision of environmental sustainability and economic opportunity on our state’s lands.

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Goldmark takes lead for lands commissioner

From The Associated Press:

Democrat Peter Goldmark has taken a slim lead in the race for Washington state lands commissioner.

The Okanogan rancher and molecular biologist is trying to unseat two-term incumbent Doug Sutherland, a Republican. Goldmark was up 50.6 percent to 49.4 percent early Wednesday, thanks to an extremely strong showing in King County.

During the campaign, Goldmark painted Sutherland as too cozy with the timber and mining industries. Sutherland played up his administrative credentials, saying he balanced industry and environmental interests while cutting the Department of Natural Resources by more than 300 employees, to fewer

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