Whidbey News-Times


Port of Coupeville commissioners apologize for remarks made months ago

By NATHAN WHALEN Whidbey News-Times Staff reporter
April 21, 2013 · Updated 9:25 AM

Commissioners for the Port of Coupeville are apologizing for comments made several months ago about a Greenbank resident’s perusal of district records while the port office was unattended and door locked.

Commissioners Marshal Bronson and Benye Weber were openly critical of Greenbank resident Rick Abraham after Bronson spotted him examining records on the port computer.

Abraham said he was offended by the comments and maintained that he had permission to be in the office unattended.

In response to the commissioners’ comments, Abraham threatened to take legal action against the Port of Coupeville, according to a letter he submitted to the port in March.

Bronson, who heads the board of commissioners, read an apology letter into the official record during the Port of Coupeville’s April 10 meeting.

In it, he and Weber expressed their regrets that Abraham was offended by certain remarks made about his unattended visit to the port office in February.

“These remarks were made during a regular monthly public meeting of the board on Feb. 13, 2013 and may have left the impression with the public that your visit was improper,” Bronson said during the meeting.

“Moreover, these remarks were made after you had left the meeting and you were not given the opportunity to respond.”

He said the board noted that Abraham provided a detailed explanation of his actions, and agrees that, because of the access granted by the port’s executive director, Abraham’s actions in February weren’t improper.

Abraham was critical of letter sent to him by commissioners Bronson and Weber.

“I thought it was actually pretty weak and disingenuous, but if there is no more damage, than I think the matter is resolved,” Abraham said during an interview Tuesday morning.

The issue was never about security, Abraham said.

The real issue was him questioning the judgment of the commissioners for the Port of Coupeville, Abraham said. He served on a volunteer committee assigned the task of coming up with recommendations about how the Greenbank Farm should operate once the current agreement with the Greenbank Farm Management group expires.

The commissioners for the Port of Coupeville approved a resolution this month basically formalizing its public records policies.

The port is going to post times that public records will be made available, and those hours will be posted at the door of the port office and on the port’s website, according to the resolution.

The resolution also states that people requesting information may do so only by appointment, and “no member of the public may be granted unattended access to the port office without prior written approval of the board of commissioners.”

The port will also charge a fee of 15 cents per page for photocopies of public records, but no fee will be charged for making public records available for inspection.

Bronson and Weber approved the resolution.

There are currently two members sitting on the three-member board. Former commissioner Laura Blankenship announced her resignation last week.

In a letter, Blankenship was critical of the Bronson’s and Weber’s comments about Abraham’s unattended perusal of port records.


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