News

State fines school board director

"The state Public Disclosure Commission has slapped Coupeville school board director Cecil Stuurmans with a $100 fine for failure to disclose a current personal financial affairs report by the April 15 deadline.The civil penalty, which can carry a fine of up to $500, is levied upon government officials who fail to comply with the multiple warnings issued by the commission. About 90 such penalties were issued this year to various officials around the state.Stuurmans, who has served continually on Coupeville school board since first being elected in November 1991, was on vacation this week and unavailable for comment. As with all school board positions in the region, Stuurmans is an unpaid volunteer.I am continually amazed at the number of elected and appointed officials who ignore the law and fail to file the required financial reports, said Public Disclosure Commission Chairwoman Christine Yorozu. Under the statute - passed by a citizen's initiative in 1973 - some 5,500 officials are subject to this annual reporting requirement.Yorozu stressed that such filing such reports is more than a formality.PDC's Coordinator of Public Outreach Doug Ellis said that the severity of the fine is entirely up to the commission chair, and often is reduced by such mitigating circumstances as prolonged illness. Ellis said officials receiving fines failed to respond to two letters of warning, one sent out in mid-May and another - a call to attend a brief enforcement hearing - mailed a month later.Ellis said officials being sanctioned should not be misled by the low dollar amount of the fine. It's one of the more stringent (regulations) in the nation, he said. It's been on the books for a long time.Ellis said the purpose of the personal ginancial sffairs dtatement is two-fold: It gives both the public and its elected officials an idea of any potential conflict of interest. It's sort of a tangible proof that these elected officials are acting in the public's best interest, said Ellis. It's sort of a check and balance.Apropos of either nothing or everything, Ellis gave an example of why the commission's reporting requirements are so crucial to the political system: Say a husband, serving as a volunteer on the school board, lands a contract for paper with a paper supply company where his wife just happens to be employed. And then, Ellis went on, the wife ends up getting a financial bonus for landing the contract.It's not necessarily nefarious, added Ellis. But the public wants to know (these things).Only six other public officials in Northwest Washington were levied fines this year, including Commissioner Brian Calvert of the Port of Friday Harbor ($100) and Commissioner Robert Gamble of the Port of Orcas ($500).Stuurmans has the option to review his case and appeal the fine at a second round of hearings set Aug. 20 in Olympia. "

We encourage an open exchange of ideas on this story's topic, but we ask you to follow our guidelines for respecting community standards. Personal attacks, inappropriate language, and off-topic comments may be removed, and comment privileges revoked, per our Terms of Use. Please see our FAQ if you have questions or concerns about using Facebook to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus

Read the latest Green Edition

Browse the print edition page by page, including stories and ads.

Oct 25 edition online now. Browse the archives.

Friends to Follow

View All Updates