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Peace activists speak on kiosk

One month after the Port of Coupeville decided to remove community announcements from its downtown kiosk, members of a local peace group finally got to question why such a decision was made.

Members of Coupeville Peace and Reconciliation attended the Wednesday morning Port meeting to question the commissioners about the policy change.

Since the kiosk was built in 1982, it has been a popular place for community members to place announcements and advertisements. Last month the commissioners changed that policy to allow only port-related projects to be advertised in the kiosk near the pier at the Coupeville Wharf.

Members of Peace and Reconciliation wanted to know if the commissioners considered the impact their decision had on the community and the public process involved in making the decision.

“You might want to reconsider what it means to the whole community,” said Peace and Reconciliation member Dick Hall.

Commissioner Ed Van Patten, who is finishing his term as port commissioner, said the port has been under pressure to show how it’s spending money and that using the kiosk was a good way to accomplish that.

“We had not been tooting our own horn,” Van Patten said.

The kiosk will now contain information about port functions and recently-completed projects and a marine science display.

Van Patten said there are other places in town where community postings are permitted.

Jack Tingstad, also a member of Peace and Reconciliation, questioned the public process used to reach the decision about the kiosk. He wasn’t allowed to speak last month because he hadn’t contacted the port prior to the meeting and asked for time on the agenda.

He pointed out that all other public agencies have time for public input during regular meetings.

“It’s curious that all other public entities have community input,” Tingstad said.

Jim Patton, executive director for the Port of Coupeville, said he had been working on changing the kiosk for a long time and it was he who approached the commissioners to approve changing the type of information placed there.

Peace and Reconciliation often submitted event notices for display under the kiosk glass. Eventually, port officials decided not to place the flyers, deeming them too political. One advertised a Muslim speaker coming to town.

Patton said the Port stopped placing the group’s flyers in the kiosk but never removed ones that were already there.

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