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  • Arne Mortensen

Catching up


Disclaimer: This and any other comments on my website or Facebook page are solely my own words/opinions and are NOT an official position of the County or of the Board of County Commissioners (BoCC). Anything in these fora are my attempt to disseminate timely information to the citizenry and to offer an opinion. In many cases, direct or related information is available on the County Website and readers are encouraged to consult that site. Nothing contained herein is binding.

Polling status plans:

My plans to do polling and use the Cowlitz County Voter Registration database are now defunct. It was called to my attention that the RCW (http://apps.leg.wa.gov/rcw/default.aspx?cite=29A.08.720) that governs the use of that data narrowly describes the meaning of “political purpose” and that therefore my planned usage of the database was not permitted.

After the difficulty with using the Google polling scheme, not going forward in the planned manner may be a good thing. That doesn’t mean that I give up consulting the public on issues of consequence.

See below for some current issues:

Cowlitz County Comprehensive Plan (the Comp Plan):

Currently the County Commissioners have been asked to adopt the Comp Plan, but before the commissioners vote on that, they are holding evening hearings to let the public review the Comp Plan. There is much in the Comp Plan to review because it is another set of rules/guidelines (select your favorite word) which will bind residents of the county (not the cities). Go here to get the schedule and document data: http://www.co.cowlitz.wa.us/index.aspx?NID=575 . In case that link fails, got the County website and select departments and building and planning.

Evening meetings:

The Comp Plan is being presented in evening meetings. Good attendance is an important factor in continuing holding evening meetings. The idea is to continue the Tuesday morning meetings, but to let the issues there be ones that are perfunctory, such as paying bills for services already incurred. These perfunctory issues have little interest for the public. The extraordinary (not routine) issues will be presented in the evening meetings. Right now, the evening meetings are being dedicated to a review of the comp plan, a very important issue of consequence to those who live in the unincorporated county.

Workshop schedules as well as the Tuesday public meeting schedule likely (and soon) will change. The Tuesday meeting may be switched to Thursday, for example. There is nothing externally significant to this change; the change is to try to lessen a last-minute rush that we face when putting together an agenda.

Workshops and Conferences:

Communication between County Commissioners is subject to the Open Public Meetings Act (OPMA) as defined in the RCW http://apps.leg.wa.gov/RCW/default.aspx?cite=42.30 .

Workshops are public meetings attended by County staff and the Commissioners to discuss issues that eventually appear on the Tuesday agenda. The meetings are held in the BoCC suite, which is on the third floor of the Administration Building, 207 4th Avenue, Kelso (across from the Kelso Post Office).

In addition to Workshops, there are Commissioner Conferences, also open to the public. It is at these conferences that Commissioners may discuss with each other County business; by OPMA, they are not permitted to discuss county business with each other at any other time which has not been scheduled in advance and made open to the public.

Below is a snippet of the way to look up the schedule of these meetings. Start at: http://www.co.cowlitz.wa.us/

New Hotel on the fairgrounds?

There are ongoing discussions about getting better usage of the fairgrounds and convention center. Reasonably done studies, as well as data on hand from our event center, show that more space and a modern “on campus” lodging facility will bring convention business to Longview. So, there is activity to plan the usage of the land at the fairgrounds such that a hotel with additional meeting rooms can be built, thus working with and enhancing the expo center.

The building of any such new facility will not involve tax payer dollars. The hotel will be a private enterprise, but it must meet conditions set by the County so that it enhances the event center. The hotel to be built must come from a selection process open to the public for bids.

The City of Longview and the County have yet to work out details of the physical layout of the land. That will involve the County and the City swapping some land, mostly slivers/orphan pieces. These discussions start with a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the County and the City of Longview. (An MOU simply means that there is enough mutual interest to go forward with a good faith effort to work out a plan that is mutually acceptable.) A draft MOU is currently being developed.


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