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Time for New Leadership in DuPont

Submitted by Judy Norris.

DuPont lost an outstanding Fire Chief, Chief Mike Keohi, with decades of experience and one who did an outstanding job coordinating the DFD fire suppression efforts that saved our Hoffman Hill residential area from a raging bluff brush fire in early July 2019. See Tacoma News Tribune story here.

DuPont Municipal Code 13.03.020 clearly states that “(c) The Fire Chief shall develop policies and procedures for Fire Department operation. These policies and procedures shall be reviewed annually.” Keohi offered to meet with DuPont Mayor Mike Courts to discuss options that would be a win-win, but Courts did not accept the meeting offer. DuPont has several employment contracts that allow an employee who resigns voluntarily, with some restrictions, to receive 3 months severance pay. Keohi’s resignation cost DuPont $21,000 and the new interim Fire Chief’s salary is now several thousand dollars more per month than Keohi’s.

This resignation is just another example of why DuPont citizens are ready for a change in city leadership. DuPont had a primary in August wherein Ronald Frederick received a landslide 61.85% of the vote against incumbent Mike Courts’ 29.19%. DuPont’s primary election turn-out was the highest in Pierce County.

DuPont has had a difficult past two years under the Courts’ administration. Below is a brief synopsis of the legal evidence that DuPont citizens accept as evidence that it’s time for a change of leadership.

  1. In 2016, the City granted approval for the building of ACE Hardware, requiring a controversial zoning code change, when a key City employee had a financial interest in said building.
  2. In May 2017, the city promoted a police officer to chief of police even after it was warned by the Pierce County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office that any testimony in a legal proceeding given by said police officer would be subject to impeachment due to the officer’s adverse professional history. The police chief subsequently resigned on June 1, 2018.
  3. In the summer of 2019, the City paid a $125K settlement out of its contingency funds for a PDA lawsuit because there was sufficient evidence that documents were destroyed.
  4. The City has unsuccessfully defended several land use appeals, to include the mayor’s desire in 2017 to allow distribution warehouses around our golf course, middle school and in our residential center (citizens crowd sourced over $13,000 to successfully fight this, to include an intervention with the Growth Management Hearing Board when the land owner’s filed suit in disagreement with the city council decision to uphold the zoning code prohibiting said distribution warehouses.)
  5. Another successful land use appeal was the defeat in 2018 of a proposed 16-pump ARCO gas station at the entrance to our Historic Village.
  6. Recently in June 2019, the Hearing Examiner determined that our city code does not allow a warehouse abutting a major road in our Manufacturing and Research Area. The city had already approved this warehouse before the appeal was filed. The warehouse would be built right above DuPont’s and Pierce County’s beloved Sequalitchew Creek and Sequalitchew Trail.
  7. Additionally, the Public Disclosure Committee just issued a violation in Sep 2019, requiring no further investigation, against Mayor Courts for allowing two political campaign speeches during the August 2019 City Council meeting. The PDC stated clearly that this is in violation of RCW 42.17A.555.

The evidence speaks for itself. DuPont is ready for new leadership.

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