Finally, someone in the Issaquah city government said its cybersquatting of the Sammamish Plateau Water and Sewer District websites was wrong.
Councilman Joe Forkner, who is running for mayor against long-time councilman Fred Butler, who is also president of the council, took this stand in a candidate profile in the Issaquah Press. The Press wrote:
He did not pause when asked about strategies taken in the past year to defend Issaquah against perceived attacks from the Sammamish Plateau Water and Sewer District. He said that an aggressive assumption plan and cybersquatting activities would have no place in a prospective Forkner administration.
Butler has only said he didn’t know of the cybersquatting in advance. He’s declined to take a stand on the ethics of the practice.
I’ve known Butler for years, as well as another council member, Stacy Goodman. Both refused to take a stand on the ethics of the city’s cybersquatting the Water District’s website when I asked. Goodman, who covered the City of Sammamish as a reporter for the Sammamish Review when I was on city commissions and committees, would have been all over this story as a reporter. As an Issaquah City Council member, she’s gone into the bunker, along with Butler and the rest of the city government.
It is gratifying to see that someone over there decided the cybersquatting was wrong. But it sure took long enough.
As readers of Sammamish Comment (and the local newspapers) know, the Water District and Issaquah have been fighting over water treatment issues for years. After the District launched a campaign to advise its customers of the problem, Issaquah’s staff created to domain names virtually identical to those of the Water District to hijack District customers and those interested in the issues, redirecting them to city websites aimed at countering District information.
Issaquah Mayor Ava Frisinger and city administrator Bob Harrison defended the practice. Harrison said this was done to counter “misinformation” from the District.
This is an amazing excuse.
Issaquah has two full-time employees in its communications department, Warren Kagarise (who purchased the phoney domain names) and Autumn Monahan. Both were once reporters for the Issaquah Press. Monahan also was once employed by a professional public relations firm. Council member Goodman was also once a reporter for the Press. All are well-schooled in communication and information dissemination.
With all this newspaper experience, and the understanding of communicating messages and reporting facts that goes with being reporters and a public relations professional, Issaquah still resorted to cheating and trickery to try and get its message across. And this was their first action. Slick videos and presentations came later.
Every local newspaper condemned the city for its actions.
One can only roll your eyes and shake your head at the decision-making that went into this, the lack of ethics surrounding it, the defense of it, and the lack of outrage by the city council members.
Good for Forkner for finally being the one elected official with the courage to stand up and take a position that this was wrong. But he was awfully slow to do so.