Joint county-state panel to probe mudslide events

OLYMPIA — Gov. Jay Inslee and Snohomish County Executive John Lovick are nearly ready to convene a commission that will delve into events preceding and following the deadly Oso landslide.

Launch of the joint county-state panel could be announced as early as this week by the two leaders, who first pledged to set up a commission in late April.

Since then, Inslee and Lovick have not revealed who will serve nor offered many details on what they will focus on. They’ve also been quiet about the cost.

“We are very close to announcing all of that,” said David Postman, Inslee’s communications chief and one of a handful of state and county employees involved in setting up the panel.

Though the group will be launched weeks later than imagined, Postman said no one is rushing.

“It just pays to be thoughtful up front,” he said. “We want to set this up for success.”

A key question will be how deeply the commission probes into the circumstances of the March 22 disaster that killed 43 people. Searchers still hope to find the lone missing victim, Kris Regelbrugge, 44.

In April, Lovick said the group is “going to look at everything that happened. They’re going to cover every single detail.”

On Thursday, he made clear to The Herald editorial board the commission will be looking to assess actions taken in the emergency and not to assign blame for anything that occurred.

The governor and county executive do not want the work of the commission entangled in ongoing legal wrangling. A lawsuit and a dozens of claims already have been filed against the state and county related to the landslide.

It appears the scope of the commission will be three-fold.

First, commissioners will try to construct a historic narrative of the geologic and relevant political events in the years before the landslide including land-use and logging decisions.

It will review the rescue and recovery effort, then look for ways public, private and nonprofit forces could improve their responses during a catastrophic emergency.

Lovick and Inslee remained mum last week on who will serve on the commission. Postman has said the two leaders will “weigh in” on the choice of chairman but not handpick that person.

The cost of this undertaking could be huge, or not. Lovick has said the tab could reach $1 million and is counting on the state to cover the biggest portion. Federal aid might also be sought to defray costs, he has said.

But not all that money is needed up front.

“I don’t think the required budget to get them started is that much,” Postman said Thursday.

Noah Haglund contributed to this report.

Jerry Cornfield: 360-352-8623; jcornfield@heraldnet.com

More in Local News

A customer walks away after buying a hot dog from a vendor on 33rd St and Smith Street near the Everett Station on Friday. The Everett Station District Alliance pictures the area east of Broadway and south of Hewitt Avenue as a future neighborhood and transit hub that could absorb expected population growth. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
How can Everett Station become a vibrant part of city?

A neighborhood alliance focused on long-term revitalization will update the public Tuesday.

Agency didn’t expect such big demand for needle clean-up kits

The Snohomish Health District ran out of supplies quickly, but more are arriving daily.

EvCC teachers take their contract concerns to the board

Their union says negotiations have been disappointingly slow. The community college isn’t commenting.

Here’s what to do if you want to vote and aren’t registered

Oct. 30 is the deadline for new-voter registration in time for the November election.

Two teens struck by truck in Lynnwood

The teens, between the ages of 14 and 16, were taken to the hospital as a precaution.

Luring attempt reported in Mountlake Terrace

The driver allegedly instructed a boy to get in the truck and help grab a scooter he was giving away.

Injured hiker rescued near Granite Falls

Woman fell and hit her head on a rock Saturday, and her condition worsened overnight.

Council passes six-month moratorium on safe injection sites

Proposal by County Councilman Nate Nehring passed unanimously.

Man arrested after police find van full of drugs, cash and guns

An officer on patrol noticed a vehicle by itself in the middle of a WinCo parking lot at 2 a.m.

Most Read