WSLCB - Board Caucus
(June 25, 2024)

Tuesday June 25, 2024 10:15 AM - 11:00 AM Observed
WSLCB Enforcement Logo

The three-member board of the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (WSLCB) meets weekly in caucus to discuss current issues and receive invited briefings from agency staff.


The board decided to lower public commenter time, a new draft of the social equity scoring rubric was under development, and a member attended a drug policy conference in Québec.

Here are some observations from the Tuesday June 25th Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (WSLCB) Board Caucus.

My top 3 takeaways:

  • Board members talked about the benefits and drawbacks of reducing public speaking time during board meetings, deciding to limit individual remarks to three minutes rather than four starting July 17th.
    • While not listed on the agenda, Board Chair Postman brought up “public comment periods and things of that sort,” remarking that “all of us have had questions and concerns about it…this is the first chance we had to all be in the room together to talk about it.” He noted that the four minute speaking slots were a “holdover” decided by board members years earlier and there was “some interest in maybe bringing that down to three minutes” permanently. Postman also wanted to discuss their ability to “further curtail public comment if we have a huge turnout, as the legislature and other public bodies in state government do.” He referred to the four minute window afforded to guests as the most “permissive, liberal” standard among state agencies “run by boards.” Postman pointed out that some government agencies didn’t provide general public comment opportunities and communication with agency leaders had to be submitted in writing. While he found this limitation “overly onerous and unfair,” he supported lowering the speaking time to three minutes “in the name of smooth running operations,” with the option to further limit public speaking time if there were a large number of people wishing to address the board (audio - 2m, video - WSLCB, video - TVW).
      • Christopher King, a citizen who routinely expressed his opinions of the board, called out members at meetings on June 5th and 18th for lowering allotted speaking time and implied the action was taken to target him specifically, and speakers from communities of color more generally.
      • The last time the Board contemplated reducing public speaking time in 2019 they received public pushback and didn’t pursue the change.
    • Board Member Jim Vollendroff shared his surprise that the public speaking time had been four minutes to begin with (“more than I’ve ever seen at any state or county agency”), and felt “proud” WSLCB provided “many opportunities for public engagement" with agency leaders. Still, “four minutes is a long time,” particularly when there were lots of people signed up to speak. He also emphasized citizens could submit written remarks “if you’ve got more than the allotted amount of time…we still want to hear from you.” Postman observed there were many other public engagement opportunities outside of board meetings like focus groups and board members didn’t plan to reduce those chances (audio - 2m, video - WSLCB, video - TVW).
    • Board Member Ollie Garrett was also in favor of limiting public comments to three minutes, agreeing it was within the scope of the Board to set limits. She felt that there’d only been a couple instances where the limit applied based on having a deadline for wrapping up a board meeting. Garrett was curious, “rather than being put in a biased situation” if they should have a standard practice for deciding when to further reduce speaking time. Postman was uncertain what she meant by biased, and Garrett suggested she wanted “a time frame” or criteria for the board announcing reduced comment periods. Postman answered that most agencies "don't always have that hard stop" and he’d seen WSLCB meetings “lasting until noon” (audio - 7m, video - WSLCB, video - TVW).
      • Vollendroff liked the idea of a firm ending time for board meetings, noting he’d contemplated missing a flight after prioritizing staying in a board meeting to hear commenters. Additionally, “I wonder sometimes how many other people attend our meetings, who have other meetings to attend.” He argued that with a firm stop time they’d reduce the chances guests had to choose between staying for the end of the meeting or attending another event.
      • Garrett liked the approach of setting a clear end time for meetings rather than basing it on the number of speakers. Vollendroff agreed that it would be easy enough for staff to count the number of online and in-person speakers. “We're not even talking about this being something that we would have to implement very regularly,” he said, but instead “based on the fact that we have a hard stop.”
      • While Vollendroff was skeptical that they’d end up reducing time “to 30 second increments” if there were enough speakers, Postman was concerned “that could happen though, you know on those big days.” He felt the board should still be able to “use our judgment to say, ‘let's extend, let's have that conversation.’”
    • Postman asked when they should set the hard stop for their meetings, with members briefly debating the benefits of ending at noon or 11:30am. They decided on 11:30 as the standard ending time, and Postman stated the new limits would start at the July 17th Board Meeting (audio - 4m, video - WSLCB, video - TVW).
    • Postman concluded, “I just wanted to say on my own behalf here I don't think there's any question about bias,” by board members with regard to public speaking. “I think we've gone out of our way, in the three and a half years I've been here, to listen to a lot of people in a lot of different forums and let people repeat themselves and unfortunately” even permit people to “make threats and intimidate.” He was disappointed some perceived this as bias, but “I don't and I feel pretty confident about that” (audio - 1m, video - WSLCB, video - TVW).
    • Director of Policy and External Affairs Justin Nordhorn asked how the new time limit related to public hearings hosted by WSLCB during board meetings, although a “public hearing doesn't have to happen at the board meeting,” and could start immediately following a meeting. If hearings continued to be scheduled as part of board meetings, “we'll probably want to talk about making sure that there's enough time, that it's not an over-packed agenda.” Postman indicated that public hearings would take precedence over general public comments, but felt hearings had generally been short and board members could move when the public comment portion of the meeting occurred as needed. Vollendroff and Garrett supported maintaining general public comment as the last agenda item for meetings (audio - 2m, video - WSLCB, video - TVW).
  • Board Member Ollie Garrett brought up the social equity program scoring rubric, reporting that she was working with staff on bringing forward a revised version that incorporated citizen feedback (audio - 1m, video - WSLCB, video - TVW).
    • The internal task force on social equity at WSLCB had “gone over all of the input from the community meetings” related to the applicant scoring rubric, said Garrett. They’d discussed “coming up with a potential new scoring rubric to present to the board,” she told her colleagues, and would “come to a board caucus to present what we've come up with” when it was drafted, something she expected would take at least another two weeks.
    • Garrett praised staff for “doing a great job on listening to the community, listening to what we have, what's being recommended, and to make sure that we are factoring all voices into our final product.” Postman remarked that he would “love to see the stakeholder feedback document.”

Information Set

Segment - 01 - Welcome - David Postman (11s) InfoSet ]
Segment - 02 - Revising Public Comment Structure - David Postman (2m 11s) InfoSet ]
Segment - 03 - Revising Public Comment Structure - Jim Vollendroff (2m) InfoSet ]
Segment - 04 - Revising Public Comment Structure - Ollie Garrett (6m 47s) InfoSet ]
Segment - 05 - Revising Public Comment Structure - Question - Board Meeting Hard Stop - David Postman (3m 41s) InfoSet ]
Segment - 06 - Revising Public Comment Structure - Wrapping Up - David Postman (52s) InfoSet ]
Segment - 07 - Update - David Postman (55s) InfoSet ]
Segment - 08 - Revising Public Comment Structure - Question - Public Hearings - Justin Nordhorn (1m 56s) InfoSet ]
Segment - 09 - Update - International Society for the Study of Drug Policy Conference - Jim Vollendroff (2m 10s) InfoSet ]
Segment - 10 - Update - International Society for the Study of Drug Policy Conference - Question - Quebec PAL - David Postman (29s) InfoSet ]
Segment - 11 - Update - International Society for the Study of Drug Policy Conference - Question - Quebec Retail Employee Training - David Postman (25s) InfoSet ]
Segment - 12 - Update - Social Equity Scoring Rubric - Ollie Garrett (1m 29s) InfoSet ]
Segment - 13 - Wrapping Up - David Postman (16s) InfoSet ]

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Information Set