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Bangasser buys The Loop

Tom Bangasser speaks at a recent Vashon-Maury Island Community Council meeting. - Leslie Brown/Staff Photo
Tom Bangasser speaks at a recent Vashon-Maury Island Community Council meeting.
— image credit: Leslie Brown/Staff Photo

Tom Bangasser, a controversial businessman who helped to found Vashon College, has purchased The Loop, a Vashon newspaper currently published every other week, according to a brief item posted on The Loop's website Thursday morning.

Bangasser on Thursday also resigned from the Vashon-Maury Island Community Council's board, noting that he wanted to avoid a "conflict of interest," according to the two-paragraph story on The Loop's website. He was elected to the board last November.

Steve Allen, the current editor, will remain in place, according to the story. "Tom has no plans to change anything except expanding sales and revenue," the story says.

Reached Thursday afternoon, Bangasser declined comment, saying a full story about his decision to take over the publication would appear in its next issue. He noted that he's been involved in publishing before but declined to elaborate. "You'll read about it in The Loop," he said.

News of his decision to buy the small publication was met with surprise.

"That's a very interesting turn of events. I'm going to have to digest that for a while," said Kyle Cruver, a former VMICC board member who resigned last year in part because of a controversy that erupted over Bangasser's use of the state's Public Records Act.

Tim Johnson, the current president of the VMICC board, said he thought it made some sense for Bangasser, a "passionate advocate," to own The Loop. "It's often difficult for passionate advocates to work on a consensus- or majority-basis ... because majorities tend to water down the ideas of passionate advocates. I think having a vehicle for him to express his advocacy is probably a good thing."

Nancy Bachant, a friend of Bangasser, said she was pleased by his decision.

"We need people who understand the problems of the county. Tom Bangasser understands the county very well ... and he has the best intentions for whatever he's doing. He's Jesuit-trained. He's in whatever he's in for the good of the community and not the way he's been portrayed," she said.

Bangasser, who helped to found the now-dormant Vashon College, has played a high-profile role on Vashon. At one point, he was president of the Island's Chamber of Commerce. He also developed Courthouse Square and manages the J.T. Sheffield Building; the latter, named after his grandfather, is in tax arrears, with $116,632 in unpaid taxes, interest and penalties owed for over the last three years, according to the county assessor's website.

Recently, he has turned his attention to the community council, occasionally riling people with his demand that certain documents be turned over to him under the auspices of the Public Records Act. His initial demands for documents under the act triggered the mass resignation of all nine board members last year. In March, after he became a member of the VMICC board, he narrowly survived an effort to force his removal from the the board; with a two-thirds majority needed, the motion failed by nine votes.

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