Bainbridge councilman silenced…yet again


The City Council dysfunction-o-meter rose a few notches on Wednesday night when the council voted to silence one of their own.

The council voted 4-2 to stop Councilman Bob Scales from asking certain questions about the mayor’s authority to spend city money. The meeting marked the second time in three weeks that Scales has been silenced by his colleagues.

“I’ve been on the council for six years, and I’ve never been treated this way,” he said at the meeting’s conclusion. “I’m getting fed up. I’m not going away, and I’m not keeping quiet.”

Scales had asked Steve DiJulio, a municipal law expert invited to discuss the city’s council-manager form of government, whether a minority of council members could spend city money without the full council’s approval.

Earlier this month, Scales accused Mayor Debbi Lester and council members David Ward and Steve Bonkowski of overstepping their authority when they hired a law firm to aid them in removing the city manager. The spending was done without the full council’s knowledge.

The council voted to reject the $3,500 legal bill once the spending was publicly disclosed.

In answer to Scales’ question, DiJulio said unequivocally that a minority of council members cannot spend city funds.

“You don’t have any authority to represent the city without the consent of the full council,” he said.

Lester interrupted Scales when he brought up whether her largely ceremonial mayoral position has any special spending authority. She told Scales to save his questions about the spending issue for another meeting. When he persisted, council members told him he was out of order.

“I’m out of order asking a question? Are you serious?” he asked.

Ward told Scales that his “topic area” would be covered at a later date.

Scales demanded a council vote as to whether he should be allowed to continue with his question. Only he and Councilwoman Anne Blair voted against the speaking restriction.

Lester, Ward, Bonkowski and Councilwoman Sarah Blossom voted for the restriction. Councilwoman Kirsten Hytopoulos was absent.

Some council members have suggested that Lester’s position as mayor may grant her special spending authority. Scales disagrees, saying that the mayor position’s spending authority was lost when voters changed the city’s form of government in 2009, thereby eliminating the elected mayor position, which had executive powers. Scales also noted that the legal consultation spending began on Jan. 5 – five days before Lester was officially selected as mayor.

Scales was last prevented from speaking during a late January meeting. He had been reading a prepared statement about the city manager hiring process when council members cut him off. He left the meeting in protest.

6 thoughts on “Bainbridge councilman silenced…yet again

  1. This does feel very petty given all the horrible problems in Kitsap county of late but I just have to say, Scales regularly and I do mean regularly stepped on Knoblock for 6yrs. He had no problem interrupting, using rules of order to do just what is being done to him now. I am sure it will settle down but his rage is pretty funny given how he had no problem shutting down the minority when he was in the majority. Its hard being in the minority Bob.

    We know he doesn’t like that his manager got fired, but he did protect her by leading the charge to hire her full time prematurely, so at least he can take comfort that he got her a good exit package.
    That said, its time for us all to settle down and get past this, small stuff like this plastic bags thing and figure out how to do the hard stuff.

  2. Tristan, I know this is a “blog” so the rules of journalism are somewhat relaxed, but you are decidedly biased here. How about some objective journalism? Do some research and see how Scales has acted over the last couple of years towards his fellow council members. It looks to me like he may be correct as far as this particular issue goes, but in terms of how he is being treated, he has reaped what he has sown. He is certainly not alone in causing problems, but he is the single biggest reason there is as much dissent in BI politics as there is today. It goes back years.

  3. Marvin —
    I’m Tristan’s editor here at the Sun. I just want to set the record straight about part of your comment. This blog is held to the same standards of journalism as any other reporting done for our newspaper and website. There may be a different style of writing used on this blog than what is characteristic of a straight news account, but the tenants of objectivity and accuracy remain. For what it’s worth, to me this reads like a pretty straightforward report on what happened at the meeting last night.

    Thanks for reading and taking part in the discussion here.

    David Nelson
    Editor, Kitsap Sun

  4. Good – the less scales opens his mouth the better the City is. Scales is a bully who does not know how to act when bullied back. With any luck he will get so annoyed he will resign.

  5. Scales is not only “out of order”, but out of control as well. He has been a bully from the start and is an embarrassment to this community. One would hope he’d take the initiative to resign at this point, yet that would require integrity beyond his present reach.

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