Category Archives: Courts

Third site lands on list for new police station

The Bainbridge Island Police Station on Winslow Way.
The Bainbridge Island Police Station on Winslow Way.

The city is considering third site option for a police station.

The newest property being considered is nearly 9 acres of undeveloped land “outside the Winslow core.”

City officials did not provide an address, general location or cost estimation for the property.

The two other locations still being considered are a .75 acre property on Madison Avenue, north of City Hall, and 1.89 acres along New Brooklyn Road by the Bainbridge Island Fire Department headquarters.

All three sites are large enough to accommodate police, municipal court and the Emergency Operations Center.

The newest site option would leave room for expansion or building other city facilities. The city also could sell part of the property to reduce the overall project cost.

A “significant amount” of the land is buildable, although a portion is unbuildable, said City Manager Doug Schulze.

The site near the fire station headquarters could require a two-story building, resulting in a “loss of operational efficiency.” The land also has a slight slope, requiring a retaining wall.

The Madison Avenue property near City Hall does not have room for expansion, and would require a two-story building. The property is “marginally large enough for the police facility and required parking.”

While the Madison Avenue property is the smallest, it is closest to City Hall and would allow for a government campus.

Having a campus was one of the reasons city officials declined to build a joint station with the fire department. Council members also voiced concerns with being a tenant of the fire department.

Keeping the police station close to City Hall also allows for accountability, Schulze said.

“The citizens of the community have concerns about unnecessary use of force and expect police officers to be skilled in tactful communication, de-escalation, and crisis intervention,” according to Schulze’s memorandum to the council.

The city plans to make a final site selection by the end of June.

Plaintiffs in public records lawsuit fire back at councilman’s letter to the editor

A screen shot of part of Paulson's blog that fires back against Councilman Steve Bonkowski's recent letter to the editor.
A screen shot of part of Paulson’s blog that fires back against Councilman Steve Bonkowski’s recent letter to the editor.

Althea Paulson, who filed a public records lawsuit with Bob Fortner against Bainbridge Island in 2013, says in a blog post that she and Fortner do not agree with Councilman Steve Bonkowski’s version of the lawsuit in a recent letter to the editor.

Paulson and Fortner’s lawsuit said Bonkowski, Councilman David Ward and Councilwoman Debbi Lester violated city policy and the state Public Records Act by using personal email accounts to conduct city business and later withholding the documents.

In May, a Kitsap County Superior Court judge ruled city officials didn’t perform an “adequate” search for documents on Bonkowski’s and Ward’s personal computers.

Paulson and Fortner had requested documents regarding the city’s utilities, Utility Advisory Committee and the performance of employees.

Lester was dropped from the lawsuit as an individual at the beginning of last year after she turned over requested documents. She left the board at the end of her term in 2013.

Ward offered to resign as part of a $500,000 settlement from the city to Paulson and Fortner in December 2014.

Bonkowski is still a council member and is up for reelection in November.

In his letter to the editor, Bonkowski said he did not conduct city business on his personal email account and turned over emails in a timely manner.

“The Paulson/Fortner lawsuit has confused, disappointed, and divided our community, and now is poised to extract over half a million dollars from taxpayers,” he wrote. “I am pained to think that I may carry any responsibility for these circumstances. I want the community to know that I did not conduct city business from my private email account, and I did turn over my emails to the city in a timely manner for the public records request. What I did not do is provide my personal computer hard drive as part of that public records request.

“From the beginning of the records requests, and prior to the lawsuit, the requesters demanded access to council members’ private computer hard drives. Turning over one’s hard drive is not required by state law, nor the Public Records Act; the City did not ask council members to turn over personal computer hard drives.”

Paulson, Fortner and their attorney, Dan Mallove, disagree with multiple points in Bonkowski’s letter.

“Neither Paulson nor Fortner ever made a demand for access to anyone’s computer hard drive, before or after the filing of the lawsuit. Their records requests asked only that the City produce specified public records involving council members, ‘whether those records are on their private email accounts or otherwise,’” the blog post says.

You can read Bonkowski’s letter in full, as well as the reply letter on Paulson’s blog.

You also can read Councilman Val Tollefson’s letter to the editor about the settlement being an expensive lesson for the city.

Help us rank the top 10 Islander stories of 2014

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The tugboat Pacific Knight helps maneuver the state ferry Tacoma to the Bainbridge Island dock after it lost power while making the 12:20 p.m. sailing from Seattle to Bainbridge on July 29, 2014. MEEGAN M. REID / KITSAP SUN

We are asking readers to rank the top Bainbridge Islander stories from this past year in a survey. The top 10 will be posted on this blog.

You can take the survey here.

If you need to refresh your memory on a story,  they are listed below in no particular order with links:

 

Fire Commissioners to determine whether to place facilities levy at Oct. 9 meeting

Bainbridge Island Fire Commissioners will likely determine at their Oct. 9 meeting whether they will place a potential 20-year, $17 million facilities bond measure for a possible election in February. The bond would finance replacing the island’s two oldest fire stations and remodeling its newest.

The commissioners made the decision at Thursday’s night meeting after the Bainbridge Island City Council decided Tuesday at its meeting that they needed additional community input regarding a new police station that would possibly be co-located with the municipal court.

To accomplish this, the City Council will have a public comment period about the range of options regarding a new police station at its 7 p.m. Oct. 7 study session in the Council Chamber.

The city of Bainbridge Island is looking at various options, including a new stand-alone police facility in Winslow, either to the north or south near City Hall, as well as a combined police and fire facility located at the site of the current Bainbridge Island Fire Department (BIFD) Station 21.

A June report by an architect firm stated building a new combined police-fire facility would cost $2.3 million less at $15.3 million than the $17.6 million combined total it would take to build separate fire and police facilities.

A June phone poll indicated the support for a joint Bainbridge fire/police station was overwhelming with 87 percent of island residents out of 200 favoring a design for a new main fire station on Madison Avenue that included a new city police station.

At Tuesday’s City Council meeting, Seattle architect firm Mackenzie delivered a report analyzing the feasibility of the preferred options on public safety and court facilities being considered by the City Council. This report is available on the city of Bainbridge Island website at: www.bainbridgewa.gov/DocumentCenter/Home/View/3987. Additional information and background about this project can be found on the project page on the City’s website: www.bainbridgewa.gov/528/Police-Facility-Planning.

UPDATED: Historic tug Chickamauga dismantled, two pieces salvaged

Tristan Baurick/Kitsap Sun The Chickamauga pictured in February at its new dryland home in Port Townsend.
Tristan Baurick/Kitsap Sun
The Chickamauga pictured in February at its dryland home in Port Townsend.

***This story has been updated to include cost of the disposal, towing and other expenses, condition of the boat and the court date for the ship’s owner, 8:30 a.m. April 17.

The historic tugboat Chickamauga is no more.

Likely doomed by its poor condition and the prohibitive costs needed to restore it, neither individuals nor organizations could be found to rescue the troubled tug from being scrapped after it was towed 38 miles from Bainbridge Island’s Eagle Harbor to a Port Townsend marina Jan. 31.

America’s first full diesel-powered tugboat when it was built in 1915, the Chickamauga was disposed of the week of March 24 in Port Townsend, said Toni Weyman Droscher, the communications manager for the Aquatics Program of the Washington State Department of Natural Resources. The contract for disposal was for $20,000, plus tax, said Melissa Ferris, the director of the state’s Derelict Vessel Removal Program.

Daily pumping, checking on the vessel, towing, escort through the haul-out process, decontamination of the boom, etc. was $25,435.35, Ferris said. Haul-out and storage at the Port of Port Townsend was $2,674.80, she added.

DNR took control of the derelict boat Jan. 16 under the state’s Derelict Vessels Act, which gives it the authority to take custody of a vessel when an owner allows it to become derelict or abandoned. Absent Chickamauga owner Anthony R. Smith did this when he failed to pay moorage and utility fees for nearly a year to Eagle Harbor Marina, totaling $8,560.30.

In addition to what he owes the marina and in legal fees, Smith also owes the Coast Guard for its expenses in responding to the Chickamauga’s October sinking, which total $140,000, and the Department of Ecology’s expenses for coordinating the spill cleanup with the Coast Guard, which total $2,000.

Smith was charged Jan. 15 with three criminal counts from the state attorney general’s office. His trial is set to begin in June 23 in Kitsap County Superior Court.

The Chickamauga sank Oct. 2, leaked about 400 gallons of petroleum and 10 gallons of lube oil in the waters of Eagle Harbor and was lifted by a crane Oct. 10.

“The 70-foot hull (of the Chickamauga) was deconstructed with an excavator,” Droscher said. “All recyclable items were separated. Debris was placed in a 30-yard container and handled by the local waste contractor, DM Disposal.”

The boat’s helm and throttle controls were saved and delivered by DNR to the Foss Waterway Seaport Museum in Tacoma this week to be restored and eventually put on display. The historical significance of the boat that Smith purchased for $1,000 in 2009 was important to retain for Joseph Govednik, the museum’s curator of collections and volunteer manager.

“It is important to preserve this, and all historic vessels, as they are subjected to less than ideal conditions being exposed to the elements of nature,” Govednik said. “Ultimately, all wood boats turn to dust, it’s a matter of time, so it is very important to preserve, protect and maintain these boats.

“I hope this can be a lesson and reminder, that these vessels require constant care and monitoring,” Govednik added. “Although the vessel is lost, we are very fortunate to take possession of the throttle controls and helm.”

Govednik said the museum doesn’t have immediate plans to display the Chickamauga artifacts, but hopes to use them in a future exhibition on tugboats to support stories of the region’s working waterfront past.

In addition to the throttle controls and helm, the silohette of the shell and ship’s log were likely some of the few original things remaining on the Chickamauga by the time the state took possession of the vessel. In fact, DNR had its marine archeologist and others inspect the ship and found the engines weren’t the original ones and that because there had been “so much retrofitting and renovation that it was really a shadow of its original self,” Droscher said.

“The engines were 671s, which were designed specifically for the landing craft for Normandy in World War II and they don’t have any historical value since they were stamped out (for mass production),” Eagle Harbor Marina Harbormaster Doug Crow said. “They weren’t maintaining it for historical value, their interest was in keeping the boat moving and working with it. There was very little to that boat that had significant value and they got the two items that were easily retrievable and it would’ve given them something to put in the museum and write about its history.”

The demise of the Chickamauga was taken hard by well-known Poulsbo watercolor artists Michael and Sarah Yaeger, who preserved the boat by painting it for their 2015 calendar. The couple were holding out hope the boat would be saved.

“We are both angry!” Michael said. “This boat was on the Historic Register and is the first diesel powered tug in the USA – surely this DNR group could’ve tried harder in the saving of her. This whole saga smacks of ‘raw raw expediency’ over our cultural responsibility for our heritage.

“The DNR bylaws should be looked at for any violation that may have occurred in this sordid mess,” Michael continued. “What’s next – the demolition of the Arthur Foss and the Virginia V? The Chickamauga played a more crucial – or at least equal – role in our maritime history.”

Contributed photo/DNR The helm and throttle controls are now all that remain of the Chickamauga after it was dismantled recently.
Contributed photo/DNR
The helm and throttle controls are now all that remain of the Chickamauga after it was dismantled recently.

Citizens’ Police Academy 4: Municipal Court process

Contributed photo Sara L. McCulloch worked for 13 years at the King County Prosecuting Attorney's Office in Seattle before being appointed Bainbridge Island's Municipal Court judge in November.
Contributed photo
Sara L. McCulloch worked for 13 years at the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office in Seattle before being appointed Bainbridge Island’s Municipal Court judge in November.

This is the fourth of nine entries about reporter Ethan Fowler’s participation in the Bainbridge Island Police Department’s Citizens’ Police Academy.

Despite being on the job only three months, Sara L. McCulloch came across knowledgeable, confident and friendly when Bainbridge Island’s Municipal Court judge spent more than an hour talking about her job to Citizens’ Police Academy participants March 18.

McCulloch worked for 13 years at the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office in Seattle before she was appointed to the part-time position for a four-year term in November. She sees about 20-35 cases on the Mondays and Tuesdays the court is in session.

McCulloch described the court as a “People’s Court” because of the variety of misdemeanor criminal cases brought before her. Driving under the influence, assault, domestic violence offenses, hit and run, malicious mischief, theft, trespass, reckless driving and use of drug paraphernalia are some of the criminal charges under the Municipal Court’s jurisdiction. The court also provides anti-harassment and sexual assault protection orders, as well as search and arrest warrants.

Despite the wide range of cases handled, court administrator Telma Hauth – who recently celebrated her 20th year in that position – said the Municipal Court constitutes only 1 percent of the city’s budget.

“Factually speaking, most of the people that come in here … aren’t a person of means,” McCulloch said. “A fair share of the people are in the 20s or 30s, but we see people of all ages here still trying to find their way.”

She said the Municipal Court largely has a “focus on rehabilitation,” where with a felony at the Superior Court level the “focus is incarceration.” McCulloch said her court provides a lot of treatment opportunities and options for people who frequently appear before her.

When I asked about why some court cases can drag on for years and cost millions, she said working as a prosecutor helped her to “really see the value of the process.”

“It’s about fairness and doing the right thing and making sure people are being treated right,” said McCulloch, who also performs weddings for a fee. “You can’t just say you want quicker justice. These people have constitutional rights and it does take time for justice.”

McCulloch also distributed handouts about Washington’s court system and a sample of the mountain of paperwork involved in a DUI conviction to Citizens’ Police Academy participants. She later donned her black court robe to present a mock DUI hearing with academy participants portraying attorneys and the driver, while court security officer Guy Roche and Hauth played themselves.

Roche then talked about his job and role with the court. He said that “things usually calm down” when people see him. He said that the lower level offenders who wear ankle bracelets for home monitoring are “really quite compliant.”

Barbara Chandler-Young, a client advocate for the YWCA of Kitsap County in its domestic violence program, spoke after Roche. She said that protection orders “really work” for some people and for others they don’t.

“I don’t take issuing orders lightly,” McCulloch said. “People who have more to lose … tend to be more responsive.”

After the meeting ended, McCulloch asked me to please remind drivers to always have four things up-to-date in their car or on them when they drive: a valid driver’s license, signed registration, proof of insurance and license tabs.

“All of this is a citation that could cost you a lot of money,” McCulloch said if an officer pulls you over and you’re missing one of those items.