Monthly Archives: November 2008

Summer Parks Program Gets A Patron

Look with your eyes, not your hands

An endangered summer park program that provides kids with activities and lunch during the dog days of summer got a boost.

Bremerton Councilwoman Carol Arends donated $1,000 of her own money, about a council member’s monthly compensation, to offset a proposed $12,000 gap in the Bremerton parks budget that pays for two locations in the city’s five-location summer park program.

It’s a sign of the slowing gears of the economy dampening the city’s general fund. The proposed 2009 budget contains about $4.1 million in cuts to fill a roughly $4.4 million hole, that’s without touching a $2.9 million reserve. Included in that $4.1 million is the $12,000. The program had been denied a grant in the past, but the city had made up the difference with its own money.

Even though the program is budgeted to continue in three other parks, and Bremerton School District nutrition program officials pledged to continue to feed kids summer lunches throughout the city, there are concerns some kids won’t have the means to travel the distance to participate in the program’s activities.

The playground program was started to give kids something to do while their parents were at work, keep them off the streets and out of danger, plus fill their time with sports and games and other creative activities.

The budget hasn’t yet been approved by the council, but Arends said the program was important enough to contribute her own money, and she hoped others would contribute what they could to a program she thinks should be maintained.

“It’s for the youth of the community and that’s important,” she said.

Parks and Recreation Director Wyn Birkenthal said if the cuts are accepted by the council, the department would try to raise the $12,000 in donations, but noted that it was premature for the department to ask.

Councilman Mike Shepherd said he has heard from residents that the program should be maintained in five parks, and said he was supportive of keeping the program the same size as last summer.

Bozeman urged the council on Wednesday to resist changing the $37.7 million general fund spending plan but said he was willing to talk about changes.

“I think it’s a good, solid budget,” Bozeman said.

Financial Services Director Laura Lyon is leaving her position Nov. 21 to take a high-ranking job with the Bremerton Housing Authority. The council is expected to approve the final budget Dec. 3, but Lyon said she would make herself available to help with the process.

Why Are These People Smiling?

A – They discovered the portal leading to an underground world of elves and warlocks whose job it is to defend Bremerton against sea monsters.

B – They have made millions dismantling Bremerton’s streets to sell overseas to countries that use parts of Bremerton infrastructure in traditional herbal medicines.

C – They are digging a booby-trap for souped up Acuras driven by teenage males with frosted tips.

D – None of the above.

Stay tuned …

Bremerton wetter than Everett?

Is Bummertown a better nickname than Ever-rot?

Here is a perfectly rational, scientific explanation of why Bremerton has attracted so much precipitation this week, nearly as much as soggy Forks.

(Where, coincidentally, Bremerton jail inmates serve their time.)

It has to do with the rain shadow created by the Olympic Mountains, which makes some places, like Sequim, attractive to unimaginative Californians.

The story is called, “How could Bremerton be 4″ wetter than Everett?” which is a headline that really grabs the eye.

On a perfectly irrational note, since we are comparing Western Washington cities to each other like siblings vying for the love of an aloof parent, here is a list of unscientific comparisons, showing how Bremerton stacks up to its rivals.

Bremerton is:

A- 30 pounds heavier than Centralia

B – Eight bushels hairier than Bellingham

C – Six joints less stoned than Olympia

D – Three boyfriends less lonely than Vancouver

E – Six zits less insecure than Port Orchard

I-985 Failing, Bremerton’s Red Light Cameras To Stay

Tim Eyman’s initiative that he claimed would refocus the state’s transportation efforts appears to be flagging in the polls by a margin of about 60-40 percent.

Although King and Pierce counties have yet to tally up their votes, and still more counties will be releasing more results in the coming days, it appears I-985 may be on the way to the political graveyard.

That’s good news for Bremerton Mayor Cary Bozeman and the city council, and to five police department employees.

As we’ve reported in the past, Bozeman’s proposed 2009 general fund budget includes about $4.1 million in cuts to fill at projected $4.4 million shortfall. That includes slashing 11 jobs. Although seven of those jobs are unfilled, four are filled.

The budget also assumed that I-985 would fail, and the money generated from red light cameras that pays for three police officers and two evidence technicians would stay in the city coffers. If the measure was approved, even if it was challenged in court, the city would have had to cut those five positions.

But it didn’t. Or at least it looks that way.

It now appears that if Bozeman’s budget is approved by the City Council as is, the only lay-offs will be those four employees.

When In Doubt About Kids, Get Mean

Madam, there’s no such thing as a tough child – if you parboil them first for seven hours, they always come out tender.

I was impressed by the people who spent their time anonymously commenting on newspaper Web sites bashing school children who are learning about the democratic process and a school district that is looking for ways to boost attendance.

It takes a brave person to post anonymous comments, and a person mighty secure in their own opinions to put down school kids, one who sees in their own experience perfection that although special – so very special – isn’t so special that the the stupid kids of today couldn’t learn a lesson.

I’m not talking about the cowards who voiced their support or opposition to a proposed pilot program at Bremerton High School to push the day’s start time back an hour from 7:20 a.m. to 8:20 a.m. I’m talking about the courageous souls who who put their clever screen names on the line and fearlessly got mean about it.

Here are some of my favorites from the BHS story:

First, my absolute favorite, from “SubMansWife:”

I could not even read this whole article past the first couple of lines. ARE YOU KIDDING ME??? Tell the kids to get their butts out of bed and get to school! It is called responsibility – so when they enter the work force then they can just expect that their boss will “roll back” their start time for work too because it is just to early??? boo hoo!!! Suck it up kids.

I’m always impressed when somebody admits they don’t know the facts but assumes others care to hear their opinion.

This is a good one too, where the brave “sandismailbox” – who struggles with his/her keyboard when filled with righteous indignation – implies those who have difficulty waking up with the roosters are drug addicts and aren’t worth the worry.

I would also like nto know WHO ARE THE TARDY STUDENTS? Are they really those that are heavily involved academically or athletically…in oor out of school or are they the tweakers that are just too lazy to get up?

Then there’s “bremertongreg,” who later became disoriented, forgot where he was, and began ranting about the presidential election.

Its all ok, When the little Rip Van Winkles cant get a job after graduating, the military would love to shape up your lazy little spoiled brats and send them to Iraq or Afganistan!!!!!

“Sean” says employers should blacklist BHS grads. He/she doesn’t mention anything about shunning Bainbridge High grads, which was probably an oversight by him, considering that high school completely switched to a later start time years ago, a fact included in the story.

I guess we can always screen Bremerton HS grads off the job interview lists…..because they have no personal responsibility or respect for their obligations to be ontime and ready to perform.

This is a really sad state of affairs….

I agree, “Sean.” With the sad state of affairs, I mean.

Then we go to a story about a mock election at View Ridge elementary, and we have this gem of wisdom from “Dachshund96Returns.”

These students think they know what they are doing but they don’t. Most of them go with who Mommy or Daddy votes for.

Think they know what they are doing but don’t? Yeah, only kids do that.

PS – I’m anxiously awaiting angry responses to this post, but probably won’t be up at the break of dawn when these industrious people awake to bless the world with their personal sunshine.

Batman And The Race For President

The Dark Knight for president

It’s tough talking to fourth- and fifth-graders about politics, and not just because of the sordid side of our national ritual that involves, as they say, sausage-making.

On Monday I went before Mrs. Dearey’s fourth and fifth grade class at View Ridge Elementary School and quizzed the kids on their preparations for a mock election scheduled for today.

(Obama thumped McCain 3-1)

I found them to have at least as a sophisticated grasp of the issues as most commenters.

I think that means the kids are all right. The kids are usually all right.

Mrs. Deary’s students were clearly well-prepared. They were willing to argue with each other, they knew a host of different issues including education and foreign policy and not once did I ever hear a kid scream obscenities or call each other names, which is what happens when you try to talk politics with many adults.

However, I had trouble coming up with kid-friendly words like “implement,” and when one kid brought up the erroneous assertion that Obama wants to teach young kids sex education – which was rebutted by another student – I was hard pressed to find a way to ask the rest of the kids about this issue without using the word “sex.”

So that subject was abruptly dropped.

I tried to tell them that the right to vote, like the right to a free press or the right to petition the government, is not something that has been easily earned, and is not something enjoyed by many of the world’s people.

But then I had to say words like “die,” as in many people “died” for that right.

Again, difficult subject.

At the end of our interview, I was confident our country will not go to heck with this generation raised indoors on genetically modified foods.

But it was after the session that the real debate began.

The kids were full of useful information about the candidates, including that Batman is McCain’s favorite superhero, with Obama preferring Spiderman. I’m with McCain, Batman is the best.

One young man, who sat in the back and had plenty of smart things to say, objected to the superhero Batman not dispatching the Joker.

Batman fans know what I’m talking about, but for everyone else, Batman’s archenemies is the Joker, the evilest sadist of them all.

Batman is a vigilante, but he balances his extra-judicial activism by vowing never to kill. He subdues the bad guys and leaves them for the police.

And the kid was referring to the latest Batman movie, which I haven’t seen yet, so he kind of spoiled the ending for me.

In the first Batman movie, the Joker dies. I saw that movie in the theater at age 13 and was outraged. The Joker can’t die, he has to keep coming back and forcing Batman into impossible moral quandaries.

This fellow thought Batman should finish off the Joker. He acknowledged the importance of a fair and equitable justice system, but seemed to lean toward an exception for the Joker.

That’s not how Batman rolls, I said, and that’s what makes him so interesting. He has to face that conflict every day, that of protecting victims without punishing criminals.

We talked while walking through the hall, and I thought, here we are, separated by a generation, and we were having a sophisticated debate over a sophisticated moral issue.

We didn’t resolve anything, the kid ran off to join his buddies at recess. We obviously disagreed, but I was glad to hear his point of view.

Given my experience in Mrs. Dearey’s class Monday, I think I’m going to limit my heady debates exclusively to elementary school kids from now on.

Keep Your Coffee, Schultz

Let freedom ring …

The Supersonics started their first season in what amounts to permanent exile, sold out by Starbucks.

And now the Nike of coffee has backed off a plan to pour free cups of coffee to people for voting. Apparently it’s illegal.

So the monolithic corporation says it will give legal free cups of coffee to people just for asking, not because they voted.

I voted, but Howard Schultz, so you know, just because your coffee is free, I still won’t drink it.

And although I won’t swear it off forever, I’ll do my best to avoid giving your company a single penny.

In fact, I’d rather drink borscht through a feeding tube while undergoing a dental exam at a gulag inhabited by reality show rejects.

I know you can probably make that happen, Schultz, and I’m not daring you.

Today I went to Fraiche Cup, across the street from Starbucks, and paid about $2.60 for a 12 ounce cup of drip coffee, including a dollar tip.

It was delicious.

That was $2.60 well spent. $2.60 that goes to a Bremerton business.

I do that most days. The employees know me by name or face. We talk about music or bears.

Nothing against the coffee, I like Starbucks, or its employees, they are always friendly.

It’s because of you.

You sold us out, Schultz. All for a few more bucks.

You can keep your free cup of coffee.