All posts by Steven Gardner

A Heavy-Handed Farewell to the Bremerton Beat

In the second month, January 2006, of the Bremerton Beat blog I wrote a post about Bremerton adding free wireless Internet downtown. In case you didn’t notice, and chances are you didn’t, city-backed free wireless went away last year. Next week, so does the Bremerton Beat. Truth is, not many will notice that exit either.

We launched this site when blogs were the new thing that were threatening to replace us reporters. I was excited about the medium and the opportunity to flex some literary muscles we don’t normally get to in straight news stories. The blogs gave us the chance to do things like create a video asking whether a candidate’s photo was doctored. That post was on this site, basically because we didn’t have another logical home for it. We won a verifiable SPJ award for that first year of work. I had visions of blogging for a living.

As fun as it was, though, it is work. And we had the speedway issue going on at the time. The “Bremerton Beat” blog was always my second blog and about my fifth responsibility. For a while the fun of what we could put here was enough to bring me back.

This place really hit its stride in 2008 with Andy Binion writing it. That didn’t last nearly long enough. In 2009 I was handed the lower-case Bremerton beat again. As for the upper-case version, this one, we agreed upon a shared responsibility. We had our moments, such as when we ganged up on Seattle. But generally the blog never hit its stride again. Like so much, when this site was everyone’s responsibility it was no one’s. The last post was in January. Frankly I was surprised to see it had been that recent.

So we agree with the final commenter on that post, that it’s time to retire The Bremerton Beat.

Honestly, I’m a little sad, but I couldn’t agree more. The only reason I didn’t suggest it sooner was because I thought there should be a home for what once lived here regularly. We think we found a place. We’re invading South Kitsap. It probably won’t be too difficult to take over completely. We’ll send them invites to a lugnut shooting party one day, camp out on their blog while they’re gone and refuse to leave. It’s how we roll in Bremerton.

Port Orchard, you’re on notice.

Pat’s Is Done

Another Kitsap Sun staffer called and said Pat’s was closed.

After making different phone calls to try to verify this, I eventually drove to the site and saw the evidence. We still don’t have official verification, but the sign in the window says enough.

Pat’s Restaurant & Bakery, located in the same shopping center as Grocery Outlet and the former Stupid Prices, appears to be the latest victim of the sour economy.

I tried to call the restaurant but the line was disconnected. I tried to call the woman who is listed as the owner, but left a message at a place I’m not sure was hers.

The Washington Secretary of State’s office shows Pat’s was incorporated in 1992, but that would have been its current incarnation. A Kitsap Sun story names the start date of Pat’s as 1981. Originally it was Pat’s Cookie Jar.

Last year, in anticipation of a story on the county’s assumption of a $40.5 million loan from the Kitsap County Consolidated Housing Authority, Josh Brown and I sat down and discussed the matter over breakfast at Pat’s. True to his thrifty image he ordered a $5 breakfast special. I ordered a regular breakfast and was wowed by it.

Months later I took my 2-year-old back with me for another morning meeting of sorts. He loved it, but he won’t miss it. I will.

Less than a year ago Sun reporter Rachel Pritchett wrote about increasing food prices and the effect it was having on consumers and food sellers. The story included a bit from Pat’s.

At Pat’s Restaurant and Bakery in East Bremerton, owner Mildred Whiteside is trying to hold back prices by sending employees home early and donning an apron herself.

“I don’t know how long we can,” she said.

A hunk of cheese that cost her $15 several months ago now costs $30, she said. Grill oil that recently cost $20 now costs $39, she said.

Higher fuel prices have resulted in fewer people visiting her restaurant, and her suppliers have added a $7-per-visit fuel surcharge.

“Oh, we’ve felt it really bad,” Whiteside said.

That’s quite a contrast from the story JoAnne Marez wrote in 1996. The piece was titled, “Rolling in Dough.” You can read it after the jump.

Continue reading

Whimsy Alert — Fisherman To Be Snagged by Fish

The Bremerton City Council reversed itself and gave a victory to all fish who’ve ever been tempted by a worm, or something shiny only to later find a final resting place on a plate.

With a 7-2 vote, the council voted to have the fish catching the fisherman in the $250,000 statues slated to grace downtown at Fourth Street and Pacific Avenue.

“It’s art,” said Will Maupin when asked to explain why he decided to make the motion that was not on the agenda. He said he talked with some people. “I changed my mind.” So did Carol Arends. Both had previously voted for the more traditional view of a fish and fisherman doing what they do in real life.

Council members Dianne Robinson and Cecil McConnell did not, apparently being no fans of whimsy. They were the only ones to hold fast to tradition.

Roy Runyon, Adam Brockus and Nick Wofford voted as they did before, giving the fish the reel and the fisherman the hook. New council members Jim McDonald and Greg Wheeler also voted for the fish. Wofford had explained that since the council would be overturning an earlier decision, it would need a supermajority, which it got plus one.

Rumors that this could happen surfaced a couple of weeks ago, prior to the last regular meeting. But it appeared then that not enough council members would be willing to bring the statues up again. Not doing it then appeared to kill the idea, but council members said doing it tonight still gave the designers time to stick with the earlier plan.

So whimsy zealots get your way. Those who thought the city ought not spend $250,000 on statues, you don’t.

Fishing Downtown

The latest rendering of the statues proposed for Fourth Street and Pacific Avenue offers more color and shows that the fisherman looks more like one you would see around here. It still has the fish winning, but I’m seeing if there is a newer version to reflect the council’s 4-3 anti-whimsy vote Wednesday.

We had some ideas of our own for alternative statues at Fourth Street and Pacific Avenue. How about the images of the Kirk sisters or Nathan Adrian entering the water on one corner and coming out the other? It certainly passes the whimsy test.

A fish and a fisherman is what we will likely get, barring some momentum from I-don’t-know-where that would overturn the council’s decision to install the two statues we’ve come to know. I’ve received an e-mail from someone suggesting there was opposition on this on artistic grounds. I’ll elaborate when I get it confirmed.

One of the first comments was about unelecting the people who voted for this. Here’s the status of when they run again.

Will Maupin — Up for re-election in 2011.
Carol Arends — Just re-elected.
Adam Brockus — Just re-elected. Ran unopposed.
Nick Wofford — Just re-elected. Had an opponent who realized later he hadn’t lived in the district long enough.
Brad Gehring — Just lost a re-election bid in a close race.

Both Cecil McConnell and Roy Runyon, who voted “no,” and Dianne Robinson, who wasn’t in attendance, are up for re-election in 2011. Mike Shepherd, who also wasn’t there, ends his council service on Jan. 31.

We’re looking into what would happen to the money if it were sent back to the state and other issues in a follow-up story.

Finally, here’s my image of the swimmer. I drew it on the back of an envelope. Feel free to submit your own.

I’m not saying there should be art on the corners, but if there’s going to be something different you might want to consider this idea by me. I’d say it’s in alignment with the idea of connecting Bremerton with the water. Then again, I don’t live in incorporated Bremerton, and reporters are not supposed to offer ideas anyway. It’s not part of that conspiracy theory pact we all signed.

Klatman Resigns Bremerton Chamber Post

Silvia Klatman, executive director at the Bremerton Area Chamber of Commerce for nearly a decade, announced Tuesday she is resigning to take a new job.

Klatman will work in public affairs with the Naval Undersea Warfare Center in Keyport beginning in January.

Klatman said the new job offers a good opportunity for personal and professional growth. “They’re looking at expanding their communications with employees,” she said. “It sounded very interesting and intriguing.”

Steve Green, president of the chamber, said Klatman will be difficult to replace. “She’s done a wonderful job for the community,” he said.

Green said the chamber’s board will wait until Jan. 4 to begin accepting resumes for a new executive director. Between now and then board members will be coming to an agreement about what they are looking for in Klatman’s replacement.

In addition to running the day-to-day affairs for the chamber, Klatman was often the face of the organization, leading chamber lunches and moderating early-morning political debates during campaign season. She began as executive director in August of 2000 but had worked for the chamber before as well as for the Kitsap Economic Development Council.

Klatman said Bremerton’s volunteers and business leaders will continue to keep the city growing. “The big thing that Bremerton has going for it, and frankly has always has had going for it, are the people,” she said.

Sexton Proposes a Fish Tale at Fourth and Pacific

This rendering is of the proposed art to be placed on opposite corners at Fourth Street and Pacific Avenue in Bremerton. To give yourself a sense of the size of the sculptures, there is a human standing near the fisherman. The Bremerton City Council is supposed to consider the idea at the last meeting of the year, which is Wednesday.

Bremerton could have more art downtown as a continuation of work done at the Memorial Plaza. Gary Sexton, redevelopment projects administrator for the city, introduced the concept to the Bremerton City Council Wednesday, saying the statues of a fish and a fisherman would be another element to attract people downtown.

The art was designed by Communication Arts Inc. of Boulder, Colo. and would be manufactured and installed by Dillon Works! of Mukilteo. That firm built and installed at least one statue at Safeco Field and the company’s site shows extensive work at the Minute Maid Park in Houston, where the Astros play.

Sexton said the art is designed to be visible from a block away, establishing Fourth and Pacific as “ground zero” for downtown.

Andrea Spencer, community development director, said the statues will draw visitors. “It’s really going to make Pacific Avenue the tourist destination we want it to be,” she said.

You’ll notice in the picture that the fish is catching the fisherman. One statue would be at the Collective Visions corner at Fourth Street and Pacific Avenue, while the other would be near the Amy Burnett Gallery on the opposite corner. Both statues are about 14-feet high. Total cost is estimated to be about $250,000 using money from the Memorial Plaza project.

Brad Gehring, city councilman, asked if local firms could have done the work. Sexton said they could not. “There is no one local able to fabricate something this big,” he said. “As soon as you tilt the scale that’s here you go to a different market.”

Gehring was fine with the concept of the art, but didn’t like the fish and fisherman, saying it would be a better fit for Deer Lodge, Mont. For Bremerton, “It doesn’t represent the community, period,” Gehring said.

Dianne Robinson also disliked the art. “I don’t like this at all,” she said. Pointing to the fisherman Robinson said, “This looks like a baseball player here. I don’t know what this represents.”

Bremerton Voters Could Block Property Tax Increase (But Not the Rate Hike)

Anyone who would want to overturn Bremerton’s potential spending increases should contact city and other sources for specifics about the rules for a referendum. What we have here are the basics as I understand them.

Here’s the outline:

  • If you want to start a referendum on the city council’s decision to have the city’s utilities pay more to the general fund, you can. You can kill that.
  • Should the council decide to raise rates at its meeting on Dec. 2, your referendum will have no impact on that. Your rates will still go up.
  • If you want to start a referendum on the property tax increase the council passed, you can.
  • The points here were the result of a conversation I had with Roger Lubovich, city attorney. I had also called the Municipal Research and Services Center, which looks into laws for cities. Lubovich and I talked Wednesday night after the meeting. At that point he was under the correct impression on the first two points, but said he thought there was no referendum possible on the property tax. After looking into it further and talking about it with a representative at MRSC, he determined Thursday the property tax measure actually is eligible for referendum.

    Point One: The state treats the payment in lieu of taxes, aka PILOT, like it treats a business and occupation tax. Someone can file a referendum with the city clerk within seven days of the ordinance passing, which was Wednesday. The clerk and the petitioner have 10 days to confer over a petition. The petitioner then has 30 days to gather signatures of 15 percent of registered voters.

    Point Two: Perhaps the most puzzling part of this issue is that if you have a referendum on the Pilot, it has absolutely no bearing on the rates. You could kill the transfer of funds from city utilities to the general fund, but all it would mean is the utility service would be able to keep the money.

    Point Three: Based on my read of what’s in the city charter (Section 34) and the state law it references, a referendum on the property tax hike would roughly follow the same rules as the one on the PILOT, except you might need signatures from 25 percent of registered voters.

    The property tax measure represents a $111,761 difference in what the city would have collected had the council not approved a “declaration of substantial need.”

    State law allows the city to get 1 percent more each year in property tax collections, assuming inflation is at least that high. This year there was deflation of slightly less than 1 percent, so the city would actually have to collect less.

    The question affects collections for years to come, because whatever the city collects this year is what it will base next year’s collections on, and so on.

    Mayor Candidate Schedules Public Explanation

    Deborah Jackson, who wants Bremerton residents to write in her name for mayor in November, plans to hold a meeting Thursday in which she will discuss:

    A. A warrant for her arrest in Oklahoma;
    B. Another misdemeanor;
    C. What is going on with the Bremerton School District;
    D. Anything else we might ask about her run for mayor.

    That’s the information I received by telephone. She plans to send an e-mail out with the details. I don’t know if this is technically a public event or invite-only. I’ll update you when I know. The event is at 2 p.m. Thursday at 853 Sixth St. in Bremerton, the Kitsap Business Center.

    UPDATE: I received the e-mail and it had less information than what I had above, except for the name.

    You are invited to a mayoral facts; Disclosure Forum!

    Date: Thursday, 10/8/2009
    Time: 2:00pm
    Place: Kitsap Business Center 853 6th Street Bremerton Washington 98337

    Cool Visuals, But What’s Up With That Bus?

    Gardner here.

    Angela Dice, the Kitsap Sun’s Web know-it-all, sent me a link to what is a really cool visual of Bremerton’s waterfront potential. The videos adorn you with a virtual jet pack as you hover over the new marina and whisk by condos, many of which have not been built, or purchased.

    The second video, though, made me wonder how respect for the law was envisioned as part of Bremerton’s future culture. Once the most violent city per capita in the state, (You weren’t far behind, Port Orchard, so stop snickering.) the new developments and resulting bustle of law abiding citizens were bound to change the personality of the city. However, it appears the designers envisioned a new form of lawlessness in which bus drivers consider traditional lane direction rules to be optional.