Kitsap Caucus

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Port Debate

October 4th, 2007 by Steven Gardner

I’ll update more on this later.

I attended the debate between the port commissioner candidates and was not at all surprised to see that the port’s tax for the Bremerton Marina continues to be the dominant issue.

Challenger Larry Stokes said it’s the reason he’s running. Incumbent Mary Ann Huntington said if she had to do it over again, she’d still go with the Industrial Development District that launched the tax, but she’d favor the port taking a much more aggressive stance to make sure there was ample publicity.

Audience members did veer to other subjects, but it kept going back to the tax.

One audience member, who didn’t want to be named, likened it to the port taking money out of his wallet without permission. Of course, that would be illegal. What the port did, while quiet, was technically legal. The same guy attended a Bremerton City Council meeting several weeks ago and chastised the council when it discussed whether to put the parks levy on the ballot. He told the council then that all the people wanted was a chance to vote on the matter, but that the council hadn’t done it. Council members rightfully seemed perplexed, but I think he was confusing the port and the city, which upon reflection I can see why he might. The council did put the parks measure on the ballot.

The mayor, I would add, also went to great lengths weeks before to make sure I knew what the city was considering.

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23 Responses to “Port Debate”

  1. D. Keating Says:

    Those angered enough by one less press release or the addition of a latte to their tax bills should just get on with their vote for Stokes and be done with it. The insulting or hostile attacks aren’t necessary. If they’re going to place themselves in the room after the fact, it would seem more prudent to discuss what they want to see going forward other than a candidate riding on the coattails of voter rage. Armchair quarterbacking is too easy, and not the mark of proactive or visionary leadership.

    If there are some intelligent counterpoints regarding other areas which should be addressed by the Port, articulate them or ask government leaders to produce the data which led to their decision.

    We can go back and forth all day regarding what was legal and minimal notice versus what the Port should have done. Wasn’t media invited, but decided to focus on a more meaty fight in progress? Granted, after the story wasn’t covered, yet another Port press release should have gone out. Nonetheless, it should not be underestimated what could have happened if media had reported on the tax hike and other agendae items as invited to do. Other area papers would have picked up the story, allowing voters to once again support, protest or whine as applicable.

    Rather than simply coming off as malcontents who are beating a drum because they can, efforts should be made to elevate the dialogue beyond that of single issue voters and candidates. True leadership and achievements are a much more complex proposition.

  2. Kathryn Simpson Says:

    Dona,

    The tax was significantly more than the cost of a “latte”.

    Further, the Port of Bremerton didn’t issue “one less press release”. The Port of Bremerton didn’t make an effort to communicate with the public about this new tax. That is the issue. How could they really think that people wouldn’t object?

    IF the Bremerton Marina project were funded with revenue bonds instead of the IDD tax, it would be more credible for two reasons. First, the revenue bonds would have followed a process that ensured that the financial projections for cost versus return were in order. Second, it would have shown respect for taxpayers, who should have the right to prioritize the spending of it’s tax dollars.

    Either that, or compete on the ballot like the rest of us!!

    If the Bremerton Marina project is going to be a money-maker or at least self-sustaining, then it would have passed muster for revenue bonds. Did the Port consider revenue bonds???

    Regards,
    Kathryn Simpson

  3. Bob Meadows Says:

    It looks as though Ms. Keating and a person posting as “GreenNascar” in the comment section of the article about the Eggs & Issues forum have something in common. Here are two excerpts:

    http://www.kitsapsun.com/news/2007/oct/04/marina-tax-dominates-port-candidates-debate/#comments

    Posted by GreenNascar on October 5, 2007 at 3:48 p.m.

    “What also strains credulity is to ignore the impact had media covered this event as it was invited to do, instead of choosing to write about a fight. How many press releases or ads is an entity supposed to put out until every citizen is satisfied that it was enough? Perhaps what really bugs some is they were complacent, getting on with their lives and watching Survivor…until they got their bills and realised they were caught sleeping at the wheel. Now they need someone to blame for their apathy, so they transfer their guilt onto the Port by crawling up their spine with minutiae over approximately 2 cents a day.”

    “Voting Mary Ann out merely satisfies temporary bloodlust.”

    The median assessed value for residential property in the unincorporated part of SK that is included within the Port’s boundaries this year is $259,410. See page 11 of the Assessor’s assessment book for 2007.

    At 45 cents per $1000, the tax bill this year for a home at that median value is $116.73. Roughly half will be more and roughly half will be less, since this is the median.

    The cost will go up by a little more than one percent a year in the next five years, but just multiply by six to find the total cost for the properties that are at the median: $700.41.

    Of course, it makes the cost seem much less to reduce it to a daily cost; but it’s not “2 cents a day” as “GreenNascar” said. It’s 32 cents.

    What’s the price of a latte? I don’t buy the things, so I don’t know. But $700 over a period of six years would buy several, wouldn’t it?

    “GreenNascar” and Keating apparently agree with the tack taken by Huntington, when Huntington “blamed the reporter” for missing the story (as the Bremerton Patriot op-ed put it) at the previous “Eggs & Issues” forum.

    Yes, the reporter missed it, as Steven has acknowledged.

    But, why was there no effort by Huntington or anyone else at the Port to correct the error? The 90-day period for a petition was running, and the voters needed to know it.

    The lazy, complacent voters are to blame, too, according to Keating and GreenNascar (and according to Huntington, who called them “lazy” at the first Eggs & Issues forum).

    And both Keating and “GreenNascar” write as though there simply weren’t enough press releases put out about the decision to impose the new tax.

    But, those of us who actually pay attention to the facts know that there was not even one press release issued by the Port about the decision regarding the new tax.

    Where Keating got the idea that the reporters were “invited” to the public meeting, I don’t know. It’s an open, public meeting to which reporters would go if they are aware of something on which an article could be written. In this case, the apparent topic of disagreement was the decision to do without covered moorage facilities, so that would naturally attract a reporter’s attention.

    Since Huntington and the others at the Port were aware of something else that required attention, namely their decision about how to finance the marina project, why was there no effort to steer the reporter in that direction? The 90-day period would start running in only a couple of days.

    Is this the level of desperation that Huntington’s supporters have come to? Calling us malcontents whose laxity and complacence and laziness explains our “bloodlust” isn’t a discussion of the issues.

    We can certainly go forward with the Port, but let’s go forward with at least one commissioner who wasn’t involved in evading the voters’ right to put that tax on the ballot.

  4. Roger Gay Says:

    The Port of Bremerton election is the proverbial iceberg. Ninety percent is still hidden. Voters and taxpayers are starting to realize how our State elected officials gave our local officials power to increase taxes and fees with little or no voter approval. The creation of a Industrial Development District without voter input is an easy way to gain funds for projects. I do not remember being asked if I wanted to be in the IDD for the Port of Bremerton, I live in very rural South Kitsap, many miles from any marina, much less Bremerton’s. The Bethel Corridor projects will be the next challenge for our elected officials. The stealth way the Port gained funds has increased the attention to how all of our elected officials can operate under the table. Huntingon’s loss of the election will hopefully show the elected leadership they must communicate better and more often with the voter and taxpayer. The Sun missed the story at first and I think they will be better in the future, but we as voters and taxpayers must also be always vigilant and make our opinion known.

  5. Tom Rosendale Says:

    D.Keating,

    I suppose the heated discussion continues because of people like you that say the tax is nothing more than the cost of a latte. In my case a $322.43 latte. My tax to the County for all it provides is only $81 more. The Kitsap Sun has downplayed the tax by not including what we already were taxed by the Port and using $200,000 as an example home when the average is upward of $250,000.
    You apparently don’t live in the large POB taxed area or are wealthy enough not to look at your tax bill.

    To tax so many people so much for something that serves so few is the epitome of poor representation. To do it by legal stealth is unconscionable.

  6. D. Keating Says:

    Kathryn,

    The tax on a $500k house is $225, which boils down to $4.33 a week. A latte.

    The Port of Bremerton published its meeting agendae, which included this item, as well as Legal Notices. While it doesn’t rise to the expectations expressed regarding what should have been done, it isn’t accurate to say it didn’t make an effort to communicate with the public about the new tax. Nor is objecting synonymous with the level of incivility being expressed.

    My understanding is that the Port’s financial advisers “consistently warned against revenue bonds, saying they would cost more”. If that is the case, I’d much rather see a counterpoint to this analysis from another expert in the field. Layman hindsight or suppositions by a political candidate without it isn’t a substitute for data which should be objectively reviewed by citizens.

    Mr. Meadows,

    Given the numerous times I’ve posted in the blogs during the NASCAR discussion on GreenNascar, it should come as no surprise that it is my login.

    If it makes it seem less to reduce it to a daily cost, would the converse then be true wherein your multiplication is an effort to make it seem like more? If you have a mathematical method of changing $90 per year to something other than .2465/day, let us know. And whether or not you buy lattes (I don’t), the price isn’t elusive knowledge. The bottom line remains that you’re speaking of cents per day.

    Indeed, Steven did acknowledge missing the story. It was a refreshing moment of honesty. My comments weren’t about blame; the facts are what they are. My premise of possible outcome in the face of other actions is no different than your own, so either we’re both attempting to selectively blame, or neither of us is doing so. There was an effort by the Port to correct the oversight. The issue is that some citizens don’t believe the Legal Notice was a sufficient one.

    You may appeal to those ‘who actually pay attention to the facts’, but this doesn’t excuse a failure to adequately interpret what I actually wrote. “If one is interested in a valid and reliable economic impact analysis, why not request it and discuss that issue instead of behaving as if our future hang in the balance over one more press release or a $400 annual increase in taxes?” One more than what? Zero, one, the press release to media which was then converted into a Legal Notice/Ad?

    Again, when you see “What also strains credulity is to ignore the impact had media covered this event as it was invited to do“, incorporate context and recognise that invite also means “to call forth or give occasion for”; “to welcome; encourage: as in ‘invite questions from the audience’”. A literal read may feed your gripe regarding the number of public documents issued, but it doesn’t rise to a superlative level of attention to the facts.

    Indeed, drama will naturally attract a reporter’s attention. Steven made no excuse for doing so at the cost of missing the marina tax issue. Neither should you. Comments that the Port should aggressively steer a reporter instead of getting back to other business of the day are absurd. Should they have strapped him to a chair and pinned back his eyelids a la “A Clockwork Orange”?

    The question regarding desperation is more applicable to you and those who fixate on a press release. Take the needle off the record long enough to intelligently discuss the actual project itself. Where is the detailed discussion regarding the funding mechanism or alternatives? They take a back seat to sound bite advancement of myopic “we’ll get her!” voter participation on a .25/day matter.

    Huntington is taken to task for woulda, shoulda, yet you do exactly the same. Aspersions are cast against the character of the Port Commissioners and you guess at their motives. Is that code for desiring government better than yourself?

    Yes, excellent high brow job of “discussing the issues.”

    Tom Rosendale

    The heated discussion preceded my involvement and will no doubt continue long after I’ve moved on. Many of you have had more than enough time to vent about Huntington. Now that decibels have risen to shrill, others who don’t share this “end of the world” sentiment will naturally make themselves known.

    I read my tax bills. I just don’t happen to believe tailgating from one Eggs & Issues to the next to scream at people is choosing battles wisely. And if I’m going to vote someone out of office, it will be for a more substantial reason than not sending a press release on a .25/day tax increase. I will weigh all that person has done to make an informed decision. The “evil, stealth government” path is a bit too melodramatic for my tastes.

    Are you suggesting by your “serves so few” comment that you’ve read a report regarding projected impact from the marina expansion?

  7. Anonymous Says:

    Steve,

    You wrote, “…guy attended a Bremerton City Council meeting several weeks ago and chastised the council when it discussed whether to put the parks levy on the ballot. He told the council then that all the people wanted was a chance to vote on the matter, but that the council hadn’t done it. Council members rightfully seemed perplexed, but I think he was confusing the port and the city, which upon reflection I can see why he might.”

    My words are, as best as I remember them, “You did the right thing. All we wanted was a chance to vote. I’m sorry. You went the wrong way.” To verify. please listen to or read the record.

    So, I spoke five sentences. The first two I addressed to Bremerton City Council. The last three I addressed to Port of Bremerton which was in attendance.

    I trust, each addressee received and understood which communique was for whom.

    I don’t know about “chastised the council”. My recollection is I spoke my compliment to the Bremerton City Council and spoke my regrets to the Port of Bremerton.

    Sincerely,
    Anonymous

  8. Bob Meadows Says:

    The fact is that not even one press release was issued by the Port to alert anyone to the intention to levy the new tax.

    Keating repeatedly errs by saying that there were “legal notices” (plural is error) and by wording her statements in a way to suggest or expressly say that some press releases were issued.

    I have considered what might have occurred, had the Port made its intentions known.

    I have not predicted the outcome of an election to approve or reject the new tax. Instead, I have noted that the right to petition was evaded.

    Keating won’t even acknowledge the right to petition. She says:

    “Nonetheless, it should not be underestimated what could have happened if media had reported on the tax hike and other agendae items as invited to do. Other area papers would have picked up the story, allowing voters to once again support, protest or whine as applicable.”

    Note that “support, protest or whine” doesn’t include gathering signatures on a petition within 90 days of the one and only one legal notice in order to place the tax on the ballot.

    I can only guess that Keating is imagining things when she says this about the erroneous Jan. 15, 2006, article in the Sun: “There was an effort by the Port to correct the oversight.”

    When Steven acknowledged missing the tax decision at the Jan. 10, 2006, meeting, he said nothing about any effort by the Port to correct his erroneous article.

    Pray tell, Keating, what is your source?

    Keating apparently misses the point entirely. The point is that evading our right to petition causes not only a backlash against all taxes, but also a loss of trust in the Port commissioners.

    I don’t vote for people I don’t trust.

  9. Kathryn Simpson Says:

    Dona,

    What percentage of houses in South Kitsap are valued at $500,000 or more? None in my neighborhood. Even a quick Zillow search in McCormick Woods shows most homes still under $500,000.

    Publishing minutes, agendas, and legal notices in the paper of regular meetings in order to meet a legal requirement isn’t “making an effort”. It is simply compliance. We would expect compliance from a private business entity. But we have a right to expect more from our elected officials!

    Elected officials have a responsibility to see that the message is getting to constituents about the “need” for new taxes BEFORE those new taxes are imposed. That may not have been a “legal” requirement, but it is the expectation citizens have of their elected public officials.

    As for civility, just because one doesn’t like what another says, doesn’t mean they are being uncivil in saying it.

    Regards,
    Kathryn Simpson

  10. Steven Gardner Says:

    Mr. Anonymous,

    Here are the minutes from that meeting:

    “(Your name) stated that the citizens want a chance to vote, but feels the City “went the wrong way”and chose the wrong issue.”

    It looks like the city clerk interpreted your comment the same way I did. I can see how you meant it to be taken, but for a lot of us it didn’t come out that way.

  11. Anonymous Says:

    Steve,

    Thanks for your follow-up and feedback.

  12. Steven Gardner Says:

    The Kitsap Sun has downplayed the tax by not including what we already were taxed by the Port and using $200,000 as an example home when the average is upward of $250,000.

    For years and years we used $100,000 as the benchmark. It was a nice, easy, round number and nearly everyone could use that number to figure out their own rates.

    Of course, over time $100,000 has become meaningless, because almost no one has built property valued at that level. Despite the fact that $200,000 is a little more difficult to work with, it comes closer to reality in Bremerton and South Kitsap. In North Kitsap and Bainbridge we’d probably have to go higher.

    You said the average number is closer to “upward of $250,000.” That may be true of the average, but I think the median is a better number, because half will be above it and half below it. I asked the county assessor to provide the median for single-family residences within the port district.

    2007 = $209,780
    2008 = $235,060

    The median number for all properties is actually lower, $197,930 in 2008.

    When you wrote “downplayed” it suggested to me that we were trying to minimize it. Perhaps you didn’t mean to imply that.

  13. D. Keating Says:

    Mr. Meadows:

    Fact? In what form did the Port submit its Legal Notice? What is a press release in essence but a written announcement or official statement containing information which is then sent to media?

    The Kitsap Sun indicated that the Port held the required public meetings and ran the required legal notices (both plural). Stokes was quoted here as saying “I think they put in a couple of legal notices”. That same article indicates the Port created an IDD in public meetings late last year (December 2006). A blogger (Ruth Eckert) in Bremerton Beat indicates Cheryl Kincer told her there was both a public meeting announcement and follow-up in the paper. You also mentioned in that same blog in March 2007 that you’d found an article in July 2006 wherein County Assessor Jim Avery mentioned the coming tax increase in the Kitsap Sun. Of course, you try to make the excuse that the average person wouldn’t have read “down to the 30th paragraph”, where the decision to impose the tax 4 months later in mid-Nov. 2006 was discussed. Then there was the public meetings where the public was offered a chance to comment before they approved the budget for 2008 and imposed the new levy. Finally, the reasons for the tax were discussed in the Commissioners minutes on March 13, 2007.

    You keep saying the Port did nothing to inform the public. Did you have anything to counter the above?

    I didn’t miss any point, much less entirely. What I do see, however, is an attempt to rationalise missing something, and a dumbing down of the public by suggesting citizens practically require hog-tying in order to get their attention on matters which impact.

    You have “noted” that the right to petition was evaded, but have you proven a deliberate effort to avoid a vote? You want government to do the right thing, but give yourself permission to carelessly accuse?

    Because you selectively ignore my use of “protest – as applicable” and its implications doesn’t in any way equal my failure to acknowledge the right.

    You should reconsider guessing because you’re rather poor at it. Voting decisions based upon single issues or false assumptions related to trust lack the same credibility you demand.

    Kathryn,

    The issue isn’t the percentage of homes valued at $500,000 or more. It is the fact that even at this higher number and its breakdown cost being comparable to a latte, homes with lower value pay even less than this.

    Publishing minutes, agendae, and legal notices in the paper of regular meetings in order to meet a legal requirement is both making an effort and compliance. What it isn’t – is doing nothing or failing to inform as being misrepresented here. And while you have a right to expect more from elected officials….a credible form of government by, of and for its people also dictates that we not turn a selective eye to the process. If the Port has done the above on all issues under its purview, heightened expectations given a proposed tax hike are reasonable, but quickly become shrill when accompanied by talk that us poor citizens will never get to the 30th paragraph of an article.

    I can counter the premises of arguments and assertions, make demands of elected officials, and present the case for why my position is held. Or, I could just go round calling people stupid idiots, neocons or flaming liberals, cheats, and liar. We could embark upon generic rhetoric as it relates to incivility, but I believe you are well aware of what I meant regarding the distinction between not liking what one says versus an uncivil manner. This is evidenced by your own repeated mentions in this blog regarding rules of engagement.

  14. Bob Meadows Says:

    Keating seems to want words to mean what she wants them to mean.

    The “legal notice” published by the Port in the Kitsap Sun on Jan. 12, 2006, is what is commonly known as a legal notice – and it is what RCW 53.36.100 requires when it says the Port “…shall publish notice of this intention, in one or more newspapers of general circulation within the district….”

    A press release is not a legal notice. Instead, it is a notification to the news media regarding something of interest which is thought to be newsworthy. Press releases are commonly used by government entities in an effort to get information out to the public.

    Legal notices are used when required – typically to provide a starting point for a period of time within which the public must act or waive the right to act.

    In this case, the one required notice of intent to levy the new tax started a period of 90 days within which the voters could gather signatures on a petition to force the tax onto the ballot for the primary election in 2006.

    I know there was only one notice, because I submitted a request to the Port asking for a copy of the notice of intent and asking in which newspapers it was published and on what day. The response from the Mr. Attebery of the Port was that it was published on Jan. 12, 2006, in the Kitsap Sun.

    I don’t consider it to be careless to go to the source rather than rely on second- or third-hand statements in the newspapers.

    The Industrial Development District was approved by the port commissioners on Nov. 8, 2005; but that isn’t a decision which necessarily leads to the special 45 cents per $1000 levy. The establishment of an “IDD” defines an area within which the Port is then authorized to use public funds for allowable purposes.

    The special levy is authorized once a port district has “adopted a comprehensive scheme of harbor improvements and industrial developments.” (RCW 53.36.100)

    The revenue raised by the six-year levy can be used for capital purposes for anything in the Port’s comprehensive scheme, not just for the Bremerton marina project.

    I don’t consider it to be careless to research the law before forming an opinion.

    If Kincer really claimed there was “follow-up in the paper,” where is the article? The article which actually was published on Jan. 15, 2006, stated regarding the financing of the marina project that the commissioners were still considering their options. But, as we know, they had already selected their option on Jan. 10, 2006, and directed that the one legal notice of their intent to levy the new tax be published.

    My comment in the blog cited by Keating was made in response to someone who wanted to blame the lazy voters and tax payers for not knowing before their tax bills arrived that the new tax had been levied. As stated in that comment, I used the Sun’s search engine to find any mention of that new tax – and found it deep into the July 2006 article about the new assessed value notices.

    So, yes, in response to people like the fellow I was responding to, anyone who read the entire article would have been tipped off. But, that was not only too late to petition to place the tax on the ballot, it was stated as a decision already made by the Port commissioners. The article stated, “It did not require a vote.”

    Since that time in March, I learned that this was a tax which did require a vote of the people if there was a successful petition to put it on the ballot.

    Before the middle of June, I was critical of the Port commissioners for not letting us know so we could comment before they made their decision. I was also critical of them for not making an effort after the tax bills arrived in February to repair the damage they had done.

    In the middle of June, an article in the Port Orchard Independent told me something I didn’t know – this was the second six-year levy imposed by the Port. The first had been many years ago.

    With that, I realized the Port’s leaders were telling us a half-truth when they said the tax didn’t require a vote of the people.

    Keating says there was a chance to comment at the Port’s public meeting before the new tax was levied, but the agenda for the Nov. 14, 2006, meeting contained nothing to tip off anyone. Only if one already knew about the new tax would the words “all allowable levies” in the agenda be an indication that the new tax was about to be levied.

    And, the Port commissioners had already issued the bonds which were to be paid off with this new tax prior to their November 2006 meeting. See the minutes for their Oct. 10, 2006, meeting, and page 26 of their financial report for 2006 (which is available at the State Auditor’s web site).

    As the Port’s CEO, Attebery, was cited as saying in the Sun’s article of Aug. 9, 2007, the new tax would have to be kept in place, because the Port was contractually bound to the bondholders.

    Even if someone had realized that the “all allowable levies” on the agenda for the Nov. 14, 2006, meeting included this new tax, the commissioners had already issued the bonds on Oct. 10, 2006, so they had to levy the tax.

    It seems obvious that the key for the Port’s leaders was to get past the 90-day period for a petition.

    Once they got past April 12, 2006, without a petition to put the tax on the ballot, they had a green light all the way down the track.

  15. D Cola Says:

    It seems to me that one of the more dangerous things we have to worry about is the law that can establish an IDD district.This seems to be to much power for a small group of officals to have hanging over the general publics collective taxable heads.Have it done away with?

    Secondly why would a person living 10-15 miles away from Bremerton marina
    have concern one about a marina in Bremerton?

    Port commissioners should have shouted from the roof tops,instead of wispering from the back of the room, or at least saw that it came out on front pages of newspapers in order for people to find out about the new tax.If that was done and still nothing was done by the public,then its on their shoulders and dont complain.

  16. Kathryn Simpson Says:

    Dona,

    The Port of Bremerton’s commissioners had a responsibility to the public and while I acknowledge that they met their legal obligation, they failed in meeting their civic responsibility to the public, as elected officials. Since these same elected officials (as reported by The Sun in this weekend’s article) have now acknowledged their failing, I think my point has now been more than substantiated and validated.

    Moving forward, the ramification of failing the public is a closer eye of scrutiny by that same public on future endeavors. (the Halloweenish saying of “Scare me once, shame on you. Scare me twice, shame on me.” comes to mind). Perhaps this ties in with the suspiciousness about SEED. People don’t like their tax wallets being thumped by those whom they do not trust and they will push back when their trust has been violated.

    As to the civility comments. I’m a little perplexed. Do you think I am being uncivil or were you originally referring to others and I took it personally? If the latter, my apologies.

    As to the latte issue, my point was that it appeared that you were assuming people in the Port of Bremerton’s taxing district have the means to afford $500,000 houses and have the discretionary income to blow off the cost of the port tax. I don’t think the average taxpayer in the district fall within the realm of that assumption.

    Regards,
    Kathryn Simpson

  17. Kathryn Simpson Says:

    Bob,

    The Sun reported that Commissioner Huntington’s comment about “lazy voters” was a response to a question regarding the impact the Port’s decision had on the SKSD Bond vote. Verified through an alternate source who was at the meeting, Huntington said that the SKSD Bond failed because of “lazy voters” who failed to turn out to vote and she said it had nothing to do with property taxes.

    The Sun’s story…
    http://www.kitsapsun.com/news/2007/aug/09/crowd-gets-heated-grilling-port-candidates-on/

    I think the mea culpas now being stated by all three Port Commissioners indicate that they have learned from this experience. Was it maliciously intentional? I’m not sure. But I am sure that it should put all elected officials in Kitsap County on notice that they have a responsibility to the public that goes beyond simple legal compliance.

    I just hope those that needed to be reminded care enough to learn from the mistakes of the Port.

    Regards,
    Kathryn Simpson

  18. D. Keating Says:

    Meadows seems to want words to reflect absolutist meaning. Analysis and interpretation of words and their contextual meaning play a critical role (particularly in the legal profession). This isn’t the military where the ‘code is the code’ and that’s it.

    Aside from the statutory definition of a legal notice, the fact remains that information sent by the Port for the purpose of adhering to its compliance can also be defined as a press release. It was news which had relevance to media and the public. It was an announcement. A press release takes on various meanings, including the term which has been appropriated by the public relations industry.

    It is not careless to go to the source rather than rely on second-or third-hand statements in the newspapers. Nor is it careless to research the law before forming an opinion, as long as one is aware of what they read and its scope versus narrow extrapolation.

    However, it is careless to ignore the diverse meaning of words, several other forums and articles which have discussed this issue since 2004..and to then misrepresent no information was forthcoming. It is also careless to malign the character of port commissioners by suggesting subversive intent. Legal code also includes the presumption of innocence. Nothing in Meadows’s self-serving epistles have sufficiently proven malicious motive, and it is irresponsible to persist with such charges.

    The Kitsap Sun and its editor have referred to discussion on this issue dating back to 1995, as well as stories in 2004, public meetings in 2005, a legal notice, another meeting in January 2006, a mention in July and the IDD vote in October 2006. If there is something to contest this, present it. The rationalisation that more “tips-off” were required is just that. Narrowing in on the 90-day period won’t change that information on this issue existed, but that many simply weren’t paying attention (Go NASCAR!).

    The Sun and Commissioners owned up. Now it’s time for citizens to do the same.

    Kathryn,

    The Sun’s article also substantiated and validated my point (see next to last paragraph above regarding discussions and meetings). The Sun and Port concessions only make citizen failure to do so more glaring.

    Moving forward, the ramification is increased citizen awareness in partnership with media and government.

    I’m not one for Halloween, nor easily scared. Thus, I will continue to exercise discernment and view matters on a case-by-case basis. SEED, South Kitsap School District, and Kitsap Regional Library deserve intelligent and thoughtful review on the merits, not knee jerk reactions.

    As to the civility comments, they were in reference to those who’ve hurled aspersions of character against Huntington in person or virtually.

    On the latte issue, I understood both your point and assumption. Pointing out the nominal daily amounts for a $200k or $500k home does not mean taxpayers “blow off” something. It was a reference to perspective in a situation where drama has become more appealing than critical thinking.

  19. D. keating Says:

    It is interesting to note absorption of the mea culpas, but no mention of information put forth by Steven Gardner or Scott Ware regarding the history of discussion, meetings, and articles on this issue. Why are people discussing a legal notice, but none of the rest?

    The Sun and Port are being more courageous (and politically astute) than citizens who rationalise inattentive behaviours. When a voter decides “no more taxes-period!”, they exhibit intellectual laziness if not myopia. Our students should be taught by example to hold leaders accountable, take personal ownership, and to think critically.

    One more press release or phone call to the Sun could have helped, but no one knows for sure. There are people who did know and plugged in but I hear it was only the wealthy who stood to benefit with their huge yachts…

    Responsibility in an effective government includes that of the people. If leaders are elected/viewed through a narrow lens or constituent obligation is blamed on a piece of paper, this appeals to the lowest common denominator.

  20. Blue Light Says:

    Another view of SEED:

    http://www.portorchardindependent.com/portals-code/list.cgi?paper=92&cat=48&id=1085577&more=0

  21. D. Keating Says:

    Just in case you’re wondering, Blue Light, I’ve read the Independent’s piece. I invited Charlie Bermant as a guest to the Silverdale meeting. Opposing opinions don’t threaten me; I rather enjoy them when they’re well thought out and on point.

    But you might consider there is a great deal of investment in the very technologies about which many are skeptical.

    SEED’s efforts are to create a business park which incorporates these technologies, to incubate, and to provide a Sustainable Practises Institute. It’s possible to get VC for something like this if one is aggressive enough in pursuing it or explaining the benefit so that investors can understand beyond their typical desire for product-centric ROI. However, it is more likely a VC would invest in one of SEED’s companies first. Even good ideas can fail to get funding if they’re too early for the market.

    Unfortunately, VC is an area which is not understood very well.

  22. Kathryn Simpson Says:

    “citizens who rationalize inattentive behaviors”? Wow!

    If we were were “inattentive”, it was likely because we thought those whom we elected would have been more pro-active about informing the taxpayers before imposing a significant new tax. Apparently we were wrong. Mea culpa.

    We elect people to attend meetings and conduct government business on our behalf. The responsibility of citizenship is not abdicated, but elected officials do have a responsibility to engage the public, especially when using a little known mechanism to raise our taxes significantly. In my opinion, the Port of Bremerton failed to do so in regard to this tax. By their own admission, in hind sight, they didn’t do enough. It is the nature of elected office for people to evaluate performance at the ballot box.

    I also suspect that most people who heard that the Port of Bremerton was wanting to build a new marina in Bremerton thought the Port would use their existing tax structure to do so. How many ordinary citizens were even aware of that special taxing authority? Heck, it even caught Mr. Curmudgeon (Bob Meadows) off guard.

    I wonder what percentage of the citizenry knew about the new Port tax before getting their tax bill?

    Regards,
    Kathryn Simpson

  23. D. Keating Says:

    No, you weren’t wrong. You just missed when it was being done and choose to blame someone else.

    Because you elect people to act on your behalf doesn’t abdicate of your role to remain informed. I’m less interested in your opinion about the Port, and more interested in your counter to the Sun and its editor’s comments about how long this issue was under discussion and/or publicised.

    That the Port indicated it could have done more, in hindsight, doesn’t mean it didn’t do enough. It is just as likely to be another way of saying that if one more press release would have kept certain contingents from overdramatising the situation and assaulting Huntington, then one more press release it is. If a rabid dog is hungry, you just give it meat.

    It is also the nature of elected office for people to myopically evaluate performance via the ballot box.

    Before answering your question about “ordinary citizens”, I would need to know how this was defined. You mention Mr. Curmudgeon (Bob Meadows) as if this inferred some special status of which I am not aware. From what I’ve read of his comments, it wouldn’t surprise me at all if he missed something.

    I don’t wonder about what percentage of the citizenry knew about the new Port tax before getting their tax bill. I do wonder about the percentage who care to explore or weigh the various issues surrounding the expansion and economic development matters. They are the ones more likely to keep this region from sinking into single issue campiness.

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