All posts by Chris Henry

Port of Bremerton, what’s in a logo?

The Port of Bremerton Board of Commissioners devoted considerable time at a retreat last week to discussion of the port’s logo. Now, don’t get the idea that the board didn’t discuss larger issues, such as the port’s mission and direction now that it has a new CEO (former COO Tim Thomson, replacing Cary Bozeman), new commissioner (Axel Strakeljahn, replacing retiring longtime Commissioner Bill Mahan) and new board president (Larry Stokes).

All agreed on taking an aggressive approach to attracting new business and retaining the tenants they already have, especially SafeBoats. Strakeljahn suggested that the port should fill Thomson’s former position with a “salesman” who would be on the road four to six weeks of the year, knocking on the doors of prospective port tenants.

“We need to sell ourselves guys,” said Strakeljahn, store director for Port Orchard’s Fred Meyer, who urged his fellow commissioners not to count on Kitsap’s cities or the county to take the lead. “If we’re doing that, we’re riding the bus. We need to be driving the bus. … I don’t care what everyone else is doing. Let them do what they’re good at. We’re going to drive the bus. We’re the Port of Bremerton. We’re the leaders.”

Thomson mentioned that the logo created when Bozeman was at the helm has not exactly been ringing people’s chimes. Apparently, 95 percent of the staff would just as soon go back to the old logo, which shows a propeller and a couple of thin waves.

The new logo shows a thick blue wave, a building, a person waving, a sun and a plane flying stage right (see below).

The commissioners did their best to interpret the icons.

“You’ve got the little guy and the sun up there …,” Strakeljahn mused. “Were you here when they came up with this?” he asked Thomson.

“Yes, but I didn’t feel comfortable saying anything,” he replied.

The commissioners thought the buildings were meant to represent industry. And the sun? ” … because sometimes Washington is sunny?” Commissioner Roger Zabinski ventured.

Although the old logo was pronounced a little “old school,” the commissioners agreed they liked it better. Discussion of melding the two logos was nixed, apparently due to artist’s rights on the new design.

Stokes, who served on the board about 25 years ago, gave the history of the old logo, saying his successor Mary Ann Huntington had a contest at South Kitsap High School. The winning design was submitted by one of the students.

Thomson suggested the new logo be allowed to die a natural death. No new materials will be ordered with the sun and the little man. Staff will be allowed to drop the logo from their emails. The new logo, featured on some port signs, will be replaced as the signs need replacement.

“We’ll just slowly let it go away,” Thomson said.

Which logo do you think best represents the port?

Seaquist doubts viability of vets and human service bill

Rep. Larry Seaquist, D-Gig Harbor, is doubtful about the prospects of HB 1786, which he reintroduced during the state Legislature’s second special session toward the end of 2011.

The bill, if approved, would allow for “additional property tax levy flexibility in order to preserve and enhance the veterans and human services safety net.” Specifically it would allow counties like Kitsap to detach property tax collection for its Veterans Assistance Fund, used for indigent vets, from its general fund property tax collection. The net effect would be a tax increase.

Seaquist and other sponsors of the bill say the nominal tax increase would help counties provide for the needs of vets, which have been increasing, according to local veterans advocates. As the law now stands, the board could increase the collection rate (currently at 1 and 1/8 cents per $1,000 of assessed value) without a vote of the people, but the increased collection amount for the benefit of veterans would have to be subtracted from the general fund collection amount. Separating the two funds would remove the effect of any change to the veteran’s fund rate on the general fund.

The bill is unchanged from its earlier form, which never made it out of committee earlier in in 2011.

Seaquist doesn’t hold out much hope of the bill passing this time either. “To be candid,” he said, “I do not think the bill is likely to be moving in its present form at all.”

A special veterans and human services property tax levy (unrelated to HB 1786) was shot down by Kitsap County voters in November.

Seaquist, who chairs the House Higher Education Committee, says the Legislature needs to work on strategies that will have the greatest impact on the state’s economy. If, repeat, if going to voters to request a tax increase were among the strategies, Seaquist said, the proposed tax increase had better have demonstrable returns. One idea Seaquist thinks may have merit is a tax increase that would go directly toward higher education. He estimates 60,000 technology jobs in the state are going unfilled for lack of qualified workers.

“I believe if we can put the money in exactly the right place, we could make a major contribution to employment because we’re accelerating our ability to produce high tech graduates,” Seaquist said.

Anything the state asks of voters must be simple, coherent and sensible, with clear widespread benefits, Seaquist said. If more people could obtain living-wage jobs, the increased quality of life in our state would in theory raise everyone’s boat.

Before the state goes to voters, however, it must show that it has “squeezed spending” as much as possible, and that there is innovation at the local level, Seaquist said.

In the meantime, Seaquist approves of the idea for creating a veteran’s court in Kitsap County. Funded by a yet-to-be-discussed (let alone approved) increase in the county’s sales tax, the special court would, like drug court, get at the cause of criminal behavior resulting from mental health and substance abuse among veterans.

Seaquist said veterans’ advocates at the state level are looking at various solutions to veterans’ needs, including homelessness. There has been some talk of converting a wing of Western State Hospital to housing for homeless vets, still in preliminary stages.

The Coppola-Matthes race dissected

Before we relegate the 2011 Port Orchard mayor’s race to the category of “water over the dam,” I will take one last whack at the question of whether negative campaign ads contributed to Tim Matthes’ 5-vote victory over incumbent Lary Coppola.
Coppola came into the home stretch of his campaign with a track record of accomplishments the city has made on his watch, a long list of endorsements from business owners, community leaders and other elected officials, and substantial campaign funding.
Coppola raised and spent nearly $15,000, about three times as much as Matthes.
Matthes’ campaign contributions, most of which came as loans to himself, were below the Washington State Public Disclosure Commission’s $5,000 threshold for detailed reporting, available on the PDC’s website.
An anti-Coppola campaign mounted by People for a Better Port Orchard raised and spent just more than $2,800 on mailers designed to erode Coppola’s credibility.
One flier suggested Coppola exaggerated his role in reducing the city’s crime rate. Another criticized the mayor for requesting (and getting) more than the city had offered for a piece of property he owned on Tremont Street that is to be condemned.
The same flier bemoaned a water rate increase hammered out on Coppola’s watch and slammed the mayor for suggesting to the council early on in his term that the mayor’s position should be full-time, with commensurate compensation.
The council, excepting Fred Chang, agreed. Chang supported the concept of a full-time mayor but said the timing was off given the recession. Chang, head of the lodging tax advisory committee, also objected to the plan at the time to partially fund the increase with hotel-motel tax revenue, which is earmarked for tourism. Chang called the proposal “awkward, although it probably is legal.”
All other council members, except Fred Olin who was absent, voted for the change, which effectively tripled Coppola’s salary.
Although he had no direct say it the matter, and although the new salary was about equivalent to what the Mayor of Poulsbo makes, it created negative PR that has stuck to Coppola’s shoe throughout his term in office.
“He suggested it,” said Nancy Howson, a Matthes supporter. “I didn’t feel good about that. So many people are struggling. I just thought the timing was bad.”
P4P cited their sources, including local news publications and Port Orchard Police Department reports, with links on their website,
As the fliers came out, Matthes distanced himself from P4P, saying he had neither known of nor condoned their efforts.
Chang was the largest donor among the largest donors to the anti-Coppola group, giving a total of $500. Also donating $500 were Jon Yamamura and Steve Sego, who lists his address as the residence owned by Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Coreen Haydock Johnson.
Donating $250 was Gil Michael, whom Matthes called “my right-hand guy” on Dec. 6, the night his victory was confirmed.
Chang and Michael also donated directly to Matthes’ campaign. Chang gave $167 of in-kind goods or services. Michael gave $250.
Matthes, on his campaign website, made a point of saying he discouraged endorsements and large campaign contributions that could make a candidate beholden to interest groups, large corporations or people who live outside the city. He had a self-imposed contribution limit of $200 for individuals and $500 for organizations.
“My Grandmother Sylvia always said, ‘If you lie down with dogs, don’t be surprised if you get up with fleas,’” Matthes wrote in a statement about campaign contributions on his website. “Check out candidates’ websites to see if you can tell who will be given special favors in the future.”
Whether Matthes realized it or not, the literal effect of his limiting campaign contributions and his denial of affiliation with P4P allowed both his campaign and the anti-Coppola group to fly under the radar so to speak.
Had either group raised more than $5,000, detailed records of their contributors and expenditures would have been readily available throughout the campaign on the Washington Public Disclosure Commission’s website.
As it was, the law provided for access to those records as follows: anyone interested could contact the campaign or group in person during the eight business days preceding the election.
All perfectly legal, but the effect, it seemed, was to fuel a rumor mill that turned toxic in the last few weeks of the campaign.
According to Lori Anderson of the PDC, Port Orchard was one of several places around the state where in-person records reviews resulted in ugly confrontations.
Anderson said word trickled down to the PDC that Coppola’s wife Dee was firmly asked to leave the premises of the printing company used by P4P.
And so it went in a race that has driven a wedge between two former allies.
Whether the fliers had any substantive effect on the race remains open to debate.
Significantly, Coppola lost votes in 2011 in the city’s four original precincts (earning 810 votes total), as compared with the support he received in 2007 (1,103 votes), when there was a far smaller turnout.
Voters in McCormick Woods, the city’s newest neighborhood, helped make up the difference (620 votes total in 2011). But it wasn’t enough.
Coppola disparaged the P4P fliers, calling their content “blatant lies.”
Anderson, to whom I sent copies of the fliers, couldn’t comment on Coppola’s assertion. The PDC would dig down into the weeds only if a formal complaint against P4P were filed, which hasn’t happened to date, she said.
A civil suit for damages would be a separate option open to anyone who believes campaign materials have crossed the threshold of the state’s prohibition against materials that are “false,” “libelous” or “defamatory,” Anderson added.
The upshot of any challenge would not change the outcome of the election, Anderson said.
Incidentally, in 2007 the state’s Supreme Court found Washington State’s law prohibiting false political advertising to be unconstitutional. The decision pertained to the case that pitted former Green Party candidate Marylou Rickert of Shelton against the PDC, which fined her $1,000 after deciding she deliberately made false statements about the voting record of state Sen. Tim Sheldon in his 2002 re-election campaign.
The 2009 Legislature reasserted the state’s right to ban false political advertising, but added the provisions that it must be “libelous” or “defamatory,” apparently to mollify free speech advocates. The PDC hasn’t received any complaints about false ads since the 2009 law, Anderson said.
The transition of power at city hall — or lack thereof — has been painful to watch, with public jabs and parting shots from both camps.
I know I’m arriving a little late to this party — weighing in at the 11th hour as it were — but I think it’s safe to say that Port Orchard is ready to move on.
Larry Stokes, who supported Matthes but considers himself a friend of both candidates, put it this way:
“I think we’re lucky we got them both. I would hope Tim and Lary bury the hatchet and Tim relies on him for some advice and so forth and so on, and we all live happily ever after in Port Orchard.

More P4P docs here and here.

Footnote on Coppola planning commission appointment

The issue of residency was raised Tuesday, as the Port Orchard City Council (minus Rob Puttaansuu and Fred Chang, who were working) discussed outgoing Mayor Lary Coppola’s appointment of his wife Dee Coppola to the city planning commission.

It was up to the council to confirm (or not) the appointment. The planning commission is an advisory board, like the several other boards and committees that weigh in on topics such as parks and development design standards. The planning commission advises on land use, and so could be seen as a relatively powerful body of citizen advisers.

Typically, the council accepts the mayor’s recommendations for all boards and committees without much to-do. But during discussion of Dee Coppola’s appointment, there was a focus on the residency rule that only one of the eight planning commission members can be a nonresident. The council on Dec. 13, already had appointed Robert Baglio, who lives outside city limits.

The Coppolas live in The Rockwell Apartments in downtown Port Orchard, and they own a home in Manchester. At Tuesday’s meeting I, too, was wondering about the residency issue, since Mayor Coppola, in an interview Monday, told me he and Dee plan to move back to Manchester.

The whole thing was also a bit reminiscent of rumors that swirled around Lary Coppola’s official residence during his 2007 bid for mayor.

On Tuesday, Councilman Fred Olin asked, “If someone on the planning commission moves out of the city, and Mr. Baglio is appointed as the non-resident, would that person have to withdraw from the planning commission?”

City attorney Greg Jacoby said city code does not address the issue, which has not come up before. He said there were a couple of possible interpretations. On the one hand, the council could ask to have the appointee removed from the commission. On the other, the appointee could be considered grandfathered in. “I’m not saying that’s the best interpretation,” Jacoby said.

At the request of the council, Jacoby said he would do further research to try to clarify how the code should be interpreted in the event Dee Coppola does move out of the city during her term on the planning commission.

Dee Coppola herself was clear on what would happen. “I’d have to resign,” she said, while allowing for the possibility of being grandfathered in. It would be up to the council to make that call, she implied.

Dee added that she and Lary have no immediate plans to move into the Manchester house, in which the Coppolas have undertaken an extensive remodel. There’s still a lot of work to be done, Dee said. So as for moving, “It’s going to be a while.”

People for a Better Port Orchard cites its sources

Rebekah Johnson, representing People for a Better Port Orchard, sent me an email this evening citing sources for the anti-Coppola fliers distributed by her group in the recent Port Orchard mayoral campaign. (See below)

Johnson’s statement rebuts a statement by incumbent Mayor Lary Coppola that was posted on the Kitsap Caucus earlier today, shortly after a manual recount showed his challenger Tim Matthes to be the mayor-elect of Port Orchard. Coppola, completing his first term as mayor, called the group’s materials “blatant lies, half-truths, and innuendo.

In an interview earlier today, downtown Port Orchard business owner Darryl Baldwin praised Coppola for his pro-business stance and strong leadership, but said Coppola may have had a blind spot for constituents who felt alienated.

“Most of us didn’t expect Lary to lose,” Baldwin said. “What I see under Lary’s leadership, there was a split that was occurring, and Lary either didn’t see it or chose to ignore it.”

On the effect of the fliers, Baldwin, former president of the Port Orchard Bay Street Association, said, “It didn’t have to sway a lot of votes, but it swayed enough votes.”

I was at the recount today, and I can testify that there was plenty of scrutiny by both candidates and their representatives of the meticulous process, in which ballots that had been previously run through the machine were recounted by hand. No one, not the candidates, not their supporters, not the people who were there out of sheer curiosity, had a beef with how the recount was conducted. In fact, all said Elections Manager Dolores Gilmore ran a tight ship.

This, folks, is democracy in action. The voters have spoken. Despite Coppola’s widespread support among business owners, those with an interest in real estate, and other electeds from within the city and beyond (including plenty of state-level folk), Tim Matthes will become mayor Jan. 2.

Coppola, no doubt, has done considerable soul searching about what led to his political demise. He has said he has no interest in running for other political office. He has plenty of other prospects, however, he said.

The race was extremely close, a difference of five votes out of 3,072 cast. What this means for the city depends on how everyone left in the game — Matthes, council members, business owners, chamber representatives and ordinary citizens — reacts to the change. Matthes ran on an “I am not Lary” platform. What else can he bring? We at the Kitsap Sun will be watching.

Here is Rebkah Johnson’s statement:
Election Result Confirms Voters
Want a Change in Leadership
Contrary to outgoing Mayor Lary Coppola’s claims that he lost his re-election bid due to “blatant lies, half-truths, and innuendo” by his opponents, the truth is that the same voters who elected him by more than 70% four years ago had seen enough.  The People for a Better Port Orchard, a citizen’s committee comprised of business owners, taxpayers, families and Port Orchard citizens – some who had supported Coppola just four years ago – simply circulated the facts about his actions and involvement in issues and decisions as Mayor.  The sources for these facts, which clearly refuted his claims, were the Kitsap Sun and the City of Port Orchard.
Mayor Coppola had the opportunity to correct these facts when they first appeared in print in the Kitsap Sun over the last years, but failed to do so, and by his silence agreed with their authenticity.  It is unfortunate that, when faced with the scrutiny and judgment by those who have had enough of these tactics, he seeks to blame others for his own actions.
The details and source material for the mailers that were sent are available at
Of the original precincts that first elected Mayor Coppola four years ago, not including the newly annexed areas of the City, Coppola’s support shrank from the original 70% to barely 45%.  The conclusion is clear – those who have endured these last four years have had enough.
It’s time to move Port Orchard forward.

Mayor Lary Coppola’s statement on Tuesday’s recount

Results of a manual recount of votes in the Port Orchard mayor’s race show Tim Matthes to be the official winner. Matthes maintained a 5 vote lead over incumbent Lary Coppola, who has issued a statement on the race, the recount and his tenure.

Mayor Coppola’s statement:
“While I’m disappointed in the results, I also strongly believe that
everything happens for a reason, and the universe has a better plan for me
going forward. I’d like to thank the staff at the Auditor’s office for
their hard work and dedication to making this process work.

I’d also like to thank our staff for their support over these past four
years, for their dedication to our City, and to the vision I outlined in
2008. We have a lot to be proud of: Assembling what is commonly
acknowledged by the other elected officials in this county as the very
best, most talented staff of any City; Moving our City from spending
reserves to meet payroll to creating reserves in the worst economy since
the great depression; Bringing the City back into compliance with the
Growth Management Act; Bringing a business-friendly, can-do attitude to
City Hall; and finally, reducing crime – and more importantly violent crime
– significantly. Port Orchard is now a a safer place to live, work, own a
business and raise your family, then any time in more than a quarter of a

We took the high road throughout and ran a clean campaign based on the
issues. Unfortunately, when my my political opponents realized they
couldn’t attack our record of solid. positive accomplishments, they
resorted to attacking my personal integrity and character using a series of
blatant lies, half-truths, and innuendo – and enough voters bought into it
to make the small difference. Such is the nature of politics.

Serving has been both a true honor and a personal pleasure. I want to
express a heartfelt “Thank You” to the downtown businesspeople who
supported me, the organizations and other elected officials who endorsed
me, and most of all, the voters who believed in me four years ago, believed
in my vision for our City, and still believe in me now. I’m sincerely
grateful to all of you. “

More on mayoral recount and some elections trivia

As we mentioned in yesterday’s story on the impending recount in the Port Orchard mayor’s race, one need look no farther than the 5-vote difference between leader Tim Matthes and incumbent Lary Coppola to know that the campaign has literally created a rift in the town. Both candidates have said that, if elected, they’d offer an olive branch to their opponents’ supporters.

Kitsap County elections history shows the scales statistically tipped in favor of whoever is leading in the final count. One notable exception on the state level is the 2004 gubernatorial race between Dino Rossi and Christine Gregoire. Recall that one? Rossi, who was ahead initially, lost the race after a manual recount and the dismissal in Chelan County Superior Court of a legal challenge to the election.

In Kitsap County, the recount flip-flopped results the opposite way. Gregoire was ahead by a slim margin in the original count. But Rossi pulled ahead in the machine recount. He remained ahead in the manual recount that followed. Kitsap auditor’s archives show Rossi beating Gregoire in Kitsap 49.33 percent to 48.14 percent.

A look at recounts can be a trip down memory lane. Who out there remembers the tortuous back story that led to the annexation of Bainbridge Island into the city of Winslow? Or that the vote in 1990 went to a manual recount. The “yeas” had it with a lead of 136 among 6,384 votes cast.

Here’s something else you might find interesting. The Kitsap County Auditor lists on its website write-in candidates for two races in this election, the city of Poulsbo Council position 3 race, in which Fred Springsteel registered as a write-in, and the city of Port Orchard mayor’s race, because of the recount.

According to Elections Manager Dolores Gilmore, the vast majority of write-in votes are not able to be counted either because the voter will check write-in but fail to name a candidate or because the person named is not an eligible candidate. About 25 percent are flat-out frivolous, Gilmore said, with Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck garnering many votes over the years.

Of the 19 write-in votes cast in the Port Orchard race, 13 were “not qualified.” People who got one vote each included City Councilman Fred Chang and Rebeka Johnson, apparently referring to Rebekah Johnson, treasurer for People for a Better Port Orchard, an anti-Coppola committee. Rebekah is the daughter of Coreen Haydock Johnson Haydock-Johnson, executive director of the Port Orchard Chamber of Commerce. Other write-in candidates were Kevin Madden, Bryan McKinnon, James C. Price and Linda Webb.

Recounts put the Auditor’s office in the spotlight, because the public is allowed to observe every step of the process. Gilmore is just fine with that. In fact, she and her staff are happy to share the intricacies of state regulations that guide the elections process. Did you know, for example, that there’s a process for deciding which candidates will appear first on the ballot? Elections staff put slips of paper with all 26 letters of the alphabet in a container and draw them out, establishing a non-aphabetical order that applies to all races.

Both Matthes and Coppola said they would send representatives to observe the recount and be present at least for part of the process themselves. Gilmore said she’d be surprised if there weren’t observers.

“We’re pretty well used to observers coming in and looking over our shoulders, so I don’t see it being a big thing for staff,” Gilmore said.

The recount begins at 9 a.m. Tuesday. The final result will be announced at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Kitsap County Administration Building, 619 Division Street in Port Orchard.

History Recounts

Two votes

That’s the margin separating incumbent Port Orchard Mayor Lary Coppola and challenger Tim Matthes after today’s (Nov. 16) release from the Kitsap County Auditor’s office. Matthes has held a hair’s-breadth lead throughout.

Nov. 22 is the next ballot update in what has been an excruciatingly close race ever since election night.

Reporter Rachel Pritchett logged this quote from Coppola, who attended this morning’s meeting of the Kitsap Aerospace Partnership, a local partnership attempting to get a piece of the 737 MAX action.

“I’ll just tell you, it sucks to be me right now.”

Hand recount likely in Port Orchard mayor’s race

If you follow such things, you’ll have noted that the gap between incumbent Port Orchard Mayor Lary Coppola and challenger Tim Matthes is down to two votes, in preliminary results released Tuesday.

Matthes is ahead as he has been since election night, when one vote separated the two. The widest the margin has been is 13 votes.

Although a hand recount seems all but certain, Kitsap County Elections Manager Dolores Gilmore says it’s not a slam dunk. Hard as it may be on the candidates and their supporters, the auditor’s office can’t make that call until the election is certified Nov. 29.

The Kitsap Sun has been tracking updates from the auditor’s office. New numbers are due out tomorrow, but barring a dramatic change in the margin, we will wait until certification is complete to do our next update.

Here’s the brief we’ll run in tomorrow’s paper, with links to earlier stories on the race, below.

By Chris Henry
PORT ORCHARD — The gap between the two candidates for Port Orchard mayor has narrowed to two, in preliminary results released Tuesday, and a hand recount is a strong likelihood, according to Kitsap County Elections Manager Dolores Gilmore.
Since the Nov. 8 election, incumbent Lary Coppola has trailed challenger Tim Matthes by a margin ranging from one vote to 13 votes.
The current margin between the candidates, 0.08 percent if you don’t count write-in votes, is small enough to trigger a hand recount.
“It’s neck and neck at this point,” Gilmore said. “Right now a recount is likely.”
State election law calls for a machine recount with a margin of less than 0.5 percent and a hand recount for less than 0.25 percent.
But there are still a couple of wild cards in the race in the form of 13 more Port Orchard ballots left to count and 25 “challenge” ballots, whose signatures must be “cured” if they are to be included in the results.
The Kitsap County Auditor’s office has mailed letters notifying challenge ballot voters that they can resubmit their signatures, which either were missing or did not match the registration.
Anyone the auditor’s office doesn’t hear from by Nov. 21 will receive a reminder phone call. Voters have until Nov. 29, the date the election will be certified, to resubmit their signatures.
The auditor’s office will issue an updated report by 5 p.m. Wednesday.

Nov. 8
Every vote really matters in Port Orchard race

Nov. 9
Latest ballot count increases challenger’s lead

Nov. 10
Matthes maintains slim lead

Nov. 14
Port Orchard mayor’s race still in limbo

Port of Manchester race, truth and consequences

I’m checking in here, the day before Election 2011, on the issue of term limits, raised during this campaign season by Dave Kimble, a candidate for the Port of Manchester. Kimble has called for reducing the term of port commissioner from 6 to 4 years.

Kimble, if you remember, is making his fifth bid for the port commission. He has made it no secret he is gunning not so much for his opponent, incumbent Dan Fallstrom, but for longtime port commissioner Jim Strode, who beat him in the late 1990s in a race so close it was called on a coin toss.

Kimble, in an Aug. 15, Kitsap Sun story on his term limit proposal, noted that Strode will have served 30 years with the port when his term is up at then end of 2015.

“It sounds like it’s an election for me and Strode, but it’s not. It’s joined at the hip,” Kimble said.

Kimble has said that, if elected, he would make it his job to rock the boat and challenge the “good old boy network” he thinks has developed on the port commission.

Fallstrom has pledged to take a steady-as-she-goes approach and maintain what he describes as the fiscally conservative mindset that the board of commissioners has historically held over its modest budget.

Regardless of whether Kimble wins or loses, term limits would be a good first step, he said.

“I like the idea of stopping career politicians from serving on our port commission,” he wrote in a letter to the Kitsap Sun’s opinion page Oct. 25.

Sitting commissioners, including Fallstrom, have expressed concern that a four-year rotation could result in having two new commissioners on the three-person board in certain election years. That, Fallstrom and others say, could result in instability and loss of institutional knowledge.

Kimble says term limits would make the port commissioner position less daunting of a commitment, possibly attracting new candidates. It also would result in more dramatic change-ups on the board, which Kimble sees as a good thing.

Kimble inaccurately stated in his Oct. 25 letter that half of the state’s ports have already switched to four-year terms. According to a document on the Washington Public Ports Association website, only 10 of the state’s 75 ports have four-year terms. Five of those have five-member commissions, reducing the potential for major change-ups in any given election year. The other 65 have six-year terms.

The cost of the term limit election measure became an issue in early August. The situation bears some similarity to Port Orchard’s code city debacle.

If you recall, Port Orchard residents Gil and Kathy Michael challenged the city council’s decision to change its form of governance without putting the matter to a vote of the people. The Michaels submitted a petition to place the code city proposal on the ballot, but the timing of their submission meant the city would have had to pay up to $30,000 for the election, because they would miss the general election, when the cost could be shared with other cities, the county, ports and school districts. The council reversed its decision on becoming a code city, with the idea they will take it up again in the future, possibly putting it to a vote when timing would allow for a less costly election.

Kimble in early August asked the commissioners to put the term-reduction measure to voters, but they said there wasn’t time get it on the November ballot (the deadline was in late August) and hold a public hearing on the proposal, which the port attorney advised.

Kimble responded by launching his signature collection efforts. In an email copied Aug. 8 to the Kitsap Sun, he said failure to place the measure on the general election ballot could result in special election costs to the port of $8,000, for a shared election, up to $35,000. Kimble said he would ask the measure be placed on the February, 2012 ballot.

Port commissioners also believed the cost of the election would be high, according to Fallstrom, who said they discussed the issue at their October meeting. The port’s total operating budget is just more than $50,000. “It’d cripple us basically,” Fallstrom said.

In an email to Manchester resident Carol Kowalski, Fallstrom said he believed having to pay the $30,000 could lead to a decline in the port’s bond rating. That opinion made its way into a letter to the editor (not in the Kitsap Sun) by Kowalski that was critical of Kimble.

In an his Oct. 25 letter to the Kitsap Sun titled “Port of Manchester not the OK Coral,” Kimble said that the cost of the election could be as little as $800 and “some individuals” were spreading “misinformation.”

On checking with Kitsap County Elections Manager Dolores Gilmore, I found Kimble to be correct on the $800 cost. Gilmore, citing RCW 53.12.175, noted that the measure “must be submitted (to the ballot) at the next general election or special election that occurs 60 days or more from the adoption of the resolution (if the board were to initiate it) or submission of the petition.”

The law, in this case, appears to give the port the option to wait on submitting the measure until the next general election, when the port would share the cost of the election with multiple other jurisdictions, Gilmore said.

The words “in this case” are critical, said Gilmore, who emphasized that there are many types of petitions, each governed by different RCWs, depending on the type of government agency and the subject of the petition.

As with the code city issue, Gilmore said, the burden of understanding the consequences of the law is on the petitioner, because the burden of carrying out the law is on the city, county or port that receives the petition … at a cost to taxpayers that could range from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars.

Fallstrom was delighted to learn (from me during the week of Oct. 24) that the port would have the option to delay Kimble’s term limit measure until the general election. “That’s good news to us. That’s the first I’ve head of it,” he said.

A couple other things both the petitioner and the port ought to know, if they don’t already: Kimble has up to six months from the date the first signature was obtained (Sept. 16, 2011) to submit the petition. That would be March 16, not February, as Kimble earlier believed.

Second, the law is unclear in this case on how the petition is to be submitted. The RCW says the petition “shall be submitted to the county auditor.” It doesn’t say whether it’s to go first to the port, which then is bound to submit it to the auditor, or if Kimble can and should submit it directly. Gilmore said she would want county attorneys to rule in on a definitive answer.

All this may seem like a lot of governmental geekiness, but a lack of attention to just such a detail is what tripped up the code city ballot efforts.

Kimble has multiple other complaints about the port. One that’s still hanging fire has to do with an interlocal agreement that, according to Fallstrom, allows the port to contract for small jobs without going out to bid. Kimble believes it’s a circumvention of public process and has lodged a complaint with the state Attorney General’s Office. A spokeswoman for the SAO told me her office will review the complaint, and I’ll keep an ear out for the results.

Check in with the Kitsap Sun tomorrow evening for the results of this and other local races.

Preliminary budget docs for your perusal

It’s that time of year, the election season is in full swing and local governments and agencies are deep in preparing budgets for the upcoming year.

This week, I’ve written about revenue forecasts for Kitsap County and the city of Port Orchard. On Monday, we’ll publish a story about South Kitsap Fire & Rescue’s budget and an upcoming vote of its firefighters’ union.

Below, I’ll share links to documents I collected from public officials in the course of my research, with the following disclaimer: these are (with the exception of Port Orchard’s annexation revenue worksheet) preliminary budgets subject to change. We’ll continue to report on these and other local jurisdictions as the budget process unfolds.

Let me know what jumps out at you. I can’t promise we’ll address every observation or concern. But as I always say, many heads are better than one. … Enjoy!

Kitsap County:
2012 Preliminary Budget
2011 Third Quarter Revenues

City of Port Orchard
Annexation revenue worksheet
2012 Preliminary Budget
2012 Budget Worksheet

South Kitsap Fire & Rescue
2011 Citizens budget committee report
2012 Property Tax Revenues
2012 Levy resolution
2012 Budget worksheet

Rumor patrol on ballot postage

Today, I checked into a possible snafu with ballot postage that turned out to be a non-issue.

We got an email from someone who said the post office told him the ballot he was trying to mail required an additional stamp. The problem appears to be an anomaly.

Elections manager Dolores Gilmore said that ballots properly returned would only require a single stamp. In fact, her office has received an estimated 10,000 ballots since they were mailed out last week. The single stamp seems to be working just fine, she said.

Gilmore said even if a person forgot to tear off the tab on the ballot, the extra weight would not put the envelope over the 1 ounce limit (for a single stamp). This election requires a 2-column ballot. Some elections require a 3-column ballot, which would be above one ounce, Gilmore said.

Gilmore speculated that if one were to mail a flier included with the ballot stating voter instructions and notice of ballot drop-box locations, and if the voter failed to tear off the tab (which is supposed to be removed), the weight might exceed one ounce.

If you want to save yourself a stamp, 24-hour ballot deposit boxes are available until 8 p.m. Nov. 8, election day, at the Poulsbo Fire Station, 911 NE Liberty Road, Poulsbo; and at the Kitsap County Administration Building, 619 Division Street (corner of Division and Cline) in Port Orchard. The Kitsap County Auditor’s election division is open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, and from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on election day.

Last call (tonight) for comments on redistricting of commissioner boundaries

Tonight (10/24/11) at the Kitsap County Board of Commissioners’ meeting, the board will hold a public hearing on three proposed options for redistricting commissioner boundaries. The meeting is at 7 p.m. at the county administration building.

The county’s been working on this for some time. They held information workshops in late September and early October. County officials also met with both parties on the redistricting, which is intended to even out representation within North, South and Central Kitsap commissioner districts, based on 2010 Census data.

Eric Baker, the county’s special projects manager, and his staff have put forth three options, one of which is to do nothing, leave the boundaries as is. The other two options attempt to even out population discrepancies by shifting boundaries between Central (the smallest, population-wise) and North Kitsap (currently with the largest population). Option 3 also adjusts boundaries between Central Kitsap and South Kitsap in the Tiger/Panther/Mission Lake area.

According to Baker, comments on the three proposals have been pretty tame.

“Largely, there has not been a lot of public outcry about these alternatives,” Baker said Monday. “Our alternatives attempted to minimize change where possible, which was appreciated by people who made comments.”

Many people have asked if there will be changes to downtown Bremerton boundaries, which would affect residents of South Kitsap and Central Kitsap districts. The answer, said Baker, is “no.”

The commissioners may but, according to Baker, likely will not adopt one of the three options at tonight’s meeting. More likely, they will consider public input and make their decision by or before the Dec. 1 deadline.

Today’s county redistricting meeting location changed

Due to a broken water main at the Island Lake Community Center, an informational meeting on redistricting of Kitsap County Commissioner district boundaries has been moved to the Silverdale Community Center (A-Frame Off of the Upper Parking Lot), 9729 Silverdale Way NW, Silverdale.

The meeting will begin at 6 p.m. rather than the originally posted 6 p.m. to ensure time for people to reach the new location.

State law requires the county to adjust the boundaries to roughly equalize the number of residents per district. The county’s board of commissioners will adopt the revised boundaries by the end of 2011. The boundaries become effective in 2012.

One option would be to make no change to the boundaries, which were last adjusted in 2002. The difference between District 1 (“North Kitsap”), the largest district, and District 3 (“Central Kitsap”), which is the smallest, is 6,300 people, which is within allowances of the law, county officials say.

A second option would reduce the difference in population to 1,200. This option would affect residents in the Olympic View area east of Highway 3 and south of Mountain View Road in Central Kitsap.

A third option would result in a population difference of 1,400 and would affect people living in the area east of Silverdale Way and west of Ridgetop Boulevard.

Another information meeting has been set for 6 p.m. Oct. 6 at the county administration building, 619 Division St. in Port Orchard.

For more information, call (360) 337-4495.

Notes from the chamber of commerce debate

Debates are the political equivalent of speed dating. Candidates have snippets of time to define themselves, differentiate themselves from their opponents and connect with the crowd.

We at the Kitsap Sun will be doing in-depth articles articles on local races and ballot issues. Debate coverage, on the other hand, could be seen as more superficial but also more immediate.

Here’s what I took away from this morning’s debate hosted by the Port Orchard Chamber of Commerce. Races featured were the Port of Bremerton Commissioner, District 3, and Kitsap County Commissioner, District 1 (North Kitsap), neither of which I’m doing the in-depth coverage on.

In the commissioners’ debate, Republican Chris Tibbs took every opportunity to set himself apart from incumbent Commissioner Rob Gelder. Gelder was appointed in March to fill Steve Bauer’s position.

Interestingly enough, Tibbs considers himself an “independent moderate” and has contributed to Democratic campaigns in the past. His goal in this race seems to be to diversify the all-Democratic board of commissioners.

“We have not had an independent voice on the board since 2008 (when Republican Jan Angel’s term ended),” Tibbs said. “I think we need a voice to look at the interests of what the minority are.”

Democrat Gelder countered that he doesn’t automatically align with fellow commissioners Charlotte Garrido and Josh Brown.

“I maintain my own independent voice,” said Gelder, whose background is in nonprofit management, most recently at Martha & Mary Health Services of Poulsbo. “What I uniquely bring to the board of commissioners is the perspective of service.”

Gelder said his goal is to “re-size government to a more sustainable level,” while advocating for “the most vulnerable.”

Tibbs, director of sales and operations for Ootopia coffee roasters, touted his business experience and said he would run the county with a more stringent eye to the bottom line, fully funding justice, roads and land use, and cutting as needed in other departments. Tibbs would be looking to “shed layers of employees” but also wants to restore the county to 5-day per week service versus the current 4.

Tibbs blasted the county’s “lack of transparency,” citing the Shoreline Master Plan Update process and the county’s legal tangle with Kitsap Rifle and Revolver Club as examples.

Gelder, now on the defensive, said the county has come a long way in increasing transparency, especially in the budget process. (Both Gelder and Tibbs served on the county’s budget advisory committee). Concerns that the Shoreline Master Plan will decimate individual property rights are not justified, Gelder said. The public has and will continue to be involved in the planning process.

Gelder said the county has made strides toward a sustainable budget and the board is on track to rebuild the general fund reserve account. He cited recent refinancing of bonds that will save an estimated $1.7 million over time as an example of the county’s more proactive approach to balancing the budget.

Gelder also defended his background in nonprofits as valid experience for the job of commissioner. “Running a not-for-profit requires you to be even more creative to make payroll,” he said.

The two candidates hold 180-out positions on Kitsap County’s membership in the Puget Sound Regional Council. The council, which also includes King, Pierce and Snohomish counties, oversees distribution of state and federal transportation funding.

Tibbs says Kitsap’s interests are not being represented in the PSRC. He advocates the county withdraw and establish its own stand-alone entity. “We have no reason to be with this organization,” Tibbs said. “We could be a stand-alone and receive the same or more monies.”

Gelder said the county can’t afford to distance itself from the PSRC. “It’s the reality we’re operating in,” he said. “We need to be a player around the table. If we’re not there, they basically will roll right over us.”

In the nonpartisan Port of Bremerton debate, candidates Axel Strakeljahn and Shawn Cucciardi had a harder time setting themsleves apart from one another.

Both said the port has not yet fully recovered the public’s trust since 2007 when it passed a poorly publicized tax increase of 45 cents per $1,000 for the Bremerton Marina. Cucciardi called it a “stealth tax.” Strakeljahn dubbed it the “midnight tax.”

Both candidates talked of the port’s need for a solid short- and long-range business plan to promote economic development. Both touted their business experience as credentials for the job. Strakeljahn manages the Port Orchard Fred Meyer. Cucciardi manages McCormick Woods Golf Course & Clubhouse.

Cucciardi said he’d pump up marketing of the port. Strakeljahn said he’d make sure any business decision made by the port commission pencils out. He would “hold the line on taxes” he said.

Cucciardi said his style is to take “positive approach” to problem solving. Strakeljahn spoke of his immigrant parents, who taught him the value of hard work and “attention to detail.”

So there you have it, just a few notes from the debate, for what it’s worth.

Commissioner Garrido sponsors showing of film on global warming

The Sustainable Cinema series, sponsored by District 2 Commissioner Charlotte Garrido, continues 6:30 p.m. Thursday at the Dragonfly Cinema in downtown Port Orchard, with a showing of “The Age of Stupid.”

According to a press release on the county’s website, the documentary film “takes a look back from the year 2055 and asks why we didn’t stop climate change when we had the chance.”

The Age of Stupid is directed by Frannie Armstrong and stars Pete Postlethwaite. The film runs 98 minutes.

There is no charge for admission, but the suggested donation is $5 per person.

A discussion will follow the film.

“The Sustainable Cinema Series was created to provide interactive and educational information to Kitsap County residents about sustainable living,” the press release says.

For more information, contact Aimee Gordon Warthen, District 2 Liaison, at 360.337.7097.

Guatemalan volunteers honored by county for work in parks

A group of volunteers from Kitsap County’s Guatelmalan community will receive a formal “thank you” from the county’s Board of Commissioners at tonight’s meeting, 7 p.m. at the county administration building, 619 Division Street, in Port Orchard.

The commissioners make monthly awards to groups and individuals nominated by county staff for outstanding service. The Guatemalan group meets monthly at Island Lake County Park in Central Kitsap to clean up trash, clear brush and tidy trails. The number of registered volunteers in Organizacion Voluntario Guatemalteco totals more than 60, according to parks Stewardship Coordinator Lori Raymaker. The group recently took on Old Mill Park in Central Kitsap, as well.

Kitsap County Parks Volunteers

One of the group’s leaders approached the parks department in April 2010 and asked if there was a way they could help. Working through language barriers, Raymaker introduced the group to the Adopt-A-Park program. Their work throughout the park, especially around the community center, has made the park more welcoming and inviting for the public, Raymaker said.

“Their attention to detail and work ethic is outstanding,” she noted. “It’s not uncommon to have entire families come out to the park to help on the work day.”

According to Raymaker, and group spokesman Prudencio Matias, many are involved in landscaping and brush-picking, so they feel at-home in the woods.

One thing that makes this group noteworthy, said Raymaker, is their overt sense of gratitude.

“They appreciate what the government does for them here in the U.S.,” Raymaker said. “They want to be able to give back to the government and help the community.”

Matias confirmed that sentiment.

“We appreciate for all the government gives to us,” he said. “I’m appreciate for this county. It’s given an opportunity for my people better to do.”

Matias apologized for his English, which he is working to improve through classes at the Immigrant Assistance Center. He has been in the United States 16 years and has owned his own landscaping company for four.

Matias mentioned among the government benefits, public education and food stamps. He explained that although many in the local Guatelmalan community lack the means to pay for these benefits, they feel a strong sense of obligation to pay back in-kind, through their labor, for what they receive. Hands on labor is what they do, and according to Raymaker, they do it well.

“They’re hard, hard workers. They’re reliable. They’re fun to work with,” Raymaker said. “They’re appreciative of being given the opportunity to give back, and I guess that’s what sets them apart.”

And they want to do more. Matias said he and others in the group would like to take on picking up trash they find in the forests. Those who are in the group pick up what they can when they see it, but to do a thorough job of cleaning the woods, they would need permission from landowners (whether private or state-owned) to do the work, Matias said. They also need to figure out how to pay for disposal of the refuse.

“It’s a respect, like I say, for the forest and the animals,” Matias said.

Another idea they’ve had is to approach the county about trading labor in lieu of fees for the use of soccer fields. Futbol is big in the Guatemalan community, Matias said. He and others recognize that involvement in sports is a good way to prevent kids from getting involved in drugs or gangs.

One other purpose the group has, said Matias, is to give a good name to the Guatemalan community. He is working to recruit other volunteers and expand the group’s involvement in public service projects.

I could have put this item on the Peninsular Thinking blog. But, based on comments on a recent story we ran about growth in the Latino population in North Kitsap, I’m anticipating people will ask about or speculate on the residency status of these volunteers. So I will try to address this question in advance within the limited scope of this blog post.

People on that story complained reporter Rachel Pritchett didn’t address the issue of undocumented immigrants. I disagree. Here’s what she said.

“No one seems to know what portion of Kitsap’s Hispanics have legal status. The Census does not ask for citizenship status in its survey or differentiate based on immigration status in reporting on ethnic groups.”

But Rachel added. “In 2010, 11.2 million unauthorized immigrants were living in the United States, according to the Pew Hispanic Center. That number is about a fifth the size of the total number of Hispanics the census estimated lived in the United States in 2010, 50.5 million.”

And the article said, “While it likely is an undercount, the Census estimated that 15,686 Hispanics lived in Kitsap County in 2010, a 63 percent increase over the decade. Hispanics in 2010 made up 6 percent of the total population. That growth rate is close to the state’s (71 percent), but far higher than the national rate of 43 percent.”

I asked Raymaker if there is a box on the volunteer county’s registration form for citizenship, and she said “no.” Furthermore, from her perspective over seeing volunteers, it’s irrelevant.

“It doesn’t matter to me if they’re here illegally or without green cards. I don’t ask anyone, and I don’t require anyone to tell me. I don’t think that matters when we’re working with volunteers,” she said.

I also called the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction to ask if schools are required to ask the citizenship status of students.

“No. They’re not required to ask. That’s not their purview,” said spokesman Chris Barron. “The schools have enough to do without investigating the citizenship of their students.”

So there you go. The complaint will be made that undocumented immigrants access government benefits, detracting from resources available to legal residents. Others will say it’s unfair to assume just because someone is Latino, they are undocumented. And the argument will go round and round on a story about community service.

Seaquist Richards to make another run for 26th District representative seat

Note: My apologies to both Doug Richards and Larry Seaquist. The headline on an earlier version of this blog post was inaccurate (see above).

Doug Richards, a battalion chief with South Kitsap Fire and Rescue, announced Thursday he will run in 2012 for the 26th Legislative District seat held by Rep. Larry Seaquist, D-Gig Harbor.
Richards, an Olalla resident, ran against Seaquist in 2010, earning 47 percent of the vote to Seaquist’s 53 percent.
“I was honored to receive so much support and help during the last election cycle that saw us come within 2,400 votes of a victory,” Richards said.
He vowed to be a strong advocate for jobs, education and fiscal discipline.
Seaquist, now in his third term, has not indicated his intentions for the 2012 election announced in January he will run for re-election.
The 26th District takes in parts of north Pierce County, including Gig Harbor, and south-central Kitsap County, including Port Orchard and parts of Bremerton. Other legislators representing the district are Rep. Jan Angel, R-Port Orchard, and Sen. Derek Kilmer, D-Gig Harbor.

County budget review committee presentations on BKAT

The Kitsap County Board of Commissioners and the county’s Budget Review Committee will hear presentations for 2012 budget requests from department heads beginning Wednesday at the county administration building.
The presentations will be broadcast on Bremerton Kitsap Access Television beginning on Friday. The schedule is available on the county’s website.
Each department will outline their priorities and proposed expenses as part of the board’s budget process. The board will present its draft budget to the public in November, with a formal public hearing.
Until then, comments on the budget can be submitted through the county’s website. Email