Category Archives: Bainbridge Island

Prayer on the agenda

On Monday the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 (They all seem to be 5-4 decisions these days.) that a New York town was OK in having prayers before their meetings, even if they are pretty much all Christian. To get more detail about that case you should read the AP story that ran on our site.

Monday afternoon I spoke with Bremerton Mayor Patty Lent, because Bremerton is the only local government body I know of that puts prayer on the agenda. That it would appear anywhere in this area might surprise some people, because it wasn’t long ago that a Gallup survey reported our area was the seventh least religious area in the country. That was Kitsap specifically, by the way, not just the entire Seattle area.

Lent was not much familiar with the Supreme Court decision, but in her conversation about why prayer works here she touched on some of the questions the court addressed. One of the problems in the court case was the predominance of Christian prayers. Except for one brief period last decade, prayers or other facsimiles were not heard in the New York town. Lent said in Bremerton an effort is made to spread the task around, to contact different denominations, including non-Christian ones. That’s more than the court decided was necessary.

No other local government that I am aware of opens with prayers. When I covered the Bainbridge Island City Council they didn’t even recite the pledge of allegiance and there was a bit of a dust up when one council member suggested they start. The next election ushered in folks who were not opposed to the pledge and it’s now on the agenda.

This is not to say everyone is thrilled with the prayer in Bremerton, or probably the pledge for that matter. I know several years back I knew of someone who was raising an issue with the council, someone who was as committed to atheism as some are to religion. This person, however, wasn’t interested in letting a refusal to stand for a prayer distract from the main question on this person’s agenda. It’s a case of saving battles for another day, if ever.

Lent said that to her knowledge no one has complained about Bremerton’s regular prayer.

Confronted with the bag ban

This L.A. Times story about Los Angeles preparing to ban plastic grocery bags reminded me of something else that reminded me of bag bans.

A couple of weeks ago I made an all-too-infrequent trip to Seattle and went by way of Bainbridge Island. I stopped at a grocery store, not saying which one for fear of the political ramifications, and bought just a couple of items I planned to consume quickly. The bagger asked if I wanted a bag. I considered it, but had forgotten that Bainbridge Island has a plastic bag ban and charges a nickel for the paper ones. I said “No, thanks,” because I didn’t need the bag, but it wasn’t until then that I noticed the bagger reaching for a paper bag. It seemed odd to me that there were no plastic bags around, and then the island’s legal reality dawned on me. It was the first time I had ever been confronted with a bag ban.

The second time was when I went to Seattle that same day. I bought some things, the checker put the items in a paper bag, then mentioned that she had forgotten to charge me for it. There wasn’t a whole lot of concern, because I was spending enough that the store was not going to miss that nickel. This was the Seattle bag ban.

Of course this is how life works. You go months without being confronted with something and then twice in one day it hits you. There is a Sizzler connection there, too. In the almost 11 years I have lived here I don’t recall ever going to Sizzler, but when I lived elsewhere I was kind of a frequent customer. I saw Steve Young in there once with one of the fiancees he had before he found the one he would end up marrying. My brother, with whom I had shared many a previous Sizzler experience, was in town this last week and we decided we’d go. It was Thursday, the day after the restaurant closed.

Neither circumstance — the bag ban or the Sizzler closure — was much of an inconvenience.

Does the bag ban bother you, or would you like to see more cities and counties pass restrictions on their use?

Dunagan posted this video three years ago, but I’m resurrecting it here. It makes a point, but manages to be hilarious in the process. Is there anything more dangerous than a Yorkie?

I saw Norm Wooldridge mad

Ten years ago this September former Kitsap Sun reporter Lynnette Meachum introduced me to people and places I would be covering as a new reporter here. One of our first stops was Bainbridge Island’s city hall, which back then was just two years old and fresh. Meachum was leaving to go to law school.

As a new reporter one of the benefits is not knowing who the “old boys” are in the “old boy network.” In all seriousness it’s sometimes worthwhile to be ignorant before a reporter begins weighing the value of opinions based on who they come from.

So Norm Wooldridge, who was memorialized Saturday, was another face on the dais for me when I began covering Bainbridge Island city government. Little did I know what a force he had been on the island, particularly for his successful work in making the entire island a city.

Had I known, then honestly it might have been a little more tough to accept how much I was angering him one day.

We at the Sun had not paid much attention to Bainbridge Island before Meachum began focusing more effort there and before it was decided to dedicate my entire coverage there as well as launching the Bainbridge Islander weekly paper. Prior to then we had ceded dominance to the Bainbridge Iland Review, which had a stellar reputation going back to Walt Woodward’s protestations over internment. That reputation, in my opinion, was mostly deserved. It was a good paper with a good staff and four times our circulation, a fact I learned to enjoy fighting as an underdog.

In the long tradition of recurring themes, there were nasty divides among members of the Bainbridge Island city council, city staff and the city’s administration. At one point the council decided to have a retreat to try to work on its relationships. For the second time since I had been there as a reporter Christine Rolfes asked me to not attend. The first time she asked me regarding another retreat I assured her I wasn’t planning to attend anyway. But these retreats are considered under the law to be every bit the public meeting a regular council meeting is. I was noncommittal on the request on the second one. Then I went. Rolfes, in a friendly way, asked what I was doing there. I don’t remember my response, but it was probably something along the lines of this was a public meeting and what they were dealing with was news.

Inside the meeting the facilitator asked me to explain myself. Both requests were technically violations of the state’s open meeting laws, a fact I didn’t know at the time. At any rate, I kept it simple, saying anyone had the right to be there, again emphasizing that what they were focusing on was news.

I knew my decision could be unpopular among council members. It was also unpopular with the facilitator they hired. Some were not mad and others, if they were mad, kept their anger under wraps.

Wooldridge didn’t. He very nearly suggested canceling the meeting because I was there.

I don’t blame anyone for being angry at me that day, for not knowing state law and for becoming uncomfortable that someone new was coming along and changing the unwritten rules. For some time the Review had been regularly accepting the council members’ requests to not attend these events, because council members told them they’d do better without the press present. I was sending a message that we were not going to let them operate out of the sunshine, that they’d just have to get used to us being there. I know that might sound self-important, but I really believed it was important, then and now.

Sure, Wooldridge was angry, but not overtly hostile. So in my experience the accolades I heard about him Saturday were well deserved. From my experience, even though I know he didn’t appreciate our efforts to usurp the Review’s presence, he was respectful of me and always returned my phone calls, even after he was long gone from the council.

On Pot, Bainbridge and Bremerton Agree

Back in the day, as in a few months ago, there was a nice little give and take between Bremerton and Bainbridge Island on the Bremelog. For the record I suspect sock puppetry, really, and the moderator has now become a Bremerton slumlord and bolted from the finer side of the sound. There isn’t much going on over at the Bremelog anymore.

Still, there are real differences between Bremerton and Bainbridge Island, namely the kinds of Toyotas we drive and the quality of our ferries. When I covered the island I always approached the supposed snootiness of islanders as overblown. But last Saturday my family and I went with family members who were visiting the area from Vancouver, B.C. to play in soccer matches on the island against island teams. Some guy wearing a BIFC scarf asked us if we were from Canada. My wife pointed to her sister and said she was, but that we were from Bremerton. Our islander acquaintance lost interest in us. It made me feel better about the fact that my nephews totally trounced the island kids. One of my nephews scored three goals, one with his right foot.

Nonetheless, it appears there is something on which the elect on the island and the great unwashed in Bremerton can agree: marijuana laws.

The Seattle Times has a story about marijuana legalization efforts in California and includes information about a signature-gathering effort here in Washington to get something on the November ballot. Included was this:

It’s “a little less predictable” to gather signatures with an all-volunteer staff, Dawdy said, but the group has had success across the state. He said one signature-gatherer working the Bainbridge Island ferry run collected 800 signatures in 21/2 weeks and that a Bremerton head shop collected 400 by putting a copy of the petition on the counter.

I assume the head shop is Pied Piper’s, but there may be other shops I don’t know about. Since I don’t have much demand for their products, I’m not a customer. The one time I did go in was when the store had to move the first time, out of the space it once had where the Tim Ryan building is now. I naively asked if it was a place to buy things to help to smoke pot. I was informed it was a clothing store, a place where one could buy artistic pieces of glass. It was true. There was clothing and glasswork. The shirt was very comfortable on me when I later smoked from a glass pipe I bought there using pot I bought from my island source. I kid. The source was from Port Orchard. I kid again.

Now it’s easy to assume that ferry commuters on Bainbridge are not from the same demographic as artistic glass aficionados in Bremerton. But my point to to that scarf-wearing dude at the soccer game is that we’re not so different. We can find common ground.

I wonder if one of the 800 signatures on Bainbridge came from this guy. I can’t tell you how glad I am when something like this didn’t happen in Bremerton.

Bainbridge Company Gets Huge Federal Grant for Texas Project

A reader who goes by Oldsalt in the comments section has had a little to say about the Bainbridge Island grant for the boat, the same one McCain had something to say about. Oldsalt posted a link to a story about some place in Michigan not getting a Department of Energy carbon sequestration grant. Down the way, though, the story got interesting for Kitsap locals. From the story:

The DOE selected three other sites: Columbus, Ohio; Birmingham, Ala.; and Bainbridge Island, Wash

What the . . .? How much carbon is there to capture on Bainbridge? (Begin the jokes now.)

I did a search on the DOE Web site and found a press release from Dec. 4 announcing $3 billion in carbon capture and sequestration grants, an announcement that included this:

Summit Texas Clean Energy, LLC (Bainbridge Island, WA)
Project Title: Texas Clean Energy Project (TCEP)
Summit Texas Clean Energy, LLC will integrate Siemens gasification and power generating technology with carbon capture technologies to effectively capture 90% of the carbon dioxide (2.7 million metric tons per year) at a 400 megawatt plant to be built near Midland-Odessa, TX. The captured CO2 will be treated, compressed and then transported by CO2 pipeline to oilfields in the Permian Basin of West Texas, for use in enhanced oil recovery (EOR) operations. The Bureau of Economic Geology (BEG) at the University of Texas will design and assure compliance with a state-of-the-art CO2 sequestration monitoring, verification and accounting program. (DOE share: $350 million; project duration: 8 years)

Eric Gjelde is listed as the registered agent for Summit Texas Clean Energy in the Washington Secretary of State’s site dealing with corporations. The company is affiliated with Summit Power Group, also of Bainbridge Island.

Updated — Bainbridge’s Boat to Nowhere

2:55 p.m. Wednesday UPDATE: Tristan Baurick has more on the city’s response to McCain’s diss. It just gets better.

My close, personal friend John McCain (I’ve got a photo to prove he sat next to me on a bus.) thinks Bainbridge Island’s $190,000 grant to upgrade a boat he doesn’t think the city needed is among 100 projects in the federal government’s economic stimulus plan that either:

A. Create few jobs;
B. Benefit private interests over the public good; or
C. Make improvements where they are not necessary.

Some islanders wonder what an Arizona senator, or his Oklahoma partner Tom Coburn, knows about the needs of a Seattle suburb. Tristan Baurick wrote the story.

No matter that McCain got the best reception of his 2000 presidential campaign in Bremerton, in sight of Bainbridge Island. The man responsible for Sarah Palin’s fame gives little credence to the idea that the boat should be able to “test vapor or surfaces for microscopic traces of explosive material.”

Why? Because Bainbridge is a “tranquil hamlet,” and tranquil hamlets and cozy hideaways and quiet respites and snoozy doormats don’t need vessels that can sniff out bombs.

How tranquil is Bainbridge? Why, they’ve reduced their police force, because there is so little crime. At least, you might think the police budget cuts were painless from reading the McCain-Coburn treatise on wasteful spending in the federal government’s economic stimulus package: “After years of decreasing crime, the city turned to the police force as a source of budget cuts in 2009, trimming it to a force of 20.”

McCain and Coburn also wrote of the original Homeland Security grant that netted the island the new boat, “Bainbridge Island officials were at first puzzled, citing little need for such an advanced boat at the small locality, though it ultimately accepted the funds.”

There is some truth to that statement, but people will certainly interpret it to mean that islanders didn’t really ask for the vessel. A couple of Bainbridge city council members did question the original $600,000 grant to get a bigger boat, but much of the concern was in how much Bainbridge officers would be called on to do work the Coast Guard normally does, or whether island police should be helping with investigations on ferries and for the Naval shipyard.

A Bainbridge Island Review editorial offered manna to those who think islanders are loathe to mingle with those of us who live off island by asking ” . . . when exactly did Bainbridge Island become the regional provider for maritime safety?” and “Since when is it Bainbridge Island’s job to guard the ferry?”

It makes you kind of like the idea of that bridge from Illahee to Bainbridge, doesn’t it?

The editorial asserted that the money would better serve the island by paying for officers. Indeed, a few years later Police Chief Matt Haney was telling Patty Murray the city got a grant for a nice boat, but needed money for uniformed people to operate it.

The whole notion that “Bainbridge Island officials were at first puzzled” though, paints the picture that a fed urged the city without any request by the city to take the boat. That’s missing some nuance, for those of you inclined to do nuance. In fact, the city actively courted the grant money, then most islanders spoke in favor of accepting it.

There remains the question of how many jobs the $190,000 creates. Someone has to build the technology. Someone has to install it. The challenge appears to be in paying someone who can use it.

Whether the original or new grant was merited is probably worth arguing. But in the senators’ dismissive method of describing the Bainbridge allocation I’m reminded of Palin’s “‘thanks but no thanks’ on that bridge to nowhere,” which painted her as someone willing to turn down an ungodly sum of money for an unnecessary project without mentioning that Alaska did still get the money. They make a fine case, but for political reasons are willing to leave out context.

Read the report, but don’t stop there. There are footnotes. For once in your life read those, too.

Is Bremerton the Beer Caucus?

The Dude, charter member of the White Russian Caucus, though he often consorts with legislators from Seattle.

This is really a topic more suited for another writer, one you might know, who because he now works for a competitor I won’t name. I’m not trying to insult him (Oh dear, now you know his gender.) by suggesting he’s an expert in mind-altering substances. But almost anyone is more of an expert than I am, given that I have chosen a life in which I really only get anything close to high when the dentist shares some killer nitrous. Unfortunately my dentist lives by a code himself, so we’re both on our best behavior around each other. The point is I’m no expert on the subject matter, and could really only guess at any place’s intoxicant of choice. Then again, I do read police reports.

In political circles you have your caucuses. Our nine legislators are free to call themselves the Kitsap Caucus without any fear of copyright claims from us. We’re that noble.

Steve Elliott on OpEdNews, in a pro-marijuana decriminalization post that insists Washington’s Speaker of the House, Frank Chopp is missing part of that which makes him a man (Actually, there is a pair of said parts and they are not socks or trousers.) suggests legislators could be broken into caucuses that have yet to be made official, the intoxicant caucuses. From the blog entry:

“Chopp, who grew up in Bremerton, WA, likes to describe himself as a ‘Bremerton Democrat’ (translation: ‘I’m almost like Norm Dicks. Besides, I don’t smoke pot; I drink beer. Vote for me, please!’), presumably to distance himself from the ‘effete Seattle liberal’ image that scares him so badly . . .”

It’s not the first time “Bremerton Democrat” has meant that the speaker drinks beer. In 2007 Josh Feit at “The Stranger” wrote:

“First elected to the state house from Seattle’s 43rd District in 1994, Chopp, who likes to refer to himself as a ‘Bremerton Democrat’—meaning a beer-drinking, blue-collar, populist 26th District Democrat, as opposed to an effete, latte-sipping, pot-smoking 43rd District Democrat . . .

In both references Bremerton’s preference for beer over marijuana is, I guess, intended as an insult of sorts. Frankly, I know many people who think “beer” is probably being too general and too kind to the “We’re working on it” city. A random sample of stereotypical assumptions freely offered by co-workers within earshot led to the irrefutable conclusion that the beer of choice in Bremerton is anything that comes in a 40-ounce bottle, because it is more easily pilfered from the Sev.

We could be high (And by “high” I mean “wrong.”), of course, so we ask you dear readers to come up with your own thoughts for what the intoxicant of choice in Bremerton is. While we’re at it, let’s include Bainbridge Island, Poulsbo and Port Orchard. Don’t feel limited to legal substances, because I know that would be a particular challenge for Port Orchard. Remember, Seattle is claiming marijuana (despite there being not a single White Castle restaurant in the city) and possessing marijuana will get you more than a stern reprimand that kills your buzz.

2005 Quote from Bozeman on Mayors, Councils, Managers

Peter Callaghan from the (Tacoma) News Tribune discusses whether cities should be led by strong mayors or managers. In the process he interviews someone who has seen both types of governments, former Bremerton Mayor Cary Bozeman.

In 2005, in the wake of the Brame scandal and the Corpuz dismissal, I asked Cary Bozeman, now the director of the Port of Bremerton, which form was best. He had been both the “weak” mayor of Bellevue and the “strong” mayor of Bremerton.

Strong leaders are the key. But because it is more likely that a city can hire a strong leader from around the nation than find one to elect in town, he said he thinks a council-manager system is best for most cities.

When Bainbridge Island was going through its conversation about whether to dump the strong mayor, I also asked Bozeman what he thought about it, and what he thought Bremerton should have. He declined to answer.

Makes you wonder, though, doesn’t it? The question has come up in the past. Anyone here for changing the form of governments in the three other Kitsap cities now led by mayors? Or are the cities better off sticking with what they have?

YES! Editor Says “Yes” To Obama Nobel Prize

While many, the recipient included, were shocked, and others apoplectic or ecstatic over Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize, at least one local makes an argument for why it’s justified.

Sarah van Gelder, executive editor at YES! magazine (based in Bainbridge Island) acknowledges that it is early in Obama’s presidency, but these are unusual times and the major challenges call for recognition of someone willing to change the previous American course on nuclear proliferation and global warming. From van Gelder:

“The people of the world have everything at stake in these two issues. It’s no wonder that the Nobel Peace Committee would want to encourage an embattled U.S. president who is trying to do the right thing. After eight years of neocon recklessness, there’s a lot of catch-up to do. President Obama has the goodwill of most of the world (with the notable exception of the Taliban, Rush Limbaugh, and a few others, who would defeat the U.S. president no matter what the cost).

“When I see this move on the part of the Nobel Committee, I see a world willing to give the U.S. a chance to be great–a world that’s actually desperate for real U.S. leadership on the crises that threaten us all.”

Discussion With Bainbridge Council Central, North Ward Candidates

We’ve been recording video of our editorial board discussions with primary candidates, but today we ran into some technical difficulties (seriously, we didn’t just forget to plug it in). So, this time in our editorial board’s interviews with Bainbridge Island North and Central ward candidates, we recorded the audio of the discussion for those of you interested in listening in.

I’m sorry if you were really, really looking forward to the video. But now you can download it to your iPod. Since the discussions run about 50 minutes or more, the files are pretty large. Please be patient while the file loads into the player and feel free to let me know if you have any problems.

Below is audio for Bainbridge Island Council Dist. 5 candidates Virginia Paul, Debbi Lester and Dee DuMont. Click play.

Download the file by right-clicking

 
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Below is audio of the interview with Bainbridge Island Council Dist. 7 candidates Debbie Vancil (incumbent), Bob Scales and Melanie Keenan.

Download the file by right-clicking

 
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— Angela Dice

Conversation with Bainbridge Island Council Dist. 3 South Ward candidates

The Kitsap Sun editorial board hosted Bainbridge Island Council District 3 South Ward candidates Curt Winston, Tim Jacobsen, and Kirsten Hytopoulos Wednesday as part of it’s pre-primary series of interviews used to make the Kitsap Sun’s political endorsements.

We stream these discussions live and archive them on this blog. You can find out when upcoming discussions are and, at the scheduled time, watch them live, comment and ask questions, of which we’ll choose several at the end to ask the candidates on your behalf. Go to kitsapsun.com/2009/editorial-videos


– Angela Dice

Nixon’s Brother on ‘Giants’

The news story will also have a video to go with it. Keep checking the story to catch a snippet of Ed Nixon’s speech.

When you know Richard Nixon’s brother is in the room, it isn’t difficult at all to pick which one he is. For one thing, there were only a few men in Wednesday’s meeting of the Bainbridge Island Republican Women.

But even if there were 100, Ed Nixon would be unmistakable.

He knows it and seems to be comfortable in his overall role as the brother of someone famous. People around the world ask him why he looks like Richard Nixon, he said.

Nixon was on Bainbridge Wednesday to speak and to sell a few books.

He’s written The Nixons: A Family Portrait, which deals much in the family and little in any of the controversial stuff about his brother.

During the speech he did talk a little, when prodded, about his brother’s presidency. An audience member said government didn’t grow as it had in other administrations. Ed Nixon said any president succeeds at the mercy of the Congress that’s with him. Richard Nixon didn’t agree with wage and price controls. He didn’t think they would work. But he let them go forward to prove whether he was right or not.

Ed Nixon is clearly a Republican loyalist. He said Democrats are risking the future of children, key to his overall message that family and children are what matter most.

He invited himself to any Democratic functions available. “If you want me to talk to the Democrats, tell me where and when,” he said. Nixon then asked if there were comparable “ladies” groups for Democrats, and took a shot by asking if there are any “ladies” in the Democratic party.

A major portion of his prepared speech was a recitation of principles he said he learned from his father, Frank Nixon. Frank was, according to Ed, a bit blunt, but had a real affection for the Constitution, particularly the Preamble. He drove home the principles to his children, one of whom would become president.

Ed, for his part, took what he remembered of his father’s teachings and rewrote it in 1992. The New York Times, he said, wasn’t interested. We’re just the Kitsap Caucus on the Kitsap Sun, but he was willing to turn over the text of those principles. Here’s the transcript of that part.

Giants

by Ed Nixon

The global failure of efforts by government “to provide for the for the general welfare” merely proves the correctness of our Constitution’s Preamble — “promote” and “provide” are not interchangeable.

Academic political scientists and policy advisers should know that prescribing “jobs” will not cure a sick economy. Good jobs are the product of a healthy economy. And government-sponsored job development teams too often result in the expansion of government-subsidized employment in the guise of “investment.”

Effective therapy aimed at the causes of persistent unemployment must begin with employer development teams. We need to promote the aspirations of present and future innovators, developers, managers, marketers, operators, investigators, i.e. entrepreneurs, to become employers, free to expand, to reinvest earnings without tax on gains, and inspired by a new freedom from bureaucratic statisticians.

Poverty cannot be abolished by government prescriptions aimed at the forced redistribution of wealth. Subsidies attack the symptoms, keeping patients at rest but crippling them in the process.

And union-led strikes too often destroy the means to employ, yielding a net loss — or only a doleful gain — for the employed. Inevitably, bureaucrats will try to restore “equality” at the expense of national wealth by imploring Members of the House to initiate more entitlement spending regardless of revenues — the net affect of which is always a reduced value for our currency.

Unhealthy disparities in income can be avoided but not by merely subsidizing the poor. Indolence is the culprit, an illness prevalent even among casino speculators who “earn” their living exclusively by playing the trends of usury, exchange rates, inflation, or any other “system” of artificial values.

Growth that intensifies disparity in personal income eventually leads to wild swings in economic trends, population explosions among the poor, and incubation of violence in crucibles of superstition.

Meaningful jobs cannot be created directly. They can only follow the development of employers and the promotion of wealth that is earned, retained and reinvested.

When recruiting new employees we should always seek those who have dreams of their own — those who perhaps look forward to employing others, or who certainly expect to contribute individually with exemplary quality in their own output, thereby giving others reason to dream.

In the final analysis, craftsmen’s pride is the root of all equality, whether related to tangible products or intangible ideas.

Promotion of the general welfare calls for statecraft built from experience. Wise leadership acknowledges past errors and patiently pursues solutions, while political petulance seeks to provide immediate gratification regardless of past failures.

Immigrants arriving here from more socialistic countries must be made to understand that we did not become a great nation by seeking to reduce everyone to the least common denominator.

The framers of the Constitution were giants in their time.

So now, let’s grow some new giants who understand the difference between “providing for the common defense” and “promoting the general welfare.”

About those Public Documents

My apologies for not delivering on a promise I made to update you on a couple of public document issues. I got sick. I was out for a while. I’m back now, not better than ever, but better than then.

The one document story was in reference to our request of public employee hometowns, which the county initially refused to provide. The county decided to not appeal a judge’s decision that the Kitsap Sun was right in its case against the county and his decision that the county should pay some of the attorney’s fees and a small fine.

Technically our critic “Samm” has it wrong, because we only asked for hometowns, not street addresses. You can argue whether he’s right on the broader point.

The other was the story about Bainbridge Island being inundated with public document requests from its residents. Tristan Baurick’s story does provide comparative data from other cities and it does appear Bainbridge residents are asking for more than their peers in other places.

The reason for the flood of requests is clear, Mayor Darlene Kordonowy said.

“We have lost trust from the community,” she said.

While islanders have built a reputation for strong involvement in local government, they’ve also earned a bit of infamy for an equally robust distrust for it.

Planned for this weekend is a story that involved public document requests by the Kitsap Sun. Our requests, however, were to support the broader context of the story. More as it develops.

Community Organizer in Chief Calls on Locals

On Tuesday night five people met in a Washington State University classroom to discuss the federal government’s economic stimulus push, but perhaps more tellingly what they can do to help people stung by the current economy.

“It’s not just what we want, it’s where it’s going to do the most good,” said Ginny Duff, who organized the event after answering the call made by the president’s people. It was one of two that we know of in Kitsap County this week. The other was on Bainbridge Island Monday.

Ideas discussed included community and personal gardening, doing small things like taking a neighbor with you when you shop for groceries, bartering, healthcare, or waiting as long as possible to take unemployment to make sure the system doesn’t dry up.

During the 24 hour blitz in February, when Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John McCain touched down in Washington prior to the caucuses, the one thing that distinguished Obama supporters from the others was who they talked about. Clinton’s supporters talked about her. Obama supporters talked about themselves. They talked about what they would do, not so much about him but about what he motivated them to undertake.

More of Steven Gardner’s Clips

Tuesday’s meeting, though only attended by four, could be a small representation of that.

The event did have some hints of partisanship. Duff criticized Republicans for going against the economic stimulus package. Adam Brockus, Bremerton city councilman made a jab at Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, without naming her. She has been critical of what Congress and Obama are doing with the current proposals on the table. “Why don’t you say again, ‘Thanks, but no thanks,'” referring to her account of the Bridge to Nowhere.

But Tuesday’s meeting also had signs of not fitting the traditional stereotypes of what liberals would like. When discussing foreclosure assistance, the group seemed to favor some relief in the form mortgage renegotiation. But the group had little sympathy for those who bought well more than they could afford. “It’s called a reality check,” said Eileen Dye of Bremerton.

The ideas will be sent to the president. It’s part of the broader community organizing Obama hopes to carry from his day with that title to the one he has now.

There was some question about whether the snow might deter attendance. There were logistical problems. Duff had a PowerPoint presentation including a video by Va. Gov. Tim Kaine answering economic recovery questions prepared, but the equipment wasn’t available to present it. So the group talked and wrote down concerns and questions, which will be sent to the president.

To see the video by Kaine, go to the video attached here.

Bainbridge Islanders Vote

Give it up for people on the rock, because they’re the most civically engaged people as a bunch than any other city in the state. According to this site, 95 percent of islanders who could vote in November did. The next closest was Mercer Island (This proves my theory that people who live on islands are either worried enough about being surrounded by water and/or creosote to vote or have little else to occupy their time.) with 84 percent. The state average was 61 percent.

There is a little bit of Chicago/Cook County going on here, though. If you go to the earlier post on the same topic, you’ll find this:

Edit: Amusingly, Bainbridge Island has more registered voters than citizens over 18, as of earlier this year. Bainbridge Island totaled 17,091 registrations. The Census estimated it had 16,746 residents over 18. Using 2004 data on citizenship, about 16,226 would be eligible to vote. Assuming that some of those excess registrations are moved residents incorrectly marked as active, and that the population has grown slightly, that’s still nearly universal turnout among eligible voters. Pretty impressive — although not new, the city having seen similar numbers in 2004.

You can insert your own jokes about deceased voters. What I wonder is who are the 5 percent who don’t vote on Bainbridge?

County to Pay for Bulk of Ferry Study

One of the items of the Kitsap County commissioners’ agenda for Monday will be an allocation of the county’s hotel-motel tax revenues.

Typically such a meeting can invite a long line of those testifying, from those saying “Thank you” to those pleading for changes.

I don’t know what to expect on that score on Monday.

Part of what will be on the list of expenditures will be different than the allocations I’ve seen in the past. There will be $50,000 to help pay for an economic analysis of the ferry system’s impact on the East side.

This was the kind of study suggested less than a year ago in a meeting of Kitsap Regional Coordinating Council members, but eventually shelved when the different agencies that belong agreed they’d have trouble finding money in the budget.

What’s pushing this now, of course, is Washington State Ferries’ long-term proposals, one that would continue the current service as is and another that would reduce boats in Bremerton and Southworth and would reduce night service at those docks and in Kingston.

Commissioner Steve Bauer said the analysis would not be complete before the end of the Legislature. That could be a problem if legislators insist on picking one plan or another before “Sine Die,” the end of the session. Bauer is hoping the legislators will agree to push it at least another year, because whatever decision they make this year won’t have any financial impact until at least 2011.

The total cost of the study is expected to be in the neighborhood of $75,000. The remaining amount would need to come from the KRCC’s other members.

Gregoire Visits — Here’s the Plan

I covered the governor’s visit today, with help from our Bainbridge Island writer Tristan Baurick. At some point I’ll post videos, one a shorty and the other the seven minutes of her speech after she concluded thanking those who introduced her. I’m hoping to get that done tonight (Friday), but that might not happen. Batman might interfere.

Car Tabs Cloggin’ My E-Mail

Tim Eyman sent me and several others several copies of the same e-mail this morning. The letter, with a 6MB 84-page attachment, reported that someone is plotting to add to local car tab fees without consulting voters.

The e-mail helped make it impossible for me to send e-mails to anyone because the duplicates filled my in box. I had to open a few of the PDFs to find out that I received about 66MB more than I needed. I’ll complain more about that later.

Eyman went down a list of his initiatives and how they fared in Kitsap County. That’s all fine and good. His initiatives passed here.

But the attached document is from Bainbridge Island, where Eyman initiatives regularly fail.

That doesn’t mean it’s not a fair question to ask why a community would be considering raising the tabs without a vote.

Apparently that is exactly what is happening. I talked to BI City Councilman Bill Knobloch and he said the council is looking at the option of raising the MVET. He said the council is split on the idea, generally.

On the second question, it’s his sense that the majority on the council would not send it to Bainbridge voters. Not consulting voters would be a big mistake, he said. “I wouldn’t want to impose any tax without going to the voters,” he said.

During the 2007 legislative session lawmakers gave local counties and cities the option of raising MVET (car tabs) by $20 without a vote. The idea has seen the light of discussion in the county, but the sense at the end was that the county wouldn’t do it without a vote. There are no plans at this point. In Bremerton the idea is still a going concern there, but based on the temperatures I took before I stopped covering the city there is little appetite for raising tabs without a vote.

As for the e-mail, county commish Josh Brown received several copies as well. He responded:

Tim,

First of all, Kitsap County is not pursuing an increase to car tabs.

Second, I have a dozen emails from you in my inbox with exactly the same message. Please help make government more efficient by not wasting precious space on public servers with identical messages. The first email would suffice.

Warm regards, Josh Brown

Eyman responded to Brown:

We have a huge email list of supporters, media outlets, and elected officials throughout the state. As a result, we have to break it into chunks so everyone on our extensive list receives the email.

I don’t doubt the huge e-mail list, but his response to Brown made no sense to me. I wrote and told him so:

Mr. Eyman,

I don’t think you understand what happened. I received the same e-mail with
the same attachment a dozen or so times. I don’t know what you thought you
broke up. The attachment is an 84-page document that doesn’t amount to any
plan to increase car tab fees.

Well, the document does show it’s being included in the city’s conversation, but that doesn’t amount to a plan. My hunch is some tipster on Bainbridge Island sent him the attachment and gave him all of our e-mails. (I was half-right on that. He was tipped off, but he found the e-mails on our Web site.) I receive regular letters from Eyman, but for some in this newsroom it was the first time they’d ever heard from him.

Eyman believes clogging up my e-mail box to the point that it was temporarily unable to send is not a problem for me. He sent the following response:

In the ‘bcc’ line of each email that you received was a subset of email
addresses for supporters, elected officials, and media outlets around the
state.

There’s a button on your keyboard labeled “Del” and you can use it to delete
11 of the emails, leaving one on your computer to read and review. :)

No, not :) You wasted my time, Tim. Major }:(

Sadly, my eyebrows really do look like that if I don’t shave them. :)

Kitsap’s Appointments to the PSRC

Tomorrow, I’ll be attending a meeting of the Kitsap Regional Coordinating Council, at which members will outline a process for evaluating Kitsap’s membeship in the Puget Sound Regional Council. You can read the most recent story about Kitsap and the PSRC here, but in a nutshell, South Kitsap Commissioner Jan Angel and members of the community, most notably Kitsap Alliance of Property Owners, have questioned the value of Kitsap’s membership in the PSRC.

An evaluation by county staff shows Kitsap received roughly $31 million more in funding for regional transportation projects from 1992 through 2007 than it would have if it had operated as its own independent planning organization. But critics and Angel say that PSRC takes away local control. Angel was among a handful of PSRC members who recently voted against that entity’s Vision 2040 plan.

Because the question of whether the PSRC is good for Kitsap has been raised, all local entities involved need to be able to weigh in said Mary McClure, KRCC’s executive director. McClure and others have suggested that an equally timely discussion would be how Kitsap can increase its effectiveness on the PSRC, which also includes King, Pierce and Snohomish County.

Central Kitsap Commissioner Josh Brown, who serves on the PSRC’s executive committee, would like to see more involvement on the part of Kitsap’s committee appointees to the PSRC. Just by showing up and taking part, they can exert significant influence despite Kitsap’s relatively small size compared to the other counties, Brown said.

Here’s a list of Kitsap appointees to the PSRC (below, I’ll list Kitsap Regional Coordinating Council’s 2008 membership so you’ll know who fits where).
KConPRSC.pdf

Kitsap Regional Coordinating Council 2008:
Chair
Council Member Carol Arends
City of Bremerton

Vice-Chair
North Kitsap Commissioner Steve Bauer
Kitsap County

Members:
Kitsap County
South Kitsap Commissioner Jan Angel
Central Kitsap Commissioner Josh Brown

City of Bremerton
Mayor Cary Bozeman
Council Member Will Maupin
Council Member Nick Wofford*

City of Bainbridge Island
Mayor Darlene Kordonowy
Council Member Debbie Vancil
Council Member Kim Brackett*

City of Port Orchard
Mayor Lary Coppola
Council Member Carolyn Powers*

City of Poulsbo
Mayor Kathryn Quade
Council Member Ed Stern

Suquamish Tribe (Membership Memorandum of Understanding in Progress)
Council Chair Leonard Forsman
Rob Purser*

Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe
Council Chair Leonard Forsman
Rob Purser*

Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe (Membership Memorandum of Understanding in Progress)
Council Chair Ron Charles
Doug Quade*

Port of Bremerton
Commissioner Cheryl Kincer
Commissioner Bill Mahan

Naval Base Kitsap (ex officio member)
Captain Reid Tanaka
Tom Danaher, PAO*

Mary McClure
Executive Management
McClure Consulting LLC

Time to File Soon

Changes are afoot for the “Tracking the Speedway” blog, but like the worst of radio shows I’ll do nothing more than hint from now until launch. Never you mind just yet. I’ll tell you June 1.

In the meantime, it seems like you folks would be interested that candidates for local office can begin filing June 4. Chris Henry will have a story about it Sunday.

Although this is an off election year — no presidential, legislative or judicial races, at least in Kitsap County — several local races are already drawing attention. Among the most high profile contests, City of Port Orchard residents will decide who will replace outgoing Mayor Kim Abel, who has decided not to seek a second term, and long-time Port of Bremerton Commissioner Mary Ann Huntington will defend her seat following a large port levy hike in 2007.