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A blog about politics and government in Kitsap County as well as Washington state political news as it relates to Kitsap County.
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Archive for the ‘Economic Development’ Category

State shows economy on the red side of ‘flat’

Wednesday, June 20th, 2012

Mike Baker’s Associated Press story today on the state’s economic forecast emphasizes the most salient point, something that could be lost in the press releases.

“Washington state government can expect to bring in $16.1 million less than projected in the current budget cycle because of a lackluster economic recovery, forecasters said Wednesday” is what Baker wrote in the AP story Wednesday.

That might be confusing to some who read the state’s Office of Financial Management press release that carries the headline “Washington quarterly revenue projection for 2011–13 increases $156 million.”

Both are correct, but context is important. State revenues are up $172 million for the two-year budget because of “policy changes and fund shifts,” wrote Brad Shannon at the Olympian. Subtract $16 million from revenues lost by the overall economy and you get that $156 million increase.

In relative terms the $16 million is more or less flat, according to House Ways and Means Chairman Ross Hunter, a Medina Democrat. Compared to the forecast a year ago when revenues were projected to be down $780 million from earlier predictions, that’s true. The celebrations over the most recent numbers, however, are tepid at best and fraught with warnings about events that could make the numbers a lot worse.

OFM’s press release follows, as does the governor’s official statement and those from Republican budget leadership. If Democratic leadership from the Legislature issues any statements I’ll add them.
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Inside video of Bremerton’s 10-screen movie theater construction

Monday, January 23rd, 2012

The story about the parking on Fourth Street will get more attention in city council meetings and certainly here at the Kitsap Sun. The bids are in for the changes proposed for the eastern half of the street.

The overall design, as mentioned in the story, calls for elements that are supposed to make the area more attractive for shoppers. Whether that happens is another question. Gary Sexton, Bremerton’s redevelopment projects administrator (on contract) showed me around the garages and the theater Monday. The theater is supposed to open in late May, early June. The apartments planned for on top of the Burwell Street garage could begin construction around the same time.

The city council is supposed to approve the winning bid for the eastern portion of Fourth Street construction at its meeting Feb. 1.

Here is a video of the inside of the theater, including some still shots.


Tacoma to cut a workforce that could support a city, or a county full of stores

Friday, November 18th, 2011

Tacoma’s budget gap is $23 million and the interim city manager estimates the loss of 165 jobs, many of them police and fire, will help close the gap.

When Bremerton is done, assuming it cuts its workforce the way the mayor wants, the work force will be under 300. In 2010 Bainbridge Island reported 115 employees, Poulsbo had 91 and Port Orchard had 67, according to data from the Kitsap Economic Development Alliance. The Bremerton Housing Authority had 140.

That same year all the McDonald’s in the county had 165 full-time employees. Fred Meyer had 162. J.C. Penney had 172 overall.


Live Blog: Bremerton Council, Port of Bremerton, Vets Levy

Monday, October 10th, 2011

We plan to live blog the League of Women Voters forum this evening. Two races and one issue are part of the two-hour event:

  • Bremerton City Council District 2: Cecil McConnell and Leslie Daugs
  • Port of Bremerton Commissioner District 3: Axel Strakeljahn and Shawn Cucciardi
  • Veterans & Human Services Levy


Audio: Norm Dicks on Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Stimulus, Anthony Weiner

Wednesday, June 15th, 2011

I recorded the conversation with U.S. Rep. Norm Dicks, D-Belfair, for the Sunday story on his position on U.S. efforts in Afghanistan. He is among Democrats and a few Republicans calling for a quicker withdrawal of U.S. troops.

I also asked him about Libya, Iraq and whether Anthony Weiner should resign. I cut about a minute and a half from the recording, but it’s still a bit more than 19 minutes long.

Norm Dicks on Afghanistan


Considering our nuclear future

Wednesday, March 16th, 2011

If you wonder whether what is happening at Fukushima in Japan is having an impact on the future of nuclear power, it is, at least in terms of how people are talking about nuclear power.

I just found a story that highlights the hurdles nuclear energy was having anyway. Surprisingly, most of its problems are not political. They may be a question of economics.

That’s why some outside experts have long thought the nuclear renaissance was overblown, even before Fukushima. In a 2007 report for the Council on Foreign Relations, Charles Ferguson noted that all of the 104 reactors currently operating in the United States will likely need to be decommissioned by mid-century. Replacing those reactors (so simply preserving the status quo) would mean building a new reactor every four or five months for 50 years—already a “daunting” pace.

The New Republic has the goods on a nuclear future, written by Bradford Plummer.


Should Port Orchard Relinquish its Role in Hearing Land Use Appeals?

Tuesday, March 1st, 2011

The Port Orchard City Council last week heard testimony on a contentious land use issue — should a Gig Harbor advertising company be allowed to put eight billboards within city limits?

The issue grew thorny after the city initially turned down the applications, submitted in batches last spring. James Weaver, director of development, took the most “stringent” interpretation of the city’s code, which is allowed and called for in another part of the code, he said. The billboard company owner appealed to the hearing examiner, and now the case has come before the council.

Like most cases that reach the appeal stage, there are a number of questions in play:
Did Weaver correctly interpret the code? (The city’s hearing examiner says so.)
Should the billboard company’s application be vested under old rules, even though the city has since passed an ordinance banning billboards? (The hearing examiner agrees with the owner here.)
And was the city’s ban on billboards a violation of constitutional rights? (The hearing examiner declined to rule on this question.)

During the hearing, the attorney representing the billboard owner questioned the council’s ability to rule on the case since none of them are attorneys. He railed against the process by which the city countered his appeal, bringing the matter to the council. He called the actions of City Attorney Greg Jacoby and attorney Jennifer Forbes, representing the city, “frivolous” and “in bad faith.” He said the process had gotten unnecessarily drawn out and was wasting taxpayers’ money.

“I see a lot of blank faces here,” William J. Crittenden told the council. “Do you think your money is being well spent?”

Before 2008, the council used to be the first stop (not the second) in hearings on land use issues. The change was made, in part, because of the tremendous amount of council time involved in preparing for and conducting the hearings. The city now uses a hearing examiner for preliminary review of land-use applications. Where open-record public hearings on such issues were formerly held before the city council, the open-record hearing is now held before the hearing examiner. If the hearing examiner’s ruling is challenged, the appeal moves to the city council.

In a work study meeting, Feb. 15, before the billboards hearing, Councilman Rob Putaansuu questioned whether the council should be involved at all, or whether the city should switch to a model as such the one adopted in 2010 by Kitsap County. Appeals that formerly came before the county’s board of commissioners now go directly to Superior Court.

Kitsap County Commissioner Steve Bauer proposed the change, because he said having the board hear appeals created confusion among the public. The board can only rule on whether the hearing examiner has erred. Their ruling does not necessarily reflect the position the board would have taken on a proposed project, Bauer said.

Hearing examiners generally are attorneys, and they are required to have extensive knowledge of land use codes. A city council or board of commissioners, on the other hand, oversees matters on a wide range of topics, meaning they are arguably less well-equipped to navigate the labyrinth of motions, counter-motions, arguments and counter-arguments that make up the appeal process.

Putaansuu suggested as much, and he reminded the council that, although they’ve only heard one other matter since going to the new system, it, too, turned nasty. A proposed birthing center was turned down by the hearing examiner over neighbors’ concerns about traffic (a needed re-zone was denied). The council initially backed the hearing examiner’s decision. They agreed to revisit the proposal, however, as part of a legal settlement with the owners of the center, who took their case to Superior Court and threatened to challenge the city’s comprehensive plan before the Central Puget Sound Growth Management Hearings Board. The city ultimately approved the center.

Jacoby told the council that cities vary in their methods for hearing appeals. Appeals in Gig Harbor and Fife go straight to Superior Court. The Poulsbo City Council, like Port Orchard, hears appeals.

“It’s sort of an issue of how much control the council wants to have over the process,” Jacoby said. “There’s no right answer, but we can certainly change it.”

The council could appeal any ruling of the superior court with which they disagree, Jacoby said.

Most of the council said they would support a resolution switching the process up. Councilman John Clauson said he could go either way.

As for Crittenden’s criticism of the process, the council sat in shock as he bad-mouthed the city up one side and down the other, particularly Jacoby.

“I’ve been treated like crap by your city attorney for six months,” Crittenden said.

Mayor Lary Coppola challenged Crittenden’s “rudeness.” “He’s acting like a spoiled child,” said the mayor.

Shortly afterward, Coppola banged his gavel and cut short Crittenden’s testimony. “That’s over. We’re done,” Coppola said angrily.

When Crittenden continued his tirade, Coppola got up and walked out of the hearing. (The mayor does not rule on an appeal, only the council, so his absence did not delay proceedings.) He later said he felt he had to excuse himself in order not to say something inappropriate to Crittenden.

Councilwoman Carolyn Powers, later in the hearing, advised Crittenden that he would present a more convincing argument “if you would spend your time talking about the particular questions that are pertinent to this whole case as opposed to talking about our counselors spending a lot of money and time … Can you do that?”

“If my anger has spilled over on you, I apologize,” said Crittenden, who remained angry with Jacoby, Forbes and the process in general.

If nothing else, I guess, the change in procedure would spare the council similar tongue-lashings in the future.


Speaking of Stormwater, Remember the Manchester Mudslide?

Thursday, November 18th, 2010

On Wednesday, environmental reporter Chris Dunagan wrote about Kitsap County officials’ study of stormwater issues throughout the county and in Manchester, Kingston and Silverdale.

Stormwater has been a contentious issue in Manchester, said Port Commissioner Steve Pedersen. Residents of the town testified last year on their concerns about stormwater run-off at a public hearing on the proposed Spruce House development. The project was blocked by the county’s hearing examiner, whose decision was upheld in March by the county’s board of commissions.

The problem with Manchester, Pedersen explained (not specifically commenting on Spruce House) is that the town sits at the bottom of a bowl. Water runs down from the area of Alaska and California streets. You may recall the mudslide of monumental proportions taped by a county employee in 2007. The footage related to a dispute between two neighbors over who was responsible for the muddy mess. The video is a graphic illustration of the need for stromwater management, which is not just about reducing pollution of streams and bays, but also about controlling erosion.

According to Pedersen, the Port of Manchester has been working with the county on a stormwater management system in Manchester. The port had considered going in with the county on a grant proposal, but the notification did not come in time for them to get the application together. The port will continue to collaborate with the county to the degree it is able.

“While we don’t have the money, we want to be a player in how we can find a solution. We’re trying to be willing partners,” Pedersen said. “We want to find some kind of resolution everyone can live with.”

Because the county’s planning is still in the early stages, the nature and location of any stormwater facility is still unclear.

In other Port of Manchester news, the port has been looking at properties it might buy for the purpose of economic development. We’re not talking a mall here. Pedersen said one idea being floated is for a farmer’s market location. The town attracts plenty of tourists, especially in fair weather, and the port would like to encourage them to spend their money in Manchester.

They’ve checked out several properties, but the Spruce House property is not among them, Pedesen said.

Like the stromwater plans, the port’s idea for economic development is in the early stages, although they’d like to strike while real estate prices are still low. One thing is likely, the port will not try to fund any real estate purchase through a special tax or levy increase. They will work within existing revenue, Pedersen said.


Mayors’ Forum: “No 800-Pound Gorilla in Here”

Wednesday, September 8th, 2010

At a mayor’s forum today, featuring Bremerton Mayor Patty Lent and Port Orchard Mayor Lary Coppola, Bremerton resident Klaus Golombek asked, “Where are the 800-pound gorillas?”

The event, at Port Orchard City Hall, was hosted by the Bremerton and Port Orchard chambers of commerce.

Before the Q&A, both mayors highlighted the positive side of their respective cities. Lent touted public and private development projects completed and in the pipeline. Coppola, whose city is still trying to get multiple major projects shovel-ready, noted that his city is financially “in much better shape than most other cities” due to conservative budgeting.

The tone of their comments was not derogatory, and neither mayor appeared to be trying to one-up the other.

Lent, in response to Golombek’s question, talked about fiscal challenges the city faces and will continue to face under the “new normal.” The city in 2010 eliminated 34 positions through layoffs, buyouts, early retirement and unfilled vacancies. A total of 17 individuals left the city. City workers in Bremerton, as elsewhere, will continue to have to do more with less for the foreseeable future, Lent said.

Councilman Jerry Childs brought up what has been an 800-pound gorilla, Bremerton’s annexation of the South Kitsap Industrial Area and Gorst sewer project, which cast uncertainty on Port Orchard’s plans to provide SKIA with sewer. But as you’ll read in the story, both mayors said they could sit down and come up with a resolution to this and other areas of conflict.

Lent, a former county commissioner who was sworn in as mayor in November, 2009, said she was against the SKIA annexation. “I never wanted that airport to be annexed by any cities,” she said. “I thought it should be a regional airport, but I was out of office.”

Lent continued, saying Bremerton has a “great relationship” with the Port of Bremerton, SKIA’s major property owner. So, basically, she’s willing to work with what she “inherited” from former Mayor Cary Bozeman, now CEO of the Port of Bremerton.

Another thing she inherited but didn’t seem too keen on was the Bremerton ferry tunnel. Phone calls to her office criticizing the tunnel have subsided, Lent said, in response to a question. The tunnel is doing its job, which is diverting traffic to make downtown more pedestrian friendly. “People seem to be used to it now,” she said.

Golombek thought the mayors, particularly Lent, side-stepped the gorilla question. He’s still smarting about the Port of Bremerton’s marina expansion. He thinks increased revenue from the marina should go toward paring down the bond. Less should go to the city’s general fund, he said. Looking ahead, Golombek’s got concerns about Bremerton’s planned Youth Wellness Center, which he thinks could become a financial burden on residents.

As for the rapport between Bremerton and Port Orchard, however, there doesn’t appear to be any gorilla in here. At least as far as the two mayors are concerned. Port Orchard Councilman Jerry Childs said the two councils may be a different matter. The only interaction they’ve had was over SKIA, and it wasn’t pretty. Competition for state and federal funds is another potential area of conflict for both cities.

“It makes it difficult for our cities to get along, because we’re both fighting for a piece of the pie,” Childs said.

The Port of Bremerton, too, should be included in talks on potential areas of collaboration and conflict, Childs said.


Bremerton’s Priorities

Tuesday, August 24th, 2010

Bremerton reporter Steve Gardner’s back in the saddle after a two-week vacation, so I guess I’d better get off his beat.

While Gardner was gone, I reported on the Bremerton city council’s selection of a contractor to build a parking garage at Park Avenue and Burwell Street, and their approval of a property transfer from parks that will allow a proposed improvement of the oft-snarled intersection of Warren Avenue and 11th St.

Port Orchard probably has a bad case of Bremerton envy, not only for having to share its intrepid reporter with its rival big brother across Sinclair Inlet, but for the fact that it, too, aspires to such great things.

Bremerton’s “garage” promises much more. The garage is part of a planned 50,000-square-foot development at the corner of Park Avenue and Burwell Street. The mostly underground garage will provide a “pad” for privately-funded retail space, affordable apartments and a multiplex movie theater that is predicted to boost the city’s economy and funnel new springs of retail sales tax into the state’s coffers. The selection of a contractor for the project represents a milestone in the nine years of planning it’s taken to get to this point.

Meanwhile. back in Port Orchard city officials are also aggressively hatching plans for a garage that’s so much more. The city plans a Town Center Revitalization Project that includes a parking garage, a new library, retail space and a public plaza. The parking garage, phase one of the project, is seen as the cornerstone of the campus. Preliminary cost estimates for the garage range from $19 to $24 million. In March, city officials were elated when Congressman Norm Dick Included $1 million in federal housing and urban development funds in his proposed 2012 allocations for the project. But allocations are a far cry from choosing a contractor. If memory serves me, the Town Center project developed out of city council plans for improved parking off the waterfront that started around 2005.

Likewise Bremerton’s transfer of property from parks to the public right-of-way paves the way, so to speak, for another project long on the city’s to-do list.

Port Orchard, too, has been working on its traffic bottleneck. The Tremont Street Corridor project is creeping forward like an SUV at rush hour. OK, that was literary hyperbole. City planners are moving the project through the pipeline to the best of their ability given the constraints of funding, permitting, right-of-way acquisition etc. Suffice it to say, it’s been a long time coming, and no doubt city officials will be elated when the first backhoe full of dirt is moved.

Take heart Port Orchard. Bremerton’s been at this urban redevelopment for some years now. Presumably, your turn will come.

The Bremerton City Council, at a meeting I attended recently, handed out a list of the council’s priorities, based on a survey of council members. Not surprisingly, public safety and fiscal stability rank high on the council’s list of concerns. The dead, alas, come in last place, with the city’s cemetary ranking at the bottom of the priority list.

Here’s the list of BremertonPriorities


Walmart Expansion: Goliath Meet David

Thursday, May 27th, 2010

In today’s Kitsap Sun you’ll see a story about a well-known local couple’s six-year fight to mitigate effects on their neighborhood of a planned expansion of the Bethel Avenue Walmart store.

Bill and Mary Ann Huntington, Westsound Utility District commissioner and former Port of Bremerton commission respectively, won sweeping concessions from the mega-corp, which scaled back its plans and added costly measures to reduce the amount of noise and light produced on the site.

Bill Huntington said he and his wife never used their public positions to advantage during the more than six-year legal battle. Having been in business themselves, the Huntingtons are not trying to stand in the way of progress, Bill said.

The expansion, which will turn the place into a Walmart Supercenter with grocery section, will add 50 to 100 positions to the current staff of 200, a company spokeswoman said. She also noted the whopping sales tax revenue poured into local coffers from the big box store.

Bill was wary, however, and is taking a wait and see attitude toward Walmart. “I hope they’re good neighbors,” he said.

The Huntington’s attorney Ryan Vancil, who has handled other Walmart cases, said the couple’s victory was unprecedented in his career. Typically, he said, “You’re fighting the largest retail corporation in the world. You can see the writing on the wall. … Typically, they can come in and out-expert you and out-spend you on attorneys. I would consider it a significant victory.”

The chink in Walmart’s armor, according to Vancil was the expert they initially brought in to testify about noise levels. The county’s hearing examiner deemed the Huntington’s expert more credible. Walmart ultimately got a new expert.

County officials confirmed what Vancil had to say about the noise expert. Once Walmart saw it was over a fence, however, the company was prompt, complete and clear in its dealings with the county, said senior planner Jeff Smith.

Smith noted the lengths to which Walmart went to redesign its building in better keeping with the Bethel Corridor Plan, with more pedestrian friendly areas and some nice architectural details. The company also came up with a noise mitigation plan that took advantage of the natural topography and so helped for the most part hide delivery areas at the back of the store from the neighbors’ view. The residents’ view of the Olympics won’t be marred either.

In a major concession, Walmart agreed to stop nighttime deliveries, and, according to Jeff Smith, that goes into effect as soon at the hearing examiner give the green light to the project, which it appears he will.

Construction on the store wouldn’t start until 2011.

The Walmart spokeswoman said South Kitsap has been chomping at the bit for a Supercenter. So where do you stand on Walmart?
a. I can’t wait for the Supercenter to open. They have really inexpensive groceries.
b. I shop at Walmart, but I wear a bag over my head.
c. The day I set foot in that store just shoot me.


Washington Legislators Lead Call for Return to key Bank Regulation

Wednesday, December 16th, 2009

U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell and U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee both have their names on bills that would restore the 1933 Glass-Steagall act. The bill would require commercial and investment banks to operate separately.

Washington Democrat Cantwell is joined by U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. in sponsoring the Senate Bill.

Inslee, a Bainbridge Island Democrat, is a co-sponsor on a bill forwarded by New York Democrat Maurice Hinchey. From Inslee’s press release:

“If we allow banks to become too big to fail, than we will have done little to succeed,” said Rep. Inslee. “When I voted against the repeal of Glass-Steagall in 1999, I did so because I feared that consolidation in the financial industry could wreck the economy. That fear was substantially realized and today we should adopt one principle – never again.”

In 1999 Glass-Steagall was repealed by the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act. A Bloomberg story on the restoration has one expert calling it “crazy,” but another saying the 1999 move has been acknowledged as a mistake. From the story:

“Trying to split them up is crazy,” John Douglas, a former general counsel at the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. who leads the bank regulatory practice at Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP in New York, said in a telephone interview. “The integration of the securities and banking function came about because of the need of large corporate customers to have integrated banking and securities services.”

and

“We cruise along for 80 years without a major calamity infecting the entire financial system and then less than eight years after the repeal of Glass-Steagall we have a financial meltdown in this country,” Camden Fine, president of the Washington-based trade group for about 5,000 smaller U.S. banks, said in a telephone interview. “That’s no accident.”

I did a search for the 2009 bill and couldn’t find it yet. It might be too early yet. For the 1999 bill I did confirm that Inslee voted against it, but he was one of only 57, including four Republicans, who did. U.S. Rep. Norm Dicks, D-Belfair, was among the 362 House members who voted for it. In the Senate the vote was pretty much party line, 54-44. Washington Republican Slade Gorton voted for it while Democrat Patty Murray voted “nay.” Only one Democrat, South Carolina’s Ernest Hollings, voted for it. No Republicans voted against it.
In the Senate both Republican Slade Gorton and Democrat Patty Murray voted for it. Thank you Bob for the correction. Indeed I was looking at the wrong vote.

Inslee’s press release follows the jump.

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Kitsap Stimulus Money Broken Down

Friday, December 11th, 2009

Thanks to my former colleague Julie McCormick for passing this along. The Web site ProPublica.org has detailed lists of where stimulus money is going and you can break it down by county. To see Kitsap’s grants and loans, click here.


Updated — Bainbridge’s Boat to Nowhere

Tuesday, December 8th, 2009

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.


Port Tax Still Fresh

Tuesday, October 27th, 2009

At Tuesday morning’s Eggs & Issues debate over car tabs, only a few people were asking questions, so in a rare occurrence I got three in.

The last one was whether the Port of Bremerton’s industrial development district tax, used to pay for construction of the Bremerton Marina, was still casting a pall over requests for funding. Over the past few months we’ve heard little about the IDD tax, a noteworthy development given that the last few years any request for money by any taxing district carried with complaints that were laced with references to the port.

The most recent mention of an IDD tax I could find in a quick search of our archives, however, referred to the Port of Manchester and its consideration of the idea. I thought that perhaps Port commissioner Cheryl Kincer’s decision to not run for re-election had been the final calming measure on the IDD.

Perhaps not.

According to the voices on the car tabs issue, the IDD is certainly not forgotten. From the car tab debate story:

The state Legislature gave local municipalities the right to impose a $20 fee increase without an election. Six cities in Washington have chosen to enact the fee without consulting voters, but (Bremerton City Councilman Nick) Wofford said the Port of Bremerton’s decision to raise property taxes in 2007 — which paid for marina construction downtown and will last for six years — played a role in the Bremerton City Council’s reluctance to go that route.

“I think it’s very fresh on people’s minds,” Wofford said of the tax that was enacted without public approval.

Mike Shepherd, arguing against the car tab increase, also said the IDD tax probably has had an impact, but said much of that impact is less about the tax than about how it was imposed.


Credit For Jobs

Wednesday, October 7th, 2009

Gardner here.

Just read a New York Times story about a possible tax credit to encourage employers to hire more people. If it worked it would seem to put a dent in what has so far been a jobless recovery, if “recovery” is what you call this.

I would throw off my hat of impartiality or independence or whatever it is and support this if some member of Congress amends the bill to require the Kitsap Sun to hire Andy Binion back.


Lenders, Appraisers and Regulators Affecting Lending

Tuesday, September 29th, 2009

Two news items Monday illustrated some reasons why in the aftermath of what many believe was an overly permissive lending environment the ability to create stability is tough.

The first was a press release linked on Twitter by Art Castle, executive vice president of the Home Builders Association of Kitsap County. The release was from the National Association of Home Builders, making the case that a lack of credit is threatening economic recovery. Lenders are getting tougher, but are blaming regulators. Regulators say they’re not being overly restrictive, that they’re not the ones telling lenders to withhold at this level.

From the release:

While federal banking regulators continue to maintain that they are not instructing institutions to stop making loans or to indiscriminately liquidate outstanding loans, builders responding to the survey cited the top reason that lenders have given them for restricting the availability of new loans or for tightening the terms of outstanding loans is that “regulators are forcing lenders to do it.”

The second item was one I heard on NPR, a story about how new appraisal rules are putting a cog in the lending market.

Again, regulators are getting some of the blame, but in this case the regulators themselves say they are working to tweak some of the rules to undo some of the unintended consequences.

Both items are relatively short and worth reading.


Stimulus Money by Zip Code

Monday, September 28th, 2009

At Recovery.gov you can find out how much federal stimulus money is being spent in your zip code. Details are scant, but it does tell you how much are contracts, grants and loans. If you live in the downtown Bremerton zip of 98337, you’re getting $20.4 million in grants. If you live in Poulsbo (98370), most of the $13.6 million you’re getting is in contracts. Port Orchard (98366) has a grant for about $600,000. Bainbridge (98110) received a loan worth almost $1 million.

The Silverdale zip code with the base (98315) got $4.5 billion (That’s a “B”). The one without the base (98383) received $1.1 million (That’s an “M”).

Where I live (98311) got zip.

I’m not bitter.


A Dent in the Housing Market

Wednesday, August 26th, 2009

In 2008, when there was a justifiable fear that the housing market was going to collapse, Congress passed the Housing and Economic Recovery Act, which included $4 billion for the Neighborhood Stabilization Program.

One of the ideaswas to allow agencies working with low-income families to buy up properties on the foreclosure market, helping the families have stable housing for up to two years until they could get out on their own. The other rationale for the program was that it would take potentially empty homes and fill them, reducing the downward pressure on real estate values. While it might not be the issue here that it is in places like Detroit, Baltimore, or Miami, two zip codes within Kitsap County did show higher-than-average foreclosure rates. One is in Bremerton, the other in Port Orchard.

Kitsap County overall went from a foreclosure rate of 1.4 percent in 2008 to 5.7 percent by April of this year, according to Bill Mandeville, manager of the Washington Neighborhood Stabilization Program out of the state’s Department of Commerce.

For Kitsap County the end result is $671,745 for Kitsap Community Resources to buy between two and four housing units it will use for transitional housing and at least one that could become a permanent home. KCR bought a duplex in Bremerton and is buying a house in Port Orchard. Whether there will be enough funding to buy a fourth house remains to be seen.

We’ll have a story with more details on this later.


Municipally Powering a Revenue Source

Friday, August 7th, 2009

Carlos Jara, a candidate for mayor in Bremerton, has proposed a wind farm in Bremerton’s watershed and rooftop wind devices downtown to generate power the city could sell back to the utility company. I haven’t done the research to devise whether the concept is feasible.

According to this story in the Seattle Times, solar power isn’t the bad option in this region some might think it is.

While hot days generate lots of energy, the optimal temperature is 77 degrees, they say. Extremes can make generating power more difficult. Cloudy weather doesn’t stop power generation.

Does anyone know of any municipalities that have tried or considered generating power in this fashion?


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