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Bainbridge records ruling a cautionary tale for Port Orchard

Tuesday, January 21st, 2014

The city of Port Orchard took note of a November Kitsap County Superior Court ruling that the city of Bainbridge Island must turn over personal hard drives of three city council members in response to a public records request.

In light of the ruling, the Port Orchard City Council on Tuesday considered a draft policy to formalize the understanding that personal emails of elected officials related to city business are public records.

A staff report from City Clerk Brandy Rinearson to the council also cites as a cautionary tale a 2012 records request from former City Clerk Patti Kirkpatrick, who was let go in early February of 2012 by incoming Mayor Tim Matthes. Within two weeks of her sacking, Kirkpatrick submitted her request for “all emails” back through 2010 for former Mayor Lary Coppola, Matthes and certain department heads, including those to and from council members.

City staff partially filled Kirkpatrick’s request and on May 10, 2012, said the first installment was available for pickup, but she never showed and did not respond to a letter saying the request would be closed on June 11, 2012, if the city did not hear further from her. (Kirkpatrick did not respond to a request for comment emailed to her Tuesday by the Kitsap Sun.)

Had Kirkpatrick pursued the request, it would have generated an estimated 300,000 emails — enough to fill up approximately 15 CDs. A scouring of data systems for emails that met the criteria of the request would have included elected officials’ personal computers.

Rinearson said she had a good working relationship with her predecessor, but she never learned why Kirkpatrick made the request. No lawsuit against the city ever came from it. Kirkpatrick later in 2012 went to work for the city of Pacific and was fired in February 2013 by Cy Sun, embattled mayor of that troubled city. Kirkpatrick told KIRO radio “she had no idea what she was getting into.”

Rinearson does not dispute that Kirkpatrick had a right to the records, she just wants an official policy guaranteeing she can collect any emails that aren’t directly within her control and produce them in a timely way to protect the city from a suit such as Bainbridge faces. Rinearson, a member of the Washington Association of Public Records Officers, also is the city’s risk manager.

In the Bainbridge lawsuit, three council members — Steve Bonkowski, David Ward and former councilwoman Debbie Lester — are alleged by two community activists to have used their personal email accounts to conduct city business, in violation of a city policy. Althea Paulson, a political blogger, and Bob Fortner, a self-proclaimed community watchdog, earlier this year made records requests for correspondence between the city’s utility committee chairwoman and other city officials.

The two allege that the city and the three council members did not fully disclose personal emails in a timely way. Judge Jeanette Dalton dismissed the council members themselves from the lawsuit but held the city accountable to produce the records. Her ruling on whether public records laws were violated is to come on Friday.

Unlike Bainbridge, which prohibits use of council members’ personal email accounts, Port Orchard doesn’t have a formal policy on how to handle elected officials personal emails. Council members have been advised on a number of occasions that their personal emails related to city business can be considered public records.

“My concern is this year we’ve had an increase in citizens wanting personal emails,” said City Clerk Brandy Rinearson, who is in charge of wrangling records “responsive” to requests. That’s true whether they’re official city emails or emails sent to or from a personal account.

“So I’m at the mercy of someone providing that document to me in a reasonable amount of time,” Rinearson said.

State law requires agencies to respond within five days on the status of a request but the law is vague on time frames within which installations of large email requests should be delivered.

“Bainbridge Island had a policy that got them into trouble,” Rinearson said. “We need to have certain precautions in place. … At least if we go into litigation, then we can say we followed our policy.”


The $82,000 question in Belfair.

Thursday, November 10th, 2011

The drama in the Belfair Water District might (emphasize: might) be one step closer to ending.

But just like every other step along the way in this saga, the district’s attempt to pay off the judgment carried with it its own bit of story, one that could be used as ammo by both sides.

The Belfair Water District sent two checks to Greg Overstreet, attorney for the plaintiffs who sued the district on public records issues. One was for the amount of the judgment. The other was for the interest and other fees owed since the district didn’t pay the original judgment quickly. The checks should have, in theory, ended the plaintiffs’ attorney’s effort to garnish the district’s finances.

The smaller check for $1,134.43 was issued in handwritten form to “Allied Law Group in trust for Gregory Waggett, Bonnadelle Pope, and Ken Vanbuskirk.”

The larger check for $82,332.85 is typewritten to Gregory Waggett/Bonnadelle Pope and then handwritten to Ken Vanbuskirk. Allied’s bank would not accept that one, Overstreet said, because two names were typewritten and one of the names was handwritten and secondly because it wasn’t issued to the firm in trust for the plaintiffs.

Overstreet tried to get the water district to reissue the larger check, but the district responded that it would not, that the checks were issued properly.

Earlier Thursday Overstreet wrote to Jeff Myers, attorney for the district. Included was this:

“As you know I am ethically required to deposit client funds it (sic) into the firm’s trust account. See rules of Professional Conduct 1.15A(c)(1).”

Later in the day he decided to see if he can get the check deposited by getting endorsements from the three payees. “If that check clears, then the garnishment will be quashed.”

The plaintiffs would argue this fits the district’s profile of being obstructionist. Perhaps the next issue of “The Aqueduct” will reveal the district’s counter.


Belfair Water District manager’s contract now with auditor’s office

Tuesday, August 30th, 2011

Earlier in August we had a story headlined, State Attorney General’s Office to review Belfair Water District manager’s contract.

That headline was not quite correct. The AG received a copy of the contract, but according to sources there did not actually review it, saying it didn’t fall under the AG’s purview.

Apparently it does fall under the state auditor’s review. State Sen. Tim Sheldon, D-Potlatch, said officials from the AG’s office suggested he submit it to the auditor.

The auditor’s office confirmed that it is reviewing the contract. First it will consider what areas it can weigh in on and then do just that.

The contract gives Dave Tipton, district manager, two-years pay if he quits and three if he is fired for anything other than a crime. He also gets paid extra money for meetings that start or run late, can disallow anyone from entering his office and lets him take his dog to work.

I’d like that last piece in my contract.

Then I want a dog.

Maybe if I can bring it to work my wife will let me have one.


Heads Up: On The Agenda

Monday, January 17th, 2011

Brynn Grimley writes:

Here’s what we’re looking at for this week:

Kitsap County Commissioners (meet at 619 Division Street, Port Orchard)

Monday, Jan. 17: No meeting, County Offices are closed in observance of the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday.

Wednesday, Jan. 19, 8:30 a.m.: The board will review its agenda for the Jan. 24 meeting for 45 minutes then “share information” from 9:15 to 9:45 a.m. They’ll then here about “Inattentive Driving Code” for 15 minutes before spending the next hour and a half discussing the DCD work plan/docket. At 11:30 a.m. they’ll recess into a 30 minute executive session to discuss real estate.

City of Bremerton (meets at 345 Sixth Street, Bremerton)

Wednesday, Jan. 19, 5:30 p.m.: The council will hold a regular meeting. No business items are on the agenda, but there is one public hearing item listed. It’s the first of two hearings on leasing Smith Park children’s play area to Kitsap Community Resources. A decision will be made on the lease at the council’s Feb. 2 hearing.

City of Port Orchard (meets at 219 Prospect Street)

Tuesday, Jan. 18, 6 p.m.: The council will have a work study session, but the agenda is not listed online yet. See it here, if it’s posted.

City of Poulsbo (City Hall, 200 Moe Street)

Wednesday, Jan. 19, 7 p.m.: The council is meeting, but the agenda is not listed yet on the city’s website.


Gig Harbor: Seaquist/ League of Women Voters to Host “Priorities” Forum

Friday, June 11th, 2010

The public is invited to a non-partisan forum, “Refreshing Democracy – a Community Priorities Exercise,” hosted by the Pierce County League of Women Voters and Rep. Larry Seaquist, D-Gig Harbor, 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at Gig Harbor’s Boys & Girls Club, 8502 Skansie Ave., Gig Harbor, 98332.

Participants will engage in role-playing exercises to set priorities for state and local governments, “looking ahead from the bottom of this severe recession,” the invitational flier says.

Refreshments and a working lunch will be served. Organizers are asking $10 per person to cover the cost of food. Confirm your attendance by contacting Seaquist’s aide Oriana Futrell at (253) 858-1013 or
by email at Futrell.oriana@leg.wa.gov.

06/14: The list of people who were invited to get the conversation started has been removed. It was not intended for publication, which I missed on the e-mail for Oriana. CTH


Heads Up: On The Agenda

Monday, May 31st, 2010

Brynn Grimley writes:

For those who have been living under a rock, in case you didn’t know today’s a holiday. Which means that all government offices are closed. That means for this blog there’s one less meeting day to have to review. (Woo Hoo!)

Without further adieu, here’s the agendas for the week:

Kitsap County Board of Commissioners (meet at 619 Division Street)

Meeting dates:

Wednesday, June 2: 8:30 a.m. The board’s weekly work study session will include a 30 minute presentation by Parks and Recreation Director Jim Dumwiddie about parks grants, County Fire Marshal David Lynam will follow with a 45 minute presentation about special events. The board will take a 10 minute break then reconvene for an hour presentation by DCD Director Larry Keeton about large onsite sewage systems. The board will then recess into executive session for 30 minutes to discuss existing litigation and then recess again into executive session from 11:30 to noon to discuss real estate matters. They’ll adjourn following the executive sessions.

City of Bremerton (meet at 345 6th Street, Norm Dicks Government Center)

Meeting dates:

Wednesday, June 2: 5 p.m. The City Council will have a briefing until 5:30 p.m. where they’ll convene their regular session in council chambers. The following items are on the general business agenda: approve parking enforcement services contract with Diamond Parking; award contract to Stan Palmer Construction for construction of the Lions Park Renovation project. The public hearing portion of the meeting includes: review of a Local Solicitation 2010 Justice Assistance grant application; public hearing on an ordinance to amend Title 18 titled “City Fire Code” of the Bremerton Municipal Code and to adopt the 2009 changes to the International Fire Code; hearing an ordinance to amend Chapter 17.04 titled “State Building Code Adoption” of Bremerton Municipal Code, to repeal the adoption of the Washington State Ventilation and Indoor Air Quality Code and to adopt the 2009 editions of the various building codes. Council committee reports will follow and then adjournment. (A story on the Diamond Parking contract is here).

City of Port Orchard (meet at 219 Prospect Street)

No meeting this week.

City of Poulsbo (meet at 19050 Jensen Way)

Meeting dates:

Wednesday, June 3: 7 p.m. The council will begin the meeting with an update from Mayor Becky Erickson. There are only two items on the business agenda. They include: reviewing a contract amendment with ICF Jones & Stokes for a Dogfish Creek study; and a contract amendment with Krazan for the Fjord Slide Repair project.

Kitsap County Consolidated Housing Authority (meet at 345 6th Street, Norm Dicks Government Center)

Meeting dates:

Tuesday, June 2: 1 p.m. I either didn’t receive the agenda for KCCHA before the long weekend or I accidentally deleted it. The agenda is not listed on the website (or if it is I can’t find it), but here’s what the organization submitted for the civic calendar listing for its meeting: The Kitsap County Consolidated Housing Authority commissioners will meet at the Norm Dicks Government Center, 345 Sixth St. This public meeting will include an executive session (closed to the public) to discuss real estate and potential litigation.

Kitsap Reginoal Coordinating Council (meet at 345 6th Street, Norm Dicks Government Center)

Meeting dates:

Tuesday, June 2: 8 a.m. The meeting kicks off with a study session to review countywide planning policy revisions between council representatives and Health District staff. The regular meeting will call to order at 9 a.m. and will cover a public hearing on funding recommendations on the homeless housing grant program; a report on a ferry service meeting held recently with Kitsap legislators and citizens; a work program report which includes a report from the Kitsap Economic Development Alliance/KCCDC; report by the non-motorized ad hoc committee; a report on the progress of the revenue sharing/UGA program partnership Kitsap County staff is doing in tandem with city of Port Orchard staff; a report on the city and county’s roles; and a report on the broadband ARRA grand application. Adjournment is slated for 11 a.m. (A story about the revenue sharing/UGA program is here.)

Port of Illahee (meet at the CKFR Station 41 off Old Military Road)

Tuesday, June 2: 5:30 p.m. The Port of Illahee is holding an informational meeting for district taxpayers to learn about the Illahee Plan, the port’s opportunity to buy land from the Timbers Edge development, a petition for the community to sign if they support the purchase and how these issues could effect the community. Commissioners want to hear from all community members in the port district. (The story about the petition and the option to buy the Timbers Edge property is here.)

That’s all I got for the short week. Hope everyone is enjoying their day off today.


Heads Up: Kitsap’s Political Agenda For The Week

Monday, March 22nd, 2010

Brynn Grimley writes:

Here’s a look at what the Kitsap County Board of Commissioners will be tackling this week:

Monday, March 22:

2 p.m.: The board will hold an executive session to discuss existing litigation.

2:15 – 2:45: Risk Pool Discussion

2:45 – 3:15: President’s Hall and 4-H and Parks Openings

3:15 – 3:45: Legislative Update

3:45 – 4: Economic Stimulus Update

4 – 4:30: Closed session regarding Collective Bargaining

4:30 – 6:  Budget Update

Commissioners have a regular meeting starting at 7 p.m. The board will start the meeting with employee awards; a presentation by Capt. Jonathan Thomas about the Northwest Schooner Society’s the Schooner Lavegro — commissioners could vote to make the schooner the official Tall Ship of Kitsap; they’ll accept two sailboats from the Kitsap Sailing and Rowing Foundation; and hear an update on the 2010 Census.

They’ll vote on a contract amendment with BCRA architecture firm to provide engineering and design services for first phase projects associated with the 2008 adopted master plan of the South Kitsap Regional Park. Total cost of the amendment for the work is $231,483, paid for by an RCO grant.

The meeting will end with three public hearings:

William Palmer’s appeal of a hearing examiner decision to deny a conditional use permit for the construction of a three-story mixed use building with commercial space, condominiums, below grade parking and surface parking is first. The board will not taken comment on this item, it’s for decision only. Chris Henry wrote about this here.

A petition to vacate filed by the city of Bremerton will be heard. The request is for the county to vacate a part of its right of way so the city can use the land for it’s sewer lift station project in South Kitsap.

The last hearing will be on an ordinance that would amend the county’s code dealing with hearing examiner appeals and the board’s involvement in the process. I wrote a story about this for the weekend, it can be found here.

Wednesday, March 24:

The board has canceled its regular Wednesday work study meeting to hold an all day discussion on the wastewater facility plan from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Central Kitsap Treatment Plant, 12350 Brownsville Hwy.

To see a list of all the agendas click here.


S’Klallam Scaling Back Plans For Casino Expansion

Friday, March 12th, 2010

Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe Chairman Jeromy Sullivan hears it all the time.
“I get asked on a weekly basis,” he said.
What’s on peoples’ minds? The Point Casino. More specifically, the tribe’s plans for casino expansion.
The plan that people remember was a big one. A huge casino expansion, with a hotel, business park, retail and housing. That was in 2007, and the world – along with leadership of the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe – has changed a lot.
“I thought it was pretty aggressive to put something like that out there,” said Sullivan, the 36-year-old chairman elected in July. Sullivan and other tribal leaders and staff members met with the Kitsap Sun Friday afternoon.
As recent as two years ago, the tribe was pursuing looking at 100,000 square feet of gaming, retail, restaurants, meeting space and bars, with 400 additional slots and adding 200 more employees. A hotel was seen as a second phase.
But in recent years, there’s been some movement in top leadership positions at the tribe, and the economy is much different now.
“The ideas have changed,” Sullivan said. “The thought processes have changed.”
Given today’s economic reality, the tribe is now looking at more modest changes to The Point Casino, starting with a remodel.
The tribe’s Chief Executive Officer, Marjorie Zarate, said they’re currently doing marketing studies to see how their casino, which provides the bulk of the revenue the tribe uses to fund its programs, can differentiate itself.
A face lift for the current casino, built in the mid-90s as a bingo hall, new signs and upgraded dining and beverage areas are in the cards.
“It’s going to be aggressive,” she said of the project timing. But it’s a far cry from the previous plans. Exact plans and timing aren’t yet determined.
While the casino plans are likely what most of the public is interested in, Sullivan took some time to explain the tribe’s position on a critically important issue for itself – Port Gamble Bay.
There wasn’t much new, but Sullivan stressed that he hopes the tribe is included early as their across-the-bay neighbors, Olympic Property Group and its town site at Port Gamble, begin planning for more development.
“Even if we don’t agree on things, it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t talk about them,” he said.
As issue is the status of the tribe’s generations-long practice, and treaty rights, to harvest fish and shellfish from the bay. There’s also a cleanup effort underway, with OPG and the Department of Natural Resources on the hook, so to speak. For 142 years a sawmill occupied land across the bay that was the original home for the Port Gamble S’Klallam. The mill closed in 1995.
As OPG works on plans for more development, the tribe worries that it could threaten the ability of its members to harvest seafood from the bay.
The dispute already strained relations between the entities when the tribe opposed an OPG plan for a dock in Port Gamble Bay, worrying that the boats and their effluent would result in shellfish bed closures.
From Sullivan’s perspective, there needs to be conversation, and he has to work to protect his tribal member’s rights to shellfishing, and the health of the bay.
“Something that could directly affect the tribe, we’ve got to discuss it,” he said.

- Derek Sheppard


Daugs Moving to Walla Walla

Friday, March 5th, 2010

Daryl Daugs, Bremerton resident and three-time candidate, has taken a job in Walla Walla County as its director of the county Department of Human Services. Daugs has head for-profit and non-profit organizations, but made the most news running for state legislator in the 35th district and mayor of Bremerton, losing in the primaries in both cases. He also put his name in as a contender for county treasurer, but was left out of the final pool of three submitted to the county commissioners.

The announcement from Walla Walla County follows the jump:

(more…)


Exploring Poulsbo City Council Candidates

Monday, January 4th, 2010

Brynn Grimley writes:

Here’s more on the Poulsbo City Council candidates vying for the chance to be appointed by current council members to fill Becky Erickson’s vacated position (position 3).

Click each candidate’s name to read the application they submitted to the city last month about why they feel they would be a good fit.(Note the link connects to a pdf).

Catherine Nunes

Don Shannon, Jr.

Gary Nystul

James Thayer

Jeff Bauman

Nikolaus Hoffman

Wil Miller


Giver’s Reward for Giving: More to Give

Friday, August 14th, 2009

ronmuhlemanAs we debate health care and other public policy and as we sometimes grow annoyed at the phrase “public service,” it’s cool once in a while to see someone who gives public service away get noticed.

A few months ago I walked into Harrison Medical Center to visit a man with a knife and I saw on a wall full of photos the face of someone familiar around the Sun office for the past 42 years. Ron Muhleman is the operations director here. During my seven years he’s the friendly guy who always asks me how I’m doing and how things are on the beat.

Ever since I saw that picture on the wall, when people ask “Who’s the man?” I always tell them it’s Ron Muhleman.

His picture is there at the med center because he’s on the board of trustees. In fact, he’s a volunteer in a lot of places and has probably done more to enhance the image of this business in the community than just about anyone else I can think of.

For that he was honored by our parent company, E.W. Scripps, with the “William R. Burleigh Award for Distinguished Community Service. His prizes are a trophy and donations by Scripps to local charities.

If you see Ron anywhere, tell him “Thanks.”

Here’s the e-mail we all received at work:

Ron Muhleman will do whatever is needed to help others, as shown by his jack-of-all-trades approach to volunteering.

“While many of us find a volunteer niche serving in volunteer board positions or in ‘worker bee’ roles, Ron is well-known for covering any base,” his nominator said. “A typical week of volunteering for Ron may include everything from reviewing the financials of Kitsap’s regional medical center, to bell-ringing and counting kettles for the Salvation Army, to shoveling dirt at a United Way community project site.”

Muhleman is also an ambassador for the Literacy Council of Kitsap County and an advisory board member of a Salvation Army homeless hygiene initiative.

During his 42 years at the Kitsap Sun, Muhleman has chaired the board of trustees for the Harrison Medical Center, which under his leadership, added neighborhood medical facilities and an open-heart surgery program.

Muhleman served as chair of the Bremerton Area Chamber of Commerce, which honored him in 2000 with Kitsap’s most prestigious volunteer award, “The Thunderbird Award.”

In addition, he has served with the West Sound Community Health Network, the Kitsap County Chapter of the American Red Cross, Puget Sound Naval Bases Association, Pacific Northwest Personnel Association, the Bremerton Historic Ships Association and the Silverdale Chamber of Commerce, as well as the United Way, YMCA, Kitsap County Domestic Violence Task Force and the Boy Scouts of America.


Poulsbo City Hole

Friday, March 13th, 2009

Picket signs are so 1995. It seems when folks want to voice objection or poke fun at big government projects, the t-shirt is en vogue.

Seattlites have the “South Lake Union Trolley” aka SLUT. Bremerton has the Bremerton Underground Transit Tunnel, aka BUTT.Now Poulsbo’s got a hole. In this case it’s not really an acronym, just a take off on what the “hole” is. The foundation for Poulsbo City Hall.

Ed and Sandy Habecker wore the shirts during a city council meeting in which they expressed their discontent for the now $15.9 million project. I missed the meeting, but talked with Ed. In a nutshell, he’s not pleased with the moving target that has been the budget, and the fact that it’ll be more expensive than a plan that voters turned down to build on 10th Avenue.

On Wednesday the council is expected to vote on whether to issue another series of bonds, which will get the ball rolling (or not, depending on the vote.) on building the actual building. Right now, there’s a big hole in the ground at 3rd and Moe.

I just find it interesting how the t-shirt has become a canvas for political discourse.

- Derek Sheppard


Community Organizer in Chief Calls on Locals

Wednesday, February 11th, 2009

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.


To Get Your Caucus Location

Thursday, February 7th, 2008

Kitsap County Democrats and Republicans will meet in caucuses this weekend to decide how many delegates each presidential candidate gets in the summer national conventions.

The state Democratic party will use the caucuses exclusively to mete out delegates. Republicans will use a combination of results from the caucuses and the presidential primary on Feb. 19.

Caucuses begin at 1 p.m. Saturday. To find out where your precinct will be meeting, find the precinct number listed on your voter registration card, then contact either the Republican or Democratic parties. If you don’t have your registration card, contact the county elections office at (360) 337-7128.

Once you know your precinct number, you can then contact the parties to find out where to meet. To find Republican Party caucus location information, go to www.kitsaprepublicans.org or call (360) 871-2200 or 308-9845. Democratic caucuses can be found at www.kitsapdemocrats.com or by calling (360) 698-6833.


The Economic End

Tuesday, January 29th, 2008
John Mitchell

Every year the Kitsap Economic Development Alliance hosts what it calls a “Decision Makers Breakfast,” with someone to talk about the coming economic year. This year it’s John Mitchell, who was previously allied with a bank, but now carries the company name of M&H Economic Consultants. I don’t have access to archives, but my recollection is he’s been the Decision Makers Breakfast speaker for at least the previous two years. When I was a business reporter in Vancouver he spoke at one of our breakfasts. He’s got an engaging public speaking personality. He can make you laugh about your impending foreclosure.

Mitchell, entitling his talk “Is This the End?” said he doesn’t think we’re headed to a recession this year, because other than the housing numbers, the rest of the economy is doing OK. Only two states, Ohio and Michigan, are showing declines in employment. In November 2007 Washington was seventh best in the country in job growth.

“Washington seems to be admirably situated to continue to be a strong performer,” Mitchell said.

The prevalence of government jobs gives Kitsap County a greater built-in level of stability, according to Michell.

The first baby boomer to draw Social Security did it this month. There will be 78 million more and it will take until 2026 for that to end, something that could become a problem.

(more…)


Governor Appoints a Local

Friday, January 11th, 2008

Governor’s Industrial Safety and Health Advisory Board

Gov. Chris Gregoire announced several appointments to boards and commissions and included was Arthur Locken’s selection to the Governor’s Industrial Safety and Health Advisory Board.

Locken lives in Port Orchard and his term began Jan. 3 and will run through the end of the year. He’s a 29-year employee of Seattle City Light and is a member of IBEW Local 77.
He’s also chairman of the Program Planning Committee of the Labor Division for the National Safety Council.

The board attempts to help prevent industrial injuries and occupational diseases among employees in the state, It also promotes industrial safety and advises the governor.


Policies and Politics

Monday, December 31st, 2007

As of this writing we’re mere hours away from the new year, which means policies adopted or made clear by election go into play at midnight.

The Kitsap Regional Library system cuts 44 hours per week systemwide in 2008 and makes other changes, in large part because voters denied a request for more money.

The story has been up on our site for three hours and already there are raging arguments about the system and about taxes.

“Anti_BUMMERTOWN_Group” bravely proclaims:

Hello? It’s called the INTERNET! Libraries are a dinosaur! Just let them die. They are now officially a waste of taxpayer dollars.

“michael” offered a lengthy retort, which included:

Take a look at http://www.krl.org and click on “Electronic Resources on the right side and just take a look at the vast amount of resources you have access to with a library card.

I, for one, will report that just this morning I used the very resource “michael” referred to. As evidence I offer the New York Times quote in the As Iowa Nears post.

Additionally, texting and driving can result in a $124 fine in 2008.

Minimum wage will be $8.07.


747′s Demise Not Changing Bremerton’s Plans

Tuesday, November 13th, 2007

This item is also posted on the Bremerton Beat blog.

On Wednesday’s Bremerton City Council agenda is one item that for the past five years has been a pro forma event, the passing of the 1 percent property tax levy increase.

This year, however, the city has all the legal right in the world to throw upcoming election margins to the wind and grab 6 percent. Council members appear in no mood to do that, heeding Gov. Chris Gregoire’s plea that local governments not rush for the cash in light of the overturned Initiative 747.

The council will also effectively lower its business and occupation tax by increasing the exemption from $40,000 to $60,000. This is part of the city’s intended move to eventually eliminate the tax completely to give businesses something of a break and make the city competitive with the county.


Reading List

Monday, October 15th, 2007

In case you missed it, the Seattle Times addressed earmarks this week in the story $4.5 million for a boat that nobody wanted. If you want to investigate more, the Times provides an earmarks database that allows you search by member of Congress or recipient.

I took a brief tour of Norm Dicks’ earmarks and in almost every case there is a Bremerton connection. We do have a shipyard here, so it’s no accident these contractors would have offices here. And I did find a few cases where Dicks was part of the earmark for companies that didn’t donate.

The New York Times has a story about how the left wing of the Democratic Party is making it tough for the party as a whole.

The tension between Democratic lawmakers and their base has been most visible on the Iraq war, where the insistence by some of the most outspoken antiwar groups on setting hard deadlines for the withdrawal of American troops has often handcuffed Senate Democrats trying to reach a bipartisan deal on legislation to change the war strategy.

The (Yakima) Herald-Republic has a profile on Republican U.S. Rep. Doc Hastings.

Indeed, Hastings doesn’t much trust the news media and doesn’t comment much publicly, especially when he’s in conflict with his own party or with major lobbying groups allied with the GOP, such as the National Retail Federation. That has happened.

Last year, Hastings urged his Republican colleagues not to support a business tax relief measure that would have cost Washington state nearly $700 million a year in revenue. Through Rules, he was able to get the bill pulled. He later received praise from Gregoire and Rep. Norm Dicks, D-Bremerton.

“Doc’s … one of their most loyal guys, but this was too much for him,” Dicks said at the time.

You may recall that Hastings ousted Democrat Jay Inslee in 1994 to win the seat, so he’s partially responsible for Inslee moving back west and becoming one of our reps.


Port Debate

Thursday, October 4th, 2007

I’ll update more on this later.

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

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

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

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

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


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