Port Orchard cleans up

A sure sign of spring is the annual Port Orchard downtown clean-up, hosted by the Port Orchard Bay Street Association.

This year’s cleanup was April 26. About 30 people, including Port Orchard Mayor Tim Matthes and City Councilwoman Bek Ashby, showed up to lend a hand, said Kathleen Wilson of POBSA. Volunteers swept and tidied, and planted flowers in the stone planters. Rico’s Landscape NW helped by removing small trees from the planters that had overstayed their welcome, becoming large and unkempt.

Hanging baskets, paid for by POBSA, will arrive next week, Wilson said.

Wilson on Tuesday thanked the city of Port Orchard Public Works Department for pressure washing the sidewalks before the cleanup.

It was, as they say, a group effort.

Here’s a gallery of photos from Nick and Elissa Whittleton that were posted on POBSA’s Facebook page. Port Orchard, aren’t we looking spiffy now?
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mayor

Nice lawnmower, too bad it’s not a wonder truck

Well, look here.

Bremerton is the proud owner of a new lawnmower, a Toro Groundmaster 4700-D to be precise.

The price tag? Nearly $80,000.

This little beauty combines the muscle of a 60-horsepower turbo diesel engine with seven — yes seven — independent blades, cutting 12 1/2 feet of lawn at a time.
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“Obviously, it’s a state-of-the-art piece of equipment,” said Steve Mutek, parks department supervisor, who along with other staff took the mower for its test run Monday at Blueberry Park.

Too bad it’s not a Wonder Truck.

Port Orchard’s had one of these little dandy’s for three years. It sands. It plows. It de-ices. And in milder months, it serves as a versatile utility vehicle. Different implements can be attached and removed from the truck chassis in minutes by a single worker.
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“We call it the multipurpose truck. It basically morphs into something else. It’s a transformer,” said Wayne Schulz of Valley Freightliner Inc., in 2012, when he delivered it to the city.

The cost of the Wonder Truck: $262,000.

Maybe someday, Bremerton.

Poulsbo osprey return, set up home on their new platform

A osprey takes flight Monday from its new nesting platform at Strawberry Fields in Poulsbo.
A osprey takes flight Monday from its new nesting platform at Strawberry Fields in Poulsbo.

A pair of osprey have returned to Strawberry Fields where a new nesting platform was waiting for them.

The birds had built a nest on one of the lights a few years ago and it was removed for safety reasons after they left this past winter.

You can read about the platform construction and installation in a previous Kitsap Sun article.

An unsympathetic autobiography from a Klahowya grad

Screen Shot 2015-04-17 at 6.39.50 PMAbout two-thirds of the way through “Smoke: How a small-town girl accidentally wound up smuggling 7,000 pounds of marijuana with the Pot Princess of Beverly Hills,” 2004 Klahowya High School grad Meili Cady confesses:

“…I’d hung my last hope for happiness on my future with Ben. But I knew that he would leave me. If I’d had the choice, I’d leave me too. I couldn’t stand what I’d become. I was stuck with me and this bizarre, unbearable reality that was suffocating me.”

Having read the previous 186 pages, seeing Cady come to the conclusion, “I’d leave me, too,” might inspire you set the book down for a moment and, if you’re a demonstrative type, yell out, “You think?” Yelling at a book doesn’t count for normal activity in most settings, but page after page Cady gives you reason.

For the uninitiated, Cady moved to Los Angeles after high school to pursue her Hollywood acting dreams. Over the years she landed some screen work, but not a lot. Finding a friend was tough, too. A mutual friend introduced her to Lisette Lee, the “Pot Princess” in question.

The story of what happened over the next few years was first revealed in a 2012 Rolling Stone story, “The Gangster Princess of Beverly Hills.” That was the first time many of us were introduced to Cady, who was Lee’s unlikely friend. When we did our story on Cady I was somewhat sympathetic to her, because in five decades I can count a few times when I’ve done things despite my suspicions because I wanted to believe those suspicions were off base. Wanting to believe can be a real hazard.

Reading Cady’s own written version in “Smoke,” I was less sympathetic, and that might be a compliment to her. Cady tells us what happened, what she did, without much effort to justify it. It’s a gutsy move. It’s also the most accountable way to tell a story.

The book is a fast read, reveals much that you didn’t know from the earlier stories and could be the last we ever hear of this tale, unless Lee starts talking or there is a movie. I don’t know about Lee, but the movie is a real possibility.

Bullying: A parents’ resource guide

From time to time, we here at the Kitsap Sun get calls from parents concerned about bullying at their children’s school. On Sunday, we’ll run the first of a two-part series on bullying in schools. Day one is focused on how parents can best advocate for their children when bullying happens. On Tuesday (our regular Education Spotlight day), we will follow up with a look at why middle schools are often a hot bed of conflict waiting to happen.

Meanwhile, here are the nuts and bolts of student rights, school responsibilities and what parents should know about helping their student deal with bullying at school.

This information comes from the Washington State Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction. OSPI does not have authority to enforce local rules except in cases involving sexual discrimination, special education disputes and complaints of misconduct against a school district employee.

Each school district is required by RCW 28A.300.285 to have a policy that prohibits the harassment, intimidation, or bullying of any student. Schools must share this policy with parents or guardians, students, volunteers, and school employees. Districts post policies and procedures on their website and in parent handbooks.

How do I report suspected bullying?
1. Contact your child’s school (or transportation department if the incident happens on the bus). Fill out an incident form, which should be available at the school or on the district’s website. The school is required to conduct an investigation.
2. Anyone — students, parents, staff — can report suspected bullying. Students may submit the report asking for confidentiality, meaning the staff will not disclose the name of the reporting student to the accused student. Anonymous reports also are accepted. Staff cannot issue disciplinary consequences for anonymous reports, but they may alert staff to an existing problem.
3. If the bullying act was particularly vicious and the bully seriously injured your child or caused significant harm to your child’s property, the bully may be guilty of malicious harassment. Contact the police if you suspect malicious harassment. In some cases, the schools will make a police report on your child’s behalf.
4. If you feel the school has not adequately addressed the issues, file a written complaint with the district’s compliance officer, who is an administrator appointed by OSPI to over see discipline. Next up the chain of command would be the superintendent.
5. If you still feel that district has not adequately addressed the issues, you may file a complaint with a school board member. Most school boards do not permit discussion of individual discipline cases during public meetings.
6. If you still feel that your concerns have not been addressed, you may contact your Educational Service District Superintendent. Kitsap County is served by Olympic Educational Service District 114, (360) 479-0993.
7. For further help and guidance, contact one of the agencies listed below.

Washington State Human Rights Commission
Addresses bullying based on race, color, creed, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, perceived sexual orientation, gender expression, sensory, mental, or physical disability). The Human Rights Commission has staff throughout the state who able to meet with you and investigate the bullying complaint.

Washington State Office of the Education Ombudsman
Helps with parent-school conflicts with regionally sited investigators: (866) 297-2597.

U.S. Department of Education, Office of Civil Rights
Addresses complaints based on race, color, national origin, sex, disability and age and has a regional office in Seattle: (206) 607-1600.

The Safe Schools Coalition
Addresses homophobia and harassment in school based on real or perceived sexual orientation: (877) 723-3723.

Washington State Parent-Teacher Association (PTA)
Has regional offices, and the national PTA provides guidance on bullying.

Community Relations Service
An arm of the U.S. Department of Justice, provides conciliation services to help prevent and resolve racial and ethnic conflict. Contact Sandra Blair, Conciliation Specialist, Northwest Regional Office: (206) 220-6704.

Source: Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, Safety Center, http://www.k12.wa.us/SafetyCenter/BullyingHarassment/FactSheet.aspx

More resources for parents
Committee for Children, parents guide to support children in reporting bullying
http://cfchildren.org/bullying-prevention/related-articles/role-play-how-to-report-bullying

Committee for Children, parents guide to cyberbullying
http://cfchildren.org/bullying-prevention/related-articles/safeguard-your-students-against-cyber-bullying

Stop Bullying, federal public service site
http://www.stopbullying.gov/

Source: Bremerton School District, http://www.bremertonschools.org

Chris Henry, Kitsap Sun education reporter

Another Kitsap crew runs in Boston

BostonCompactOn Monday 19 of our ambitious, dedicated and skilled friends will run the Boston Marathon. Bib No. 18775 is a friend of ours. Who you see here as Luz M. Rodriguez is someone my wife, Diana, and I know as Marcela.

We met Silverdale’s Marcela when she and Diana were teammates in a relay that runs essentially from the Canadian border in Blaine to somewhere on Whidbey Island. Those relays are a tough haul. Diana had to run two extra miles when she missed a turn. Marcela herself wasn’t sure she could tough out the last of three legs each runner agrees to run, but she did it, making it look like it was easy. Diana has since run the Portland Marathon and from what I can tell is not eager to run another one.

Marcela, on the other hand, set her sights on Boston some time ago. We’ve celebrated her progress. And since Boston is something you have to qualify for, we’ve been especially proud of her work. So has her home country of Chile. Marcela comes from the southern quarter of that country and on Friday was featured in her hometown paper. At the end of the story she’s telling anyone that if they want to, they should go after a goal like this one, repeating the Spanish version of the common English saying, “If I can do it, anyone can.”

The view from Chile of Silverdale's Luz Marcella Rodriguez.
The view from Chile of Silverdale’s Luz Marcela Rodriguez.

While I don’t agree that anyone can qualify for Boston, if it’s not a marathon that’s in your dreams, there is something. And in that sense, Marcela is right. If she can achieve this dream, you can achieve yours. I have a few things I dream of accomplishing, and finishing a marathon is one of them. Aside from the fact that it’s hard for anyone (Well, a few people make it look pretty easy.) to run 26.2 miles, for me to do it would prove that I had accomplished so much more. If you’ve met me, you know what I’m talking about. Any marathon would be my Boston.

So maybe that’s the question. What is your Boston?

Good look to all our Kitsap runners. Thanks for inspiring us to pursue our Bostons.

Note from Esteef: I tidied this thing up quite a bit since its initial publication.  I normally give these things at least another read or two before hitting the “publish” button, but it was late on Friday and I spent most of the week coughing, so I was tired and ready to go home. Had I read it at least one more time I might have noticed a few things that needed changing, including the fact that I misspelled Marcela’s name throughout. I also forgot to mention that of all the Spanish or Portuguese-speaking nations in the world, Chile is the best. It’s not even a close contest. Some of it is the dramatic variety in the nation’s landscape, going from the driest climate on Earth to a point where the next neighbor to the south is a penguin. It’s also got great beaches, mountains and enough earthquakes to satisfy even the thirstiest of thrill seekers. I hear the wine is quite good. The shellfish is excellent and plentiful , Chileans have perfected the art of dressing up a hot dog and the empenadas should be part of every death row inmate’s last meal as a testament to our compassion for even the most vile among us. The best parts of Chile are probably the Chileans, except for the one in charge when I lived down there. He was a jerk.

Anyway, all this to say that most American of explanations, “Mistakes were made.” 

 

Elected officials can have private social media accounts but …

On Wednesday, I interviewed Fred Chang, administrator of the Port Orchard Facebook group, about a face-to-face meet-and-greet of group members on Saturday at the Port Orchard Public Market.

The same day, a flap within the group unrelated to the meet-and-greet or the interview was stirring.

Bruce Beckman set off a lengthy thread by posting a comment in the main group about a spin-off that Fred started in December called Port Orchard Religious Rants and Raves group. Fred mentioned the group during our interview, saying the idea was to give group members a place to discuss religion. Early in the religious group’s existence, Fred turned active administration over to another member and didn’t pay much attention to the discussion thereafter, he said. What Fred hadn’t noticed was the snarky tone — my description — of the more recent posts, that some members objected to.

Bruce, in the main group post, wrote, “It’s unacceptable for someone in public office to have a bigoted Facebook group with the town’s name on it. Most people will agree that mocking someone for their religious beliefs is just as bigoted as mocking someone for skin color or sexual orientation.”

Bruce accused the group of censoring people of religious faith and called on Fred to, “explain his position publicly on this issue since he is a member of the Port Orchard City Council.”

Chang, in a separate post that showed a screen shot of Bruce’s comments, said he disagreed with Bruce’s characterization of the religious discussion group. Fred added that had he seen posts that appeared to be mocking, he would have removed them.

Chang on Friday told me he had a private message conversation with Kathryn Simpson, who was also unhappy with Fred about his involvement with the group. On Thursday, Chang took the group down. A separate group with the same name, administered by someone else, appeared shortly afterward.

I’m pursuing the issue here not to settle whether the group was mocking of people of faith but to address public records issues that Bruce alluded to in his post. Should a city resident who is also a city councilman maintain an active private profile on Facebook? Does the use of the term “Port Orchard” in the title of a group administered by someone who is a city councilman constitute a public record?

First, let’s note that other Port Orchard City Council members have Facebook pages. Like Chang’s account, the content is mostly about sunsets, pets and the like, nothing racy, very little city related. Cindy Lucarelli has made a couple of upbeat posts about city cleanup day and the like.

According to Pat Mason, legal consultant for the Municipal Resources Service Center, there is nothing that precludes elected officials having personal social media accounts or private devices, but as we learned from Hillary Clinton, issues arise when you conduct public business on a private account. Mason says there’s nothing that prohibits this, “Our concern would be, if they do, are those records being retained?” Because, as in the case on Bainbridge Island, people can make public records requests for those documents, and if the city or county or water district drags its feet in any way (as defined under public records laws) it runs the risk of a lawsuit. Bainbridge ended up settling a public records suit for $500,000 in late 2014.

In short, according to Mason, elected officials can conduct public business on private accounts, but they had better be able to quickly produce those records.

Chang occasionally will give information about the city on Facebook, such as the date of a city council meeting. When he does, he takes a screenshot and sends it to his city email to create a record. Chang, as far as I can tell, stayed out of a recent heated discussion about city zoning regulations and one business owner’s display of a large American flag. He said he purposely avoids posting in discussions where it might be construed that he was making a position statement on behalf of the city.

So back to the Port Orchard Religious Rants and Raves group, was it a good idea for Chang to start the group then turn administration over to someone else? Maybe not. But was it city business? No, said City Clerk Brandy Rinearson. At least not because of the name. “We can’t regulate what people call their Facebook groups,” Rinearson said. “I would say it’s not a public record unless the content is about city business posted by and elected official or (city) employee.”

And there’s another side to the coin. “He’s an elected official, but he has a right to his free speech,” Rinearson said. “Where there’s a grey line is if he makes a statement that has to do with city business.”

Mason concurs. “They don’t give up their free speech rights,” he said.

But the issue is far from cut and dried. The sheer volume of material to be sifted through and the possibility of deleted posts could raise questions about whether a search for public records has been satisfied.

The rules are being hashed out in the courts, as on Bainbridge and elsewhere.

“To me this is an evolving area,” said Mason. “This is not a settled area of the law in my mind.”

Some jurisdictions limit the use of private accounts for public business. Port Orchard this year implemented software that allows elected officials access to their city email on private devices. And the city has a policy saying social media sites of city departments are to be one-way only for giving out information not for engaging in public debate. But there is nothing in the city policy that speaks to elected officials’ private use of social media.

As it stands now there is some degree of conflict between privacy rights of public officials and public records requests, Mason said.

Should elected officials have personal social media accounts?

  • It's OK, as long as they archive any discussion that could be seen construed as public business. (47%, 61 Votes)
  • It's OK, as long as they never discuss public business on personal accounts. (42%, 55 Votes)
  • No. Public officials with personal accounts present too much of a risk to the jurisdiction. (11%, 14 Votes)

Total Voters: 130

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South Kitsap sisters are the Siskel and Ebert of children’s books

With a mom who’s a school librarian, how could Kai and Kiki Wilson not love books? Well, it’s not as if their mom Heather Wilson had to drag them kicking and screaming.

I interviewed the girls, 9 and 7, last week about their YouTube channel, Follow the Readers, where they review their literary picks and pans.

In our Features story Sunday, find out how the girls got their start … and their reading recommendations.

To find the Wilsons on YouTube, search Follow the Readers, and on Facebook, see https://www.facebook.com/followthereadersbookclub. Their blog is at http://followthereaders.com/.

While you’re waiting for the story, here are a couple of samples of their work:

New benches coming to Poulsbo waterfront

A map of where the new benches will be place. They are the blue rectangles.
A map of where the new benches will be place. They are the blue rectangles. Map courtesy of the city of Poulsbo.

There will be quite a few more spots to sit back, relax and enjoy the view at Poulsbo’s waterfront park next month.

The city is installing 10 new benches between the Austin-Kvelstad Pavilion and the parking lot. The metal benches will be similar to the blue benches at the park, although the new ones will be dark brown to match the pavilion, said Mary McCluskey, park director.

Workers plan to pour concrete Thursday, and all the benches will be done by the end of April.

Viking Fest, one of the city’s largest event, is in mid-May.

UW researchers say schools’ pot policies matter more since legalization

Suspending kids from school for using pot is not an effective deterrent, in fact it can lead to more — not less — use, according to a study by researchers at the University of Washington and in Australia.

Counseling and promotion of an abstinence message in schools were found to be much more effective, according to an article about the study that was published March 19 in the American Journal of Public Health.

The study, conducted in 2002 and 2003, compared drug policies at schools in Washington State and Victoria, Australia, to determine how they impacted student marijuana use.

The researchers were initially most interested in teens’ use of alcohol and cigarettes, according to a news release about the article from the University of Washington. But after Washington legalized recreational marijuana use for adults in 2012, researchers decided to reexamine the data to see how legalization might influence students in Washington versus their counterparts in Australia, where pot remains illegal, said Deborah Bach, a social science writer at the UW.

They found students attending schools with suspension policies for illicit drug use were 1.6 times more likely than their peers at schools without such policies to use marijuana in the next year. That was true for the whole student body, not just those who were suspended.

“That was surprising to us,” said co-author Richard Catalano, professor of social work and co-founder of the Social Development Research Group at the University of Washington’s School of Social Work. “It means that suspensions are certainly not having a deterrent effect. It’s just the opposite.”

This echoes reporting we did in the Kitsap Sun about student discipline in general, in which educators and child advocates from many corners said suspension and expulsion are ineffective at reversing undesirable behavior.

Conversely, in schools with policies of referring pot-using students to a school counselor, students were almost 50 percent less likely to use marijuana.

Washington and Victoria, Australia were chosen for the study since they are similar in size and demographics, but differ considerably in their approaches to drug use among students. Washington schools, at least at the time of the study, were more likely to suspend students, call police or require offenders to attend education or cessation programs, the researchers noted, while Victoria schools emphasize “a harm-reduction approach that favors counseling.”

Researchers surveyed more than 3,200 seventh- and ninth-graders in both 2002 and 2003 about their use of marijuana, alcohol and cigarettes and also about their schools’ drug policies and enforcement. Nearly 200 school administrators were also surveyed. In both survey years, pot use was higher among the Washington students. Almost 12 percent of Washington ninth-graders had used marijuana in the past month, compared with just over 9 percent of Victoria ninth-graders, for example.

Tracy Evans-Whipp, the study’s lead author, said although the research predated Washington’s legalization, the findings show what types of school policies are most effective in discouraging teens’ use of the drug.

The study also showed “a consistent link” between increased acccess to marijuana and higher rates of self-reported use by adolescents, Bach notes.

“To reduce marijuana use among all students, we need to ensure that schools are using drug policies that respond to policy violations by educating or counseling students, not just penalizing them,” Catalano said.

Others involved in the research are are Todd Herrenkohl at the UW, Stephanie Plenty at the Centre for Health Equity Studies in Sweden and John Toumbourou at Deakin University in Australia.

Chros Henry, Kitsap Sun education reporter