Peninsular Thinking

A conversation about Bremerton, Port Orchard, Poulsbo, Silverdale, Bainbridge Island, Kingston, Manchester, Seabeck, Southworth, Suquamish, Belfair, Keyport, Olalla, Bangor, Hansville, Indianola, Port Gamble, Allyn, Port Ludlow, Gig Harbor and every once in a while something about the good folks who don't have the good fortune to live here.
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Archive for the ‘City of Port Orchard’ Category

PO Beats Poulsbo on “best small cities” list

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014

The online publication has taken a David Letterman approach to the “top small cities” in Washington State. Port Orchard ranks 6th in the journal’s list of 14 (not Letterman’s 10), as noted on Facebook by PO locals Matt Carter and Todd Penland.

And look at us go. Port Orchard, with its maritime ties and eclectic downtown mix of eateries, boutiques and salons (hair, nail, tattoo, piercing) beat out Poulsbo, with its Nordic theme, a longtime solid formula for that town.

“As stated on its website, Poulsbo has a completely unique and different history from its neighboring communities. Unlike other small towns and cities in the local area, this small city was founded by Norwegian settlers,” reports.

Poulsbo came in 12 of 14, ahead of Moses Lake and Chelan. Beating out Port Orchard, in slots five through numero uno, were Bellingham, Sequim, Oak Harbor, Hoquiam and Friday Harbor. Nothing against Hoquiam, but, really? (The article cites the city’s low taxes related to depressed values on its “nice but old” homes.)

Poulsbo, the journal continues, “may not have a great deal to offer when it comes to ultra-modern and latest conveniences, but it does enjoy a close community that values friendship and a rich cultural heritage. People who place greater priority on these aspects than what modern society has to offer will find Poulsbo the ideal place to live.”

The next time you’re in Poulsbo, look for that horse and buggy.

I’m figuring the author who wrote about Pullman is a Cougar. The entry on this city, which ranked 9th, reads, “Pullman has so much going for it that it is hard to know where to start.”

Port Orchard is described thus, “The city is blessed with an abundance of marinas filled with boats of all shapes and sizes which provide comfortable accommodations for visitors to stay. The downtown area offers fine dining, shopping, and cultural sites to explore.”

Too bad they illustrated the article not with a picture of the marina but of the Kitsap County Courthouse … on a cloudy day. The courthouse, and in fact the whole county campus, is fine and all and very much part of the city. But PO, we can do better. They should have checked in the day we posted all those rainbow pictures. Oh, my God!

“Port Orchard is but a ferry ride away from Seattle and Bremerton,” the journal continues, “making excursions to the area quite accessible for those wanting to escape …”

Oh wait, there’s more, ” … “for a day or entire weekend.”

“Port Orchard residents are also quite proud of their military heritage as perceived by the nearby Puget Sound Naval Shipyard.”

We won’t tell them the shipyard is in Bremerton, which apparently is too big to be considered for the Top Small Cities list. And yes, we all are proud of our military.

Silverdale was not mentioned on the list of Top 10 Cities that Do Not Exist.

The is big on lists. It’s got rankings for other states, and informational pieces on cities nationwide and worldwide. The journal covers a wide range of topics, including “Top 11 Most Haunted Cities,” “13 Best Cities with the Word ‘City’ in Them,” and “Top 12 Cities Aliens Should Colonize.” Detroit tops the list.

So now, we seriously need to suggest a “Top 10″ category in which Bremerton will place. I’ll put out “Top 10 Cities that Enable Raccoons,” for starters.

The ball is in your court.

Fireworks: love ‘em, hate ‘em, tolerate ‘em

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014

The city of Port Orchard will put a notice in upcoming utility bills reminding folks to be safe and sensible about fireworks. The decision was triggered by recent complaints from city residents.

Among them is Elissa Whittleton, who is weary of the traffic and — as she describes it — mayhem that take place on the 4th of July in her Tracy Avenue neighborhood. It should be noted that Tracy Avenue, perched up on the hillside above Sinclair Inlet, has one of the best views in the city of the annual Fathoms ‘O Fun fireworks display.
The city council on March 18 brought in Port Orchard Police Chief Geoffrey Marti and South Kitsap Fire & Rescue Chief Steve Wright to talk about what could be done to maximize safety.

Whittleton would like the city to designate fireworks free zones, specifically areas like Tracy Avenue that become congested with pedestrians and traffic. But Wright said such zones would be “hard to enforce.”

Selectively designated no-fireworks zones may not even be something the city can do, Marti said, “To say that area is unique and deserves unique rules would be hard to defend (to other neighborhoods that may also seek such a ban).”

Illegal fireworks are the greatest source of incidents, according to SKFR data, Wright said. “The public sort of takes a liberty that they view this as their time to do something that is really outside of the norm.”

Wright recalled past efforts to impose a countywide ban on fireworks that fizzled out for lack of support.

Staffing for Independence Day is always a challenge, both chiefs said. Both the fire and police departments call in additional help, but officers and fire units can’t be everywhere. SKFR factors in weather conditions in planning for the 4th.

Marti advised people who call 911 for fireworks-related issues to specify first if there is an imminent danger: has someone been injured, is someone’s house on fire? People should also specify if they want an officer to contact them. The department will triage calls, but eventually they will get back to everyone who requests contact, Marti said, adding. “It may take some time.”

Mayor Tim Matthes noted that two years ago the fireworks were “pretty bad,” but last year, the Port of Bremerton prohibited fireworks on its property and had volunteers (identified as representing the port) patrol the property. Warning signs also reminded waterfront visitors. The result was a calmer atmosphere, Matthes said. He recommended the city recruit additional volunteers to help the port’s effort.

Bek Ashby, a council member who lives in the same general area as Whittleton, said she enjoys the festivities and is resigned to the drill.

“Every 4th of July, I have to be home after six to protect my home. That’s just the way it is,” Ashby said. “I just consider that the price I pay to have the best view in the city of the fireworks.”

Months later, she still finds spent incendiary devices in her flower beds.

“I for one don’t want to eliminate the fireworks in the city,” Ashby said later in the meeting. “It’s joyous in my neighborhood. It’s loud but people are having a lot of fun.”

Whittleton, at the council’s March 25 meeting, thanked them for discussing the idea but said, “not much headway” was made in resolving safety issues. She suggested charging a tax or fee on fireworks sold in the city and using the money to enforce the prohibition against illegal fireworks.

State law defines legal “consumer fireworks” (not to be confused with “display fireworks”) as “any small firework device designed to produce visible effects by combustion” under regulations of the United States consumer product safety commission, “and including some small devices designed to produce audible effects, such as whistling devices, ground devices containing 50 mg or less of explosive materials, and aerial devices containing 130 mg or less of explosive materials …”

What are your thoughts on fireworks? Love ‘em? Hate ‘em? Tolerate ‘em? What suggestions do you have regarding celebration of Independence Day where you live?

And finally, what’s the best place in Kitsap County for watching fireworks?

Strategic plan, timeline set for mental-health tax

Wednesday, February 12th, 2014

Up to $3 million from the local mental-health tax will be doled out July 1.

A sales tax of 0.1 percent dedicated for local mental-health services went into effect Jan. 1 after being approved by Kitsap County commissioners in September.

The July deadline is just one of several in the recently released strategic plan from the Kitsap County Behavioral Health Strategic Planning Team. Proposals for projects or programs, aimed at reducing the number of mentally ill juveniles and adults cycle through the criminal justice system and the demand on emergency services, will be accepted from Feb. 20 to April 18 at 3 p.m. Kitsap County County Mental Health, Chemical Dependence and Therapeutic Court Citizens Advisory Board will review the proposals.

The citizens advisory board also is asking for community input on what residents what to see funded by the sales tax via an online survey.

In the 62-page strategic plan, which outlines recommendations for closing service gaps for mentally ill and substance abuse, it says county and surrounding peninsula region had the highest number of mentally ill boarded ever recorded in October 2013.

The plan recommends increasing housing and transportation options, treatment funding and outreach, among other suggestions.


Reporting and responsibilities outlined

The strategic planning team makes recommendations the citizens advisory board and establishes the strategic plan for the mental health tax.

Proposals will be submitted to the citizens advisory board for review. The board will make recommendations for the proposals and funding level to the county commissioners, who ultimately approve the proposals.

The citizen advisory board will annually review projects and programs while receiving input from the strategic team, and report to the director of Kitsap County Human Services, who will present reviews to the county commissioners.


 Meet the team and board

Kitsap County Behavioral Health Strategic Planning Team

  • Al Townsend, Poulsbo Police Chief (Team Co-Chair)
  • Barb Malich, Peninsula Community Health Services
  • Greg Lynch, Olympic Educational Service District 114
  • Joe Roszak, Kitsap Mental Health Services
  • Judge Anna Laurie, Superior Court (Team Co-Chair)
  • Judge Jay Roof, Superior Court
  • Judge James Docter, Bremerton Municipal Court
  • Kurt Wiest, Bremerton Housing Authority
  • Larry Eyer, Kitsap Community Resources
  • Michael Merringer, Kitsap County Juvenile Services
  • Myra Coldius, National Alliance on Mental Illness
  • Ned Newlin, Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office
  • Robin O’Grady, Westsound Treatment Agency
  • Russell D. Hauge, Kitsap County Prosecutor
  • Scott Bosch Harrison, Medical Center
  • Scott Lindquist, MD, MPH Kitsap Public Health
  • Tony Caldwell, Housing Kitsap


Kitsap County Mental Health, Chemical Dependence and Therapeutic Court Citizens Advisory Board

  • Lois Hoell, Peninsula Regional Support Network: 3 year term
  • Jeannie Screws, Kitsap County Substance Abuse Advisory Board: 3 year
  • Aimee DeVaughn, Kitsap County Commission on Children and Youth: 3 year
  • Connie Wurm, Area Agency on Aging: 3 year
  • Dave Shurick, Law and Justice: 1 year
  • Walt Bigby, Education: 1 year
  • Carl Olson, At Large Member District 2: 2 year
  • James Pond, At Large Member District 3: 2 year
  • Robert Parker, At Large Member District 2: 2 year
  • Russell Hartman, At Large Member District 3: 2 year
  • Richard Daniels, At Large Member District 1: 1 year

Kitsap likes its fundraisers outdoors, active

Friday, December 6th, 2013

Bake sales are all well and good, but here in Kitsapland (and it’s safe to say the Northwest in general), we like to get double duty out of raising money for a worthy cause.

Upcoming are two events where you can get vigorous exercise in the fresh air while doing good. The first is the Jingle Bell Run, raising funds to combat juvenile arthritis, on Saturday in Port Orchard; the second on Dec. 14, is NewLife Kitsap’s Walk for Water, raising money to build wells in Africa, to be held on waterfronts in Port Orchard, Gig Harbor, Silverdale, Bainbridge Island and the Theler Wetlands in Belfair. Both require registration, and pre-registering is preferred. But you can jump on board with both events the morning of.

Both events raise awareness of of things most of us (I think it’s safe to say) take for granted.

Walk for Water
When it’s raining buckets here in the Northwest, like on July 4th, most of us probably don’t think, “Dang, I wish we had some more water around here.” Kitsap, which relies solely on rainfall to replenish its reservoirs and aquifers each year, has faced seasons where water conservation is encouraged. But we’re always able to turn on the tap for a drink of potable water or a bottle of water at the convenience store.

In contrast, many people in sub-Saharan Africa lack access to clean water. The average African walks 5 miles a day for water, according to people at New Life who are organizing the Walk for Water. The journey is dangerous and most of the water gathered is unclean, causing illness and sometimes death, especially among young children.

Walk in the Light, a charity supported by NewLife in the Walk for Water, collects money to build wells and bring other forms of water purification to towns in Burkina Faso. Last year, reporter Josh Farley wrote about the organization, founded by Tom and Katy Cornell, who are also involved with NewLife. The couple, while attending Northwestern University in Kirkland, got to know a man from Burkina Faso, and so learned about the needs of people there.

In 2012, 80 people took part in the first Walk for Water in Kitsap County, treking 2 1/2 miles along the Silverdale waterfront with empty five-gallon jugs and other containers.
Screen shot 2013-12-06 at 9.21.07 AM
They filled them and lugged them back, getting a taste of what people (most women and children) must do each day. Lack of a clean water source is not only inconvenient and unhealthy, it robs people of the time to work, get an education and have a life, as the saying goes here in the U.S. The event has been expanded this year to several waterfront locations.

When: December 14; registration a 9:30 a.m.; walk starts at 10 a.m.
Where: Gig Harbor waterfront; Bainbridge waterfront Park; Silverdale waterfront; Port Orchard Westbay Center; Theler Community Center.
What: The length of the walk is 5 miles. Each person will be given a 5-gallon container to carry on the walk or bring your own.
Cost: $20 registration fee to receive a T-shirt and five-gallon container (fee waived if you skip the T-shirt and bring your own container); recommended donation of $100 to walk. Online registration through Dec. 12.

Jingle Bell Run
I ran into Sheila Cline the other day at MoonDogs (when I was covering that outrageous tip the restaurant received). Cline was busy preparing for the third annual Jingle Bell Run, an event she has captained since 2011, in support of her daughter Kinsey, who has juvenile arthritis. The 5K run/walk is part ofPort Orchard’s Festival of Chimes & Lights.

The Jingle Bell run is the signature event of the Arthritis Foundation. To get the organization on board with allowing the run in Port Orchard, Cline had to guarantee a minimum level of participation. No worries there; the run has exceeded expectations each year, involving more than 1,000 runners (some real serious types) and raising more than $50,000 annually for the organization.

Kinsey Cline has struggled with arthritis since she was 8. Now 13, she’s having a good year and able to regularly attend John Sedgwick Junior High School. That wasn’t always so. Last year, she missed a lot of school and experienced a lot of discomfort. Now on a new medication regime, Kinsey’s arthritis is well controlled.

As those with the disease know, it’s an ongoing battle to stay mobile. Something those participating in this year’s run/walk might consider as they trot (or clip) along Bay Street and Beach Drive.

Kinsey was the honoree at the first Jingle Bell Run. This year’s honoree is Linda Banks of Port Orchard who was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis two years ago. Now 48, Banks was and is an athlete, and she finds that exercising and staying active helps reduce her arthritis symptoms.

A member of the Kitsap Tri-Babes, Banks has participated in many triathlons, and on her birthday in 2012, Banks completed an Ironman triathlon in Cour d’Alene, swimming in the choppy 58 degree lake, bicycling, and then running. Doctor’s have advised against her running for the time being, but Banks will participate by walking the 5K on Saturday.

A costume contest is at 12:30 p.m.; kids’ 1K at 1 p.m.,; 5K at 1:30 p.m.
Where: Port Orchard City Hall, 216 Prospect Street, Port Orchard
When: Dec. 7, 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Cost: Free – $30

Your chance to serve on city of Port Orchard advisory boards

Tuesday, December 3rd, 2013

The city of Port Orchard is accepting letters of interest from residents wishing to serve on its Planning Commission, Design Review Board and Building Board of Appeals.

All three are volunteer advisory boards that carry considerable clout. The Planning Commission advises the City Council on land use policies. The Design Review Board oversees the aesthetics and amenities of proposed construction projects in the downtown area.

The Building Board of Appeals is actually more than an advisory board. Its members, with a two-thirds vote, can reverse or modify the decision of the city’s building official. This board meets infrequently on an as-needed basis, according to Senior Planner Jennifer Haro. The board, made up of individuals with expertise in the building industry, holds hearings open to the public to review appeals of building permit applications.

The city is looking for applicants who represent a cross section of the community and “who will use their best judgement in deciding upon the issue before them,” according to a news release.

Applications and brief volunteer job descriptions are available at
Applications are due by Friday. Mail to City Clerk Brandy Rinearson, 216 Prospect Street, Port Orchard, WA 98366 or email
For more information, call (360) 876-4407.

Waterfront pathway process complicated by federal regulations

Wednesday, November 20th, 2013

Owners of five Beach Drive properties are alarmed anew at news the Port Orchard City Council has taken the next step toward construction of a public waterfront pathway that could go right through their homes.

The city recently approved a contract that sets in motion steps for possible acquisition of the properties by eminent domain. But other options are being considered, and taking of the properties is far from a done deal, City Engineer Mark Dorsey stressed. The contract includes financial capacity and authority for Universal Field Services to negotiate with the property owners on total acquisition, when and if the city council gives the OK.

The council needs to know the pros and cons of all options, Dorsey said, which is why the contract includes the most extreme scenario. Under other scenarios, the houses could be left standing, but there are liability and public safety issues.

Property owners are miffed that city officials didn’t personally contact each of them before the contract was approved. To explain why, we need to get down into the weeds, so hang with me here.

First, let’s jump back to 2011. The property owners have known for at least two years that eminent domain is a possibility. The issue came up in a properly noticed public meeting in which the council discussed early design of the pathway, causing an uproar from the property owners. According to homeowner Randy Jones, then-Mayor Lary Coppola visited him a day or two after the meeting. Coppola assured Jones that the eminent domain option was at that time hypothetical and the taking of his home was not imminent, Jones recently said.

That’s still the case. It will take the city a long time to jump through the hoops of regulations put into play by a $300,000 federal grant the city accepted under previous Mayor Kim Abel for preliminary design of the pathway.

The grant requires Port Orchard to complete the whole path, one way or another — through the homes or around them — or the city must return the $300,000.

The Bay Street Pedestrian Pathway is seen as a great amenity by most city officials. Two segments are already completed and have been well-used. So it’s unlikely the city will turn back now, but that’s yet another option the council will weigh, according to Dorsey.

The city faces the same use-it-or-lose it issue with the Tremont Street Corridor, where more than $3 million in federal funds were used for design. According to Dorsey, the federal government, dispersing money through the state Department of Transportation, used to spread money around “like peanut butter,” leaving a trail of partially completed public works projects. Since 2009, the feds require assurance grant-supported projects will be completed, making it harder on public officials, but reducing the likelihood that taxpayers’ money will be squandered on nice ideas never executed.

So why didn’t Port Orchard officials recently come knocking at the property owners’ doors? Under one of the federal grant regulations, the city must use an intermediary to contact residents about the potential taking of their properties to avoid the appearance of “collusion,” according to Dorsey. The law requires a clean division of roles. The city, acting on the public’s behalf, could be seen as having a conflict of interest were any staff members or elected officials to discuss the eminent domain issue with property owners outside of a public meeting.

Speaking of which, the council takes public comment during its meetings. The next one is at 7 p.m. Tuesday at city hall, 216, Prospect St.

Officers, others aid woman forced out of her home by stuff

Tuesday, November 19th, 2013

It began with a call for a welfare check from Adult Protective Services. Someone had reported to APS that there was an older woman living in her car, and the Port Orchard Police Department responded.

Sgt. Donna Main was one of the officers who found the woman and learned why she was apparently homeless. The woman was parked in front of a nice, older home her family has owned since 1946. She had cared for her mother in that home before the mother died. There were so many memories … and so much stuff.

The entire property showed signs of neglect. Both the front and back yards were overgrown with brush.
“You couldn’t see the house from the street, because it’s all overgrown,” Main said. “You can open the door … sort of.”

Inside are piles of stuff to the point one would have to crawl over the stuff to get in.

“She said she was trying to clean up a bit,” said Main. But clearly the task had become overwhelming. So the woman, who is 73, moved into her car.

“When I found her in the car, she had food; she was warm,” Main said. “She wasn’t asking for help. She wasn’t asking for assistance. She wasn’t asking for handouts. She’s a very strong woman.”

It was a police matter, but it wasn’t. The woman was not in danger, and she wasn’t a danger to anyone else. Main could have written her report and called it a day.

“I just couldn’t personally go home to my warm bed knowing this 73-year-old woman was sleeping in her car,” Main said.

Officer Bill Shaibly also took an interest in the woman’s plight.

The woman had all the symptoms of having a hoarding disorder, defined by the American Psychiatric Association as excessive saving of “items that others may view as worthless and have persistent difficulty getting rid of or parting with possessions, leading to clutter that disrupts their ability to use their living or work spaces.”

Often, hoarding is associated with other types of psychiatric disorders, but this woman appeared to be thinking clearly, Main said. And she was open to help in getting rid of the excess stuff.

“She knows she needs to make some changes,” Main said. “She knows she needs to let some stuff go if she wants to get back in her house.”

Main and Schaibley recruited friends and workers from Naval Base Kitsap to clear the front yard a couple of weeks ago. Last weekend, a group from the community tackled the backyard, with help and donations of supplies like bags and gloves from Port Orchard Walmart. Main emphasized that the help wasn’t directly connected to the police department. It was simply people responding to a neighbor in need.

Main and others have arranged for the woman to receive pro bono counseling and dental work.

In upcoming weeks, they will tackle the inside of the house.

“It’s an enormous job,” main said. “I don’t know if this can be done. But if we don’t try, we’ll never know.”

Is PO’s Prop 1 symptom of political divide?

Wednesday, October 23rd, 2013

Update, 5 p.m. Oct. 23: The Peninsula Daily News is reporting that former Port Orchard Mayor Lary Coppola is resigning from the North Peninsula Building Association, where he has been executive director since August. Coppola recently commented in a Kitsap Sun story that he is happy in his new job and has no interest in a city manager job that would become available if Port Orchard’s Proposition 1 passes Nov. 5. This new information apparently changes at least the “happy with his job” part. I am working to verify this information and provide more details. — Chris Henry, reporter

The debate over Port Orchard’s Proposition 1 — the Nov. 5 ballot measure to replace the mayor with a city manager — has a contentious undercurrent mostly unspoken, but a couple of people who oppose the idea have brought it up in public forums.
The City Council in January resurrected earlier discussion of a city manager and in July agreed to put the decision to voters.
If Prop 1 passes, the mayor’s position, held by Tim Matthes, would disappear. The council would appoint a city manager to run day-to-day operations, and they would choose an honorary mayor from among their number. (See a video with pro- and con- statements at the end of this post.)
“I firmly believe this is a political coup d’état,” anti-Prop 1 spokesman Nick Whittleton told the Kitsap Sun’s editorial board on Oct. 9. “That’s what’s really happening here, but you can’t say it out loud.”
Whittleton speculates Prop 1 proponents want to remove Matthes, elected to a four-year term in 2011. Whittleton, spokesman for Port Orchard Citizens for Responsible Government, clarified this was his opinion and not the group’s official position.
City Council candidate Eric Gonnason has repeatedly suggested Prop 1 is a plan to put former mayor Lary Coppola back in city hall, this time as manager. He believes a majority of the council is aligned with Coppola, who lost to Matthes by a five-vote margin.
Whittleton and Gonnason’s statements stir collective memories of the divisive 2011 mayoral campaign. But Coppola says he doesn’t want the city manager the job, and Prop 1 advocates have said the proposal is not a slam on Matthes.
“I don’t want to make this issue about Mayor Matthes,” said Rob Putaansuu, the councilman who led the charge to get Prop 1 on the ballot. “It’s really just about moving the city forward.”
Voters can look at recent history of the Prop 1 ballot measure and decide for themselves what’s relevant.
Former mayor not interested in job
Gonnason, challenging incumbent Jerry Childs, suggested at a forum hosted Oct. 3 by the League of Women Voters of Kitsap County that Coppola would be a shoe-in for city manager.
Not so, says the pro-Prop 1 camp.
Fred Olin, spokesman for Citizens for Professional Government, at the forum challenged the assertion that, in Olin’s words, “this is a ploy to return the former mayor to office.”
“In fact our former mayor is not qualified to be a city manager. He knows it, and we know it, and the city council who will appoint the city manager knows it,” Olin said.
Coppola said as much in a comment on the Kitsap Sun’s story about the city council race. The former mayor said he is happy at his new job as executive director of the North Peninsula Building Association, which is “a great fit for my skill set.”
Coppola went on the decry Gonnason’s assertion.
“Mr. Gonnason has a LOT of nerve making such a false statement,” wrote Coppola, who also described Gonnason as “aligned with the Matthes/ Michael/ Chang faction who will do or say just about anything to keep control of the city’s government.”
“Michael” being Gil Michael, a member of the Port Orchard Planning Commission and treasurer of Port Orchard Citizens for Responsible Government.
Michael during the 2011 campaign contributed to People for a Better Port Orchard, the anti-Coppola PAC that raised and spent just more than $2,800 on mailers designed to erode Coppola’s credibility. Michael donated $250 in cash and $250 of in-kind services to the group’s campaign.
Matthes, who publicly distanced himself from the P4P group, called Michael “my right-hand guy” on Dec. 6, the night his victory over Coppola was confirmed by a recount.
Chang is Port Orchard Councilman Fred Chang, running for re-election in an uncontested race, who was among the largest donors to P4P with a bequest of $500.
But let’s now end of this trip down memory lane or slippery slope, whatever the case may be. The point is Coppola’s has no designs on the city manager position.
“In the interest of full disclosure, while I originally proposed this change in 2010, and support it, I have ABSOLUTELY NOTHING at all to do with the Prop 1 campaign,” Coppola said.
Nothing personal
With that settled, let’s look at whether Prop 1 is a move to oust Matthes. Putaansuu, also up for re-election in an uncontested race, asked the council to revisit the city manager debate early in Matthes’ second year in office. Events leading up to that debate included a stalemate between the council and mayor in December over the city attorney’s contract, suggesting a less than cooperative relationship between the city’s legislative and executive branches.
Putaansuu at the time said there was confusion over the respective roles of the council and mayor, and he criticized Matthes, saying, “He’s been in office for a year now. By now he should know what his role is.”
Also in December, the city’s development director abruptly resigned after a documented verbal altercation with the mayor. Putaansuu and other Prop 1 advocates say the switch to a city manager would halt staff turnover in city hall that seems to come with each new mayor. Port Orchard’s police chief left for Poulsbo in February.
Matthes himself has come out clearly against Prop 1, saying it’s an unnecessary expense that erodes city residents’ right to representative government.
Putaansuu on Oct. 18 responded to the question of whether council-mayor friction had anything to do with his position on Prop 1.
“I believe we need professional management. We could do worse than our current administrator. We can do much better than we have, I believe,” he said.
Olin addressed the question of a Matthes ouster in the context of costs and benefits of the change. Proponents say the increased salary of a city manager compared to that of the mayor would be offset by cost-saving efficiencies and increased revenue.
“It’s not about him, but it’s about the cost,” Olin said, “and we truly think for the money we will get more for our buck.”
Does civic friction trigger change?
Friction within city hall has precipitated change in some other cities, including Port Townsend, which made the switch to a city manager in 1998.
“I think the city had reached a point of where it had amassed kind of a political dysfunction, is how it was characterized to me,” said City Manager David Timmons, who was hired in 1999.
Steve Burkett, hired as Sequim’s city manager in 2009, said he hasn’t personally experienced conflict that triggered change during his 44-years in municipal governments around the U.S., “but I’ve seen that in other situations.”
Jim Doherty, a legal consultant for the Municipal Research and Services Center of Washington, estimates there are elements of dissatisfaction with current administration in roughly 50 percent of cases involving change of government. But, he added, it’s seldom the single, clear-cut reason.
“Sometimes it’s a mix,” Dougherty said. “A mayor may have trouble keeping up because of growth.”
And dissatisfaction, or the appearance thereof, can cut both ways. In Washington State, while 18 cities have changed from mayor-council to council manager governments since 1970, eight cities, including Spokane and Federal Way, replaced their city managers with a strong mayor.
Growth — and with it, the need to address more complex city management — is typically the main driver of any change of government, according to Ron Holifield, CEO of Strategic Government Resources, the municipal search firm Bainbridge Island used to hire its most recent city manager.
About 80 percent of SGR’s clients are strong mayor cities.
Where the candidates stand
In July, Chang was the lone council member to vote no on the resolution to put Prop 1 on the ballot. He had heard from constituents who did not want a change in the city’s classification to code city combined with the city manager question, as the measure is written.
Chang at the Oct. 3 forum said he finds the idea of professional city management “intriguing”, but favors residents being able to vote for mayor.
Gonnason at the forum reiterated his opposition to Prop 1 because of what he sees at the Coppola connection and also because of the possibility of a large severance payment if a city manager were removed.
Childs at the July council meeting where the ballot measure was approved said residents should get to vote on the city manager question. His personal opinion was, “For me, I think it’s a chance for our town to go to the next level and get some consistent, efficient management.” Childs reiterated that opinion at the Oct. 3 forum.
Bek Ashby and Kim Punt, two candidates running against each other for the seat to be vacated by Carolyn Powers, hold opposing views on Prop 1.
Ashby says the city council has not given enough details to show why a city manager is needed. She would work cooperatively under either system, she added.
Punt says the city has grown to the point it needs professional management.
“What public corporation would hire the CEO of a $30 million business without experience?” she said.

Campaign Records Available
Both Citizens for Professional Government, pro-Prop 1, and Port Orchard Citizens for Responsible Government, against Prop 1, have filed with the state’s Public Disclosure Commission, using the mini-reporting option, meaning they will raise and spent less than $5,000 each, so itemized reporting of individual contributions and expenditures are not recorded on the PDC’s website.
Each group must track those items, however, and anyone may view their records by appointment during the eight days before the Nov. 5 election, between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m., except Saturdays, Sundays and legal holidays.
Contact Port Orchard Citizens for Responsible Government through Treasurer Gil Michael, (360) 876-6196.
Contact Citizens for Professional Government through Treasurer Richard Peterson, (360) 874-7764.

Port Orchard: Help with library construction; go hog wild with check-outs

Sunday, August 25th, 2013

Like gluttons at an all-you-can-eat buffet, book lovers are helping the Port Orchard Library clear its shelves before construction begins Aug. 31 on a major renovation.

The library will be closed until Oct. 21, as contractors install new carpet, make major repairs and upgrades, and construct a new layout designed for patrons’ increased comfort and convenience.

Since early August, librarians have been pushing a “Checkout to Help Out” initiative, encouraging people to take up to 75 titles, preferably nonfiction. The books won’t be due until Nov. 2, so you’ll have more time to enjoy your stockpile. Now there’s an invitation to procrastinate.

The actual limit is 100, but the library suggests 75, so patrons have leeway to check out other titles from the library’s system.

Patrons are encouraged to choose nonfiction and mystery books, because those are the sections that will be most heavily impacted by the construction.
According to librarian Susan Lee, the books are practically flying off the shelves. One man recently checked out 95. Someone traveling to Ireland swept clean the section on that country. Crafting books are disappearing; biographies are starting to thin out. “New arrivals,” the library’s equivalent of the impulse aisle by the grocery checkout counter, are picked nearly clean.

“You can see we have a big gap,” said Lee, pointing, here and there and over yonder.

Lee says this is a great opportunity for teachers to sweep up a temporary collection, as one teacher did with mythology books.

So, here are a few things to know.
* The last day of the free-for-all is Aug. 30.
* From now until the end of construction, you can’t pick up holds at the Port Orchard Library. You can get them at Manchester (or any other branch in the Kitsap Regional Library system).
* You are encouraged to hang onto all the Port Orchard books until the Nov. 2 due date. If you do need to return them, use the Sylvan Way branch in East Bremerton.
* No, the Port Orchard librarians won’t be sipping Mai Tais on some foreign beach during the project. They will be working at other library locations throughout the system, and then putting the library back together before the reopening.
* The cost of the project, $100,000, is covered by roughly $70,000 from Kitsap Regional Library’s capital budget. The Kitsap Regional Library Foundation will provide up to $10,000, and the Port Orchard Friends of the Library will donate roughly $30,000. The group has received significant donations from South Kitsap Rotary, Kitsap Bank, The Fred Meyer Foundation, The Phil Grey Foundation, Rotary District 5020 and numerous patrons who have donated for the renovation.

Happy reading.

Chris Henry, reporter

Port Orchard: Block watch underway downtown

Saturday, August 17th, 2013

Residents of Port Orchard’s downtown neighborhood recently met with Police Chief Geoffrey Marti about concerns over prowling, gas siphoning and speeding.

Talk of the nagging problems has been circulating since mid-summer in an online chat group of neighbors. One person considered getting a gas cap lock.

Speeding vehicles were reported on Sidney and Seattle avenues.

“No one obeys the speed limit here and there are lots of children and parents walking on the street to go to the park on Dwight. It’s scary,” said one resident.

Someone suggested putting out those glow-in-the-dark fluorescent green “boys” with orange flags. But someone else said they’d probably just get stolen.

The group discussed other solutions and some suggested taking matters into their own hands by forming a “PO Guardian Angel task force” or “Para-Police Group.” One person talked of stopping a suspicious person in an alley and taking a cell phone picture.

Councilman Fred Chang, who lives downtown, implored folks to keep their distance from possible crooks. “Please do not put yourself in a potentially dangerous situation,” Chang wrote. “Our police force is better trained to deal with such situations.”

The block watch meeting on Aug. 8 was productive, Marti said.

“I knew about 50 percent of the people at the meeting, because they’re all my neighbors,” said Marti, who lives downtown.

Marti reviewed crime data that showed downtown is not a “hot spot” for crime but in fact is relatively safe. He applauds the neighbor’s heightened sense of awareness, however, and said a culture of see-something-say-something goes a long way toward keeping police in-the-loop and deterring would be criminals.

But like Chang, Marti discouraged people from actively taking on suspects. Furtively noting a license plate number, yes. Approaching a suspicious vehicle and whipping out your cell phone, don’t try it. Just call 911.

“If you see something that concerns you, by all means, call the police,” Marti said.

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