Poulsbo & Beyond

An on-going conversation focused on the community of Poulsbo, fueled by local resident Rich Jacobson.
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Archive for February, 2011

Red Light Cameras, Tickets, and other Bremerton Scams

Thursday, February 24th, 2011

Okay, so this is an official rant.

We know that the City of Bremerton, like most municipalities, is cash-challenged these days. Due to the severe economic downturn, everyone is being forced to make tough decisions, tighten their purse strings, and become creative when it comes to balancing budgets.

It’s just that some are being a little more creative than others.

Red light cameras are one such way to generate badly needed revenue. They’re a finance director’s dream come true! The whole process is fully automated and requires no expensive law enforcement manpower. With a simple ‘click’ of the camera, the offending party is sent a little love note from someone in Phoenix AZ. The love letter then informs them to send their non-disputable $124 check to someone in Michigan State.

Whose to say those cameras don’t snap a  few random pictures throughout the day, regardless of whether an infraction has occurred or not? “Oh, we’ve got a budget shortfall this month! No problem! ….Click, click, click!”

It’s ‘Big Brother’ meets ‘Taxation without Representation.’

Bremerton Police Department ticket quotas seem to be another popular revenue source for the City of Bremerton coffers these days.

My son was en-route to his class at Olympic College the other day when he was involved in an accident. The car in front of him stopped abruptly about halfway across the Warren Avenue bridge. Fortunately, the car he hit was an SUV with a huge trailer ball hitch on the back. It sustained very little, if any, damage, but my son’s car was toast.

When I arrived, a Bremerton Police officer was on-site. He stated that my son’s car was inoperable and would need to be towed. I went over to console my son who was still visibly shaken. He said the other vehicle wasn’t damaged and they simply exchanged license/insurance information. The tow truck soon arrived, and we followed him to Town & Country Auto Repair.

A few days later, we received yet another love letter from our good friends at the City of Bremerton. It was a non-traffic infraction for inattentive driving.

Here’s how this scam works:

You have three options when responding to your ticket:

  1. Send in your money.
  2. Mitigate the infraction. In other words, admit that you’re guilty, but you want to attempt to negotiate a lesser fee. It requires you to physically attend a scheduled court date.
  3. Contest the ticket. This option is for those who feel they are not guilty of the infraction. It also involves attendance at a scheduled court date. Unfortunately, if you lose, your ticket will be changed to a ‘traffic’ violation, and will go on your driving record.

For $85 dollars, I can almost guarantee that 99% of the those being ticketed will simply forgo any of the other options, and just pay the fine. How many people are going to want to take the time to drive down to the Bremerton Municipal Court and appear before a judge to negotiate an $85 ticket? And who would attempt to contest a ticket, knowing that if they lost, it would automatically become a ‘traffic’ violation and affect their record?

Here are a couple questions I have for the Bremerton Police Officer who issued the ticket:

1. How did you know that my son was being inattentive while driving? Were you there? Did you actually see him being inattentive. You’re simply assuming that because he ran into another vehicle that his attentions must have been focused elsewhere. There are times when accidents just happen. No one is at fault. Could this have been one of those times?

2. Why didn’t you write up the ticket and give it to us at the time of the accident? Did you get back to the station and realize you were short on your daily ticket quotas?

After having his car destroyed, and racking up the $200 tow bill, the ticket after-the-fact was a nice touch.

The moral to this story is  ‘Operating a Motor Vehicle in Bremerton is Expensive. Support Kitsap Transit and take a Bus!’


Prisoners to Australia and WA Education Budget Cuts

Sunday, February 20th, 2011

WA-State-Budget-cuts-in-education-imprison-teachers

Some good friends of mine stopped by for a visit earlier today. They’re a young couple I had the pleasure of marrying a few years back. She’s a nurse working at Harborview, and he’s in the process of finishing up his Master’s studies and is currently fulfilling his requirements for student teaching (he wants to teach middle or high school).

As a young married couple struggling to make ends meet, our conversation eventually turned towards recent decisions made the the WA State Legislator to reduce Teacher pay, bonuses, and incentives.

Though Washington Constitution makes education the State’s top priority, you wouldn’t know it by the way our elected officials are cutting money that is spent on schools. In fact, the percentage of budget dollars paid out towards education has been rapidly declining for a number of years.

But let’s face it, these are tough times. And as they say, tough times require tough measures. Cuts desperately need to be made, and everyone is going to be affected by it – the administrators, the teachers, and ultimately, the students.

So let’s take a look at the education cuts already on the discussion table for the next biennium, most of which are part of the governor’s budget proposal:

— A total of $1 billion from two different class-size reduction programs  (one of which was authorized by voters in 2000).

— A 6.3 percent cut in levy equalization — money that goes to “property poor” districts that have trouble raising local tax dollars. Many lawmakers oppose this idea, but it would save $39.5 million.

— About $99.5 million in teacher bonuses for earning national board certification (another initiative that was approved by voters)

— A suspension of salary-step increases would cut another $56.3 million from teacher pay.

Voter-approved teacher cost-of-living raises amounting to $253.3 million.

— About $18.6 million for gifted or “highly capable” education.

— More than $37 million for a variety of teacher training, mentoring and continuing education programs.

— About $57 million would be saved by not expanding all-day kindergarten to more school districts.

— Another $95.6 million would be saved if the state changes the way it supports the replacement of old school buses.

— About $40 million could be saved in the next biennium by putting off the state’s science and math graduation requirements. Eliminating all the graduation requirements related to the High School Proficiency Exam could save more than $84 million.

Notice how many of the cuts relate to teachers – cuts in pay, raises, bonuses, incentives, and training.

Then add to that the cuts that will result in an increase in classroom sizes, and our valued educators are left with the unappreciative edict, ‘Do More for Less!’

Some of these proposed cuts beg the question, “Why should WA voters bother to vote on initiatives if Olympia is going to turn a deaf ear and do as they please?

To our elected Representatives:

What incentives are there for professional educators to improve their skills? What encourages our teachers to rise above the status-quo and strive for educational excellence? How can a teaching professional work towards improving their earning potential?

Unfortunately, the decision-makers in Olympia are sending a very strong and negative message to our educators:   “Don’t excel. Stay complacent. Punch the clock.”

My friend then shared a fitting illustration he had recently heard on NPR.

Evidently, back in the 1700′s when the British were transporting prisoners off to Australia, there were a significant number of prisoners who were dying en-route due to maltreatment. The British tried all kinds of remedies – from imposing more rules, forcing Captains to hire doctors, more citrus to fight off scurvy, and increasing Captain’s salaries. But nothing worked.

Finally, an economist had an idea: instead of paying the Captains for the number of prisoners that embarked on the voyage, the government should only pay for the prisoners who walked off the ship in Australia.

They implemented this strategy, and suddenly, the survivability rate rapidly improved to 99%.

Thus, the first fundamental lesson of economics was born:  Incentives matter!

(you can listen to the broadcast in its entirety by clicking on the following link)

http://www.npr.org/player/v2/mediaPlayer.html?action=1&t=1&islist=false&id=129757852&m=129768358


CKSD to Host Annual Budget Meetings

Wednesday, February 16th, 2011

During the recent CKSD Capital Projects levy, there were a number of people who posted comments to articles published by the Kitsap Sun. Some of these individuals were highly critical of the Central Kitsap School administration, especially as it relates to their handling of financial resources (You know who you are!).

Well, here is their chance to actually participate in the process and provide input!

The Central Kitsap School District will be hosting two community meetings for the purposes of discussing the CKSD Operating Budget for the coming shcool year (2011-2012). The meetings are scheduled for Wednesday, march 2nd, at 6:30pm, and Thursday, March 3rd, at 6:30pm. Both meetings will be held in the Jenne-Wright Gymnasium, located at 9210 Silverdale Way NW. All CKSD parents and community members are invited to attend to learn more about the budget process and to provide feedback.

CKSD continues to face significant funding challenges stemming from State funding, decreasing enrollment, and increased costs. Without substantial changes at the Federal or State levels to fully fund education, these challenges will continue.

Based upon initial State budget proposals, CKSD could be required to reduce up to $2.2 million from its $113 million budget. These reductions are in addition to K-12 funding cuts for the current school year imposed by the State legislature during December’s special session. The district will not know the full extent of its budget shortfall for the 2011-12 schoo year until the final State budget is released this Spring.

CKSD Superintendent Greg Lynch commented:

“As in years past, our School Board and administration will continue to make difficult fiscal decisions with the  intent of minimizing impacts to our educational program. Although we are disappointed that the State Legislature repeatedly falls short of its responsibility to fully fund public schools, we’ll keep our focus on our commitment to provide CKSD students a high quality education within existing resources.”


Should Silverdale WA become Incorporated?

Saturday, February 12th, 2011

Silverdale-WA-a-great-place-to-live

Well, once again, an effort is underway to stir up support to incorporate Silverdale WA, this time led by a political action group called the ‘Citizens United for Silverdale.’

Silverdale Incorporation efforts become official

This is the fourth such attempt to wrestle Silverdale from the controlling clutches of Kitsap County.

As I’ve discussed this issue with other area residents, most people are not opposed to the idea, but simply want to know the pros & cons of incorporation:

What benefits would we realize as a result of incorporation? What effects would it have on the local economy and businesses? How much would our taxes increase?

Perhaps one of the best things this political action committee ‘Citizens United for Silverdale‘ could do is put up a website detailing as much information as possible on the benefits incorporation normally brings to a community like Silverdale WA. Even creating a Facebook Page would be a great step towards engaging members of our community and sharing helpful information about incorporation.

What are Your thoughts? Should Silverdale be incorporated? Why or why not?


Big Thanks for Supporters of CKSD Levy

Thursday, February 10th, 2011

We-Love-the-Central-Kitsap-School-District

The final ballots have been tallied and the voting public has spoken!

The Central Kitsap School District Capital Projects Levy has been approved!!!

We owe a tremendous debt of thanks to the members of the CK Kids Matter group for their tireless efforts, especially Jeannie Schulze, Wes Moore, and Bob Ramsey.

What a truly amazing ensemble of dedicated and concerned CK citizens who unselfishly pooled their talents/resources and focused them towards improving the quality of education for the students of the Central Kitsap School District!

I also wanted to express my great appreciation to our Superintendent, Greg Lynch, and Executive Director, David McVicker. The more I become better acquainted with these fine gentlemen, the more grateful I am for their gifted expertise, guidance, and leadership within the district.

Lastly, I would like to thank all of the residents of Central Kitsap County who voted in support of the capital projects levy. Our kids are indebted to you for your sacrifices in making the passage of this very critical levy possible.


Wrong Reasons for Saying ‘No’ to the CKSD Levy

Friday, February 4th, 2011

Writing a guest column in this morning’s issue of the Central Kitsap Reporter, Bremerton WA resident Tamara Gordy offers up her rationale for registering a ‘No’ vote on the current CKSD Capital Projects Levy.

(Ms. Gordy had previously submitted a similar Letter to the Editor for the Kitsap Sun).

For a number of reasons, I’ve been following this proposed levy very closely. I am a resident/homeowner in Central Kitsap; all of my kids have attended Central Kitsap schools (my youngest son Luke is a junior at CK High); and my wife is a teacher at Brownsville Elementary. So obviously, the health and vitality of our local school district is of major concern to me and my family.

And, as such, I am always interested and intrigued with the arguments that local residents offer in opposition to the proposed CKSD Capital Projects Levy. Times are tough, and I can greatly respect/appreciate the fact that people aren’t overly enthusiastic about having more of their hard-earned money taken away, even if it’s for a worthy expense, like public school facilities.

However, in her letter, Tamara Gordy states that, even though she has supported school levies in the past and believes that healthy schools are an investment in our community, the reason she is voting ‘No’ on this Capital Projects Levy is because the Kitsap County Elections Division decided not to mail a printed voter’s guide along with the ballot.

So, if I understand her correctly, the reason Ms. Gordy wants to deny our kids a safe and healthy classroom environment is because the County failed to provide a printed Voter’s Guide pamphlet along with her mailed ballot?

Excuse me? You want to disapprove badly needed repairs and improvements to our local classrooms because of something the County did or didn’t do? You want to jeopardize $31 million dollars of Federal matching funds because you didn’t get a Voter’s Guide? Really?

I don’t know about you, but I rarely vest much of my voting prerogative based on what I read in the Kitsap County Voter’s Guide. Don’t get me wrong. I appreciate that the County puts it together for the general election. But the ballot issues are normally more complex and can’t be easily explained/presented in a short paragraph or two.

Fortunately, the school district has done an admirable job of providing very detailed information on the Capital Projects Levy and presents a very compelling and prudent case for supporting it’s approval.

Whether or not the County should have provided a printed Voter’s Guide along with the mailed ballots is up for debate. But to penalize the safety and welfare of our students and teachers as a result is nothing short of ridiculous.


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Everyday CK is an ongoing conversation focused on the community of Central Kitsap, fueled by local resident Rich Jacobson.