Monthly Archives: March 2008

Slip 45 (We-Are-Not-Mako’s) Open for Business

It’s easy to ride on the coattails of a good reputation; tough to get shut of a bad one.

The new owners of the establishment that used to be Mako’s may one day (hopefully soon) be able to talk about Slip 45 and the Shipwreck Lounge without having to explain that they’re working hard to distance themselves the bar that drew more than 200 police calls last year. On Saturday night, at a private “soft opening,” the focus was still on who they aren’t as well as who they are.

Slip 45 officially opened today. The Web site,, is up but very skimpy. Check it later for a schedule of events.

Dee Johnson, who was at the soft opening, said she came to check out the place with just a tad of skepticism.
“I had my doubts,” said Johnson. “I thought, ‘It was the same place. It’s going to have the same energy.'”
Johnson was pleasantly wowed. She complimented owners Mike Gold and Kim and Erick Houg on the $120,000 remodel of the place that Houg said took mostly a lot of elbow grease. She called the staff “professional” and said she and her husband felt welcomed from the moment they stepped through the door.

Gary Johnson also gave props to the place, especially the entertainment. Johnson and his carefully waxed signature handlebar mustache (he’s won competitions with it) took considerable roasting from headliner, comedian Mike “Wally” Walter. Walter’s Web site advertises his “high energy, politically incorrect” humor and his appearance – “a cross between Don Rickles and Johnathan Winters.”

Walters skewered South Kitsap, referencing “Port Orchard, Gateway to Gorst.” He mentioned Toys Topless and did a pole dance with the microphone. And at one point, he took one of his props, a laser tag gun and said, “We thought this was Mako’s. We’re still packing heat.”

The crowd ate it up.

Earlier in the night, the Jazz Ambassadors played (didn’t find a Web site for you guys – where are you?) and Christina Lopez, a Texas comedienne who recently played a USO show in Iraq, warmed up the audience.

“I thought it was great as far as the club goes,” said Johnson. “I think it’s about time. The area needs a place like that, especially for the older crowd.”

Houg said, as far as entertainment goes, they’re going to mix it up – some line dancing, some classic rock, some comedy, who knows? They’ll try out different things to see what sticks.

Port Orchard Police Sgt. Dennis McCarthy and three of his fellow officers stopped in to check the place out.

“It looks like a very nice, clean place,” said McCarthy. “They definitely cleaned it up.. It looks upscale. If we have a nice night club in Port Orchard, more power to them.”

McCarthy cited “over-serving,” unwillingness to ban troublesome customers and the negative culture the particular type of hip hop that was promoted at Mako’s for its unsavory ambiance.

I mentioned that some of the comments on the previous story about Slip 45, dealt with the perception that hip hop and the negative connotations that sometimes accompany it are a black thing. McCarthy said it’s more of an age + genre issue.
“The people my people arrested were, the majority of them, Caucasian,” he said. “I would say it’s more of the younger crowd. Not even all young people in hip hop are bad.”
The problem, said McCarthy, is the kind of hip hop that denigrates women, authority, the police, society in general. Add liquor, stir, and you’ve got a recipe for disaster.

Downtown PO: This Could Be the Start of Something Big

With the adoption of Port Orchard’s Downtown Overlay District Plan in September, it was only a matter of time before a viable project materialized that would radically alter the look and feel of the downtown area.

A proposed three-story development on Bay Street that could break ground as early as November has been called, by Mayor Larry Coppola and others, a potential catalyst for the revitalization of downtown Port Orchard. The 35,000-square-foot, mixed-use project at Frederick and Bay streets qualifies for federal New Markets Tax Credit funding to aid economically depressed areas.

The project would include an underground parking garage and three above-ground stories of retail and office space with a rooftop garden. The developers would petition the city to vacate Frederick Street, which would become a courtyard between the two buildings with fountains, trees and public seating. An aerial walkway connecting the buildings would include apartment space, according to preliminary schematic drawings by William M. Palmer Consultants of Port Orchard.

“This is huge,” said Coppola, referring apparently to the significance of the project not its size.

Inevitably, however, those who resisted the height standards agreed upon in the plan will seize on the latter meaning of “huge.”

The plan, adopted September 24, limits/allows building height on the south side of Bay Street to 55 feet with a conditional use permit. On the north (water) side, the maximum height is 39 feet with a conditional use permit. The proposed project, on the water side, would be 39 feet tall.

“What you’re looking at is the very first project that’s going to start the downtown development of Port Orchard,” said David Walden with Prudential Northwest Real Estate of Gig Harbor, who has an interest in the development. “Being the first, it’s going to be scrutinized by everybody. We intend to make it first rate.”

The project involves two buildings, one at 639 Bay – the Corner Deli/Old Jordan’s building – which shows the owner of record as Douglas Zimmermann of Seattle. Mansour Samadpour, the Seattle microbiologist who owns five other buildings in Port Orchard, owns the other at 701 Bay.

Samadpour is pleased to begin taking action on the property he acquired for its development potential, but he said the 39-foot limit put constraints his investment return. There will be no condos in the project, he said.

City officials, developers and property owners are working with the Kitsap Consolidated Housing Authority, the agency that administers the tax credits locally, to draw more funding for downtown development.

Stay tuned.

Marina Park to be Named after Huntington

Little kids playing on the bigs toys at the park on the waterfront in Port Orchard may not know who Mary Ann Huntington is.

They won’t have followed the 2007 election in which she lost her seat as a Port of Bremerton commissioner to Larry Stokes in voter backlash against a 150 percent port tax hike. They won’t have taken note of her career with the port, a position she’s held since 1989, way before most of them were born. And they may not know that she has been worked with the Soroptimists, who in 2006 donated around $40,000 to put the swings, whirlygigs and climbing structures in the well-used little playground on port property.

But Huntington’s former fellow commissioners, Bill Mahan and Cheryl Kincer, would at least like their parents to take note of Huntington’s contributions to kids and the community. On Friday, the port will hold a private reception for Huntington and dedicate the park in her name.

“I think it’s the greatest thing,” said Huntingon, of the honor. “To have the park built in the first place was just my dream.”

Huntington has been staying busy since leaving her office with the port. She volunteers at South Kitsap High School doing “just the grunt work,” and she serves on the Kitsap Paratransit Board of Directors.

How Fire District Merger Could Affect Taxpayers

Note to readers: It seems I’ve been going in for epic blog entries lately. Here’s another one, hopefully with useful information.

I got an e-mail about a month ago from Roger Gay, who asked about the potential impact on taxpayers of a proposal to consolidate the Bremerton Fire Department, Central Kitsap Fire and Rescue, and South Kitsap Fire and Rescue. Roger was worried about the issue of bonus (taxing) capacity such as the City of Port Orchard gained when its fire department merged with South Kitsap Fire and Rescue.

I contacted Kitsap County Assessor Jim Avery to see if a similar scenario could occur with the merger of the three districts, and Avery’s short answer is, conceivably, “yes.” See Avery’s entry dated 3/11/08 (near the bottom of the extended entry).
Avery had this disclaimer, “I think it is very early to know what is going to happen at this point between the City of Bremerton, SKFR and CKFR. Anything that does happen, however must ultimately be authorized by the voters.”

I also contacted Mark Horaski, director of Valley Regional Fire Authority, that was formed in 2007 with the merger of the Algona, Auburn and Pacific fire departments. He provided information on how VRFA dealt with the merger of three taxing jurisdictions with three different fire district rates.

An article by reporter Andy Binion in the Kitsap Sun addressed the potential benefits and complications of the proposed merger.
“A study completed last summer said the three entities could join together to streamline organizations, improve service and save money,” Andy writes.

But exactly how that would work is far from hammered out.

The article continues, “Districts and departments have different levels of service and pay different amounts in taxes. Part of the process will be to determine how much households will pay.”

Here’s the thread of e-mail correspondence on how the proposed merger could (possibly) affect your family’s budget.

Continue reading

PO Planner: Low Impact Development Makes Economic Sense

Port Orchard’s Director of Planning James Weaver is excited about last night’s adoption by the city council of an ordinance that will incorporate low-impact development guidelines into the city’s Storm Water Design Manual.
Low impact development is an optional way for builders and designers to meet storm water runoff requirements. The ordinance adds to their “toolbox,” Weaver said.
Guidelines in the manual will outline methods to reduce the amount of storm water runoff generated on developed sites. Topics covered include site design, permeable and nonpermeable surfaces, dispersion of runoff, vegetated roofs, excavation, bioretention facilities and soil retention.
The practice makes sense economically and ecologically, Weaver said. For example, a developer could conceivably avoid having to install a storm water detention pond by using permeable pavement that absorbs runoff. This in turn would increase the amount of usable land on the site.
Weaver praised the Homebuilders Association of Kitsap County for taking the lead in establishing uniform low-impact standards to be adopted and implemented by Kitsap County and its four incorporated cities. Check the association’s Web site for information on its Low Impact Development (LID) Standards Implementation Project. Having uniform standards will help streamline the annexation process as local cities grow by taking on areas of unincorporated Kitsap, Weaver said.

If you work in the construction industry, have you found low-impact development to be cost effective?
If you are or have recently been in the market for a new home, how important is low-impact development to you? Would you be willing to pay more to live in a home or apartment that was constructed using LID standards?

Howe Farm: Conflict Between Different User Groups Appears Exhausted

Note 3/27: Read the draft memoranda of agreement between the county and, respectively, WSU Kitsap County Extension, South Kitsap School District and Kitsap Dog Parks Inc. at the parks & rec home page.

Let’s be honest, in the past, the fate of the Howe Farm County Park has been a prickly issue, marked by conflict between some dog owners, who wanted the park to remain totally undeveloped, and those who held that the farm should be used exclusively for agriculture.

In my coverage of the park, I’ve found representatives of groups interested in cooperative use of the farm reluctant to pick at old wounds, eager to move on. These groups include South Kitsap School District, WSU Kitsap County Extension and Kitsap Dog Parks Inc., all of which have been working with the county for nearly two years to come up with a mutually agreeable multi-use plan for the park that includes an off-leash dog park (already established) and a host of agricultural pursuits (yet to be established – awaiting the blessing of the county).

On Monday night, the Kitsap County Board of Commissioners gave the public one last chance to weigh in on Howe Farm. If there are ardent opponents of the plan to allow South Kitsap School District and WSU Kitsap County Extension roughly 6.5 acres (not counting hay fields) to grow gardens, raise livestock, tend orchards, sell crops and more, they either were not present or didn’t speak their mind.

South Kitsap Commissioner Jan Angel told me some of the park’s neighbors earlier were concerned that the school district’s use of the park would amount to “development” that would destroy the pastoral ambiance of the farm. Apparently that has been resolved as nobody showed up at the meeting to complain.

Nor did anyone show up to complain about the proposed agreement under which Dog Parks Inc. and unaffiliated members will have access to and stewardship over roughly 11 acres of fenced area, including 5.5 acres of open space, the rest in woodlands. The memorandum of agreement between the county and Dog Parks Inc. encourages dog park users to join the dog lovers’ organization for a “small fee.” Dog Parks Inc. will in turn “use these funds and other monies raised for the Howe Farm off-leash dog area for improvements at the off-leash dog area” (less small administrative costs). Brian Lyman, capital projects manager for Kitsap County Parks and Recreation, believes “improvements” refers to maintaining dog watering stations and containers for disposing of dog waste.

The current draft of the agreement with Dog Parks Inc. references 14 acres of off-leash area. Presumably that includes the possibility of opening the hay fields to the east of the dog park for off-leash use in the off-season, Lyman said.

If anyone were to have complained loudly at Monday’s meeting, I would have expected it to be Scott Hall. About a month-and-a-half ago Hall, a member of the original Howe Farm stewardship committee, called me to register his opinion that the off leash dog park at the farm-turned-county-park was occupying prime land for agriculture. He felt that South Kitsap School District and WSU Kitsap County Extension were about to settle for second best. Hall said he was going to ask the county for a thorough review of how the farm was being used, stopping short of calling for the dog park to be moved off the high ground that, Hall said, would be prime space for crops.

I wrote about Hall’s concerns, and the opinions of school district and WSU officials, who weren’t necessarily thrilled with Hall’s taking up for their cause.

“We appreciate his energy as a community member and (South Kitsap Agriculture program) advisory member trying to look out for our greater good,” said Thomas Mosby, director of the district’s agriculture and natural sciences program. “However, none of those are concerns for any of the three groups we’ve been working with. We’ve determined to work around any of those concerns he’s voiced.”

I expected Hall to come out with barrels blazing at Monday’s meeting. Instead, he talked about some language in the agreement with the school district that needed “tweaking.” But otherwise he expressed acceptance of the proposed arrangement. He did say he opposed expansion of the dog park into the hay field to the east in the off season.

Tom Donnelly, who spoke at the meeting, served on the county’s Open Space and Parks Advisory Board when Howe Farm was acquired from the Bruckart family. He noted that an off-leash park had never been part of the original vision for the farm when the county applied for a grant from the state’s Wildlife and Recreation Fund to help purchase the land. Donnelly said the district’s proposed use of the park meets provisions of the grant that called for preserving the land for agricultural use.
“The South Kitsap High School Agricultural program may be the last game in town to bring a model farm to the once-thriving Howe Farm,” he said.
After the meeting, Donnelly allowed that he was resigned to seeing the park shared with dog owners … not his first choice. But due process was served.

Notably silent has been Danny Horovitz of South Kitsap Dog Parks Inc., who took the first step toward negotiating with the district on shared use of the park. Here’s an excerpt from a story from December 2006 in which the school district’s proposal first surfaced. The story references a presentation by Mosby at the Long lake Community Center.

“Tonight’s meeting may not be a peaceful one. Danny Horovitz, who has been active with the off-leash dog interests and has met with Mosby, came under fire this week in angry e-mails from at least three others upset with his endorsement of cooperating with the high school and Master Gardeners, who foresee demonstration gardens and ‘pea patch’ public gardens there. One accused him of crossing over to the other side, and another said the 83 acres should be left unchanged.
One told of watching bus loads of students who visited the park fool around, swing on the fruit trees and show no serious intent.
Horovitz replied by e-mail that they should listen to what Mosby and others have to say tonight.
Mosby said he’s seen some of the e-mails aimed at Horovitz and said, ‘That’s OK, that’s what the meeting is for, to provide them with information.’

No wonder Horvitz blasted me some months back for even raising the specter of discord between the dog folks and the ag folks in an earlier article from February, 2007.

Following the opening of the dog park, I interviewed Horovitz, noted his positive comments about the facility and asked him about a observation from senior parks maintenance supervisor Dori Leckner that a fence at the park had been pulled down. Horovitz was unhappy that I would even think of focusing on dog owners who misuse the off-use privileges at the park. He had risked a lot to make peace with the ag folks, and here I was stirring up trouble. He has not returned my phone calls and did not testify at Monday’s meeting.

Speaking of dog owners who misuse the park, I heard from three people I interviewed over the past month-and-a-half that they have observed dog owners letting their dogs run off-leash outside the fenced area. These people include Dori Leckner of the county, Arno Bergstrom of WSU Kitsap County extension and Scott Hall, who after showing me the park from the parking lot scraped a blob of dog poop off his shoe. Leckner didn’t seem overly concerned. She said folks at the park are on a “learning curve” having gotten used to using the property without constraints. She said county staff have to monitor most other county parks for the bad eggs (my term) that give responsible dog owners a bad name.

That leaves one last group unheard from: Those who testified at the meeting I covered for the aforementioned article, who said they wanted to see the park remain totally untouched.
Resident Leona Phillips said “she and others who use the park fear increased activity will disrupt wildlife and the mar the park’s tranquility.
“There are red-tailed hawks, bald eagles in the area where they’re going. This is definitely harassing the wildlife,” she said. “I’m all for these agricultural programs, just not there.”

All I can say is they didn’t appear at Monday’s meeting, although the Kitsap Sun published an article in advance.

As far as I can tell, the time to speak now or forever hold your peace is all but come and gone. April 14 is approaching fast. Anyone with any 11th hour comments should e-mail them to

Kitsap Residents Respond to Obama’s Speech

Following on the heels of Barack Obama’s “A More Perfect Union” speech in Philadelphia Tuesday, the Kitsap County Youth Rally for Human Rights, held Friday at Olympic College, appeared to affirm the hunger for racial unity to which Obama refers. But according to at least one participant at the rally, Kitsap still has a long ways to go.

At a workshop on the “Culture of Kitsap” that was part of the rally, Shatara Tiller, 17, talked about the unwritten rules of the lunchroom at South Kitsap High School.
There’s the senior section and the anime table, she said, drawing a diagram on the board. “Over here is all the jocks and popular kids and the cool people.”
Then there’s “brown town … If you have a tint of color in your skin, even if there aren’t enough chairs, that’s where you’ll sit. I don’t know why,” said Shatara, who is black and who serves as president of the Bremerton NAACP youth council.

Shatara’s observations elicited strong reactions in Kyle Dye, 53, a teacher at South Kitsap’s Marcus Whitman Junior High School, who is white and remembers “the whites only signs.”
“We hear the ‘I Have a Dream’ speech every year, and we think it’s all done,” he said “Actually, what you’re presenting here … I just want to go home and cry.”

The rally is hosted annually by the Kitsap County Council on Human Rights to get students thinking and talking about biases they may have about others who aren’t like them, touching on the prickly issues of race, sexual orientation, suicide and other taboo topics.

Karen Vargas, advisor to the NAACP youth council, said events like the youth rally stimulate frank discussion that’s unlikely to take place elsewhere.
“It’s got to be an intentional dialog,” she said. “If it’s not intentional, I’ve found they dance around it. It’s difficult to talk about race and bias.”

Vargas, who is black, said the Obama speech has been a hot topic in Kitsap’s black community this week. I asked her how she feels about the presidential campaign becoming, as she called it, “a race race.”
“I think it’s a good thing,” Vargas said. “The reason I think it’s a good thing is because we’re being challenged about our character. … What I think is the whole world is looking at us right now.”

Vargas said she is excited to see Obama embrace the issue of race, to crack the delicate egg shell of decorum-through-denial and let the whole messy discussion ooze out (my analogy here, not hers).

“It’s exciting times. It’s scary times,” she said. “There’s real change happening in our nation and in our world.”

Vargas, who moved here in 1992 from the East Coast, said Kitsap will need to do some serious catching up in the area of frank discussion about race. She would like to see the county and city governments appoint a multi-cultural advisory council.
“I don’t think leadership has done a good enough job to outreach to (minority) community leaders,” she said, including in her comments Kitsap’s Japanese Americans, Asian Pacific Islanders, Native Americans and Latinos.

Earlier this week I ran into my friend Mauris Emeka, riding his bike to a volunteer job at Cedar Heights Junior High. (I didn’t literally run into him, mind you.) I asked him what he thought of the Obama speech, and he said it moved him to tears. He had one point of contention with the speech, which you can read below in the letter he sent Obama:

Dear Senator Obama,

I am a 67 year old American of African decent, born and raised in the south. I am writing to thank you from the bottom of heart for ‘pouring out your soul’ in Philadelphia on yesterday — ‘telling it like it is‘. America has long needed to hear the words you uttered in that historic speech, because they can help bring a measure of healing to our country.
There is one point in the speech where I would recommend different wording. You stated that “segregated schools were and are inferior schools”. That statement misrepresents the work of many of the all-Black schools that I knew. In my view, it is more relevant to note that all-Black schools were nearly always under-funded as compared to White schools. And that sometimes resulted in unsatisfactory academic outcomes from Black schools, but certainly not always. The all-Black schools during my school years (i.e., the 1940s, 50s, and 60s) produced untold numbers of well prepared graduates, despite limited facilities at our disposal. I will never forget the compassion and dedication of many of my secondary school and college teachers. We were always encouraged to do our best with what we had; and I believe you will agree that that advice served us well.
Thanks again, Senator Obama, for the historic speech that you gave yesterday, sharing words that all Americans have long needed to hear.

…here’s wishing you The Best,

Bro. Mauris Emeka

Garrido Announces for District 2 Commissioner’s Seat

A copy of this post appears on the Kitsap Caucus blog.

An addendum was added at the bottom of this post at 6:15 p.m.

Former Kitsap County Commissioner Charlotte Garrido has announced she will run to regain the District 2 seat on the commission she lost to Republican Jan Angel in 2000.

Garrido failed in 2004 in a bid to regain her seat from Angel, who is running for state legislature).

Garrido is running against fellow Democrat Monty Mahan. No republican candidate has yet declared in the race.

A story on her candidacy is posted at

Garrido served as county commissioner from 1997 through 2000. She has been a higher education planner for WSU Kitsap Extension since 2005 and most recently served as consultant for the Kitsap Economic Development Alliance (KEDA) Baccalaureate Research project, documenting the need for a four-year degree program in Kitsap County.

Garrido said she has been considering running for commissioner for some time, but she was preoccupied with her work for the KEDA. Now that the Legislature has appropriated funding to review the KEDA report, Garrido said, she can turn her attention to new pursuits.

Her platform will focus on promoting locally owned businesses and on increasing opportunities for citizens to have input on county government. Garrido said her skills at bringing various interest groups together on issues would serve to the county’s advantage were she elected.

The county’s budget is another priority for Garrido. It informs every decision the commission makes, she said. Garrido is eager to work with the other two commissioners on resolving budget issues.

“I don’t think any one commissioner can do that,” she said. “I think as a team we need to ask the tough questions. … I’m not afraid to make the tough decisions after getting answers to the tough questions.”

Garrido declined to say what sets her apart from Mahan.

“I think it’s always positive for voters to have choices,” she said. “My thought is that it’s really important that we have many public forums so people can see and hear from both of us and have a chance to make informed decisions.”

So, the question remains (as I said in a recent post) where are the Republicans in this race?

Addendum 6 p.m.: Jack Hamilton, Kitsap County Republican Party chairman is still holding his cards close to his vest. If the party has anyone specific in mind to challenge the Democrats for Angel’s seat, Hamilton’s not talking.
“We have every intent of having a viable candidate,” he said. “If there’s a race out there, we’re recruiting.”

Carl Olson, Kitsap County Democratic Party chairman, was also noncommittal when asked how the addition of another Democrat to the race could play out for the party. At last night’s meeting, Kitsap Dem’s approved Mahan’s candidacy, giving him access to the party’s contact list for use in seeking endorsements. According to party rules, they could approve other candidates, as well, and will presumably approve Garrido if she asks, Olson said.
Olson was careful not to appear to personally endorse one candidate over the other.
“We now have two competent candidates,” he said. “It would probably be to the benefit of the voters to have two qualified candidates from which to choose.”

Monty Mahan Campaign Kick-off

5 p.m.: Monty Mahan, a candidate for South Kitsap Commissioner, district 2, will hold a campaign kick-off at Amy’s on the Bay, 833 Bay St., Port Orchard.

You can learn more about the candidate at his blog.

Mahan has a humorous side. His latest entry is ,”If the Port of Bremerton Were the Girl … and if Bremerton and Port Orchard were Both Trying to Get a Date.”

One that caught my eye was “Reasons Not to Elect Monty.” Apparently people have been questioning whether the father of 9 kids under 18 has time or energy to be county commissioner.
Mahan does a light take on the notion by listing the advantages, such as:

Thursday afternoon laser tag in Courthouse Commons

County planning meetings guaranteed a plentiful supply of crayons

Dinosaur imitations from back of meeting room clinically proven to cut meeting time

So, can anybody hear me out there? Where are the contenders?

Friday Afternoon Club: Will the Real St. Patrick Please Stand Up

Monday is St. Patrick’s Day. Maybe this is the year to ditch the plastic leprechaun, green beer and fake brogue, and get a taste of true Irish culture.

Magical Strings, the musical duo of Pam and Philip Boulding of Olalla, play world music, much of it Celtic. The Bouldings will perform at 1 p.m. Sunday the Harp and Shamrock, 2704 N Proctor St., Tacoma.

It has been a 25-year tradition for Magical Strings to perform St. Patrick’s Day favorites in this cozy Irish shop. Philip Boulding will sing his new harp CD, Musings, and his first book of poetry, Whispers of the Muse. Pam Boulding plays the hammered dulcimer.

For more information, call (253) 752-5012.