Monthly Archives: April 2008

“Lord Mayor” Coppola

OK, so I’m sitting in the Port Orchard City Council meeting last week, and James Weaver, the city’s new director of development, was giving some clarification on an issue for Mayor Lary Coppola. In the course of his discourse, Weaver referred to Coppola as “Lord Mayor.”

After the meeting, I spoke to Weaver. “Did I hear you correctly?” I asked. Weaver said yes, but “It wasn’t me that started that.”

According to Weaver, Fred Depee, a member of the county’s planning committee with Coppola, threw out the term in jest at an earlier meeting.

“It’s sort of an inside joke. They’ve been friends for years,” said Weaver.

The “joke” could arguably be viewed as spot on. Coppola, shortly after taking office, admitted he was having a bit of a hard time making the adjustment from the private sector – where he’s the boss at Wet Apple Publishing – to the “glacial” pace of local government. And he’s clearly enjoying his leadership role at council meetings. When calling speakers to the podium, Coppola’s been known to belt out, “(Insert Name Here) come on down!” in a tone reminiscent of “The Price is Right.”

Coppola has never been one to hold back on his opinion. Although he refrained during his campaign, since taking office, he has resumed publishing his West Sound Politics blog, touching on subjects directly affecting the City of Port Orchard, most recently, the SKIA issue on March 15. For the record, Central Kitsap Commissioner Josh Brown has his own column, “Dish From the Commish,” in the Central Kitsap Reporter. Brown’s column appears to be less opinion more PR.

Of course everyone’s entitled to his or her opinion, especially if it’s labeled as such.

I kind of expected Coppola to protest, scoff or somehow dismiss the “Lord Mayor” thing. But nada.

Oh, what the heck, it’s just a joke. Right Lary? … Lary?

Lary has been trying to post a reply all week, but for some strange reason (we have a new “improved” blog software) I haven’t been able to get it to post, so here ’tis:

Lary says …
Yes Chris, it’s a joke 🙂

As James Weaver noted, it was an inside joke among a small group of
close friends, until Fred Depee used it when addressing the City
Council. Fred actually hung that on me on election night, saying it’s
the term mayors in the United Kingdom are accorded. I don’t know if
that’s true or not, but my friends — and now the City Council — have all
had a lot of fun with it.

And after all, fun is the operative word here, and what this is all
about — even when it’s at my expense 🙂


Doing (Small ) Business in Washington

Ben and Phyllis Howlett, owners of Fat Rascals, freely admit that management errors on their part led to a runaway state tax tab that led to the restaurant’s closure April 1. Formerly Phyllis was trying to keep the books and run the kitchen. Now they’ve hired an accountant and developed a new business plan so that, when they do reopen, thanks to community donations, they can stay open.

At the same time, said Phyllis, the state does not make it easy to run a small business. She points to changes in the Labor and Industry regulations that place a heavier burden on employers, high taxes and Washington’s minimum wage laws. According to the Labor Law Center, “The 2008 Washington state minimum wage is the highest in the nation at $8.07 per hour. Employees are entitled to overtime after 40 hours, and tipped employees must be paid the full minimum wage.”

Kim Vogler of Family Bundles of South Kitsap agreed, calling Washington the state most unfriendly to business. Vogler, citing the National Federation of Independent Businesses, said Washington has the highest rate of business failure in the nation (more independently-owned businesses go under within their first three years in WA than anywhere else, Vogler said).

If you’re a small business owner, what challenges have you experienced: with the economy, with state laws, with local regulations, anything? What creative ways have you found to foster success in your business?

If you’re a politician, what would you do to make Washington and Kitsap County more friendly to independent business.

Friday Afternoon Club: Pig Out to Benefit Fat Rascals

Last week Fat Rascals barbecue restaurant in Port Orchard closed it doors because of more than $11,000 owed in state taxes. Ben and Phyllis Howlett would have been coming into their busiest season and say they could have paid the state its due within a couple of months, but because the couple sunk all their assets into the business, they aren’t even eligible for a loan that would allow them to continue to serve customers. Nor could they hold a fund-raiser for themselves due to state laws.

But at least some help may be one the way. Family Bundles, another local business, is hosting a barbecue benefit for the restaurant from 3 to 9 p.m. Saturday at Fat Rascal’s, 682 SW Bay St. in Port Orchard.

Family Bundles works with local businesses to multiply their advertising impact. Here’s how it works: Businesses join Family Bundles, which sells a card that rewards shoppers for buying good and services from local business owners. Shoppers earn credits for shopping at member businesses. The credits may be used at the members’ businesses just like cash, yielding discounts. Family Bundles takes its cut of members’ dues, but it puts most of the money back into advertising that has the power of many behind it, amplifying local small businesses visibility.

Kim Vogler of Family Bundles writes, “We are inviting all supporters to come by their location on Bay Street for great “Free” Bar B Q and an opportunity to get acquainted with other fans of Fat Rascal’s. This is more than just a fund-raiser to benefit Ben and Phyllis, since this is turning into an “on going” opportunity for other independent businesses that make up the Family Bundles Membership. The Howlett’s plan on repaying every cent that comes in, as a result of this event, and those funds will go into a special Emergency Fund that Family Bundles will make available to other business owners that find themselves in similar situations. It’s the old fashioned idea of “neighbors helping neighbors” – just like “barn raisings” – or helping a neighbor put out the fire destroying their barn, and if necessary, lending a hand in “’e building’!”

She notes donation checks should be made out to Fat Rascal’s Rescue Fund.

Plan on using lots of napkins. CTH

Port Orchard Makes International News for Public Urination Code

Note 4/14 11:15 a.m.: I stand corrected again. The article on public urination fines in New Dehli, India, and Port Orchard, Wash., had nothing to do with the Kitsap Daily. Warren VanZee received it from a former co-worker, now living in Floria, who was visiting India in March, saw “Port Orchard” in the article in English in the Hindustan Times, March 12 and thought of Warren. Warren was quite certain the Port Orchard referenced is Kitsap’s Port Orchard.
“I thought it was strange,” He said. “I didn’t think there was another Port Orchard in Washington.”
The article does reference Washington. Read a copy of it here:
Download file

Note 4/9, 12:41 p.m.: I stand corrected on one count: The Kitsap Daily draws on Reuters, not the Associated Press.

Alert Port Orchard resident – and former city councilman – Warren VanZee sent Port Orchard Mayor Lary Coppola a newspaper clipping that caught the city council’s attention Tuesday.
According to the article in the Hindustan Times of New Delhi, India, the City of Port Orchard charges a hefty $750 per leak fine for relieving oneself in public, plus 24 hours of litter cleanup per offense.
According to the article, “Any person found urinating in public in this Washington area is considered guilty of misdemeanor.”

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Parent Group PO’d About PO Parks

Becci Vanni, representing a group of Port Orchard parents, gave the city’s parks a failing grade during public comment at the Port Orchard City Council meeting Tuesday.
Vanni said she and 30 other parents of children who would like to use the parks want to be “part of the solution.” The first step, she said, was an inventory of the parks.
The group rated equipment at the parks using standards set by the Consumer Products Safety Commission. Cumulatively, Port Orchard Parks earned a D+ for safety, Vanni reported to the council.

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PO Taps Public for Input on Comp Plan

The City of Port Orchard this year embarked on an update of its Comprehensive Plan, as required by the state’s Growth Management Act.
“The plan is a big deal because it defines how and where growth will occur,” says the city’s Web site on a page devoted to the Comp Plan update. “It helps plan for important things like water pipes, trails, roads, houses, businesses, industry and parks…things that affect the quality of life in our community.”
Pubic input will be sought at critical steps during the planning process. The next general Comp Plan meeting will take place at 7 p.m. April 21 at City Hall, 216 Prospect St.

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More on Skateboarders, Not All Good News

Store owners don’t like them setting up on sidewalks and stairways around malls andIn my experience as a reporter, there is a strange phenomenon in the news industry that I call “story clustering.” That’s when I write on one topic and related stories come up around the same time. Maybe there’s nothing cosmic to it. Maybe I’m just more tuned in.

Last week I wrote about a group who want to see a skateboard park build at South Kitsap Community Park. So when I saw a Code 911 item on the Web site from Sunday, “Skateboarder Hit Intentionally by SUV?” it caught my eye.

A 16-year-old skateboarder was knocked unconscious Friday afternoon as he was riding eastbound (and downhill) on Mile Hill Drive. According to the boy and his 17-year-old friend, the SUV didn’t stop, and the 16-year-old said it seemed like the driver swerved toward him on purpose.

Comments on the item range from those who sympathized with the skateboarder, calling out the driver, to those who criticized skateboarders in general saying they’ve been flipped off by surly youth riding in all the wrong places.

Skaters as a group have an image problem. shopping centers. Public areas with ramps, rails and steps are attractive to skaters, but not built for that purpose. Will the construction of a 25,000 S/F state-of-the-art skate facility in SK keep kids off the streets? Probably not. But in the process of getting it built, members of South Kitsap Skate Park Association, the nonprofit that’s pushing for the park, have the opportunity to be ambassadors for the best that skateboarding can be: highly athletic, highly entertaining, a healthy (if somewhat risky) diversion for youth (mostly guys) who might otherwise be letting boredom get them best of them.

My question, as a Mom, “Were those kids on Mile Hill wearing helmets?”

Old Pharts Unite: What Will You Be When You Grow Up?

A Washington Post article that ran in Saturday’s Kitsap Sun noted that the peace symbol turn 50 on Friday.

Where did the time go? I was three in 1958 when British graphic designer Gerald Holtom, “…drew myself … a man in despair .. put a circle around it to represent the world.”

I learned a lot from that article that I didn’t know about the peace symbol:

It was unveiled at a British ban-the-bomb rally. (Does anyone out there remember hiding under your desk or sitting out in the hallway, head tucked, with your classmates, doing a bomb drill in case the Soviet Union dropped the big one? Fat lot of good that would have done, but somehow it made our parents and teachers feel safer, Hiroshima still fresh in their minds.)

Since then, the article states, “The symbol has marched in service of many causes over the years: civil rights, women’s rights, environmentalism, gay rights, anti-apartheid, the nuclear freeze movement and the latter day anti-war crowd.”

In junior high I sketched the peace symbol on my binder, in high school wore it on a tie-dye T-shirt with my lime green mini-skirt.

But now I’m dating myself. When I turned 50, my once-athletic body started falling apart piece by piece. Now, like a classic car, I require a lot of maintenance and my mileage is not what it used to be.

I’m at that time of life when the list of things I’d like to do “when I grow up” gets longer in direct proportion to the years in which I have to so them growing shorter with each passing birthday. I want to be a zoo keeper, travel to Australia, write a book, learn the tango. With the newspaper industry going the way it is, who knows, maybe I’ll have to have a whole new career. The way things are going, maybe I’ll never be able to retire.

According to Kitsap Sun columnist, Liz Taylor, I’m not alone. In a recent column, Taylor talks about a “new kind of retirement” in which my generation (the Baby Boomers – if you can stand that over-used term – I prefer Old Pharts) won’t be retiring any time soon:
A. Because they can’t afford to.
B. Because they don’t want to.
C. Because society can’t afford to have them retire.

Taylor writes: “Seventy-eight million boomers now are aged 43 to 61. Following behind are just 40 million Gen Xers in their 30s, ready to take the boomers’ jobs when they retire. Hmmm, I see a shortfall of significant proportion ahead.”

The correct answer to why our retirement won’t look anything like that of our parents’ generation is, “All of the above.”

In anticipation of a story I plan to write on “retirement revisited” I’d love to hear from anyone else out there who has reinvented their life and livelihood upon middle age. For example, I know a guy, retired from Amtrack, who enjoys volunteering at the local junior high. By this time next year it’s likely he’ll be applying his teaching skills in Africa in a position with an organization similar to the Peace Corps.

What are your plans? What’s been your experience as an older worker? Comment here, send me an e-mail at or call me at (360) 792-9219.

And remember, we have nothing to fear but gravity.

Peace, Chris