Monthly Archives: June 2009

Winston enters race for South Ward City Council seat

Blakely Harbor resident Curt Winston is the third candidate to enter the race for the City Council’s South Ward position.

Winston, who has lived on Bainbridge for 26 years, will face community activist Kirsten Hytopoulos and accountant Tim Jacobsen for the seat currently held by Chris Snow, who was elected unopposed four years ago.

Snow has not made a formal announcement about whether he’ll seek reelection.

Winston, 68, said his campaign will focus on restoring the city’s financial stability.

“The council has to set measurable goals for our new city manager, especially in the financial area where we’ve hit a wall,” he said.

Winston will also focus on maintaining roads and sewers.

“We need to pay particular attention to our infrastructure,” he said. “The pipe failure in the harbor really pointed to that.”

The city should shift away from the “esoteric” issues the council has paid too much attention to in recent years, including large parkland purchases, he said.

“They got all touchy-feely and nobody was minding the bank account,” he said.

Winston was the administrator of the U.S Department of Transportation’s Northwest region before he retired a few years ago.

He ran unsuccessfully for Bainbridge City Council in 1991 and 2007, when he lost to Kim Brackett.

He took aim at current opponent Hytopoulos.

“I decided to run when I got to looking at the skill set Kirsten has,” he said. “She’s a lawyer and had been some kind of prosecutor and runs a website about ‘green’ something-or-other and she’s a mom. I’m a manager. That’s my skill set.”

Winston was also critical of Snow.

“He’s a guy that never voted against a spending measure,” Winston said. “I hold Mr. Snow responsible for a lot because he was the chair of the finance committee.”

Snow is expected to announce whether he’ll run tomorrow morning.

Stay cool, Bainbridge

It’s going to get hot today, possibly hitting 90 degrees.

The National Weather Service issued a heat advisory for near-record high temperatures in Kitsap County and the Seattle-Tacoma-Everett area. The advisory ends at 6 p.m. tonight, when temperatures are expected to drop a bit as marine air surges across the state.

The state health department advises people to take a few common sense precautions: drink plenty of fluids, don’t leave pets locked in vehicles, check in on your elderly friends and family members, plan strenuous outdoor activity for early or late in the day and check your prescription drugs for sun exposure cautions.

Scales announces bid for City Council

Former mayoral candidate Bob Scales today announced his candidacy for the North Ward City Council seat currently held by Debbie Vancil.

Scales, who served a recent four-year term for the second North Ward council seat, said he hopes to help the city’s transition to a council-manager form of government and ease tensions on the council.

“It is time to give the people what they voted for – real change and reform in City Hall,” Scales said in a statement.

Scales’ bid for mayor was cut short on May 19 when voters opted to eliminate the mayor position.

“While the voters probably had many different reasons for wanting a different type of government, one thing is very clear – there is widespread dissatisfaction with the way our city is currently being run,” he said.

Voters, he said, must also alter the current make-up of the council to initiate a new era of efficiency and public trust.

“A city cannot function well when there is constant infighting on the City Council,” he said. “When major decisions are made with one- vote margins, it produces uncertainty and anxiety.”

The 47-year-old North Madison Avenue resident works as a senior policy analyst for Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels. Scales moved to Bainbridge in 1999 after working as a King County deputy prosecutor.

Scales’ council term and his run for mayor focused on non-motorized transportation improvements, environmental preservation affordable housing and boosting cost-effectiveness in City Hall.

Vancil, who has served two terms on the council, has not decided whether she’ll seek reelection. Aware that Scales may run for her seat, Vancil noted late last month that she has a longer track record of community service on Bainbridge and is more of a consensus-builder than her potential opponent.

Water tests hint that Eagle Harbor is recovering from sewer spill

Initial water quality testing conducted after the sewer leak in Eagle Harbor show very low levels of contamination.

“The bacteria levels are extremely low, and almost consistent with normal levels,” Kitsap County Health District water quality specialist John Kiess said on Wednesday.

Three water samples taken on Monday from Waterfront Park on Eagle Harbor show bacteria levels that are at or slightly below the typical level for marine waters.

Kiess said it is difficult to determine why the harbor may have recovered so quickly after an estimated 140,000 gallons of untreated sewage escaped from a corroded pipe between Saturday and Tuesday.

Tides and currents may have played a role, but the harbor has a low level of water recirculation due to it’s slender shape.

“It’s a closed harbor – long and skinny,” Kiess said. “It doesn’t exchange water real well with the larger body.”

Sunny skies may have played a larger role by “disinfecting” the water with ultraviolet light, health district officials said.

“Bacteria doesn’t survive well,” Kiess said. “Natural conditions tend to destroy it. That’s the beauty of it.”

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New poll: How was the city’s response to the Eagle Harbor sewer leak?

Cast your vote on the new poll over to the right. This time, I’m asking readers what they thought of the city’s response to the Eagle Harbor sewer leak.

The corroded sewer pipe leaked an estimated 140,000 gallons of untreated sewage into the harbor from Saturday to early Tuesday morning, when the leak was fixed. Health officials are still advising people to avoid contact with the harbor’s water and tidelands, as well as the shore from Yeomalt Point to Rockaway Beach.

You can find the results from the last poll (“What’s the main reason voters chose the council-manager government?”) below. Seventy-nine people responded. Dissatisfaction with Mayor Darlene Kordonowy was cited overwhelmingly as the reason islanders changed the city’s form of government.

1. 48 percent: Dissatisfaction with Mayor Darlene Kordonowy (38 Votes)
2. 29 percent: A desire for a more efficient and cost-effective City Hall (23 Votes)
3. 9 percent: City staff exercise too much power (7 Votes)
4. 8 percent: The mayor position had too much power (6 Votes)
5. 5 percent: Citizens want more say at City Hall (4 Votes)
6. 1 percent: Most cities of BI’s size have council-manager governments (1 Vote)

UPDATED: School bond fails by a fraction of a percent

The bond failed by a hair.

The final vote tally for the Bainbridge Island School District’s $42 million capital bond showed it .2 percent shy of the of the 60 percent it needed to pass.

A Tuesday afternoon election report from the Kitsap County Auditor’s office showed that only a handful of “yes” votes – perhaps 50 – would have edged the bond (which earned 59.8 percent) to victory.

More than 9,500 ballots were cast in the election.

It’s unlikely school leaders will call for a recount. Campaign chair Clif McKenzie told the Sun last week that a recount would probably not be worth the nearly $2,500 it would cost.

School officials are considering a similar measure for the November ballot.

City criticized for slow, incomplete response to sewer spill

City Council members on Monday questioned whether the city’s response to the Eagle Harbor sewer leak was too slow and not comprehensive enough to ensure the health and safety of people and the environment.

Councilwoman Kim Brackett, who visited the leak site near the Winslow ferry terminal shortly after it was identified on Saturday, was unimpressed with the city’s efforts to protect the marine ecosystem and clean the beach of solid waste.

“This is a very significant environmental issue for the health of Puget Sound,” she said during a council Public Works Committee meeting. “Was there an effort to capture (the waste) and pickup the tissue paper sitting on the beach? I was a little stunned to not see anybody there to clean it up.”

The corroded, 32-year-old pipe blamed for the leak, which spilled an estimated 140,000 gallons of sewage into the harbor, was repaired Tuesday morning. Public works crews had installed a temporary band on the pipe on Sunday, after about 70,000 gallons of solid and liquid waste flowed freely into the harbor. The band halted the flow of solids but not liquid effluent, allowing an additional 70,000 gallons of sewer water to escape.

Assistant Public Works Director Lance Newkirk said high tides delayed repair work until early Tuesday morning, when an extremely low tide was expected.

Responding to Brackett, Newkirk declined to assess the city’s response to the spill.

“I’m not prepared to comment on how well – or not well – we did,” he said.

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Jacobsen joins Hytopoulos in South Ward City Council race

Promising greater financial oversight of a city plagued with budget problems, accountant Tim Jacobsen on Monday entered the race for
the South Ward City Council position currently held by Chris Snow.

Jacobsen joins community activist and attorney Kirsten Hytopoulos, who announced her candidacy early Monday. Snow said on Monday evening that he has not yet decided whether he’ll seek reelection.

“I am running because I feel that I have experience and talents that can benefit Bainbridge Island,” said Jacobsen, who moved to Bainbridge from Montana in 1997. “The island is facing many challenges which have only been compounded by the economy. My financial background will be an obvious asset.”

The Bill Point Court resident has been a self-employed accountant since 2005. He is a former managing partner of a Seattle-based accounting firm.

Jacobsen is the chair of the city Salary Commission, which sets pay rates for elected officials. He plans to resign from the commission now that he’s a council candidate.

He also serves as the Bainbridge Island Boys and Girls Club advisory board president.

Sewer leak fixed early Tuesday morning

City public work crews stopped the three-day flow of raw sewage into Eagle Harbor early Tuesday morning.

Crews spent about 90 minutes installing a rubberized metal collar around a corroded section that began leaking on Saturday. The repair was completed during low tide at approximately 6:30 a.m. The pipe was tested and the sewer system was brought back to normal functioning by 7 a.m.

“We were fortunate,” said Lance Newkirk, assistant director of the city’s public works department. “We had a backup strategy with a three-hour repair cycle. But the (faster) strategy is the one that worked.”

Newkirk said additional cracking or other damage would have required crews to replace a section of the pipe. Crews had waited until Tuesday morning because a extreme low tide was predicted, and would have allowed time for the more complex fix.

The pipe, which runs under the beach about a quarter mile east of the Winslow ferry terminal, is estimated to have released 140,000 gallons of sewage. It carries most of the Winslow area’s sewage to the downtown treatment plant on Hawley Way.

Health officials issued a no-contact advisory for all of the harbor and the seven miles of shoreline between Yeomalt Point and Rockaway Beach. Residents are asked to not touch the water or low tide areas for 10 days.

Stoknes will not seek a second council term

Central Ward City Councilman Kjell Stoknes said today he will not seek a second term.

“It’s time for someone else to take the rein,” he said. “I will have had four interesting, challenging years and am ready to move into the next project.”

Stoknes, a former real estate appraiser and municipal planner, defeated sales executive Doug Smith in a mildly contested race four years ago. Both candidates had similar platforms, promoting higher density downtown and environmental preservation in the Winslow area.

Stoknes has lately expressed a hesitance to run because of the deep divisions on the council over Winslow Way utility work, the Winslow sewer plant upgrade and financial matters.