Monthly Archives: April 2008

Tunnel To Burwell

Here are some more photos taken Tuesday deep in the Bremerton tunnel. Notice the water and the mud, following the afternoon of spring rain and hail.

Here‘s the story about the progress.

All photos were taken by Sun photographer Larry “Handsome Lad” Steagall.

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This is a view looking east into the tunnel. Project Engineer Brenden Clarke is seen balancing on the rebar, wearing the hunter orange jacket.

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Here are a couple workers being charmed by Larry. Notice the impressions on the walls (Oooh, Aaaah!). These are made using forms that the contractor, Tri-State Construction, used once before on State Highway 202 near Issaquah, Clarke said. Original bids on the project were turned down because of cost, and part of the reason for the high bids was that the original plan called for white tiles on the walls and ceiling.

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Here is a view looking west out of the completed part of the tunnel.

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Here is a view looking east toward the ferry terminal and the uncompleted part of the tunnel.

PS – I got some raised eyebrows for a previous post suggesting that Bremerton is lucky that while digging this tunnel workers haven’t yet unearthed some portal to a magical world full of mythical creatures and Snidely Whiplash characters. My desk editor, David Nelson, said midway through reading the post he thought I might have lost my mind. After all, Nelson noted, it’s not elves or wizards we have to worry about, but Mole People.

Manette Guerilla Artist Strikes Again

Armed with an X-Acto knife, spray paint, a quirky sense of humor and a marginal respect for private property unusual for the world of guerrilla art, the Bremerton Banksy has struck again.

(See earlier Bremerton Beat posting about The Fonz giving us Bremertonians a thumbs up)

These photos, taken Thursday evening by Sun Local News Editor David Nelson, show three pieces easily seen near the intersection of Perry and 11th.

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In the first, we see a stencil rendering of Angus Young, legendary guitar player for the Australian rock band AC/DC. Notice the canons featured on the cover of “For Those About To Rock,” the follow-up to “Back In Black,” which was the first record after lead singer Bon Scott drank himself to death. (More info than needed). This painting was done on a vinyl LP, which is a popular medium among stencil artists, for some reason. David said this one was lying on the ground.

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In the second we see Jesus Christ, wearing sunglasses, and flanked by Jake and Elwood Blues of Blues Brothers fame. As anyone who has seen the Blues Brothers movie knows, the boys were on a mission from God. Perhaps this is a complex, post-modern statement. Perhaps it’s just a bunch of stuff thrown together.

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In the third, my favorite, is a portrait of Jeff “The Dude” Lebowski, the hero of “The Big Lebowski,” the greatest story ever told.

Although technically this could be considered vandalism, as it is uninvited decoration and could possibly earn the stenciler a third-degree malicious mischief charge, it lacks the destructive, anti-property edge of many of the other Banksy acolytes that have swept the world. It’s sort of soft-core guerrilla art, more concerned with getting a smile than confronting people with anti-corporate propaganda.

If you’re out there, El Barto of Bremerton, drop us a line.

These Elves Will Save Bremerton

These elves will save Bremerton with their laser-guided wands

I’m keeping my fingers crossed that construction workers on the Bremerton tunnel won’t find a secret passageway to an underground world filled with golden submarines and the descendants of Atlantis.

It’s fine if they do, it might be a good experience for them, something to tell the grandkids, but who knows what kind of can of worms that sort of transdimensional meddling will open?

I, for one, rested easier Thursday when I realized that the project is half done. That means the chances of a forgotten world of magical creatures and wonders beyond the Bremerton Beat’s imagination being discovered are about half what they were when the $30.7 million project started in July 2007.

If by chance such a wondrous discovery is made, I hope it doesn’t entail some grand battle royale between the forces of Good and Evil, with Bremerton being the prize. Parking is bad enough.

But if it does, and prehistoric monsters controlled by demented wizards in funny hats start knocking down buildings and tipping over the Norm Dicks Government Center, I just hope that this family of elves, pictured above, can overcome their own petty insecurities to help the good people of Bremerton fight off the Forces of Evil.

As for me, when Leviathan crawls out of the brine and begins undoing all the hard work of the state Department of Transportation, I’ll be watching on this Web cam here.

And when the elves ultimately prevail in the face of great adversity, banishing the evil wizards and Leviathans back to their fantasy world below, I’ll be checking this site, which is the tunnel project’s Web site, for progress on reconstruction efforts.

Let’s just hope it doesn’t come to that.

Thanks Uncle Sam For Protecting Us From Wesley Snipes

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Guv Grumpy

I learned the word “capricious” from disgraced Illinois Gov. George Ryan, R-Kankakee. Just before leaving office, Ryan commuted the sentences of all the inmates on the state’s death row to life.

I was an intern in the Capitol press room in 2003 – No, I never interviewed Barack Obama – and talked to a man whose wife was brutally raped and murdered by one of the men Ryan spared.

Ryan called the death penalty “capricious,” meaning it was doled out on the whim, usually to poor and minority criminals.

Some saw it as a cynical move by a shrewd politician. Others saw it as a shrewd move by a cynical politician. Ryan insisted it was from the heart, and mentioned the irony of how difficult he found it signing a death warrant when he found it so easy, years earlier, to vote to reinstate the death penalty as a state Representative.

(Ryan is a criminal – he’s now in prison himself)

Another word might have been arbitrary, but I already knew that word. Capricious I had to look up.

Since then I’ve spent more time around courtrooms and lawyers, and I’ve seen what Ryan meant.

Except it’s not just the death penalty.

Here are three stories from today, all dealing with federal courts:

1 – Famous actor gets three years in prison for failing to file tax returns.

2 – Philippines-based company caught ripping off the U.S. military’s health insurance company for $100 million has to pay the money back.

3 – Man who helped Saddam Hussein divert money from the oil-for-food program intended for starving children got caught, admitted he made a mistake, ratted on his friends and received a $300k fine and probation.

Notice the only person our federal court system intends to send to prison is a guy who didn’t pay his taxes.

I’m certainly no expert and have never taken a law class in my life. A good argument against this humble blog entry begins with, “Well, Andy, you don’t know what you are talking about,” or, “It’s more complicated than that.”

However, I am aware of a another funny word called “proportionality.”

And another one: “justice system.” Is “justice” the right word?

(For more federal government fun, see Diamond Steve Gardner’s [Gardner’s name corrected by Gardner] latest blog post here)

Teach A Kid To Fish, And They Will Fear No Worm

Kids have had enough lectures and eye-flitting from grown-ups.

What they need is somebody to take them fishing.

Us old folks don’t get, we don’t understand Hannah Montana, or how someone walks correctly with roller skates embedded in their shoes. And above all, we don’t know what it’s like to have to pass a test to prove to the government that we know how to subtract and divide.

We do know how to bait a hook. And when that nightcrawler gets wriggling, and that five-year-old’s face turns white with shock and fear, whose going to rise to the occasion?

That’s where you come in.

(That’s not even to mention what to do when a kid who has seen 1,000 dismembered bodies on television goes toe-to-toe with a flapping trout.)

This Saturday 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. is the annual Kid’s Fishing Day at the city’s Forestry Division compound located at 4398 West Belfair Valley Road (Old Belfair Hwy), west of Jarstad Park.

The fishing day isn’t hosted by Hostess, or Nintendo, or Jolt Cola (am I dating myself?) or Abercrombie & Fitch thong’s for primary schoolers, but by the wholesome Kitsap Poggie Club and the city’s Public Works & Utilities Department.

Read the city’s press release here.

Rainbow trout will be there for the angling, donated by the State Department of Fish & Wildlife. The Poggies provide fishing gear for those that do not have their own, so that cuts out your best excuse, mister.

Check out photos of Fishing Days past here.

Green Around The Collar

I found this photo here

A story about veterans being trained at Olympic College for “green collar” jobs got a letter in response, saying that the program is vague and there is no market for people with these skills.

One commenter noted, before calling it a “some smoke and mirror liberal junket,” that the only jobs that will be created are for the people overseeing the program. I know that sort of thing happens, and has happened to me. I’m a graduate of the University of Washington Department of Communications.

Here is the story, describing the move to create the curriculum for the program, which is a sort of Civilian Conservation Corps for Iraq and Afghanistan vets.

As for the job market, here is a story I saw recently describing what these jobs are, which goes into greater depth and might answer questions about the viability of a program tagged with a buzzword like “green collar.”

I’m annoyed by buzzwords too, but just because something has an annoying name, like Andy Binion, doesn’t mean it’s entirely useless.

Also, as this article points out, the “green” movement has its share of charlatans. Think you’re doing somebody a favor by picking the product with the “green” label? You are. Although it might not be the person you want to help.

Art Is Long, Tempers Are Short

I found this picture here

If the comments after this Kitsap Sun story are representative of the community’s opinion of public art, then the two new sculptures in front of the police station are in danger of being sold for scrap metal and shipped to China.

Of 14 comments (as of 6 p.m.), two readers defended the pieces, and one veered way off-topic and blamed the former Republican Congress and President Bush for the country’s problems. But it wasn’t just the pro-camp that veered off topic. Some in the anti-art crowd suggested that the city money would be better spent to retain county employees and to fix state roads.

(It should be pointed out, again, that this is money from construction projects paid for by the city, and the city, county and state and separate political entities. Within the city there isn’t one pot of money that can be divvied up and sent to whatever project the loudest voice requests. And, also, the police department was involved in designing the pieces.)

Comments seem to be saying: public art is OK as long as 1) the public doesn’t have to pay for it and 2) it is appreciated by members of the public most likely to complain on newspaper Web sites.

Here are some choice cuts:

Posted by seattlermc on April 17, 2008 at 12:20 p.m.
Donate the art but don’t make me, the tax payer, fund it when we have to lay our county employees off the job to make ends meet. It just doesn’t make any sense. But then again something like this statutory requirement most likely keeps those who are in favor of the spending in the life style they can enjoy – me the tax payer, well, I’ll continue to go to my JOB and earn my money doing my JOB so I can pay taxes so someone without a real JOB can create the “public art” I have to pay for.

Posted by Jason1 on April 17, 2008 at 10:49 a.m.
Take that 1% and put it towards making the jails larger or actually fixing our roads/infrastructure. This is complete BS.

Posted by cya247 on April 17, 2008 at 10:48 a.m.
Look at police chief’s face in the photo. He’s drawing a blank. This is absurd.

Posted by berry on April 17, 2008 at 8:24 a.m.
… hungry babies can have their minds taken off how starving they are, by gazing at their reflections in the artwork. Public safety money should be spent on public safety; sidewalks, lighting, maintenance of vehicles, etc. Art is nice, but not necessary.

Here is the one defense of the pieces that stayed on topic:

Posted by rgdimages on April 17, 2008 at 10:42 a.m.
Public art is a small expense, and adds hope and character to the community.

People who complained about public money being spent in such a way are “uneducated and unappreciative,” this commenter wrote, which further infuriated the anti-public art people.

One unintentionally amusing post pulled this classic playground move:

Posted by ceakins on April 17, 2008 at 4:45 p.m.
rgdimages I’ll let my boss know I’m uneducated when I start my next software dev project.

Fine, but whatever you do, don’t tell your boss that you are reading at work.

City Council Extravaganza

Photo credit

The Bremerton City Council approved three contentious measures at its Wednesday night meeting.

The measures include giving a thumb’s up to naming the new Tacoma Narrows Bridge after a late state senator, moving to bring the force of state law on a notorious apartment building and renewing a contract with Diamond parking to enforce the rules at the Harborside.

The council approved a resolution asking the state Transportation Commission to name the eastbound span of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge after Sen. Bob Oke, R-Gig Harbor. Oke is credited with tirelessly fighting to have the bridge capacity doubled.
After a number of people spoke in favor of the measure, including Chet Simpson of Bremerton who said he thanks Oke every time he passes the bridge, the council voted 6-1 to approve the measure. Councilman Cecil McConnell said he liked Oke but wouldn’t support anyone who had supported a statewide measure to raise taxes to pay for transportation projects. Councilman Roy Runyon abstained, but said in his comments that the council was an inappropriate place to consider the idea.
Councilman Adam Brockus said he had been approached by both supporters of naming the bridge after Oke, and opponents. He said opponents were generally against the idea because Oke had voted against adding gays to the state anti-discrimation law. Brockus said the issue was about the bridge, and supported naming it after Oke. Council President Will Maupin was absent. In his place Councilwoman Dianne Robinson conducted the meeting.

As part of its consent agenda, the council approved a measure to begin litigating the owner of an apartment building known for drug activity, a stone’s throw from the police department. City Attorney Roger Lubovich said in a period of about two years the 12-unit apartment building on the 1200 block of Gregory Way using a state law meant to reign in properties used for unsavory activities.
Lubovich said the building had about 200 calls for police service in about two years. The city has never used the state law to shut down a property, Lubovich said. He noted, however, that the city has started the proceedings, just it never had to go all the way through court. If a judge agrees with the city, the property could be shuttered for a year.
Lubovich also noted that some of the residence are “innocent victims” and could be displaced by the action. He said assistance would be put into place before, and if, the building is shut down.
(On a side note, when I came to Bremerton last year I asked a veteran police officer for a recommendation on an apartment. The piece of advice he offered was to stay away from this building. Funny how things work out.)
The consent agenda was approved without opposition, so it might be a stretch to call it “contentious.” However, it was added to the agenda following an executive session, which means members of the public ( i.e., usually just yours truly) are required to leave the room. It might not be contentious for the Council, or for me or you, but it will be for the residents and the owner.

The council also approved a contract with Diamond Parking to continue serving the Harborside garage.
Parking isn’t an issue that brings our the gentle, good-natured side of most Bremertonians. Whether one believes the rules are too strict, or not enforced adequately, or too lenient, everybody has a complaint.
One complaint, aired by Councilman Adam Brockus, is a “philosophical” disagreement over a firm getting a contract to patrol city parking lots when the company controls parking lots of its own.
However, the contract for Diamond to enforcement the law at the garage expired in July 2007. The agreement approved 7-1, with Brockus dissenting, keeps the prior contract’s rate of $4,558 per month with a few adjustments.
The city clerk’s office provided numbers that showed the city earns about $473,000 annually from revenues from the garage, not including infractions. Conversely, it pays about $55,900 for the contract.

Ms. Elliot Liked Naughty Children Best

Margaret Elliot in 1943
Photo Courtesy of the Bremerton School District
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Margaret Elliot in 1973

Margaret Elliot was a teacher and she liked naughty children best.
She liked to travel to faraway lands, like Italy. Not so faraway lands, like Mexico. And she liked to hike the woods here in Kitsap County.
She loved adventure.
“If something happens, I’ll be there.”
In 1940, when she heard Galloping Gertie was letting ‘er buck, she jumped in her car and raced from Poulsbo to the Tacoma Narrows. She wanted to watch.
“I was going to see what was what.”
When Mount St. Helens blew its top in 1980 she jumped in her car and headed toward the volcano. She was 69 years old and made it all the way to Chehalis. Ash ruined her car.
“I got down there and couldn¹t see anything.” She missed the action. But that wasn¹t the point.

“Don’t be afraid to go, just go.”

Margaret was a teacher by trade, and she tried to teach courage. “Gusto” and “spunk” are two words family and friends used to describe her. Until the end. She wanted to live to be 100.
Margaret died Feb. 24 at a nursing home in Tacoma. She was 97 years old. She spent 40 of those years as a teacher in Kitsap County, most in Bremerton, and 29 years at the Manette School in Bremerton, retiring in 1973.
If you said the words “Manette School” in Margaret’s presence she answered like you asked a question: “The best school in Bremerton.”
She was also a Camp Fire Girls and Girl Scouts volunteer, a camp counselor. When she wasn¹t teaching the children of Bremerton to be fearless, she taught girls about adventure.
And if she wasn’t teaching it, she was doing it.
She had a thousand children, as she liked to say, although she never married or had any of her own. She always wanted to be a teacher. As a girl she used her dolls as pupils and made believe she was standing in front of a classroom.

“I¹d like to do it again.”

Her voice was ravaged by 17 presidential administrations worth of stories and conversations and laughter and awkward silences and possibly curses – she was a perfect lady when we met.
“My voice is crazy.”
She didn¹t apologize for her voice. She didn¹t waste that breath, and she had more than most will ever have.
She had a pain in her side that made her wince and ask for help. Her vision and hearing had dulled. She couldn¹t remember the details of her stories.
But even as her body and mind faded and the things she cherished in life drifted farther away, people were drawn to her. She inspired a nurse with her optimism. She fascinated a chaplain. A newspaper reporter who met her once keeps her photograph by his computer.

Margaret had regrets, at least one that lived with her until she died, not two weeks after we met.
Those who knew her at the end, her nurse, her niece, said she talked of a little girl that Margaret had flunked. The only one in her career. The girl had cried.
Margaret couldn’t recall the details. Why did she flunk the girl? When? That part was gone, even the girl¹s name. All that remained was the fact and her sorrow.
“You don¹t know, Margaret, you might have made a positive change in that girl’s life,” her niece said.
Margaret paused, but didn’t blink. “I still feel so sad that I did. I don’t think it’s right.”
She also regretted not going to China and India.

Siblings passed through her classroom, one after the other. She had students who were the children of former students. Her career started in a one-room rural school house and ended at Navy Yard City school. She outlived many of her students.
“She’s from another time,” friends said of her. Not that she was an anachronism; she was a traveler.
It felt like sometimes she knew half of Kitsap County. Or at least half the county knew her.
“Every time I turned around there was somebody I knew. They say ‘hello’ and I have to try to remember their name.”

She liked opera, the symphony, and ballet, attended all the concerts she could. She supported Hillary Clinton, “She’s a good one. She knows how to think.” When the new Tacoma Narrows Bridge was built she took a trip across.

She also liked watching her kids.
“Fourth-grade romances were fun to watch,” she said.
She liked the naughty children best, the rebels and class clowns. She shared their sense of adventure.
“They knew how to think.”
Like the naughty children, Margaret didn’t always do what people expected.
She was engaged to a young man, who was so committed he even started building their house, but Margaret backed out. It was her mother-in-law-to-be that botched the deal. She had a character flaw that
Margaret couldn¹t abide.
“That was our problem,” she said of the young man’s mother. “Too bossy.”
Margaret grew up in South Kitsap. Her father, Lon, was a rural letter carrier, and drafted and sold maps of the area. She graduated from Kitsap High School in 1929 and went on to Pacific Lutheran College (now University) and the University of Washington.

Her big break came in June, 1932, when she landed her first job in a one-room school house six miles south of Port Orchard, the Wildwood School, (“12 kids – one problem boy”) where she was paid $95 a month and an extra $5 for tending the fire and being janitor. She swept the floor with sawdust and oil. For a restroom they had an outhouse. For toilet paper they had catalogs. Many kids had to walk as much as three miles through the woods to get to her class.

Here are some choice excerpts from Margaret’s diary during her first years as a teacher.

Sept. 12, 1932 – Another busy day. Robert said we should say “haint” instead of “ain’t.” Had to untangle cow’s head from swings.

Sept. 13, 1933 – May caught her leg in the seat and couldn’t get it out. Had to unscrew the seat.

Sept. 14, 1933 – May had to wear raincoat in school because Jimmy spilled ink on her dress. I washed it out.

She spent seven years teaching primary grades at Pleasant Ridge school in the Poulsbo district, where many children spoke Finnish at home. She lived upstairs in the school house. “Every spring we would hear a lively chorus of frogs,” she wrote in a memoir. “At the beginning of Spring the frogs had high shrill voices which deepened as the season passed.”

Then she started at Manette, teaching fourth grade.

“The next school for me was the Old Manette School in Bremerton. It was so crowded in 1943 that for half a year I taught in the basement of the old Manette Community Church. There was just a thin plywood wall between my 4th grade and a kindergarten class, with a squally kindergarten child. My desk was a shaky old library table which collapsed before the year was over and an old bookcase which had to be propped up. I thought I was in a palace when we moved to the old Mantte building. There we enjoyed the most beautiful view of the Olympics and the bay. The lunchroom in Manette was in the basement. Laura Newburn was the cook. The food was delicious. It was a tiny room way in the back. She cooked and we all ate in the tiny room. On rainy days the basement was a crowded, noisy place.”

I asked why she retired. She couldn’t remember why. After ending her career, she saw the world. She traveled around the country and went to Japan and Europe. She preferred going by train and ship.

For all her travels, she remembered working with children the best.

There was a chubby girl at camp near Port Blakely on Bainbridge Island, “Where all the rich people are now,” who didn’t want to go hiking. This was not something Margaret could understand.
She talked to the girl and learned that she had never owned a new pair of shoes. Her feet had sores on them, and hurt. It broke her heart.
Margaret believed in camp. For many children, it was the first time they slept in a bed by themselves, or were taught table manners.
Margaret bought the girl a pair of shoes that fit, and they went for a walk in the woods.

She had something to say to students: “Don’t be afraid to meet new people.”
To teachers: “Love the children and be happy you are doing it.”