Get Up, Get Into It, Get Involved, Bremerton

Dozens of Bremerton residents discovered Thursday night that they have a city council and can attend the meetings for free.

Although, I should warn you, most meetings aren’t as interesting as last night’s.

The issue to be considered was whether the city should forcibly buy 40 feet of First Street, which probably meant knocking down the existing buildings.

Which probably meant the South Pacific Bar and Grill would come down. The owners fought the idea, and won.

Read the story here.

In doing so, they enlisted the help of fellow residents who showed up and exercised their rights to address their government.

There was the heckling of Mayor Cary Bozeman and there was even cake.

The heckling wasn’t bad, but heckling is never good. Bremerton police officers showed up to make sure the crowd of about 60 remained peaceful. The cake looked delicious.

The end of the meeting got a little tense, and Councilman Mike Shepherd looked exasperated at the parliamentary maneuvers the minority was attempting. The moves would have prevented the council from taking a vote on the measure when it became clear that the majority was siding with the South Pacific.

Some members of the audience also got a little exasperated by the process. I’ve spent the last six years going to meetings like this, be them city council or state Legislature, so I forget how odd it can appear at first.

For those who would like to learn more about their city, and perhaps attend some meetings to watch those who govern you, here are a few links that might be helpful:

This is the link to the council’s Web page. On it you will not only find meeting dates and times, but agendas and packets. A good idea is to review the agenda and read through the packet each week and decide if the council is going to consider something of importance to you.

Council meetings are also shown on public access television. Here is the link to the BKAT schedule. The bad part about watching the meetings on television is you can’t talk to the council. The good part is that you can scream at your television and use swear words.

Council meetings run according to the rules, Robert’s Rules of Order. It’s a powerfully boring book, but vital for a functioning democracy. It may seem tedious, and overly formal in 2008, but it ensures fairness.

As James Brown said, “Get up, get into it, get involved.”

If you do, I’ll see you there.

9 thoughts on “Get Up, Get Into It, Get Involved, Bremerton

  1. “…The heckling wasn’t bad, but heckling is never good. Bremerton police officers showed up to make sure the crowd of about 60 remained peaceful. The cake looked delicious….”

    Lemon cake?
    Strange meeting if heckling was going on …but why were children allowed in to heckle? For the cake?

    For the mayors protection and the protection of anyone who disagrees with the unruly…these meetings should be online …
    In my opinion… Sharon O’Hara

  2. What! children in a city council meeting? Where is our decency, where are our values? Who will step forward and protect our little ones from being forced to see the horrors of city government, democracy, and the actions of concerned citizens being played out right in front of them. Why the next thing you know, they will start to believe in radical ideas such as free speech, the right to representative government and dare I say it, they even may want to vote someday! Oh for the good old days of kings and taxation without representation. sigh….

  3. Protect the mayor? Are you serious? Elected officials need to face the citizens for every good and bad idea they try to move forward. Maybe when Silverdale incorporates you can float that idea Sharon, as for Bremerton the citizen who live here still believe in free speech and a representative government. There is a rumor going on in Bremerton that you are Bozeman. Any truth to that rumor?

  4. Are you saying you are against on-line meetings, Jane…that you don’t want all the citizens to comment and give their ideas…that only yours counts?
    Some citizens are physically challenged and unable to make such meetings in person …why do you not want their input? Shouldn’t ALL of Bremerton citizens be allowed to comment or only you?

    ON-line or phone conference meetings have been going on for years in other parts of the country and world. And now you know.
    The on-line meetings aren’t blocking the folks who can be there in person – they broaden the scope of input. Something you apparently don’t want.

    What is the problem for you of on-line or phone conference meetings when you can be there in person? Not everyone is so fortunate.
    Sharon O’Hara

  5. Ladies…it can be both. I attend a certain number of meetings in person as my schedule allows. I also enjoy being able to log in and watch Steven or whoever, do a live blog from a meeting I am either physically or timewise unable to attend in person.

    Jane, Sharon is NOT Mayor Bozeman. No truth in that rumor at all. Sharon is a very real participating member of our community who just happens to agree with the mayor a little more frequently than the rest of us:)

  6. Written testimony can be given to Legislative Committee staff for distribution on a relevant agenda item when one cannot physically attend a meeting. It should be replicated locally wherever possible.

  7. An argument against online meetings is that many people do not own computers. Many of those that do own computers are uncomforable operating them. What’s the famous quote – something about not being able to please everyone?:-)

  8. The ‘not pleasing everyone’ isn’t about ‘pleasing’….it is about getting input from the public…if the comments are really wanted.

    Actually in some cases it may be preferable to make the decisions and if anyone complains come back with a ‘well, public, you had your chance and didn’t show up at a meeting…too bad”- we’re doing it our way.

    Meetings would double, triple attendance if the meetings were online and the physically challenged had the opportunity to give their opinion too.

    Those folks without computers simply go to the closest library and the librarians will be happy to help get them hooked up.

    The folks with computers but uncomfortable using them will get assistance and learn to get comfortable if wanting their voice heard is important to them.

    How does anyone learn other than to begin? I have given written ‘statements’ but how do we know they are read.

    Steven has shown how simple it is to be a part of a meeting by computer and phone conference calls are easy too.

    Those who want to be part of the decision process have the right – should have the right – to let their voices be heard using today’s technology….computers and phones.
    Why not?
    Sharon O’Hara

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