Monthly Archives: June 2009

More On Bremerton’s Red-Light Cameras

It happens in the news biz. You’re working on a story and tell your editor it might be a little long, only to receive the wince/sigh combo that only means one thing. “Space is tight in tomorrow’s paper.”

I had a conversation with Bremerton attorney Stan Glisson, who made a few points that I I thought people might be interested in. The Interwebs have unlimited space, so I’ll write them here.

I called Glisson because he’d written a letter a while back defending Municpal Court Judge Jame Docter, and the way the tickets are adjudicated in court. That said, he’s not a fan of the camera systems.

Glisson isn’t involved in the lawsuit over the traffic cameras, but he isn’t surprised to see some legal action.

“The frustration level people have is very high,” he said.

He researched the law himself a couple months ago after getting a ticket in the mail. He received the ticket a couple of weeks after it caught his car driving through the intersection. We’ve reported before that some people get out of the tickets by testifying in court – under threat of perjury – that they weren’t driving the car, it was someone else.

Obviously this can happen with a family member, friend, etc. borrowing the car. But the delay between the alleged violation and the ticket in the mail can lead to doubt about whether you were in the car or not, Glisson said.

Can you remember what you were doing two weeks ago?

So while you have the option to contest the ticket that way, “an honest person won’t do that if they aren’t sure,” he said.

While he isn’t a fan of the cameras, his opinion is that the city is interpreting the RCW legally when it set the costs of the red-light cameras within the rates for parking tickets. Red-light tickets are $124, the priciest parking ticket is $250.

“That’s why I believe Bremerton is safe in this class action,” he said.

In addition, I got a PowerPoint file from Bremerton finance director Andy Parks that he’d shown the council. I’ve attached it here (now as a PDF so it’s easier for more people to read.)

Download it by clicking here.

Bremerton Ferry Tickets, Con’t.

I’m a day later than I’d hoped in posting this, since the letter below was published Tuesday. But if you don’t mind some day-old commentary on an issue our commentors seem to love, here you are. As a token to ask any good Bremerton reader’s forgiveness with, here’s a cool old photo of 4th Street our Web Editor, Angela Dice, found this week.

One thing I like about newspapers is that they published viewpoints critical of themselves. How many other industries do that? The trucking company makes it real obvious that you to call an 800 number to complain about bad driving, but that’s as close to announcing fault as I can think of off the top of my head.

There just aren’t many that allow customers that kind of ability to point out shortcomings, and my guess is publishing such criticism isn’t taught at most business schools. But like many unique quirks that make the news industry run slightly different from other private enterprise, it’s also endearing in a way. (At least until the anonymous commentors join in the boot party.)

We don’t only do it to stand by our mission of openness and community dialogue, though that’s a big part of the practice. If we can dish it out, we should be able to take it. But criticism is also helpful in bringing up a range of ideas when done fairly — like in Petra Hellthaler’s letter to the editor in response to Ed Friedrich’s story on ferry tickets (which was, incidentally, prompted by another letter to the editor). She brings up a few points that didn’t make the cut as Ed reported on the question he posed to WSF officials.

I liked two things Petra brought up for discussion:
1.) Do Bainbridge customers ever get Bremerton tickets?
2.) Did the Bremerton ridership increase she references coincide with self-serve kiosks being installed at Colman Dock?

My take, if I’m understanding her points correctly, from what we talked about in editing the story:
1.) Probably, and Bainbridge riders probably don’t notice or say anything about it. WSF says they hear the complaint less than a dozen times a year; in my time at the Sun I’d guess it comes up once every three or four months in a letter or call from a reader. So it’s not all that often, even on the Bremerton route. What seems to be driving the complaint is the perception among Bremerton riders (and I am one myself) that they get shortchanged. So, I’d reason, Bremerton riders are far more likely to check the destination on the ticket. Also, the higher percentage of cars going through requesting Bainbridge tickets make it statistically more likely that the ticket agent is going to pass a Bainbridge ticket to a Bremerton passenger than vice-versa. I’m not saying that’s right, just what the odds would be.
2.) Maybe, but the incorrect tickets are given to drivers, not walk ons. So that wouldn’t be a factor. Also, I’m pretty sure walk-on passengers are hand-counted by a WSF employee at the end of the gangway. I don’t know which count is used in compiling ridership numbers, but there would, at least it appears, to be two sources of data.

I still like the idea pitched in the comments section from the original story, which suggests WSF should come up with a secondary counting mechanism like an air hose. Seems really reasonable. Also, here’s my favorite common sense solution, again from a letter.

One other ferry note for today: In Friedrich’s story on the Bremerton tunnel completion, he reports that a decision on allowing (or, not allowing, rather) right-hand turns onto Washington Avenue from the terminal. The state DOT, after first saying it was an idea, then to a temporary plan, is now saying it’s a done deal. We editorialized about this a few weeks ago, saying DOT was being heavy handed in mandating the traffic pattern. To now do away with the “trial period” that was earlier announced, well, I’d say our stance is justified.

— David Nelson

The Brotherhood of Bruce

I ran into my friend Bruce Roe on the ferry yesterday. Bruce, head of our own Whisker Club and the guy who brought the World Beard and Mustache Championship to Bremerton last summer, has a part-time job ushering at SafeCo Field and was on his way to the Mariners’ Father’s Day matinee.

If you’ve seen Bruce around town, you’ve probably taken a second glance. When the moustache wax is in he’s hard to miss:


And, from what he told me, even in his work get-up he stands out to some.

The Arizona Diamondbacks were playing the M’s this weekend, and before Friday night’s series opener Roe was going about his business on the 100 level. Six Diamondbacks warming up along the first base line saw him, and started yelling to get his attention.

Why all the interest in an usher? The guys wanted Bruce to meet their teammate, Clay Zavada. Zavada is a relief pitcher for the D-Backs. He’s also, style-wise, the heir apparent to Rollie Fingers.

Bruce walked down to the field, tickled at the young major leaguer’s interest in the mustache arts. He gave Zavada a Whisker Club business card, and a standing invitation to join the Bremerton branch for a meeting at the Airport Diner.

But he may want to wait to offering any sort of spokesman gig to the young right-hander — Zavada gave up an 8th inning run to the M’s and took the loss Sunday.


— David Nelson

Bremerton is the Next…


Add it in the comments below if I’ve missed one, but we’ve been told Bremerton could be: Bellevue, Bellingham, Green Lake, Fremont and, repeatedly, Sausalito* (Google that one yourself for links, they’re aplenty).

Finding a city to benchmark one’s future against is nothing new in politics or urban planning, so I’m not picking on anyone who’s suggested Bremerton’s  match. You could find worse comparisons. But if revitalization is focused on attracting folks who want the glitzy comparison city, there’s also some town along that way that no one wants to be like, and who isn’t going to get a Whole Foods.

At least right now, those cities are Youngstown, Ohio, or Detroit, or any Rust Belt burg dying along with the stumble of post-war industry. That’s at least what this post from the Economix blog on the New York Times discusses, along with the suggestion that government should spend time and money on something other than building population. Kind of reminds me of an argument in a certain city on Sinclair Inlet with a new tunnel and subarea plan. Here’s the excerpt that got me thinking:

“After all, the job of government is to enrich and empower the lives of its citizens, not to chase the chimera of population growth targets. Just once, I want to hear a Rust Belt mayor say with pride ‘my city lost 200,000 people during my term, but we’ve given them the education they need to find a better life elsewhere.'”

I’m not saying Bremerton is dying (or that any of it should be bulldozed as a solution), I think that already happened to an extent when downtown up and left (and there already have been bulldozers in Westpark recently). Nor do I mean to say our city shouldn’t attract folks who sustain the economy and add to the local quality of life — after all, new degrees at Olympic College or continued hiring at the shipyard should make that inevitable. I’m not even saying I agree with the statement. But it’s an interesting way to look at what’s going on.

The blog post hints that the mantra “growth is always good” may not fit quite so nicely into our country’s mainframe anymore. Cities may have an optimum size that’s smaller than what a mayor promised upon election, or a vision that’s appropriate to a city’s demographic makeup. Maybe those questions should play a part in this city’s planning.

I wouldn’t be surprised if this, or something along these lines, comes up during the mayoral campaign. A few weeks ago Mike Shepherd said something to me about putting the city’s youth at the top of his platform. That’s nothing new from a politician either, but maybe a more important consideration given the circumstances this time around. You need good families to come into a neighborhood to support schools, for example, but maybe there already are good families that need a little encouragement. I know I’ve always been taught that ya dance with who brought ya.

The next Bremerton? Maybe it’s Bremerton.

*Gardner is on vacation right now. Driving through Northern California. With a day to spare and some time to take a ferry ride to a seaport that could compare… ah, I’ve said too much already.

— David Nelson

Bremerton Breakfast Blues

After hearing a rumor that August Wynn in Manette had closed, I walked over to check. Sure enough, black plastic covers the windows and doors this afternoon and no one was around the renovated Perry Avenue garage. Also, the August Wynn website has been taken down, and I know they had cut dinner service a few weeks ago.

Losing the neighborhood eatery would mark the second closure in as many weeks for a fledgling small business regarded in the Bremerton food culture. Luigi’s Bakery on 15th Street also is no more, after the untimely death of baker Luigi Ferrari on May 22.

My weekend mornings usually included one or both of those places, so I’m sorry to hear the news, especially considering the circumstances surrounding Ferrari.

Breakfast at AW was a treat, and you could say the same for every loaf, roll or pastry that came from Luigi’s oven. Both seemed the offer the quality and friendly service that captured a core following, traits of any good local businesses. But running a small restaurant or bakery is tough, no doubt, and closures are unfortunately common enough that it isn’t big news, no matter how skilled owners may be at their crafts.

Despite that failure rate, it’s also a profession that seems to have an unending supply of hope. We’ll see new places again, and hopefully something in those storefronts someday. And I’d be remiss to not point out some successes (or at least potential successes) in the breakfast game right now.

In Manette The Patio, just off the bridge at 11th Street, celebrated its first anniversary recently and is keepin’ on serving that neighborhood’s brunch crowd. And downtown Bremerton has a new breakfast (and lunch/dinner) spot with the Coffee Club, just open in May in the Park Avenue Diner’s greasy vacated digs at Fifth Street. (It’s less greasy now, though that may not suit all tastes.) And the reigning champ of freaky breakfasts, the 15th Street Hi-Lo Cafe, now has a VW bus dressed up so you can sit in it and enjoy your Moon Biscuits. (And I do enjoy my Moon Biscuits.)

So, maybe this is just a reminder to cherish your favorite little spot, or to help keep the local guys alive. And for the closures, well, you natives have two new additions to the Bremerton parlor game ‘This place used to be …’

— David Nelson

Expect Packed Council Meeting on Manette

The Bremerton City Council will consider approving a plan for the Manette neighborhood Wednesday night, a meeting that is bound to be unusually crowded.

Residents are gathering strength to argue that the Bremerton Planning Commission’s decision to choose something different from what they worked months to create is unacceptable.

It’s not that they love the plan they came up with in a process led by the city, but they prefer it to zoning that would allow a 20,000-square-foot footprint for a building that could go multiple stories.

The council might also decide what to do with the six-month mayor vacancy.

Bob Winters Running for City Council

The first candidate filings are posted at the county elections site and Bob Winters, former city councilman, is running for a seat on the dais again.

He last ran in the Manette council district, but now lives near Kitsap Lake. Assuming Nick Wofford runs for re-election, Winters will be at least one of his opponents. Adam Brockus is running to retain his Manette seat.

Mike Shepherd, city councilman, was first to file for Bremerton mayor.

More as it develops.