All posts by David Nelson

About David Nelson

Editor-in-Chief of the Kitsap Sun.

Election ’09: Vote Dude

We do not roll on shabbas. But we may watch movies on the roof.

No, not “Vote, Dude,” but vote for the Dude. As in, Lebowski.

Today Gardner announced that over the weekend he watched ‘The Big Lebowski,’ the Sun newsroom’s clear sentimental favorite for Bremerton’s Choice in the ongoing Movies on the Roof series downtown*. He wasn’t overly impressed, but the conventional wisdom here (and well, everywhere, as evidenced in Seattle RIGHT NOW) is that the movie grows on you. So Steve needs to watch it again, we’ve surmised. And preferably in the company of many others, and outdoors. So vote here, and give him the chance on Aug. 7 with all of us peer-pressuring and laughing at the right parts.

Since that’s a pretty soft push for a guerilla campaign to get Lebowski elected,  please quote the movie ad naseum in the comments and picque Steve’s curiousity. Lately he’s been very un-dude.

— David Nelson

*Last Friday was the first movie of the series on the old JC Penny’s roof, ‘Groundhog Day.’ I didn’t go, because I really, really don’t like Groundhog Day (other than that clever little ‘Needlenose Ned, Ned the Head’ bit near the beginning, which is kind of funny and quotable). The movie drove ‘I’ve Got You Babe’ into my head, which I’m sure was the annoying point, and I’ve always though they took a good premise and crushed it with a cliched ending. But I always was, and remained despite ‘Groundhog Day,’ a huge Bill Murray fan. So here’s the point: I was once at a Chicago Cubs baseball game at a packed Wrigley Field, with a standing room only ticket. In the 7th inning they have a celebrity sing ‘Take Me Out to the Ballgame,’ at least that was the tradition after Harry Carey died. I didn’t know who was singing that night because I was stuck squatting on a 100-level ramp on the third baseline, just to get a decent view of the game. It so happens that the particular ramp was how one got to the press box. So everyone erupts after ‘Take Me Out to the Ballgame’ ends, but I’m more concerned about stretching my legs and don’t pay attention. Until a guy starts weaving down the ramp toward me, rum and Coke in hand and wearing a Cubs hat cocked to the side. It’s Murray, and I realize he just finished the song. He looks tanked, but I managed to get my hand out when he’s a few steps away and say ‘Nice job Bill.’ It’s just the two of us in the aisle, he switches the cocktail to his left hand and shakes mine with the right, smiles and nods and he’s gone. My simple, timely, beautiful and brief meeting with Bill Murray. So I got that going for me.

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

The Boardwalk Beckons

We won't be pushed around. Photo courtesy
We won't be pushed around. Photo courtesy

No, Seattle Daily Weekly, this city will not be goaded into a tussle this afternoon. Not on an 80-degree day, not with two hot dogs stands fully up and operational near the PSNS gate, not with the city’s boys in blue busy reminding a pesky business that the sex trade is no longer tolerated on Callow.

There’s more to life, my friends. That and we’ve already scratched that itch a few times this year.

There’s also the fact that whomever of our six candidates emerges from the mayoral scrum this November will have a potential battle already in line: the boardwalk extension to Evergreen-Rotary Park.

Bozeman departs today, with the boardwalk still mapped on the city’s renderings of future Bremerton and some cash for preliminary studies still in our collective wallet. What he leaves without, however, is the Suquamish Tribe’s blessing. Last October Chris Dunagan covered the latest developments, in which a city analysis showed that the boardwalk would allow for a sewer replacement project. Not much traction since, however, leaving something for whoever takes over the corner office.

Our editorial board had hizzoner in Wednesday for a parting shot, and to hear about his plans for the new gig with the Port of Bremerton. So we asked about what’s to become of the boardwalk plan.

Bozeman says it’s a 50/50 shot at this point. He doesn’t see it as a money issue, but a question over what environmental precedent the boardwalk would set for the Tribe. If Bremerton gets its way on this one, what of every other request city to build along Puget Sound shorelines?

He did hint at a feeling this will be a campaign issue. Whether the candidates make it a platform or not, I’m sure it’s a question we’ll raise during election coverage. The boardwalk, after all, is the one public project that hasn’t been done as other revitalization projects wrap up, and it’ll be interesting to see where that ranks on each candidate’s agenda.

What about you? How important is the boardwalk? Are you willing to pay for it? Or do you just more to read more cheap shots across the water?

— David Nelson

Heads Up if You’re Headed Downtown

People, boats and cars have crowded into downtown Bremerton this morning for the Harbor Festival — good thing.

You trying to catch a ferry in the midst — bad thing.

I just got stuck in a back up on Washington from Burwell to Sixth, where cars detoured by a car show are stacking up on their way to the terminal. Pacific is closed from Sixth down to Burwell, and Fourth and Fifth streets are more or less closed at Park.

For drivers headed to the terminal it’s a mess. I can’t imagine the 11:25 left on time, so if you’re planning on driving on to the 12:45 or 3, I’d suggest an early start. (Or, like I did, ride your bicycle in. But I’d recommend that regardless.)

Then again, with all that’s happening down there on a sunny afternoon, not a bad day to skip the trip across the water entirely. I’m going to go have a look around now, it’s pretty full down here.

— David Nelson

A Look Inside the Westsound Takeover?

What a week in Bremerton. News, news, news; Apparently someone left the back door to the city open. No confirmation yet on whether the Armed Forces Day Parade has moved to Port Orchard.

One thing that is staying: the Bremerton farmer’s market. Tomorrow afternoon at 4 is the season opener, down at Evergreen-Rotary Park. If a seamless, sunny start to the outdoor shopping season is the top story in the city for Thursday, it’ll be a nice break from the recent flow out of the news hose. At least for a day, then we’re back to craving six-column headlines.

In the rush since Friday, there has been something I’ve been meaning to pass along. We were prepped for the Westsound Bank seizure last week, as our fleet of Sun tipsters kept hinting that something was going down. Of course, given the bank’s recent dealings with potential litigants and SEC investigators, rumors of something awry on the way could have meant anything.

I kept telling people here about a 60 Minutes video I had seen earlier this year. When community banks began to fail a few months ago, the FDIC let those reporters ride along on a seizure. It would always happen on a Friday, and very clandestinely — or exactly as our sources were hinting toward with Westsound. I have no idea if this is the same way things happened at Pacific and Sixth Friday afternoon, but there are some similarities between the video and what Kitsap Bank President Jim Carmichael told us Monday afternoon.

So here’s the link (or, a link to the link, I suppose). The video is long, but an interesting look at how you sweep a bank out of town.

Now, how about the rain following some of these civic leaders out of town?

— David Nelson

Want Attention? (Part II) Get the Bloggers On Board

Following up here on Gardner’s post about the Cary Bozeman vs. the Seattle waterfront prize fight that Knute Berger of wrote yesterday.

We’re back because, well, Crosscut contributors apparently haven’t had enough. This time a Highland Community College professor returns Berger’s volley, pointing out that maybe we Northwesterners should suck it up and live with our industrial, productive, and, yes, ugly waterfronts that help drive the economy more than a row of Hawaiian Shaved Ice and Ye Old Curiousity Shops would. He doesn’t point it out, but Bremerton’s waterfront, the one that kind of started this whole thing, still promotes it’s relationship with the city’s major industry fairly prominently.

Wherever you fall on the debate, and it is a decent exercise in urban planning, you’ve got to give Bozeman credit for igniting what apparently has become the Tastes Great/Less Filling debate of late April 2009.

Moving on, one of the Crosscut readers on Berger’s piece argues that the mayor was merely riding coattail on the condo, marina and tunnel projects, and his only real contribution downtown was two parks. If watching government teaches us anything it’s that two — and quite often three or four — are needed to tango in the redevelopment biz, so I’d question that the city played no role in securing those projects, even if the funds come from elsewhere.

But the point is, those parks have come to pass. (Here’s where the “news” in this post comes in.) Yesterday Sylvia Klatman with the Greater Bremerton Chamber of Commerce, the organization that hosts the Armed Forces Day Festival, told me they’re planning for the annual heroes barbeque to take place at the Pacific and Burwell plaza still under construction. I raised my eyebrows, seeing how the intersection at Pacific was just torn apart again Wednesday (note that, weekend ferry commuters).

But she said she’s been told construction will be done in the two weeks until the festival, and the city would be ready to dedicate the park. Before I could get a call in to Gary Sexton today to check, this arrived in my mail from the city:


So there you have it, on the Post Office’s record. I’m guessing the trees won’t be quite as mature as this drawing, nor the shipyard as subtlety monolithic as the architects imagine, but the park is scheduled to be done. Our last report had the tunnel opening no later than mid-June, so maybe this will all be ready for summer.

And then maybe Crosscut will have something else to write about.

— David Nelson

A Different Kind of Support for Bremerton Artists

Mike Shepherd emailed me this week with an announcement worth sharing. This coming Sunday, at the Friends of Eagles on Washington and Sixth, a group of friends will get together in support of an artist that’s been giving to Bremerton for the past two years.

She’s Rose Smith, founder of the Artists for Freedom and Unity Hall on Callow, which we wrote about two years ago when it opened. Well, it’s still there, still giving Bremerton bands and artists a place to perform and show, and from what I understand Rose deserves credit for fostering that community. Now some of her friends and other artists are doing something to help her out. There’s also a benefit on May 8 at AFU. Here’s the announcement with the details for this weekend:

Rose Smith is a gifted and established local artist who has done a lot to further the Kitsap art community. She and her family have made a point of working with younger artists who often lack a nurturing venue. Rose and her son Gabriel Lee worked tirelessly to establish the Artists for Freedom and Unity all ages music venue and art gallery in Bremerton. Rose has been instrumental curating and promoting art events at the Westside Burrito Connection and Metropolis, the Gallery. Now Rose has been diagnosed with cancer, and is undergoing both chemo- and radiation therapy. Money is in short supply. We urge Rose’s friends and supporters to join us for a fund-raising spaghetti feed  and art sale on Sunday, April 26th, 2009, at the Bremerton Eagles Aerie #192 (located at 205 6th Street) between noon and 3 pm. Donations will be accepted and appreciated. We are also hoping to have donations of art and baked goods for sale at this event.  Please contribute whatever you can, have a plate of spaghetti, and enjoy some good music and pleasant companionship.
If you would like to contribute art work or baked goods for sale or want to help us cook & serve food please contact Pat Cooper at or Jane Rebelowski at

I did a quick archive search on Rose and found something I thought worth sharing. Below is a letter from September 2001 published in the Sun, before the mayoral election that year. I won’t make this political, since Shepherd is running for mayor now, and the letter doesn’t indicate whether she was supporting Cary Bozeman or Louis Mentor, the two final candidates that year. It’s just an interesting twist on a letter to the editor, and doubtless from an artist’s mind.

— David Nelson

To the Editor:
Who, Who?
Who wants in for just the perks?
Who’s a power junkie?
Who’s a fat cat paid off jerk?
Who’s somebody’s flunkie?
Who has no experience?
Who’s a grinning player?
Who is gonna raise our rents?
Who should be our mayor?
Signs abound in every street,
Every nook and cranny.
Hands are out to meet and greet,
Who will save our fanny?
Please remember you must vote,
Think about the issues.
I’ve been here for 12 long years,
I’m running out of tissues.

Rose Smith