All posts by Steven Gardner

Take This, Cedar Cove

Gardner here.

I admit I’ve been going soft on Port Orchard lately and have been urged by at least one of you to improve my game. If you don’t do something like this enough, people begin to think you’re serious when you do lob a bomb. In a Twitter exchange in which some faux slogans we made up for Port Orchard, Bremerton and Poulsbo were shared, we were challenged as being a little rough. Again, it’s probably because we don’t do it enough. So, to make sure we can continue to strike when the muse appears, here’s a new offering.

Bremerton Civil Rights Pioneer Immortalized

I’m posting the press release from the Secretary of State’s office without making any “ha-ha” remarks to my good friends who live and work across the Sinclair Inlet from Bremerton. Isn’t that big of me?

This is the second Kitsap resident to be honored in this way be the state. The first was former Bremerton Sun writer Adele Ferguson.

I’m hoping to interview Ms. Walker on Monday.

`Legacy’ honors civil rights pioneer Lillian Walker

OLYMPIA – A 95-year-old Bremerton civil rights pioneer is the latest Washingtonian to have her life story told by The Legacy Project, the oral history program established in 2008 by the Office of the Secretary of State.

Lillian Walker helped found the Bremerton branch of the NAACP in 1943 and went on to serve as state NAACP secretary. She was conducting sit-ins and filing civil rights lawsuits when Martin Luther King was in Junior High.
A biography and an oral biography based on sit-down interviews, plus photos and other materials, have just been posted at

A rollout ceremony is planned for 2 p.m. on August 11 in Secretary of State Reed’s office at the Capitol, featuring remarks by Congressman Norm Dicks, Reed, chief oral historian John Hughes, and Dianne Robinson, Bremerton councilwoman and co-founder of the Kitsap County Black Historical Society. The ceremony will be televised by TVW and available on streaming video at

The Legacy Project e-publishes oral histories and biographies of Washingtonians who have been instrumental in shaping our history. The materials are published online and are free for easy click-on reading or downloading. They are excellent resources for school and college projects.

In the past nine months, The Legacy Project has offered up profiles of Charles Z. Smith, the first ethnic minority on the State Supreme Court; pioneering female journalist Adele Ferguson; rocker-turned-civic activist Krist Novoselic; former Chief Justice Robert F. Utter; and trailblazing federal judge Carolyn Dimmick, who was the first woman on the State Supreme Court.

Soon to be published are the oral histories of former first lady Nancy Bell Evans and astronaut Bonnie Dunbar. An oral history with former Governor Booth Gardner is in preparation, and a biography of the late Congresswoman Jennifer Dunn also is in the works.

“It is a real privilege for Washingtonians to learn more about the inspiring Lillian Walker story, which is emblematic of the work of so many in this state for racial equality and equal rights for all,” Reed said. “It also reminds us that the clock is ticking if we don’t want to lose the chance to preserve these stories. The Legacy Project, which is part of the planned state Heritage Center on the Capitol Campus, is hard at work, on a shoestring budget, to preserve this part of our history and our heritage.”

Mrs. Walker and her late husband, James, arrived in the Navy Yard city of Bremerton in 1941 together with thousands of other African-American wartime workers who thought they had left racism behind in the South and industrialized cities of Midwest and East. But many Kitsap County businesses, including cafes, taverns, drug stores and barber shops, displayed signs saying, “We Cater to White Trade Only.”

In a landmark case, the Walkers took a soda fountain owner to court and won. They also discovered there were “a lot of righteous white folks” in Bremerton. Sixty-five years later, the centennial year of the NAACP finds Mrs. Walker still in the trenches, “reminding people about The Golden Rule.”

She is a charter member of the YWCA of Kitsap County, former chairman of the Kitsap County Regional Library Board, a 68-year member of Ebenezer African Methodist Episcopal Church, and a founder and former president of Church Women United in Bremerton.

Lillian Walker exudes dignity, pluck and perseverance. One of 11 children born to a mixed race couple on a farm in rural Illinois, she dreamed of becoming a doctor, but she was the wrong color and the wrong gender at the wrong time in the wrong place. Still, there’s no bitterness over the fact that she and her late husband took on an assortment of part-time janitorial jobs for 40 years to make ends meet and give their kids a better life. Their son graduated from Stanford University, went on to earn a Ph.D. and is an epidemiologist for the Centers for Disease Control.

Someone once asked her, “Why are you always smiling?” “Frowning and cursing,” she replied, “that’s not going to make you any friends.”

Live Blogging the Mayor’s Debate

Yep, that’s the idea. We’re live blogging the mayor’s debate, for those of you who don’t want to come downtown to the Norm and see thing in person. Or maybe you will be at the event with your iPhone. Either way, join us at 7 p.m., assuming technology rewards our faith in it.

Notes from the Mayor’s Debate

Bremerton’s five mayoral candidates met at the Cloverleaf this morning to explain their plans and views.

It’s from these that I’ll go back and write the story, which you’ll see later.

I don’t know if providing notes will be helpful or not, or whether I’ll do it again. I happened to have it work out this time and wasn’t interrupted during the debate, so for this one here you go. If there are any swear words in here, they’re accidental. No one said any.
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A Song Dedication for 23-Year-Old Olalla Man

Man, I can relate. Here at the Bremerton Beat we love to toss jabs across the bathtub at our close, personal friends in Port Orchard and, if necessary, South Kitsap at large. Little gives us more joy than to find foibles and exploit them. Makes us feel bigger, you know?

But in this case my Harborside Condominium-sized heart goes out to the Olalla man who saw the former love of his life driving around in the ride he paid for with another guy. Man, that’s gotta hurt.

But hurtin’ is what happens in this life. Way back in 1983 and 1993 (2003 was just peachy.) I had massive stomps put on my heart. It was tough. It made me think of things I wouldn’t want anyone to know. One way I kept people from knowing some of my more awful thoughts was by not telling them. Another way was not doing them. Even in my most emotional moments, I managed to be rational. I might have wanted to yell at those women in public, or take out a particularly biting classified ad. But I didn’t. I knew that ultimately it wouldn’t help my cause.

Olalla man didn’t trust that, though. He saw his ex-girlfriend driving the Chevy Blazer he paid for with some dude from California. So he flipped a Jake (That’s a U-turn in some parts.) and followed her, scared her and caused an accident. Fortunately no one appears to have seriously been physically hurt. As for the emotional scars I have no prognosis.

For Olalla man I have a prescription for you next time you think you want to do something you’ll ultimately apologize to cops for. When that feeling in your heart runs up to your mouth and makes you want to shout random expletives at your former girlfriend, retreat. Find a music player and try to find a song that speaks your story. Feel, man, feel, like Port Orchard has to tell itself every time it compares itself with the jewel that is Bremerton. Find a half hour some time when you can listen to the song over and over, until you’re tired of it and tired of feeling bad about yourself. Dude, a song lets you know you’re not the only one forced to pick liver at the buffet table.

For me the song was “I Wish I Were Blind,” by Bruce Springsteen in the 1993 drama. Risking copyright infringement, I’ll post the video here for you. I’m sure Bruce would understand. His lawyers probably won’t, but for you I’ll take that chance.

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.

McConnell Comments on Mayor Question

For the story on the Bremerton City Council’s third option for interim mayor, we were unable to contact City Council President Cecil McConnell by press time.

The story recounts how he suggested the idea of getting himself appointed full-time mayor. He may have suggested it, but on Friday he said he doesn’t want that to be the council’s solution.

“Personally, I prefer the mayor’s plan, which is pro tem until the mayor’s elected,” he said. That means he’d take his council president role of mayor pro tem all the way through November, when the new mayor’s election is certified. “I think that’s a simpler way of doing it,” McConnell said.

For the city it’s cheaper, too, a savings in the neighborhood of $50,000 that it wouldn’t have to pay in a mayor’s salary.

McConnell would be paid that money if he were appointed mayor for the interim, but to him it isn’t necessarily enough of a positive. It would bump him up a tax bracket and he’d have to give up his council seat, which he said he doesn’t want to do. He signed up for four years, he said. He wants to finish.

The idea he suggested at the council meeting had earlier been offered up by a staff member, he said. McConnell plans to push for the mayor pro tem proposal. The issue is supposed to be discussed at the council’s meeting Wednesday.

Jara Sixth to Join Bremerton Mayor’s Race

Downtown business owner and former city council candidate Carlos Jara announced he will run for Bremerton mayor. Jara becomes the sixth candidate for the job being vacated by Cary Bozeman, who will be taking the CEO job at the port.

Jara ran in 2007 for the seat won by Roy Runyon. He and his wife, Christina, moved to Bremerton in 2004. He opened Puget Sound Box & Shipping near the ferry terminal and later turned it into Harborside Market. Christina Jara owns and operates the Isella Day Spa, also in downtown.

The couple lives in West Bremerton.

And You Thought We Picked on Port Orchard

Perchance you saw Chris Henry’s story about ideas to spruce up downtown Port Orchard. If you read it, you saw this paragraph:

Calling Bay Street’s current hodgepodge of colors “butt-ugly,” Delilah last week described her ideas for a volunteer-driven “Paint the Town” party before Cedar Cove Days. She’ll buy the paint, she said, while local painting contractors would be called upon to lend their equipment.

“Delilah” is Delilah Rene, evening radio host of a show that combines love songs with chats between Delilah and her listeners, none of which I would ever suspect of using the term “butt-ugly.”

Give Delilah credit in this case, though. I complain about Port Orchard but I never do anything about it.