Tag Archives: Bremerton

Heads up: On the agenda

Brynn’s away, meaning you’re left with my version of what’s on the agenda:

Kitsap County Commissioners (meet at 619 Division Street, Port Orchard)

Monday, Sept. 26, 10 a.m.: Minutes approval and the rest for “board information sharing.”

2 p.m.: Updates on the budget, annexation and redistricting and a discussion about the trails planning scope and schedule.

7 p.m.: Employee service awards, two appointments to the Rolling Hills Golf Course Oversight Board, several contracts to provide mental health services, and a resolution issuing $21.8 million in bonds to pay off old bonds and save $1.7 million in debt service.

No work study session on Wednesday.

City of Bremerton (meets at 345 Sixth Street, Bremerton)

Wednesday, Sept. 28, 5 p.m.: Study session in the sixth-floor council conference room. Lone discussion item is the purchase of a sculpture planned for Pacific Avenue near Ninth Street.

City of Port Orchard (meets at 219 Prospect Street)

Tuesday, Sept. 27, 7 p.m.: Council meeting items include: DeKalb Street right-of-way request, two public works contracts and approval of a public event.

City of Poulsbo (City Hall, 200 Moe Street)

Wednesday, Sept. 28, 7 p.m.: Council Workshop dedicated to proposed impact fee ordinances. Public comment is on the agenda.

Bremerton Housing Authority (4040 Wheaton Way, Suite 206)

Monday, Sept. 26, 5:30 p.m.: 2012 budget, housing management reports and Section 8 admin plan, real estate and contract reports, election of new officers.

Bremerton solves redistricting disparity

On Monday we had the story about Bremerton’s redistricting of its nine city council districts, pointing out that the city seemed headed toward a similar situation it had a dozen years ago. In one council election the loser in one district had more votes than the total number of voters in District Four.

In 2002 the council accounted for that and made District Four much bigger than the other districts. As of today District Four has 6,341 resident. The next largest is District Two, with 4,362 residents. District Four now has nearly double the residents as District Eight. Still, with the huge presence of Navy personnel who vote in their home towns, District Four had the lowest turnout.

As was pointed out Monday, the city interpreted existing law to state that it could no longer acknowledge that reality in its redistricting. District Four would have to return to near the same size as other districts. As it turned out the first proposal also left it as the lowest populated district overall, but only by 23.

Bill Eley, the city’s information technology manager, figured out a way to remedy that. The district actually got smaller, but pulled residents from other more participatory districts and gave some of its Navy-heavy neighborhoods to District Seven, which also borders the base and the shipyard.

Eley said District Four will still probably see the lowest turnout, but some of the Navy impact is shared.

It is worth pointing out here that story commented Brandon_R made just this suggestion. I think he and Eley arrived at the same conclusion independently. I asked Eley how he came up with the new idea and his answer didn’t include reading our story.

Red-light cameras pay off in Lynwood, literally

Anyone who willingly gives up an income stream is, in some cases, to be admired. That’s because many people spend whatever new money they get, thereby creating a new baseline for what they need. Governments are the same, which is why it is so hard to get rid of a tax no one likes, the business and occupation tax.

The same goes for revenues generated by red-light cameras. In Lynnwood the police chief admitted that if the program, which creates $4 million a year, were eliminated he’d have to eliminate officers. (By “eliminate” in the first reference I mean “get rid off.” In the second reference I mean they would no longer be police officers, not “eliminated” in the organized crime sense.)

It’s Friday (officially a municipal day off since you all stopped spending so much money in Bremerton.), so I couldn’t get full numbers from Bremerton on the income stream here. The cameras issue $124 tickets and the city pays RedFlex $4,000 a month per camera if those tickets add up to $4,000 or more. Plus there is the cost of having an officer review each infraction and whatever it costs to hear them in municipal court. The bottom line is I don’t know what the city nets from these cameras.

Nobody is really calling for the cameras to be eliminated anyway, so essentially I’m just sayin’.

Bremerton’s Akhimie responds to the resignation story

We got word from multiple sources that Vincent Akhimie, public works director for the city of Bremerton for the past year, had resigned, or been fired, one of those. It took a couple hours to get official confirmation.

I spoke with the mayor, Patty Lent, about Akhimie’s resignation, and at the end of our conversation she provided his cell phone number for me to call, a number I did not have. I called it and left a message. I then began writing a story based on the information I had and hoped Akhimie would call while I was writing. He didn’t, so we posted a story initially that said we could not reach him.

In my limited experience with Akhimie over the last year he was always helpful to me in my purposes. I was away on vacation last week and fellow reporter Chris Henry filled in for me at the city council meeting. Akhimie was helpful then, too. He went back to his office after the meeting to email a document to her.

Around 5 p.m. he called me at my desk after the story was already posted. I thought he was responding to my phone call, but in fact the phone number I had received from the mayor was Akhimie’s work cell phone number. Since he was no longer an employee of the city he no longer had that phone. He provided his version of the story, much of which appears in print.

I asked him what he was most proud of during his time and he said there was a list he’d like to write and send to me later in the evening. I said I would welcome the list, but that later in the evening would be too late for print. I did say I could post it on the Kitsap Caucus blog. The letter arrived in my email box today, Wednesday, at 3:37 p.m. Here it is:


TO: Steven Gardner, Reporter, Kitsap Sun

Below are my comments regarding the Kitsap Sun article, “Public Works Director Resigns,” as you suggested at the conclusion of our 7/12/11 evening phone conversation.

When I took the job of Public Works Director with the City, I made it clear to the Mayor at the outset that the Department’s challenges could not be resolved overnight and that it would likely take at least two years to turn things around. The Mayor wanted to accelerate changes in her administration and so did I. However, based on my twenty-plus years of experience in government, I suggested to the Mayor that gradual, incremental and well thought-out, vetted changes would be more sustainable and effective. I communicated to her the potential negative consequences of moving too fast. The Fifth Street debacle is an example of how things can go wrong when forced.

Despite any differences in style or opinions, I was able and willing to modify my approach to carry out her direction. In my career, I get things done, to the satisfaction of my clients when I was a consultant and to the satisfaction of my supervisors when I serve in the public sector. I respect the Mayor and her position. My separation from her administration was amicable.

Your July 12th article reported the Mayor as stating, “Communication was lacking.” Actually, there was more than enough communication between me and her, Public Works staff, the public and all branches of City government. The problem was that there was too much unproductive communication circumventing my office, top-down and bottom-up. An example is the recent surprise one-way Fifth Street implementation which ultimately involved the Finance Director. The Fifth Street one-way change, which met with opposition from Council and the public to some extent, was done without my authorization or sign-off as the City’s Public Works Director.

I am certain that I could have continued to make more significant contributions to the progress of the City of Bremerton. A lot has been accomplished under my leadership as Public Works and Utilities Director during my tenure with the City working with staff, as exemplified by: reducing the Department’s cost of operations by approximately $750,000 while increasing service levels in the Department; facilitating $3,000,000 in grant-funded Lower Wheaton Way road improvements; facilitating the start of $800,000 in grant-funded stormwater improvements for Anderson Cove including public waterfront access; resolving the approximately 15-year old Harrison Medical Center issue, allowing this major employer to move forward to expand their kitchen and surface parking facilities in East Bremerton; reprioritizing the Department’s Capital Improvements Program and moving ahead with the $2.5 million Cross Town pipeline project in order to avoid emergencies due to recurring breaks in this major sewer line without the use of outside consultants; obtaining additional remediation funding of $230,000 from the State Ecology Department to allow site work to be completed within budget for the City’s Evergreen Memorial Park; encouraging and fostering community outreach programs such as the public event marking the completion of the City’s Combined Sewer Overflow Reduction project, at which the Governor and Director of Ecology commended the Mayor and the City Bremerton as “a leader and role model” in water quality in the State, and a public campaign to improve water quality at Kitsap Lake.

Best regards,


Red light camera tickets struck down in Spokane

Last week a judge in Spokane ruled the city’s red-light camera tickets were invalid because the city was using an electronic signature on the tickets instead of an actual signature.

I’m checking with Bremerton to see what the impact might be here. Does anyone locally have a Bremerton ticket handy and can you say whether the signatures are done by hand or machine?

I’d love to know.

In Spokane an officer in Spokane was reviewing the tickets. The officer would authorize a signature, but the actual signature was done by American Traffic Solutions in Arizona. An attorney in the case argued that any signature that carries a penalty of perjury in Washington has to be one generated in Washington.

Sign of Bremerton City Council fireworks to come?

During Wednesday night’s Bremerton City Council meeting, city council candidate Lena Swanson took a few minutes, fewer than she wanted, to raise a few issues.

Her comments came during the public comment period. City Council President Will Maupin did what he and every other city council president or meeting leader I have ever seen did before the comments. He asked participants to say their names and limit their comments to three minutes. Swanson appeared to be grumbling a bit about the time constraint, but soldiered on.

Swanson discussed how a few years earlier she and others had asked the city to put the same kind of flowers you find on Pacific Avenue in front of businesses on Callow. The city did, but isn’t anymore. A drive through downtown and on Callow after the meeting revealed her complaint to be true, that they are on Pacific and not on Callow. She wants them back.

“West Bremerton does exist, you know,” she told the council.

Swanson also complained about the upkeep on the dog park at Pendegrast Park, comparing it unfavorably with the park in Silverdale. She said the Bremerton park is muddy compared to the one in CK. She urged the council to find volunteers who can help dig the drain field to help with water runoff there. She said people like herself shouldn’t have to drive to Silverdale for a clean dog park experience, saying of Silverdale, “They’ve already stolen our tax base.”

The next part is where the fireworks started. She mentioned she had spoken to Faye Flemister, the other candidate for the city council seat Swanson is seeking. She said the two of them seem to see eye to eye and that she had until tomorrow to withdraw from the race. Then, as she said she think she would do a fair job, Maupin interrupted her to remind her the law says no campaigning in city council meetings.

Swanson responded, “I’m contemplating withdrawing my candidacy. You keep talking to me like that I might change my mind.”

As her three minutes were up, she said again that West Bremerton exists, but “we may even withdraw from Bremerton you keep treating us like stepchildren.”

Swanson left the meeting. The council said nothing

Until later.

Following a presentation about park improvements to Kiwanis Park, located between Fourth and Fifth Streets and Veneta Avenue, Maupin told the audience, “I just want to point out that this is a project in West Bremerton.” Members of the council laughed briefly, but loudly.

Maupin will not be on the council in 2012. Swanson, as of 1:15 p.m., had not withdrawn from the race.

UPDATE: Sign of Bremerton City Council fireworks to come? No. Swanson withdrew.

Three Kitsap mayors among state’s highest paid

According to an article in the May 23 South Whidbey Record, the Langley City Council is wrestling with how much it should set as the mayor’s salary in the upcoming election.

Port Orchard has been there, done that. In a recent discussion, the city council quickly and without much controversy concluded that running the city of Port Orchard was a full-time job. The salary, as advertised in the 2011 Kitsap County candidate guidelines document, is $60,150.40 (exclusive of benefits). Port Orchard Mayor Lary Coppola makes $62,150 (exclusive of benefits). Coppola in 2009 convinced the council that the position was deserving of greater compensation that the roughly $20,000 it commanded when he took office in 2008.

But back to Langely. The council originally took up the issue when “controversy over vacation pay for Mayor Paul Samuelson created intense scrutiny of the size of his compensation package. Shoddy work on the ordinances that set the mayor’s salary prompted the council to rescind and rewrite the laws that gave Samuelson annual earnings that topped $53,000.”

As it turns out, they crafted an ordinance that needs some revision.

The Langley council next week will discuss “a revised ordinance that strips away a requirement that links the council’s approval of the mayor’s ‘plan of administration’ to any possible pay raise.”

If that sounds vaguely familiar, it may be because the Port Orchard City Council had hoped to tie Coppola’s salary to annual performance reviews, which the mayor was all on board with. They later found they could raise the salary during his term of office, but the only time they could lower it was at an election.

And remember, the Port Orchard council just decided that, regardless of who gets the job, it’s a full-time position.

On Monday, the Langley council was to take a big-picture look at its mayor and his compensation. The article, which was excellent on many levels, drew on data to from Washington Association of Cities to show that Samuelson’s salary ($53,532) is among the top 25 in the state. That’s significant, considering the population of the town he governs is only 1,115 (compared for example to Port Orchard, which is about 10 times that many).

In fact, Samuelson, at 24th in the state, is ranked right behind Coppola, who is the 23rd best paid mayor in the Washington. Poulsbo Mayor Becky Erickson, paid $65,400 (pop. 8,920) ranks 21. Bremerton Mayor Patty Lent, paid $117,672, (pop. 36,190) is in 6th place.

(Bainbridge Island does not have a mayor. It’s city manager is paid $94,788 in salary and benefits in 2011 to run a city that serves about 23,000 people.)

No surprise, Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn is the highest paid mayor in the state with $169,956.

Washington State has 281 cities and towns.

Significantly, the ranking does not correlate to population (as you can see from a quick Poulsbo-Port Orchard comparison). Certainly looking at Samuelson’s pay-to-population ratio, one would have to conclude a big-picture analysis is in order.

As the South Whidbey Record’s Brian Kelly reported, “A Record review of mayoral pay, based on the 2010 salary survey conducted by the Association of Washington Cities, shows that in the 92 cities and towns with populations between 715 and 5,000, only 17 mayors in those towns make more than $10,000. Six receive no pay at all for serving as mayor.”

“On a per-capita basis, with the cost of the mayor’s salary divided by the number of residents, Samuelson’s pay is at the very top of the 129 cities examined by the Record. …The cost of the mayor’s pay to each Langley resident is $48.01, according to an analysis conducted by the newspaper.”

“The next highest is Coupeville, with a per-capita rate of $33.73, followed by Yarrow Point, at $30.15.”

Most cities have a per capita rate of $3 to $5, the Record showed in the article, which included a list of the top 25, plus population, annual budget and number of employees. Rock on South Whidbey Record!

Ranked on a per capita, bang-for-buck basis, Kitsap’s mayors come in as follows: Bremerton $3.25 per resident to pay its mayor for a year; Port Orchard comes in at $5.69 and Poulsbo is on the high end at $7.33 per resident.

Pay: $117,672
Population: 36,190
Budget: $146 million
Employees: 367
Mayor annual per capita cost: $3.25

Pay: $62,148
Population: 10,910
Budget: $11.9 million
Employees: 70
Mayor annual per capita cost: $5.69

Pay: $65,400
Population: 8,920
Budget: $14 million
Employees: 93
Mayor annual per capita cost: $7.33

and by comparison …

Pay: $53,532
Population: 1,115
Budget: $4.3 million
Employees: 19
Mayor, annual per capita cost: $48.01

Pay: $63,756
Population: 1,890
Budget: $5.3 million
Employees: 15
Mayor annual per capital cost: $33.73

Mayor Patty Lent called to jury duty

“I have been trying to get on jury duty every year since I was 18 years old. To get to go sit in an air conditioned room, downtown, judging people, while my lunch is paid for…that is the life.” — Stanley, The Office

The cranky take exception to the term “public service.” Sometimes I’m cranky. It’s not the “public” part, it’s the “service,” mostly when it’s a full-time job.

Jury duty, though, is something I think almost always merits the description, because even if we get paid the same as we would for doing our jobs, I don’t know many people who would want to do it for a living.

Bremerton Mayor Patty Lent didn’t. She was one of 49 who showed up out of the 55 who were summoned for jury duty last week. They filled out a questionnaire answering basic questions. About eight were dismissed for hardship reasons.

Lent herself tried to get out of it, saying her duties as mayor might prevent her from serving.

Judge Anna Laurie disagreed, however, telling Lent the summons she received was the same as everyone else’s. So Lent spent much of Monday, Wednesday and Thursday waiting. She said they advise jurors to bring a book.

On Thursday Lent’s number was called. The attorneys had the opportunity to dismiss some potential jurors. A defense attorney showed Lent the door.

By then Lent was glad Laurie had her stick around. “At first I was sorry they didn’t just let me go at the first,” she said. Now she’s planning to send thank-you letters.

“It was an amazing education,” she said.

That education included what responsibilities lie with attorneys from both sides. It also gave her a glimpse of reality that doesn’t show up on television when cases are concluded in an hour.

I was called to jury duty once when I lived in Poulsbo. I was instructed to call the courthouse every day for a week to see if I needed to go to Port Orchard and actually report. I did that until they told me to stop.

Bremerton’s other fun rules

Following up on our story about “going public,” which is my latest invented euphemism for urinating in public, I was asked to find out what the fines are for littering. I still don’t know and will answer that when I do.

In the meantime, I thought you might like to know some of Bremerton’s other rules, which I caught in my search for a fine.

It is unlawful for a person to expectorate upon the floor, walls or furniture of any public conveyance, public building or any store open to and used by the public. (Ord. 4850 §2 (in part), 2003)

You also can’t spit on a bus.

If you own a tow company you have to accept checks.

Litter bags are mandatory in all vehicles.

Also, you’re not allowed to throw things, including yourself, from any bridge.

Red-light cameras here to stay?

This week the Legislature debated bills that would restrict how cities employ red-light cameras. You all know, of course, that Bremerton has them and no place else in the county does.

A week ago an e-mail from initiative guy Tim Eyman made me curious about the roots of an effort in Longview, so I e-mailed him asking to chat. Eyman got red-light cameras overturned in Mukilteo, where he lives, and has begun helping other communities either get them overturned or make it so voters would have to approve their installation. He was also at the legislative committee meeting Wednesday.

Eyman is among many who believe the cameras are not about the safety they are said to be when they are proposed. That’s how cities get them in, he said. Afterward they just collect the cash and pay for things with it. “It’s an entire government program based on a lie,” he said.

In Bremerton it helped fund some new police officers. According to a study done by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, they also helped reduce vehicle fatalities in major cities that had them. From the organization’s press release:

“Red light cameras saved 159 lives in 2004-08 in 14 of the biggest US cities, a new analysis by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety shows. Had cameras been operating during that period in all large cities, a total of 815 deaths would have been prevented.”

The chief question I had for Eyman was whether someone contacted him in Longview, or if he contacted them. He couldn’t remember. It seems to go both ways, so it doesn’t really matter, except that there is no one I know of in Bremerton who is leading any kind of effort to get rid of the ones here.

And if I were to lay bets on what will happen in Olympia, I think the odds are against anything coming down that would restrict cities too much, especially those that already have the cameras in place. The most recent evidence is that the cameras do save lives, and the revenue stream is already flowing in. At a time when governments are scrambling for income I think it would take a pretty compelling case for legislators to take a revenue stream away from local governments.

Eyman told the legislators that it may come to a state initiative if they don’t act, the one thing that might persuade them to enforce some limits not in place now. If it comes to an initiative, it’s a pretty good guess he’d feel confident about its chances. He said (I haven’t double-checked, but it sounds plausible.) that in 15 cases in which voters had an opportunity to vote against cameras, they did every time. In our own online poll asking whether voters should decide to install cameras, two-thirds of you said “Yes.”

How Often Are You on That Late Ferry?

Speaking of ferries after dark, as we did in the previous post, how about telling us how often you’re on it by voting to the right.

For myself, I probably would do the 6-10 entry, figuring in a few Mariners games, visits to family over there and other reasons to cross the pond.

My biggest complaint, since moving somewhere that the Bremerton boat was the best option, was the 10:30 p.m. return time from Seattle, followed by the 12:50 a.m. I don’t like leaving baseball games early. I don’t like leaving most things early, especially if I have bothered to go over to Seattle to participate.

One time Chris Dunagan and I went to a banquet over in Seattle. I was new to Bremerton, having lived in Poulsbo for three years and frequenting the Bainbridge Island trip. I had no idea 10:30 p.m. was my last chance to get back to Bremerton at a decent hour. Chris forgot, until it was too late. We boarded the 10:50 for Bainbridge and his wife was kind enough to drive to Bainbridge to come get us. I learned my lesson, but almost missed the boat back after a Mariners game ran long, back at a time when the Mariners mattered.

Vote in the poll on the right and weigh in here if you like.

Seattle Music Scene a Loser If Ferries Are Cut

Chris Kornelis at the Seattle Weekly has two blog posts that deal with the proposed cuts to the Bremerton ferry, eliminating any sailings past 9:05 p.m. Kornelis is making the case local leaders have not yet proven, that losing Bremerton’s business hurts Seattle.

These cuts would massively reduce the accessibility of Seattle music to Bremertonians — and Seattle clubs’ access to their wallets — and would be devastating loss to show-goers in the ferry-dependent community. It would be a huge loss for the Seattle music community as well.

In the second piece Kornelis speaks exclusively with Ben Gibbard of Death Cab for Cutie. Gibbard grew up here, went to Olympic High School and was a regular traveler to pick up shows in Seattle.

“As a native Bremertonian, it’s really unfortunate to me that Bremerton continues to get the short end of the stick,” Gibbard says. “We grew up always having the busted ferry. Whenever Bainbridge Island got a new ferry, we got the hand-me-downs. (This proposal is) a further kind of indication of how much political influence the affluent West Side suburbs have, that they are relatively immune to this part of the budget cuts, and Bremerton as usual has to take Bainbridge Island’s leftovers.”

You Got a License for that Chicken?

If you live in Bremerton and have a chicken, you can get your license now at the Kitsap Humane Society. I thought the acknowledgment portion was interesting.

I hereby certify that the information submitted is true and correct to the best of my knowledge. In submitting the application I knowledge and agree that the application is subject to all the terms and conditions for a Backyard Chicken Hen License found in Title 7.06 of the Bremerton Municipal Code. I understand that any false statements or omissions, using the eggs in protest against council members, continuing to use the phrase “Chickenista,” confusing chickens with ducks, siding with anyone from Port Orchard in an argument, placing incorrect apostrophes in official or public writings, using the phrase “Bremelo,” complaining about Diamond Parking, being late with a library book, not voting “yes” the next time the council asks you for money, listening to Christmas music before Thanksgiving, wearing socks with sandals, farting in an elevator, not thinking of the children, asking “Who let the dogs out?” or laughing at Roy Runyon’s chicken puns may result in denial or revocation of this license. I further acknowledge that I have read the applicable regulations attached to this license application and agree to fully comply with the regulations set forth by the City of Bremerton and any terms and conditions imposed by the City Council as they relate to the Backyard Chicken Hen License.

I might have embellished that a little. You can see the entire application in what follows.
Continue reading

Vetting a City’s Candidate

On Wednesday night’s Bremerton City Council agenda is the nomination of Becky Hasart to take over as the city’s finance director. A week ago we had a story about what happened when and after she was in Washougal. In short, the city was tagged with findings for missing money. Essentially, the city spent money on festivals and a farmers’ market and missed on several procedures and was reimbursed for too little. Many of those expenditures came from the mayor’s office.

That kind of mess cannot look good for a candidate wishing to run the finances of another city and it certainly was a hurdle Hasart had to overcome. She did it successfully, though, not only in Bremerton but in at least one other location where she was offered a job. Hasart also had an interview lined up for another government. She canceled it when she was offered the Bremerton job, she told me.

The first sense that there was an issue came in a Bremerton City Council study session when City Councilman Will Maupin said the city’s prime candidate had been on the right side of a mess at Washougal.

Once we had Hasart’s name, we did some checking of our own. We read the state auditor’s reports and news stories from The Columbian, The Oregonian and the Camas-Washougal Post-Record. I talked to a Columbian reporter, the city’s current mayor and Hasart herself, Bremerton Mayor Patty Lent and Maupin. I sought further help from the auditor’s office in finding a summary letter he wrote outlining the issues he found. I also tried to contact the former mayor of Washougal, but was unsuccessful.

The auditor’s reports are effective for finding out what the problems are, but in the end are not all that useful in determining exactly why they happened. Some of the poor practices named in the report could fall on the finance director, but other people within the city have the ability to spend money before the finance director has the chance to correct a problem.

Washougal did get issued another finding in an earlier year, because of a problem Hasart said she found herself. That kind of finding is not all that uncommon.

In the case of the missing money, however, no such clarity exists. Hasart’s name appears in the audit, but so does the mayor’s and every member of the city council. They are in a list of city officers.

Where Hasart got her most support was in the interviews Bremerton council members and the mayor did with others from Washougal. They were all supportive of Hasart. My experience with the city’s current mayor, Sean Guard, was pretty much the same, but I believe he might have been more reserved with me (a media member) than he was with Bremerton city officials who called. City officials are likely to be more candid with other city officials than they might be with a reporter.

There is, then, the other context, best illustrated by the story in The Oregonian. The former mayor, Stacey Sellers, fires almost all, if not all, the department heads, including Hasart. Her replacement for Hasart is a sitting city council member who the city later learned had had his law license suspended for misdealings with two clients. The council had also agreed to a mayor’s request that all questions from the council to department heads go through her, essentially shielding staff from the council.

The mayor and the Hasart’s replacement went to Las Vegas for a conference and among the charges they made on a city credit card were for alcohol, including $88 for a 2000 bottle of Montepulciano d’Abruzzo. Washington taxpayers are not obligated to pay for city officials’ alcohol, so those charges were disallowed. Sellers was trounced in her bid for re-election and resigned shortly after the election. She did repay the charges for those drinks.

Because the auditor could not get cooperation in his look at what caused the city to misspend money, he couldn’t make any conclusion for why it happened. A non-profit that was the recipient of some of the money refused to be interviewed or provide some records. Others I spoke to, however, said Hasart helped in the investigation. After she left the city she also helped Washougal as it prepared its 2010 budget. She did it for nothing, according to Guard.

The current mayor has since asked the Clark County Sheriff’s Office to investigate what happened in the city. Nothing has come of that yet.

Hasart interviewed well when she met with those in Bremerton on the interview panel. Some were reminded of Laura Lyon, former Bremerton finance director now with the Bremerton Housing Authority. They said she displayed a knowledge of city finances necessary for someone about to take on the job.

Making the decision to look into something further depends on a lot of elements. From what I received in one day of checking into this matter, it seems to me that if I spent a lot of time looking into this more the possibility is high that if I did find a solid place to lay the blame, it would be with someone besides Hasart. We will likely not be able to make any conclusions until the sheriff and prosecutor down in Clark County decide that charges should be filed against someone, if that ever happens.

I do still have a question about the mayor of Washougal having that much discretion over that much spending, but based on the narrative I heard from others down there, it is not out of the question. Mayors have budgets. Mayors make decisions. This money that’s unaccounted for did come from the mayor’s office.

And people do find themselves working in bad situations they cannot control. That’s what people tried to tell me happened to Hasart. For Bremerton’s sake, everyone here has to hope they’re right.

Heads Up on the Agenda

Port Orchard
7 p.m.: The Kitsap County Board of Commissioners will meet at the county administration building. Notable on the agenda: The board will honor local civil rights pioneer Lillian Walker, whose memories are featured as part of The Legacy Project, an oral history program established by the Office of Secretary of State in 2008. Also on the agenda, the board will consider resolutions:
* establishing an Energy Conservation Committee to develop and implement a comprehensive energy efficiency and conservation plan for Kitsap County.
* approving the purchase and sale agreement for the Harborside Condominium Unit T-102.
* freezing salary rates of elected officials and providing for self-pay of health care premiums.
* designating Kitsap County as a recovery zone for purposes of issuing recovery zone economic development bonds under the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Port Orchard
7 p.m.: The city council will consider Ordinance No. 019-10, Approving the Annexation Request for Sidney Glen, File No. A-24-10.

5 p.m.: The Bremerton City Council will hold a study session and discuss a request from the city engineer to apply for an Economic Development District.

Chicken Signs Go Beyond Politics

There is propaganda and there is art. Sometimes the two intersect, but for my money you don’t find much propagandart in politics. I have a “Keep on Truckin’ for Nixon” sign from 1972, but that’s more kitsch than culture.

So the regular act of thievery that occurs with regards to campaign signs is, I assume, usually about A. maldoings of the supporters of the candidate’s opponent, B. A property owner not happy that a sign was posted on his/her lawn or on public right of way near his/her lawn, or C. Vandalism.

In 1992 I was living in Salt Lake City and a friend of mine, I am kind of reluctant to share, was a prolific stealer of Enid Greene signs. His bedroom, for the Halloween party, was awash in “Send Enid Greene to Congress” signs. Other people had a different, more creative kind of fun with the signs, changing them to read things like “Send Enid Greene for Pizza,” or “for Beer.” My friend’s room on Halloween was art the same way Andy Warhol’s Campbell’s Soup can painting was. You take a functional piece and place it in a new context and it can inspire admiration for seconds, sometimes minutes.

Greene lost a close election that year, won in the Republican sweep in 1994 as Enid Greene Waldholtz after marrying Joe Waldholtz, who, it turned out, was later convicted of bank fraud, which caused her to file for divorce and at the urging of the party to not run again in 1996.

While some regard sign stealing or vandalism good-natured prankery, it does cost someone money.

Most times you can find the discarded signs feet or yards away from where they once stood. I once had the notion to line my garage wall with discarded campaign signs, those found weeks after the election is over. For me it would have been somewhat artistic, way better than hanging on the wall the heads of things I have shot. I have a pro-foot ferry sign, one for Bev Woods and another from Will Peddy’s failed mayoral bid on Bainbridge Island in 2005. The first two were given to me. The Peddy sign was one I found about 40-feet from the highway down the ravine from that corner on Bainbridge Island where the guy ties balloons to the post.

If anyone wants those signs back, I’d be glad to return them. They sit in my garage, unhung. They can and are recycled and reused as backing for new candidates’ signs.

Every election we get lots of complaints about stolen or vandalized signs. James Olsen, Republican candidate for state Rep. in the 23rd District regularly keeps us updated on his lost signs. He might be interested in that Peddy sign I have.

Some signs do disappear and campaigns are prepared for that. It would seem to be rare, though, that all of them would be gone.

That, however, is what has happened with the signature chicken signs that have been placed around Bremerton. Eugene Brennan, self-described “chickenista” and creator of the signs, said many have disappeared. When they’re gone, though, they stay gone.

Brennan speculates that some people like the design, possibly enough to take one and put it on display somewhere else. If so, those placards could linger in garages and living rooms and offices and coops for years, long after the likes of Peddy, Woods and passenger-only ferry pushes have been forgotten. They may be around long enough for people to forget what they were for.

This could be a lesson for any burgeoning politico. I got no beef with the signs out there now, but I dare someone in the future to wow us the way Brennan and his chickenistas have. How about recreating that elephant with the glasses Goldwater had? There was nothing else to it, but you knew what that was saying. Since yard signs seem to be the most obvious evidence of a campaign, next time around I want a candidate who will thrill us with one.

Mayors’ Forum: “No 800-Pound Gorilla in Here”

At a mayor’s forum today, featuring Bremerton Mayor Patty Lent and Port Orchard Mayor Lary Coppola, Bremerton resident Klaus Golombek asked, “Where are the 800-pound gorillas?”

The event, at Port Orchard City Hall, was hosted by the Bremerton and Port Orchard chambers of commerce.

Before the Q&A, both mayors highlighted the positive side of their respective cities. Lent touted public and private development projects completed and in the pipeline. Coppola, whose city is still trying to get multiple major projects shovel-ready, noted that his city is financially “in much better shape than most other cities” due to conservative budgeting.

The tone of their comments was not derogatory, and neither mayor appeared to be trying to one-up the other.

Lent, in response to Golombek’s question, talked about fiscal challenges the city faces and will continue to face under the “new normal.” The city in 2010 eliminated 34 positions through layoffs, buyouts, early retirement and unfilled vacancies. A total of 17 individuals left the city. City workers in Bremerton, as elsewhere, will continue to have to do more with less for the foreseeable future, Lent said.

Councilman Jerry Childs brought up what has been an 800-pound gorilla, Bremerton’s annexation of the South Kitsap Industrial Area and Gorst sewer project, which cast uncertainty on Port Orchard’s plans to provide SKIA with sewer. But as you’ll read in the story, both mayors said they could sit down and come up with a resolution to this and other areas of conflict.

Lent, a former county commissioner who was sworn in as mayor in November, 2009, said she was against the SKIA annexation. “I never wanted that airport to be annexed by any cities,” she said. “I thought it should be a regional airport, but I was out of office.”

Lent continued, saying Bremerton has a “great relationship” with the Port of Bremerton, SKIA’s major property owner. So, basically, she’s willing to work with what she “inherited” from former Mayor Cary Bozeman, now CEO of the Port of Bremerton.

Another thing she inherited but didn’t seem too keen on was the Bremerton ferry tunnel. Phone calls to her office criticizing the tunnel have subsided, Lent said, in response to a question. The tunnel is doing its job, which is diverting traffic to make downtown more pedestrian friendly. “People seem to be used to it now,” she said.

Golombek thought the mayors, particularly Lent, side-stepped the gorilla question. He’s still smarting about the Port of Bremerton’s marina expansion. He thinks increased revenue from the marina should go toward paring down the bond. Less should go to the city’s general fund, he said. Looking ahead, Golombek’s got concerns about Bremerton’s planned Youth Wellness Center, which he thinks could become a financial burden on residents.

As for the rapport between Bremerton and Port Orchard, however, there doesn’t appear to be any gorilla in here. At least as far as the two mayors are concerned. Port Orchard Councilman Jerry Childs said the two councils may be a different matter. The only interaction they’ve had was over SKIA, and it wasn’t pretty. Competition for state and federal funds is another potential area of conflict for both cities.

“It makes it difficult for our cities to get along, because we’re both fighting for a piece of the pie,” Childs said.

The Port of Bremerton, too, should be included in talks on potential areas of collaboration and conflict, Childs said.

Bremerton Boycotters Can Shop in Yakima

Story commenters who swear they boycott Bremerton because of red-light traffic enforcement cameras can shop peacefully in Yakima.

The Yakima City Council voted 5-2 to shelve a proposal to add the technology there.

From the story:

Councilman Bill Lover noted that a municipal judge predicted the city would have to hire extra clerks to process all the extra tickets that would be generated by cameras.

The judge “said an additional cashier,” Lover recounted. “That tells me something.”

Instead, that “additional cashier” will be needed in one of the city’s retail stores, no doubt, since the city won’t be boycotted, at least not because of the cameras.

Citizens Playing Chicken

Note: U.S. Rep. Norm Dicks, D-Belfair came by the office. David Nelson has his notes and video from the conversation at his blog, From the Editor’s Desk. Ed Friedrich shared his notes with me and I hope to transcribe them later. I want him to see them before I post.

Some Bremerton residents are showing how citizens can go over the council’s collective heads on an issue.

On Monday residents presented their plan at a meeting of people from Councilman Roy Runyon’s district. They talked about their plan to gather petitions to get a citizen-led initiative on the Bremerton ballot to allow residents to have up to four hens. My hunch is many of them won’t like the comparison to state initiative guru Tim Eyman, but they’re doing exactly (except for the making money part) what he does. If your local electeds won’t do what you want, do it for them.

What they really want is for the council to make all this unnecessary by putting the item on the agenda for the full council. Until then, the citizens promise to continue charging ahead with the initiative drive.

In a sense this isn’t like a game of chicken, where two cars line up against each other and drive straight toward each other until someone chickens out or they crash.

There’s no crash here. The council is standing still. If the council does nothing and the residents get their signatures, voters will decide whether hens should be legal within the city. If the residents say “yes” then the citizens have essentially passed the council by and created law the council has no power to change without another vote. If the residents say “no” then it’s akin to the finish line moving to the council.

Any guess what the council will do? I have one, but I probably shouldn’t share it and I’m not very confident in it anyway.