Tag Archives: Patty Lent

Bremerton to have a one-month council member

Remember how we had to elect a member of Congress to serve in the First Congressional District for one month following Jay Inslee’s resignation? Same goes in Bremerton, it seems.

Despite the fact that the Bremerton City Council named an interim council member, Wendy Priest, following the resignation of Roy Runyon, county elections officials say there has to be someone elected to fill the remainder of the term. That election will be in November and the new person would serve from the day the election is certified, late November, until the day a new council is sworn in, early January.

Again, what makes this necessary is redistricting. The council boundaries will change beginning in January. In fact, they’ll go from nine council seats to seven.

statefilingFiling for races across the state and in the county has begun. To the right appears to be the first filing in the state, an 8 a.m. entry by Republican Bill Brunson of Legislative Distirct 7. As we pointed out in the story about the legislative race in the 26th District, odd-year elections are typically reserved for local races, such as city councils and port and utility commissioners.

This year, though, voters in the 26th Legislative District will get to participate in a high profile race. I plan to add more to the blog later about the nature of that race and why it’s high profile, as well as diving further into some side issues.

The county will update county filings beginning at noon. Candidates can file online now, but Dolores Gilmore, county elections manager, said there is still a need to verify a candidate’s eligibility before the filing is posted online.

10 a.m. update: Bremerton Mayor Patty Lent and Bremerton City Councilmen Adam Brockus and Greg Wheeler were among the first to file for re-election this week. Also running for Bremerton City Council, the first to file in District 5, is Dino Davis. In Port Orchard incumbent Jerry Childs filed, and Bek Ashby filed to run for Position 2. In Poulsbo Ed Stern is running for re-election. Ken Ames will run to retain his North Kitsap School Board seat, and in Central Kitsap Victoria Crescenzi filed to run for the seat she sought appointment to. In the South Kitsap School District Rebecca Diehl will run for the District 4 seat held by Kathryn Simpson. Larry Stokes is running to hold on to his Port of Bremerton seat. Fire districts and other port districts also have candidates.

Noon update: Becky Erickson is running for re-election as mayor in Poulsbo. Faye Flemister and Nick Wofford have filed to run to hold onto Bremerton City Council seats. Val Tollefson wants Bob Scales’ Bainbridge Island council seat. Jeanie Schulze will be running to keep the seat she was just appointed to, facing off against at least Victoria Crescenzi.

2 p.m. update: John Green is running for Debbi Lester’s seat on the Bainbridge Island City Council. In Bremerton Cynthia Triplett Galloway wants the First District seat. Robert B. Putaansuu seeks re-election to his Port Orchard City Council seat. So does Christopher J. Lemke for his South Kitsap School Board seat. In Manchester Steve Pedersen and James E. Strode both have seats on the Port of Manchester and the Manchester Water District seats. Pedersen, so far, has only signed up for the port board and Strode has only signed to run for the water district. I believe the next update will be the last one of the day.

5:30 p.m. Jerry McDonald joined the race for the Bremerton City Council seat Adam Brockus wants. Jerry Childs seeks re-election to the Port Orchard City Council. So does Jim Henry in Poulsbo. In the North Kitsap School District Cindy Webster-Martinson will run for the seat currently held by Tom Anderson. Bruce Richards is running for re-election for his Central Kitsap School Board seat.

More tomorrow.

Campaign season

Josh Farley writes:

It’s February, and you know what that means: the beginning of political campaign season.

OK, maybe that’s not the first thing on your mind. February’s supposed to be about groundhogs and hearts, while voting’s more more akin to pumpkins and the Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria. But those running are already plotting their courses to November. And while the fireworks of 2012 included a presidential and gubernatorial election and our state’s historic legalization of marijuana, 2013 will have some firepower of its own — at least at the local level.

In Bremerton, the city council will be reduced in size, from nine to seven, thanks to a staunchly voter-approved measure a few years back. Increasing the population of each district could make the races more competitive, in a city where it’s not uncommon to see council members run unopposed.

Greg Wheeler, first-term councilman currently representing district 5 (an area that includes a chunk of West Bremerton near Evergreen Park and a portion of East Bremerton near East Park) called me Monday to say he’s throwing his hat in the ring for what will be the new council district 4. That new district will encompass a big portion of West Bremerton, from the Port Washington Narrows to the Shipyard north to south and from Warren Avenue to about Hewitt Avenue east to west.

I asked Kitsap Sun political guru Steven Gardner if he’d heard of anyone yet filing with the state’s Public Disclosure Commission (candidates have to wait until May to file in the county officially) and he took a look at the PDC’s web site. Wheeler’s not there yet, but Adam Brockus, city councilman representing Manette, is — and he appears to be the first from Kitsap’s local governments to file.

Brockus, in seeking a third term on the council, is running for a district 3 seat that will expand to encompass downtown Bremerton as well as its existing Manette territory.

We’ll keep you posted as filings come in. I should also mention that aside from all council members being up, the terms of Bremerton Mayor Patty Lent and Municipal Court Judge James Docter are coming to an end this year. Before you know it, the campaign signs will be up.

S’Klallam Tribe now caught up on CenCom payments

Amy Phan writes:

Port Gamble S’Klallam tribal members say they are caught up with their payments to Kitsap County Central Communications, the county’s 911 dispatching service.

“The Board seems to think that we are delinquent in our payments,” Jeromy Sullivan, S’Klallam Tribe chairman, wrote in a Sept. 23 letter to CenCom. “We are not.”

In the latest development in a dispute over a $42,000 bill, Sullivan wrote in the letter that the tribe made three payments to CenCom for dispatching services: $17,285 for 2011, $14,787 for 2010 and $13,550 for 2009.

The letter came in response to a CenCom board meeting on Sept. 20. Board members discussed whether to continue dispatching services to the S’Klallam Tribe even though CenCom believes it has $42,000 outstanding in unpaid dues.

Board members decided to continue 911 dispatching services to the tribe and work out a repayment schedule.

But that’s not what the S’Klallam Tribe wants.

“The Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribes does not need to arrange catch-up payments,” Sullivan wrote. “We are already caught up and have paid our fair share of 911 CenCom services.”

Tribe members are challenging CenCom’s new fee structure, implemented this year.

Under the new fee structure, the S’Klallam Tribe’s per-call rate went from $5.43 per call in 2010 to $18.35 this year, according to Sullivan.

For the reservation’s 1200 residents (about 600 are members of the tribe), the new fee structure is “flawed and is biased against the little guy,” according to Sullivan.

The tribe is asking CenCom’s 13-board member to institute a flat, per-call rate for dispatching services.

But some of CenCom’s board members feel that proposal should have been made in 2009, when a majority of fee restructuring took place. Sullivan became the S’Klallam chairman in 2009, but he has served on tribal council since 2006.

CenCom director Richard Kirton said he had a meeting with the tribe’s police chief and assistant police chief in 2009 about the possibility of a new fee structure.

Kirton recalled members of the tribe’s police department saying they didn’t think tribal members would be happy with the increase, but that they would pay it.

Kirton said he extended numerous invitations to the tribe to participate in the fee restructuring process, but it did not respond.

“This is why we are at the point we are today,” Kirton said. “There was a lot of data exchange. A lot of philosophy was discussed, a lot of difficult elements are looked at in context and it’s difficult to distill that down to one hour and get everyone on the same page.”

He believes the tribe has paid “what they (S’Klallam tribe) want to pay.”

The $50,000 buy-in fee was meant to “rebalance” the inequity some under the old formula, Kirton said.

“It didn’t matter how large or small (dispatching area was), but there would be a base fee how everybody pays,” he said.

Board members decided on the $50,000 “buy-in” amount after looking at a variety of factors, such as dispatcher costs or the costs of each government pursuing its own 911 dispatching services.

“(The $50,000) is not a magic number, it could have easily been $30,000 or $70,000,” Kirton said.

CenCom board members will discuss this issue in its January board meeting.

Also up for discussion at the board meeting will be revisiting how contracts between agencies and CenCom are approved, said Patty Lent, Bremerton mayor and CenCom board member.

Any fee or structural changes are supposed to be discussed and agreed upon by the respective tribal or city councils.

But that process didn’t take place in many instances, including with the S’Klallam Tribe.

“When (the contract process) gets done, we may be seeing a different picture,” Lent said on Tuesday.

CenCom board members make decisions on CenCom’s budget including funding, cost-share distribution and other duties, according to an interlocal agreement that governs how CenCom operates with the governments and agencies it serves.

Click this link to see a pdf of the letter the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe sent the CenCom board: port gamble s’klallam tribe letter to cencom

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,


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.

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.

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.