Monthly Archives: July 2007

Tax Talk Continues

Steven Gardner writes:

I’m watching over the South Kitsap blog while Chris Henry is away. I guess I’ll have to tone down my jabs at Port Orchard.

Over on the Kitsap Caucus blog there is a bit of a discussion about the Port of Bremerton race, including much about how the tax increase remained dark for so long.

Driving through South Kitsap today I saw a lot of signs in support of Port Commissioner Mary Ann Huntington. Based on signs alone it would appear Martin DiIenno would be the other primary survivor, but I don’t know if signs are necessarily an indicator of who will win. If Huntington is the top vote getter Aug. 21, the next number to look at is whether she has more than 50 percent. If she’s first, but not the majority choice, the question becomes how big is the ABMAH contingent. If she’s in second, she’s in trouble.

At Home with Lary Coppola

Update Aug. 7: If you notice Port Orchard Mayor Kim Abel’s comment below, you’ll see that the rules for candidate’s residency are different for a “second class” city like Port Orchard than for other Kitsap jurisdictions. (The “second class” reference in the state law (RCW 35.23) refers of course to Port Orchard’s size, not its relative qualities as a place to live or work.) The only requirement for Port Orchard candidates is that the candidate be registered to vote and be a resident of the city at the time of filing.
The information I included in my initial post here came from the Kitsap County elections guideline pamphlet, which, as Mayor Abel points out is incorrect.

It matters because there are rumors about town that Port Orchard mayoral candidate Lary Coppola has not met residency requirements. Coppola has said he moved onto his sailboat last year in part to establish residency for a run for mayor. He now calls his apartment at The Rockwell in downtown PO “home sweet home.”

I initially thought we could address the issue of Coppola’s residency on the blog, but given the potential for confusion due to the error in the election pamphlet, we’ve decided to write a full blown story.

You can join a conversation about the issue of candidates’ residency at the Kitsap Caucus blog.

Original post:
We had a couple of inquiries last week about Lary Coppola’s status as a Port Orchard resident. One caller said he’d heard indirectly that people at the The Rockwell apartments are watching Coppola’s apartment for signs of life.

Guess what, whoever you are, Coppola’s on to you.

“Somebody’s watching me here. They have been for months,” said Coppola this afternoon by phone from the number listed as “home”/103 Rockwell # B-17 on the Kitsap County Auditor’s elections filing list.

“I find little pieces of folded up paper in the door, little toothpicks broken off. I don’t know who’s doing it, and I don’t care. … With all the crap with Josh — as in Commissioner Josh Brown whose residency was challenged after his election last fall — we knew this was going to be an issue,” Coppola said.

Coppola has always been up front about his reasons for moving to Port Orchard. He said he moved onto his boat in the Port Orchard Marina last summer in part to establish residency for the run for mayor he’s been considering for some time, in part to facilitate the remodel of his Manchester home, which he intends to sell. The arrangement worked out well until Coppola and his wife Dee took charge of their 3-year-old grandson. Coppola stayed on the boat, while Dee and Bryce spent most of the time in Manchester.

Coppola bought the apartment at the Rockwell in December, 2006 and rented it out for two months to the previous owners before moving in. He still owns the house in Manchester, still trying to get it ready to sell.

The Kitsap County Auditor’s guidelines for candidates state that to run for office in the City of Port Orchard, one must be registered to vote and have lived in the city for at least a year. It does not say anything against owning a second home elsewhere.

Hey, anybody out there have a spare toothpick?

On Friday, Coppola sent us an e-mail telling us that Congressman Norm Dicks has joined his “long and highly diverse, bi-partisan list of organizations and individuals” who have endorsed his candidacy. In the press release, Lary writes, “‘I’m absolutely thrilled to have Congressman Dicks’ endorsement,’ said an elated Coppola. ‘Norm has done a lot for our district and I am looking forward to working closely with him and his staff to help move our city forward.’”

I asked night editor Jim Thomsen about covering this, given that it was Norm Dicks, and Jim said that, given our policy of not running stories on endorsements, this would start us on a “slippery slope.” Sorry Lary. Can we interest you in an ad?

Friday Afternoon Club: All Decked Out

Last week’s rainy weather reminded us that we here in Kitsapland (aka the Pacific Northwest) can’t take any drop of sunshine that comes our way for granted. After a few “partly sunny” days this week, we can expect more “partly sunny” weather on Saturday – wah hoo! – followed by “mostly cloudy” on Sunday. So much for the weekend.

Ah, but Monday is supposed to be “mostly sunny.” All year long our decks sit unoccupied, neglected, why bother? But every now and then in summer, it’s finally time to get outdoors and … scrape, strip and refinish our decks so that we can get ready for next winter’s rains.

Kitsap Sun opinion editor Jim Campbell has been bragging on his Trex (composite) deck. Unlike wood it doesn’t rot or require scraping. Just one problem, it gets kind of yucky, and stays that way. But, eureka! Campbell has found a product that works on that moldy build-up. Here’s what he had to say:

“The stuff is called Corte-Clean.
Here’s the Web site:
It includes plenty of info and a contact phone number.

I misplaced the notes from when I talked to the guy, but here’s a synopsis: His name is Tom, and he’s a good interview. They’re in California. He and his partner had a deck-cleaning business, and had trouble cleaning mold & stuff off composite decks, like Trex. They know a couple of chemists, who started coming up with cleaning concoctions, which Tom & partner tried in their business.
They came up with a keeper, and Tom started using it. Then some customers asked to buy some of the stuff, and things snowballed from there.
He also said it had bothered him that while composite decking is a “green” product using recycled materials, the chemicals for cleaning it usually are about the worst stuff out there. But his product, he said, is environmentally friendly — but we didn’t really go into that.”

My note: who cares? – it cleans the gunk off, so you’ll have more time to actually sip a glass of Chardonnay as the sun sets.

Campbell continues: “They’re a very small company, and Tom, as co-owner, willingly spent all the time I needed answering my questions. He even gave me his cell phone number, in case I got into deck-cleaning issues when they were closed on a weekend or after hours.”

My note: when else do we clean our decks???

Campbell continues: “I had to order mine online, but when I talked to him (3 weeks ago?) he said they’d just signed up Lumbermen’s as a distributor. Nobody else in our area handles Corte-Clean, and when I called Lumbermen’s a couple weeks ago, the guy on Bainbridge didn’t know anything about it, so it probably hadn’t trickled into distribution yet.
I’d tried some other supposedly-specially-designed-for-composite-deck cleaning stuff last year, but it didn’t do a very good job. Corte-Clean worked as advertised, really good, and I’m a devoted fan of the stuff.”

My note: So now we know that if Campbell ever retires from the Kitsap Sun, he can get a job as spokesperson for Corte-Clean.

Question of the Week: What do you plan to do on your deck this weekend?

Pick a Theme for Downtown Port Orchard

Leavenworth has that Bavarian thing going. Poulsbo is Scandinavian. Winthop looks like a scene from “Bonanza.” What should Port Orchard’s theme be?

That’s the question a group of building owners is tossing around, since the Port Orchard City Council has deleted from its proposed downtown plan a provision that new buildings should “embody the distinctive characteristics of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.”

The group is still in the brainstorming stage, said Kris Swartz of Amajin Architecture Inc. of Port Orchard, but when they can settle on a theme, they will propose it to the council, unified, as Mel Wyles, the mayor of picturesque Leavenworth, suggested at a recent Chamber of Commerce meeting.

Maybe they could use some help. Let’s get creative here folks. What’ll it be? Maybe something related to Fathoms ‘O Fun, like wrought iron seaweed facades, seahorse shaped benches, whale spout water fountains. OK, you can do better — much better — so bring it on.

Read more on downtown Port Orchard and the status of its downtown plan Monday, when the Kitsap Sun runs a story about a recent city council meeting where a group of downtown Port Orchard building owners and their supporters showed up wearing hard hats. Their message was, “Git ’er done!” The downtown plan that is.

Mayoral Candidate Misused Grant Funds During OC Tenure

Update 3:40 p.m July 27: Dear readers, I updated this entry with a link to Lary Coppola’s farewell column (see below).

Politics is a messy business in which a candidate’s past can and often does come back to bite. Such is the case for Port Orchard Mayoral Candidate Kathleen Dolan-Bowes, who in 1997 was dismissed from her post as head of the Olympic College Office of Women’s Programs for misappropriation of grant funds.

Articles from the Kitsap Sun archives detail her downfall.
Dolan-Bowes, then Kathleen Dolan, was dismissed from her position as manager of the Office of Women’s Programs at the college March 31, 1997, after the state auditor’s office reported that she had used thousands of dollars in college grant funds to pay for personal expenses, including $2,266 toward her own master’s education and more than $800 to pay for her granddaughter’s child care expenses.
The allegations against Dolan-Bowes were submitted to the auditor’s office under the provisions of the Whistleblower Act, which allows state employees to confidentially report the misuse of state funds.

Dolan-Bowes subsequently filed a lawsuit against Olympic College for unspecified damages, claiming the termination of her employment at OC was retaliatory. But a Washington State Executive Ethics Board hearing determined the college had “reasonable cause” to believe Dolan’s violations had occurred, according to an article in the West Sound Sun, May 31, 1999. In a negotiated settlement, the story says, she admitted several violations and agreed to repay the misappropriated funds.

Dolan-Bowes, reached by phone Thursday, had no comment.

And while we’re on the topic of candidates’ past, the Kitsap Sun has a history with mayoral hopeful Lary Coppola. A former columnist for The Sun, Coppola was released from that appointment in June, 2004, for plagiarizing material from an editorial by Erin Shannon of the Building Industry Association of Washington.

In his farewell column, Coppola took his lumps and apologized to his readers. He also explained his actions, saying, “I’ve had blanket authority from BIAW for years to publish materials without attribution in any manner I found appropriate. … BIAW has permission to, and does, use my editorial material occasionally for its membership as well. … In retrospect, because I expressed myself partially in Erin’s words and not my own, I should have given credit to her, or quoted her directly. Because of my longstanding agreement with BIAW, I mistakenly didn’t see the necessity of doing that.”

Today, Kitsap Sun editors and I considered how to report on this episode of Coppola’s career as a community figure. In light of what we had learned about Dolan-Bowes, it seemed at first we ought to mention Coppola in the story. Later, I thought maybe a side bar. Ultimately, Editor Scott Ware and Local News Editor David Nelson decided that to include Coppola’s plagiarism in with Dolan-Bowes’ misappropriation of funds was inappropriate. Using others’ words without attribution is serious, yes, but not in the same league as using state grant funds for personal gain, an action that apparently had repercussions for another OC staff member and for its women’s programs. And besides Coppola did publicly admit to and apologize for his actions.

Just to be fair, we searched our archives for any other dirt that might be hiding under the rug on Coppola and the third candidate, Tom Saunders, covering the same span of time in which we searched for information on Dolan-Bowes, 1996 through the present. We found nothing on Saunders. And except for Coppola’s recurrent ability to raise people’s hackles in his columns and letters to the editor — especially on the issue of NASCAR, which he favored — he came up clean, as well.

Meet the Candidates: PO City Council

Update 3:15 p.m. Aug. 8:
Incorrect information on candidate Jerry Child’s employment was given in an article on the Port Orchard City Council primary race. Childs is the captain of Ladder 3 actively working a rescue unit/ladder truck fighting fire in the Seattle Central District. He has lived in Kitsap County 17 years.

Also to clarify Child’s position on downtown development, he says, “I am for downtown
revitalization with character and style that can make us all proud. I am not against redevelopment and support those who want to do so. I just think the council needs to put in place a plan (the DOD is NOT a redevelopment plan, but a series of zoning changes) complete with artist renderings of how the town might look and one that will shape our city and give us consistency that will attract business and visitors alike. We then need to prepare a list of infrastructure weaknesses, and important needs—such as money for improvements to our downtown storm water and electrical delivery systems and money for a parking garage – and then go get state/federal funds through the
grant writing process. ”

***end of update********

Three candidates are contending for the at-large seat on the Port Orchard City Council to be vacated in 2008 by long-time member Bob Geiger. Geiger, who has served on the council for 45 years, said in the spring he’s finally had enough.
Geiger’s is one of five positions up for grabs on the seven-member council. Only one race will be uncontested, as incumbent Rob Putaansuu seeks to hold onto his seat. Only the race for Geiger’s seat will go to the primary.
The city council has been wrestling with one another for the past year over a proposed downtown development plan that has yet to be adopted, and the issue of the council’s efficiency figured prominently at a Kitsap Sun editorial board meeting with the three primary candidates last month.

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Commissioners Uphold Reduced Buffer on NK’s Johnson Creek

In one of his first decisions as North Kitsap Commissioner, Steve Bauer, with the other two commissioners, upheld the department of community development’s decision to grant a buffer reduction to a property owner wanting to build a home on a tributary of Johnson Creek in North Kitsap.

Janet Wold, one of nine appellants who had sought to overturn the decision, was disappointed. She asserts the building plans in question don’t meet the county’s criteria for a variance.
“This was Bauer’s first decision, and we were really hopeful that he would look into it thoroughly enough to see that those criteria were not met. … I hope this is not an indication of the way things are going to go,” Wold said.

Wold said the case is significant because it represents what she sees as the county’s overly generous approach toward granting variances to the Critical Areas Ordinance rule requiring 150 setbacks from fish-bearing streams.
“The county, as far as we know, always gives variances,” said Wold. “They ignore their own policy.”

The public hearing took place on July 9, Bauer’s first meeting as commissioner, and he asked for more time to study the situation. Not enough time, according to Wold, after Bauer and the other two commissioners on Monday denied the appeal.
“This was Commissioner Bauer’s first decision, and we were really hopeful that he would look into it thoroughly enough to see that those criteria were not met. … I hope this is not an indication of the way things are going to go,” Wold said.

Vivian Henderson of the Kitsap Alliance of Property Owners, however, was delighted with the ruling. At the meeting, she congratulated the commissioners on their ruling and said of the CAO’s buffer rule, “This has become a tool for neighbors of people who don’t want others to build homes.”

Bauer said after the meeting, he was satisfied that due process had been served in granting the variance. He said that he heard nothing in Wold’s testimony alluding to a cumulative effect on Johnson Creek for variances granted to property owners. He said he did hear her concern for the stream.
“It seems like this is a place I need to get out and look at,” Bauer said. “It’s an important fish stream, and we need to protect it.”

Wold hopes to take the appeal into litigation and is seeking a group or other entity, such as the state’s Department of Fisheries, to take the lead.

Meet the Candidates: PO Mayor’s Race

Despite different styles and personalities, candidates agree new mayor must take charge.

Port Orchard Mayor Kim Abel announced in early April she would not seek re-election at the end of her first term, leaving the race wide open. Vacant buildings in the downtown core are a glaring sign of the city’s potential yet to be achieved, even as some downtown business owners have worked to improve the appearance of the area. The Port Orchard City Council has been working for more than a year on a downtown plan that could spell relief for the city’s economy, but some merchants and property owners are frustrated with how long it’s taken. Constituents voting in the upcoming primary election will no doubt be looking for candidates who have a clear vision of Port Orchard’s future and the leadership skills needed to make it happen

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Howe Farm: Parking Lot Work to Begin Soon

Long-awaited improvements to Howe Farm, a county park in South Kitsap, will begin in early August. The park will be closed for up to three months during renovations.
Kitsap County commissioners on Monday gave final approval for spending $327,972 in capital facilities funds on paving and expanding the parking lot, building a single-stall restroom and finishing a fence around the dog off-leash area.
“This is the first step in the development of this park,” said Brian Lyman, project manager for the county’s Department of Facilities, Parks and Recreation.
The improvements are part of a master plan for the 83-acre park developed with public input, South Kitsap Commissioner Jan Angel said. The money was authorized two years ago as part of the county’s parks improvement plan.
Despite the county’s budget woes, spending on projects like this is seen as cost-effective because they won’t require a lot of maintenance, Central Kitsap Commissioner Josh Brown said.
County officials are negotiating with three groups on use of the park. The South Kitsap School District hopes to use part of the land as an open-air learning lab for its agriculture students. The WSU Kitsap County Extension wants to hold gardening and other horticulture classes there, and Kitsap Dog Parks Inc. would like to develop trails for dog owners.
County commissioners in March endorsed the proposed partnerships. A public hearing will be part of the commissioners’ discussion of the proposal, said Lyman, who could not say when it would be placed on the agenda.
The school district has extensive plans for gardens and livestock areas that, along with extension gardens, would essentially transform the park into a working farm. Angel emphasized that public input would take place before any plans proceed.
“Obviously it’s a hot potato for the neighborhood, whether there are farm animals there,” she said. “I think there are things that could work well there and things that would not work so well.”
New North Kitsap Commissioner Steve Bauer, the former Bellevue city manager, cited a similar project there. He said he was enthusiastic about the proposal for Howe Farm.
“At the risk of getting lots of phone calls and e-mail I don’t want, I’ll say I’m really excited about something like this. … It was wonderful seeing kids in this day and age getting up close with a farm animal.”
The dog park is another hot potato. With the fencing incomplete, some dog owners have been using areas outside the designated off-leash zone, a practice not endorsed by Kitsap Dog Parks Inc. Some people, dog owners among them, have objected to proposed plans for the park, saying the area should be left au natural.
Once the fencing is complete, Lyman said the it will be easier to keep dog owners in the off-leash zone.