Archive for February, 2009

A word about snark

snark·y  (snär’kē)  
adj.   snark·i·ersnark·i·est Slang

  1. Rudely sarcastic or disrespectful; snide.
  2. Irritable or short-tempered; irascible. 

We do love our snarkiness these days. Modern practitioners didn’t invent biting criticism, nor are they as good at it as past masters, like Shakespeare (“Thou slander of thy mother’s heavy womb! Thou loathed issue of thy father’s loins!”) and Twain (“Among our number was a vestryman,–the densest idiot I have ever seen at large,–who met the plainest evidence with the most preposterous objections, and who was sided with by two flabby parochial parasites”). Generations of critics and political humorists of all stripes made careers of their well-honed bitchiness. 

Commoners have been sniping at the ruling classes since the Exodus (“for you have brought us forth into this wilderness, to kill this whole assembly with hunger.”) Humor and back-biting are weapons of the powerless. Points first raised on the fringes of decorum eventually work their way into the political and creative mainstream. 

Bainbridge Island is in a crisis on multiple fronts. Our government is forging ahead with the Winslow Way upgrade in spite of significant opposition. Our City is out of money. Our arts and social service organizations–which have long been enthusiastically supported by the citizenry–are on the chopping block. The public does not trust City Hall. Our leaders do not trust each other.

Yes. We’re snarky. Better that than open revolt. (more…)

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For those of you who don’t want to slog through my long blog from last night’s Council meeting, here’s a quick recap:

The final engineering contract with Heery International for the Winslow Way reconstruction project was approved by a vote of 4-3 (Stoknes, Franz, Peters and Snow in favor; Brackett, Vancil and Knobloch opposed.) (more…)

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6 pm: Mayor Kordonowy and Bill Knobloch are fighting over the last minute scheduling of an executive session. The executive session will be held after the workshop on the Winslow Way project.

Chris Wierzbicki is making a presentation with nasty looking slides of the sewer pipes under Winslow Way. He says water storage availability is the issue, not increasing density downtown. He goes over the reasons again. PSE utility poles, water flow, sewer pipes. He says they will coordinate with the property owners and retailers on WW. Nothing new so far. (more…)

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High noon at City Hall

The last battle in the Winslow Way upgrade war that has divided Bainbridge Island more than any issue in the last decade is set for tonight at 6 pm. Metaphorically, it’s high noon, when the light is brightest, the features of each opponent most glaringly illuminated. Both camps have been preparing their strategies and, with a barrage of emails, blog posts and letters, trying to rally the townsfolk.  

The outcome of the fight is certain. Winslow Way has the relentless support of the Kordonowy administration and the majority four Council members: Kjell Stoknes, Hilary Franz, Barry Peters and Chris Snow. During the worst City financial crisis in memory, the City Hall management team that until last month was not able to track its own cash flow–never mind oversee an expensive, controversial and time-sensitive construction project–will rip up our main street and let the chips fall where they may. (more…)

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This afternoon, the City of Bainbridge Island sent out the following press release:

Recent Kitsap Sun articles reported that Bainbridge Island’s water supply is seeing “steep drops” due to declining water levels  and is “imperiled” by the threat of saltwater intrusion.  In fact, the Groundwater Monitoring Program Update – December 2008 reflects that the island’s aquifers are relatively stable, according to city water resources manager Jalyn Cummings.

 “It’s important to remember that we’re dealing with a complex aquifer system,” Cummings said.  “The data mentioned in the Sun article is just a thin slice of a much larger study.  We need to consider this information in the full context of available data in order to learn from it.  We also need to remember that this report is a periodic update that does not offer conclusive findings about the Island’s water resources and one well showing a decline does not mean the entire aquifer is declining.” (more…)

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There’s lots to talk about on Bainbridge Island these days. Feel free to use this post (or any other) to kick around ideas, reactions, and concerns about our island. And while you’re at it, take the new Notebook Poll on the right-hand sidebar  (yes, I know none of the answers given will solve the whole problem. So definitely post a comment if you have more to say). 

Hot topics this week:

*  What do you think about the possibility that the City will cut funding to community organizations supporting Comprehesive Plan-mandated programs like the arts and social services? (Read the Review article about it here.) Should the City lay more staff off instead? How would City services be affected?

*  Will you vote for the $42 million capital bond for schools (scheduled for a May vote)? (more…)

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In January, as the Kordonowy administration was revealing dramatic shortfalls in projected City revenues dating from at least November of 2008, announcing staff layoffs and slashing City services, an anonymous person posted a comment to my blog saying that in mid-December, the City awarded bonuses to senior management. Following that anonymous tip, I obtained and posted memoranda about those bonuses in articles here (January 21) and here (January 29).

The Kitsap Sun also published an article about the bonuses on January 21. By January 29, the resulting controversy had become significant enough that Mayor Darlene Kordonowy publicly defended the awards at a City Council meeting, before she gave her State of the City address.

On January 20, I submitted a public records request concerning the City’s merit pay program and payouts for the past several years. One of the first documents the City produced was a memo to the City’s payroll clerk dated January 23, 2009—-after my request, and after the Sun’s article was published—-signed by the mayor, specifying details about the bonus for City Administrator Mark Dombroski’s 2008 performance and authorizing payment. The memo concluded: “Please prepare a check for Mark at your earliest convenience.” (You can read the memo here: merit-pay-memo-dombroski.)

The memo shows that although the rest of the senior staff got their bonuses in December, Dombroski had to wait until January, right? And when he told the Kitsap Sun the 2008 bonuses were less than previous years by excluding his own bonus in the numbers, it was because he hadn’t gotten his bonus yet, right?

Wrong. (more…)

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