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Archive for April, 2009

p1160200UPDATED: On Saturday, May 9 at 11 a.m. with some earth, sunlight and your help, a little magic will happen on Bainbridge Island. 

A group of volunteers are putting in an organic community garden at Island Terrace apartments, the island’s only low income housing for all ages, located at the corner of High School Road and Ferncliff. And we need your labor, skills, and donations of materials and cash. 

The idea grew out of a community garden meeting in March, sponsored by Sustainable Bainbridge. With the enthusiastic support of Renee’ Levesque, the manager of Island Terrace, Kathy Cooper of Housing Resources Board, Chuck Estin, Debbi Lester, and Island Terrace residents, we’re ready for the May 9 work party. 

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After months of waffling, I’ve finally decided I’m voting in favor of changing our City government to the council-manager form.

I’ve gone back and forth on this question because it wasn’t clear to me whether the City’s problems are structural or simply the result of two terms with a divisive mayor, abetted by eight years of ineffectual Councils.

If we vote to adopt the council-manager form of government, we probably won’t see any big changes right away. After the election is certified, Mayor Darlene Kordonowy will become the eighth member of the City Council (if she chooses) until her term expires at the end of 2009. The often contentious 4-3 split on Council will widen to 5-3, because the current Council majority has been supporting Kordonowy’s policies all along. City administrator Mark Dombroski will, in all likelihood, keep his job. Citizens will still distrust City government, and we’ll continue to see the symptoms of that distrust: political controversies, large numbers of public records requests, and litigation between islanders and their government. (more…)

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Given the filing of the lawsuit  today by Winslow ratepayers (Bainbridge Ratepayers Alliance), I am at the City Council meeting to see whether they will approve the financing of the watewater treatment plant in spite of the lawsuit. After public comment, the Council went into a lengthy recess (apparently to discuss the lawsuit). When the Council resumed its meeting, Council member Bill Knobloch moved that items concerning the financing for the wastewater treatment plant on the Council’s agenda be removed due to the filing of that lawsuit. The motion failed, with Mr. Knobloch voting in favor of removing those items, Kim Brackett abstaining (stating she doesn’t have enough information to vote on it), and the other Councilors voting against it.

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The Bainbridge Ratepayers Alliance sent out the following press release this afternoon:

Bainbridge Ratepayers Alliance filed suit in Kitsap Superior Court against the City of Bainbridge Island, Wednesday, April 22. At issue is how the city has used, and plans to use, fees paid by 2,200 water utility and 1,800 sewer utility customers. In addition to portions of Fletcher Bay and Rockaway Beach, city utility ratepayers live within the Winslow core area from New Brooklyn south to Eagle Harbor and from Sportsman Club Road/Finch to the eastern shoreline.

In a statement issued at the time of filing, Bainbridge Ratepayers Alliance Secretary, Sally Adams, said “We greatly regret that the City has pushed the ratepayers so far that it became necessary to file this lawsuit to counter the misuse of utility ratepayer fees. Under law, COBI utility ratepayers may only be charged for services they receive. They may not be charged for costs that benefit other public projects.” (more…)

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During public comment at a City Council meeting in mid-February, Senior Center Vice President Joan Treacy noted that in the City’s councilmanic bond issue last fall, the Council included $250,000 to begin work on an expansion of the Senior Center. Nearly a half-year later, the Senior Center has not seen any of the proceeds. “Where is our money?” she asked.

Finance wizards

Finance goblins

It was a question heard ’round the island, at least among serious City watchers who worry about the City’s solvency, given its borrowings from the water utility, staff layoffs and the budget cuts still necessary to weather the financial downturn.

As the City’s financial crisis has deepened, many of our most cherished plans and programs have been trimmed or eliminated. We can argue whether a new Senior Center should be started now, and whether it should become a higher priority than other projects still waiting in the wings. But when the City borrowed money by issuing bonds for the express purpose of putting money toward the project, the decision was made, and the City has no choice but to spend the money for the Senior Center, as promised in the bond contracts and offering documents (or pay it back).  (more…)

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Thanks to Elizabeth Gadbois for posting this message from Helpline House on Facebook. I’m posting it here too, to help get the word out. Please consider making a generous donation of cash or food to the island’s only food bank.

We continue to experience very heavy demands on the food bank inventory. We are also running low on cash funds to purchase food, so will need to rely even more than usual on the community to help suppy our needs. Our shelves have lots of many items, but then none of others, so selection is sometimes a bit limited. What we need most immediately: canned fruit, cooking oils, and pasta sauces. And we really appreciate snack items or crackers for children; last month over a third of the people in the households served were under age 18.        

Thank you,

Marilyn Gremse & Clara Manny
HELPLINE HOUSE
Managers of Volunteer Services
volunteerservices@helplinehouse.org
206-842-7621

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The Council-Manager ’09 campaign posted a 4-minute video on its website this week, explaining the advantages of the council-manager form of government. I’ve been on the fence about change of government all along, but this video just might seal the deal for me. It’s professionally done, succinct and persuasive. Its most compelling point: our current form of government itself creates conflict, distrust and antagonism between the administration and the City Council. And for years, that’s been one of the biggest complaints from citizens about City Hall.

So…what do you think of it?

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