Archive for July, 2012

Interim City Manager Morgan Smith has confirmed that effective yesterday, July 23, Chief Jon Fehlman’s employment status with the City has changed from medical leave to paid administrative leave. Larry Dickerson will continue in his role as Interim Public Safety Director. (more…)

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The City released this information about a half-hour ago:

The Bainbridge Island Police Department arrested a suspect for attempted rape in the third degree in Sunday’s attack against a 19-year-old female. The suspect was transported to the Kitsap County Jail late last night. The name of the suspect will not be released until charges are filed.

“I am proud of the teamwork and investigative efforts of our officers, who worked diligently over the past 36 hours to find this person,” said Commander Sue Shultz. (more…)

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This morning the city sent out this notice to the public:

The Bainbridge Island Police Department received reports of two similar sexual assaults yesterday. On Sunday, July 22 at approximately 4:40 pm, officers responded to a reported sexual assault that occurred in the area of Madison Avenue South and Bjune Drive. The victim, a 53-year-old female, reported that a male unknown to her came up behind her while she was walking on the sidewalk and groped her crotch and buttocks before running away. The attack was witnessed by another person.


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Emails released under the Public Records Act suggest that Interim City Manager Morgan Smith will put police Chief Jon Fehlman on paid administrative leave as soon as he is well enough to assist in the investigation into the Bainbridge Police Guild’s no confidence vote.

The Guild took a vote of no-confidence in Fehlman’s leadership on June 11, after he’d been out on medical leave for a month due to pancreatitis and a heart condition. He was so ill he could not attend any portion of the Ostling trial in May, even though he was a named defendant in the high profile case involving the shooting death of a mentally ill man by a Bainbridge police officer. A jury determined that Fehlman and the City of Bainbridge Island failed to train its officers in dealing with the mentally ill and returned a $1 million verdict.

Defense lawyers have requested a new trial for Fehlman because of his inability to appear in court and testify in his own defense.

On June 15, Smith engaged lawyer and independent investigator Rebecca Dean to investigate the allegations contained in the vote of no confidence. Dean’s work is expected to take four to six weeks.  (more…)

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Court filings reveal that the Connelly Law Offices, attorneys for the Ostling family who last month won a $1 million verdict against the City of Bainbridge Island and police Chief Jon Fehlman, have asked for $688,535.83 in legal fees and costs.

After 11 days of trial and two days of deliberation, a jury decided the City and Chief Fehlman had failed to train Bainbridge police officers in dealing with mentally ill people, which led to the death of Douglas Ostling.  In 2010, Bainbridge police officers David Portrey and Jeffrey Benkert responded to a 911 hang-up call made by Ostling. Within five minutes of entering the Ostling residence, Officer Benkert shot him, after Ostling brandished an axe. The jury awarded $1 million to the Ostling family.

Saying “countless hours and thousands of dollars were invested by Plaintiffs’ counsel on a contingent basis,” the Connelly firm argued it deserves compensation at rates of up to $550 an hour, plus a multiplier of 50 percent.


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The Bainbridge Fire Department has concluded its investigation of the devastating fire that destroyed the 122 Bar and Restaurant in Winslow. They have concluded that the fire was caused accidentally, likely by a lightning strike.

The fire department’s Facebook page says this:

Investigators have concluded their investigation of the fire at THE 122 and believe the fire was an accident. The business, located at 241 Winslow Way, was destroyed in a 2-alarm fire in the early morning hours on July 9th.

Fire investigators spent the past three days examining the scene and sifting through the ashes. Due to the amount of damage to the building and contents, investigators were not able to determine an exact cause; however, they did find evidence that supports a lightning strike as the likely source of ignition. Foul play has been ruled out as a factor in the fire. (more…)

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Update 7/12–for a brief report of this item at last night’s council meeting, see my comment, which is third in the comment stream below.

I am reprinting below Gloria Sayler’s excellent piece on Council overreaching and disrespect of staff, which she sent out on her Island Observer listserv yesterday. To her analysis of possible violations Governance Manual, I add the state statute that prohibits Council members from giving orders to subordinates of the City Manager. 

The chip seal contract is back on the agenda for tonight’s Council meeting. It will be interesting to see whether Interim City Manager Morgan Smith will offer support for her Public Works Director, in light of the aggressive micromanagement by Council member Dave Ward.

Many important issues have been discussed in recent Council meetings but the question I am frequently asked is “Why is the Council/City so dysfunctional?”  Of course, there is no single reason but I think I understand some of the elements. First, government, even in our small City, is more complicated than one may think at first or second glance.

Another reason, related to the first, is on display almost every Wednesday night – the time involved.  Most weeks the Council meeting lasts 3-5 hours. If you think about any meetings you attend, most people have a difficult time maintaining their focus after the 2nd hour. (more…)

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