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Archive for August, 2012

Islanders for Collaborative Policing (with its unfortunate acronym “ICP,” the initials for the 80’s horrorcore band, Insane Clown Posse) has released its recommendations for reform of the Bainbridge Island Police Department. The police reform group, created last December, is governed by a six-person citizen board and held several public meetings to solicit community input about police issues.

Considering the conflict and negative press surrounding the Bainbridge Island Police Department in the past year, the group produced a surprisingly tame document which mostly recycles old standbys–more officers on foot and in schools, more training, more citizen involvement, better communication.

Interim City Manager Morgan Smith, Interim Public Safety Director Larry Dickerson and Commander Sue Shultz have issued a memo (the “City’s Response”) responding to the recommendations (linked below). (more…)

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Two Bainbridge Island police lieutenants have been given oral reprimands after one was caught sleeping on the job and the other failed to report the incident to a supervisor.

Lt. Phil Hawkins was found to have fallen asleep for a “brief period of time” while on duty in January of 2012. According to a memorandum issued by Interim City Manager Morgan Smith, Hawkins was reported by another officer for sleeping and for failing to respond to an alarm call.

The unnamed reporting officer told Lt. Denise Giuntoli about Hawkins sleeping on duty and failure to respond to a call. Giuntoli did not report the incident through the appropriate chain of command, according Smith’s memo. Although Giuntoli didn’t make a report to a supervisor, she did talk about the incident to a staff member in late February. (more…)

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By Bob Fortner

Last year’s Council “fixed” the water utility problems…high rates were reduced to those proposed by the KPUD, overhead was reduced and a trial period was established. The Utility Advisory Committee would review operational data quarterly and report to Council in June 2013.

Without waiting for or seeking operating data, Council members Bonkowski, Ward and Blossom with the support of Mayor Lester are pursuing early re-engagement with KPUD regarding management or ownership of the City’s Water Utility. Using 5 years of financial reports, Bonkowski alludes to data on the other city utilities compared with water to support his contention that all is not right with utility management and therefore the early re-engagement is justified.

Perhaps in his relative newness here, he fails to factor in that the previous Finance Director was dismissed in August of 2010 after 6 years of fiscal obfuscation which contributed to our near bankruptcy. Bonkowski may have found what he believes are discrepancies or a “straw man” to justify divestiture. Basing the reengagement decision on an analysis of those records, without a previous examination of current data, seems inconsistent with his experience in the business world. (more…)

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Note: The opinions in this post are mine alone and do not represent the views of the BISD or anyone else. 

Since I last posted, a Trippwire regular has sent out an email about the Bainbridge Island School District, describing his concerns about a pilot Spanish immersion program at the homeschool center at Commodore. As I scanned the email, I suddenly stumbled over my very own name.

“On June 14, I sent yet another email to the board,” he wrote, “raising questions about the program, and the fact that there was now a waiting list to get in it.  Again, Board president Patty Fielding did not respond to me, but did email Althea Paulson, a frequent blogger and defender of the status quo in city government…”

I’m not at all clear on the “status quo” he’s talking about, since City Hall has gone through one upheaval after another since I took up blogging again last December. But I do like the title. Defender of the Status Quo!  As if I could be a knight of the Roundtable, perhaps a sister of Sir Robin the Not-Quite-So-Brave as Sir Lancelot. Forthwith and henceforth, I accept the moniker.

Not in the bag.

Anyway, it appears that this Trippwire writer is wondering about my connection to the school district, and why the school board president emailed me. I’m not one for keeping cats in the bag, so here comes the meowing truth. (more…)

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With all the upheaval and legal issues involving the Bainbridge Island Police Department in the past couple of years, it wouldn’t be a surprise if the department was in disarray, able to accomplish only to the bare essentials.

But, as I learned in a conversation with Commander Sue Shultz this week, in spite of the unprecedented pressures and negative publicity (or maybe because of them), the department has been making substantial efforts to change both the way it does business and the public’s perception of the police.  (more…)

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Now for some welcome news from our police department:

How many times have you been in a backup on Highway 305 and wondered what was going on? Or wanted to know about power outages after a wind storm? We may not have local TV or radio, but now we have the next best thing. The BIPD has joined Nixle, a communication service that allows you to sign up for police and safety news, advisories and community updates by text message or on your laptop. (more…)

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I was hoping the Bainbridge Island Police Guild and its supporters would have the patience to wait for Rebecca Dean to complete her investigation of the charges in its no confidence vote against Chief Jon Fehlman and issue her report to the City. Her report was originally estimated to take 4-6 weeks to complete, which means it may be issued any day now.

Unfortunately, the Guild is attempting to try its charges against Chief Fehlman in the court of public opinion, rather than wait for the investigation process to be completed. A couple of weeks ago, the Guild posted a feature, “The Truth Patrol,” on its website, which takes aim at an unnamed blogger (yours truly) as well as City Manager Morgan Smith (see the end of this post) and Chief Fehlman. Today, former Bainbridge Police officer Scott Anderson has sent a Trippwire missive, touting the “Truth Patrol” and its “honest information.” As a result, I’m posting the responsive email I sent to Morgan Smith and Guild President Bob Day.

Dear Bob and Morgan,

Kim Hendrickson sent out a link to the guild’s website, where there is a response to my post about the chief’s admin leave.

It’s unfortunate that the guild has chosen to put more heavy handed spin into the public record. It looks now as if the guild is trying to step up political pressure on the City Manager in a manner that is troubling.

I took copious notes during my interview with the lieutenants and I stand by my characterization of their remarks. Bob Day posted a comment on the post, noting one correction, which I made. If he had a problem with the accuracy of anything else in the article he certainly would have corrected that as well, but he did not.  (more…)

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Dragonfly Farms owner Heidi Kaster grew up on Bainbridge. Her parents are dear friends and former neighbors of mine, Anne and Max Wisner–well known and loved by the island’s youth baseball community (as well as anyone else who has known them). Heidi’s nursery in Hansville is a beautiful spot, and she needs help. Here’s her story.

Dear Dragonfly fans or anyone who finds this letter.

I have been having a problem with the county zoning issues. My lawyer had a talk with the commissioner yesterday. She said yes, it is time for community support. Many of you know I speak before I think so I need to watch what I write but I need your help and definitely feel my business, that I have worked so hard to create is being threatened.

In summary, I started the business on Bainbridge in 1998 with a partner.  The partner backed out and I wanted to move the nursery to my home.  The commute was tough.  I could have made more money on the island and was supported there by everyone.  I called the Kitsap county and told them my plan and they said no problem you are a hobby farm and we support cottage industry.  So I took down the greenhouses and moved here to Kingston. Many of you have seen me working from the beginning to make this a warm and inviting place to visit.  I am a plant nerd and love what I do.  I also do landscaping and have worked very hard 7 days a week for the past 30 years with never a vacation.  Not to whine, I love what I do and my vacation is here with my dogs and plants.

In 2008 I joined a community group and that is where the trouble began.  There is a group of people out here that are against community and a few of them happen to be lawyers.  They sued me  and 44 others in the community group and have made it their mission to make my business life a struggle. In 2009 I was shut down by the county for no condition use permit and the then commissioner, Steve Bauer came right up here met, with me and knew exactly what was happening and who was targeting me.  I was grandfathered in at a meeting and it was recorded.  I asked for this in writing but the county doesn’t like to give things in writing.  Now that Steve is gone the new commissioner isn’t backing me.  He says I have a history of breaking county policy and I feel threatened. I guess a person’s word doesn’t mean anything anymore.

Last winter I built a farm stand coffee house in memory of my friend Aaron Waag a tree trimmer who was killed way too early.  The community donated material and it turned out beautifully. His wife Ashely is our coffee house manager. It provides the community a nice place to get a snack while shopping or pick up some eggs.  I want to try to bring a sense of community here and the county wants to shut down this part of my business. I pay my sales tax and buy wonderful food from 2 small businesses just like me.  In my own way I’m trying to boost our economy and help other local people.   (more…)

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