Archive for June, 2013

At the June 5 council meeting, councilman Steven Bonkowski tossed aside an item on the agenda to consider whether to enter into an agreement with the Kitsap Public Utility District to manage the city’s water utility. Without any prior notice to the council or the public, Mr. Bonkowski took the podium and made his own presentation concerning water rates and the utility’s reserve. He proffered six motions for council consideration, including cutting water rates by 35% and refunding $3 million of reserves to ratepayers. Mr. Bonkowski took great exception to the analysis contained in a memo from City Manager Doug Schulze, saying it “misrepresents many issues,” and “failed” to respond to various aspects of council’s direction. The Bainbridge Review’s article about it is here. The Inside Bainbridge article, with more detail, is here. 

At the June 19 meeting, the council discussed Bonkowski’s proposals and put the rate reduction on the June 27 agenda. Council member Bob Scales said he may not be available that day and that it was customary for votes on significant issues to be scheduled when all seven council members will be present. Mr. Bonkowski said that the views of each council person were already known and indicated he would add the item to the agenda at the June 27 meeting.

I sent the following email to council today.

Dear Council:

It was discouraging to hear at last week’s council meeting Mr. Bonkowski’s opinion that the presence of dissenting colleagues is unnecessary when the council votes on important water utility decisions. That position is contrary to general principles of democratic process and also appears to violate Section 8.5 of your Governance Manual, which gives dissenting council members the right to state their reasons for dissent on the record.

This is not the only recent violation of good process and best practices by council members, and by citizen committee members appointed by the council majority. I have learned via emails obtained in a public records request, that before Mr. Bonkowski made his June 5th water utility presentation, he obtained help and research from UAC member Eric Turloff. Mr. Turloff’s out-of-view assistance was conducted with the knowledge of UAC Chair Arlene Buetow, and UAC member Jeff Kantor, as well as council member Dave Ward, all three of whom were cc’d on several emails. This is in direct violation of BIMC Ch. 2.33 (which governs the Utility Advisory Committee). That ordinance provides that “The committee shall act in an advisory capacity to the city council…” The ordinance does not allow for a few committee members to act in advisory capacity to a few council members. Rather, the committee must act as a whole to advise the council, also as a whole. Further, section 2.33.060 provides: “Meetings shall be open to the public.” Discussions via email, phone or in person by a quorum of three members of the UAC would be a meeting which was not open to the public, and thus violative of section 2.33.060.  (more…)

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