Archive for August, 2013

The City of Bainbridge Island just sent out this press release:

City officials have reported a major sewer spill in Eagle Harbor as a result of a break in the Highway 305 South sewer force main located in the vicinity of 1220 Donald Place, Bainbridge Island. Sewer plant staff received an alert early this morning for an unrelated incident and noticed remarkably low flows at the plant. Upon further investigation, it was determined that sewage was not reaching the plant, indicating a likely force main break. Crews confirmed the force main break around 3:30 p.m. today.

City personnel are currently preparing to attempt an emergency repair during the next low tide window, which is expected around 9:30 p.m. this evening. At this time, City officials do not have an estimate of the volume of sewage spilled into Eagle Harbor. However, public beaches have been closed to wading, swimming or shellfish harvesting as a precautionary measure. (more…)

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This morning Bob Fortner and I sent out the following press release:

Bainbridge residents Althea Paulson and Bob Fortner filed a Public Records Act lawsuit in Kitsap County Superior Court today against the City of Bainbridge Island, and city council members Steven Bonkowski, David Ward and Debbi Lester. Bonkowski, Ward and Lester have been named in the suit both personally and in their role as councilpersons.

Paulson and Fortner made separate requests under the state Public Records Act for records about the council’s recent dealings with the city’s utilities. When councilperson Sarah Blossom produced responsive emails from her personal email account, it became apparent that Bonkowski, Ward, Lester and Blossom have been conducting city business from their personal email accounts.

Council members are given a city email address and, by city policy, are directed to use only that account for city business. Unlike Blossom, councilpersons Ward, Bonkowski and Lester have failed to turn their emails over to the city, in violation of city policy, as well as state law. There is no indication that the other three councilpersons, Kirsten Hytopoulos, Bob Scales and Anne Blair, have used their personal accounts for city business.

“The last thing we want to do is sue the city,” said Paulson, a former co-publisher of the Bainbridge Buzz news website, who now blogs about city politics. “But the way the Public Records Act is written, we have to sue the city in order to require rogue officials to obey the law. The city has produced documents from the city’s server, but in the two months since my request, the three council members still haven’t produced their emails.” (more…)

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mad-men-elisabeth-moss-3_610The dustup over the keeping of minutes by city committees continues. On July 30, City Manager Doug Schulze sent an email to all city committees and commissions, passing on the advice from the city attorney that they are to conduct themselves as if the state Open Public Meetings Act applies to them. Staff will continue to provide the mandated public notice via the city’s website and distribution lists after receipt of an agenda from the committee chairs. Schulze reiterated current city policy on the taking of minutes, asking committee members take the minutes and provide a copy to the city staff for posting on the city website.

At the end of 2010, citizen committees and commissions were advised that, due to budget constraints, the city could not longer provide staff support for the taking of minutes.

Utility Advisory Committee (UAC) Chair Arlene Buetow responded to Schulze in two emails. The first email expressed disappointment that he had not said in his correspondence that this was a new interpretation of state law.

The second contained an ultimatum: either provide staff support for UAC minute-taking or she will cancel the upcoming UAC meeting.

Arlene Buetow’s emailing habits have already been covered here. But on the subject of minutes, there’s something to be said in her defense.

Women know how often eyes turn to them whenever minute-taking comes up at meetings. Men who might be enlightened and wonderful in other parts of their lives, suddenly come down with a Mad Men style sexism when there are secretarial duties at hand.

The UAC has five members: four men and Arlene Buetow. Come on men. Get off your hands and help her out. Here’s a helpful tip from a couple of male former UAC members who did manage to prepare minutes, while fully participating in meetings: (more…)

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Last night at a council study session, consultant Michael Pendleton presented his report on the Bainbridge Island Police Department. Pendleton was hired last January to do a study of the department, find areas needing improvement and make recommendations for changes.

Pendleton emphasized that he did not do a Department of Justice-style investigation though some in the community requested it. Instead, he interviewed every member of the department, members of city leadership and members of the community. He also reviewed relevant documents and records.

This is a quick summary of his report. For the detail, read the report itself, which I’ve posted at the end of this article.

Pendleton presented six findings and conclusions:

1. Police personnel say the department has a “lower than desired” organizational health, effectiveness rating and working climate.

2. There is a low “unity of command” due to poor upper leadership, poor first line supervision and poor communication within the department.

3. Bainbridge Island citizens are split in their support for the police, with most citizens either feeling either neutral or positive, and a significant minority having negative views. (more…)

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