Posts Tagged ‘Bainbridge government’

You can set your watch by it—when anyone tries to be helpful in the realm of politics, someone else will smell conspiracy. Opposition and different viewpoints are wonderful. The innuendos and silliness used to kill other people’s ideas are not.

And by innuendo and silliness, today I mean former Council member Debbie Vann’s latest blast on the Trippwire, trying to discredit Kirsten Hytopoulos’s recommendation to hire a nationally recognized police consultant, Michael Berkow. After Vann griped about the utter nerve of Hytopoulos and her colleague Bob Scales (who, as members of the City’s Police Management Study ad hoc committee, are supposed to be working on reform) for daring to look for a policing expert, she fired her kill shot:

“I think the reason they want this man is that he is a friend of Althea Paulson’s and she recommended him to Kirsten.”

OMG. Busted!

Herein lies my confession.  (more…)


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Plotting to fire City Manager Brenda Bauer from their first days in office, and accomplishing the deed in their first six weeks, wasn’t radical enough for the new City Council. They had to fire her again last night in front of a crowd of stunned citizens and surly Council majority supporters. Bauer was given twenty-four hours to clear out, and will collect nine months worth of salary and benefits from the City.

By “new City Council,” let me name names, because all Council members are NOT equal in this swath of destruction at City Hall. The wrecking crew is  Debbi Lester, Steven Bonkowski, Dave Ward and Sarah Blossom.

Minority Council members Bob Scales, Anne Blair and Kirsten Hytopoulos walked into the Council meeting from executive session with the air of people who know they have little chance of salvaging the remains of Bainbridge Island’s reputation after a bad month of making the regional news for all the wrong reasons.

Noting that the majority’s action was a complete surprise so they had no prepared response, they labored to express their disgust and helplessness in the face of their colleagues’ behind-the-scenes maneuvering. (more…)

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On February 29, Kitsap County Superior Court Judge Russell Hartman denied a request by the Ratepayers Alliance to require the City of Bainbridge Island to pay more than $3 million in back storm and surface water management (SSWM) fees and interest.

He also held that the Alliance is not entitled to recover its legal fees and costs from the City. Unless appealed and overturned, that ruling may well be the biggest blow to the Ratepayers Alliance yet, because it forecloses the possibility of recovery of their legal fees, even if they prevail on the remaining issues in the lawsuit. (more…)

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This afternoon, the following statement (posted on the City’s website) was issued by the City of Bainbridge Island:

The City of Bainbridge Island
February 27, 2012

Dear Bainbridge Island residents:

The Seattle Times published stories, yesterday and today, which focused on the Douglas Ostling tragedy and on how the city has dealt with accusations of misconduct by our police officers in the past. TheTimes’ story does not adequately reflect the City’s commitment to police professionalism and accountability, nor does it convey some of the significant work that has been in progress at the city. The relationship between our community and our police department is one of the city’s most critical connections with its citizens, and because this is such an important topic, I wanted you to be aware of some facts.

The Council, the Police Chief and I are committed to ensuring that police officers receive the appropriate training, that practices are transparent, that any misconduct is addressed, and that we improve the standards and expectations for everyone who works for our police department.

Under any circumstances, the loss of a human life is very painful. The City continues to join its citizens in offering its sincere condolences to the family of Mr. Ostling. The Kitsap Sheriff and Prosecutor have made their investigative files available for those who would like more information. Our administrative report and reports from the prosecutor are included with this letter.

Our commitment to the citizens of Bainbridge Island is that our officers will understand how to best handle people in crisis. Chief Fehlman is a member of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), facilitates classes here, and was on the Board of the Sonoma County NAMI chapter before coming to Bainbridge. Before the officer involved shooting, seven of our 21 officers had completed Crisis Intervention Training, with three getting additional certification to become trainers. The Bainbridge Island Police Department will continue to make this critical training a priority for our officers.

Police officers are often called upon to engage people in the most difficult moments of their lives. Every police department will receive complaints about how an officer handled a situation. The most critical thing when a complaint is made is how we respond. I can assure you, when there has been misconduct, or accusations of misconduct, we have responded appropriately by investigating allegations in a timely and fair manner. (more…)

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At tonight’s presentation about the authority of Council members under the Council-Manager form of government by Seattle lawyer Steve DeJulio, Mayor Debbi Lester and Council members Dave Ward and Steve Bonkowski quickly shut down Council member Bob Scales when he tried to ask questions about the authority of individual Council members to act without a Council vote. Council authority has been a raw question since Lester, Bonkowski and Dave Ward hired a law firm to give advice about firing City Manager Brenda Bauer without obtaining a vote of the full Council. DiJulio’s presence was at Council’s request following the dispute over that issue.

DeJulio gave a crisp one-hour briefing on the laws governing the power and functioning of local government in our state. He told Council it has legislative authority to act by motion, resolution, or ordinance. A significant responsibility is to adopt a budget, also done as a legislative body in open session.

DeJulio explained that, under the island’s Council-Manager form of government, the Council has legislative authority, and the power to appoint the City Manager. State law specifically prohibits the Council from interfering with the decisions of the City Manager. The statute requires that the Council deal with staff solely through the Manager, except for purposes of inquiry, or at public Council meetings. (more…)

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UPDATED: As of 4 p.m. on May 20, with 200 additional votes left to be counted, the Kitsap County Auditor reports that the change in government  is passing with a vote of 69.76%. The school bond is still just short of the supermajority, at 59. 57%. Over 9000 people cast votes on these measures (9205 on the form of government vote, and 9414 on the bond). On another note, our change of government vote was featured on KUOW today, with Mayor Kordonowy and change of government campaign member Bob Fortner giving their comments by phone. Click here for the audio.

The voters have spoken and they want real change in local government. Last night’s unofficial vote count from the Kitsap County Auditor gave the change of government measure an impressive lead at 71.4%, out of  7511 votes counted. The school bond measure is falling short of the required 60% supermajority, at 57.68%. Results will be updated today at 4 p.m. when ballot drop-offs and late mail-ins will be counted. 

Change-of-government supporters celebrated at the Treehouse last night, noshing on pizza and salad and marveling at the wide margin of victory. Council members Debbie Vancil, Kim Brackett, Bill Knobloch and Barry Peters were in the crowd of about fifty. Shortly after the results were in, state Representative and former Bainbridge Councilor Christine Rolfes, dropped in. Rolfes sponsored a bill in Olympia that enabled the change-of-government measure to be on the ballot in May, instead of during the general election in November.   


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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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