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Posts Tagged ‘Bill KNobloch’

When it first appeared on the scene in 2009 during the waning days of the Kordonowy administration, the Bainbridge Ratepayers Alliance was vigorously criticized by supporters of the Winslow Way reconstruction project, a few Council members, the Chamber of Commerce, citizens, and various downtown business people. Remember the disapproving letters to the editor and signs in a few merchant windows, telling them to knock it off?

Times change. A couple of years of aggressive lobbying by president Dick Allen, secretary Sally Adams and their supporters–who include past and current Council members and Utility Advisory Committee members—so effectively turned public opinion against the City that voters elected an entire slate of Ratepayer supporters to Council: Dave Ward, Sarah Blossom, and Steven Bonkowski (all of whom advocated for water utility divestiture during their campaigns, and were endorsed at a campaign event co-hosted by Sally Adams. Two of them, Dave Ward and Sarah Blossom, also accepted campaign contributions of money and volunteer services from Alliance members).

In the process, the Ratepayers Alliance transformed from a seemingly populist, if secretive, handful of people focused on remedying unfairness in utility rates, to a group of secretive, behind-the-scenes operatives who appear to be fixated on disabling the City and recouping their legal fees in a largely unsuccessful lawsuit.

The “Ratepayers” have become the “Alliance.” (more…)

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Former Council member Bill Knobloch and City watcher Robert Dashiell can continue to exercise their rights to participate in local democracy, according to Bainbridge Municipal Court Judge pro tem Jennifer Forbes.

After hearing significantly different versions of their scuffle at City Hall, Judge Forbes denied both men their petitions for restraining orders against each other, saying she needed to see more than one isolated incident to justify restraining their constitutional rights of freedom of movement and freedom of association. She noted that both of them were likely to want to go to future City Council meetings and exercise those rights. (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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Now that our City Manager has been dispatched by the newly constituted City Council, another item on its to-do list may well be a reconsideration of whether to divest the City’s water utility to the Kitsap PUD (KPUD).

Current mayor Debbi Lester voted against retaining the utility back in December when the Council majority decided to keep it for an 18-month period to determine whether the City could run it as cost-effectively as the KPUD. Three of the new Council members—Sarah Blossom, Dave Ward and Steven Bonkowski—made divestiture a key part of their campaigns. While he was on the Utility Advisory Committee (UAC) and also running for Council (and while the UAC was deliberating on its water utility recommendation), Ward also accepted a campaign contribution from Dick Allen, a leading member of the Ratepayers Alliance which has sued the City and included divestiture on its list of demands.

That foursome forms a Council majority that might be interested in re-visiting the water utility issue, which seemed mostly dormant during the City Manager contract renegotiation. This week, various publicly circulated emails have heated up the rhetoric. (more…)

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At last week’s City Council meeting, four new Council members–Sarah Blossom, Dave Ward, Steven Bonkowski and Anne Blair–were sworn in, and four others–Hilary Franz, Barry Peters, Bill Knobloch and Kim Brackett–were bid warm good-byes. Sadly, the occasion was marred by some good old-fashioned political hackery. A memo (posted below) surfaced at the meeting, purporting to give advice to an unnamed voting bloc of four on the incoming Council, on such statesmanlike topics as the lying habits of City employees, how to force a management shake-up at City Hall, and how to sandbag Council opposition. 

According to information obtained by Inside Bainbridge, outgoing Council member Bill Knobloch was behind the memo. Inside Bainbridge quotes City Manager Brenda Bauer as saying Knobloch used the copier at City Hall and “immediately after he left, [a] staff person who walked past him into the room to use the copier found the document in the originals tray. They shared it with another staff person or two who came into the copier room, and then it was given to me.”

When contacted by Inside Bainbridge, Knobloch denied responsibility, saying, “I am not the author of that document.” Knobloch added that “we should not be conjecturing about something that we had no way of knowing,” and repeated that the accusation was “totally false.” Inside Bainbridge reported that he “questioned the reasoning behind sharing the document at the Council meeting: ‘What good is that especially since it was a festive evening?’” I’m willing to entertain the idea that he didn’t write it, or wasn’t the only author, but at the very least it seems clear he was involved with crafting and conveying the message.

I got my hands on it after the Council meeting and was so disgusted I wrote the email below to members of the new Council. I promptly received two or three emails from another citizen who has been active in trying to shred the City for the past couple of years (I can’t bring myself to name him, but let it be said he loves to clog our inboxes with his anti-everything musings.) This citizen gave it the old spaghetti on the wall trick, throwing up as many defenses as possible to see what sticks. His argument boils down to one point: this is politics, honey, so get used to it.

As to the voting bloc to whom the memo is addressed, an educated guess would be the three new members whom Knobloch publicly endorsed: Dave Ward, Sarah Blossom and Steven Bonkowski. The identity of the fourth might be gleaned from the public reaction of Debbi Lester, who has been aligned with Knobloch on several hot button issues in the past few months, such as divestiture of the City’s water utility and the swamp surrounding the in-sourcing of the Civil Service Commission’s Secretary/ Chief Examiner position. After I read the memo, I communicated with Councilors Hytopoulos, Scales, Franz and Peters, who were uniformly disgusted and outraged. In contrast, Lester made light of the episode when contacted by Inside Bainbridge, saying, “Everybody should go have some eggnog and chill out.” (more…)

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