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Posts Tagged ‘CoBI’

Last August, we filed a Public Records Act lawsuit against the City of Bainbridge Island and certain individual councilpersons, after learning they had been conducting City business from their personal email accounts, and had failed to produce these records after receiving our public records request.

As we said in our press release at the time, “The last thing we want to do is sue the city….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.”

We have tried to make clear throughout this litigation that our primary concern was not with individuals on the City’s staff, whom we had found to be cooperative and professional. It was unlawful activity by the councilpersons that troubled us, because they have consistently placed themselves above the law and have refused to turn over public records. Council members Dave Ward and Steven Bonkowski have admitted under oath that they deleted emails concerning City business, relying upon their own personal definition of what constitutes a public record, and without seeking advice from the City. In doing so, they ignored guidelines that were provided to them on multiple occasions.

In a 32-page decision issued May 29th, Kitsap County Superior Court Judge Jeannette Dalton agreed with us, finding that the councilpersons’ refusal to turn over the records was of “grave concern for the people of Bainbridge Island.” Judge Dalton found that the City failed to do an adequate search for the requested records as required by law, because even after the City knew the council members were conducting City business on their personal accounts, it did not make any effort to search those accounts. She ruled that the City violated the Public Records Act and ordered the City to pay our attorneys fees and sanctions for the violations.

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Three Council members, Val Tollefson, Wayne Roth and Roger Townsend, sent this letter to the press this morning on City of Bainbridge Island Executive Department letterhead. Although I am not aware of any Council vote taken to approve this letter, it appears to be the City’s official statement, sent out by City press release. It is also posted on the City’s website. 

As many already know, the Kitsap County Superior Court recently issued a ruling in a Public Records Act lawsuit brought last year by two Bainbridge Island citizens against the City and two current members of the City Council. The City has decided to ask the Court of Appeals to review the trial court’s ruling. As the three members of the City Council who were not members of the Council last year, we thought it important to share our justification for supporting this decision.

This case began at a time last year when the emotions of a number of Bainbridge Islanders, both on and off the City Council, were high. To a casual observer it would have been clear that there was little trust and collegiality among some members of the Council, and there were a number of Island interest groups who had little faith in some members of the Council or indeed, in the Council and City government as a whole. (more…)

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One of the most disturbing charges made by T-PAC candidates is that the City of Bainbridge Island (CoBI) is in financial trouble.

“I believe we have struggled more than most due to 1) an excessively broad scope of services, 2) shrinking revenues, 3) lack of fiscal controls,” Arlene Buetow says on her campaign website.

Dee McComb says tackling budget issues and controlling expenses are a top priority for her.

“The City finances are unsustainable,Dick Haugan told Inside Bainbridge.

“The main reason I’m running is to introduce sound, fiscal management to our city,” he wrote in a Bainbridge Review ad.

“We need to fix this fiscal mess,”  he said in a mailing to shoreline property owners.

Those are serious allegations. But are they true? Not according to Moody’s Investors Service.

This past August, Moody’s assigned an Aa3 rating to CoBI’s general obligation bonds. 

The Aa3 rating means CoBI demonstrates “very strong creditworthiness relative to other US municipal or tax-exempt issuers or issues.”

“The rating primarily reflects the city’s continuing trend of improvement in its financial operations, moderately-sized tax base which has yet to return to growth, and above-average wealth levels of city residents,” Moody’s wrote in its summary rating rationale.

The rating also reflects the city’s strong management team and conservative financial policies.”

Moody’s listed as key strengths CoBI’s strong reserve levels, the trend of structural balance in the last three audited years and its low debt burden. (more…)

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