Council disregards Bremerton voters, rewrites City Charter to suit majority; 2nd ADU public hearing; LOTS of permit activity and $$ in fees; new Behavioral Health Navigator to liaise with police; former Councilor Adam Brockus is mourned.
In sum: The Council declared a vacancy had occurred in District Six. This was in compliance with Article 2, Sec 9 of the City Charter approved by Bremerton voters in 1980 (or so), which declares that when any Councilor is away from Bremerton for over 30 days without consent of Council, that seat shall be declared vacant. Council then appointed [emphasis added] the former Councilor to that seat. This is in clear contradiction to established precedent, which appointed first Pat Sullivan and then Lori Wheat to vacancies in their respective districts. Those appointments were publicly announced, applicants came forward, were interviewed by Council, and one was appointed. Each member of the majority who approved last night’s appointment — all Councilors up for re-election this year — spoke of the need to not subvert the will of the voters. That is tautological, circular reasoning. Why? Because the voters clearly elected someone who would represent them from and in Bremerton. If the voters elected someone who then moved to another district, that elected would have to resign. Mike Simpson has moved, for at least a third of the year, to the other side of the Pacific Ocean. His argument that the Charter is archaic in this age of Zoom is a red herring: Council does not have the power to rewrite the Charter as it sees fit. Yet that is what they did last night.
2. EXECUTIVE SESSION Added… 30-minutes to discuss Potential Litigation as allowed under RCW 42.30.110(1)(i) Action was taken. — Contemporaneous notes: The session was extended by 15 minutes. So this will be a long meeting. It was then extended by an additional 10 minutes. And then by another 5 minutes.
Motion read in by Roger Lubovich: Moved to acknowledge that Council District Six position is vacant due to Michael Simpson being absent from the City for 30 days without consent of Council. Opened to public comment. Debra McDaniel — approves the motion and hopes Council will follow through. Wheat: Thanks public, Council, and Lubovich & Jetty (sp?), who consulted outside counsel. The legal memo received late this afternoon says specifically, on p.3, that the terms of the Charter mean that the vacancy has been created. No action by City Council is required to declare the vacancy. She asks if putting this to a vote creates legal jeopardy. Lubovich does not wish to discuss. Wheat: Is it your position that this advice should be followed? Lubovich: It’s the advice you’ve been given, doesn’t wish to discuss. Wheat: I understand that Charter was approved by Bremerton voters, and I take following the laws and rules very seriously. Just wants to make sure we’re doing the right thing for the voters. Gorman: Essentially, Simpson is in Japan for work. Our City Charter states, Article 2, Sec. 9. When a Councilmember is absent from the City for more than 30 days, it can only be with consent of the Council. This wasn’t asked for or given, Simpson simply told then-President Younger that he’d be gone, who in turn informed Council in a Christmas Eve email. Daugs: Charter approved by voters, we are trying to follow them. Just letting the audience know that the decision will be made based on Charter and our legal advice. This is how the City operates. Simpson: This is a topic that is aimed at me specifically. The question is whether I’m here or not. I’m here! I’m in this meeting! I would argue that I have very effectively represented the people in my District. The Charter was written before remote meetings. Younger: We don’t need to discuss after Executive Session because he doesn’t want to discuss what was said in the Session. Wants Simpson re-appointed. Sullivan: He is the duly elected Representative, he has been present virtually, so I fall back on the legal opinion that he has attended most meetings. (what?) Gorman puts it to a vote: Sullivan: No. Daugs, Wheat, Goodnow — Yes. Simpson: No. Younger: No. Gorman: Yes. Motion carries, 4 Yes, 3 No.
Lubovich says motion should say, approve the appointment of Mike Simpson to Council position District Six. After 3 members of the public comment that Simpson could not represent his district when he was out of the country, Lubovich amended the motion: To approve Simpson’s absence through April 2021 with virtual attendance at City Council meetings [legal phrasing was reworked several times]. Katelyn Rich speaks up for Simpson, feels he represents her well. Matthew Adams: posted an image of Goodnow in Nazi regalia. Goodnow called point of order, stated that Adams had been on his property the past weekend. Gorman disallowed Adams’ testimony. Gorman calls for the question: Daugs, Wheat: No. Goodnow, Younger, Sullivan, Gorman: Yes. Gorman: Are we ready to vote on the main motion? Goodnow says he’s re-thinking based on public comment. Daugs: has a hard time moving forward as they’re setting a precedent. In the past, when vacancies occurred, we set a precedent that members of the public applied, were interviewed, and one was appointed. This is a different precedent. We should be consistent in our process. Gorman: What was the last thing we voted on? Adding the language of the amendment, says Hoover: Now we are moving on the entire motion, as amended. Wheat: Wants to make sure the people have the opportunity to comment before moving forward with this new process. She recaps the old process. Important to maintain a sense of fairness and trust. Not just be transparent, but look transparent. Ask for open, fair application process, just as was done with Sullivan and herself. Fair and open was a major Council Goal established in Council Retreat. Sullivan: representing her constituents is utmost solemn duty to her. Simpson was duly elected. Our government asked him to go. Councilmembers were duly notified. She’ll vote to re-instate. Various points of order were raised on legal points — some things said in Executive Session can’t be repeated in public meetings. Younger: reads his 12/24/2020 email to the Council. Basically, Younger wrote that he didn’t see Simpson’s absence as an issue, Council was notified and no-one brought it up as an issue. Daugs: Notification was Christmas Eve, she brought this up before the Retreat 1/30. Gorman: Major decision, shouldn’t be taken lightly. Hard to turn his back on the Charter. Wants to err on the side of caution, not to subvert the role of the voters who elected him. Calls for the question: Wheat, Daugs No. Goodnow, Younger, Sullivan, Gorman: Yes. Motion carries, 4-2. 5-minute break until 7:31.
3. CONSENT AGENDA
A. Claims & Check Register
B. Minutes of Meeting – February 3, 2021
C. Minutes of Study Session – February 10, 2021
D. Confirm Reappointment of Holly James to the Civil Service Commission
E. Confirm Appointment of Erin Hatch to the Design Review Board
F. 2021 Excess Liability Insurance with Princeton Excess & Surplus Lines Insurance Company and Allied World Assurance Company; Excess Workers Compensation with Midwest Employers Casualty Company; and Cyber Insurance with Indian Harbor Insurance Company
G. Amended and Restated Interlocal Cooperation Agreement for Kitsap Special Assault Investigations & Victim’s Services
H. Contract with Active Construction, Inc. for the Kitsap Way (Ostrich Creek) Culvert Replacement Project
I. Purchase of Equipment from PMI Truck Bodies, Inc. of Tacoma, WA for the Streets Division
J. Management Agreement between the City of Bremerton and the Bremerton Government Center Owners Association
Public comments: I ask for comment on Item F, increase from $192K to $463K, much of which is not budgeted for, because liability is now higher for cities with police departments. Lubovitch says City is looking at pools, Riley is also working on this. Gorman calls for the question: Consent Agenda passes unanimously. Kiaha Young mentions diversity in police, is told that Public Recognition is the correct time for that.
4. PUBLIC HEARING (7:40pm)
A. Public Hearing on a proposed Ordinance amending Section 20.46.010 of the Bremerton Municipal Code (BMC) to allow two Accessory Dwelling Units per Single Family Lot (The Public Hearing is to receive Public Comment only; there will be no Council action tonight…)
Allison Satter presents: Same as at Study Session.
Public comment: Chris Barnes – Wants the parking requirement, how do we see evidence of housing shortages? Doesn’t see lots of apartment buildings being built, so needs to be convinced there’s a housing shortage. Debra McDaniel: Wants Council not to catastrophize the parking situation, believes that the expense of constructing them will in itself limit parking. I speak up for owner occupancy. No other public input.
5. GENERAL BUSINESS
A. Agreement with Kitsap County Department of Human Services for Behavioral Health Navigator Services
No public comment. Daugs: Just letting the public know that this is not a new position, it’s been a plus for our city. Sullivan asks Garrity to give us a day in the life of the Navigator. Garrity: This is mostly for what we call Frequent Fliers, people who for instance called 911 85 times in a single weekend. People who, for instance, sit in parks and throw stuff around. She’s in treatment now. Let’s not arrest people, but get them into treatment which will keep them from relapsing and causing the police and courts a lot of time. Navigator also rides along on suicide calls: officer makes sure the situation is secure, then lets Navigator take over, who also rides along to the treatment facility. Simpson: A lot of folks don’t understand that cops don’t just work on enforcement, but they work in other sandboxes too. He explains why Navigators are useful. He explains more things. He praises the officers. He praises them some more. Happy to have “that piece of the Power Point” to explain what a Navigator does. He explains again what a Navigator is and why they are useful.
B. Ordinance No. 5414, amending Section 10.10.010 of the Bremerton Municipal Code (BMC) entitled “Parking Code” relating to Parking Permits and Parking in the Right-of-Way and on City Property. No public comment. Younger moves to pass, Goodnow seconds. This is the ordinance permitting City to tow cars that are in middle of City property that isn’t a ROW, like the middle of a City Park lawn. Daugs makes sure that proper notification is given: Monroe says they ticket & give all other notice that would be given to any illegally parked car. Simpson: tells us all what the Ordinance means, asks for lots more data. Violations by class and fee size and location, etc., over the last 20 years, type of thing. [Interesting. This is a habit of his. What’s the point of this? Other than to increase workload of staff. Because surely there’s some point to this habit.] Council votes unanimously to carry the motion.
C. Public Works Agreement with Spectra Contract Flooring for the Gold Mountain Golf Course Clubhouse Flooring Replacement Project
Elevado presents. Re-carpeting basically all carpet, replacement of carpet laid down in 2003. No general fund $$ is used for this. The golf course puts aside 4% of income (net? gross) to fund capital projects. This is just a reporting-in to Council, as required by Charter. Passed unanimously. People talk about the golf course nostagically.
D. Ordinance No. 5415, amending Section 2.50.032 of the Bremerton Municipal Code (BMC) relating to Promotions and Benefits
Pat McGanney presents. No public comment. Councilors speak up in favor of not losing benefits when you get promoted. Simpson explain it all to everyone at length. Then he does that again. He seems to be 100% OK with tossing ex-budgetary $$ around as long as it’s to first responders. But then he steps up against it, it seems. Can’t make sense of what he’s saying, sorry. Pandemic is pricey, allusion to Item F, Consent Agenda, skates along idea of not approving this. Motion passes 6-1, Simpson the lone opponent.
6. MAYOR’S REPORT
Previous record of $6.3 million permit activity broken by, in this calendar year alone (?), $10.8 million permit activity. Praises DCD, DPW, Wants to know how we can “expand our capacity” in light of this information. (It is almost 9:00 pm. Your blogger is tired.) Says, we stayed strong through 2020, didn’t make cutbacks, here’s our reward. Also, we’re doing well in new residential construction permits compared to Kitsap County as a whole, and to other municipalities like Poulsbo and Port Orchard. He wants more staff and more expertise at DCD to reduce turnaround times, so that we maintain this pace. Proud of all staff for making us attractive and safe, a good place to invest. Snow Report: We done good. and here’s how we improved after “Snowmageddon”. My fave: we got trucks and the modular snow plow that could be snap-attached to said trucks. [I must say, this is a very smart solution.]
7. PUBLIC RECOGNITION I praise Council for its collegiality and decorum. Kiaha Young asks that all public servants, especially police officers, be required to be diverse & inclusive.
8. COUNCIL REPORTS
Younger: Adam Brockus has died, former City Council Member. He grieves. Sometimes it is hard to dislike Younger, though his fusionist liberation views give me great pause. I like the way he cares about honor, can’t help it. My father was a young Marine on Iwo Jima, so I get that. Goodnow, Wheat also mourn Brockus. As does Daugs, who also announces upcoming REAC events, kudos to City for keeping streets clear during. snow in all neighborhoods (I mean, hey! My street was never cleared) Also, love your neighbor. Sullivan: Thanks for all, to all. Gorman: Quincy Square public meeting 2/24 about naming Quincy Square, Quincy Square. That should be a barn-burner (my comment). Gorst Coalition is now JCTP (Joint Compatibility Transportation Plan). Gorman, who defeated incumbent Brockus to gain his present seat, reminisces with choke in throat about Brockus. Screen shares Brockus’s wedding photo, bride with sunflowers.
9. ADJOURNMENT OF CITY COUNCIL BUSINESS MEETING
And so it came to an end.