Opinion

Keep Bremerton in Bremerton

There are plenty of smart people who think it would be a good idea to allow the Bremerton City Council to meet outside the city limits so long as the meetings take place in Kitsap County.

Just imagine how much could be accomplished, these serious people say in all seriousness, if the city council could hold meetings at the Port of Bremerton or at the county seat in Port Orchard. Or at those very models of civic virtue, Poulsbo and Bainbridge Island.

I know I’m not the only one who notices how many residents and businesses have fled Bremerton in recent years. Now, the city council wants to get out of town, too?

When the Kitsap Public Facilities District recently awarded the city $400,000 to expand the Kitsap Conference Center, they did so despite the fact that the city council couldn’t hold an official meeting in Silverdale to ask for the money. Rather, it was the mayor, and her directors of public works and finance, that made the slog to Silverdale to ask for the money. They asked and they shall receive. The council, meanwhile, was able to squabble later on about how to go about actually spending the money. And squabble they did, too.

The Norm Dicks Government Center and the city council chambers therein are some of the nicest in the business. And by that, I mean the nicest there is anywhere — not just the nicest in Kitsap County. I certainly can’t deny that the county’s digs are pretty darn sweet, but Bremerton’s city council chamber is something to behold. Perhaps, though, we could pay the building off before we start scheduling meetings elsewhere.

Lest we forget, this building, billed as a harbinger of hope, sold as the anchor to Bremerton’s revitalization, has been plagued by controversy from the start. As a government center, it was supposed to spawn private sector development. All of that, for what it’s worth, serves as a backdrop to this latest crazy idea for the city council to jump ship. Periodic refinancing by the city and county, and the associated savings notwithstanding, the center has not delivered on the promises posited by politicians’ pontifications.

One argument pushed by some members of the council who are in favor of allowing meetings to take place outside of Bremerton, is that it is “rude” or “arrogant” to insist that others should have to come to Bremerton to conduct business with the city council. Is it not just the least bit rude to tell Bremerton residents that they will have to leave Bremerton to see their own Bremerton City Council in action? Is it not the least bit arrogant for the council to push an amendment to the city charter that will make it that much more difficult for the good people of Bremerton to keep up with their own city government?

Sometimes bad ideas are born of the best intentions. This may be one of those times. Often, though, it doesn’t really matter. A bad idea is a bad idea, regardless of where it comes from.

Until now, who could have imagined that when folks said things like, “Will the last person to leave Bremerton, turn out the lights?” they might have been referring to the very people elected to represent the rest of us that will be left in the dark?

Kevan Moore is a senior reporter at the Bremerton Patriot and covers the city of Bremerton and the Bremerton City Council.

 

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