Friday, February 29, 2008

An Idea For SKIA

The South Kitsap Industrial Area (SKIA) was initially created to become the main location of new jobs in Kitsap County, with a projected build-out of about 9,000 jobs over a 20-year period. However, it was doomed from the very start by the planning rules environmentalists were able to politically ram through — amounting to what is in essence a "Poison Pill" that made development prohibitively expensive. They got to have it both ways — being able to publicly posture that they support economic development, while assuring it could never happen.

What was so absolutely hypocritical about all this, is not only their actions at the time, but that when NASCAR was proposed for that area, these same environmentalists whined that we would be giving up the land designated for our future job growth. Meanwhile, nothing has happened there in the six or so years SKIA has been in existence because they successfully chased away NASCAR, and the planning rules that prevent any kind of development remain in place.

With all that aside, the main questions that keep cropping up concern who will eventually annex SKIA — also meaning who will provide the necessary infrastructure, and how will it be paid for?

So here's a proposal... Why not create some kind of quasi-jurisdictional management structure for the area? If the cities of Bremerton and Port Orchard — both of which have expressed interest in annexation — but neither of which have the money to provide the needed infrastructure; Kitsap County, which is in the same financial boat; and the Port, which lies dead center geographically; all joined together as a whole, there could be a coordinated way to develop that area for job growth. Because of the proximity of the sewer line from Mason County, perhaps they would be interested in partnering as well.

A lot of time has been spent trying to determine who should/could be able to annex SKIA. Although the Port owns a lot of the land, some of the private property owners that own the remainder are hoping to cut a deal for the infrastructure by trying to play the two cities against each other. That would stop, and the project could start moving forward with some new thinking and an actual coordinated economic development plan. All the jurisdictions involved could pool their resources toward creating development rules that protect the environment, but actually pencil for development, instead of the current rules which basically pay lip service to job creation but assure development remains prohibitively expensive.

Drawing up an equitable interlocutory agreement between all entities so each one has responsibilities, but also share in the benefits, should not be all that difficult. The community as a whole should benefit first and foremost from job the creation, and the governments involved would be able to generate additional revenues not available now.

Just a thought... I'd be very interested in your feedback.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Random Political Musings

For children of the 60s, like me, this presidential election represents a turning point in American history. It seemingly represents a lot of the change we all believed in and worked for.

Senator Barack Obama, a highly charismatic African-American man — one who isn’t Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton — is being embraced by people of all persuasions. He is, as the Reverend Martin Luther King predicted in his famous “I Have a Dream” speech, being judged not by the color of his skin, but by the content of his character.

And no matter how you feel about Senator Hillary Clinton, she is the first qualified, creditable, woman presidential candidate that has a truly honest chance of being elected president.

And one of them — or perhaps both on the same ticket — will challenge the old, white guy, Senator John McCain. No matter what your politics are, or who you support, you have to be proud — this is historical.

Speaking of Senator Hillary Clinton, do you realize that if she is elected to two terms as president, at the end of her second term, America will have been governed by only two families, for a period of 28 years?
Locally, the 2008 County Commission races are shaping up kind of slowly. On the Democratic side, the South Kitsap seat being vacated by Jan Angel looks like a lock for Monty Mahan unless some stellar, heretofore unknown, candidate emerges out of nowhere — which doesn’t seem too likely.

Rumored to be interested is former Port Orchard Mayor Kim Abel. She seems to be shying away from any kind of commitment about running, but may just be holding her cards close to her vest.

Former Commissioner Charlotte Garrido on the other hand, announced her intention to run at a recent Kitsap Trees and Shoreline Association meeting. Garrido has never been known for her strong — or timely — decision-making. That, and her allegiance to extreme environmentalism were her undoing as a commissioner the first time.

It appears the Republicans have no one in the wings willing to step up. Kris Danielson was rumored to be thinking about it, but her husband Bruce, who recently announced he intended to seek a judgeship, publicly stated he would be the only Danielson on the ballot come November.

Also rumored to be thinking about it according to Republican Party insiders, is Ron Boehme, who lost a run for the legislature in 2006. However, Boehme hasn’t made any public statement, or given any indication he is in fact, considering running.

I do know for a fact that Planning Commission Chairman Fred Depee was approached by the Republicans — and turned them down flat.

On the north end, no one from either party seems poised to challenge Steve Bauer. As you may remember, Bauer was appointed to the seat vacated by Chris Endresen when she left to take a position with Senator Maria Cantwell, but he has to stand for election this year as well.

In working with Bauer, I have found him to be pretty low key, even-handed and extremely pragmatic. A wizard with numbers and budgeting, he appears to be driven by facts and reality a whole lot more than any overriding ideology. Hopefully, no Democrat will challenge him, because, at least in my view, he’s the right guy in the right place, at the right time.

There doesn’t appear to be any local Republicans willing to step and run for office. In fact, you have to wonder if the Kitsap Republicans are going to be able to mount any kind of credible challenge for any open seats. It appears the party has moved so far out of the mainstream that one has to wonder if they haven’t minimalized themselves into oblivion.

The one bright spot for the local GOP seems to be Jan Angel’s bid to unseat longtime 26th District Representative Pat Lantz. A recent guest editorial in the Peninsula Gateway came out strongly in support of Angel, saying it was time for Lantz to step down gracefully. Don’t look for that to happen though.

Angel, who is knowledgeable, personable, and a tireless campaigner, should be able to win. She will be well-funded, as the medical community — still smarting over Lantz’s refusal to let tort reform out of her committee for two years — line up to write checks. The business community will support Angel heavily as well.

In spite of the fact the Pierce County Republicans have already done so, Kitsap Republicans have refused to come out and openly endorse Angel. That's a very telling indicator of the level of the party’s absolute dysfunctionality.

The other 26th District House race features incumbent Larry Seaquist against longtime Gig Harbor businesswoman and Republican activist, Marlyn Jensen. Jensen is a classy woman whose years of active service to the GOP has earned her a lot of friends in high places. Her showplace home has been the site of numerous Republican fundraisers.

Seaquist on the other hand has had a less than notable first term in the House, and has raised the ire of NASCAR fans with his tasteless comments about them — which made national headlines. His swearing at a female constituent — saying, "Get the F**K out of my office," in front of a witness, when she tried to bring him some information about the ISC proposal, didn't win him any friends either. This one could go either way.

In the 23rd, it appears Democrats Christine Rolfes and Sherry Appleton will most likely get a free pass, since the Republicans can’t seem to recruit anyone to challenge them.

In the 35th, Democrat Fred Finn is the clear frontrunner for the retiring Bill Eickmeyer’s seat. A couple of Mason County Republicans — including Randy Neatherlin, who narrowly lost that seat two years ago — have stepped up. Several months ago, I had a conversation with Neatherlin and came away feeling he definitely wasn’t going to run. Considering the formidable resources the Democrats will put into electing Finn to hold that seat, I was surprised Neatherlin changed his mind.

Bremerton City Councilman Brad Gehring has announced he’ll challenge incumbent Kathy Haigh. Marco Brown, who ran for that seat last time, is also rumored to be interested again.

And finally, rumor has it Congressman Norm Dicks may draw a Democratic challenger from the extreme left — a fellow named Paul Richmond. Goggling that name comes up with a liberal activist Port Townsend attorney — although the challenger is reportedly a bank teller. Go figure. More on this as — and/or if — it develops.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Ferry Frustrations

It was refreshing to read Bremerton Mayor Cary Bozeman's "My Turn" article in the Kitsap Sun, lambasting the ferry system and the legislature for allowing the problem to reach the massive proportions it has.

I believe Mayor Bozeman has done the right thing by taking the bull by the horns and focusing public attention to what has been a festering problem for as long as most people who have lived here any length of time can remember.

The tail has wagged the dog for far too long. It's way past time the Ferry System became responsive to the people it "serves" rather than have the people paying the freight be subject to the whims of the massive mismanagement that has plagued the system for more than a generation.

If the governor and the legislature want to prove to voters they actually understand the term "leadership," they'll stand up to the bloated, unelected bureaucracy and overpaid featherbedders, taking action to run the system like a business — not the taxpayer funded gravy train it's been for our entire lifetime.