Sunday, April 14, 2013

No, I Will NOT Be A Candidate For The Port Commission

For the past couple of months, I keep being asked if I intend to run for the Port of Bremerton Commission seat currently held by Larry Stokes. 

The answer is an unequivocal NO. 

That rumor has been circulating for awhile now, and by now I've been asked more times than I can remember if it's true of not. It is not.

How it got started, I'm not really sure, but I've been told by numerous people that Stokes — who if he is elected will be 80 at the end of this next term — has made the statement he will run again just so I can't win that seat. I think that's more than a bit presumptuous on his part, but Larry Stokes is what he is...

I think the genesis of the rumor could be in the fact I've written several Business Journal columns on what I consider to be less than stellar management, and irresponsible stewardship of the public's money by the Port, and it appears paranoia has kicked in on the part of a number of people there. 

I will continue to comment editorially on the Port, but have absolutely NO interest in being a Port Commissioner. I've had my time in the sun where politics is concerned. I've said before that I have no intention of running for public office again — and I don't. I hope that puts this to rest, and that Stokes will step aside, some qualified people will step forward, be elected, and straighten out the huge, money-losing mess the Port of Bremerton has become.

Late Night Ferries Will NOT Save Downtown Port Orchard

Since leaving office as Port Orchard’s mayor at the end of 2011, I’ve made it a point to not publicly comment on the city’s politics — or what passes for management these days at City Hall. However, the recent push to establish late-night foot ferry service between downtown Port Orchard and Bremerton is a misguided non-solution to a much larger problem than backers want to admit.

The main driver is South Kitsap businessman Don Ryan, president of the Port Orchard Bay Street Association. He’s a used car dealer, who also owns a hair salon and a downtown bar. In addition, he’s promoting the proposed indoor farmer’s market, which he’s convinced people will jumpstart Bay Street, the town’s main drag — which now has more empty storefronts than occupied ones.

In our view, Ryan’s grasping at straws. He blames Kitsap Transit’s cut in evening service for downtown’s decline. That’s a red herring. Kitsap Transit didn't cut the service — Horluck Transportation did, which later sold the ferry service to Kitsap Transit. Why did they cut the service way back when Bay Street was booming? Because not enough people rode it for it to pencil. That alone proves people won’t take an evening ferry from Bremerton to come eat and drink in downtown Port Orchard — or vice versa. Aside from Ryan’s bar and Moondogs, or dinner at Amy’s on The Bay, there isn’t much to do downtown anymore — day or night — and not a lot else open after 7 p.m. except bail bond offices and tattoo parlors. What few storefronts that are still occupied on Bay Street aren’t the kind of establishments that do business at night, so downtown is basically closed.

Port Orchard would be better served spending that money restoring the funding to the Kitsap Peninsula Visitor and Convention Bureau — which produced a tremendous bang for the buck by actually drawing people downtown — both day and night — until the furtive politics surrounding the city’s Lodging Tax Advisory Committee — which is run by Councilman Fred Chang for what seems primarily to be for the benefit of his political backers — slashed its funding in favor of squandering money on self-serving ideas like Ryan’s.