Issue Statements

Below are my Issue Statements.  These are formal and detailed statements I have made on the issues that are of most importance to me.  I will be adding more Statements each week.

1. Statement - Climate Change and Environmental Sustainability are my Top Subject Matter Areas

 

2.  Statement - Funding Non-Motorized Transportation Facilities & A New Vision for Sustainable Transportation (9-29-19)

 

3. Statement - Truth about Council Accomplishments (9-22-19)

 

4. Statement on Accountability (9-15-19)

5. Rebuttal to Implication that the City is Wasting $4.2M on Consultants and Legal Expenses (9-8-19)

 
Statement on Climate Change and Environmental Sustainability

 

Below I provide you with a summary and a the full version.  Usually I put the summary version first.  But I really hope you’ll read the full version, so I put the full version first.

 

Full Version – Climate Change and Environmental Sustainability are my Top Subject Matter Issues

 

            The top item on my agenda is to do everything that I can to make sure the City Council and the City are run well.  Without good governance, we will not be able to make progress on any of the important issues facing us.  I have been a leader on our Council on promoting good governance and it has shown in the truly remarkable amount of work that this Council has gotten done for our community.  I’ve written about this in other Statements.

 

            Today, I am writing about my top subject matter issue – climate change and environmental sustainability more generally.  While most of this Statement will focus on climate change, know that my goals include all forms of environmental sustainability. 

 

            I am so thankful that I live in a community that understands the dire threat that is facing our civilization and planet.  Climate change is real and is already wreaking destruction across our planet.  During my lifetime, climate change will dramatically change the world.  I fear that by the time my child is an elder, this planet might no longer be a place that he can live.  Greta Thunberg was right to ask the United Nations, to ask all of us, “how dare you” not fix this problem. 

 

            We don’t have any more time to wait.  We must act now and not excuse our own inaction on the basis of other’s inaction.  The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reported in 2018 that we must reduce net carbon emissions to zero by 2040 or 2050 to have a substantial chance of avoiding an average global increase of temperatures of more than 1.5 degrees Celsius.  And even at that increase, some horrible things are going to happen around the world.  I won’t try to describe it all here.  You could check out this article for some highlights:  https://www.wri.org/blog/2018/10/8-things-you-need-know-about-ipcc-15-c-report

 

Thankfully, my beliefs here are not mine alone – our City’s Comprehensive Plan enshrines my words here.  Our Comp Plan is the document that our community developed to guide our future.  My job on Council is to do everything I can to implement the future described in that Plan. 

 

            What future does the Comp Plan envision?  Below is a portion of the Comp Plan’s 2036 Vision Statement.  This is a statement of what the Island should be like in 2036. 

 

Bainbridge Island’s people reflect a range of ages, ethnicities, household sizes, livelihoods and personal aspirations –we are 28,660 individuals who share a strong sense of community and a commitment to environmental stewardship. . . .

 

Our success at balancing the inter-dependent goals of environmental stewardship, economic development and the needs of our people is evident in the many ways we have growth, addressed the impacts of climate change and conserved our environment. 

 

Bainbridge Island’s water resources are climate resilient and are able to sustain all forms of life on the Island.  Aquifers are continuously monitored and managed to maintain our supply of fresh water at a level that meets the high standards for drinking.  Education on water conservation has resulted in a significant reduction in the average water consumption per household and low impact development techniques applied to all land uses and redevelopment helps to recharge the Island’s aquifers. 

 

Winslow, Lynwood Center and the Island’s other neighborhood centers have gracefully evolved into compact, mixed-use, human-scaled and walkable places. They are the thriving centers of civic life, cultural amenities, goods, services and a wide range of housing and employment opportunities. These centers are pedestrian districts, linked to each other and the region by a network of walkways, bicycle trails and transit that promote healthy lifestyles and reduce the Island’s greenhouse gas emissions.

 

            This vision will only come true if we have Councilmembers who are focused on doing the very hard work of making this come true.  I will do everything I can to implement this vision.

 

Someone is running against me for my City Council seat.  What is my opponent focused on?  As he put it at a forum last week, he is focused on “the basics.”  What are the “basics” that he will work on if he is elected?  (1) making our electricity more reliable; (2) making our cell phone coverage more reliable; (3) building more bike shoulders; (4) replacing road culverts; and (5) cleaning up hazardous waste sites.  None of these items will do anything substantial to protect our future and most of them are issues that the City has no control over or ability to effect.  So, while our future is literally burning down around us, my opponent proposes to use his time on Council to focus on these “basics,” most of which the City does not control anyway. 

 

In my mind, the “basics” are taking action to ensure that the environment in fifty years is actually able to sustain life on this planet, including my child’s life.  That seems pretty basic to me. 

 

            Our Comprehensive Plan includes 7 Guiding Principles (there are actually 8, but the eighth is just about how to implement the first 7).  These Guiding Principles are supposed to guide everything that we do as a City.  Of the 7 Guiding Principles, 6 of them focus on maintaining and protecting our environment, including one principle focused specifically on climate change.  Here they are: 

 

Guiding Principle #1.  Preserve the special character of the Island, which includes downtown Winslow’s small town atmosphere and function, historic buildings, extensive forested areas, meadows, farms, marine views and access, and scenic and winding roads supporting all forms of transportation.

 

Guiding Principle #2.  Manage the water resources of the Island to protect, restore and maintain their ecological and hydrological functions and to ensure clean and sufficient groundwater for future generations.

 

Guiding Principle #3.  Foster diversity with a holistic approach to meeting the needs of the Island and the human needs of its residents consistent with the stewardship of our finite environmental resources.

 

Guiding Principle #5.  The use of land on the Island should be based on the principle that the Island’s environmental resources are finite and must be maintained at a sustainable level.

 

Guiding Principle #6.  Nurture Bainbridge Island as a sustainable community by meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

 

Guiding Principle #7.  Reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase the Island’s climate resilience.

 

            These principles guide everything that I’ve done on Council for the last four years and will continue to be my guidebook going forward.  You see, I am the person for this Council job because these principles are my own personal principles as well.  My B.A. is in Environmental Studies and Policy and I went to law school to study environmental law.  I’m not just personally interested in these issues; I’m actually educated about them and qualified to work on them. 

 

            Okay, Kol, you might be saying, so what are you actually going to do about climate change? 

 

My answer is simple:  make sure our Climate Change Advisory Committee (CCAC) completes our Climate Action Plan next March and then make sure the City implements the scores of recommendations that will be in that Plan and implements them as quickly as possible. 

 

I am so proud that we are finally developing a comprehensive Climate Action Plan for our Island.  Prior Councils could have done this; they did not.  My leadership has brought us to this point.  I literally wrote the ordinance that created our CCAC and laid out their workplan. 

 

We have also put in place a process that will result, by the end of next year if I have my way, in the creation of Sustainable Transportation Plan for the Island.  I’m certain that one of the recommendations of the Climate Action Plan will be to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from transportation on the Island to net zero by 2040/2050.  In order to actually do that, we’ll need a bold plan.  We are now working on this Plan.  Again, other Councils could have done it, but they didn’t.  We are doing it.

 

            Our Climate Action Plan will almost certainly recommend that we vastly reduce the greenhouse gas emissions generated by the construction and operation of buildings.  So we are taking that up now. Next month the Council will start the process of developing a Green Building Code for the Island.

 

            Climate issues also impact our groundwater.  So I have been a leader in the Council on passing laws that aggressively protect our groundwater.  And, finally, we are starting to work on developing a Groundwater Management Plan for the Island. 

 

Finally, I am confident that our Climate Action Plan and our Sustainable Transportation Plan will recommend that we concentrate nearly all future growth on the Island in Winslow and do so in the form of higher density in appropriate parts of Winslow.  One of the most effective ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and reduce our environmental footprint is to build denser communities that are centered around high-capacity transit, commercial services, parks, and jobs.  I’m happy to report that this Council has also started the process of working on this.  I don’t know how this will play out because it will be controversial.  But we are taking it on.

 

In summary, due in large part to my leadership, this Council has set the stage for our City to actually become a leader in climate change mitigation and adaptation.  We have a City that is on the brink of doing something important for our long-term future, a city that is truly at a turning point.  This is rare in public policy.  Let’s not miss this moment by electing the wrong people to Council.  Greta, I hear you and I dare to try to get this done.  So please keep me on Council so that we can actually complete these plans and implement them.  This seems pretty “basic” to me. 

 

 

Summary – Climate Change and Environmental Sustainability are my Top Subject Matter Issues

 

Climate change is real and is already wreaking destruction across our planet, and I genuinely fear that our children might no have a viable planet on which to live out their lives.

 

We don’t have any more time to wait.  We must act.  I am so thankful to live in a community that understands the threat facing us.  Our City’s Comprehensive Plan, a document designed to guide our City’s future, enshrines this concept and requires the City to mitigate and adapt to climate change.  My job on Council is to do everything I can to implement the future described in that Plan. 

 

During my time on Council, I have taken concrete steps to bring our City to the point where it will can take real action to address climate change:

 

  • I wrote the ordinance that created our Climate Change Advisory Committee and served as its first Councilmember liaison.I will do everything that I can to ensure that our Climate Change Advisory Committee (CCAC) completes our Climate Action Plan next March and that our City implements that Plan.

  • I helped to institute a process that will result, by the end of next year, with Council approval, in the creation of Sustainable Transportation Plan for the Island in pursuit of reduced greenhouse gas emissions from transportation on the Island to net zero by 2040/2050.

  • I have supported the Council taking up the development of a Green Building Code for the Island to vastly reduce the greenhouse gas emissions generated by the construction and operation of buildings.

  • I have led on the Council on passing laws that aggressively protect our groundwater as well as starting the work to develop a Groundwater Management Plan for the Island.

  • I have been a leader in the Council’s work to control growth on this Island – to keep that growth largely out of our “rural” areas and instead focus that growth in Winslow.Embedded in this is the concept of increased density where it is appropriate.One of the most effective ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and reduce our environmental footprint is to build denser communities that are centered around high-capacity transit, commercial services, parks, and jobs.This is a tough concept to accept, as density has traditionally come with poor results all around… but it does not have to.

 

This is a statement from our Comprehensive Plan about what the Island should be like in 2036. 

 

Bainbridge Island’s people reflect a range of ages, ethnicities, household sizes, livelihoods and personal aspirations –we are 28,660 individuals who share a strong sense of community and a commitment to environmental stewardship.

 

Our success at balancing the inter-dependent goals of environmental stewardship, economic development and the needs of our people is evident in the many ways we have growth, addressed the impacts of climate change and conserved our environment. 

 

Bainbridge Island’s water resources are climate resilient and are able to sustain all forms of life on the Island.  Aquifers are continuously monitored and managed to maintain our supply of fresh water at a level that meets the high standards for drinking.  Education on water conservation has resulted in a significant reduction in the average water consumption per household and low impact development techniques applied to all land uses and redevelopment helps to recharge the Island’s aquifers. 

 

Winslow, Lynwood Center and the Island’s other neighborhood centers have gracefully evolved into compact, mixed-use, human-scaled and walkable places. They are the thriving centers of civic life, cultural amenities, goods, services and a wide range of housing and employment opportunities. These centers are pedestrian districts, linked to each other and the region by a network of walkways, bicycle trails and transit that promote healthy lifestyles and reduce the Island’s greenhouse gas emissions.

 

This vision has been my guide on Council for the last four years and will continue to be my guidebook going forward.   This vision will only come true if we have Councilmembers who are focused on doing the very hard work ahead.  I am one of those Councilmembers.  My Bachelor’s degree is in Environmental Studies and Policy and I went to law school to study environmental law.  I am not just personally interested in these issues; I have spent my life becoming educated about them and am qualified to do the work. 

 

Due in substantial part to my leadership, we have a City that is on the brink of doing something important for our long-term future, as a leader in climate change mitigation and adaptation.  We truly are at a turning point.  This is rare in public policy.  Let’s not miss this moment by electing the wrong people to Council. 

 
Statement on Funding Non-Motorized Transportation Facilities & A New Vision for Sustainable Transportation

 

Below I provide you first with a summary and then with the full version.

 

Summary – Funding Non-Motorized Transportation Facilities & A New Vision for Sustainable Transportation

 

The Need for Non-Motorized Transportation

 

More than fifteen years ago, cyclists and others on the Island worked with the City to develop the “Core 40 Plan,” a plan focused on building bike shoulders on roughly 40 miles of City roads.  It’s a good plan. It is only piece of a large non-motorized transportation plan that the City has developed. During my time in office, we have made some progress on this plan, although it is relatively tiny compared to the scope of the entire plan.  For example the City has built:

 

  • The first mile of the Sound-to-Olympics Trail (that separate multi-use path along the highway from Winslow Way to High School Road).

  • Roughly one mile of bike shoulders on Miller Road.

  • The array of improvements on Olympic Drive (the highway between Winslow Way and the ferry terminal).

 

Reality Check – City Budgets and the Cost of NMT Facilities

 

Building road shoulders costs a lot of money.  The roughly one mile of shoulders that were built on Miller Road cost over $1 million.  That project involved relatively easy (cheap) shoulder improvements.  So let’s very roughly estimate that the entire Core 40 Plan build out will cost $50 million. That’s $50M just for bike shoulders, not more sidewalks, or separated multi-use trails. 

 

The City’s annual budget, not including unusual capital projects and utilities, is roughly $25 million.  That’s the City’s entire discretionary budget – only $25 million per year.  

 

Looking at the City’s 6-year CIP (capital improvement plan), you can see that the City plans to spend roughly $1,000,000 to $1,300,000 of its own money each year on capital projects.  That $1M to $1.3M is for all non-utility capital expenditures, which includes road projects, fleet and equipment, and non-motorized transportation (“NMT”) projects.

 

The high cost of road projects (including building bike shoulders) coupled with the lack of capacity in the City budget severely hampers the City’s ability to build out the Core 40 Plan.  This is the reality of our situation. 

 

Current and Near-Term City Funding for NMT Facilities

 

Despite our tight budgets, the City has been and will continue to fund non-motorized transportation facilities at a pace it can afford.  Our current 6-year capital improvement plan (CIP).  includes spending of more than $7 million on non-motorized improvements over the next six years.  Nearly $3M of that is City funds while $4M is grant funding.  It will fund these projects:  the Olympic Drive project that is nearly finished; major sidewalk improvements on Madison Avenue; High School Road pedestrian safety improvements; road shoulders on Bucklin Hill; and Eagle Harbor road shoulders.

 

That’s real money that the City is spending on non-motorized improvements.

 

It’s not just about NMT…It’s about Holistic Sustainable Transportation Planning that Reduces Greenhouse Gas Emissions

 

This current Council summoned the leadership and drive to actually get a NMT Measure on the ballot.  It failed, and we learned.  The long view holistic approach on sustainable transportation is what the citizens really expected.

 

With the realities of climate change and growth, we must develop a Sustainable Transportation Plan for the Island that allows us to have zero greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles by 2040.  Of course, it will include NMT, but will also concepts like expanded public transportation, e-bikes, e-scooters, electric cars, autonomous cars, and any other technologies that replace the single-occupancy combustion engine vehicle. 

 

This Council hired a transportation consulting company to bring expertise and visibility into the cutting-edge work in this area that other communities are implementing.  They will facilitate a large diverse, community member-based working group to develop and write our community plan and bring it to Council for adoption and implementation. 

 

I have always supported non-motorized transportation. We will get people out of their cars and we will combat climate change on our way to a sustainable future.

 

 

FULL VERSION – NON-MOTORIZED TRANSPORTATION FACILITIES & A NEW VISION FOR SUSTAINABLE TRANSPORTATION

 

               What are “non-motorized transportation facilities” or “NMT facilities”?  It’s stuff that is built to make it easier for people to ride bikes, walk, and otherwise get around the Island without using a vehicle.  Stuff like bike shoulders on roads, separated multi-use paved trails the like the “Sound-to-Olympics trail” or “STO,” sidewalks, and gravel or bark trails. 

 

               I’m a strong supporter of getting people out of cars.  We must do this to combat climate change and prepare for a sustainable future.  But making statements like that is much easier than actually doing something about it.  Getting NMT built is difficult, for many reasons.  And there is a lot of misinformation floating around about what the City has done in this area, is planning to do, and is actually capable of doing. 

 

So in this Statement, I’m going to explain the reality and truth about the City’s recent, current, and future work in the area of non-motorized transportation.  You’ll see that this Statement ends with an explanation of why we must think bigger and bolder than just building non-motorized transportation; we must create a sustainable transportation vision and plan for our community.

 

The “Core 40 Plan”

 

               Fifteen or more years ago, cyclists and others on the Island worked with the City to develop the “Core 40 Plan.”  Squeaky Wheels  is a bicycle advocacy nonprofit on the Island.  Squeaky Wheels has been a prime proponent of the Core 40.  I thank them for this. 

 

What is the Core 40?  This Plan is focused on building bike shoulders on roughly 40 miles of City roads.  Over the last 10 years or so, the City has slowly (very slowly) been chipping away at this, building short stretches of bike shoulders here and there in the areas they are most needed for safety.  Frankly, not many miles have been built. The longest contiguous section was just completed last year – a 1.1 mile section of Miller Road received bike shoulders on both sides. 

 

               Squeaky Wheels is not satisfied with the speed at which these road shoulders are getting built.  I’m not satisfied either.  The Core 40 Plan is a good plan and will be helpful to our Island.  Getting this done would be of great benefit to our community. 

 

It became apparent to me early on during my time on Council that the City will never have the capacity in its general operating budget to complete the Core 40 Plan in any reasonable timeframe.  Why not?  Cost and capacity.

 

Reality Check – City Budgets and the Cost of NMT Facilities

 

Building road shoulders costs a lot of money, a lot more than most people realize.  The roughly 1 mile of shoulders that was built on Miller Road cost over $1 million.  And that project involved relatively easy (cheap) shoulder improvements.  Some segments of roads that need shoulders will cost much more per mile than that stretch of Miller Road.  Let’s just very roughly say that the entire Core 40 Plan build out will cost $50 million. 

 

Does the City have the financial capacity to pay for that?  The simple answer is “no.”  The City’s annual budget, not including grants and utilities, is roughly $25 million.  That’s the City’s entire discretionary budget – only $25 million per year.  Building out the Core 40 will cost $40M, $50M, or more.  And that’s just building the Core 40, not more sidewalks, not more separated multi-use trails, other trails, etc. 

 

When one looks at the City’s 6-year CIP (capital improvement plan), one sees that the City plans to spend roughly $1,00,000 to $1,300,000 of its own money each year on capital projects (I’m leaving out the new Police Station because that is one-time unusual expense for which the City has been stockpiling funding for years.). 

 

That $1M to $1.3M is for all non-utility capital expenditures, which includes road projects, fleet and equipment, and non-motorized transportation (“NMT”) projects.  So that’s not even $1M just for NMT projects.  On top of that amount, the City hopes to attract grant funding for NMT projects. 

 

In short, the City budget currently accommodates spending far less than $1 million each year on NMT facilities.  That budget will never be able to fund large amounts of NMT facilities without wholesale cuts to other City services like policing, roads, community support, and planning.

 

The City of Bainbridge Island (“COBI”) is not a wealthy city.  Because the residents of BI have discouraged the building of big box stores on the Island, COBI’s sales tax revenue per capita is lower than most cities.  That is offset to some degree by higher property tax revenue because of the high property values on the Island.  But still, the City is not wealthy. 

 

Twice while I’ve been on Council we’ve gone through the City budgeting process (COBI has a two-year budget).  Each time, the Council has been forced to make difficult tradeoffs because we simply don’t have the money to fund everything that our residents ask for and that our City needs.  For example, each year we have not been able to fund new staff positions that are needed.  Because of this, our City staff is overworked and some services are not provided in as timely of a manner as some people would like.

 

In short, the high cost of road projects (including building bike shoulders) coupled with the lack of capacity in the City budget severely hampers the City’s ability to build out the Core 40 Plan.  This is the reality of our situation. 

 

Let me re-iterate:  This is the reality of our situation.  You should deeply discount the misleading statements by one Council candidate that the City could magically stop spending $2.1M each year on “consultants and legal expenses” and instead spend that $2.1M each year on NMT improvements.  Could the City Council make a stronger effort to shift some funding from other priorities to NMT improvements?  Sure.  We could do that. But the changes would be incremental at best.  It would never result in millions of dollars each year for NMT improvements.  Bottomline:  The City’s annual operating budget will never be sufficient, in light of all the other priorities in this City, to build out the Core 40 Plan in any reasonable timeframe.

 

Current and Near-Term City Funding for NMT Facilities

 

               Despite our tight budgets, the City has been and will continue to fund non-motorized transportation facilities at a pace it can afford.  Any statements you hear indicating that the City is not doing anything for non-motorized transportation are wrong.  Examples:  three years ago, the City built the first mile of the Sound-to-Olympics Trail (that separate multi-use path along the highway from Winslow Way to High School Road). Last year, the City built roughly 1 mile of bike shoulders on Miller Road. This year the City is building the array of improvements on Olympic Drive (the highway between Winslow Way and the ferry terminal).  As another sign of how ridiculously expensive road work, I’ll tell you that this Olympic Drive project costs nearly $3 million.

 

               The City maintains a 6-year capital improvement plan (CIP).  It’s online.  You can see it here:  https://www.bainbridgewa.gov/DocumentCenter/View/11058/5---2019-2020-Proposed-Budget---Capital-Improvement-Plan .  It specifies all of the capital projects the City plans in the near future – NMT facilities, roads, buildings, equipment, utility improvements, etc.  The current CIP includes spending of more than $7 million on non-motorized improvements over the next six years.  Nearly $3M of that is City funds while $4M is grant funding.  It will fund these projects:  the Olympic Drive project that is nearly finished; major sidewalk improvements on Madison Avenue; High School Road pedestrian safety improvements; road shoulders on Bucklin Hill; and Eagle Harbor road shoulders.

 

               That’s real money that the City is spending on non-motorized improvements.  However, it will continue to result in NMT improvements being built out slowly, over decades.

 

How to Fund NMT?  Let Residents Decide if they want to increase their taxes to fund it

 

So I suggested during my first year on Council that we get a ballot measure in place to fund NMT improvements.  I was very pleased when the Council actually managed to do that last year.  Any prior Council could have put a measure on the ballot to fund NMT facilities.  But they didn’t.  This current Council summoned up the leadership and drive to actually get it on the ballot.  Unfortunately, the ballot measure failed.  But at least we tried.

 

I think we, as a community, learned a lot from the failure of that ballot measure.  I know I did.  I won’t go into detail on those lessons here other than to say that the Council took a deep look at this and decided that we, as a City and community, need to try a different approach to non-motorized improvements. 

 

A New Approach – Holistic Sustainable Transportation Plan Focused on Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions

 

Specifically, we decided that we need to focus much more broadly on the future of transportation on this Island and in our society.  With the realities of climate change and growth, we must develop a Sustainable Transportation Plan for the Island.  We must develop a transportation plan that will allow our community to have zero greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles by 2040.  This will presumably include the standard non-motorized facilities (bike shoulders, sidewalks, trails, etc.) but will also include a vision for how we embrace, expand, and encourage public transportation, e-bikes, e-scooters, electric cars, autonomous cars, and any other technologies that replace the single-occupancy combustion engine vehicle. 

 

This Council hired a top-notch transportation consulting company a few months ago.  That company will facilitate a year-long process that will result in a Sustainable Transportation Plan for the Island.  Let me be clear in stating that this consultant will not be writing the Plan for us.  No, we will write it for ourselves, as a community.  The consultant will bring in expertise so that we are aware of the cutting-edge work in this area that other communities are implementing.  And the consultant will facilitate our community’s work.  But our community will write this Plan.  We will convene a large and diverse working group of community members.  That working group will develop the Plan and bring it to Council for adoption and implementation. 

 

We must make sure that we have Councilmembers next year who will adopt a strong and visionary Plan and then work hard to implement it.  I expect that funding for the Plan will need to be sought from the public again in the form of a ballot measure.  As I’ve explained above, the City’s normal budget simply will not be able to fund this new Plan.  So let’s hope that it is a truly awesome Plan that our community will vote to support. 

 
Statement -- The Truth about Council Accomplishments

 

Below I provide you first with a summary and then with the full version. 

Summary -- The Truth About Accomplishments on Council

 

You might hear campaign rhetoric out there along the lines of “the current city council is dysfunctional and gets nothing accomplished”.  It is completely untrue.

 

I am a servant leader.  Servant leadership defines who I am more than any other phrase.  It is this servant leadership that has helped our Council get such a tremendous amount of work done in the last two years, and it is this leadership, my leadership, that will keep it going.  

 

Listed below are only SOME of our major accomplishments since I took office in 2016, there are many more. See the full version below for the full list as well as some deeper introspection on what it takes to make a Council successful. 

 

  1. Protecting the Character of Our Island:  This Council, completed a multi-year effort to update and overhaul our Island’s Comprehensive Plan.  More than any other document, this Plan will determine our Island’s future.  You can see it here:  Comp Plan.  It places a high priority on maintaining our Island’s environment and values and has a strong focus on climate change, in large part because I pushed hard for those priorities.
     

  2. Curtailing Poor Land Developments.  I was pleased to support a development moratorium on large developments both when it passed in January of 2018 and when it failed in 2016.  This moratorium put a halt on permitting for those new large developments, the ones that we all know and shake our heads at, were already permitted are clear enough evidence of why we needed this.  The moratorium has given the Council time to adopt a series of new or revised land use ordinances that will make future growth “good growth” that fits the culture of this Island. 
     

  3. Stewarding of Our Financial Resources.  We have set a standard for excellence and prudence as a Council, which has led to a balanced budget and a “clean” audit each of my years in office.  We have an exceptional City staff who carries out the work behind budgets and audits, and we all owe them thanks for that good work.  Additionally, the City has a bond rating one step below the highest possible rating. It is rare for a small City to have such a high bond rating.    
     

  4. Fighting Climate Change.  Writing the ordinance that created the Island’s Climate Change Advisory Committee was important to me. The formation of this Committee was the first step towards Bainbridge Island completing a greenhouse gas inventory, developing emissions benchmarks, and completing a Climate Change Adaption and Mitigation Plan for Bainbridge (which will be done March 2020). 
     

  5. Managing our Shoreline.  I was proud to vote for an amendment to our Shoreline Management Program that would prohibit any new fish farms around the Island and the use of any plastics for aquaculture in the waters around our Island.  Additionally, I supported changes to the SMP that relaxed some specific rules within the SMP that were reasonable and gave shoreline homeowners a bit of relief. 
     

  6. Protecting Vulnerable and Exploited Populations

    • Affordable Housing.  The lack of affordable housing is a crisis on our Island.  I’m proud to have supported every effort our City has made in this area, including our recent decision to invest substantially more resources towards implementing the recommendations of our Affordable Housing Task Force. The Suzuki project needs to be an Affordable housing win for our community. My position is we should sell the Suzuki property and invest all the proceeds into an affordable housing project that will get done quickly.

    • LGBTQ Rights and Respect.  I am very supportive of LGBTQ rights and have been proud to support a number of resolutions and proclamations in this area, including  Councilmember Tirman’s ordinance that requires organizations on Bainbridge to allow transgender people to use the bathroom of their choice and requires all single-stall bathrooms to be gender-neutral.  This ordinance passed the Council unanimously. 

    • Puppy Mills:  I was proud to write an ordinance that prohibits on Bainbridge Island the sale of puppies or kittens raised at “puppy mills”.  The Council unanimously adopted this ordinance. 
       

  7. Impacting, Positively, Aquifer and Groundwater Resources:

    • Low Impact Development (“LID”). LID is a new law for the Island that requires developments to be designed so that rain that falls on a property stays on that property which results in the protection of a groundwater.  I was proud to support getting this law written and passed by Council.

    • Groundwater Recharge Protection.  Last year the Council approved changes to our Critical Areas Ordinance that provide substantially more protection to our Island’s groundwater through the creation of a new “aquifer recharge protection area” section of the Ordinance.  I am proud to have been the lead architect of this new section.  It provides much greater protection of our Island’s groundwater recharge while still being balanced and giving homeowners the ability to develop their land.

    • Groundwater Management Plan.   After years of diligent work by me and a small number of other Councilmembers, the City is now investing the resources needed to complete a Groundwater Management Plan. 

FULL VERSION – THE TRUTH ABOUT ACCOMPLISHMENTS ON COUNCIL

 

I am a servant leader.  Servant leadership defines who I am more than any other phrase.  It is this servant leadership that has led our Council to getting so much done in the last two years.  And it is this leadership that we must keep on Council so that we complete the extremely important initiatives that we have set in motion. 

 

This Statement, below, is long.  But if you actually care about what is happening on this Island –if you actually want to make an informed decision when you vote – please read this.  Like me, you probably get angry at “those people” who vote for federal-level politicians without doing their homework; who vote based on stupid and pithy soundbites and what they read on social media.  I’m taking the time to write and give to you this long Statement so that you can be better than “those people”, so that you can actually have an opportunity to inform yourself and make a good decision. 

 

Next week, my Statement will focus on the future – What’s on the docket for the next Council?  However, this current Statement focuses on the past – just what has our City Council done over the last four years?  I can’t really explain the future to you without first explaining the past.

 

You will hear in the campaign that this Council doesn’t work, that it is dysfunctional.  The truth – clear to anyone who actually pays close attention to the Council – is that this Council has been the most productive Council we’ve had in many, many years.  And this Council works well together, without any of the laughable and embarrassing internecine squabbles that defined some past Councils. 

 

I started on Council on January 1, 2016.  Since that time, we have accomplished a tremendous amount, especially during the last two years that I’ve been Mayor.  Most of the decisions that a Council makes are fairly routine and have relatively little direct impact on the community.  What I’ve listed below, in roughly chronological order, are the “big” decisions or decisions that I am particularly proud of. 

 

  1. Prudent Financial Management.  During each year that I’ve been on Council, the City has had a balanced budget and received a “clean” audit with no substantial findings.  Additionally, the City has a bond rating one step below the highest possible rating. It is rare for a small City to have such a high bond rating.  Of course, this is largely due to the work of our excellent City staff.  But those standards and expectations for excellence and prudence start with the Council. 
     

  2. My “Office Hours.”  Shortly after starting on Council, I started holding “office hours” for two hours every Saturday morning.  I felt that it was important for me to make myself available at a standard time for any resident to come and speak with me about any topic.  I can’t be a servant leader if I don’t know what the people I am serving want leadership towards.  When I started doing this, I was the ONLY Councilmember who did this.  Now there are 3 or 4 Councilmembers how hold regular office hours. 
     

  3. Comprehensive Plan update.  We completed a multi-year effort to update and overhaul our Island’s Comprehensive Plan.  More than any other document, this Plan will determine our Island’s future.  You can see it here:  Comp Plan.  Our Comp Plan places a high priority on maintaining our Island’s environmental services and values and has a strong focus on climate change, in large part because I pushed hard for those priorities. 
     

  4. Electric Municipalization.  Prior to me joining the Council, the Council voted to explore the municipalization of our electric system. They did this because they received a petition signed by over 1,000 Island residents asking them to do so.  I think exploring this was the right option.  However, after exploring the issue in some depth, it became clear that municipalization was not the best path for our community.  Therefore, I voted against proceeding any farther.
     

  5. Climate Change.  I was proud to write the ordinance that created the Island’s Climate Change Advisory Committee. The formation of this Committee was the first step towards Bainbridge Island completing a greenhouse gas inventory, developing emissions benchmarks, and completing a Climate Change Adaption and Mitigation Plan for Bainbridge (which will be done March 2020).  This work will only get done if we continue to have Councilmembers, like myself, who are strong advocates for it.
     

  6. Shoreline Management.  I was proud to vote for an amendment to our Shoreline Management Program that would prohibit any new fish farms around the Island and the use of any plastics for aquaculture in the waters around our Island.  Additionally, I supported changes to the SMP that relaxed some specific rules within the SMP that were reasonable and gave shoreline homeowners a bit of relief.
     

  7. Puppy Mills.  I was proud to write an ordinance that prohibits on Bainbridge Island the sale of puppies or kittens raised at “puppy mills”.  The Council unanimously adopted this ordinance. 
     

  8. Low Impact Development (“LID”).  This name is somewhat misleading.  What LID actually does is put in place much more stringent stormwater controls for new development or re-development.  Basically, LID is a new law for the Island that requires developments to be designed in such a manner that rain that falls on a property stays on the property.  In other words, this is a groundwater protection law.  I was proud to support getting this law written and passed by Council.

 

At this Point, Kol is appointed Mayor by a unanimous vote of the Council.

 

  1. Non-Motorized Transportation Improvements.  I was a leader in getting the Council to place a measure on the ballot to raise substantial funds to build bike shoulders, sidewalks, and trails to schools.  I was the first Council member to call for the Council to create such a ballot measure.  And I worked hard to get the Council to move the ballot measure forward.  Unfortunately, the ballot  measure did not quite pass.  So now we are going to try again.  See “Sustainable Transportation” below.
     

  2. Ward Meetings.  During my first two years on Council, the Councilmembers only had one ward meeting each year.  A ward meeting is basically a town hall meeting where two or three Councilmembers hold a meeting in each ward (north, central, south).  Anyone who lives in the ward can show up and take part in a town hall type discussion with their local Councilmembers.  Since I’ve become Mayor, due to my leadership, we are now holding four ward meetings each year.  Councilmembers must make themselves available to the public to understand what the public wants and to be held accountable.
     

  3. Groundwater Recharge Protection.  Last year the Council approved changes to our Critical Areas Ordinance that provide substantially more protection to our Island’s groundwater through the creation of a new “aquifer recharge protection area” section of the Ordinance.  I am proud to have been the lead architect of this new section.  This would not have happened without me.  It provides much greater protection of our Island’s groundwater recharge while still being balanced and giving homeowners the ability to develop as they would like. 
     

  4. Curtailing Poor Land Developments.  I was pleased to support a development moratorium on large developments.  This moratorium was passed by Council in January 2018 and is still in place today.  I had voted for the moratorium in 2016 as well, when a majority of Council did not support it.  This moratorium put a halt on City permitting for new large developments such as subdivisions, multi-unit residential developments, and commercial development throughout most of the Island. 
              Unfortunately, our Island has seen a number of large developments in the last few years, mainly subdivisions, that did not, and do not, fit this community’s identity. These developments were for the most part built by outside companies that do not live here and have no interest other than maximizing their profits.
              The moratorium was put in place to give the Council time to adopt a series of new or revised land use ordinances that will make it much more likely that future development and growth is “good growth” that fits the culture of this Island. There is a long list of land use law changes that the Council has made and is in the process of making to achieve this goal of good growth. It’s too much to write here; but I’d be happy to sit down and explain it all to anyone who contacts me.
     

  5. LGBTQ Rights and Respect.  I am very supportive of LGBTQ rights.  I have been proud to support a number of resolutions and proclamations in this area.  And I was pleased to assist Councilmember Tirman with the development of an ordinance that requires organizations on Bainbridge to allow transgender people to use the bathroom of their choice and requires all single-stall bathrooms to be gender-neutral.  This ordinance passed the Council unanimously. 
     

  6. City Manager.  The departure of our last City Manager was an unexpected occurrence.  It could have been a moment that sowed great uncertainty and division in and amongst our City staff and citizens.  However, it was not.  This is largely because of the leadership that I used to get a majority of Councilmembers to install our Deputy City Manager as our new City Manager until December 2020.  The continuity the City obtained with that move was critically important at the time and throughout this year as many of our senior staff are retiring. 
     

  7. Groundwater Management Plan.  The City has started the process of creating a Groundwater Management Plan.  Considering that all of our water is groundwater, you’d think that our City had a robust Groundwater Management Plan.  But that thought would be wrong.  After years of diligent work by me and a small number of other Councilmembers, the City is now investing the resources needed to complete a Management Plan.  This would not be happening without my leadership.
     

  8. Police Station.  For 15 or so years the City has been trying to find a location for a new police station.  I am happy to say that we have found the location and are moving forward.  The purchase and sale agreement is signed and the work is underway.  This was not easy.  There is no “perfect” location for, or process for designing and building, a police station.  However, I am a person who places high value on getting stuff done, especially on an endeavor that has been festering for 15 years.  So I applied the leadership necessary to get a majority of Council to agree on a solution and move forward with it.
     

  9. Affordable Housing.  The lack of affordable housing is a crisis on our Island.  Our median home price is nearly three times that of the rest of Kitsap County and is higher than Seattle.  Our City government can not solve this problem, but we can take many steps towards alleviating it a bit.  I’m proud to have supported every effort our City has made in this area, including our recent decision to invest substantially more resources towards implementing the recommendations of our Affordable Housing Task Force.  This work will only get done if we maintain people like myself on Council who will make sure that it gets done. 
              I should add that I did vote against proceeding with the Suzuki project and did so for a clear reason:I firmly believe that Suzuki will never get done; it will fritter away our time, attention, and money, while dividing our community, and never result in anything. So my position is that we sell the Suzuki property and invest all the proceeds in a different affordable housing project that will get done.
     

  10. Live-Aboards and Rowing Club.  Late last year and into this year, the Council had to deal with a contentious issue.  A set of circumstances had come to exist that was pitting two important Island values against each other:  (1) increasing live-aboard moorages in Eagle Harbor to support affordable housing and our maritime sense of place; (2) preserving space in Eagle Harbor for our Island’s robust rowing club that involves hundreds of our youth.  I was the Councilmember that identified a solution to this problem that satisfied both “sides” and lead the Council towards approving that solution. 
     

  11. Transparency of City Operations.  In April of this year, the City started mailing a monthly hardcopy newsletter to every resident on the Island.  This newsletter is the result of more than a year of work and leadership by me.  A major problem on our Island is the lack of knowledge amongst most residents of what the City and Council are doing.  The Council can only make good policy if the residents of the Island tell us what they want and participate in the process.  People can only participate if they know what the City is doing. 
     

  12. Sustainable Transportation.  I have been a leader in designing and moving forward a process for the City to develop a new plan for its future transportation system.  The goal is to facilitate a community discussion that develops a new vision for how transportation will function on the Island 20, 30, and more years from now.  Climate change is coming.  We need to be prepared.  I hope this plan will have a new vision for non-motorized improvements to build on the Island, for new and increased use of public transit, for support of electric vehicles and autonomous vehicles, and much more.  This process is just getting started now.  If we want this to continue and be successful, we need to maintain on Council people such as myself who support it and understand it. 
     

  13. Councilmember Ethics.  Some of our Councilmembers have had complaints filed against them recently for poor or unethical behavior.  As a Council, we had a choice – we could ignore these complaints and just leave it to our Ethics Board, or we could get involved and make an effort to maintain the high standards for ethics and elected official conduct that (I think) we should have.  While it is not easy, or pleasant, for anyone involved, I am happy that this Council has chosen to openly tackle this issue and hold tight to high standards for conduct.
     

  14. Maintaining a Collegial and Productive Council.  The most important work I have done for this community while on Council has been holding this Council together.  The very worst thing that could happen would be for the Council to split into factions. 
              Why does this matter, you might ask? Look at policy making on the federal level.Because our federal Congress involves two factions that are at war with each other, (A) hardly any of the important work that we need Congress to do is getting done and (B) the legislation they do get done is warped and damaged and not nearly as effective as it could, or should, be.Not to mention, it is embarrassing for all of us to watch and be a part of.
              I will NEVER let that happen to our Council on Bainbridge. We can not go back to the Councils we’ve had in the recent past that were pitted against each other in camps of 3 versus 4. Especially with the ethics issues we’ve been dealing with, this Council could have fractured.It did not; and that is largely because of me.It is because of the tone that I set at our meetings; it is because of the careful leadership and influence I exert behind the scenes; it is because of the maturity that I show and expect of others; and it is because I maintain good personal relationships with each Councilmember whether I approve of particular actions they have taken or not.
              This is not easy. Believe me, there have been times that I wanted to yell and scream at Councilmembers and/or speak blunt and direct truth to them on the dais. While doing so might have made me feel better for the moment, or made the audience cheer, the benefit would have been short-lived; while the long-term detriment to the functioning of this Council, and its ability to actually do the work of this Island, would have been huge.
              You see, being on Council is much like being in an arranged marriage with six other people, people who you didn’t choose and over whom you have no leverage. Maintaining a productive marriage in this context is difficult and takes great maturity. But I have done it.

Statement on Council and City Accountability

 

Below I provide you first with a summary and then with the full version. 

Summary - Statement on Council and City Accountability

Accountability requires transparency into one’s actions and mechanisms for people to voice their opinions, ideas, and dissent about those actions. It is easy to say:  “I believe in Accountability in government”.  It is quite another to put that into practice.  Through my leadership, this City Council has done just that.   Listed are accountability action items that I and we have instituted:

 

1.  Consistent Fixed Office Hours.I was the first Councilmember to establish weekly, open office hours.For 3.5 years, I have made myself available on Saturday mornings at a public location so that anyone can come and meet with me and tell me what they think.Note that during the campaign I will instead be out doorbelling and at public forums doing the same.

 

2.  Ward Meetings. As Mayor, I moved the Council to have four ward meetings per year.Prior to that, the Council had only one ward meeting each year.

 

3.  Email Policies:I have auto-reply on my email that tells everyone who emails me how to call me and text me and tells them where to find my Saturday office hour schedule.I try to respond to every email sent to me.There are times when, as a city official, I cannot respond.Most commonly, when there are legal actions against the city, such as pending SMP litigation, I cannot comment.

     Regardless of the pressure I come under to comment on that litigation, I put my responsibility as Mayor far above any derogatory campaign claims. See the full version of this Statement for details on how a shoreline homeowners group are using lies about me to try to weaken our shoreline management plan.

 

4.  City Newsletter.I led the City starting the publication of a monthly newsletter which highlights key issues being discussed by Council and which arrives in every city mailbox regularly.

 

Accountable government drives ethical government.During the last year, the City ethics program has been front and center, and I have supported the Ethics Committee throughout the process, regardless of where their focus lay, including, ultimately, the difficult step of formally and publicly reprimanding a councilmember. This was not a popular decision, in many ways, but accountability is not about popularity.

 

Before and after my time on council, I was, am, and will continue to be a proud resident.  Accountable and ethical government is not just a campaign slogan for me, but a long-term part of being a good steward of this Island and its resources.

Full Version - Statement on Council and City Accountability

 

My most important goal on Council is to do everything I can to make sure that the City is doing what our residents want.  I am not the City government; I am a resident, just like you.  I value a high-functioning City government as much as you do.

 

 

One of the core elements of a high-functioning government is accountability.  Accountability starts with information and transparency.  The City can’t do what we residents want if (A) the City doesn’t know what the residents want it to do and (B) the residents don’t know what the City is doing.  And then once that regular communication of information is in place, there must be mechanisms in place to hold the City accountable.  The clearest mechanism is City Councilmembers. 

 

In short, it is of utmost importance to me that all residents know what the City is doing and have an opportunity to tell their Council members if the City is doing something that they don’t want it to do.  These are not just nice-sounding words to me.  I have put these words into action. 

 

In fact, I have been the leading advocate of transparency and accountability on our City Council.  And, as I explain below, because I have championed these issues, I am being campaigned against.  Here are five specific examples of me leading on accountability:

 

1.  Office Hours.  I was the first Councilmember to establish weekly, open office hours.For 3.5 years, I have made myself available on Saturday mornings at a public location so that anyone can come and meet with me and tell me what they think.I do not hide from anyone.  During this month and next, instead of holding office hours, I’ll be out doorbelling and taking part in public forums. I’ll be on people’s doorsteps being transparent and accountable.

 

2.  Ward Meetings. Once I became Mayor, I moved the Council to have four ward meetings per year.Prior to that, the Council had only one ward meeting each year.“What’s a ward meeting?”, you might be asking yourself. It’s a town hall style of meeting where the Councilmembers in each ward spend two hours at a public venue to answer questions from the crowd (hopefully a large crowd) of residents who show up to speak with them and hear from them. It was important to me that we do this each quarter, not once each year.

 

3.  Emails.  I have an auto-reply on my email that tells everyone who emails me how to call me and text me and tells them where to find my Saturday office hour schedule. I try to respond to every email sent to me and have responded to every phone call or text sent to me.

 

4.  City Newsletter.  I led the City starting the publication of a monthly newsletter. This newsletter is key to keeping all of us residents informed of what the City is doing and when there are opportunities for public involvement. I think any Councilmember would agree that without my leadership, this newsletter would not have happened.

 

5.  Ethics.  During the last year, the City ethics program has been front and center. The Ethics Board, which is composed of residents, decided to start considering complaints about Councilmembers’ personal conduct, about whether a Councilmember had acted in an improper way, such as being dishonest or disparaging in their actions. The Ethics Board took this course of action because one Councilmember in particular had had a number of these types of ethics complaints filed against him.

     As Mayor, I could have attempted to squash these complaints or Ethics Board findings.   Ethics complaints make the entire Council look bad; we all get muddy.  It would have been in the entire Council’s interest to not give breathing room to these complaints.  But transparency and accountability are of overriding importance to me.  Doing everything I can to build trust in government is of utmost importance to me. 

     In the end, the Council took the very difficult step of formally and publicly reprimanding Councilmember Peltier for his actions.  This was particularly painful for me because Councilmember Peltier’s leadership has helped this Council move forward important environmental initiatives.  He has done good for our community. 

      I was surprised to learn that Councilmember Peltier has been helping the campaign of the person running against me. 

     All of these ethics considerations this year exposed some flaws in our ethics program.  So I have been leading the Council’s work to improve the ethics code, to make it more workable and more fair while still creating accountability. 

 

PRSM, My Opponent, and Answering Emails

 

Finally, I’d like to come back to the topic of emails.  As I said above, I work hard to respond to every email sent to me.  There is one exception, however:  I do not respond to emails from Mr. Haugan or other representatives of a group that is suing the City called PRSM (“Preserve Responsible Shoreline Management”).  I do not respond to their emails because we Councilmembers have been told by the City Attorney to not respond; anything we say to PRSM representatives could be used by PRSM in their lawsuit.  I have explained this to Mr. Haugan many times, in person, as have other Councilmembers.

 

PRSM is a 501(c)(3) organization.  501(c)(3)’s are strictly prohibited from attempting to influence political campaigns.  Yet, Mr. Haugan is illegally using the apparatus of PRSM to send emails to our Island’s shoreline property owners in which he misleads and lies to residents about me, endorses my opponent, and asks people to donate to my opponent’s campaign.

 

Mr. Haugan repeatedly paints me as an unresponsive and unaccountable person who never responds to his emails.  For the reasons I’ve said above, it is true that I do not respond to his emails.  What’s troubling is that Mr. Haugan omits this truth from his emails to our Island residents and instead lies about why I don’t respond to his emails. 

 

Why would Mr. Haugan distribute this lie?  Mr. Haugan indicates in his letter that the shoreline homeowners should all throw in for my opponent because, if they all do, they could win the election for my opponent and get someone on Council who will roll back our Island’s strong shoreline environmental protections.  Remember, PRSM is suing the City to weaken those environmental protections.  Apparently my opponent supports their goals.

 

I would be happy to share Mr. Haugan’s latest email with anyone who requests it.  Just email me at kol@re-electkolmedina.com

 

Please consider all of this when you vote.

 
 
Rebuttal to Implication that the City is Wasting $4.2M on Consultants and Legal Expenses

 

Below I provide you first with a summary and then with the full version. 

 

Summary - Rebuttal to Implication that the City is Wasting $4.2M on Consultants and Legal Expenses

 

My opponent claims that the City is wasting money on consultants and legal expenses and that he would be able to next year save $2,000,000 being spent on consultants and legal expenses and instead spend that on non-motorized facilities.  Every part of that claim is wrong.

 

There are two categories in the City budget that have what might be considered “consulting fees” in them. They are called “community services” and “professional services.”  These two categories total around $4,200,000

 

Approximately half of that is money that we pay other organizations to do work for our City including:

 

  • Janitorial services, audit services, hearing examiner, public arts program. 

  • Outside legal services for things such as guild negotiations. 

  • Grant issuance in the amount of $262,000 to support lodging and tourism on the Island. Raised from a special tax on lodging that may only legally be “spent” by making such grants.

  • Human Services Funding in the amount of nearly $800,000 in the form of grants to local nonprofits to help our Island’s most vulnerable populations. 

 

Ours, like all cities, does need the help of experts to conduct its work and architects, engineers, and other specialized professionals to help us do highly technical work for the city.  We must become better stewards of the Puget Sound and that means learning how to keep pollution out of it.  We must change our laws to incentivize the building of affordable housing and the development of greener buildings.   And we must start building out a transportation system that prepares the Island for climate change. We can’t achieve those goals without hiring outside help.

 

The City Council has carefully scrutinized the budget, balanced priorities, and come to a consensus that reflects the values of our community.  There are always more worthy projects than funds, which makes finding a balance tricky.

 

I am running for re-election because I have learned much about matching City policies with community values.  The idea that there are millions of dollars easily eliminated from these categories is a gross misrepresentation of the facts.

Full Rebuttal to Implication that the City is Wasting $4.2M on Consultants and Legal Expenses

My opponent states the following in his candidate statement in the voters pamphlet:  “I will work to reduce reliance on expensive outside consultants, and growing legal costs.”  In addition, he has stated repeatedly that the City is spending this year $4.2M on consultants and legal expenses and that he will take half of the $4.2M and spend it on non-motorized improvements instead.  The manner in which he makes these statements clearly insinuates the City is wasting money on consultants and legal expenses.  

 

He is wrong.  But his misleading and divisive statements play into common fears about government so it “plays well” with people when they hear it.  Below I explain the truth. 

 

The two 2019 City budget categories that have consulting fees and legal expenses in them or could be construed as “consulting fees” are called “community services” and “professional services.”  These two categories total around $4,200,000.  One might look at such a large number and think or claim, as my opponent does, “surely we can eliminate $2,000,000 of this.”  The city cannot need that much consulting, right?

 

In fact, it is true: The City does not need that much consulting. That’s why the City does not spend that much on consulting. Claims that the City spends $4.2 million per year on consulting and legal expenses are grossly misleading, at best. 

 

The fact is that most of the $4.2 million in these categories in 2019 is not really “consulting fees.”  So what is the $4.2 million?  It’s all of the money that we pay to other organizations or people to do work for the City or for our community.  Here are examples of what it includes:

 

  • Janitorial services.  We don’t have janitors on staff.  We hire a company to provide those services.

  • Audit services. We have to pay an auditor to complete the annual City financial audit.

  • Hearing Examiner. We have to pay a company to act as the City’s hearing examiner.

  • Outside legal services. We need specialized legal services for certain issues such as guild negotiations.

  • Grants to support lodging and tourism on the Island. It is worth noting that the $262,000 spent on this is raised from a special tax on lodging and that the $262,000 may only legally be “spent” by making grants to organizations supporting lodging and tourism on the Island.

  • Public art program. We provide funding to local artists to display their art in our City program and funding to Bainbridge Arts & Humanities Council to manage our public art.

  • Human Services Funding. Our City is spending nearly $800,000 this year in the form of grants to local nonprofits to help our Island’s most vulnerable populations. 

 

Most of those expenditures go to costs that can’t be avoided. Others are expenditures that are deeply desired if not treasured by our community. None of them are what people commonly think of as “consultant fees.” We either can’t cut any of what I’ve listed above or we won’t cut it because the expenditures are so deeply desired by our community.

 

So of the amounts remaining, what would have to be cut in order to “save” $2,000,000?  The following are a partial list of what would have to be cut: 

 

  • Architects and engineers for City capital projects. The city would have to stop any capital improvements to our roads or infrastructure that require specialized engineering or architect services.

  • Tertiary treatment for our wastewater. We would have to cut a study that will tell us how to improve our wastewater system so that chemicals and pharmaceuticals, like opioids or prescription drugs, no longer flow into the Puget Sound.

  • Reduce stormwater pollution into the Puget Sound.  We would have to cut a study to improve our stormwater infrastructure that will educate us on how to reduce runoff pollution in the Puget Sound from our roads and buildings.

  • Affordable housing initiatives.  We would to stop our work on specialized affordable housing code changes that take expertise we don’t have on staff. This would include inclusionary zoning, multi-family tax exemption, and transfer of development rights.

  • Green building initiative.  We would have to not take up our planned work on a green building code for the Island (again, this is an area of specialized expertise that we don’t have on staff).

  • Monthly City newsletter.  We would have to stop the monthly City newsletter.

  • Non-motorized transportation.  We would have to stop the process we have started of developing a new sustainable transportation plan for the Island.

  • Climate change.  We would most likely not have the funding necessary to implement the BI Climate Action Plan that will be published in March of next year.

 

All of those things matter to me, and they matter to the residents of Bainbridge Island.  We must become better stewards of the Puget Sound and that means learning how to keep pollution out of it.  We must change our laws to incentivize the building of affordable housing and the development of greener buildings.   And we must start building out a transportation system that prepares the Island for climate change.

 

There are two main points that I’m communicating here:  (1) The claim that the City is spending $4.2M on consultants and legal expenses is flatly wrong; (2) While some of the $4.2M is being spent on what one commonly thinks of as “consultants”, it is naïve at best to claim that our community would prefer to spend all of that on non-motorized improvements.  The work that consultants are doing for us is real work that is much desired and needed by our community.

 

The reality is that the City Council has carefully scrutinized the budget, balanced priorities, and come to a consensus that reflects the values of our community.  There are always more worthy projects than funds, which makes finding a balance tricky. Of course I would like the City to provide more funding for non-motorized facilities; and I’m certainly willing to take a harder look at how we could do that. But claims that we are wasting money on consultants and can somehow immediately move $2,000,000 per year to non-motorized improvements are playing politics with the truth.

 

I am running for re-election because I have learned much about matching City policies with community values.  I intend to use that experience to continue to improve our government and infrastructure.

MAYOR, KOL MEDINA
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