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City flops, BCC forums OK'd -- News Roundup

After determining that the group Bainbridge Concerned Citizens is registered under a portion of the federal tax code that does not permit the endorsement of candidates, city Administrator Lee Walton reversed an earlier decision and decided that BCC could use the council chambers for candidate forums it wants to sponsor.

“I think I made a mistake,” Walton wrote in an email to Gary Tripp, director of BCC. “Sponsoring a debate forum at which all candidates are invited is an appropriate use of the chamber. Please consider your application of use of the chamber for a candidate’s forum to be reinstated.”

Tripp said Tuesday that the session scheduled for Oct. 13 has been cancelled because candidates Michael Pollock and Arnie Kubiak have agreed to appear before the island Rotary Club.

“The 20th is still on unless I hear otherwise from the candidates,” said Tripp, who had said BCC would not proceed without all the candidates.

Walton informed BCC last Wednesday that it was revoking permission to use the council chambers for a candidate forum on the grounds that BCC was a “political activist group” that supported certain candidates over others, which Tripp has denied.

With the Chamber of Commerce, BCC had co-sponsored a forum before the primary election in the chambers, and had reserved the space for the two general-election sessions.

The Chamber opted out, and is co-sponsoring two other forums with the League of Women Voters and the Bainbridge Review.

Walton denied Tripp’s assertions that he had made a decision under “political pressure.”

“The decision was mine alone, and I did not talk to any City Council members about it,” he said.

– John Waldo

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***Cleanup goes on until rains

After sometimes heated debate, the City Council’s Public Works Committee Monday directed city workers to resume the cleanup effort at a Head of the Bay site until the rainy season begins, then finish the job next summer during the dry season.

Crews will once again begin hauling off the piles of dirt produced by shoulder-grading, ditch-cleaning and street-sweeping operations, which are contaminated with oil residues, from an area upgradient from the city’s wellheads, the source of much of Winslow’s drinking water.

After complaints from neighbors, the county health department determined that the material should be moved from the site.

Earlier this summer, the city spent some $90,000 of available funds to move some of the material, then stopped work when the money ran out. But later investigation revealed a significantly larger quantity than expected, and completing the job is estimated to cost almost $300,000.

The increase in quantity is due to the fact that there are no “before” pictures of the site, so it can be difficult to determine exactly where disposal ends and natural contours begin, Public Works Director Randy Witt said.

The city had proposed covering the remaining material this year, then resuming cleanup operations next summer during the dry season, or possibly spreading the work over the next two years, both options that the health department sanctioned.

But councilmember Deborah Vann was adamantly opposed to any delay.

“We’ve known about this for 12 years,” she said. “We asked Randy to come back to us if you ran out of money, and that did not happen. I’m not going to be responsible as a council member if the wellhead is contaminated.”

The problem, said Witt, is that contamination becomes much more probable if rain hits unprotected material, causing runoff, which means work can’t proceed during the winter.

“Not buttoning up until after storms come is when you start getting notices of violation from the Department of Ecology,” he said.

As a compromise, the panel directed Public Works to do as much as possible this season, then resume next year, an option that will add $10,000 to $30,000 to the total bill.

“We will be watching the long-range weather forecasts to know when to button things up,” said maintenance supervisor Lance Newkirk. “So it’s possible we may stop working before it actually starts raining.”

– John Waldo

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***All rise for library forum

The Bainbridge Library Speakers Forum opens its sixth season with Judge William A. Fletcher, who will talk about “The Future of the Supreme Court” at 4 p.m. Oct. 5 in the library.

Fletcher sits on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, the court that recently ruled on the California recall election.

From 1977 until his appointment by President Clinton to the bench in 1999, Fletcher was a law professor at the University of California, Berkeley. He grew up in Seattle, and then attended Harvard, followed by Oxford, where he was a Rhodes Scholar with Clinton, and Yale Law School.

In 1969, he and his wife, Linda Morris, were married at Wing Point on Bainbridge.

Other speakers in the series and their topics are as follows:

* Oct. 19: Tony Angell, well-known environmentalist, artist and writer, “Metaphors of Place: The Messages from Nature in the Forms of Art.”

* Nov. 9: Regina Hackett, award-winning art critic for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, “From Market Pigs to Mark Tobey: Art in Seattle.”

* Jan. 11: Ronald Moore, associate professor of philosophy at the University of Washington, “Why Is a Joke Funny?”

* Jan. 24: Jere Bacharach, Golub Professor on International Studies at the University of Washington, “The Modern Middle East: Legacies of the Past.”

* Feb. 8: William Traver, founder of the William Traver Gallery of Seattle, “The History of Glass Art in the Northwest.”

* March 7: Preston Singletary, rising Tlingit artist recently featured at the Seattle Art Museum with a one-man show, “Fusing Native American Traditions in Glass.”

Bainbridge Arts and Crafts sponsors the last two speakers, Traver and Singletary, who will illustrate their talks with slide presentations.

Tickets are $40 for the series, with forms available at the library. Some single tickets may be available at the door for $12 on the day of the event.

Information: 842-4162.

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