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Council punts paper issue - News Roundup

Council punts paper issue

The Sun will not set on the Review.

Acknowledging that a possible change from the city’s longtime use of the Bainbridge Review as the vehicle for its legal notices is “a very sensitive subject in our community,” the City Council this week tabled the issue.

Consideration of what should be the city’s “official newspaper” may, though, be revived in the coming year.

Councilman Bill Knobloch had put the issue on the council’s final agenda of the year for “discussion.” A resolution would have redesignated the official paper, but left the name of the paper to be designated blank.

Stating that “it is not unusual at all” for cities of Bainbridge’s size to regularly designate an official paper, Knobloch told the council that the issue was raised in the finance committee as part of the larger examination of city finances.

The issue – which has been criticized by Councilman Norm Wooldridge and others as politically motivated, had been “distorted” in the media – Knobloch said.

The Review has been the city’s newspaper of record since 1985, save for a six-month period in 1992. As such, it is the medium for publication of legal notices about hearings, ordinance changes, land use applications and other proposals.

In recent years, the city has spent between $25,000 and $35,000 per year to publish such notices.

The Review enjoys a 2-1 advantage in local paid circulation over both Seattle dailies, and a 4-1 advantage over the Sun newspaper of Bremerton.

Outgoing council member Michael Pollock suggested the city pursue additional methods of distributing legal information, including the city’s web site and electronic mailings.

He also emphasized the need for the city to develop publicly available criteria for the publication of city-funded notices.

“Right now it has the appearance of a...cozy relationship with the Review, which makes some people uncomfortable,” Pollock said.

– Review Staff

Creek design gets go-ahead

The City Council Wednesday approved a $24,600 contract for the design of stream enhancements on Cooper Creek.

The creek flows through city-owned property at the Head of the Bay and feeds Eagle Harbor near Ray’s automotive repair shop.

The city will use R2 Resource Consultants to design the removal of a small, in-ground concrete structure that impedes the movement of fish upstream, and establish a better creek flow.

Decades ago, the creek was the potable water source for the town of Winslow. The concrete structure is a holdover from those days, when water was drawn out there for domestic distribution.

The restoration project was recommended by a citizen group looking at watershed issues, public works Director Randy Witt said.

Once the design work is completed, construction would be performed in a future year contingent on the availability of grants or other funding.

– Douglas Crist

Ferry food may be saved

Reports of the death of ferry cuisine may be premature.

Executives from both Washington State Ferries and the Inlandboatmen’s Union met on Tuesday in Seattle, and both emerged from the meeting talking possible compromise.

“If we get past the rhetoric and the posturing, we may be able to reach some kind of agreement to provide interim galley service after Jan. 1,” said IBU national president Dave Freiboth. “Although I’m not that optimistic.”

“It was a positive meeting because we were able to say how we are not in a position to subsidize food service,” said WSF CEO Mike Thorne. “Any proposal that requires us to do so is a non-starter.”

This is the latest act in a drama that began in late October, when Sodexho refused to renew its contract, saying the new terms would prevent it from making a profit.

Sodexho agreed to continue service until the end of the year.

The initial solicitation for other food service vendors drew no qualified applicants. Potential vendors are due to respond to a revised request for proposal by Jan. 9.

Thorne said that WSF will agree to any proposal that allows it to break even. The vendor must maintain certain equipment, which WSF owns. But this doesn’t mean the ferry system will accept just any vendor.

“We want to make sure that any contractor can handle doing the job on a long term basis,” Thorne said. “I don’t want to be doing this every six months.”

In the meantime, the IBU maintains any galley employees should receive union wages – and has won in court. Thorne said that he is concerned about jobs and wages, but insisted that the system will not enter into a money-losing venture. “Any compromise needs to be made between the union and the workers,” he said.

Freiboth said the ferry system’s attempt to imitate the “Portland Airport Model,” with different food offerings and gift shops, is misguided.

“There aren’t a lot of well-heeled people looking for a place to spend their money,” he said.

“A ferry terminal is more like a bus or train station, where people pass quickly through to or from work.”

– Charlie Bermant

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