Three Bainbridge Island city council members will step down from the dais at the end of their terms this year.
Will the last to leave council chambers please turn on the lights?
It became painfully clear at this week’s council meeting that several of the council members who will remain are still completely in the dark about their roles in a council-manager form of government, as well as the basic tenets of common courtesy.
Last year, we chastised several of the new members of the council after they inappropriately tried to silence a fellow council member who dared to offer an opposing view. It was an embarrassing display unworthy of Bainbridge Island, and we said so.
That shameful approach of shutting down any thoughtful discussion of the issue at hand when there might be a valid but opposing viewpoint was sadly in full evidence again this week.
Earlier, the city council had asked City Manager Doug Schulze to come up with an intergovernmental contract to turn the city’s water system over to the Kitsap Public Utility District. But when it was time for Schulze to explain this week why such a contract was ill-advised, he never got the chance. Mayor Steve Bonkowski instead hijacked the discussion of the proposed agreement and Schulze was silenced.
Schulze was then given a dressing-down by Bonkowski and his fellow Councilman David Ward, and was prevented from offering his professional take on the proposal contract, or even a chance to defend himself.
Instead, Bonkowski led an evening of grandstanding and distraction. There was no discussion of the merits of the outsourcing contract or its impacts to the city, potential legal challenges by the employees union, or the issue of the contract’s noncompliance with the city’s comprehensive plan.
Last year, the council voted unanimously to hire Schulze as the city manager, and many hoped the council was turning the page on a history filled with the council’s public browbeatings of its city employees, the city manager in particular. The new council had its own hand-picked manager now; things would surely change for the better.
Unfortunately, this week’s council meeting shows the past is still present.