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We’ve seen this happen before | IN OUR OPINION
It’s not about the park. And it’s certainly not about the public.
It’s about power.
Members of the Bainbridge Island City Council once again pulled the rug out from beneath City Manager Doug Schulze in another brazen attempt to subvert the manager’s role and responsibilities at city hall.
Two familiar names are to blame on the council: Debbi Lester and Steve Bonkowski.
Bonkowski, of course, was the council member who hijacked an earlier council meeting to prevent a thorough public discussion of a flawed outsourcing contract with the Kitsap Public Utility District that Bonkowski had previously championed.
At the last council meeting, Lester and Bonkowski tried to torpedo the process to hire a consultant to help the city come up with a design for the makeover of Waterfront Park.
This was nearly three months after the council — Lester and Bonkowski included — had been on board with the city’s issuance of a “request for qualifications” from firms that could complete the work.
But now, with a final choice for a consultant waiting in the wings, Lester and Bonkowski tried to substitute their judgement for the professional expertise of the city manager, public works director and others who conducted interviews of the potential candidates.
Never mind that the process for issuing a “request for qualifications” is ensconced in city code and past practice, or that the company chosen was the only firm that properly followed the RFQ instructions. Never mind that the company was highly recommended, has worked on Bainbridge in the past, has successfully completed major public projects and has won multiple awards for previous waterfront plans.
Instead, Bonkowski and Lester suggested the city have a competition of sorts, a contest where the consultant with the prettiest set of pictures for a new park design would win the contract.
Lester came ready for some political grandstanding on the sudden switcheroo, with a slideshow and prepared script, and bemoaned that the choice of a consultant now would limit public input on the park makeover.
Reality and common sense show otherwise. Does anyone in their right mind think a public park project could move forward and be ultimately approved by the city council on Bainbridge Island without vigorous public input?
This week’s kerfuffle can be traced back to the familiar; another power grab by some on the council, who not only want to be council members, but act as the city manager as well.
We’ve said it before and we now have to say it again. Council members, stick to your jobs, and let the workers at city hall do theirs.