Letters to the Editor

Bainbridge residents sound off on vandalism | Letters to the Editor

Vandalism

Please, don’t rush to judgment

When I was 6 years old I did a very bad thing. I wrote my sister’s name (Sally) on our playhouse wall with a big black crayon. I was very careful to write the “S” backwards, as that was how Sally wrote her name. I knew that when confronted with the evidence my parents would assume Sally had done the dirty deed. The day came when they found the damage and they confronted 4-year-old Sally. She happily complied with their request by writing her name complete with a backwards “S”. I gloated while she was sent to her room, despite her protestations. I justified this because the week before she had poked my favorite doll’s eyes out. And many years later I confessed to all involved.

The vandalism on the island is a terrible thing. Useless, senseless, costly, embarrassing and unfortunate. But the rush to judgment to blame the senior class may be just as unfortunate. In the interest of full disclosure, I am the parent of a senior. But whether my daughter were graduating or not, I would still be suspicious of a criminal who would so blatantly leave a calling card. It’s like watching a murder mystery and realizing the plotline is pointing too directly at a certain party to try to lead the audience to foregone conclusions.

So until we know for sure, resist the temptation to lay blame where the criminal so clearly wants it directed and allow our beloved seniors to graduate in peace and with our respect and admiration.

MARIJANE MILTON

Proud parent of Piper Milton, BHS Class of ‘08

Raccoon Lane

Editor’s note: The above letter was received prior to Bainbridge Police arresting a BHS senior Friday on suspicion of vandalism.

Where’s the outrage for vandals?

It’s that time of year. Spring flowers. Billowing clouds. Road graffiti. Come again?

Yes, just as we celebrate our seniors graduating from high school and setting off into their own independent worlds, we islanders who remain behind must brace ourselves for the onslaught of road graffiti, that annual ritual of adolescent territorial marking. Every year around this time we wake up one day to find our streets vandalized by a small minority of thoughtless but overly exuberant pranksters.

We assume that one of the reasons so many of us moved to this island is for its natural beauty. So one of the great mysteries is why this community so meekly and silently puts up with its own desecration. Do we really think it’s such an innocent prank? Are we possibly afraid to confront our rambunctious youth, for fear of being the next victim? Are we condoning this behavior? Where’s the outrage, to say nothing of the discussion.

We think we’ve heard all the excuses: It’s just a rite-of-passage tradition.” (So is binge drinking, but hardly innocent.) “It’s just kids being kids.” (Kids also bully, but we shouldn’t tolerate that either.) “The markings will all wash off soon enough.” (Not. We still see sloppy remnants gracing our roads from five, six years ago judging by dates.)

We can only wonder why it’s done in the first place. Is it to honor one’s best friend, or torment one’s worst enemy? Whatever. The fact is it’s ugly, not funny (except perhaps to the smirking perpetrators the morning after), cowardly and frankly, embarrassing. Most of the graffiti is so crudely scrawled, it serves as a sad commentary on the lack of education in basic penmanship. And these are the kids we’re sending off to college?

So what can be done about this problem before it’s too late? Here are a few suggestions: Traditions are meant to be phased out and new ones started. Instead of adding to the splatter that already graces our roads, why not offer community service points for voluntarily taking gray paint to the existing mess and wiping it out?

If that carrot won’t work, here’s a stick: Anyone caught in the act (unlikely, but not impossible), should be required to paint over or sand blast out 10 times the amount of their own handiwork.

Finally, here’s a direct plea to those of you plotting your next hit-and-run move: If you simply can’t restrain your artistic enthusiasm, at least limit it to private driveways (preferably your own) and not the public roadway we must all share.

Happy graduation!

MARY ORBEN

THOMAS ZHARHOFF

Bainbridge Island

City

There’s plenty of fat to cut from budget

Over the last seven years, spending on labor and consulting has risen seven times as fast as the island population growth. This spending exploded in the last two years, with much of this going for consulting. If the city had kept its spending on labor and consulting at Year 2000 levels and simply increased these at the rate of inflation, it would have $15.3 million more in the bank today.

That’s enough to buy at least 10 state-of-the-art soccer fields. Or a very fancy senior center. Two-hundred acres of open space at Meig’s Farm prices. Or even a tax holiday for everyone on the island for almost a full-year. Take your pick, but unfortunately, the money’s gone.

These figures include training because it is related to labor productivity, and consulting because it is a “make/buy” cost of labor: the city can hire either outside or inside, as it did when it hired Chris W., a consulting engineer from Philadelphia, to oversee Heery (that oversaw sub contractors, that oversaw...) For the city finance director to say that we have no capacity to start any new capital projects before 2015 is to assume that the city cannot cut operating expenses. However, the city spends more on labor and consulting than it collects in tax revenues, and this should be the first place to look for savings, if only because of the size of these outlays.

And the cost figures above say nothing about productivity. The CH2M Benchmarking Study found that when measured in terms of permits per employee, the development engineering staff is 75 percent less productive than average. Per connection, the water and sewer staff is about 60 percent less productive. Per permit, current planning staff is 62 percent less productive. And per capita, the long-term planning staff is half as productive. Last year alone, the city staffed the Winslow Tomorrow office with four employees on which it spent $277,494.58, an amount that would have paid much of the city’s share in the new soccer field.

What would you have done with the $15.3 million?

ROD STEVENS

Urban real estate consultant

West Blakely

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