To the editor:
Since they took office in January 2012, Sarah Blossom, Steve Bonkowski and Dave Ward have campaigned hard for the transfer of ownership - or, failing that - management of the city of Bainbridge Island water utility to the Kitsap PUD.
This crusade has obscured our community’s perception of these undoubtedly public-spirited individuals and their capacity to do what islanders like me elected them to do. That was to take a business-like and level-headed approach to a broad range of policy issues, with priority to those that concern the Island as a whole. We expected them to leave personal biases and foregone conclusions at the door.
I sincerely value the many ways in which these individuals have functioned well in the give-and-take of our political dialogue. Still, whenever the water utility came up, they have allowed the rational hierarchy of concerns before the council and the community to be turned on its head. The crusade to literally give away ownership of the city of Bainbridge Island water resources, then to outsource its management, has been agonizing to behold. An effort allegedly undertaken to protect 2,300 utility customers from exploitation has ended up costing the city and all of its taxpayers a lot of money, not to mention all the “political capital” that has been squandered.
Why has this crusade repeatedly grown out of proportion when the community is faced with so many complex and universal issues? Can it really be that three of the seven members of our council took office as proxies for an anti-city lobby that includes representatives of the self-styled Ratepayers Alliance and a few others including Arlene Buetow, the chairwoman of the Utilities Advisory Committee and now a candidate for city council?
I can’t think of any other explanation, but let’s now extend an encouraging hand to the defeated crusaders, focus our attention on the proposed restructuring of the utility and keep our perspective so we can grapple together with issues that matter more to all of us.
Citizens across the political spectrum, especially utility customers bewildered by claims that a few elected and self-appointed activists were looking out for their interests, must now step out of the shadows. I hope to see many of you at the study session on June 19.