Letters to the Editor

Salary problems

To the editor:

I was appalled to read the report of a 300 percent increase in City Council salaries with no public process. It was not on the agenda for council meeting as it had been removed by Mayor Rasham Nassar. That lacks transparency and integrity. The Salary Commission apparently published a press release on April 19, the day of their report, but the city did not release it that day. The city sent out a press release on May 3 – two weeks after the decision was made.

Thanks to the insistence of Councilmember Kirsten Hytopoulos it was returned to the city business meeting agenda. There are only 30 days to file a referendum to appeal this decision and that 30 days began April 19, so the lack of public release severely shortens the citizens’ ability to repeal it.

The other problems are:

1. The Salary Commission is not obliged to consider the salaries of other council salaries, not consider the budget implications of their decision. These are citizens appointed by the City Council but it is not accountable to anyone.

2. It distorts the principle that serving on the council is a public service – like sitting on the Planning Commission, or any of the Citizen Advisory Committees established by the City Council, none of which are paid.

Finally, because money doesn’t grow on trees, the impact of this raise means that the city will not be doing something else with this money, such as increasing support for nonprofits during the pandemic, hiring staff to enforce code or develop expertise in affordable housing.

If you share my concern about this radical change and challenge to transparency and public service, please email councilsalary@aol.com

Gloria Sayler

Bainbridge Island

Attacks misdirected

To the editor:

A review of the Ethics Board’s April 19 meeting shows no member made personal comments about Mayor Rasham Nassar. Taking turns to deliberate is standard so the public can understand how determinations are made. The complaints filed by board member Jim Cash alleged that aspects of Nassar’s March 18 opinion piece in the Review didn’t meet the highest standards of integrity, impartiality and leadership. One can argue he shouldn’t have filed to maintain impartiality, but his concerns were not baseless.

Nassar’s opinion referenced a public record and inferred that former mayor Kol Medina had potential financial conflicts of interests given his role with Kitsap Community Foundation and donations from Harrison/CHI members. She wrote this knowing three related Ethics Board complaints were dismissed as lacking merit. An elected official who approved code to govern the Ethics Board process shouldn’t disregard its determinations or make public allegations that are potentially misleading.

Council members urge the board to focus on education. The board acknowledged that electioneering and pandering weren’t their purview and were on point when discussing Nassar’s “conflict” comments because of her attempt to relitigate via the court of public opinion. The impugning of Medina’s reputation is the real issue. Accusations about board damage to Nassar are misdirected.

Tyler Weaver disclosed a potential conflict and recused himself due to his personal friendship with Cash. On the other hand, Nassar recommended appointments to the ethics board, including a candidate with an undisclosed lawsuit against the city. A recent Salary Commission appointee, the candidate described being rejected three times for Ethics Board appointment.

Her selection could be viewed as a quid pro quo to dismiss her lawsuit and a reward for tripling City Council salaries. After concern was raised and on the heel of the Cash complaints, attacks and efforts to dissolve the Ethics Board began. The timing is suspect and appears retaliatory, and a criminal complaint closely resembles the law enforcement weaponization we’ve seen in the news against Black people (the article photo is the board’s only African-American member).

The prevailing question is how long we’ll allow these political power plays to debase our community.

Charles Keating

Bainbridge Island

Climate change

To the editor:

The Association of Bainbridge Communities Annual Environmental Conference, The Future of Our Forests- Bainbridge Island and the Climate Crisis, took place over four-consecutive Sundays in March. The virtual platform did not keep us from having an engaging and informative dialog about the state of our Island forests’ health, and how to care for forests in the face of extant and growing threats from the climate crisis.

Seventy to 100 participants joined us each week for sessions led by foresters, political leaders, tribal leaders, naturalists and land managers. Topics included how to manage forested lands on private and public property; invasive species removal; how to prepare for and mitigate wildfire risk; citizen science to support forest health; and cultural and indigenous approaches to using and living with our forested ecosystems.

We were empowered to understand how many positive actions we as individuals and a community can take around forest health, including weed removal, planting native and drought-tolerant species, managing forest densities, creating fire-wise properties, and more. Together, Bainbridge not only can, but must support natural systems that are resilient to the growing threats of climate change.

If you missed one or more sessions, the recordings have been made available at islandwood.org/conference. We are grateful to the speakers, organizations, and participants who made this conference so dynamic and engaging, and to the Bainbridge Community Foundation for their financial support. We are looking forward to continuing this conversation and moving forward together to support the health of our forests.

Deb Rudnick

on behalf of the ABC Conference Planning Team

Bainbridge Island

Great schools

To the editor:

As a first time mother of a new kindergartener we were all pretty crushed to realize that she wouldn’t get to ride the bus to school, nor be in the classroom all year, as we all were thrown into making decisions none of us ever could have imagined making. The teachers at Odyssey filled our home with a love of learning, silly fun and grace. The flexibility that was allowed us as a family during this extremely trying time eased our burdens and brought support to a chaotic school year.

Our little one has loved learning to read, learning addition and subtraction, and has even made new buddies, all via zoom. I am thankful to everyone who made her year at Odyssey and BCNS outdoor kinder transcend this virus and brought a sense of normalcy and fun to this exceptionally bizarre year. To hear her tell her teachers she loves them just reminds me that we can do this, and we are surrounded by the best schools and the best teachers in the state. We moved here for the schools and are thankful we did.

You have lit the thirst of learning in our daughter, and I am eternally grateful.

Heather Frederickson

Bainbridge Island

Dignified death

To the editor:

Thank you for the deeply moving article, “Deciding when to die,” covering the decision of a beautiful young woman who became terminally ill and used the Death with Dignity law.

However the opening statement referring to “assisted suicide” is incorrect. The law enables a qualified patient to end his/her life in a humane and dignified manner; this is not suicide. A number of national professional organizations, including the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine, have made statements about the inappropriateness of using that word when describing the choice of a mentally competent, terminally ill adult to seek death with dignity, or assisted death.

Thank you for including specific information about the process involved in using the law, to further the understanding of your readers.

Midge Levy

Seattle

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