Millions ofreasons toinvestigate

  • Thursday, October 14, 2021 1:30am
  • Opinion

Help us understand.

If someone broke into your house and took let’s say something like $5 million you probably would want that person caught and punished to the full extent of the law.

You probably wouldn’t say, “Oh, let’s just move on.” That is unless you’re Bill Gates, then that’s like $1 to him.

So why is it, when it’s taxpayer money, that so many of the candidates for Bainbridge Island City Council want to just move on.

That’s what’s going on with the police station-courthouse facility concept at the former Harrison Medical Building. (We know, apparently everyone is bored with this issue.)

Well, we need to stop being bored.

We don’t know if anything criminal actually occurred. That’s because there hasn’t been an investigation, which is in itself a crime concerning how much money is in question.

We don’t know if there was a quid pro quo either, again due to no investigation.

It feels like some people want to sweep this under the rug, and we can’t figure out why.

At the recent Bainbridge Island Review online debates between the eight candidates in the four races, some said they didn’t want to point the finger at whomever made the mistake.

Why not? People want to know who made the mistake if McDonalds forgot your order of fries.

If there was any criminal action, the public has the right to know who the culprit is.

But what if there wasn’t anything criminal? What if it was just incompetence?

In that case, the public doesn’t need to know who it was as much as what it was. Because whatever flaw there was in the process that led to a $5 million mistake needs to be discovered so it never happens again. That’s too big of a mistake to “just move on” from. We are sure new city manager Blair King would agree. He would want to know to make sure his house is in order.

Candidates have said this issue has been going on for 20 years, and it’s time to get the new facility.

Not really. It’s already long past time. This process has been delayed so many times for reasons a lot less important than $5 million. At least one time it was because the city didn’t act quickly enough to get the real estate deal done. Now that is incompetence.

Other times decisions were delayed for political reasons. Other times studies and reports and analyses and consultants got in the way.

Compared to those reasons that apparently were important enough to cause delays, $5 million kind of stands out – don’t you think?

Add to all that the current national trend in spending less on law enforcement and more on social services. BI spends 38% of its budget on police and less than 3% on social services. But it’s starting to change that with a Navigator program to help connect criminals to social services.

We’re not saying cut the police force. This topic is a police station. Does Bainbridge Island really need a police station as huge as the Harrison building? Everyone knows the crime rate in BI is really low, right? And with the emphasis on getting criminals social services, which could lead to fewer of them reoffending, maybe there isn’t a need for a big station.

The city, no question, needs a new police station and courthouse. It’s embarrassing a city with so many assets has such feeble facilities. We do need to have some civic pride and change that.

But, a building as big as Harrison would be a Taj Mahal and not a good use of the space. And it’s not in the right place either. Right next door is a senior facility and a church. Harrison could be better used for senior or low-income housing or many other possibilities.

The police station-courthouse needs to be “right sized” and in the right place. Let’s build a new one for about $10 million – the cost it would take to renovate Harrison – and use the former medical building for the right size and place for something else.

And let’s not forget to investigate what in tarnation led to this fiasco.

All of the candidates say they want to be good stewards of public money. But we voters know actions speak louder than words.

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