City Council, 6 Jan 2021

Interesting that this meeting, with no General Business, lasted for a full hour-plus, followed by a 45-minute study session, with Item A clocking in at 5 minutes, Item B (Gorst Coalition) at about 40 minutes. I invite you to look at the exchanges and determine what is taking up so much more time than former Council meetings.

CITY COUNCIL Virtual/Live Stream MEETING (MINUTES by Anna Mockler)

1. CALL TO ORDER: 5:30 PM

2. ELECTION OF 2021 COUNCIL OFFICERS

A. Council President

Kevin Gorman, District 3, the only candidate, nominated by Pat Sullivan, elected unanimously. The gavel was passed, and Gorman conducted the rest of the meeting.

B. Council Vice-President

Leslie Daugs nominated by Sullivan. Lori Wheat nominated, but declined . Simpson nominated Michael Goodnow.  Younger, Goodnow, and Simpson voted for Goodnow. Wheat, Sullivan, Daugs, and Gorman voted for Daugs. Daugs becomes VP.

3. CONSENT AGENDA

A. Claims & Check Register

Payroll and pensions. Gorman called for public comment, but there was none.

B. Minutes of Meeting – December 16, 2020

The consent agenda was accepted unanimously.

4. GENERAL BUSINESS There are no General Business items tonight…

5. MAYOR’S REPORT

680 healthcare workers were vaccinated on Sat, Jan 2nd — vaccines came in between Christmas and New Year’s, so it had to be done quickly. City helped with traffic and parking logistics. They’ll do this in future too. Partnered with PCHS and KPHD.

Bremerton chosen as one of top 50 metro areas in US to get physically fit in 2021. State of the City will be presented in next week or two. The Mayor also deplored the domestic terrorism

6. PUBLIC RECOGNITION

Anna Mockler asked the Council to begin each meeting with a public service announcement that describes current health measures in State of WA, KPHD, and City of Bremerton.  This might save lives. Spreading disinformation about Covid actually sickens and kills people. Evidence, expertise, experience, and law should be central to Council’s mission — today at our nation’s capitol we saw the logical conclusion of disrespecting those elements.

7. COUNCIL REPORTS

Councilor Sullivan, District 1, extended happy new year greetings, congratulated Gorman and Daugs (as did all others).

Councilor Daugs, District 2, asked us all to observe health measures, and will donate PPE to anyone who needs it. Today’s act of domestic terrorism in DC “brought me to my knees in sorrow”.

Councilor Wheat, District 4, announced MLK DAY 1/18 at Ebenezer AME Church. RSVP by 1/9 to http://www.eamechurch.org. She supported Mockler’s request, which had been echoed by.many community members. She applauded those who are already obeying health measures, and urged the Council to step up and take a leadership position.

Councilor Goodnow, District 5, also thinks it’s paramount that Council take leadership on Covid health measures.

Councilor Simpson, District 6, thanks Mayor for his work with vaccine distribution. Asks the Mayor to impose local control of pandemic response. Everyone; if you feel you need to wear a mask, do so; if you feel you need to socially distance, do so; if you feel you need to take a test, do so. The pandemic has given people the opportunity to exercise power (my paraphrase). These people are doing so at our country’s peril. Observers will think that those who don’t wear masks etc. are worthy of death. Sheriffs across the country are refusing to enforce these laws, a huge obstacle for those who worship the power-exercising potential of the pandemic (my paraphrase). He continued with dubious, unsourced facts about transmissibility and consequences. Covid is only a threat for less than 99% of the population. Why are the majority of us being penalized to help the 0.26% who might get Covid? Gorman cut him off at the 5-minute limit. Nothing about what’s going on in District Six.

Councilor Younger, District 7,  I’m like 95% of the population, I’m FATIGUED. And with that, I conclude.

President Gorman, District 3. Observe the health measures, keep your gatherings small and close to home. Acknowledges how tough it is to be President, lauds Younger’s job at it.

8. EXECUTIVE SESSION

A. 15-minutes to discuss Potential Litigation as allowed under RCW 42.30.110 (1) (i); Action is anticipated

This went on for about 20 minutes or so. Then Council reconvened with the addition of Roger Lubovich, Esq.

Lubovich reads a motion: Move to authorize the City Attorney re 2010, ____, and 2120 East _____ Drive to require compliance and seek recovery of any costs associated with the action. Simpson moves, Wheat seconds the motion. The motion carried unanimously.

9. ADJOURNMENT OF CITY COUNCIL BUSINESS MEETING

Adjourned at 6:41 pm

Note that the Study Session that follows is NOT included in the BKAT recording.

10. STUDY SESSION

A. Briefing by the 2021 Council President

Council Committees — Call for Requests (each Councilor submits top three requests) to be submitted to Gorman by 1/8. Also, Joint Planning Session typically done on a Saturday, ok to do it then, since it’ll have to be via Zoom? 1/30, 2/6, 2/13 are the first three Saturdays available. Saturday, Jan 30th was chosen for the JPS.

B. Information Briefing on the Gorst Coalition – Mayor Greg Wheeler

Mayor explains why it’s urgent — Lubovich, Riley of Finance, Knuckey of Public Works, and David Overton join meeting. There’s an opportunity in 2021 to come together (suggested by Rep Kilmer) to make sure we’re aligned on the most important public works program in our region — Gorst. Navy must have access through Gorst; however, getting workers to the shipyard is also important. The largest entry point to our area is through Gorst. This program is to keep Gorst from becoming a bottleneck in case of a disaster, or even a population increase. The goal is resiliency.

Lubovich: We’re working to create a MOU (Memo of Understanding) among all the stakeholders. “The City’s role is fiduciary”. The Coalition is a public/private partnership. WSDOT, Port, Navy, private sector, are other coalition members. Our liability is limited.

Overton: This is a $400-$500 million project, to add capacity and to fix legacy problems. WSDOT will manage and construct. Compare to Gateway project, which came in at $2 billion. This is something that has to be done in the 2021 legislative session, using government affairs officers, aka lobbyists. These will need to be hired.

Younger asks why we need a second set of lobbyists? Overton explains that this project competes with other local projects, so our current lobbyist, who represents several other local entitties. So a lobbyist who has the capacity to do effective lobbying at state and federal lobbyist.

Simpson asks if these lobbyists will compete with our current lobbyists. Overton replies that the project lobbyists has a different nexus of lobbying targets, with whom they’re already familiar. Simpson says why must we descend further into the swamp by hiring yet more lobbyists? Mayor responds that these lobbyists will work to accomplish these goals. Not only will they secure money, but they’ll ensure we get it. Gorst is a regional job, not local like Wheaton bridge. Its scope is huge, multi-jurisdictional, interacts with DofD — it’ll take “a singular effort” that this coalition is focused on. Simpson asks a third time why we have to hire new lobbyists when we already have 2 lobbyists. Overton says the question is “perfectly reasonable” but he’s seen similar efforts bear no fruit beyond a few studies. This coalition follows the Pierce County model which successfully got the money for overpasses at JBLM. This project requires a specialist who can realize this “beast of a project”. Our current lobbyists aren’t expert at raising hundreds of millions of dollars. Simpson doesn’t want to be involved in a 20-year plan that might raise taxes, set up a separate governmental entity — Overton points out that the Gorst coalition won’t last 20 years, won’t raise taxes, and won’t set up a separate government entity. If it’s not successful, we’ll stop. Funding will be split between 5 different entities & Bremerton will take on 25% of the cost. Mayor says that project will be abandoned if it “goes south”. Gorman cuts Simpson off to move to Sullivan, noting that a separate study session will be devoted to this. Sullivan says, are we spending $184K a year for lobbying, in addition to a tax hike, on this one project? Wants to be sure she understands what the full ask is. Mayor says the next study session will be a fiduciary presentation — the state taxes will be levied, our goal is to make sure we get our slice of the pie.

Daugs asks are we the only entity supporting this? Overton lists the many smaller cities and counties (Kitsap, Pierce, Mason) who are all drafting their own MOUs. The lobbying budget will be shared by all of the members — annual contribution from Bremerton will be nothing like $70K a year — our portion is less than 20% of that. Goodnow comments that this is a big problem, he likes that there is a coalition — seems like an excellent way to get this done, to help the future of our region. Younger agrees with Goodnow, asks, is he correct that we’ll be setting up an escrow account? And that this is for information purposes only, especially because Sullivan and Simpson despise lobbyists (my paraphrase). Lubovich says yes, we’re not making any commitments, except to our MOU. Younger says that sounds good, because Gorst really is a terrible bottleneck. Riley chimes in that yes, we’re handling the escrow account — that’s our fiduciary role. Gorman says yes, Gorst really is a problem, and it will only get worse. How much will it cost, and where will the money come from? Definitely interested in hearing more about it.

Gorman adjourns the meeting.

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