City Council votes down tunnel measure
July 4, 2008 · Updated 11:33 AM
Voices were raised.
People cried or grew red in the face while they spoke.
To say the least, the tunnel issue in downtown Bremerton at the Wednesday night City Council meeting brought out peoples emotions.
After one and a half hours of testimony the Council voted 5-4 not to send the tunnel to a November ballot.
The Citizens Against the Tunnel (CATT) garnered over 3,000 signatures on a petition that asked for a public vote on the controversial project. The petition was certified by the Kitsap County Auditors office on July 23.
Council members cited the $7,000 to $8,000 cost of putting it on the ballot was money they didnt have.
Others said the vote would not matter because the state Department of Transportation had claimed full responsibility for the project on July 13.
Councilman Mike Short said the Council had failed in communicating to the public about who controls the project. So did Council members Wendy Priest and Carol Arends.
Short, Will Maupin, Carol Arends, Daren Nygren and Dianne Robinson voted not to send an initiative to the ballot. Priest, Cecil McConnell, Brad Gehring and Mike Shepherd wanted to send it to the voters.
City Attorney Roger Lubovich presented a five-page memorandum to the City Council on Monday that recommended the Council pass a resolution Wednesday night to not take action on the petition.
He cited three reasons, the primary being it is not valid matter for a vote.
Citizens Against the Tunnel (CATT) members Louis Soriano, Paul Drnjevic, Gene Hart, Don Large and Del Knauss urged the Council not to ignore its citizens.
If you vote yes on this initiative (not to put it to the voters) you are totally ignoring the concerns of the citizens, said Louis Soriano, who owns properties in downtown Bremerton.
Soriano accused Council President Daren Nygren of working behind closed doors with Mayor Cary Bozeman and U.S. Rep. Norm Dicks to get the tunnel built.
Nygren called for order after Sorianos statement and said Soriano should not make accusations that were not true, nor make personal accusations, as it violates Council policy.
Soriano retorted that it was his time to speak.
CATT members were visibly frustrated, and after the vote Drnjevic approached Roger Lubovichs seat and argued with him.
Hes afraid, said Drnjevic, turning his back from Lubovich. Hes afraid of the people.
Lubovich retorted, Im not afraid of anybody.
An equal number of people for and against putting the issue on the November ballot spoke at the meeting.
Business owners Amy Burnett and Kyle Cruver said it was time for the City to step back.
Its been told to me that the business owners are against the tunnel but that is not true, Burnett said. I was very relieved when the state took over it.
Former City Council member Ed Rollman asked the Council to make the ballot initiative a non-binding advisory vote, that would express to the State how the citizens feel about the project.
City watchdog Helen Miller said it cost too much city money to put it on the ballot.
Where is the precedence for people to vote on a matter which has not yet been