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Everything Bremerton: Playing nice in the city sandbox
I would like to apologize to readers for not having a column last week. It was the first time I missed a week in the two years I have been writing. A nasty chest cold had me struggling just to get better. I still have a lingering cough, but am pleased to say I am feeling like myself again.
This past week a retreat was held between Bremerton City Councilmembers, Bremerton Mayor Patty Lent and nearly all of the main city department heads. Because of my full time job, I am hard pressed to make public meetings that start before 5 p.m., so I arrived about 40 minutes into the nearly four-hour session. Finding the mayor's conference room where the meeting was being held was also not very easy.
The meeting was not what I expected and I say that in a good way. For the first time in a very long time, I felt that some truly open, honest, relaxed and respectful discussions were going on between key city leaders both elected and appointed.
Ideas were shared and the pros and cons were debated and considered and staff members were able to chime in with additional information and professional opinions. All without the stiff, formal and at times defensive “them against us” posturing that is typically apparent during normal Bremerton City Council meetings, presentations and public hearings.
It was clear that every single person in the room had brought passion and concern for this community, along with a true desire to do the hard work and accomplish certain goals, to the table and checked their individual agendas, attitudes and politics at the door.
I would also like to thank the facilitator of the meeting, former Mercer Island Mayor Jim Pearman. What an impressive individual. He did a fantastic job and easily commanded the attentive respect of every single person in the room.
As a citizen, I now have a kernel of hope that as a city and community we are going to make it through this next year and come out on the other side with certain improvements in place despite the massive financial and operational hardships ahead.
There is still a lot of work to do. It will not be easy. Several of the issues that were prioritized at this meeting are going to be contentious as decisions are made and the details are worked out. If not handled properly they could be divisive for the community. It is my hope that this will not be the case and that the professional attitudes and respectful approach that I witnessed in the retreat, translates to the future meetings to come.
Excellent job, City of Bremerton. Keep up this kind of good work and continue to build upon it.