Friday, January 04, 2013

The Harbor Column: Harbor haps I don't understand

I do enjoy writing this harbor column each week mostly because of the recognition around town. My editor at The Daily Pilot, Michael Miller, is extremely patient with me and really forms my random thoughts into a story you can understand. This time I need your help in understanding whats been going on around the harbor and even more patients from my editor? 

Last week I read a story in The Daily Pilot written by Jill Cowen “Newport ponders Harbor Commission”. Now I did not have any problem understanding Jill’s well written story, what I did have a problem understanding is why do the city council members want to attend another 2-3 hour meeting each month rather than trust the opinion and recommendations of their appointed commissioner? Councilwoman Nancy Gardner was quoted “Our experience with the Tidelands Management Committee was that it was very effective” Members of the Harbor Commission on the other hand, had "seemed frustrated that things they were doing didn't seem to get through”. From my observations over the last few years, councilwoman Gardner being one of the few exceptions, while talking with past Harbor Commissioners was that there was no line of communications between council members and commissioners. In fact, I recall one commissioner telling me that their assigned council member told them that they were not needed. From what I can see Harbor Commissioner’s are needed, they are boaters, harbor users and marine business owners that have gained a tremendous amount of knowledge by observing the harbor and watching how it best works. They are members of yacht, fishing and rowing clubs and are easily approachable.  They get it and they care about the harbor. In my mind, our Harbor  Commissioners are a racing sailboats tactician, while our council members have their hand on the helm and makes the final decisions the best helmsman always listen closely to their tactician. I am sure that most of you tacticians out there can understand the frustration of the Harbor Commissioner when the person at the helm is not listening?

This next issue I am really going to need some help in understanding and thats our city’s tidelands accounting system? I called a good friend and emailed another columnist from The Daily Pilot with the hopes of understanding the accounting system. Neither of them returned my call and they must have rubbed their face and laughed at my request.  Have to wonder if they would have called me back if I would have asked about Einstein theory of relativity? I also had a chance to talk to a resident who is known as the go to person for following the money trail. Unfortunately I only had about an hour and a half with this person over lunch and I could not keep up. After my meeting was completed, I came away with that there was plenty of money coming in for the tidelands but a very small percentage being spent on the harbor? I read Council member Leslie Daigle Commentary in the Pilot dated 12-20-12 “Why I voted alone against the dock tax”  followed by Council members Mike Henn commentary dated 12-26-12 “Arguments against dock fees not sound”. Now this is were I am going to need some help understanding, because at my house my wife and I both know when we can go on vacation or stay home and replace the washer and dryer. Is there not an easier way for us harbor users to see how much tideland revenues come in and what goes out? Are there other Harbor City’s that manage their tidelands funds differently than us? I’d love to here from you, I am easy to reach just send your emails to and follow my blog site at SEA YA

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