When Bremerton Mayor Cary Bozeman came to Seattle and trashed the city and its leaders, it seemed like just another one-day story. You know the drill: Small city mayor comes to town and suddenly notices the area around the Washington State ferry terminal is less than park-like. So he goes to lunch with local mayors and calls the city'ês waterfront 'êan insult to American ingenuity.'ê
As if that weren'êt enough headline grabbing, he went on to blast Seattle'ês civic leadership. He branded Pioneer Square 'êa less than mediocre public space'ê and called on the City to plant trees to screen Aurora Avenue'ês 'êvisual garbage.'ê For good measure, he sat down with a Seattle Times reporter to expand on his slams and then, in case no one was listening, he handed the Times an op-ed with enough self-inflating rhetoric to make the Pillsbury Doughboy look like a famine survivor.
Why, if you didn'êt know better, you'êd think this was an election year in Bremerton and Bozeman was running for reelection. (Oh, he is, is he?)
To give the guy his due, he has accomplished a lot there, turning a grubby shipyard-cum-shore-liberty town into a suburban rest stop. And to think that he did it all with just a little bit of help from Congressman Norm Dicks and those much-maligned federal earmarks. Bozeman has been able to launch such awesome projects as the Norm Dicks office building, the Norm Dicks ferry terminal tunnel, and the Norm Dicks naval museum. Don'êt know if he'ês gotten around to the Norm Dicks garbage transfer station yet, but it'ês probably on the drawing boards.
All this frenzied activity is enough to give Seattleites a bad case of peninsula envy.
Bozeman'ês accomplishments haven'êt gone completely unnoticed. Three years ago, the Seattle City Council, looking for a nearby place to hold a staff retreat, did Gilligan'ês Island one better and cast off for Bremerton. Councilmembers, their office staffers, and the city'ês legislative department ferried over and admired Bremerton'ês spanking new conference center. Mayor Bozeman welcomed the council. He introduced councilmembers to his development director and some of his public/private partners. He told us how he made it all happen and, frankly, we councilmembers were duly impressed.
One would hope that Mayor Bozeman would now want to return the favor by exploring Seattle successes, rather than dwelling on such works in progress (and process) as the Alaskan Way Viaduct replacement and the Aurora Avenue commercial areas. (Acclaimed writer Jonathan Raban once said, 'êIf you don'êt like Aurora, you don'êt like life.'ê) To name just a few examples of 'êSeattle ingenuity'ê that Bozeman neglected to mention: The Olympia Sculpture Garden, the newly remodeled Seattle Art Museum, Seattle Aquarium, the Seattle Public Library and its new and newly remodeled 26 branches, and the Washington Park Arboretum and its updated Japanese Garden.
Contrast all these (and many more examples of recent Seattle enterprise) with Mayor Bozeman'ês most prized trophy. You may remember the one I'êm talking about. Moored right on Bremerton'ês waterfront is the USS Turner Joy, the Navy destroyer that President Lynden Johnson used as an excuse for launching the Vietnam War. And you know where that conflict left us.