Acronym policy has unintended consequences

ITEM — Kitsap County’s banning the use of acronyms at public meetings is gaining attention in other states and Canada. The purpose is to make it easier for members of the public to understand what’s going on.

Officials who slip are fined $1.

COMMENT — They could rue the day they decided on this. Meetings could get longer, perhaps even involving overtime for staff, when they realize it takes only one second to say BRAC, while Base Realignment and Closure requires four seconds.

But then, there’s also the possibility that the use of BRAC by someone could be mistaken for an opinion rather than an acronym.

ITEM — Holland America cruise lines has settled lawsuits filed by families of the 16 vacationing University of Washington alumni who were killed in September 2001, when their chartered plane crashed on a side trip to the Mayan ruins in Mexico.

COMMENT — Friends of Gordon and Sue Walgren had some anxious hours after hearing of the plane crash back then because they knew the Bremerton couple was on the cruise and GW is known for wanting to see all the sights on his travels.

Their names didn’t appear on the list of victims, however, and it was learned later that the cruise line offered two options for visiting the ruins, one by plane and the other by bus, each going to a different site. The Walgrens chose the bus trip not out of any foreboding danger but because it went to the ruins they wanted to visit.

ITEM — Local legislators are optimistic that a traffic light may be installed by late summer or early fall at Bond and Gunderson roads near Poulsbo, thanks to strong public support for the efforts of the family of a woman who was killed there in December when she pulled out in front of southbound traffic on Bond.

COMMENT — While we’re waiting, why not lower the speed limit? The usual excuse by traffic engineers is that drivers won’t slow down on open stretches like that, but they’re going to have to do it anyway once the light is in so why not break them in early?

ITEM — Chatty drivers using one hand to hold their cell phone better not speed or break any other traffic laws or they could get fined $101. If the bill passes in Olympia, using a cell phone without a headset would be a secondary offense to what they were stopped for in the first place.

COMMENT — It’s my understanding that it isn’t so much that both hands aren’t on the wheel during phone conversations but the driver’s attention to what’s going on around him on the highways is distracted by the conversation.

Also, the people I know personally who are the most frequent users of phones en route are the most successful in their professions.

ITEM — Gov. Christine Gregoire returned from a trip to Washington, D.C., ecstatic because, she reported, President Bush addressed her as “Governor” on being introduced to her.

COMMENT — That’s far more likely to happen on the east coast than in eastern Washington.

ITEM — Residents and planners on Bainbridge Island are working on a process to define how downtown Winslow might look 50 years from now.

COMMENT — I’d say the least attractive thing about Winslow is that not only are parking places near the ferry terminal practically nonexistent after the commuters settle in, but the walk from the terminal to the ferry has to be at least half a mile.

I’m surprised they don’t have to remove a half dozen bodies a week of old-timers who couldn’t go the distance.

ITEM — Sewage effluent in Bremerton, Port Orchard and Central Kitsap could have greater value than anybody realizes. The state Department of Ecology will pay Kitsap County $300,000 to figure out some new uses for the treated water.

COMMENT — I remember when Bremerton touted the use of treated sewage as a fertilizer and people spread it on their lawns until they discovered that if they stepped on the lawn during or after it rained, it was so slick they slid all the way to the street like they were on skis.

Adele Ferguson can be reached at P.O. Box 69, Hansville, WA, 98340.

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