Monday, March 19, 2012

No Way To Treat A Nationally Recognized Expert

Goodness!  This is an email from Shireene to update the County's CAO Implementation Team. The title of this post refers to the fact that Dr. Adamus has often been touted as a nationally recognized wetland scientist, but look how Shireene talks about him. Amidst mention of crises and bayonets, it certainly looks as if Dr. Adamus is being elbowed out of the way in favor of what Shireene calls "my alternative wetlands buffer approach" which was subsequently refined by Dr. Adamus into the current Abacus Kadabra. This email certainly suggests that the whole approach is Shireene's to begin with, and everyone else involved, including Dr. Adamus, is just along for the ride.

How is it that our buffers are supposed to be scientific when they've apparently been designed quick and dirty as part of a CAO rescue mission by a planner and then justified after the fact by Dr. Adamus? The email also suggests that the addressees have known for quite some time that the buffer approach is Shireene's, not Dr. Adamus', but that hasn't stopped them from claiming that the latest wetland CAO is based on BAS. Increasingly, the record appears to show that Dr. Adamus is being used like a front man for the ideas of CDPD and Ecology, who appear to be desperate to ram home the CAOs at all costs and despite all opposition.

-----Original Message-----
From: Shireene Hale []
Sent: Friday, November 18, 2011 11:53 AM
To: Richard Fralick; Patty Miller; Lovel Pratt; Pete Rose; Randall Gaylord; Jon Cain; Janice Biletnikoff; Colin Maycock; Rene Beliveau
Subject: CAO/ SMP meeting Wednesday?

So are we meeting Wednesday? If so just let us know what time.

At this point, if you all can give me the go ahead to vet my alternative wetland buffer approach with our local citizen scientists and perhaps the Public Works engineers (or at least Rachel) that will allow us to move forward on the next draft of the Wetland regulations. It would not be an open ended, start from scratch discussion, nor a situation where they all have to agree, but rather me looking for input on my proposal.

If it makes you more comfortable I can discuss issues with them separately - though I think there is value in a focused group discussion. My recommendation is to send them the proposal (with a little more fleshing out) via e-mail, ask for comments (either verbal or via e-mail), rework it based on those comments, and then have one conference call to discuss where I ended up after incorporating pertinent suggestions. Even if not everyone agrees, as least the technical people will understand how this alternative approach would work. The biologists, hydrologists, engineers and wetland specialists I propose to include are: Steve Belluomini, Ed Kilduff, Scott Rozenbaum, Janet Alderton, Dr. Adamus, Dan Nickel, and Rachel Dietzman.

On the Voluntary Stewardship Program, Janice will be sending the Council an update, but basically we are proceeding with meeting the requirements of the law, which include conferring with Ag, tribal and environmental interests (meeting scheduled for Dec. 9) and preparing to do SEPA review/ notice and providing broad notice to the public (notice scheduled to be published November 30). I understand the Council will be considering the draft resolution and taking testimony on whether to opt in on December 13. Janice is putting the finishing touches on the draft resolution today and will give it to Randy for his review/ signature.
She will also put together a staff report on the program and the resolution (which will be headed for Pete's approval within the next week or so).

On the SMP update, Colin could use some guidance on whether the council wants to approve the shoreline inventory and characterization before he and the consultants begin working on draft goals and policies. We understand that some property owners are gathering information about their property and may wish to have some discussions with us once the draft shoreline designations are released, but I think that can be worked into the process. As long as their existing land use is not radically different than the properties surrounding them, the designations should recognize the built environment that currently exists.

For CAO at some point we should probably discuss if we are going to change the way we have been involving our citizen scientists in the review of technical issues. What we and the consultants have been doing is having direct conversations with them (either phone or e-mail) so that we understand their points of view and they understand our thinking. Steve Belluomini, Ed Kilduff, Scott Rozenbaum, Jim Johannessen, Russel Barsh and Janet Alderton have all been involved in this manner throughout the process including during the drafting of the BAS Synthesis (I am sure there are others as well given all the various disciplines we are dealing with). We do need to remain vigilant about separating personal comments that are outside the scientists' respective areas of expertise, from comments relating to their areas of expertise. Anyway, this approach has been working well and I would continue it (being mindful to include all who have expertise and would like to be involved).

At some point soon we do need to discuss Dr. Adamus' role moving forward. While he can be quite helpful, it is a problem if he doesn't have time to attend hearings (which we have not asked him to do but which would help him understand the comments we receive), review materials, and participate in problem solving in a constructive manner. His lack of attention and input into the last wetland draft resulted in a significant waste of both our time, and the public's time. If we had known he did not review the materials carefully and did not have time to do so we could have postponed the hearing until he did have adequate time to devote to the project.

Pete mentioned establishing some sort of field procedures for dealing with unexpected crises (e.g. last Thursday). If we learn from our mistakes, that crisis won't be repeated, and the next one will be something different. Some guiding principles might be helpful. Now that we are no longer faced with an impending Planning Commission hearing (which was to occur today) we can take a breath and think about how to navigate the difficult situations we will continue to face. I would suggest that bayonetting the wounded after the battle is probably not a good approach.

So, please keep us posted on whether the implementation committee is meeting next Wednesday and have a nice weekend!

Shireene Hale, EHS 
Planning Coordinator/ Deputy Director 
San Juan County Community Development & Planning 
PO Box 947 
135 Rhone Street 
Friday Harbor, WA 98250 

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