Friday, September 28, 2012

Countdown to CAOmageddon: Flaw #53 - Shireene Hale & Zebras

Shireene Hale has been the point person for keeping the CAO moving. As the previous post described, she's played a vital life-saving and life-supporting role for Dr. Adamus' credibility.

A full description of Hale's destructive influence on the CAO process would be a tome. She's facilitated wrong turns. She's contributed false science herself, dismissed the experiences and scientific advice of qualified citizens, ignored warnings, falsely accused dissenters of crimes, played the victim, given priority to the concerns and comments of eco-extremists, and insinuated that anyone who disagrees with her is following a personal agenda.

Rather than write a long diatribe about Hale, we'll describe one recent moment that captures how she's handled the entire CAO process. At the Council meeting on September 21, Councilman Rich Peterson proposed the idea of local monitoring. Lovel Pratt opposed the idea and asked Hale if there were any GMA provisions that required the County to produce local science. In response, Hale said, "No, there is a lot of information from national and international sources about the effects of development," and she said that we can use that data in place of local data.

That answer is exactly wrong, and Deputy Prosecutor Jon Cain just sat woodenly next to Hale and said nothing. In fact, there is an entire section in the regulations stipulating the characteristics of a valid scientific process. Regarding the local applicability of science from elsewhere, it says:
WAC 365-195-905(2) Counties and cities may use information that local, state or federal natural resource agencies have determined represents the best available science consistent with criteria set out in WAC 365-195-900 through 365-195-925. The department will make available a list of resources that state agencies have identified as meeting the criteria for best available science pursuant to this chapter. Such information should be reviewed for local applicability.
No such review has been completed for us, and Hale regularly ignores or misconstrues the remaining provisions of WAC 365-195 "Growth Management Act - Best Available Science." Hale would like us to believe that evidence from "somewhere else" is the same as evidence from here. Hale would like us to believe that evidence from "somewhere else" requires no validation of local relevance performed by qualified experts in pertinent fields, but that is incorrect. Taking information from "somewhere else" without proper evaluation is not a valid scientific process, and is a violation of WAC 365-195. Moreover, it's just plain foolish.

The process of identifying environmental problems is akin to making a specific medical diagnosis. As has been stated by prominent diagnosticians:
In making the diagnosis of the cause of illness in an individual case, calculations of probability have no meaning. The pertinent question is whether the disease is present or not. Whether it is rare or common does not change the odds in a single patient. ... If the diagnosis can be made on the basis of specific criteria, then these criteria are either fulfilled or not fulfilled.      -- A. McGehee Harvey, James Bordley II, Jeremiah Barondess
The danger of over-generalization is illustrated by an aphorism from medicine which says, "When you hear hoofbeats behind you, you don't expect to see zebras." However, Hale doesn't believe in zebras, and her preconceived beliefs about development "everywhere else" mean that we're lumped in with the rest of the herd.


  1. Excellent. You people sure get up early. Thank you.

  2. Fish Eater is right (a few posts ago, sorry for the delay) in my experience.

    When this threatening CAO process first surfaced, a process that would punch significantly downward the net worth of virtually every property owner in San Juan County, I thought "No Problem" I'll alert the billion dollar net worth between me and the mailboxes down the road, a few calls and this thing will be snuffed. (Sadly, I do not participate in that net worth total)

    Fish Eater is right, I got nothing. These folks, get permits, they follow the rules generally, but they have the means to overcome any negative. "What me worry?"

    Ever notice how "The Friends" never take on the truly big guys. No, never.

    Also, any manager worth his salt would get Charles Dalton and his protagonist in a "Friends" no Lawyers and hammer out a resolution. Just two people brought together without all the outside posturing. A GOOD Manager would do this and save the County a boat load of money. A person with personality, a person with balls or snatch, yeah, you!

    Do we have such a manager?

    Charles Z, will you ever say something? This is all heading for your desk!

    And lastly, when will the no skin in the game "The Friends" candidates night be announced?

  3. Oh, boy. I apologize to all women for the use of that word "snatch." I truly am sorry. I wanted the word Cajones (Spanish for balls) but was not sure of the spelling which I could not find. Then I stupidly thought the comment should be asexual. Ladies, I AM sorry!

    But it would be nice if our manager had, well you know, those things.

  4. OK, what's the legal procedure to remove a county council person from office??? Impeachment?? What is the legal process?? Inquiring minds want to know. How do we stop this? We have some councilors who are running unopposed and are a problem, how can they be removed??

  5. Since they have never defined the problem as anything more specific than "OMG, people hurt the environment!"' and the solution is "OMG, need more buffers!", how will they know if the OMG buffers are preserving the OMG environment?

    Will the FOSJ drive around (maybe they should walk or bike) look at things and say, "OMG the environment is worse!"

    How's all this $?@#% stuff supposed to work?

  6. It's quite simple: the Friends will be designated agents of the County and be permitted to enter upon our land at any time. County staff already do that illegally (our curent rules say they must call first for permission to enter).

  7. Folks, I am on your side here but have to point out a few fact-checking errors that should be addressed.

    To answer in advance, Ms. K., the reason I am choosing to be anonymous is that I work for a law firm involved in one of these matters.

    Charles Dalton was presented with a compliance plan (public record). He illegally constructed 3 structures including a home. This wasn't just some little tool shed like GP would have you believe. Like it or not, we need permits for that sort of thing.
    His compliance plan allowed 2 of the 3 structures to stay in place and the smallest of the 3 (the actual shed) to be moved back a ways. He choose to get involved in making a political statement. Charles may be a victim of the Friends, but the poster that said he should sit down with a department head with balls and hammer this out, well, that has been done. He choose to walk away and go the route he has.

    I am in this fight with you guys but CD is not a great example to support our position.

    Second, the previous poster refers to the "County Staff Illegally Entering our Land". Please provide a concrete example of this or stop making baseless accusations. If this has truly happened, then please contact an attorney or the police and file trespassing charges against the county. Read the RCW's on trespassing.

    Again, we need to stop the CAO but holding CD up as a hero is not helpful. He was used by a group as a tool to further their agenda. They could have chosen a better example. It is a good example of the issues with the friends, just not the county.

    Also, has anyone filed a complaint about the wetland (alleged) excavation that is occurring on Orcas???
    CALLING ALL SOLDIERS: WE NEED TO DO THIS!!! ASAP. SOMEONE NEEDS TO DO THIS. I Can not because of the position with the law firm that is involved in one of these issues, otherwise I would. SOMEONE!!! HELP

  8. I agree with the previous poster on many things, but not all, but I do not want to turn this into a debate about CD. That case will reach a conclusion (via either mediation or adjudication) in time, and we will have to wait for the result.

    I can tell you that the issues surrounding wetlands, streams, and stormwater are (and will continue to be) a maelstrom because there is precious little science or consistency being applied, especially by San Juan County and Ecology. Whether it be Rapanos, CD, the Sackett case ... or future cases ... they all run into the brick wall of how one defines "waters of the US" (or State). If someone/anyone believes that waters of the US can be identified by the prevalence of plants instead of the presence of actual water ... well, there's the problem. That's like saying that we can identify the presence of air by whether there are any epiphytes in the area.

    And it will continue to be a problem until the courts clarify the situation further. I predict there will be plenty of opportunity to do so because this business about "waters of the US" isn't going away anytime soon. There is a reason why this issue is litigated before the Supreme Court every 5 or 6 years, and there is a reason why SCOTUS has literally begged Congress and the executive agencies (EPA, USACE) to issue clarifying law/regulation. The reason is that the methodologies developed by traditional practitioners in this area are awful science ... not much better than water witching/dowsing ... and to borrow a phrase from a previous post, they are largely "replacement science."

    I suspect that if CD was "used by a group as a tool to further their agenda," then if there is any truth to that at all, the point of that agenda was to highlight the miserable state of practice of "wetland science" (whatever the heck that is) and to show how easily those "scientists" victimize people falsely. You don't have to focus just on CD to get an inkling of that ... look at the Sacketts too, although that was primarily a due-process case ... and there is a court case brewing in Whatcom County that will spotlight the behavior of "wetland scientists" (IMHO water dowsers) very well in the coming weeks. More on that in weeks to come.

    As for specific examples of County staff trespassing, (and I believe in the CD case it was more of a question of the Friends and State staff rather than County), I know of a Public Works employee working in the stormwater area who did this frequently, but that was several years ago now. She was let go, and I do not know the official reason. I, too, would be interested in knowing of recent specific examples. Generally, I think the enforcement staff at the County is more professional now than they have been in a long time. I am grateful for that.

    Lastly, I also support the call for someone to file a complaint regarding Miller. I understand that someone is about to step forward to do just that, but don't let that stop anyone else from pursuing it also. We need people to stop looking to others to step forward. We need you!

  9. This turning Patty Miller in bothers me, a lot.

    She should have the right to do stuff on her property, it IS her property!

    And I agree with ECK it is unlikely most people here in SJC, certainly including Miller, rarely do bad stuff...

    Well, I hope we are not becoming THEM! (Who is that? That is those people who want to control everybody else.)

    Are we becoming what we are fighting not to be?

  10. Sorry,I'm in no way an apologist for Ms. Miller, a person so full of her own gas, don't light a match, we'll have an explosion, but she is a tax paying property owner and like all of us should have the right to be left ALONE. I think that is all any of us want.

    I guess I'd rather we put her in jail for something other than moving around her own dirt.

  11. I don't like poking into other people's business, and I don't believe that public servants should be subject to excessive scrutiny. However, I don't believe they deserve less scrutiny than the rest of us either. We will have to let this play out, but if a complaint is filed, somehow I believe it will all work out for Miller ... better (possibly much better) than it does for most people.

  12. It’s true we should not use the “friend’s” tactics, but with Ms. Miller being a SJCC Member and leading the charge on the CAO, we should demand she post all of the permits she has received since the building was built as a barn and then converted to living quarters above, then to a house, then to addition of garages/horse barn. I have use Google Earth to look at her property since 1998 to Aug 2011. The development should be her right and she needs to post the permits to squelch this issue. Bill Wright posting.

  13. The permits Miller received are available for public review. The issue isn't with any of those structures. It is allegations of additional clearing and grading taking place in a wetland.

    She had an excavator for 2 weeks. If you have the need to back fill a house or barn foundation after construction, that takes hours, not weeks.