Monday, October 22, 2012

Countdown to CAOmageddon: Flaw #59 - Left Hand, Meet Right Hand

The proposed CAOs are not just a badly written law based on bad "science" and flawed premises.  In addition, they will make us even more the vassals of an incompetently run local government. Now, I am not saying that all County employees are incompetent. Far from it. However, I think our County is managed incompetently. Often, the left hand doesn't know what the right hand is doing.

The confusion surrounding the "dismissal" of Maureen See is a recent case in point. What is her status? No one seems to know. Her dismissal was announced 11 days ago. At first, she was "fired." Then, we were told that she was placed on "administrative leave," but in reality, she was placed on administrative leave only for one week, to be followed by subsequent termination. It's been more than one week now, but the County has not clarified her situation, not even to Ms. See or her attorney.

What is going on? As press stories have pointed out, See allegedly ran afoul of a law that often involves a simple reprimand. Moreover, other than an occasional posted memo or a broadcast email from the County Administrator, there was no dissemination of a County policy or related employee training about appropriate behavior.  So how were employees to know what might constitute behavior that "crossed the line"?

And as has come to light since See's "termination," it appears Howie Rosenfeld also may have been violating the same law for months. Then his wife endorses him in his election bid, not in her individual capacity, but as mayor of Friday Harborwhich many people feel is yet another violation of the same law because she is using her elected office as the platform for her endorsement. 

It's just a mess of double standards, but it's no surprise. That's just the way this place works.

If you get caught in a similarly capricious vortex for CAO matters, you'll have to pay $2300 just to appeal the allegations made against you. It is a strange world we live in when filing an appeal in Washington State Courts costs $280, filing an appeal in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals costs $450, filing an appeal to the United States Supreme Court costs $300, but filing an appeal for land use determinations in San Juan County is $2300.


  1. I feel it is important to note that if you prevail then your $2300 fee is refunded. Not sure if the supreme court and 9th circuit do that.
    If you win your appeal it will cost nothing other than time.

  2. You only get your $2300 back if you win AND the County decides not to appeal.

    I am, and will be, Nick Power.

  3. I have always loved that one, whereby if you prevail, you get your $2300 back. Well such a policy serves certainly to weed out the haves from the haves not's before our county expends the time on any appeal. Such a policy is a violation of Equal Protection, pure and simple

  4. Our prosecuting attorney feels there is no such term as equal protection.
    Not within these jurisdictions of land use and buildings. Scary and interesting concept. Unfortunately this is the way this county CD&P works. It runs a bit like a Kangaroo court, the director (judge,jury and executioner)finds you guilty. Then if you have the money to argue with his findings, you can.

  5. "Why that's another fine mess you've gotten me into."

    That's got to be a growing refrain behind the scenes as this Gang Who Couldn't Shoot Straight keep shooting themselves in the foot.

    And the gun's still smoking.

    Boy you take your eye off these people so you can pay attention to paying work in the real world and then you come back to a whole new barrel of monkeys.

    A Heron's work is never done.

  6. I am deeply fearful that if we go back to 3 council members that the mayhem will continue. I would not trust a council of 3 with the present loosey goosey governing style we have in the County. I will tell you what will happen with 3. #1 becomes the alpha dog. #2 gains power by being alpa dogs bitch. And #3, if s/he hopes to stay relevent at all will just extort #1 and #2 not to blow their cover and get his/her pet projects done. At least with six, you have the potential defector and a more dynamic power struggle which will keep the dictatorial tendencies down to a dull roar.

    Have some sense, reject the Charter Amendments.

    I am,flagrantly, Nick Power.

  7. In my opinion, the problem is not 3 or 5 or 6 or whatever. The problem is that we can't seem to elect anyone competent. Perhaps competent people don't want to run for elected positions. Only ideologues.
    I've had conversations with a number of the current council members on diverse topics. In general, they are clueless about economics, technology, science, you name it. They seem to know a lot about...?

  8. It continues to amaze me how the administration of this "County Government" a gracious word might be "functions."

    No one ever seems to call the people in dispute, the primary people in a labor action, the dissenters, the pissed off, or anybody, to the table for a frank and friendly talk!

    It is always an attack approach or we gotta round up the attorneys approach. Circle the wagons, get us the long rifles.

    Ms. See will win this one and she will win big!

    As a person who had several hundred employees I can tell you there is NO substitute for clearly WRITTEN directives on all areas of "on the job" activity. Everything must not only be written down, but also, clearly reviewed at point of hire.

    (Ms. See this is what your office equipment can be used can't by used for...blah, blah.)

    Wrongful termination! Violation of first amendment rights.

    My guess? The County will pay. We will pay. Big time.

  9. "If one prevails, one can get the $2300 appeal fee back, and if you win it will cost nothing other than time?"

    First, how many people do you know in this County who have $2300 to wager that they can win an appeal? How many people can even find that much money in their accounts?

    Second, how many people do you know have the time to contest the application of these crazy proposals? How long does it take to get a straight answer from CDPD? Who's going to do the paperwork? Do you all have legal secretaries? This is the real world, where people are working trying to survive, trying to build or remodel a home, not spending hours (if not weeks or months) trying to appeal from excessive County regulations.

  10. The average weekly wage in our County is $594, which is the fourth lowest in the State. The princely sum of $2300 represents nearly a month's wages for the working people of the islands.