Friday, October 26, 2012

Countdown to CAOmageddon: Flaw #62 - Rotten from the Inside Out

The emails below illustrate several aspects of our grant economy at work, but the point to emphasize in this posting is that the County GIS data has been completely corrupted by insider, grant-driven, back-room power politics with inherent conflicts of interest. While there may be questionable public participation about ordinances (see CAPR lawsuit), the real work of assembling the faux data that will be used to accuse us of eco-crimes under the CAO/SMP occurs in a subterranean world where there is no chance of public scrutiny. That insider world is run by low-level government functionaries, unelected appointees, the Friends, and their allies ... and they serve no one but themselves.

Date: May 31, 2011 11:32:31 AM PDT
To: Katrina Hoffman <>
Subject: RE: response to Stephanie

Hi Kat,

I think there is a little bit of terrain to carefully negotiate here. Backing up to the stated goal of the Green Shores project to create a structure and some capacity in County government to at least be an integral part of the ultimate Green Shores program in SJC, we need to focus our efforts there. As Stephanie correctly notes, The MRC has indeed contracted with the Friends a number of times for projects that resulted in excellent data that has become part of the County's GIS system and used in the development of regulations such as CAO and SMP. The negotiating needs to be around the fact that another important arm of the organization is as a strong advocate for the environment and as a litigator, too (sometimes with, and sometimes against, the County) and, for some, the County's credibility would be called into question if the two seem too close.

So, for now, I think a response should concentrate mostly on being appreciative of the likelihood of using some of the obvious overlapping opportunities for match and for the use of the data created through projects dome by the Friends, and for future data and consultations as well. We have more work to do to determine future steps and involvement in the project and the Friends' work and data will definitely kept in mind. The County needs to have a seat at the table as incentives are discussed, and needs to be seen as leading on this (if that can happen!)

My next step needs to be, with your help,  to consolidate these ideas for match, making sure it looks like a good balance, and get it to Shireene to get to the County Administrator so we can get the MOA completed.

I'm on my off day today, on the ferry, but will get back to you tomorrow about this.

I hope this helps. Feel free to write for clarification, etc.


-----Original Message-----
From: Katrina Hoffman []
Sent: Fri 5/27/2011 5:05 PM
To: Jeff Hanson
Subject: response to Stephanie

Hi Jeff,

Is the sort of response I crafted to Stephanie below appropriate, or
should I back off with the historic explanation and just acknowledge
receiving the info she sent? I don't want to overstep boundaries. Let
me know.


Hi Stephanie,

Thanks for all this! It'll be helpful with posing SJC's match
alternatives to EPA. Regarding your comment about inclusion (or lack
thereof) of FSJ in scoping, etc. of the project, I agree, it is
unfortunate. It seems like things moved really fast around application
time (when the proposal was submitted); but the MRC was aware of the
opportunity and since FSJ has folks on the MRC, that would have been
the most likely opportunity for both parties to engage in some cross-
talk at that point in time. I don't know to what extent that happened
between Mary and various entities around the County (other than the
County itself as a collaborator). It sounds like talking about how FSJ
could benefit from the grant in exchange for matching activities is a
conversation that could happen with the County along with your
conversation about contributing matching exercises, but it's not
something over which I have decision-making authority. That said, your
acknowledgment of how and where FSJ's recent and upcoming initiatives
are strongly aligned with the Green Shores for Homes grant is much
appreciated, and it sounds like they will help the County achieve some
of the milestones in the grant.

On May 27, 2011, at 11:42 AM, Stephanie Buffum wrote:

Hi Jeff and Kat!
Based on my review of this grant, it appears that you will be using data and work products primarily from FSJ projects including:
Shoreline Modification (for shoreline characterization),  Wild Salmon Project (aka PILA Pulling It All Together); countywide feederbluff assessment (joint MRC/FSJ/SJI); Bullitt Project (modeling sea level rise on shorelines; and land owner outreach);Tulalip (pending).
1.       Feeder bluff ($20-60,000 thru 2011) - landowner workshops and newsletter materials etc.
2.       Bullitt (runs July 2010-July 2011) $10,000
3.       PIAT - PSAR (Nov 2010-2012) $50,000
4.       Tulalip ($15,000 -pending) Technical assistance/education
Potential match: $145,000 (depending on start date of grant). The longer this waits, the less match available.
Rationale for including FSJ in this grant.
San Juan County is a rural island county of 16,000 residents located in the most western limits of Washington State.  San Juan Counties geography makes data collection challenging for state agencies who cannot afford to conduct marine research projects in the San Juans.
For decades the State has left many data gaps unfilled for lack of funding to survey San Juan County.  The county, like so many rural counties, lacks a department of natural resources. Any significant marine research study or shoreline characterization has been done by not-for-profit organizations, Conservation Districts or staff from the University of Washington Friday Harbor Labs or Washington State University, or tribes. For the past decade, Friends of the San Juans, an IRS not-for-profit has secured funding to ensure that comprehensive data for San Juan County data was  collected on critical marine species, nearshore marine habitats, and nearshore geomorphic habitat forming processes.  These research projects included county-wide assessments for forage fish, eelgrass, feederbluffs, kelp, shoreline modifications, and salmon habitat in the San Juans.)  All data followed state protocols for collection and many of these projects involved an educational and public outreach component.
Friends of the San Juans has extensive experience managing county scale habitat assessment and mapping projects, as well as spatially explicit analyses and the application of results to improved protection and restoration. Friends of the San Juans has also worked with community groups to protect and restore nearshore habitat.
Friends of the San Juans laid the framework for this project with many of their previous projects in which they partnered with San Juan County through the San Juan County Salmon Recovery Program which San Juan County Department of Planning oversees.
Friends of the San Juans has been filling the natural resource planning and management gap for San Juan County for 32 years.  We have developed a professional working relation with county, state and tribal partners, and we have provide the County with 10 years of mapping our most critical nearshore marine resources.
General Observations:
There will be much cross walking and data harvesting that FSJ will be needed to translate. It is unfortunate that FSJ wasn't included in the initial scoping of this project, as it builds on most  of our work products. That said, this is water under the bridge and we are committed to ensuring that our data can inform this process in the best way possible from this moment forward.  Perhaps some pots can be used to pay FSJ as "sub contractors" or as "experts" for our time in assisting you all with data organization, interpretation and harvesting. We certainly want to keep as much $ and data in San Juan County. We can certainly make the match without too dependency on our Canadian counterparts.   I would like to ensure that the data is always created in a manner that is consistent and compatible with the San Juan County GIS database maintained by Public Works.
360 378-2319 office
360-472-0404 cell


  1. Eewwhhh ... like, totally gross. Barf out. Gag me with a spoon ...

    Methinks thar be snakes in that eelgrass!

  2. ECK, can you clarify something for the readers please,

    who is the author of the text that appears in red?

    Are these inline responses to questions, or comments to statements.

    Forgive me if I am unclear. Just trying to understand a bit better.


  3. This is an email conversation between Stephanie Buffum of the Friends, Jeff Hanson (who used to be the Outreach Coordinator for the County's Marine Resources Committee), and Katrina Hoffman (who used to do work related to Washington Sea Grants). They are discussing grant and grant matching opportunities and the participation of the Friends in a specific grant opportunity. Buffum wants in. Most of the red-highlighted text is Stephanie Buffum bragging about why the Friends should be included in a Sea Grant (Oh, we've done everything ... just ask the County!). A "private conversation" between Jeff Hanson and Katrina Hoffman ensues in which Jeff Hanson quite accurately points out some of the dangers of having the Friends involved in a grant of this kind ... because whatever the Friends may think about the quality of their own science, the fact of the matter is that they are an advocacy group who sues people ... not a science organization. I think these emails also point out (as Katrina Hoffman says) that there is a great deal of overlap between the Friends and the County's Marine Resources Committee ... a salient point that appears to be obvious to everyone, except perhaps our County Council

  4. Somebody please pop this zit. The only way forward is for a doctor to step in and lance the boil and drain our poor body politic of this accumulated puss and festering ooze.

    This is not about environmental protection.

    This is a protection racket.

  5. And yet, Shireene Hale repeatedly told the Planning Commission it would be Too Hard to implement a simple process to accept corrections and improvements to the "Possible Wetlands Map"...

    Some GIS information is more equal than others...

  6. One further point ... I think this exchange suggests an important function that the MRC serves for the Friends. With the Friends on the MRC, they are in a prime spot to position themselves to benefit from grants. The MRC plays a sales/marketing role for the Friends with respect to grants. Remember that well more than half of the Friends funding comes from government grants. Follow the money ... actually if you follow the Friends and their participation in almost anything, you are also following the money.

  7. In eco-business, "to create a structure and some capacity in County" means to create jobs and consulting fees for friends--how many more eco-employees does the County need? There can never be too many! What's wildly entertaining here is the refreshing candor about the problem--apparent to most of us--with the Friends, who have such a focused political agenda, using tax money to create "scientific data." In response to the Friends' not-so-subtle demand for a piece of the latest grant "pie." And the acknowledgement that the County is in charge in name only.

  8. The Marine Resources Committee is dominated by the Friends and the tribes. Why Council has let this "citizen" advisory group be run by outside interests (the Tulalip tribes, famous for paving acres of salmon habitat for casinos and shopping centers, for example) and the Friends for over a decade is a puzzle. And now the Tulalip are "donating" money to the County for specified propaganda. Great.

  9. Steaming buckets of offal. A Confederacy of dunces. Dire confusion and strange screams of dispair. A tale told by an idiot. An eco-consultant that struts and frets his hour on the county stage, to be heard no more. A grant, a grant! My kingdom for a grant!

  10. Mr. Hanson, "Jeff" & Ms. Hoffman, "Kat": Your lack of formality, your lack of respect for the level of thinking expected from goofballs sound like a couple of middle school students...pardon the insult to the middle school students who likely would do a better job than you both.

    Pack your bags people! Polish your petite resumes because your're out of here! It is a free ferry and you WILL be on it! BELIEVE IT!

    Good bye and good luck.

  11. In case the previous poster was not aware, Jeff Hanson no longer works for MRC.

    Great enthusiasm though....

  12. "Friends of the San Juans has been 51filling the natural resource planning and management gap for San Juan County for 32 years. We have developed a professional working relation with county, state and tribal partners, . . ."
    Does anyone remember electing the "Friends" to perform natural resource planning and management? I thought that was the County's obligation and jurisdiction. We poor country bumpkins are so LUCKY to have the professional eco-grant solicitors here to HELP us.

  13. What ever happened w/that grant money? Did the F get some of it?

  14. Well, seems like few every know what happens to the grant money, especially after the F grab their grubstake.

    But here's the deal. "Local science" being conducted by the unqualified through advocacy organizations supported by huge foundations that openly seek to influence local land use policy up to and including litigation.

    This is called "science in the public interest" but is close to the notions of "astrology in the special interest."

    Great work if you can get it, especially nowadays. Crush the economic life out of our communities and what jobs are left?

    You do the math.

  15. They're not crushing the economic life out of our community--they're REPLACING IT with Disneyland: AGRI-TOURISM. Cute little "wayshowing" signs. The tourists ill leave their cars in Anacortes and ride the San Juan Monorail around the island.

  16. Trojan Heron, Where are yoooooouuuuuuu?

  17. Unlike the GRANT funded "non profits" SJC loves and pardon me but this same County pissed away HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS on a CAO production and process that at best could be called HOPELESS and this? is what we need grants for? THIS is what Rich Peterson can't live without? (And this guy is the best we got?) THIS is what A MAJORITY of your County Council can't live without?

    Anyway, that word "unlike" was ment for TH... likely NO grant funding, NO bucks from anywhere.

    Hats off to TH