Saturday, November 3, 2012

Data by the Back Door

We know the County is looking for an ecological "smoking gun" that can be used against all of us for the CAOs and SMP. We know the Friends have a propensity for "compiling data" on individual citizens (to put it mildly) so they can persecute them. If you're interested in eco-framing everyone in the County using bad ecological data, who ya gonna call?

Below are a series of emails regarding County shoreline data. It mentions the Shoreline Management Plan (SMP) update, but the same information is being used for the Fish & Wildlife Habitat CAO. These and other emails reveal the Friends and their friends as some of the puppet masters of County data. Data enters the County GIS/data system with the deliberate intent to avoid any public participation or independent third-party review.

The parties involved in the emails below are Stephanie Buffum and Tina Whitman of the Friends; Amanda Azous, Land Bank Commissioner and one of the consultant authors of the County's Best Available Science (BAS) synthesis; and the cc's include Linda Lyshall, Marine Resources Committee (MRC) Coordinator; Steve Revella, MRC Chair; and Jose Carrasquero, another BAS and SMP consultant from Herrera. Colin Maycock is the County planner in charge of the SMP update.

As Tina Whitman says ... fyi ...
From: Tina Whitman []
Sent: Thursday, March 08, 2012 11:05 AM
To: Linda Lyshall; 'Steve Revella'
Subject: FW: SMP San Juan data stakeholder meeting


From: Tina Whitman []
Sent: Thursday, March 08, 2012 11:04 AM
To: 'Amanda Azous'
Cc: 'Stephanie Buffum'; ''
Subject: RE: SMP San Juan data stakeholder meeting

Thanks Amanda,

I totally agree that a face to face meeting is the best tool to help all of us gain a better understanding of what potential changes could be made, using existing data, to address concerns of the mrc, fsj and the tac and improve our support of the inventorty document.

I appreciate your willingness to do this.


From: Amanda Azous []
Sent: Thursday, March 08, 2012 10:02 AM
To: Tina Whitman
Cc: Stephanie Buffum;
Subject: RE: SMP San Juan data stakeholder meeting

Hi Tina,
I am working on making this meeting happen outside of the County’s public participation plan, which means it must be a private meeting and not on the County’s budget. I think that is the only way to get a constructive dialogue going. I hope to know within the next few days if Herrera can do this, and have the meeting on San Juan Island (I think that would be best). I would really like to resolve these important issues or at least all leave with a better understanding of why certain decisions were made and what should be fixed where needed. I think we all want the same thing which is for the County to be able to move forward to update its SMP and prevent further degradation of our County’s shoreline and nearshore environment. I don’t have Steve Revella’s email but have copied the general MRC email.
Thank-you for your patience in this matter,


Science Associate
direct 206.787.8251 | cell 206.920.8044 | main 206.441.9080
2200 Sixth Avenue Suite 1100 Seattle, WA 98121
Find Herrera online at:
This electronic transmission may contain privileged and/or confidential information intended only for the recipient(s) named.  If you have received this message in error, please delete it from your system without copying it, and please notify me by reply electronic mail.  Thank you.

From: Tina Whitman []
Sent: Tuesday, March 06, 2012 10:56 AM
To: 'Colin Maycock'; 'Stephanie Buffum'; Amanda Azous; Jose Carrasquero
Subject: RE: SMP San Juan data stakeholder meeting

Thanks colin,

From my perspective, it would be a gathering of the SMP team (consultants, staff and your tac), with representatives (small number of for efficiency) from the MRC, the lead entity, and FSJ (these groups selected for their familiarity with local data sets and ongoing concerns over current inventory framework), to discuss specific concerns over current integration of existing shoreline data sets, with a goal towards improving everyone’s understanding of the current inventory’s analytical approach and improving representation of existing data into the inventory to end up with a document that better supports next phases of the SMP.

From my own review of the document, as well as communication with tac, salmon recovery and other MRC members, I believe that face to face communication and discussion could help facilitate some changes to the inventory that would make those of us most familiar with local shoreline data sets and their ability to inform management of key processes, species and habitats much more comfortable moving forward. 

As you are aware, the formal public comment process doesn’t support the kind of interactive conversation we feel would be most productive; however, it has been the only tool available to date.

Thanks.  I look forward to working with you all.



From: Colin Maycock []
Sent: Tuesday, March 06, 2012 9:11 AM
To: Stephanie Buffum; Amanda Azous; Tina Whitman; Jose Carrasquero
Subject: RE: SMP San Juan data stakeholder meeting

Hey There,

Before going any further, what exactly are you trying to achieve with this proposed public meeting? Is there a specific result you expect?


Colin Maycock, AICP
Planner IV
San Juan County Community Development and Planning
PO Box 947, Friday Harbor, WA
Phone: 360-370-7573

From: Stephanie Buffum []
Sent: Friday, March 02, 2012 4:56 PM
To: 'Amanda Azous'; 'Tina Whitman'; 'Jose Carrasquero'; Colin Maycock
Subject: SMP San Juan data stakeholder meeting

Hi Amanda, et all:

I think there is a much larger group of people besides ourselves that would like time in front of the consultants so that we can be better informed about the application of local data in the SMP. These groups include: the MRC, the Salmon Lead Entity, members of the SMP technical review team, the PSP/San Juan Initiative, Skagit Systems Cooperative and Kurt Fresh. 

We believe that such a meeting is essential in ensuring we have a credible SMP Characterization Report. We believe that this meeting should be in San Juan County, but since this is an SMP product and DOE is a part of this process,  Padilla Bay may be a good travel neutral location for all interested parties.

I would be willing to look into the availability of the facility if we can get agreement that this meeting is necessary for the good of the order. 

Stephanie Buffum Field
Executive Director

POB 1344 Friday Harbor, WA  98250
360. 378.2319 office
360.472.0404 cell


  1. This is the tip of the iceberg. The Friends and their friends run around "doing science," never publish or otherwise subject their results to mainstream scientists, but always "share" the data with the County, which accommodatingly includes it in the GIS, which in turn is being used to regulate all of us. (We all saw how "useful" the Adamus wetland data were; wetlands wetlands everywhere, except that they aren't.) Our own County Marine Resources Committee often is the intermediary for the "data." The MRC membership hasn't much changed over a decade, with Ms. Whitman of the Friends and a "treaty rights" lobbyist, Kit Rawson, from the Tulalip being among the most long-lived, active members. The MRC minutes reflect nothing so much as an obsession with demonstrating how important they are, even though they do little but push the Friends' agenda.

    Think this doesn't have an impact on you? These are the folks who are saying that all shoreline and most "streams" (including those things we call roadside ditches) are critical habitat.

    Too bad we don't have any bona fide scientists on the Council. Ones that would show some interest in the quality and source of the data upon which much of our future will depend.

  2. Am I correct in seeing Colin Maycock as a conscience here? And someone whom, on second thought, the FSJ and "friends" decided to leave out of their meeting? If that's correct...there is hope there I think! Call Colin!

  3. That's the way it looks here, but you'll see other emails soon where Colin essentially says to a homeowner, "Sorry, but we believe the Friends more than we believe you."

    But then again, you'll also see an email where Buffum is talking smack about Colin ... with an "Oh well, he's the best we've got" kind of tone.

    The Friends consider him part of "their team" and you'll see them use those exact words in coming posts.

  4. This is pretty damning stuff. Shut the public out, lets get it done in the back of the back room.

    Disgusting! And I hope EVERY member of FOSJ reads it and decides once and for all to dump these assholes.

    If you think what they are doing is right, let us hear from you.

  5. Apparently, according to Buffum, the back room is "Padilla Bay ... a good travel neutral location." Time to file some public records requests with Ecology about travel to Padilla Bay ... aka the back room.

  6. Διογένης ὁ ΣινωπεύςNovember 3, 2012 at 7:49 PM

    Is there not a single member of our County Council that will speak out against this skulduggery?

  7. Padilla Bay (near the Swinomish Casino and High Rise Hotel in the Estuary) is a "travel-neutral" location because no taxpayers can get there, but the paid lobbyists and "eco-managers" can. Kind of like Salazar choosing Anacortes for his National Monument listening tour of the San Juans--all it takes is a few hours and $50 on the ferry to get to one of these purported public meetings. We all have that, right? Especially with a day's notice.

  8. Padilla Bay is a hub. The Northwest Straits Commission headquarter office is there, and the NSC is the mother ship for all the Marine Resource Commissions across the northwest counties. The first director of the NWSC was our own Tom Cowen, a more insider eco-player you will not find anywhere.

    The Department of Ecology holds numerous helpful "technical" workshops there for wetland wannabes.

    And there are labs, sponsored research projects, some actually legitimate work going on as well. But the place is a political bootcamp and center of a web of regional control and corruption.

    And, if we were to ask: "Well who is accountable for data quality here in San Juan County, the data that is used to drive eco-wacko policy?" These emails show who those people are. And they are not conducting quality assurance task, apparently, but something quite different.

    Naughty. Naughty. Naughty.

  9. This email train is concerning differences of opinion on the selection and use of some of the data used in the first draft of the SMP Inventory and Characterization report. There were professional differences on what data was used and how it was used between the Friends, the MRC, and the consultants. Clearly, there was no attempt to hide the fact that a meeting to discuss and resolve these differences was needed or the suggestion would not have been presented in an email that was subject to public disclosure. The intent was to have a meeting where participants could focus on the technical aspects of the data used and find solutions so the final report could be completed. To imply there was something more insidious in this exchange seems counterproductive at best. In my opinion, your readers would be better served by a discussion of what those differences were. Unfortunately Ed, you seem more interested in identifying so called conspiracies.

  10. Ghost of Carl SaganDecember 30, 2012 at 1:56 PM

    In a way it sounds like the report was weak in technical respects and conclusions.

    And, in the absence of objective third party peer review lent itself it to a variety of interpretations by agenda driven advocacy groups.

    That doesn't sound too conspiratorial really, but not very professional either. Maybe this report could be published in the Journal of Irreproducible Results.

    But it is good to hear this explanation. This really helps.

  11. Not sure who Ed is, but to be clear, I don't think there was a conspiracy. I think it was business as usual showing the typical group think that characterizes science here. It is virtually impossible for any third party to validate County data because the process followed by you and your cohorts is not transparent, clear, consistent, and/or reasonable.

    It's not a conspiracy, but it's still a black box involving questionable people and methods. It's not a conspiracy, but it's still a corruption of a public process. If data cannot be validated (or refuted) by truly independent methods, then it's not science (just ask Karl Popper).

    And you wear so many hats, Amanda, that I wonder in what capacity you act at any given time. Are you a Land Bank commissioner, a citizen, an independent wetland scientist, an employee of Herrera, an agent of the state ... what are you anyway?

  12. No Amanda, what seems counterproductive is paying hundreds of thousands of dollars to a consulting firm to incorporate the results of a "study" that has never been peer-reviewed or published. Ms. Azous was the first to point out that there was no final study report. Then the Friends and their cohorts jumped up and down, complaining. Now her company is being paid an additional amount to give its imprimatur to the "study"--paid to state that the study is worthwhile, if I recall correctly! The study has not yet been published in anything but a draft form that was dismissed by its author effectively as thrown together at the last minute in response to a public records act request. The study claims that all of the islands are critical salmon habitat because juvenile salmon swim by. That is what the planners want and need to eliminate shoreline development. And the tribal "research" center is more than happy to provide it. Remember, the tribes have threatened to sue if our new regulations don't prohibit most shoreline development. As for the claim that surely this is not an effort to exclude the public because the e-mails were subject to public records act disclosure, the fact is that this group have been operating like this for decades and only recently became aware of the risk of stating their true intentions and opinions in writing. Conspiracy or not, the e-mails show at best a condescending and dismissive attitude toward public process.

  13. Why don't people say who they are? If you are going to take potshots at others you would think you would be brave enough to admit who you are.
    ECK, aren't you Edward Christopher Kilduff? Are you saying that is not who you are and this is not your blog? As you pointed out, I am a Land Bank commissioner, a citizen, an independent wetland scientist, an employee of Herrera, but not an agent of the state; why would you even say that? Does that help a dialogue? ECK/Ed, in a small community people wear many hats. I am also an engineer, a writer, a wife, mother, friend to many, a former member of the noxious weed board and have served on numerous boards and community positions over the 22 years I have lived in San Juan County. I wear the hat I am morally and legally responsible to wear in each situation. Perhaps you might consider getting more involved in community affairs and contribute constructively to the changes you want to see. The county needs more volunteers; your attacks on people who do, don’t help.
    For those of you who don't seem to have read the Inventory and Characterization report such as "Not buying it", it is not a scientific study. It is a compilation of data prepared by others about the county. If you are concerned about the legitimacy of a particular data set reported then you should be specific and address your concerns to the County. The report is a public document and has been, and is available for peer review by experts and non-experts alike. Note that being paid hundreds of thousands of dollars for this report is not even remotely true, not that it matters much, it is just another example of the misinformation from people lacking the courage to identify themselves that pervades this blog.

  14. Whoa--I think the Heron has been Dehlendorfed™! Don't know Ms. Azous, sure she's a good mom and citizen and all, but if she truly believes that one gets on County committees and boards without being on the "right" (that is, the far left) Christmas Card list, she's naive. Look at the MRC, for example. More than a decade for some folks. Or the appointments for life at the Planning Commission.

  15. Why don't people say who they are? For one thing, how do we know who you are? But for a more important thing, are you familiar with retaliation?

  16. WishIHadAGovtContractDecember 30, 2012 at 8:21 PM

    Is someone really defending the SMP report that they filed last year? I seem to recall there were hundreds of stories about people saying "my house isn't shown" or "they said it's a bulkhead but it's really the natural rock formation" and so on, ad nauseum. People were furious. And so what did the County do? Pay them MORE to fix it?

  17. @ A. Azous
    As for what "ECK" stands for (as has been pointed out on this blog previously) it is a blogging handle that stands for "Expanding Civic Knowledge."

    As for your statements that all one has to do is merely point out the errors in the I&C report in order to have them corrected ... at best that misapprehension can be described as "quaint" for its complete obliviousness. As has been profiled on this blog, homeowners whose families have lived on their property for more than a century have tried to correct errors related to their property in the I&C report, only to be informed by Colin Maycock that he believes the Friends more than homeowners ... and that the Friends data has already been passed along to a state database.

    As for the I&C report not being science, how convenient can your flip-flopping be ... you have secret meetings about "data" with other "professionals" to resolve your differences about the "data" ... only to have the final report about the "data" not be science. Then what is your "data" about? Why do we need a bunch of high-priced do-nothing professionals to produce a report full of "data" that has no scientific validity and which cannot be refuted even by life-long, multi-generational residents who have decades of first-hand knowledge with said "data"? If your "data" isn't science, then what is it and why do we need it?

    As for participation in community affairs, when is the last time there was any significant turnover on the Land Bank? Or the Planning Commission? Or any number of the key committees that seem to be the kabah of the insider, self-funding, self-perpetuating, eco-aristocracy around here?

    I'm afraid your comments simply illustrate how completely detached you are as total County insider ... and next you'll be telling us to eat cake.

    Btw, if you're an engineer, how come you're not licensed in this state? If you're not licensed, you're not an engineer.

  18. StillNotBuyin' ItDecember 30, 2012 at 10:11 PM

    "Note that being paid hundreds of thousands of dollars for this report is not even remotely true, . . . . it is just another example of the misinformation . . . that pervades this blog." Note that Ms. Azous does not state WHAT the consultants have been paid for the CAO and SMP work. For some reason, we have people complaining about inaccuracies but never, ever, providing contrary evidence. I'm pretty sure that the Herrera or WaterShed group (they keep changing) were paid amounts in excess of 200,000. I may be wrong. I'm guessing that those folks can provide the exact number.

  19. Back in 2010, William Way of the Watershed Group submitted an SOQ and proposal to the County for CAO and SMP work. The SOQ/proposal included Herrera, ICF, and the Norton Arnold Company. Amanda Azous' resume is included, where she is listed as "Science Director" (apparently for a report that she now claims is not science). The total cost for SMP work is estimated in that SOQ/proposal as $384K. The total cost for CAO work is $67K.

    Among the descriptions included in that SOQ/proposal is the following passage:

    "Given our understanding of San Juan County and the SMP process, we will use the following guiding principles:
    • Transparency. A fully open process.
    • Early, frequent, and diverse outreach. Frequent and multiple communication methods to both provide
    information and engage community members.
    • Facing the tough issues head on. Focusing on areas of disagreement to ensure that the community is able
    to safely and productively reach compromise or consensus.
    • Building on what exists. Leverage groups such as Citizens Alliance for Property Rights, Friends of the
    San Juans, San Juan Islands Agricultural Guild, Chambers of Commerce (to name a few), and events
    such as the San Juan County Fair to increase our own outreach efforts."

    What a farce those promises were!

    Further to Azous' allegation that commenters are not telling the truth about money: the County has received over $800K from Ecology for the SMP updates, and you can find the documentation here:

  20. Aren't these the same people who consulted on the "constructed wetland" on Orcas and the "mitigation" of the Mt Baker Road wetlands? Looks like a tornado went through that island.

  21. When you don’t put your name on your postings, you are not taking responsibility for what you are saying, therefore you can say anything you want even if not true. You folks need to man up and stand behind your words. Otherwise, and I am sorry to say this because I am interested in dialogue and differences, but you seem mostly like a bunch of bullies anonymously attacking your fellow citizens.

  22. Your statement makes no sense, but thanks for stopping by A. Azous. I suggest you take a look at the SOQ/proposal submitted by William Way where you were listed as a member of the project team. W. Way signed his name to it, so I guess in your book that means that he man'd up and took responsibility for what he said. In there, you can confirm the info offered in our comments. That SOQ/proposal talked about transparency, diverse outreach, engagement ... and we've all learned how true those words have been.

    No need feel sorry. We certainly don't. You're entitled to your opinion, and we are entitled to ours. It's just that our opinions seem to be supported by evidence and facts, whereas most of yours are not.

  23. To quote that great politician Deng Xiaopeng, "It doesn't matter if the cat is black or white, as long as it catches mice?"

    It does not matter who says what, as long as it is true, via independently validated factual evidence.

    This is a point that is totally lost on Amanda Azous. She cares nothing about factual content, only who says it.

    Anyone who has to know who said something, is likely a very dangerous person.

  24. Pot Calling Kettle BlackDecember 31, 2012 at 4:09 PM

    Give me a friggin' break!!! Amanda Azous is calling the Trojan Heron a bully?!?

    Wow! Does she really not know who the real bullies are? The County, the Friends, the Department of Ecology, the consultants, the tribes, the MRC ... THOSE people are saying that a blog is a bully?!?


    I'm going to go wash with sand and dry myself with water because the world has truly turned upside down and gone insane.

  25. Amanda Azous should read this article by the BBC on the contributions made by anonymous authors.

    Then she should take a stress pill because none of the Trojan Heron fans are going away. We think mission is far too important to allow her to jeopardize it.

  26. WeAreAllWetlandScientistsDecember 31, 2012 at 9:00 PM

    Ms. Azous is free to post anything she pleases, like she is free to submit or say anything she wants to Council, and our role is to check her facts. She can make "ad hominem" attacks about TH people being "bullies" all she wants (don't bullies go out and annoy innocent people? how is bringing our little county's peccadilloes to light annoying innocent people? And are they forced to read the blog?) but what would be useful in "advancing the dialogue" wouold be to counter factual assertions you dispute with evidence supporting a different set of facts. Is that too hard? Apparently. "Waaa. They are being mean by pointing out MY errors! Ohmigod, we should get guards for our hearing because anyone who disagrees with me must be mentally deranged and dangerous! Even better, let's exclude those annoying members of the public, they could be dangerous or annoying or have opinions or questions?" So, Amanda, which fact do you disagree with? Do you claim that Herrera/WaterShed was NOT paid to produce the draft IC report? If no, how much? Do you acknowledge the number of fact issues with the "findings" in the report? Specifics, Amanda, specifics.

  27. LesMiserablesTaxpayersJanuary 1, 2013 at 5:13 PM

    Bullies? Trojan Heron posters are "bullies"? I thought that the tight-knit group of consultants (paid by tax dollars), County staff (paid by tax dollars) and Friends of the San Juans (pretty much all paid by tax dollars via grants) working together to spend even more of taxpayers' money, putting complicated restrictions in land use for no reason, and imposing hideosities like the Friday Harbor Rain Garden Pollution Concentrator and Vomitorium, the Orcas "Constructed Wetland" Mosquito Breeding Facility, and the Mt. Baker "wetlands mitigation," which looks like a tornado went through what was a beautiful tract of island land--THOSE people are bullies. They have their way with our land, our taxes, and our way of life--because they think they know better than us how to live and protect these islands. God help us all.