Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Because $38,999 Isn't Good Enough On Its Own

Looks like the Network (see below) is pulling out all the stops for Byers and Pratt, even though just those two candidates have raised a whopping $38,999 combined ($20,447 for Byers and $18,552 for Pratt). Nonetheless those "outstanding candidates" will be getting more help, according to the email below.

Diane Martindale is a member of the League of Women Voters, a donor to the Pratt campaign, and San Juan Vice Chair of the Democratic Party. Some nonpartisan election this is turning out to be.

Remember, this is easy calling.
Subject: Primary election
Date: Wed, 30 Jan 2013 13:07:40 -0800 (PST)
From: Diane Martindale

Two of our endorsed candidates for County Council have asked for our help. We are going to have a blast phone bank-ONE WEEK ONLY. If everyone takes one shift we will have it done, done. This is easy calling--we will be calling Democrats to remind them to vote for Lisa Byers and Lovel Pratt and make sure they understand this election process. The ballots are out and we want our candidates names checked!
All you do is show up with a charged cell phone. We will have one spare for someone without a phone. FOR THOSE NOT ON SAN JUAN ISLAND- I can get the script and calling package to you. Let me know where to mail it. I AM MAILING THOSE NOW.
Here is the schedule on San Juan Island for the phone bank at the Garden Path Cafe: Thursday, Jan. 31 phone bank from 4 p.m to 6:30.
Saturday, Feb. 2 10 a.m.-1 p.m.
Monday, Feb. 4 4-6:30
Tuesday, Feb. 5 4-7
Wednesday, Feb.6 3:30-7
Thursday, Feb. 7 4-7
Friday, Feb. 8 3-6
Saturday, Feb. 9 10-1 p.m.
ACTION: Call or email me to let me know when you can come. 370-XXXX PLEASE forward this email to supporters and friends who might help.

Thank you for your help for our outstanding candidates.

Diane Martindale

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Ties (And Blather) That Bind Us

Here are the connections for the campaign committee for Byers:
  • William Appel - Charter Review Committee member.
  • Sandy Bishop - Lopez Community Land Trust Director.
  • Bruce Botts - Lopez Community Land Trust resident.
  • Janet Brownell - Orcas Island School District, former Legislative Liaison.
  • Sarah Crosby - League of Women Voters; Chair of the Advisory Council of the Madrona Institute; San Juan Democratic Party PCO.
  • Cathy Faulkner - Scenic Byway Steering Committee member.
  • Steve Garrison - Charter Review Committee member; 2006 Citizen's Interview Panel for County Administator.
  • Dick Grout - former San Juan County Planning Director; former head of Ecology's Bellingham Field Office; finalist for County Administrator in 2006.
  • Larry Hendel - Charter Review Committee member; 2006 Citizen's Interview Panel for County Administrator; former Planning Commissioner; former Lopez Port Commissioner.
  • Kevin Ranker - State Senator; ex-Friends Director; Pratt Campaign Committee member.
  • Sally Reeve - National Conservation Area Steering Committee; Pratt Campaign Committee member; San Juan Preservation Trust Land Counselor.
  • Mary Riveland - San Juan Preservation Trust Land Counselor.
  • Barbara Rosenkotter - County employee Salmon Recovery Lead; Marine Resources Committee.
  • Richard Ward - Charter Review Committee member.
Here are the connections for the campaign committee for Pratt:
  • Stephen Adams - Planning Commissioner; Lopez Port Commissioner.
  • Karin Agosta - Planning Commissioner; San Juan Preservation Trust Land Counselor.
  • Julie Brunner - OPAL Housing Manager.
  • Tom Cowan - Land Bank Commissioner; National Conservation Area Steering Committee; State Transportation Board member; former County Commissioner; County and Ecology consultant.
  • Carolyn Haugen - San Juan Nature Institute Board member.
  • Robin Jacobson - former Communications Manager of the San Juan Visitors Bureau.
  • Liz Illg - Scenic Byway Steering Committee member; Leadership San Juans Program Coordinator.
  • Kevin Ranker - State Senator; ex-Friends Director; Byers Campaign Committee member.
  • Sally Reeve - National Conservation Area Steering Committee; Byers Campaign Committee; San Juan Preservation Trust Land Counselor.
  • Tom Reeve - National Conservation Area Steering Committee.
  • Jonathan White - Marine Resources Committee member.
The other campaigns really aren't structured like these two, and the lists above don't even take donors into account. The Pratt/Byers campaigns are their own highly-funded Network phenomena. They are a tidal wave of money and influence ... the same sort of influence that made our County government what it is today ... despised because of insider-ism

How do you feel about equal access to government? Because with these two campaigns, some are more equal than others.

By the way, listen to Lisa Byers speaking before our Council today about the types of qualities she would like to see in a County Manager. She seems to place great emphasis on behavior. Heaven help the poor results-oriented manager who might ruffle feathers ... no place for people like that in a Byers administration.
So a couple of things around the qualities of the County Manager ... I encourage someone who has demonstrated a collaborative work style rather than one who is stuck in rigidly hierarchical roles ... experienced building teamwork in an environment with volunteers such as a Board of Directors and also working with Unions ... someone who commands respect through compassionate action and high standards ... someone who sets high standards and clear expectations ... someone who knows how to lead a culture of continuous improvement ... someone with experience in establishing and implementing constructive and consistent grievance resolution ... experience with bringing realistic metrics of success into the work environment and establishing appropriate motivation to reward innovation ... and experience in managing communications that develops trust through clarity, honesty, and consistency.
Is it just me, or do you feel like Dilbert when you listen to this?

Campaign Participation by County Employees

If you've ever worked for the federal government, you might be familiar with the Hatch Act. It is the law that governs the participation of federal employees in elections. The Hatch Act only applies to federal employees, not state and municipal employees. Nevertheless, it's interesting to make note of the Hatch Act rules and compare them to the involvement of County employees in our local elections.

Most of the prohibitions affecting federal employees and campaigns come into effect only for partisan elections. Almost any kind of participation in nonpartisan elections is allowable. But the Hatch Act acknowledges that some elections can be nonpartisan in name only. For example, the federal employee guide to the Hatch Act says the following about nonpartisan elections being transformed into partisan elections:
Q. Can a nonpartisan election be transformed into a partisan election?
A. Yes. If state or local law mandates a nonpartisan ballot for a particular local office, there will be a presumption that the election for that office is nonpartisan. If evidence is presented, however, that shows that partisan politics actually enter the campaigns of the candidates, e.g., the [candidate] solicits the endorsement of a partisan group, advertises the endorsement of a political party, or uses the party's resources to further her campaign effort, the nonpartisan election can be transformed into a partisan one in violation of the Hatch Act. 
Since they solicited partisan endorsement, Byers, Pratt, and Stephens seem to have transformed our nonpartisan elections into partisan ones according to the standards of the Hatch Act. It's especially ironic since, if successful, they will take an oath of office to uphold the Charter, including its nonpartisan provisions.

Good thing the Hatch Act doesn't apply to Barbara Rosenkotter either (Salmon Recovery Lead for our Planning Department), since Rosenkotter is a County employee involved in the Byers campaign. Under the federal system, she might be in an especially tight spot given her role as Campaign Treasurer for Byers. The federal employee guide to the Hatch Act says:
Q. May an employee serve as the treasurer of a campaign?
A. Yes, an employee may serve as treasurer to the extent of preparing and filing campaign finance reports and paying campaign expenses. The employee would be prohibited from personally soliciting, accepting or receiving political contributions. 
The latest tally of campaign fundraising puts the Byers powerhouse at a total of $20,477. The top contributors to Byers are Janet Alderton of the Friends and her husband at $900 each. They also are the top contributors to Pratt at $1,800 each (Pratt has raised $18,552). Alderton and her husband have now dished out $5,400 for the Byers and Pratt campaigns combined.

The Byers and Pratt campaigns are a world unto themselves. No other campaign has the money and network that these two campaigns have. If you believe in the 1% versus the 99%, and if you map the donors and committee members of Pratt/Byers campaigns, you end up with a group that is about 150 people in size ... roughly 1% of our little county. That 1% seems to be comprised inordinately of people (and their related organizational interests) who benefit from free flowing public funding. Including many who, as the saying goes, vote for their living rather than work for their living.

For all the talk of diversity coming out of the Byers campaign especially, I wonder how many fisherman, waitresses, and construction workers are among her supporters ... probably about as many as are on our County citizen advisory committees.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Alex, We Know How You Feel

I came across the letter below (see image at bottom of post) on one of my favorite Facebook pages, and it struck me that the teacher/author is treating his student the way our previous Council treated us during the CAO process. We suspect Adam Hilliker might fit in well in our Planning Department, or the Department of Ecology, or somewhere else in the Network. He might even be a good County Council candidate.

Speaking of the candidates, we've been looking at some of the statements being made by the current crop of candidates, but before we look forward, lets take a short look back. Have a gander at one of the campaign statements put out by Richard Fralick the last time he ran.

How do you think he did?

Dear Voter,
This is an exciting and critical time for our community. Home rule gives us new tools that can be used to design, build and, in some instances, streamline our county government to fit the unique needs of our islands. The separation of powers defined by the Charter gives Council Members the time to set long range policies. I believe I have both the vision and the skills needed to act positively in this vital process.
Our County Council must: resolve the levels of Growth Management Act compliance appropriate for our community, ensure acceptable ferry service, fund our urban growth areas' infrastructure, improve our cell phone coverage and high speed communication capability, protect our environment and the economic vitality and diversity of our community, all the while maintaining essential services and staying within budget.
As a 27 year Orcas Island resident, I know the history of our growth management issues and appreciate the importance of maintaining our economically diverse population. I value nature and the habitat but also know that we have to prioritize our environmental concerns to those matters that are realistic to achieve at our local level. As a small business owner, I understand budgeting and am willing to ask the hard questions and pursue the best solutions using existing financial resources.

Click to enlarge

Friday, January 25, 2013

HB1128 Oh No! - Lights Out!

One of the primary ways that we obtain information is from public records requests. Without the Public Records Act (PRA), we'd have no idea what was going on with secret meetings, with our committees, and with the interactions of our County with state and tribal governments.

That's why the email below is so scary.  The state is trying to hobble the PRA so much that it would effectively eliminate it. Government loves the idea. Newspapers and the press hate it. The People should hate it too because we'll be totally in the dark about how our government operates.

Unfortunately, this Bill has lots of bipartisan sponsorship. They are having hearings this afternoon in Olympia. If you can, send the sponsors an email, especially if you can do it before 1:30 pm today when the hearings start. Let them know that you are against any weakening of the PRA.

Folks - below are the email addresses for all of the sponsors of a bill (HB1128) currently being considered by the state house that would, among other things, allow government to curtail the staff and support needed to answer public records requests; allow government to prioritize public records requests based on the size of the request or the number of times that the requestor has asked in the past 12 months. Additionally, a portion of the bill allows government (or the person to whom the request relates) to apply for an injunction to prevent the public records request from being satisfied.

As all of you know, the efforts of some of you to gather information from San Juan County has been crucial to determining where local government is failing to operate within the law and where activities and decisions are being made outside of the view of the public to the people's detriment. Finallly, curtailing our abillity to get information is anathema to the role of the public in a home rule charter county.

Please send an email to these legislators a.s.a.p. letting them know that their bill will allow local government to hide from scrutiny, to pick and chose PRA responses and will hurt the people's ability to insure transparency and fairness.;;;;;l;;

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Quick Lawsuit Update

This is just a brief post to update everyone on a promise we made a couple of weeks ago. Back on January 12, we mentioned that the depositions of some members of the CAO Implementation Committee (Lovel Pratt, Richard Fralick, Patty Miller, Shireene Hale) might soon be available.

We have since discovered that the depositions of those participants in alleged secret meetings are technically still open. While they each have been deposed once already, they may be called back. As scheduled, Shireene Hale was deposed last Thursday. Pratt, Fralick, and Miller were deposed previously (in that order). Now, the plan is to depose Deputy Prosecutor Jon Cain next. Yes, that's right ... one of our Deputy Prosecutors allegedly took part in the alleged secret meetings. It's messy.

Cain's deposition will be interesting ... having our own Prosecuting Attorney's Office deposed in a case being defended by our Prosecuting Attorney's Office.

Stay tuned, but there won't be any detailed word on the content of the depositions while they remain open. The press release associated with the lawsuit (and fundraising associated with the lawsuit) can be found in our posting from January 12.

Monday, January 21, 2013

An Assortment of County Strangeness

What would a day in San Juan County be like without something peculiar happening in local government. We got a look at the agenda for the Marine Resource Committee (MRC) for this week, and it contains the following item:
Salmon Recovery Council Appointment Letter
Approval of letter supporting Jamie Stephens appointment, Barbara Rosenkotter
Approval? The MRC is going to approve the County Council's decision to appoint the County Council Chair to the Salmon Recovery Council? Why cannot the MRC seem to grasp that they serve at the pleasure of the County Council, not the other way around? The MRC does not approve anything with respect to the County Council, and their perpetual confusion on that matter does not inspire confidence.

And speaking of Barbara Rosenkotter, who also serves as Lisa Byers' Campaign Treasurer, the latest tallies for the campaigns show that the Byers and Pratt campaigns continue to far outpace all other campaigns in fundraising, having raised $16,577 and $16,979 respectively. Janet Alderton of the Friends continues to be the largest donor to both campaigns. In combination with her husband, Alderton has donated $4,500 to the Byers and Pratt campaigns, which is more than any other candidate has raised in total contributions except for Jamie Stephens.

In other news, the search is on for a new County Manager, and word is that the Council will favor local candidates. We wonder how long before Dick Grout's name surfaces again. Grout was the Planning Director here in the County in the late 80's and early 90's. In particular, he was Planning Director when the Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) voted to fully opt-in to the Growth Management Act, and reports are that Grout was influential in persuading the BOCC to take that fateful decision. After leaving the County in the early 90's, Grout became the head of the Bellingham Field Office for the Department of Ecology.

When Pete Rose was selected as County Administrator back in 2006, Grout was mysteriously included in the finalist group of County Administrator candidates without seemingly having gone through the rest of the selection process with the other three finalist candidates. Despite the apparent funny business, Rose was selected over Grout back then.

Nevertheless, Grout maintains a residence in the islands and is part of Byers' Campaign Committee to boot. Pratt and Byers were both part of the Citizen Input Committee for the hiring of the County Administrator back in 2006 too. They are both very familiar with Grout.

There are some other peculiar things worth mentioning, but we'll save commentary about them for another time. For instance, why is the "Winter Council" going along with the Community Conversation idea? What is the urgency to get it done during their term -- during election season? And has anyone seen the governance paper by Bob Jean? Also, will you be attending the County's CAO workshops?

I will leave you with some gallows humor jokes going around these islands regarding the Friends, especially after their B&B permit meddling came to light.
Question:  Why did the Friend cross the road?
Answer :   To take a photo of your property.
Question:  How many Friends does it take to screw in a lightbulb?
Answer:   They don't screw in lightbulbs, they screw you at the Hearing Examiner.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Think Globally, Ruin Lives Locally

From the last few posts, I hope readers are seeing how the Network conducts business. The Network follows a particular formula:

  1. General, and often legitimate, global fears about the environment are played up to justify passage of restrictive land use laws on the local level. Sometimes hysteria about minuscule de minimis local issues (e.g., pyrethrins) is mixed in, using extremely questionable local data. The "solution" proposed is always a planning/land use restriction, not another kind of solution.
  2. The advocated local planning laws fail to quantify site-specific contributions to the purported problem but nevertheless impose site-specific property restrictions that address alleged "environmental impacts."
  3. The site-specific property restrictions trap innocent people in non-conforming and related convoluted circumstances, regardless whether there is any actual harm to the environment.
  4. The Friends/Network legally intervene on individual cases to insist on enforcement of the law, relying on judicial policy and bullying tactics to crush people's lives even when there is no environmental impact.
  5. Despite stopping activities with no impact, the Friends/Network take credit for fighting big issues (e.g., ecosystem health), and they parlay their work into more grants, more awards, more connections, more power and influence, and more participation in multiple areas of government. Their actual role in pointlessly crushing people's lives never gets any air time. They never stop fighting for more restrictions and "protections."
  6. Anyone who objects to the Friends/Network's tactics is subject to cruel retaliation and backlash for being some sort of anti-environmental demon.

Needless to say, our system is broken. It is environmentally pointless, and toxic for our community. It often prevents good environmental outcomes. The CAOs, for example, effectively ban permaculture and probably make everyone practicing permaculture here an outlaw.

You can see which candidates are part of the Network. All you have to do is look at their donor lists. Look at their campaign committees and their endorsements. All you have to do is listen to their statements. All you have to do is observe which of their supporters talk about "the world around us" issues like global warming or emphasize connections to Olympia and elsewhere. Whether they cop to it or not, those candidates are participants in a system that advocates "thinking globally and ruining lives locally."

We referred to the Network in earlier posts as "Iceberg Government." We could just as easily think of it in other terms. Did we just see a fin above the water? Was that? ... no ... I must be seeing things. Let me just sit beside this rock and gather my wits.

Most of the Network and its self-serving motives are hidden, but who you choose for elected office may determine whether we get finished off.

Just one little push -- just one more election.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

That Oughta Fix That Global Warming Thing

When you try to obtain County permission for a little project, you hit the tripwire that inevitably and unwittingly slams you headlong into the Network. The Network that was ostensibly built to combat global warming, to fight against agrochemical pollution, to save salmon, protect whales, house people sustainably and affordably, and stop coal shipments directs its know-it-all suspicions towards hapless you. Of course, if you can pay "donations" to have the Network ignore you, then your mega-dock or super-house might not attract a whiff of concern, but if you're just John Q. Public trying to do something more normal, you're in a spot of bother.

It doesn't matter what your project actually does to the environment, if anything. If it suits them, the grant-fed, self-interested Network backed by the credulity of superficially-thinking believers will shake you down and treat you as a likely environmental criminal no matter what you're doing. After all, there is money to be made in stopping environmental menaces like you, and someone in the Network might actually win an award for stopping you too. You are a surrogate for all the environmental ills of the world; as big a potential threat to life on earth as global warming itself. Well, at least that's how the Network can write it up in the next grant application.

So a Network that claims to be saving the planet actually ends up hassling elderly B&B owners (see email below), shellfish farmers, a small business owner who wants to store kayaks in his own barn, and a simple guy who only wants to grow some organic blueberries for his environmentally friendly restaurant. The rich are able to buy their way out of scrutiny; affordable housing proliferates; and the middle class disappears -- the people who usually start businesses and raise families and pay taxes.

The Network does everything it can to prohibit people from working at home and using their land, and then it tries to "solve" the self-inflicted economic crisis by promoting activities that it controls, like eco-tourism and further grant-funded government-sponsored activities. It rails against development, and then promotes development that it runs.

Most of all, the Network tries to get the right people in office ... both elected office and on the Committees ... because the health and well being of the Network depends on who "they" have in office to pull strings. They need enablers. They need government money and complicity. Will the people who vote for a living beat out the people who work for a living?

So far, I think, "they" are winning, especially when you consider rulings like the one described in the B&B email below. Paraphrasing the email below, if "no guarantee of no future impacts" is the new impossible-to-pass litmus test for whether we can do anything anymore, then we're all doomed. It provides the justification for the Friends and the rest of the Network to stop everything. Looking at the Hearing Examiner papers, you can get a sense of the grand Friends/Network strategy for us all. The trick is to maneuver everyone into a potential nonconforming situation, then target us whether there is an impact or not. In the B&B case, the use was denied not because of impacts (there aren't any), but just because nonconforming uses must be phased out because of judicial policy.

Read the email below by clicking on the image. Since it isn't a public records email, I have redacted the personal information. The email is just another disturbing, meddling, pointless injustice perpetrated by the Friends. Aren't you glad the Friends intervened to stop a kindly 82-year old woman from selling her two-room B&B so she could finally retire? That oughta stop the whole global warming thing right in its tracks, don't you think? Well done Network. Well done Friends.

Click to enlarge. Friends intervene to crush B&B owner.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

All Things Being Equal

One of the commenters to the last post said that we have organizations in this county that look like separate entities A, B, C, and D; but when you look at them more closely, you realize that A=B=C=D=County.

How true.

Over the last few posts, we've been examining the PSP ECONet, which is the same as the Stewardship Network, which we now know receives its funding via the Madrona Institute as of last April.  According to the website of the Madrona Institute:

Program managers at the Madrona Institute include:
Karrie Cooper, Program Manager & Network Coordinator, Stewardship Network of the San Juans, joined the Madrona Institute April 1, 2012, to coordinate the operations and projects of the Madrona Institute-sponsored Stewardship Network of the San Juans.   The Stewardship Network  is a coalition of public and private conservation organizations in the San Juan Islands whose mission is to promote a stewardship ethic in the San Juan Archipelago from land to sea. [Additional biographical info on Karrie Cooper forthcoming.]

The point of our tale is that we have a Network that consists of the County and its most influential committees, the Friends and Kwiaht, the Tourist Boards, various parks and the Conservation District. The people who comprise the Network turn up time and again in all sorts of places from the Planning Commission to political campaigns. For example, consider just Linda Lyshall -- she is a County employee who serves as the coordinator for the MRC. As an MRC member, she's part of the Stewardship Network. She's listed as being on the Advisory Council of the Madrona Institute. She's the Curriculum Committee Chair of Leadership San Juans. In the past, she's also been an employee of the PSP involved with the AAOG/LIO.

The management arm of the Stewardship Network is the Madrona Institute. Its education arm is Leadership San Juans. Its funding arm (or one of its funding arms) is the PSP's ECONet. Its political arm is our local Democratic Party (more on this in a moment). Its economic development arm consists of the parks and Tourist Boards. Its housing arm consists of the various Housing/Land Trusts. The Networkers give awards to one another through various programs such as the Good Steward Awards. And most of our local news outlets, being deeply superficial, never report on the dizzying inter-connections, and so might as well be the Network's Pravda.

If you let it, the Network will tell you how to think (ECONet), educate you (Leadership San Juans), promote a certain type of economy for you (eco-tourism), house you (land/housing trusts), and tell you how to vote. It's a one-stop shop for everything in life, and if you want a job involving "coordination" and "facilitation," you're probably in luck there too. That's why it's so important for the Network to get the right people in power who will keep the grant-based economy flowing. That's why the Network shows up heavily in the campaigns of Byers, Stephens, and Pratt.

Honestly, in all this, I feel as sorry for Democrats as I do for environmentalists. I feel "environmentalism" has been stolen from real environmentalists, and environmentalist issues are simply used now as bait to get a grant and push a planning-based agenda for every facet of life -- because, as we seem to be often told, we need a vast planning infrastructure to ensure positive outcomes. Ugh!! In the same way, I feel planning and coordination Ubercrats have taken over the local Democratic Party, and the Party label is serving the self-interests of the Network leaders. I know many Democrats who feel alienated from the behavior of their local Party leaders.


From: Nancy DeVaux []
Sent: Tuesday, April 17, 2012 11:46 AM
Subject: membership in the Network

The San Juan Community Home Trust is interested in joining the Stewardship Network. We wondered how we might be able to become a  partner organizations.
We are proud of our efforts to create permanently affordable housing using Low Impact Development and Green Building techniques. One of our major goals is to become the first residential neighborhood in the State of Washington to use reclaimed (treated) wastewater, from our innovative “Living Machine” on-site sewer system,  in toilets and for landscape irrigation.

We’re interested in focusing on this at the County Fair, possibly  in the Stewardship Network area, possibly with the other Community Land Trusts on Orcas and Lopez, that also focus on sustainable development. What would the process for this be?
Thanks for your assistance!

Nancy DeVaux
Executive Director
San Juan Community Home Trust
P.O. Box 2603
Friday Harbor, WA 98250
Phone: (360)378-5541
Fax: (360) 378-3742

A Modest 5%-to-10% Proposal

We've been talking about the San Juan County ECONet and the Stewardship Network -- two names for the same thing, like aubergine and eggplant. Actually, you can think of the Stewardship Network as the main entity, and ECONet as sort of like its PSP funding arm.

But how does PSP ECONet funding actually reach the Stewardship Network. After all, the Stewardship Network doesn't truly exist as a legal entity. It's not a 501(c)(3). It's just a group of groups, albeit with a website and regular meetings, and memberships, and coordinators. Well, it turns out the County was funding the Stewardship Network for a while by dispersing the PSP ECONet funds via a Coordination Contract (see the email below). However, about a year ago, the Stewardship Network sought out a different affiliation. They sought to end their contractual association with the County and become affiliated with a new "fiscal agent," the Madrona Institute.

This would mean that PSP grant money would no longer be passed through the County to the Stewardship Network but would instead flow through the Madrona Institute to the Stewardship Network. Accordingly, a memorandum of understanding was drawn up (see emails and images below) that would memorialize the new relationship between the Madrona Institute and the Stewardship Network/ECONet. For its trouble, the Madrona Institute would earn a "modest" administrative fee of 5-10%.

What is going on here exactly? To be honest, we're not entirely certain, but it doesn't look good. The Madrona Institute was founded and is run by Ron Zee. Ron Zee, as you can see from the emails below, was instrumental in reinvigorating the Stewardship Network. Ron Zee (depending on which website you look at) is also the head of one of our local political parties. That political party decided to endorse three candidates in the upcoming local election: Byers, Stephens, Pratt. All three of those candidates are on the record as being very committed to grants, including the prospect of getting millions more in additional grants for the County.

It looks for all the world like partisan Ron Zee endorsed a voting bloc of candidates likely to support a revenue stream for Madrona-Institute Ron Zee that would earn him a "modest" 5% to 10% off the top of a grant revenue stream that potentially could be very significant. And bear in mind that Zee would be the "fiscal agent" for a Network that would be contractually obligated to put out targeted messages that just happen to be quite favorable to his political and financial position, not to mention favorable to his candidate endorsements. Bear in mind that Zee would be "fiscal agent" for a Network consisting of 24 of the most influential organizations in the islands, including 5 major County entities. And all of it would be done without a whisper of consideration by our Council, which (if things were to work out according to plan) would in short order consist of people Zee endorsed anyway. I am sure the Byers/Pratt/Stephens Council would be happy to keep the boss happy by doing everything they could to bring more grants Ron Zee's ... er, I mean, the County's ... way.

It looks like it could be a very cozy fiscal and political arrangement operating under the rubric of "environmentalism" but seeming to have a lot more going on once you peek under the hood. It's very ugly really. By the way, have a look at the email addresses in the second email below. It includes some key people involved in the campaigns of Pratt and Byers. Stalwarts of the Network.

From: Jeff Hanson []
Sent: Tuesday, January 10, 2012 10:21 AM
Subject: Stewardship Network Update and Meeting Notice

Dear Members of the Stewardship Network of the San Juans,

Our next meeting is Wednesday, January 18, from 12:30 until 2:00 and will be held at the Friends of the San Juans conference room above the National Park office on Mullis Street, Friday Harbor. 
  • Katie Fleming of RE-Sources in Bellingham will present information about upcoming workshops on the "Power Past Coal" efforts to inform people about the potential coal exports through Washington. She will be looking for both advice on holding effective workshops on the islands, and assistance with the effort. 
  • Evaluation Criteria for the Capacity Building Grant projects. The projects proposed in the Capacity Building Grant include the Good Steward Awards, a series of outreach events in May of this year, and upgrading our website and linking it to the myPugetSound website. We will briefly review the project components and then conduct a process to develop evaluation criteria, which must be in place prior to the awarding of the grant. 
  • Practical considerations for the grant projects. One of the decisions is to select the coordinator for these efforts. We have about 80 hours of work in the grant for this. Ron Zee, of the Madrona Institute, has expressed interest in doing this work, but it could be done by another, or a combination of people. We will work toward this decision at the meeting. 

We also have some urgent staffing decisions to consider:
At the December meeting, I let it be known that I will be resigning from the ECONet Coordinator position at the end of January. I am currently discussing the contract with my County supervisors, since the Coordination contract is through the County.  Once the direction is clear, I am hoping the result of those conversations results in a next step that has the Network members  selecting a new Coordinator to finish out the contract from then until June 30. I will notify the Network when the direction is clear. In the meantime, though, please consider how we might move forward. Ron Zee, who was instrumental with rejuvenating the Network in early 2008, has indicated that he would be interested in filling out the contract, but the Network should allow others to express interest and complete a selection process, should the County decision permit that (as I think it will). 

So, plenty to consider. If you cannot attend the meeting and have thoughts on any of the meeting topics, please let me know!

The next e-mail will be a forward of a variety of interesting  information for EcoNet members

I look forward to seeing many of you next week,



Jeff Hanson
EcoNet Coordinator
Stewardship Network of the San Juans
From: Karrie Cooper []
Sent: Tuesday, March 13, 2012 1:37 PM
To: Aileen Murphy; Amanda Azous; Andrea Wieland; Barbara Marrett; Barbara Rosenkotter; Brian Rader; Cindy Hansen; David Loyd; Debbie Ruggles; Doug McCutchen; Ed Hale; Erin Corra; Fiona Norris; Helen Venada; Jana Marks; Janna Nichols; Jeff Hanson; Jenny Atkinson; Jenny Roberts; Jerald Weaver; John Aschoff; Joseph Gaydos; Judy Cumming; Julie Knight; Kari Koski; Kathleen Foley; Katie Fleming; Kristen Cooley; Laura Arnold; Lincoln Bormann; Linda Lyshall; Liz Illg; Marilyn OConner; Mike Kaill; Noreen Ignelzi; Patos Light Keepers; Phil Green; Richard Lee; Robin Jacobsen; Ron Zee; Russel Barsh; Scott Williamson; Shann Weston; Shireene Hale; Shona Aitken; Soundwatch; Stephanie Buffum; Susan Key; Ted Schlund; Tina Whitman; Tom Cowan; Mindy Kayl
Subject: March 21 Agenda Stewardship Network - ECO Net

Dear Stewardship Network Members,

Our upcoming March 21st meeting we will be welcoming Tom Reeves to inform us on the proposed San Juan Islands National Conservation Area.  Attached you will find a draft letter of support to Salazar that we will discuss following his presentation. 

Also, please note the MOU from Ron Zee which details the cooperative relationship and operations between the Madrona Institute and the Stewardship Network. This item requires action in our upcoming meeting, so please review carefully. 

We will continue to begin our meetings with breif updates from everyone.  In order to make this time effective and efficient, please come prepared with a couple of priority items to share.  Also, if you are willing to write down and hand in your updates, I can easily add them into our meeting notes. 

Thanks for all you do!

Karrie D. Cooper
Stewardship Network of the San Juan Islands
 - ECO Net Coordinator
812-322-0453 work cell
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Spreading Like Wildfire

In the last post, we introduced readers to the local PSP ECONet, which is the PSP appellation for one of our local organizations more commonly known as the Stewardship Network. The Stewardship Network is an organization of organizations.

Who belongs to the Stewardship Network? Their webpage currently lists 24 member organizations. Curiously, included among those 24 members are 5 separate County entities: the Agricultural Resources Committee, Land Bank, Marine Resource Committee, San Juan County Noxious Weed Board, and San Juan County Lead Entity Program for Salmon  Recovery.  Not only that, but the Steering Committee of the Stewardship Network consists of Lincoln Bormann of the Land Bank, Linda Lyshall of the Marine Resources Committee, Stephanie Buffum of the Friends, Ron Zee of the Madrona Institute (more on that in later posts), and Kathleen Foley of the San Juan Preservation Trust. In fact, until recently, Lincoln Bormann of the Land Bank and Stephanie Buffum of the Friends were identified as the Co-Chairs of the Stewardship Network Steering Committee.

How is it that so many County organizations are involved in the Stewardship Network? How is it that County personnel are "steering" the Stewardship Network (Bormann, Lyshall) jointly with the Friends when there isn't any Council input or approval related to their participation. I don't even understand how the County can be represented by five separate entities in one Network? Even if the County were to participate, wouldn't we want just one person/group representing us?

We saw in the last post how the ECONet/Stewardship Network received money from Puget Sound Partnership (PSP) "Targeted Awareness Grants" to spread very specific PSP-formulated messages. Knowing that and seeing the Stewardship Network's membership list, we have to conclude that the County member entities must have been in on it too. Furthermore, below is another email discussing yet another grant related to communication, this time focused on "social marketing behavior change." From other documentation we have, this second grant seems to have focused on spreading two of the perennially favorite talking-points of the Friends, namely reducing pesticide use (remember Janet Alderton's pyrethrin obsession?) and increasing native vegetation.

Now, these topics may or may not have individual merit, but even if they do, we all know how twisted even meritorious topics can become when in the hands of the Friends.  But of greater concern is how we can have multiple County entities involved in a naked advocacy Network that promotes the favorite talking points of the Friends with PSP grant funding for "targeted awareness" and "behavior change"? How does that happen?

And rather than just promoting certain messaging, the Network isn't shy about trying to quash messaging that they don't agree with either. For example, at several times in the past, the Trojan Heron has noted that "civility" has been used in attempts to silence we critics who want reform of the County's environmental approaches. Of particular note, back in April 2012, there seemed to be a coordinated effort by multiple members of the Friends and County sympathizers to use a meme of civility to pressure CAO critics to shut up. Now we find a possible explanation in the March 2012 minutes of the Stewardship Network where it is noted that the Friends introduced the following item for discussion (emphasis added):
Friends of the San Juans: Need to address as a Network the anti-environmental messaging that is spreading like wild-fire in our community. “Environmentalism is killing property values”. “There’s a strategic wide-spread land grab occurring in SJC by environmental organizations”. As a Network we need to strategize our messaging that Nature is our Economy. Consider a communications forum on civility in the face of aggressive confrontation.
And based on the latest civility admonitions by Kit Rawson, not to mention some of the economic talking-points of some current candidates, it would seem that the Network is still working this agenda item.

From: Karrie Cooper []
Sent: Tuesday, September 18, 2012 2:10 PM
To: Judy Cumming; Shann Weston; Erin Corra; Barbara Marrett; Barbara Rosenkotter; Linda Lyshall
Subject: Upcoming Social Marketing Grant

Hi all, I just spoke with Kristen Cooley about the upcoming grant to design and implement a social marketing behavior change project

We should be getting official notification in the next two weeks.  With approximately 6 weeks to submit.  The project lead needs to have participated in Nancy Lee's training, hence me sending this to you all.

The process will involve submitting a letter of intent outlining the proposed project (2 letters may be submitted per ECO Net). Then, if choosen, a full proposal will be requested.

The grant will involve going throught the 10 Steps of a Social Marketing campaign.  The behavior, audience and focus will need to be directly connected to addressing an area of the Action Agenda, regional and/or local. 

The amount will range from $20,000 to $40,000 with a 20% match and 2 years to implement.

We need to put on our thinking caps for what we might want to do with this grant opportunity. Please let me know of your interest and ideas. 

Thanks Much!


Karrie D. Cooper, Coordinator
Stewardship Network of the San Juans

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Are You Aware That Your Awareness Has Been Targeted?

Some stories of government-gone-wild in these islands are hard to explain because the layers of bureaucracy and incestuous connection (in a bureaucratic sense) are so tediously complicated. To that point, over the next few postings, we will try to reveal some bite-size chunks of the bizarreness associated with something called the Stewardship Network.

For a starting point about the Stewardship Network, let's first take a look at the San Juan County ECONet. ECONet stands for the Education, Communication, and Outreach Network. It's part of the Puget Sound Partnership (PSP). San Juan County has its own local ECONet, and every local ECONet (there are 12 of them) has a local coordinator funded by a grant from the PSP.

The San Juan County ECONet used to be headed by Jeff Hanson (email below), and it is now headed by Karrie Cooper. Hanson is the former Outreach Coordinator for the Marine Resources Committee (MRC), and Karrie Cooper has been associated with the Kayak Education and Leadership Program (KELP). You with me so far?

As mentioned, the ECONet gets grant money from the PSP and elsewhere. Grant money to the ECONet supports the Good Steward Awards, Sustainable San Juans events, and the website for the Stewardship Network. When you are looking at those entities/activities, you are looking at three different facets of the same organization: the San Juan County ECONet. Anyone can belong to the ECONet, as long as they buy into ECONet mission (some would say "agenda"). For example, the Friends proudly boast they are part of the San Juan County ECONet steering committee (it's listed on their "Accomplishments" webpage), and ECONet meetings are sometimes held at the Friends' offices.

During the CAO/SMP process, many of us have become frustrated at times because the Friends and their friends seem to say that our waters are in trouble regardless what the local data might say. Some of us have wondered aloud whether the Friends are getting paid to say that no matter what.

It turns out that may be exactly what has been going on. Through a program called "Targeted Awareness Grants" (TAGs), money is being given to the local ECONets to promote the view that Puget Sound is in trouble. It's easy money. All the grant awardees have to do is commit to spread the pre-arranged message of gloom about Puget Sound. Below is an email from the ECONet Coordinator about the TAG program. Below that is an image of a page from the TAG guidelines that explains the messaging required of grant recipients. The San Juan County ECONet applied for $40,000.

From: Jeff Hanson []
Sent: Monday, June 20, 2011 5:19 PM
Subject: Next Stewardship Network Meeting WEDS 22nd @ Noon
Dear Members of the Stewardship Network of the San Juans,

Our next meeting is THIS WEDNESDAY JUNE 22 from Noon until 2:00 at the Friends of the San Juans conference room. 
Our main topic will be our Targeted Awareness Grant Application. Stephanie and Shannon from the Friends will have this in a near-final form for us to review and make comments for final revisions before it is submitted on June 27.  
We'll also touch base on the initial Farmers Markets visits and review the schedule for the summer, and continue work for the County Fair Green Village. 
I will re-orient us to the My Puget Sound Website and ask for any feedback you'd like me to carry to the next EcoNet Coordinators Meeting in Seattle on July 12. 

I look forward to seeing you on Wednesday.


Jeff Hanson
San Juan ECONet Coordinator

Click to enlarge - LOI stands for "Letter of Intent" (i.e., each grant recipient)

Monday, January 14, 2013

Question Time Should Be All The Time

The latest comments regarding the civility (or lack thereof) of the Trojan Heron in Kit Rawson's post cause me to reflect, once again, on the Trojan Heron's perspective on the matter.

The photo and inscription below is that of Stephen Fry, who is the Fry part of the famous British comedy team of Fry and Laurie. Fry's former comedy partner, Hugh Laurie, has since become better known as the character of Dr. Gregory House of the hit TV series House, which is the most successful TV program in the world.

Stephen Fry is a Cambridge-educated supporter of the Labour Party. He's vice president of an environmental group called Fauna and Flora, International. He's a gay man, an atheist, a comedian, an actor, and intellectual ... and I couldn't agree more with his view of civility. But then again, the Trojan Heron has often cited the Brits, especially their conduct in Parliament, as a model of brutally frank talk that I wish we could emulate here. Thatcher's last Question Time, for example, is a masterpiece of blunt political talk from both sides, with incriminations, recriminations, retorts, humour (notice I wrote that with an accent) ... and stirring, raucous dialogue all around.

By comparison, we sit here with a going-to-hell-in-a-handbasket bumper crop of vapid ungovernable quangos and think it polite to put up with the whole mess.  How in the name of George Washington did we become more timid than the Brits?

Having said that, and before moving on to a description of the Stewardship Network in the next post, have a look at the MRC's Annual Report from 2010. How many citizen committees put out an Annual Report? How many claim responsibility for nearly $1.3 million in grants? The report says that the grants support jobs and the economy of the County, but we'd be curious to know who exactly benefits? Did the Council approve all these grants, or were they the result of the MRC establishing financial and policy obligations for the County of their own accord? I can't find any Council resolutions regarding the grants, but maybe I just missed them. Is the MRC working on any grants currently that the Council doesn't know about?

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Rawson's Response To Our Recent MRC Posting

A couple of days ago, we put up a post regarding the MRC, including an email from a constituent to the Council asking some questions about the activities of the MRC. Kit Rawson of the MRC felt the post was inaccurate, so we said we'd let him post a response to set the record straight from his perspective.

Below is Rawson's response.

Thanks for the opportunity to correct/amplify on a few statements made in the January 10 posting regarding the MRC.  My interest right here is to correct the facts, not debate the issues.  There certainly are issues to debate, but I think that debate is most constructively carried out on a factual basis.  By way of background, I have been a member of the San Juan MRC since 2001 and have been employed by the Tulalip Tribes since 1986.  I am stepping down from the MRC when my current term ends at the end of February of this year, and I am retiring from my job at Tulalip in early March.  My wife and I have owned property on San Juan Island since 1982, and we built a cabin there between 1987 and 1990, which we use throughout the year.  Our principal residence is in Mount Vernon. 

I was chair of the MRC from 2005-2010, but I am only a member now.  I offer these comments on my own behalf and am not speaking for the MRC or anyone else on the MRC.

The original posting stated “.. the MRC has been corresponding with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) about closures on the west side …”.  This was corrected to state the correct topic of the correspondence after I let the Trojan Heron know of the error, and the posting has been edited.  Thank you. I provide a little more information on this below:

The recent communication with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife was regarding new information on the timing of juvenile salmon presence in the San Juan Islands.  Currently they base decisions on regulating the timing of in-water work to protect salmon on information from mainland areas near river mouths that does not apply to the San Juan Islands.  So we sent the new information from the San Juan Islands to WDFW.  This was a follow up to discussions with WDFW over the past several years.  The original salmon recovery chapter for the San Juan Islands pointed out that protection of juvenile salmon in this area could be greatly improved by the application of local data to the problem.   The letter we sent was merely communicating the latest local data to them and asking them to meet with the MRC in a public meeting to discuss the information.  Our data also includes detailed information on the location of juvenile salmon as well as their timing.  Work windows do not have to be “one size fits all” but rather could be based on location, timing, and even year-to-year variability in fish presence.  They are also based on a consideration of the safety of workers and the protection of materials and other factors. Our goal was to convene a discussion of local data and local concerns with this state agency. 

A San Juan County council member who graciously volunteered to serve as pro tem liaison to the MRC was present during the MRC’s discussions of this letter.  This member did not express agreement or disagreement with the letter, nor of our sending it, but the member was aware of the letter and of the discussion we had on it.  The MRC was following up on a longer term discussion with WDFW and acting in good faith.  The MRC’s intent was not to presume to speak for San Juan County or anyone else in a matter of policy but rather to be sure that WDFW had the most recent local data on this topic, which they had asked for previously and been expecting.   In fact, I and others asked for the letter to be edited so that it was clear that is wasn’t asking for a specific policy but rather only for a discussion.  It was the edited version that was adopted by the MRC.

An email quoted in the posting states “…is it true that one of the tribes paid for the MRC coordinator’s salary for 6 months … .”  No, it is not true.    The Tulalip Tribes provided $15,000 in 2011 or 2012 (I can’t remember which) to help seed the fund for projects to implement the San Juan Islands action agenda, which is part of the Puget Sound Partnership’s action agenda.  The local agenda was developed locally and represents local needs and concerns.  The $15,000 went into a fund that was divvyed up into three or four small projects, carried out by locally-based project proponents, to implement the local action agenda.  All of this information is publically available, and I and others can help find more information if requested to do so.  The funds came from funds that the tribal casino designates for community projects and was awarded based on a request to the committee that awards these funds to community groups following normal procedures for such requests.  This was a one-time donation to help get the local program going under the Puget Sound Partnership.

It is important for people to have correct information about the background of issues they are concerned with.  It is a matter of common courtesy to first ask the subject of the discussion about a factual matter.  So it would have been appropriate here to ask someone in the MRC office, or the MRC chair, or an MRC member, or the council member who is attending MRC meetings about recent correspondence of the MRC.  Or MRC minutes could be consulted, either online or as requested from the MRC office.  In this case, the TH did correct the posting after getting a correction from me, after checking up on it, I would guess.  That is great, but it would have been better if the facts were correct from the beginning, which I don’t think would have been very hard to do.  Similarly, it would be courteous and respectful to ask the someone in the county, or the local integrating organization coordinator, or someone from one of the tribes, about a supposed source of funds for work that is being coordinated through the county.  Of course it is always appropriate, and sometimes wise, to check these facts.  But good relationships are fostered by observation of the rules of common courtesy in my opinion and in my experience.

In my opinion, the points I read in the TH about whether or not it is wise for San Juan County to accept grants, what the rules of operation for the MRC and other advisory bodies should be, whether or not the county should participate in the Puget Sound Partnership, and others are all worthy of discussion.  But, if the discussion starts with distortions and attacks, the response will most likely be to defend against the distortions and attacks rather than to debate the issues. 

Saturday, January 12, 2013

San Juan County's Lil Wayne

The lawsuit against the County for holding secret meetings about the Critical Areas Ordinances (CAOs) is at the deposition stage. Thus far, the three Council members who allegedly took part in the secret meetings have been deposed. Depositions have been taken from Lovel Pratt, Richard Fralick, and Patty Miller in that order. Shireene Hale is scheduled for deposition this coming Thursday.

The transcripts for the depositions will be available shortly, and we will post them. However, so as not to interfere with the discovery process, the Trojan Heron won't be releasing any details until after Shireene Hale has been deposed at the earliest. If further depositions are subsequently scheduled, we may reconsider our timing, but our hope is to share the transcripts sooner rather than later.

Once you see the transcripts, you'll be able to answer the riddle of who in the County most resembles Lil Wayne. Based on the evidence gathered so far, the case against the County seems to have substantial merit and is growing stronger.

Lawsuits cost money. The Citizens Alliance for Property Rights (CAPR) is the organization that brought the suit, and yesterday, they put out a press release which included a request for help in funding the lawsuit.

Below is the CAPR press release, and if you are interested in getting to the bottom of the secret meetings and their affect on the CAO process, please consider a donation.

Citizen’s Alliance for Property Rights,
San Juan Chapter, (CAPR) Lawsuit Update
On October 12, 2012 a lawsuit was filed against San Juan County for violations of Washington State’s Open Public Meetings Act (“OPMA”). The complaint alleges that “Individual Council members participated in three-person subcommittee meetings,” and they knew, or should have known, “that their actions were in violation of the OPMA.” Dennis Reynolds of the DDR Law firm is representing CAPR in this legal action.

The CAO/SMP Implementation Team or Committee included Council Members Lovel Pratt, Richard Fralick, and Patty Miller. The “Team” also included Jon Cain of the Prosecuting Attorney’s office, planning staff, various consultants, DOE, and the County Administrator. During the 25 or more meetings of the Implementation Team, “ideas and policies are brought forward, discussed, narrowed and discarded and approaches are formulated.” (Gaylord memo 4/25/12).  Decisions were made and action was taken.

Even though it was listed as part of the official CAO “public process,” the public was not allowed to attend these meetings. There was no public notice and no minutes were taken. The 3 Committee members reported back to the full Council with their recommendations.
The schedule to pass this CAO legislation before year’s end was hurried along by the Committee before two of their members left office (Lovel Pratt and Richard Fralick). The 3 Committee members Lovel Pratt, Richard Fralick, and Patty Miller, voted as a block for final passage of the five CAO Elements. (3 Council members can’t pass legislation, but in a body of 6 they can stop anything from passing with a tie vote).

CAPR believes that open and transparent government is the right of every citizen. We should not have to go to court to enforce it. Although the actions of the Council were not consistent with the law, it explains why public testimony was ignored, science was rejected, and people were only allowed limited time to speak before they were rudely cut off. The decisions had already been made in the backroom with staff and consultants calling the shots. In this case the people were treated disrespectfully and their concerns dismissed.

Eighty-five percent of the voters in San Juan County voted in favor of transparent government in the last election. It was so important that we added strict language to our Home Rule Charter to eliminate any confusion. It shouldn’t matter if the subject is the budget, solid waste, or the CAO, the County Council should not be allowed to ban the public and the press while discussing policy decisions in secret subcommittees. Transparency in government and fairness in the deliberation of ideas and policies is the goal of this lawsuit. We hope you will support our efforts. 

Donations to the San Juan CAPR legal fund can be sent to P.O. Box 1866, Friday Harbor, WA.