Monday, March 4, 2013

Byers Response to Carlson

Mike Carlson wrote an open letter to Lisa Byers with several questions. You can find the letter here. Earlier today, Byers answered.

Before we analyze the response, have a look at the letter in its entirety without editorial comment (but we'd be interested in your comments).

You covered a lot of ground in your letter.  I will do my best to address this complex topic in a concise manner. 

I believe that government has a limited, but important role to play in society. Government is not the answer for resolving many of society’s needs. Many needs are best addressed through volunteer efforts, or by for-profit or non-profit businesses. But when government does provide services, it should do so efficiently and effectively.

When we, as a community, grapple with an issue, I believe that government is well suited for convening people, setting common goals, and then developing incentives to implement solutions. I believe that some of our best innovations have come about through thoughtful collaboration between government and individuals working through for-profit and non-profit businesses.

When we choose to adopt regulations, they should be designed so that businesses that follow the rules may thrive, and property owners may have flexibility in how they use their property. One of the challenges of government is that regulations stay on the books after they are no longer useful, thus becoming an impediment. We must be diligent about pruning out old rules that no longer serve us.

It is very important to me that government officials recognize that uncertainty has a significant detrimental effect on business and residential development.  The length of time that it took this county to get through the required update to the Critical Areas Ordinance is a case in point. Nine years is too long. The uncertainty had very real economic costs.

You say that you have made a living in the islands without government help. I have a feeling that you don’t mean that in the literal sense. You travel on roads and ferries. You know kids or have kids who have gone to school and gotten an education. You’ve probably used maps and weather forecasts. You’ve had a clinic or hospital to help you through an illness or accident. Put simply, at some point, you’ve been helped by your neighbors. And government is, at its most simple, one of the ways that we come together to make our society function.

I know what it is like to work hard, save money, and buy property. I know how scary it can be to think that you won’t be able to provide for your kids. I know how difficult it is when you’ve been running your business successfully, but then the rules change and you have to change in order to survive, let alone thrive. You wrote in your letter that you thought my response to an issue was cavalier. I’m sorry you got that impression. I think that people who work with me would tell you that is not their experience of me. I think they would say that I am thoughtful and balanced. I hope that you will give me the opportunity to re-shape that perception.

Like you, my work has involved hiring people and worrying about making payroll. I have taken risks in order to keep people employed, because I know that without a job they would suffer, and they might move away. We need good jobs, with good wages in our community so that people may thrive.  I think our economy in San Juan County is transitioning.  We will continue to rely on construction and tourism, while at the same time there are more people employed here who are exporting their ideas and creativity.  They are writers, artists, scientists, educators, consultants, and more. This is a place where people come to relax, to learn, and to be inspired. The more we can capitalize on that—by continuing to value this unique environment—the more our economy will thrive.

I believe that we do need regulations to protect our environment. That is a consequence of having more people. I believe that the Critical Areas Ordinance (CAO) passed by the county council last December was a valid attempt, within the requirements of existing state law, to find a way to allow property owners as much flexibility as possible. However, it is important with any regulation that we understand how it works in real life. We need to gather case studies of on-the-ground experience, and then make changes to improve the application and predictability of regulations. Within the context of state law, we should strive to make regulations as clear, consistent and as flexible as possible. If state law makes that impossible, we should work together to change state law.

Finally, I believe that my work experience makes me very well suited to be a county council member. I have worked with others to build housing for almost 5% of Orcas Island’s year-round population. The construction of that housing created jobs, and the finished product—the houses—provide a home for many people who work at jobs we depend upon on a daily basis.

Through collaboration, hard work and innovation, I have led an organization, using a using a mix of private and public financing, to do something that many thought was not possible. I hope I am able to bring those same skills of hard work and collaborative problem solving to the county council.


  1. My comment is that if she gets elected, we can expect four years of this sort of talk.

    At least it will provide fodder for word bingo and drinking games. Count how many times "thrive" or "collaborate" are used, for instance.

    Get used to it. You're gonna be hearing it if you don't watch out, as if she got paid by the bingo word. "One of the challenging perceptions to an environment of thriving collaboration is an economy which plays a part, but is not exclusively, the values of our community to reduce the fear and uncertainty of thriving community civility."

    Where do they teach people to talk like that?

  2. They teach them that in business... That is what I would expect of an executive.

    I'd say the response was actually pretty on-topic. Lisa is an intelligent person, and anyone who expected her to fire back with "carlson's and idiot!" does not understand how serious she is about winning this thing.

    She did a good job of acknowledging that the CAO is flawed and I'd say you saw your first glimpse of her distancing herself from Pratt, by saying that the CAO took too long, was poorly done.... That's a direct hit to deflect the issue to the previous council. I suspect that this response was timed to corespond with Brian's comments about the CAO as there are even common words. Brian is smart enough to know that he needs to drag in some support and he'd rather be more linked to Byers than to the ever-more-toxic Pratt.

    My opinion- The Pratt Campaign is dieing on the vine and the Byers campaign is now making their split. I can see a good chance of a McClerren/Jarman/Byers council with the biggest issue being who sticks their foot in their mouth first!

  3. Elizabeth WarrenMarch 4, 2013 at 2:03 PM

    Lisa seems to be channeling Obama when she tells hard-working Mike: "If you've got a business—you didn't build that!"

    1. @ 2:03

      It is crappy quotes like this that destroy the argument. You only lend credence to the other sides argument when you extort context to this degree.

      Stick to the facts or at least state your opinion, but don't load the enemies gun for them- it ends up getting us all shot at!

  4. While distancing from Pratt almost seems a strategic necessity the problem for Byers is that she is joined at the hip.

    Pratt is a tar baby. What will come out is the rather wide and deep, interlocking network of donors and campaign contributors common to both.

    The Machine is what it looks it.

    One could called "Puget Sound Patronage" or PSP for short.

    Lisa knows exactly what she is involved with and is a willing participant. She and Lovel are stuck together like Siamese Twins.

    And to Jamie Stevens for that matter.

    At end of the day vote for the Machine or don't. It is not a hard choice but a very important one.

  5. @ 11:42 & 2:03 Are you both ESL? " didn't build that.."? Really? Do you recall what "that" was referring to in that statement, or do you just repeat anything Faux edits for you? Do you understand how sentence structure works? Are you just trolls? Yikes...

  6. ESL ... English as a Second Language?

    I have a hard time with acronym soup but committee folks with the MRC, ABC, EDC, ARC, XYZ, LIO, AAOG and all the rest seem able to dream in abbreviations being half asleep most of the time.

    Ah, the simplicity of an abbreviated life.

  7. Some preliminary responses to Lisa's overall reaction to Carlson's open letter:

    Lisa: "Critical Areas Ordinance is a case in point. Nine years is too long. The uncertainty had very real economic costs."

    Response: Nine years should teach us Albert Einstein's lesson about doing the same thing over and over again. How does Lisa define certainty in a time of globalisation, economic disruption and climate change? The CAO and SMP and similar rules are cyclic, reviews and updates required periodically, leading to ever stronger regulations, which as Lisa notes tend to stay on books with adverse cumulative effect. And after this CAO was finally passed in December with assurances of certainty within grasp what certainty have we gained since? The certainty of protracted lawsuits?

    Lisa: "I have a feeling that you don’t mean that in the literal sense."

    Response: Let's please not have a non-debate about American belief in the social contract. We are the United States. No is arguing about the social contract we agree to pay for as the price of civilization. The social contract is not socialism/communitarianis as we tend to view the latter term(s) negatively and former much more positively. However we will always debate about budget and policy priorities. No one is out to throw grandma under the bus. And we all enjoy the benefits of social programs and public infrastructure. This is actually not what this election is about. Please move on to relevant local issues.

    Lisa: "That is a consequence of having more people. "

    Response: The population grew by barely a thousand in the past decade.

  8. Some simple observations

    County current population ~15,300
    Estimated 10 year growth rate ~1.4%/year
    average household size 1.94persons/household
    Estimated population in 2023 17,582
    Increase in population 2,282
    Increase in households 1,176

    How many empty parcels in the county?
    Does building 118 new houses per year constitute an ecological disaster or push the limits of sustainability?

  9. "...They are writers, artists, scientists, educators, consultants, and more. This is a place where people come to relax, to learn, and to be inspired."
    did she just describe Nantucket? I thought this was what we were trying to avoid!

  10. OMG, I was just going to post the Drinking Game phrases!

  11. Actually, I'm pretty sure that Mike C. paid taxes for the roads (gas taxes), for the schools and other services (property taxes), and lots of income tax as well for all the benefits of government. the question is whether we should expand that concept and pay taxes for to build other people's homes, for a transit system on the islands, for spy satellite pictures, or for environmental mitigation.

  12. I've got paint drying on my two signs til March 10th, one legal size, one not, both very descriptive of the candidates named. (Certainly NOT the dull as dog shit stuff on little wires as mine are on 2x4 material and #5 bar set to go into the ground.)

    Can we channel Mario Savio? Can someone with some really BIG machine parts set up a display sign with Pratt/Byers/Stephens pulling the levers on the gears.

    I have no fear of a reverse attack on this simply because there is nothing there, nothing to attack Hughes/McClerren/Jarman with. They are not a machine, and are ridiculously independent. I doubt they even talk to each other and I agree with the comment that Byers will have stand on her head to cut the cord with Pratt.

    All the best to the sign makers efforts to "stop the machine." Savio said something like that I think.

  13. Oh yes. I dunno why @3:13 was picking on the first commenter @11:42 with the ESL reference because Lisa's mode of expression has "drinking game" written all over it. There are so many word choices.

  14. I think Lisa distracts with flowery language. When I read her letter I'm left w/a vague feeling that...maybe other people understand what she's saying better than me? Is everyone confused? She writes in ways that are vague and unclear for me.

    I'm confused by... "I know what it is like to work hard, save money, and buy property. I know how scary it can be to think that you won’t be able to provide for your kids. I know how difficult it is when you’ve been running your business successfully, but then the rules change and you have to change in order to survive, let alone thrive."

    Does that mean she earned the money to buy her property somewhere? On her own? And that she has believed at times she would not be quite able to provide for her family? And that some rules changed and she struggled to adapt? Or does it mean she simply BELIEVES she "knows what it is like"? I don't think I know anything more about her now than I did before her letter.

    She seems to carefully avoid mention of the New Economics Institute. Political suicide to do so?

    During the Grade School Principal drama in FH a year or two ago a member of the school board, David McCauley wrote a letter in response to Mr. Pflueger's (the principal)letter in defense of his position.

    That letter was equally full of air but somehow impressed many people to the point of saying things like "NOW I understand.." But it really said nothing w/a lot of catchwords. I think most people do not read critically. It was very strange.

    Herb Meyer wrote a letter in response to David's letter that was not published in the Journal but made it into the Guardian (:)) I wish he would respond to Lisa Byer's! I'm sure you can find all of those in the archives of the Guardian.

    Just my two bits.

  15. Can someone please get Byers a copy of Strunk & White stat!

  16. I am surprised that no one yet pointed out that Lisa set this letter to post on Monday, with CC #2 scheduled for Orcas/SJI/Lopez this week.

    I find little in her letter that addresses the concerns on Carlson's. Instead it is just another advertisement for Byers for Council.

    I have no qualms with timing press releases for important events, I do have a problem when this type of letter pretends to be something else *like genuine dialogue*.

  17. The letter did not answer Carlson's basic question about land use and ownership.

  18. Appreciate 4:25 & 4:42 Ms. Byers like Pratt and FOSJ always seem to return to a common thread that the County has a population growth causing the need for regulation and a bunch of other stuff.

    Then you see reality. A letter from OPALCO...well they COULD do great new services, BUT where are the people to pay for them; the shops close except during the Summer; the stores generally just scrap by.

    Message to Byers: You are really full of stupid shit, lady!

  19. It's crap like this that keeps the ammunition flowing-

    "you are really full of stupid shit, lady"

    No offense, I get the emotion, but understand that this is a battle of public perception as much as it is about real facts. You start calling people full of shit- and people stop listening.

    I get it, you're angry, but don't be stupid. You're words will come back and take a big bite right out of your ass.

    I have yet to see a major push in the media for Brian? Where's all this Lopez Suport I've heard about?

  20. Preface to this comment - I didn't post the "full of stupid shit lady" comment HOWEVER, with regard to the last commenter ...

    "Don't be stupid", but you use "you're" instead of "your" and "Suport" instead of "support"?

    Cut people a little slack, lest the train will toll for thee too (mixing metaphors badly).

    As for Lopez "support" for Brian, I personally do not care if there is absolutely no visible support for McClerren. If a goat were running against Stephens, or anyone else who voted for the CAOs, that candidate has my vote.

  21. Let us look back for a moment. Every planner with a pulse for the last twenty years has supported intensity of use increase on land that is already developed.

    Makes perfect sense. Don't go out and tear up virgin land when you can accomplish what it is you want on land already developed by mankind.

    Along comes FOSJ with their crazy "double the density" mantra and completely reliable market forces are thrown under the bus along with the most common sense planning ever contemplated.

    What we could have had was second units on developed land supporting and supplying housing at a reasonable cost to working families, and younger family members, while supporting the aging population that had their capital invested in an already paid for infrastructure.

    The result of the FOSJ disruption of market forces and good planning was the evolution of the bold growth of parking working families and anybody who does not have a large income in PROJECTS. Hello Ms. Byers and her righteous I know what to do because I'm smarter than you jerks attitude.

    Oh boy, did this place screw things up. The time to unscrew it is now.

  22. And I quote from the Anonymous post March 1, 2013 at 8:48 AM about Sarah Crosby's letter: "False claims of incivility (in the TH) is just a tool to shut down debate and authentic civic discourse."

    Not to be contradicted by Anonymous on this post (March 4 at 9:21 PM)
    "Message to Byers: You are really full of stupid shit, lady!"

    Got it. Calling someone a "stupid piece of shit" is the height of civility and "authentic discourse."

    You are better than this.

  23. If all this talk of "shit" keeps up, you know what that means? That's right, we're gonna have to start testing for nitrates on the TH webpages, then buffers will be set up around the TH comments. Adamus will be brought in to give his "expert" opinion about all the shit. Next thing you know, Alderton will be claiming there are pyrethrins all over the place too. Shireene will ignore everyone's comments in support of leaving things as they are, and before you know it, the TH will be declared non-conforming.

  24. From what I can tell we probably have an emergent exotic pollution crisis here involving pharmaceuticals passing through Humans who Comment on the Trojan Heron, into the Waters of the State, into Critical Aquifer Recharge Areas and into Proactive Eelgrass Resiliency Zones.

    And I'm talking Xanax, Valium, Prozac, Celexa, and you know its true, we're medicated so heavily we've lost all inhibition, and encouraged by anonymity to speak out what we would never dare say to Boss Zee to his face.


  25. One scatological outburst out of hundreds of comments followed up by finger wagging I-told-you-so. Right.

    The editor of this blog has made a consistent and courteous effort to maintain common standards of discourse and its working.

    We prefer good wits to potty-mouths and don't need scolding from trolls desperate to trash the most dynamic "community conversation" going on around here. Please leave that job to the good Sara Crosby. She deserves another go, hopefully she's learned something.

    No points. Don't pass go.

  26. What bothers me about Lisa's letter is her way of "answering" the questions w/out any clarity.

    "I know what it is like to work hard, save money, and buy property...."

    "..know what it is like.." is very different than ... I have earned every penny toward my little spot of land, house, etc.. I started out w/a creative mortgage because I had no down payment....etc etc...

    As someone who has actually DONE that I think I would have answered more clearly and specifically. I am not convinced she has real first hand experience there. Yet she implies she does.

    Lisa, if you're reading this I'd love to hear your answer in more concise terms.

  27. Alright...I'll try to be good. (But being full of it is not the same as being it, so I really wasn't that far outta line.)

    I'm working on the anger control and I think chopping wood does help & it's cheaper and more productive than those drugs.

  28. Lisa, your response demonstrates the inability of committed leftist to understand how wealth is created, nor where tax dollars are generated.
    Mike Carlson, and every other wealth generating businessman PAID for those roads you speak of, PAID for those schools you speak of, it was NOT OPAL who housed ANYONE, it was Mike Carlson and every other hard working, wealth generating business person who PAID for those eco-hovels, eco-hovels that the average middle-class working family doesn't qualify for. Lisa you epitomize the complete economic ignorance that is so prevalent in our society today; you are fully convinced that taxes are magic funds derived from the endless mythical pool of grant funds, never able to comprehend that all government services are paid for from the public, and in our society, mainly the so-called 1%ers. I dread the damage that will be inflicted upon San Juan County by two east coast silver-spoon trust-fund babies who never had to work for a living, never actually generated wealth, never produced ANYTHING. Amazing to me that two east-coast socialites have a good chance of being elected by this community. SHAME upon all of you considering voting for wealthy, out of touch east-coasters to govern here in Washington state, let alone San Juan County.

  29. A person who will possibly be running this county has a degree in "Self Directed" Can ANYONE tell me what that is? She is a master of being able to direct herself? Could it possibly be that he mom being a long standing Senator has something to do with the college confirming this total BS (not Bachelor of Science)degree?? Yes, I have a BA in SELF DIRECTEDNESS..I studied SO HARD for this, yes HOURS in the library...we are being SNOWJOBBED

  30. @8:53

    Wrong candidate.

  31. Hey @8:37, that is pretty well written.

    Hopefully Mike reads this and responds to Lisa.

    First needs to address the utter failure to acknowledge some of the questions asked about New Economic Policy Institute.

    2nd, link her to the "machine". The national DNC, local branch(Z) does not represent most island democrats. This is straight from the machine playbook "you didn't build that" speech.

    Also, can someone pleeeeeasseee call her out on the "transitioning economy", where people are "exporting" their "ideas and creativity."
    Seriously? Ideas and creativity?? Try burning ideas and creativity to keep your family warm...
    Try making a "ideas and creativity sandwich".

    Utter nonsense. There are the true believers on both sides. We have to reach out to the middle of the roaders, find them wherever they are.

  32. Hey @8:53,

    I think you misread that "diploma".

    Magnify it. Pretty interesting stuff.

    It's hard to cover your tracks when you have walked such a long way...

    The truth will set us all free... someday...

  33. Well I'm not sure about that 8:53, maybe 8:37 is a bit closer to it.

    And what is "it"?

    In my view it is a old fashioned patrician attitude toward the rest of us, plebeians, if you can stand that word. Yeah, I can't either.

    Some will park the working people in projects with no hope to getting a leg on the ladder of economic equality. (There are some excellent, well planned below market housing efforts on the islands and some not.)

    On my Canadian signet ring, long since destroyed by whatever, were the words in Latin: "Work will make you free."

    Working, productive people like Mike Carlson and the people working with him deserve respect; functionaries like Lisa Byers don't.

    I'm trying to think of a sign for Lisa...maybe a flying file cabinet. Unfortunately the wife just gave one to the thrift store. (Maybe I'll buy it back.)

  34. Not sure that signs and posters are going to win this one. The deck is stacked folks. It's uphill. You have to get the message out there in a positive manner.

    Is anyone going to ask Lisa well thought out questions in a public forum??

  35. As the new post says, what else is she going to say, "I am not a communist?"

  36. To @10:18

    I wish this were true. The Network is not playing by the Marquis of Queensbury rules.

    We live in the modern world of asymmetric warfare. Will hit hard, low and fast, and pivot immediately to other fronts. We will confuse and confound this enemy at every opportunity. We will strike, fade back, strike again.

    This election will be won by drawing simple, clear, contrasts that present voters clear choices.

    The Network is not playing nice. The are a corrupt money machine. They are driven by some east coast artiso patricians who do not understand the politics of the west. This is going to be a good fight. We are right. They are wrong.

  37. It's not about right or wrong. Most voters will make their decision not on understanding but instead what they hear in line at the store.

    You can blast, bash, and try to pick apart the intrinsic flaws of the New Economic Istitute all you want, but trust me- the people that were swayed by that were swayed a long time ago. Ok, so now that that 20% is covered, what are you going to do to get the other 32%, because really, that's the only choir you are speaking to.

    This election will come down to 3-4% (and no, I'm not channeling Mitt). It needs to be accepted that there is no plausible way that Bob, Brian, and Rick can all win. It just won't happen. So the question is- who is the easiest to strike winning hits against.

    My top priority would be to hit Lovel hardest. She's the easiest target because of her past record and she is part of the CAO mess. Bobs win is less about "Bob" and more about being a change from Lovel.

    My second target would be to kill em with an appeal to the working class for Brian. Hard working, young guy, family, not jaded by the government machine. Perhaps not the most qualified- but hey- at least his home doesn't violate every shoreline reg in the books! Brian's win is all about the underdog and a small but healthy dose of Jamie's out of touch with the commoner.

    With Rick and Lisa you have an arm wrestling match. Neither of them have a real record as government administrators (Ricks 2 months excepted). While Lisa is Definitly left, she will draw in a good chunk of moderate and independent votes (LOPEZ). Rick is going to have to make a dent on Lopez to pull out a win, and that will be difficult - especially given the relative silence of his campaign thus far. Rick and Bob are far easier to tie together than Rick and Brian. The people of Lopez are far more willing to break rank with Jamie if they think they can moderate their taste buds with Lisa. Of the 3 campaigns, I think this is the hardest nut to crack.

    So, the question will be are we going to sit here and try to fight the war, or focus on the individual battles in hopes of avoiding a total loss.

    I know where I'm headed. You?