Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Two Views Of Anonymity

As our readers know, we at the Trojan Heron are great fans of anonymity. We care what people say, not who says it.  Anonymous writings, especially of a dissenting political nature, are as old as the republic. They are as American as apple pie.

For example, Benjamin Franklin used several aliases over his lifetime, including "Poor Richard" of Poor Richard Almanac's fame. Other aliases used by Franklin include the following:
  • Silence Dogood
  • Caelia Shortface
  • Martha Careful
  • Busy Body
  • Anthony Afterwit
  • Alice Addertongue
  • Polly Baker
  • Benevolous
Anonymous writing is an effective and societally beneficial form of dissent when a culture of fear pervades a society. At the Trojan Heron, we believe there is most definitely a culture of fear in San Juan County today ... fear of governmental and social retaliation for speaking one's mind. It is a repulsive aspect of life here. We believe wholeheartedly in government transparency while believing equally strongly in personal privacy. Often, however, our fellow citizens seem confused by the distinction and want the reverse -- government opacity and personal transparency.

No. We cannot agree.

Below are two views of anonymity drawn from the pages of our local press/blogs over the past few days. First we have the view of Rick Steinhardt of Orcas Island, the husband of Friends Board member Janet Alderton.
The trouble with Anonymous by Rick Steinhardt
To the editor,
We have experience with anonymous blogs in these islands. To some they seem harmless enough. However gossip is like a virus, it goes from the source from person to person. Distortions can occur with repetition and these distortions naturally increase with distance from the source. Soon the original comment which may have been tongue in cheek turns into new "facts" which can be quite harmful. 
When one makes an anonymous commentary one is disclaiming any responsibility for the consequences, which is both cowardly and irresponsible. This is specially true in our society where it is easy for unstable personalities to obtain guns.
Responsible editors do not print anonymous letters for very good reasons. If you know of someone putting out an anonymous blog, let them know they are being both cowardly and irresponsible.Together we can restore civil discourse and make real progress dealing with the important issues that face the San Juan Islands.
Rick Steinhardt Deer Harbor
Next, we have the view of "Peter Smith," an alias used by a Lopezian speaking out against the Lopez school bond measure, which will be on the same ballot as the County Council election in April.  "Peter Smith's" posting on Lopezrocks was removed because of the use of an alias. The Trojan Heron feels this amounts to censorship, and nearly every other news or blogging outlet in San Juan County engages in similar censorship behavior. We fail to see how censorship protects our community.

First, Peter is not my name.

I am a concerned parent who does not want to voice my opinion publicly because I fear how the administration will treat my kids at school. There has been a lot of talk about the district taking a firm hand when it comes to kids who are speaking out about things that differ from the administrations views.

This same fear is shared by parents who speak out. This is not a new thing, and infact just happend, about a different subject completely, about a month ago around a group of students who were concerned about some use of alcohol by students attending a school dance. So, as a parent, the report that this happened to a student speaking out about the bond, does not even surprise me.

As a parent this bond concernes me as well. I understand that there are real needs to fix issues with the building, but also feel, as do many other parents, that this has seriously overshot that need. I know that the administration will say, "well we had community outreach and you did not participate" and they would be correct. We did not participate because we were afraid for what that participation would mean to our children's experience at school. We have seen what happens to the kids of parents who speak out, and we did not want that to happen to ours.

The concern that we have about the bond that there are so many importnat needs that should be addressed way before this one. Is it good to have a new school with all the modern upgrades and a new administration office and a private gym for the staff? SURE! But lets address more pressing issues first. I had to buy a math book this year for my middle student child because the school did not have enough to go around and she was being asked to share with another student. There are real needs from a teaching standpoint, from a bullying standpoint, and from countless other places that should take overwhelming precedence over building the perfect building. There are real concerns by school staff around the bond and about the focus its passing would take away from core issues that need so desperately to be addressed NONE OF WHICH THEY CAN VOICE PUBLICLY EITHER.

I am writing this because the voters of Lopez need to know that a yes vote on this measure is not a yes supporting the students, it is a yes supporting the administration.

Those who have a stake in the school, as parents, teachers, administrators, and students are clearly afraid of the repercussions of speaking out. It is sad, but it is true.

PLEASE VOTE NO and support those who know that this is not about the needs of the students or a better education, or increasing college preparation or placement or providing real world life skills. This is about a dream list of what could we do to a school campus if we could do all we wanted to do.

Lets keep the most important thing, the most important thing. If we as a community are going to support increasing taxes lets do it supporting a better education, not a better building.


  1. Anonymity and false accusations. Is that just acceptable collateral damage. It would seem that the TH admin could have the best of all worlds. When an anonymous commenter makes totally unsubstantiated accusation specifically naming an individual those comments should be taken down.

    That would lend credence to the entire blog, instead of erroding its credibility. Especially to new comers to the blog.

  2. Anonymous commentary = guns? We can't specify who we are talking about? I guess we should just shutup or shoot ourselves. He's right about one thing though, there are alot of unstable people out there.

  3. What if TH were to decide that the comment above @11:59 was unsubstantiated and untrue, and therefore, TH were to remove it?

    There are many other choices for people if they want a blog or news outlet to take on the responsibility of deciding what is "substantiated" and what isn't with respect to comments. Go read the watered-down pablum that passes for news elsewhere in these islands.

    The Trojan Heron is a rarity in that you see it all -- the good, the bad, and the ugly. This TH fan believes the best antidote to "bad" free speech is lots of "good" free speech. You don't like a comment or a post, then say so, and give your reasons.

  4. Anonymous speech is catching on and it's getting more and more people to speak up express their views.

    Lopez just took the plunge:

    I'm pretty sure that it's inspired by the hard work of those with the TH.

  5. The axiom should always be: "You are entitled to your opinions however you are not entitled to your facts."
    If the TH would be a credible alternative to the drive-by kool-aid drinking media it should not emulate them. When the TH throws a story up it should vet the story and get ALL sides of the issue, not just the opinions or input from those with an ax to grind or cheer-lead for a point of view, we get plenty of that from the San Juan Islander, Orcas Issues etc. - remember that the easiest lie to believe is the one you WANT to believe.

  6. Steinhardt apparently does not understand the reason for Anonymous comments...yet he or she seems comfortable with inflammatory language characterizing members of our community. Well here's one for Steinhardt...I'm a U.S. Viet Nam era veteran and I demand my right to freedom of speech, privacy, and land rights. Mr. Steinhardt just needs to get over it - by the way, if we're annoying people like you, no apologies, mission accomplished...

  7. I can appreciate anonymity when it comes to commenting on the school boards. Here on Orcas, the school has, in my opinion, totally and completely botched the most recent siding job. If a parent spoke up, they were targeted by the Superintendent's Office. And now, the school has a multi-million dollar bond to renovate the school. They are using the same architects and administrative help to oversee the project. It's crazy making. But, again, you don't dare say anything, because they will target you and your kids. In those cases, I understand the necessity for anonymity.

  8. One could compare anonymous posting to wearing a mask to a party. People have been doing it for centuries.

    You know who should remain anonymous? Lovel's ethics advisors. Otherwise they might become employed in about 4 weeks.

    That's right folks. Voting coming up.
    Please get out the vote.

  9. My opinion is if you don't like anonymous comments, then don't read them.

    If you don't agree with gay marriage, then don't marry someone of your own gender.

    If you don't agree with abortion, then don't have one.

    1. That's a great argument. Let's go a bit further.

      If you don't like arrmed robbery, don't do it.

      If you don't like the speed limit, don't follow it.

  10. Hey @7:32.

    What's wrong with the siding on the orcas school ??

    Let me guess, they saved a few bucks and are using a lead/uranium/gunpowder composite siding???

    Well that would sure make sensational headlines in the blogosphere. Hell, folks might even buy off that it's true.

  11. What about voting, Mr. Steinhardt, why not just do away with anonymity there too, while you are at it?

    Or is only government sponsored anonymity to your liking?

  12. @7:38

    The school allowed the construction workers to live at the school while doing the work. This was kind of okay during the summer, but they lived there until the end of the year, during the school year! The construction workers were using the restrooms in the gymnasium, while the kids were there.

    That and the fact that they didn't file the correct L&I paperwork, none of the construction workers had to pass a background check, even though they were living at the school amongst the students.

  13. Ya gotta love it. Mr. Stienhardt wants to "out" anonymous commenters so his wife and her Friends can target those who dare dissent from the radical agenda of the Friends. Thanks, TH, for telling us all who he is.

  14. During another completely crazy school board episode on San Juan Island a few years back, the Journal of the San Juan's online news system at the time DID provide for fully anonymous postings (and did for years) and it was via that medium that the real news about the behavior of school board members and harm to the community was reported.

    Mr. Steinhardt's logic leads to the slippery slope taking to its inevitable conclusion that voting should not be anonymous either.

    Mr. Steinhardt, equates gossip with guns. If gossip were outlawed only outlaws would gossip? Really? That is, of course, nonsense. Mr. Steinhardt, are you and your Friends now advocating that for the greater good, secret ballots should be abolished?

    As for pen names (anonymous writing) consider the fact that Thomas Paine (a favorite of Lisa Byers I think) distributed around 100,000 copies of Common Sense, anonymously. Why would he do such a thing is self evident. In the face of a malevolent government who would have been well pleased to imprison or hang him or worse over arbitrary charges of sedition, anonymity was simply common sense.

    The Friends of the San Juans and the out of control political Machine they have built here: Corrupt. Bullying. And their control is slipping. Their culture of Fear is beginning to dissolve.

    And what about the County's own little Ministry of Information paid for by taxpayers money? The Puget Sound Partnership's behavioral marketing grants? Department heads quietly meeting with Machine operatives monthly under the umbrella of the Madrona Institute?

    And finally, has anyone taken to task the FACTS as reported by the Trojan Heron, even once? Not that I know of.

    That we are even having this kind of debate over free speech in the San Juan Islands is sort of horrifying, especially before an election where the Machine is actually trying to turn this into an issue?

    This is supposed to be the Democratic Party of the United States? Hell no. The Machine is just a little Tin Pot Authoritarian Hermit Kingdom that needs to be hosed out, disinfected and broken up.

  15. Herr Prof. Dr. Steinhardt correctly notes the troublesome connection between unfettered free political speech, and arms in the hands of citizens who might become motivated by hearing such speech.

    The Founding Fathers of our nation were also quite concerned with the very same thing, which I suppose is why they put the First and Second Amendments in the Bill of Rights...


    MacIntyre v. Ohio Elections Commission


    Talley v. California


  16. I think under the cloak of anonymity we hear the most truthful feelings from the populous. I often read this site to get the other side of the story. Clearly people are not happy about the state of the county. Yet time and time again we have seen when a differing opinion brings misery to the complainer not a solution to the complaint.

    As a former county employee, let me say this. The county will never admit fault and they will always find a scapegoat to blame. Even when they are absolutely in the wrong. I experienced this during my time as a county employee.

    They are getting smarter about communication as well. Much is discussed over the phone and in private meetings, this information is not available as a public information request. I did it when I worked for the county. This included discussions on how to deceive and manipulate the people into compliance for the good of the bloated county administration.

    So I say, "Cheers to anonymous statements that make the county government cringe". Now they know how I feel.

  17. We need anonymity in a community this small. People hold grudges here. It impacts our children and our jobs. Keep it civil and keep it moderated. But also keep it anonymous. Just look at the Journal now. NO ONE will comment. Even on what we know are issues people are upset about.

  18. Commenters regarding the Orcas Island School Siding Project:

    I was steered to this blog because someone told me that it was addressing violations related to the Orcas Island School Siding Project.

    I spoke out publicly to the district about the violations of law and procedure at the siding project at the school putting my and my childrens reputations on the line and I do so again here. What happend at the school over the past 9 months is a violation of the public trust, a failure to protect public assests and a failure to protect children as prescribed by the Washington State RCW's. The district has failed our community and our students and instead of stepping up and taking accountability for their actions, they have chosen to put their head down and hope that it will all go away.

    It is hard to continue to demand action when the board refuses to acknowledge and hold responsible an administration that failed to obtain proper insurance documentation, allowed underinsured contractors to work on the job, failed to follow safety protocols, and allowed workers without legally mandated background checks to not only work on the school grounds, but (without notifying parents or students) to LIVE on school property and share restroom facilities with the students without.

    While the proper forum for resolution to this is technically in the board room, when faced with these troubling accusations, rather than make an investigative inquirey, the board chose to instead congratulate the administration on a job well done.

    I would be happy to discuss this issue, outside of this forum, with anyone who is interested. I tried to get something done and failed, frankly, because of lack of time in the day and what appeared to be a lack of interest from the community to bring the issue public.

    Thanks for bringing it up here and maybe a little non-anonymous response will help change some attitudes.

  19. Seems like if there's a false accusation, the logical thing to do is to show why it's false. Why would you want a post taken down? First, it's already been seen. You should want to correct it. Second, you are appointing the TH admin as censors? No thanks. I'm a grown-up. I'd prefer to read, think, and decide. So, give us the evidence.

  20. @ 7:41 a.m. Gee, I'm not convinced by your argument. The Constitution guarantees us free speech. There are penalties for defamatory speech, but no laws prohibiting anonymous posts. Would you like us to become more like Europe? No nasty comments about the King?

  21. Trojan Heronism

    You have two cows, both who shall remain anonymous.

  22. 7:41 is either an idiot or simply doesnt understand or respect privacy

  23. Trojan Heronism:

    You have two cows, both of whom may remain anonymous but each of whose assertions are open to correction, comment, or mockery, as appropriate.

  24. @12:50

    Now now ... don't jump to conclusions. The commenter @7:41 could be both.

    But I yield to the original commenter to correct my assessment, if they so choose.

  25. @12:51 and @12:41


  26. @Mark Twain: Thanks for the pointer to those cases. Sound familiar?

    While Mrs. McIntyre distributed her handbills, an official of the school district, who supported the tax proposal, advised her that the unsigned leaflets did not conform to the Ohio election laws. Undeterred, Mrs. McIntyre appeared at another meeting on the next evening and handed out more of the handbills.

    The proposed school levy was defeated at the next two elections, . . . . Five months later, the same school official filed a complaint with the Ohio Elections Commission charging that Mrs. McIntyre's distribution of unsigned leaflets violated 3599.09(A) of the Ohio Code.

    The Supremes said:

    "Discussion of public issues and debate on the qualifications of candidates are integral to the operation of the system of government established by our Constitution. The First Amendment affords the broadest protection to such political expression in order `to assure [the] unfettered interchange of ideas for the bringing about of political and social changes desired by the people.' Roth . . . (1957). Although First Amendment protections are not confined to `the exposition of ideas,' . . . `there is practically universal agreement that a major purpose of that Amendment was to protect the free discussion of governmental affairs, . . . of course includ[ing] discussions of candidates . . . .' This no more than reflects our `profound national commitment to the principle that debate on public issues should be uninhibited, robust, and wide-open,' . . . In a republic where the people are sovereign, the ability of the citizenry to make informed choices among candidates for office is essential, for the identities of those who are elected will inevitably shape the course that we follow as a nation. As the Court observed in Monitor Patriot Co.`it can hardly be doubted that the constitutional guarantee has its fullest and most urgent application precisely to the conduct of campaigns for political office.'"

    As this case demonstrates, the prohibition encompasses documents that are not even arguably false or misleading. It applies not only to the activities of candidates and their organized supporters, but also to individuals acting independently and using only their own modest resources. It applies not only to elections of public officers, but also to ballot issues that present neither a substantial risk of libel nor any potential appearance of corrupt advantage. It applies not only to leaflets distributed on the eve of an election, when the opportunity for reply is limited, but also to those distributed months in advance. It applies no matter what the character or strength of the author's interest in anonymity.

  27. I find it fascinating that the enemies of freedom in this County are managing to recast the discussions of the Trojan Heron into a kerfuffle over the "anonymous comments" issue. Handily diverting attention and energy from the *content* of the articles in the Heron, which tend to have facts and references to primary sources.

    It's a time-tested strategy.

    "If the facts are on your side, pound the facts into the table. If the law is on your side, pound the law into the table. If neither the facts nor the law are on your side, pound the table."

    And in that direction, did anyone see Kivisto's bloviating editorial today?


  28. I posted the following response to Mr. Steinhardt. I found the gun reference a particularly cheap shot.

    Reply to Steinhardt

    Oh my word, how did we get from blogs to gossip to guns? I take it that Mr. Steinhardt is not out there on the internet much with the younger folk, or a big fan of WikiLeaks, or "Anonymous," the vigilante hackers, but it’s a fact of life that those among us with delicate sensibilities may be be offended if they choose to go electronic. I myself am occasionally surprised by what my own grown children believe is acceptable public comment these days, but at bottom I trust in the First Amendment because, frankly, no better system has presented itself. “Gossip” and humor and the “telephone game” nature of information flow all existed well before the internet, perhaps even more so in the islands than elsewhere. I do not think that islanders, especially not the younger ones, are ready for Gossip Police.

    At the same time, if you are going to complain about anonymous blogs on the internet, don’t wallow in generalities. For there to be a meaningful discussion of any topic, the participants need to know what they are discussing. It makes much more sense, if one has a complaint about a piece of “gossip,” to state what it is and why it’s wrong, or –if repeating what you consider gossip offends you-- just state your view of the facts and what supports that view. In this case, which blog is the writer referring to? Which story? Which facts are misrepresented there? What’s the real story?

    Finally, I can understand why Mr. Steinhardt may not want guns in his own home, but bringing them into this discussion as if there were some connection between blog speech, gossip or humor and guns strikes me as just plain wrong.

    Peg Manning
    Orcas Island

    P.S. Mr. Steinhardt has a new post today: The Beauty of Zoning."

  29. We always appreciate comments, including those of Kivisto. Everyone should have a look, because looking is all you can do on Kivisto's blog. No comments allowed.


    And we still don't know who Ed Kilduff is.

  30. @Paulsen

    I had no idea. I don't have children in the school anymore, but I know the personalities in the administration office and you definitely don't want to cross them.

    Why hasn't this issue gotten more, or any, press? I'm just sick about the new school bond. If the administration can't handle a small siding job, what will they do with several million dollars?

    Since you have spoken up, do you believe that will curtail any chance of you getting work with the school district in the future?

  31. Bravo to lopezspeaksup.com too. We have loved LopezRocks, but cannot go along with their censorship policies.

    We hope everyone checks out lopezspeaksup.com and supports every avenue for free speech in the islands.

  32. First I thought that today's Kovisto-flare was because Trust Islanders! didn't pay to advertise on her site. But no!

    The vitriolic, libelous catalog of cowardice on his site [what site?] illustrates the level of accuracy and informed discourse achieved with anonymous commentary. The personal attacks, lies stated as facts do nothing but undermine the fabric of our community.

    Now, let's wait for Sharon to identify one lie stated as fact. We're listening, Sharon.

    Oh, wait, she doesn't distinguish between the blog posts and the comments, does she--which does she mean? Surely she could not be attacking the Heron for the content of the Heron's comments? Because that would be censorship, right? But I'm sure she will make it all clear when she identifies a "lie stated as fact" in the Heron for us all to evaluate.

    While we're listening, we are reminded of Freud's theory of projection. What has set off the town's most prominent investigative journalist into a heretofore unseen tizzy? (Lovelization? Has it gotten into the water, like thalates?)

    If (when) Sharon publishes a wildly-slanted story favoring her close "friends" in the county, it's journalism. If a county employee or citizen makes an anonymous post about something not kosher, it's "libelous vitriolic catalog of cowardice"? Well, the alliteration is kind of fun, any way. Apparently, it's okay to spout nonsense and say any nasty thing you want in this town if you do it in a sweet way (Lovelization.) Present facts and--hush my mouth!--it's uncivil. Shredding the very FABRIC OF OUR SOCIETY, I tell you, Mr. Beauregard!!

    Oh, no, Sharon--you can't get away with misstating facts about Mrs. King. First, you never state which fact the Heron got wrong in the King case. But then you go on to misstate your own. People need to go read the decision in the King case and make up their own minds, especially about who the neighbors supported. On the county website, I think it is. Same for your slams at Charles Dalton and -- who is cheating the assessor, again? And what is the status of the Dalton case? Somehow all we see is defensive reporting on the Islander. Nothing about the county bringing criminal charges for a minor land use manner that would have been resolved in any rational county.

    Tick, tock, waiting for a specific erroneous statement of fact.

    You guys watch--I've got to get back to work. Some of us don't get paid to do this.

  33. Finally, after all these years, Kivisto has at last expanded her vocabulary.

    Thank you Trojan Heron (or Ed Kilduff or whoever you are). Thank you for getting Kivisto to throw a wobbly on her own front page!

    Look, I'm crazy! I'm a raving lunatic! I just learned some new big words! I googled them, and they just came up, and they mean really bad things!

    Kivisto deals in "facts," which is why her editorial is mostly ranting mean-spirited speculation and opinion.

    Nothing to be afraid of there, but plenty to laugh and snicker at, as usual

  34. If the folks on Orcas think that the Orcas School Board deserves a forum, maybe they can look into setting up something similar to lopezspeaksup.com?

    The Trojan Heron is looking into new ways to expand the community dialog too, but we encourage people to find all manner of discussing important issues - with or without us.

  35. Justin, I live on Orcas and been concerned about school board decision making for some time. What are your thoughts on what can be done to force change in the school board/administration closed club?'

  36. All good points re anonymous speech. The Federalist Papers is one of the best examples in our country's history. But, when people tell me to "close the door on your way out" and make false accusations about my motives (after which, they smile and say "hello" to me on the street), then I reserve the right to call them cowards, anonymously or not. And, you anonymous commenters should be aware that you leave clues to your identity in your statements. So I would advise you to quit the insults and stick to the facts and well supported opinions, which, by and large, is happening here now. It is a welcome change. The false accusations by the pseudo-anonymous main blogger do cause you to lose credibility, so I would also advise you to check facts more carefully.

    In the long run, your opinions will hold more sway if you are willing to stand behind them. ("man up" as one of your regular contributors said to me once.) But anonymous speech should always be protected.

  37. Yes, we always recommend thinking for yourself and checking your own facts, rather than listening to innuendo, Kit's or anyone else's (even ours).

    Think for yourself.

    Kit - feel free to point out specifics regarding false accusations at any time so that the record can be corrected.

  38. Howdy--checkin' in. Any reports from our investigative journalist about specific errors on the Trojan? Nope??

  39. Wait--is that Kit Rawson? Mr. Rawson, I'm sure the Heron (or the commenters) would be happy to go off and fact check any alleged false statements or accusations. I'm surprised that you find the main blog less worthy than some of the crazy comments. Is there something in particular that annoys you?

  40. zomg Kivisto actually invokes that poor Afghan child who was hurt by the Taliban. What s skewed view of reality. I guess she could not figure out a way to talk about the poor kids in CT. Every day there's a new answer to how crazy does this place get.

    I have no idea where Kivisto lives and what property she owns, or--given her fixation with keeping up revenues for the county--how much property tax she pays--but avoiding taxes on a "single family residence?" The assessor was THERE and called the structure an farm building of some sort. Look it up. I read her column and picture a lovely 3BD 2Bath with an ocean view. No, not even electricity! Well it beat the county big time of those taxes, I tell you. Enough to pay for an hour or two of a planner or consultant's time.

  41. Yeesh. Can't make Kit Rawson happy. He got mad at us when commenters suggested that everyone shun him. Now he's mad at us for saying hello to him.

    What's an anonymous commenter to do? Oh that's right, I think he already told us to burn in hell, or words to that effect.

  42. Very nice try, Kit! Good effort at trying to alienate the Trojan Heron from the commenters on here. Damn fine effort at manipulation.

    You hear that everyone? Kit thinks we're doing MUCH better, but he's still mad at the Heron. Oh thank you, Kit. Thank you. We all want your approval and will abandon the Heron forthwith.

    We love you, Kit. We really do. You can tell from our smiles.

  43. Kit says:

    "And, you anonymous commenters should be aware that you leave clues to your identity in your statements. So I would advise you to quit the insults and stick to the facts and well supported opinions, ...."

    Anyone else see a bit of a veiled threat in those words from a person in a position of influence?

    What will you do when you determine my identity, Kit? Be specific. Is my dog house built atop a critical shellfish recharge buffer or something?

  44. @10:38am Orcas School

    I have concerns as well about the decisions the Orcas school is making. I have tried to have conversations with the teachers and staff, but the admin staff is vindictive.I finally pulled my child out of the public school and we are homeschooling. I wish it were more open, but it's not.

  45. Justin, thank you for bringing this issue up. I've been very disappointed by the school board and agree with a later post that it is a closed club.

    I am shocked by the list you wrote. This needs to be voiced in a public venue. How to do that without sustaining significant blow back from the school? I am a small business owner on Orcas with kids in the school. I heard about the "construction workers" walking around, but didn't know what to do with my concerns.

    I lack your courage to use my name, but you have inspired me. I may speak up at the next board meeting.

    thank you for posting such important information.

  46. to 1159AM

    false accusations are collateral damage, the first amendment says that there are worth it, censoring wouldn't add credence to anything

  47. I figured ouot Sharon's rant schedule--seems to be related to easter.

    PS She still wants you to shaddup your face

  48. I guess nothing says Easter like Kivisto crucifying someone(s) in her blog.

  49. Orcas School Posters:

    Thank you all for your responses and questions. I would be happy to discuss what I know of the situation and my opinion with anyone interested, but I don't think that this is the forum both because the issue is too complex for me to type that much (and I don't really "blog" much)and as I understand it, this is a land-use and environmental regulation blog - not a school blog. My email is justin@tfnwllc.com if you would like to contact me directly.

    I would like to make a couple statements before I drop off the radar from here:

    First: I am an ardent supporter of the Public School, and truly believe that it is the functional center of our (and any small towns) community.

    Second: I am also an ardent supporter of the new work that must happen at the school to bring about neccessary repairs. I believe that the process thus far has been sound and the scope of work is also sound. Similarly, I supported the siding of the high school as a key, high priority project.

    Finally, my comments earlier were not intended as a judgement of whether anonymity is either good or bad, but I do believe in this case it is important that we, real people in the community, get together face to face, talk about things and make our voices heard so that we can bring change where necessary.

    Thanks for a few collumns of blog space. Now back to your regularly scheduled programming.

  50. Justin (and other Orcas school posters), we are very pleased that you were able to communicate with one another, and we wish you success.

    If we can be of help, please let us know trojanheron@gmail.com

    We are very interested in supporting free discussion of important issues, especially in areas where our public servants have lost touch with the people

  51. It is amazing to watch the debate rage on around the idea of my desire to maintain anonymity. To hear people say that somehow this can be tracked back to a gun control issue or a way to sling mud while hiding safely behind my computer screen.

    To believe that we live in a world that has no need for anonymity is tantamount to believing that we live in a world free of corruption of those who are in positions of power or authority. Anonymity is a powerful tool when used by those who understand it’s value, when it is appropriate and necessary. In a case such as this when an administration has proven that it does not take lightly those who disagree with their stated positions how else can a parent protect their children in the face of almost certain repercussions. I made my comments not to speak about the need for free speech or to start a discourse on censorship. I wanted to bring to light the fact that there are those who would speak out, who want to speak out, but who are afraid of doing it. Good parents, employees and students who are in fear of what will happen to their children, their jobs or their education.

    We are all consumers of the news and information we choose to partake of. We have a responsibility as consumers to disregard those things we feel are not worth the space in our brains. What I wrote was not inflammatory by its very nature. It did not name names or propagate gossip BUT EVEN IF IT DID, it is our responsibility as readers to either pay attention or move on. The world we live in if full of those reporting as fact, the ludicrous, absurd, even blatant and complete lies. If anyone feels that what I posted
    falls under these categories I challenge them to do the research, to speak quietly to the parents, students, staff, even the police and others who are in the know about these real issues. If you feel that the statements I made are so “crazy” that they carry no water at all, then perhaps simply moving to the next page and forgetting that it ever existed would be the better choice.
This is not a conversation about censorship, this is a conversation about a school board who is trying to pass a bond under a banner of “support the children” who has overshot a real need by more then a country mile. This is about an administration who is feared by the people who they serve and who's taxes pay their salaries. I hope that this conversation can somehow circle back around to this the most important of messages.

  52. Well said, Peter. Thank you for commenting.

  53. @3/20 @ 5:20 PM. GFY. I have zero influence. You are a paranoid coward.

  54. @3/20 @ 3:48 Re false accusations -- your Keene State diploma fiasco greatly damaged your credibility, and you quietly corrected another lie about the MRC after I pointed it out. Come on and man up and admit when you are wrong. It's really ok.

  55. Thanks for your comments Kit. Btw, there is no 3/20 @5:20pm (not that I can find anyway), so you may want to clarify who the "paranoid coward" is. You might also want to clarify what "GFY" means.

    And as you point out, you were allowed an opportunity to have your own post on here to defend the MRC. If anyone is interested in reading that, they can find it at:


    And if anyone is interested in re-reading our posts about Lovel Pratt and the questions surrounding her Keene State diploma, you can find the information here:


    I'll leave it up to the readers to evaluate the facts and the presentation of those posts.

    Your input and opinions are always interesting to read, Kit. As always, thanks for stopping by.

  56. There is a post on 3/20 at 5:18pm about the Orcas School Board. Is that what Kit meant? Why is Kit calling an Orcas School Board commenter a "paranoid coward" who should "GFY?"

  57. GFY is MRC slang for "grant funded yes-man" and I think Kit just forgot where he was for a second and thought he was addressing one of his MRC colleagues.

  58. Anonymous postings, small town or large, are basically just chicken shit. Say what you mean, mean what you say, and own it. If you can't own it, don't say it. If it is not nice then think twice or say nothing at all. Pretty basic stuff this.

    Jim Skoog (San Juan Island)


  59. Jim welcome to the TH. Jim its great that you want to stand up. The fact that you are on the board of the Madrona Institute seems like a relavent fact you could include here. It seems like you guys may have got a new grant for
    to speak out against anonymous postings. Thanks for using your name.

    Jim Skoog's Volunteer Experience & Causes
    Volunteer ExperienceTreasurer/Board Member
    San Juan Public Schools Foundation
    January 2006 – present (7 years 3 months)
    The SJPSF helps supplement inadequate state and federal funding to provide a quality education for our island's children. The SJPSF helps to support the high expectations and accomplishments of our small public schools district on San Juan Island.

    Treasurer/Board Member
    Madrona Institute
    August 2011 – present (1 year 8 months)
    We envision a community and a world in which human beings coexist peacefully with each other and responsibly with nature. Our mission is to build networks of relationship that lead to a resilient future in the San Juan Islands community. Our focus is local, our perspective is global.

    Commissioner/Financial Officer
    San Juan County Land Bank
    June 2009 – present (3 years 10 months)
    To preserve in perpetuity areas in the county that have environmental, agricultural, aesthetic, cultural, scientific, historic, scenic or low-intensity recreational value and to protect existing and future sources of potable water.

    Volunteer InterestsCauses I care about:
    Civil Rights and Social Action

  60. You are all wrong.

    1. Those of you who say that anonymous posting is the only possible way to speak the truth are wrong. Those of you who say that anonymous posting inevitably degrades any discussion are also wrong. Like most things in life, there are good and bad features associated with anonymity and with requiring names to post.

    If you refuse to acknowledge that there are drawbacks to your own preferred style (anon or named) and that there are some benefits to your non-preferred style, then you are wrong.

    2. Free Speech
    Everybody loves to talk about it but (almost) nobody has any idea what it means. No internet forum/newspaper/private person can ever violate your right to free speech. Ever. It is impossible. Freedom of speech means that the government cannot penalize you for the content of your speech (with some exceptions). You have no right to "freedom of speech" on anybody else's private property - you need permission to paint your slogans on their fence and you need their permission to post on their blog. If you punch me in the face because of something I said, you have not violated my right to free speech, you have violated my right to not be punched in the face. Same for any other private (ie. non-government) action you might take in response to my speech.

  61. Now for "Peter"'s original post.

    You're really afraid that school administrators will take it out on your kids if you speak publicly against the bond? Seriously? That sounds pretty paranoid and cowardly to me.

    Stand up and speak the truth to power, and if somebody attacks your kids, then defend them.

    Democracy, freedom, and self-determination are not just given away to the meek. Sometimes you have to stand up for what's right, even if that means taking a risk.

    I just can't fathom that speaking against a school bond measure is really taking much of a risk. It's not like you'd be the guy in Tiananmen Square standing up to a tank. As evil and sinister as school administrators may be, its not like they're from Stasi or Savak. They're just not that important, and frankly, neither are you - you're just some guy who doesn't want his property taxes raised. You're not important enough for anybody to spend their resources targetting you (or your kids). And if they do, then you fight back. You have legal rights - both personal and public - but you must exercise them if you want them to do you any good (ie. speak your truth at government hearings; defend yourself in court against any unwarranted personal attacks from any government agent.

  62. Last One:

    TH said: "At the Trojan Heron, we believe there is most definitely a culture of fear in San Juan County today ... fear of governmental and social retaliation for speaking one's mind."

    Well then, my suggestion is that you overcome your fears and speak your truth. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kFnFr-DOPf8

    Fear is the mind-killer.
    Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
    I will face my fear.
    I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
    And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
    Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
    Only I will remain.

  63. I just swallowed my own puke.

  64. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=24Vlt-lpVOY

  65. Are you certain it was your own puke?