Sunday, April 7, 2013

County Gone Wild - A Recap

A recent New York Times article discussed why our great nation sometimes seems to be coming apart at the seams, and I think it aptly pinpoints the state of affairs in San Juan County too:
I heard a more satisfying if somewhat depressing explanation for the seemingly random eruptions of political idiosyncrasy from Samuel Abrams, who teaches politics at Sarah Lawrence and Stanford. Abrams, who has spent the last decade or so researching our political habits, begins with the evidence that most Americans are simply not engaged in local politics, except perhaps on pocketbook issues. In the absence of public attention, motivated, well-financed and sometimes extreme elites have captured the lawmaking process in many state capitals. Legislatures are vulnerable to (and often populated by) the most ardent believers in a cause, the ones who care enough to take the time, raise the money, turn out on Election Day and lobby relentlessly.
“People who participate in state and local government tend not to be representative of the masses at all,” Abrams told me. “They tend to be highly engaged political elites — 15 percent of the population who think they’re fighting this culture war. They’ll see an opening. They’ll see a judge, they’ll see a legislature that looks amenable to something, and they’ll try to push it through and build a groundswell around that.”
This County has been run by a power clique for so long that residents have become accustomed to it as normal. It's not normal (or shouldn't be). It's not representative. It's the wrong way to live.

By Trojan Heron estimates, about 160 influential people run this County. They sit on committees; they interview candidates for office and support/endorse the ones that pass their muster; they get grants; they work inside the County and control who gets hired; they manage the non-profits; they write the letters that get published in our newspapers. In short, they run our lives while the rest of us are trying to just live our lives. If no one else in the County except these 160 people existed, you wouldn't even notice by only looking at the way our public governance and media conduct themselves.

The traditional power clique is losing its grip on the control levers here (thanks to all of you), and they are very upset about it. They are unraveling. The letters and emails they send out are often ad hominem attacks, not based on issues. Even their attempts at issues-based homilies, like Judge Darrah's opinion piece, are so turgid and bereft of relevant facts as to be meaningless (like the CAOs themselves). Elaborately worded ignorance is still just ignorance, and Judge Darrah can't seem to wrap his elevated mind around something very simple: the CAOs cannot remedy something that does not exist to begin with. These islands have not been shown to be contributing to environmental decline, so efforts to justify restrictions on the premise of protection are specious. The only environmental threats the CAOs address are the ones fabricated on paper by the tables and assertions developed by Shireene Hale and concurred by Dr. Adamus. A CAO scofflaw would be in violation of one of these tables/assertions only, not violating actual environmental protections.

The new CAOs are so confusing, anti-people, environmentally pointless, and rambling that it is nearly impossible to support them without also being a hypocrite regarding some aspect of their implementation ... because somewhere, somehow nearly everyone will be in violation of their unbridled discretion. The CAOs were designed to catch everyone. If you support them, you are undermining yourself, not just your neighbors.

The ballots are out. Already, some of you may have voted. We hope you re-read the posts on this blog and look at the links on this post before you hand in your ballot. You can help to stop the madness if you continue to participate, vote, and speak out.

Here are the latest fundraising tallies (and links to posts/videos of the candidates). It's quite clear who is independent and who is supported by the Machine. It is also gratifying to see that some candidates have noticeably changed their message during this campaign in response to citizen feedback. That just shows that we can have an effect if we all stay engaged.
(Note: Trust Islanders has raised $14,125 and has unilaterally endorsed Jarman, Hughes, and McClerren.  However, there is no coordination with their campaigns.)


  1. As the old saying goes...."Follow the money!!!"

  2. For transparency, shouldn't the $$ raised by TrustIslanders also be included? They are supporting Jarman, Hughes and McClerran -- so, you could take their $14k and divide it 3 ways. It would still be less than the top three. But that would be full disclosure.

  3. @5:21

    Good point. I will add a note about them, although Trust Islanders seems to be pushing a message primarily (but I realize they have endorsed certain candidates).

    As you say, Trust Islanders has raised $14,125.

  4. Jamie actually accuses McClerren of fear-mongering over the CAOs. Then Jamie repeats the Lovel line that people have more flexibility and can build closer to wetlands under the new CAOs.

    If that's true, then Jamie and Lovel just passed CAOs that they believe weakened our environmental protections. Does anyone believe that?

    Jamie's statements and charges are categorically wrong. He doesn't know what he's talking about.

  5. This is from the SJC Dem Party website.
    How much money did they raise?

    2013 Special Election coming up soon!
    SJC Democrats have endorsed three candidates for the County Council to be seated on May 13, 2013. Lisa Byers, Lovel Pratt, and Jamie Stephens will make a dynamic leadership team for San Juan County. We encourage you to support their campaigns and election.

    General Election – April 23, 2013 Ballots will be mailed on April 3rd

    Countywide leadership for a change!

  6. Actually, I believe that Trust Islanders has endorsed only Jarman and McClerren--at least, that's what's in their mailer. Hughes is the obvious independent candidate on Orcas, but he reportedly is committed to no endorsements of any types, even "issues" endorsement.

  7. It's political sleight of hand to accuse CAO dissenters of fear mongering when Alderton, Hale, Adamus, Ecology, Kwiaht, the Friends, and their friends on the Council (Jamie and Lovel) claimed that we are under threat of imminent environmental collapse and that the CAOs are needed to save us.

  8. Was the election that brought us Ranker and Lichter (and eventually Myhr) a partisan election? Because that turned out really well. County spending went up from about $35 million to $50 million, with no noticeable growth in services provided. And they did the back-room settlement of the guesthouse lawsuit with the Friends, too. Good times. If you don't vote, we may find ourselves in something that makes that era of insanity look like austerity and integrity.

  9. @6:16

    Not true. Look at their website

    Hughes is there. The situation with Trust Islanders is confusing because they endorse candidates whether the candidates want it or not. Trust Islanders doesn't interview the candidates, they make their endorsements based on their evaluation of the candidates' positions.

    There is no coordination or contact between Trust Islanders and the campaigns of any of the people they endorse. Some didn't even want it.

  10. @6:23

    Yes. It was partisan. It was the last time partisan elections occurred in the County.

  11. We have seen a remarkable change over these two campaign months in the position of the pro-CAO candidates, Pratt and Stephens (who voted it in) and Byers (who claimed to be familiar with it and found it easy to apply). From "the CAO is wonderful, so happy to have it, it's easy and fun" to talk now about how best to go about fixing it, whether to make those poor souls who want to build this year the guinea pigs, and when to do the "comprehensive revision" that everyone now concedes will be required. Lisa proposed having permit applicants file under both systems to see what the differences would be. Doing that analysis is a good idea; doing it after it's passed seems nuts; making applicants deal with the delay is unfair.

    My favorite part is the claim that staff need to be trained in what the new CAO means. Even though "staff" wrote it.

    Cheers for Rick Hughes who actually went out and talked to contractors about it; he favors putting implementation off until the winter, because construction is picking up now and the CAO red tape will kill it.

    Lovel still says that the new CAO is her proudest accomplishment.

  12. I need help finding a TH post. The one about the 80 something year old woman w/the B@B at Hannah Heights.

    I find that story so horrific I can't tell you. And I want to pass it on to some supporters of the "Fiends"

  13. @6:41

    You can find it here:

  14. Can't wait til the farmers on Lopez try to change crops or grazing or build a new agriculture shed and run into the new CAO. Hope they remember who was "fear-mongering" and who was telling the truth.

  15. Right now folks, we must win this election.

    No longer be afraid. Say something to that person in front of you:

    "I like that guy McClerren, he's a young working family man, he has good ideas and he is honest and a hard worker."

    "Jarman, I'm going to vote for him. His family is old island, and I know he will do a good job."

    "Hughes, I think this man is a today person, someone who knows how to get it done. I think we need that."

    And, if you can squezze it in: "I'm not feeling good about those machine candidates, they bother me."


  16. CAO Nothing, wait til you find the heap of , excuse me, the new improved more effecive and efficient Enforcement ordince that is likely to make 'Public Nuisances' of any of us, only whenever he "reasonably believes you may be doing something he doesnt know about" such as not getting a permit, or even, when a permit isnt required, you still need his permission, its called Authorization.
    Well its gonna get "REAL COSTLY"
    Are we really gonna live like this? Really? Thats no Island Life, is it "Guantanamo County"
    Of course, there are no rules against misconduct on the part of the county, which is often more likely.

  17. Anonymous - We Are Legion - Expect usApril 7, 2013 at 9:34 PM

    "Four years after the revolution and the old king's execution
    Four years after I remember how those courtiers took their final vow
    String up every aristocrat
    Out with the priests Let them live on their fat

    Four years after we started fighting
    Marat keeps on with his writing
    Four years after the Bastille fell
    He still recalls the old battle yell
    Down with all of the ruling class
    Throw all the generals out on their arse"

  18. I would also like to find the blog where Lovel goes after the man on Douglas building the barn. Thank you!

  19. @9:42

    With pleasure ...

  20. The BIG democratic lady said I should see the State site on donations. She claimed the "party" only endorsed candidates (I guess that is why Lovel Pratt has a new tattoo somewhere.) and that they had not given dime one to Lovel or anyone.

    So like the TH I dutifully looked it all up.

    The State records don't show squat. The lady must be telling the truth? Of course she sent us to the State site because she knows the professional party air brush has it all clean and nice.

    Look at the numbers provided by TH. Who you gonna believe?

    Follow the money.

    Vote, Non-Partisan


  21. The State Democratic organization probably puts on rubber gloves and surgical mask when they contend with the Orcs and trolls who masquerade as party leaders around here. Put these wackos under a microscope and use tweezers.

    The San Juan Democratic Spook Show is now disavowing themselves. Oh, they were only individual contributions by independent nonpartisan Friends.

    I just can't believe they are such fools.

  22. Folks,

    There is only one way we can successfully win this battle. It is the American way. Fight for what you believe in. If your strength is writing, write letters to the editor. If you can put up some burma shave signs, do that. For the rest of us, contribute, contribute, contribute. Contribute every penny you can, I can't think of a better time to dig deep and give all we can to put the brakes on this whole mess. This is a big election. This affects each of us directly and perhaps forever. We have some people who have stepped up and need our financial support. They don't have the Machine cranking out checks, they need our support.
    Send whatever you can to CSA, Trust Islanders and the campaigns of McClerron, Jarmon and Hughes. Now. Not tomorrow. Do it for your children if not yourself.
    We have supported CSA and TI but I will now sit down and write a check to each of the three candidates and it will go out in the morning mail. I challenge each of you to do the same, even if it's only $25 each. We won't be sorry, it's the right thing to do.

  23. This is what the independent candidates need NOW. Fuel and volunteer pilots, Precinct and really local meet-ups are coming together quickly together with a data driven ground game and social media coverage the likes this county has never seen. This new movement goes beyond this election. We will never allow ourselves to be jerked around again. The Machine is old, rusted, corrupt, out of touch, out of time. It is only a question of when.
    Now would be a good time. Do what you can and do it now. You will know what is right for you.

  24. OK, making it easy for you, here are the addresses for your envelopes.

    Trust Islanders!
    Po. Box 3108,
    Friday Harbor, Wa. 98250

    Common Sense Alliance
    PO Box 1249
    Friday Harbor, WA 98250

    McClerren For County Council
    17 Swal Lech LN
    Lopez Island, WA 98261

    Hughes for Council
    PO Box 805
    Eastsound, WA 98245

    Elect Bob Jarman
    P.O. Box 1983
    Friday Harbor, WA 98250

    Now. Put your money where your mouth is. Be proud to stand up and support candidates you can believe in. We can do this if we all try!

  25. @ Don Pencil

    Don is the Democratic party proud of Lovel's attempt to use code enforcement to destroy a man's business? Is the party proud of her illegal secret meetings?
    What exactly are the characteristics the Democratic party looks for in a candidate?

  26. To ECK @ 9:42

    I asked about the blog concerning Lovel and the Douglas Road blog. I was partially looking for a response I read once from the owner of the barn and Lovel's former neighbor. But I don't see it there. Do you happen to know how to find that?
    Thank you again.

  27. How do you read the road sign tea leaves?

    Well, if the Lord Senator Ranker will only put a Lisa Byers sign in front of the Deer Harbor Compound what does that tell you?

    Lovel Pratt is glowing radio-active.
    Jamie Stephens is On. His. Own.

    There is so much evidence on the road side that the Machine is in disarray, a house divided against itself.

    You are going to see a lot more of that in the weeks ahead, look for finger pointing blame games and the hunt for the guilty as the Machine is allowed to ... how did the National Monument regulations put it ... oh yes ... "naturally deteriorate ..."

    It may explode. More likely just collapse like a bad soufflé.

  28. Annonymous @11:46pm, Apri 7

    This post was neither solicited nor endorsed by Common Sense Alliance.

  29. This comment has been removed by the author.

  30. Anonymous Anonymous said...
    @ Don Pencil

    Don is the Democratic party proud of Lovel's attempt to use code enforcement to destroy a man's business? Is the party proud of her illegal secret meetings?
    What exactly are the characteristics the Democratic party looks for in a candidate?

    Looking at who they are supporting in this election I have to believe it is leftwing, socialist/communist and anti-United State of America Constitutional rights and values. Now that's just judging from the track records and current positions of Byers, Pratt and Stevens. There may be other things they look for, but that covers the group above.

  31. per Albert Einstein....

    Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds.

    I think the TH is a GREAT SPIRIT!

    Vote for Bob Jarmon, Rick Hughes, and Brian McClerron!!!! Vote for freedoms and trust and accountability! Vote for those who have confidence in their neighbors and want to live in a place where neighbor helping neighbor is the norm! Vote for our island communities and not for a partisan puppet!

    The Trojan Heron ROCKS!!!

  32. Mr. Einstein is speaking to me........

    Everything that is really great and inspiring is created by the individual who can labor in freedom

  33. Rock on Uncle Albert, who also defined the behavior of this crazy Machine:

    "Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."

    Down with the Machine

    Vote for Rick, Brian and Bob

    Let's end this insanity and move on to designing data driven solutions to real problems not new regulatory rituals to enforce dogma and antiquated belief systems.

  34. So it is time for some prognostication and a chance to get everyones thoughts on how this is going to shake out. Yes... this is meaningless, but it seems timly given that ballots are already showing up at the auditors office.

    Pratt v. Jarman-

    One has to believe that the single most toxic individual in this election is Lovel. Her lenghty affiliation with the CAO and involvement in the open meetings act hearings have cast her in a dim light to a broad range of people. I would say that all but the die hard party faithful have at least asked themselves if she really is the best one for the job. She does, however, have a strong base of support that is vocal and well funded. Even with the CAO questions, most Demo's will vote for her - but of all the D's she will be the most likely to lose numbers. I think given past results that it is safe to say that Lovel will lose on San Juan. Bob has proven himself there and he has done a good job of saying only what is necessary (i.e. no stupid remarks that will bite him in the as*). It is a given that Lovel will win on Lopez - although her margin will not be the same as other candidates. While Orcas may seem like it will go with Lovel, I sense that her base of support is not strong there and she may be behind. I predict a 2-3% loss on Orcas. So, overall, I am sensing a Jarman win county wide. Lets call it 55% Jarman, 44% Pratt. 1% will vote for Forlenza as a get-well message!

  35. Continued

    Stephens v. McClerren

    This one is fun. Stephens has a strong base of support and is not as branded with toxicity like Pratt. His biggest challenge is he is part of the "old council". Brian on the other hand is "some guy I've never heard of." I suspect that any young voters who have been following the drama are going to fall towards Brian simply because of comfort. He looks like me, talks like me... might in-fact be like me! His biggest asset is that he is from Lopez, so he will put a significant bite into the democratic party split. Many Demo's on Lopez will vote for him. San Juan Demo's are going to go hard for Stephens but age demographics are going to cause havoc. Again, the younger voters (who traditionally have voted D in the national elections) are not party voters and instead vote based on similarity. Stephens has done VERY little on Orcas and it shows in all forums. Just read all the media outlets... havn't seen a single pro-stephens letter from Orcas (opposed to Byers and Pratt which have many). As I said, this one will be fun! I predict that there will be less than 50 votes seperating these two... can you say toss-up? Out of bias, I'll give it to Brian 50.1% to 49.9%

    Hughes v. Byers

    Of all of the battles, this one is one of the more interesting because you dont have previous terms of office to review (OK... you could look at Rick's, but he's been in office for about 37 min's). Both candidates have very positive public persona's and have participated in a ton of community activities. Both candidates have broad support from the primary sectors of our economy. Both candidates have fairly similar platforms with regard to jobs. The biggest difference seems to be that Byers has the Demo push behind her, which is both good and bad for her and good and bad for Rick. So the question is, how do the demographics play here. Byers will suffer in part because of her association with Pratt. Pratt's toxicity will rub off and cost her votes on each island. I can see Hughes squeaking out a win on San Juan by 1-2%. They will go head-to-head on Orcas and it will be a very tight race. It seems that Orcas is pretty evenly divided with these two with many people saying that either one would be fine with them. I call orcas 50/50. So, the final count will be on Lopez. It is here that Byers will pull out a strong win. Her appeal to the liberal voting base of Lopez will pull a big showing. Overall, I predict Byers pulls this off with an overall margin of about 5-6%. Call it Byers 53% Hughes 47%

    Anyone else want to join in the guessing fun?

  36. To the extent the previous analysis proves out (where is Nate Silver when we need him!?) the bottom line message is:

    This election is up for grabs. No doubt about it.

    But ... it takes a working majority of two on the new three member council to establish a local government that puts the interests of islanders first, above outside special interests. Or, not.

    Read your own tea-leaves and entrails, cast your own runes but I observe:


    Rick Hughes by definition of independence and not a cog in the Machine tends to pull Jarman and McClerren along in his wake on Orcas. As the incumbent even for a New York minute, gives him a bit of boost automatically. Lovel seems to have become "she who must not be named" on Orcas. If Ranker's front yard only has a Byers sign, if some of her key campaign people only have Byers signs out front and there is scarcely a Pratt sign to be seen once off the main road to the ferry, that says something. Pratt is a tar-baby. Not good for Byers or Stephens, anywhere. Lots of votes on Orcas in general trending to the incumbent, Rick is doing fairly well. That's good news for Jarman and McClerren.


    McClerren will have a vote split impact on Lopez, no doubt about it. And most folks who lean toward him on Lopez will actively support him and campaign for him in a way that few who vote for the incumbent will, that's just political reality. People are getting excited about McClerren. Few are excited about Stephens, regardless. That excitement will tend to haul along Jarman and Hughes in McClerren's wake, reducing votes in particular against Pratt and Byers. Plus: put McClerren in front of any group of people who have not had the pleasure of meeting him, young, old, left, right center ... watch their jaws drop, watch their eyes light up and the smiles return. The kid's alright. Solid and articulate. Not a narcissist, just an honest smart working guy. Just get him out and and about. He will do the rest. This dude is a keeper. We are in luck.

    San Juan

    There used to be three districts. Now there is one. Jarman is the incumbent, no blunders in his short tenure. He is widely known, well liked and respected. Lovel is widely known, less well liked and less respected. She lost in her own district to Jarman. Let's consider the other two districts, one which sent Peterson back to office over the Machine's contender Laura Severinsen. The former Friday Harbor district retired Howling Rosendorf for an intelligent moderate Marc Forlenza, our next mayor. Will voters in those two former districts that went against the Machine now drink Koolaid and vote for the Machine? Will Lovel's home district who voted her out happily now vote her back in? My crystal ball says: "Meh ..." And of course, Jarman will tend to haul along both Hughes and McClerren in his wake.


    Republican and Democrat or left and right doesn't matter so much now. This race is about the Machine, about fear vs trust, about authoritarian control or a moderate libertarian live and let live. This election is about getting rid of any public official who had anything to do with voting for the appalling CAO.

    It's not a real hard set of choices.

    It boils down to this: Pratt, Stephens and Byers are just individually and collectively too controversial. Too much baggage.

    Jarman, Hughes and McClerren. Good judgement, nonpartisan, and fresh perspective across the board.

    Often these mail in ballot elections have two pulses, a bunch mail in pretty early and then there is a second big spike about 10 days or so before the deadline. This election will likely follow that pattern. That means there are thousands of votes up for grabs.

    This will be a very close race but I place my trust in islanders.

    Of course, as they say, I could be wrong.

  37. Hey, TH, I thought we banned, er, MOVED poetry and lyrics to a separate page?

  38. @ April 7, 2013 at 6:01 PM-I've actually seen evidence that McClerren has READ the CAOs. Jamie, not yet, even though it was and is his job.

  39. Reviewers:
    I found both reviews the interesting and thoughtful. “It boils down to this: Pratt, Stephens and Byers are just individually and collectively too controversial. Too much baggage.” This may very well be the defining moment in the election. Those 3 have received a great deal of negative press and rightfully so. I’m certain that Hughes has received none, McClerren and Jarman very little if any.
    Focusing just on Orcas Island, Hughes has a broader scope of positive qualifications than Byers. His political thinking is truly more middle-of-the-road, flexible and independent, whereas hers is cranked all the way over to the left side of the spectrum and narrowly focused.
    Byers has had to divert the dialogue away from her history. To date, neither Byers nor her supporters have directly responded to her previous public statements concerning property rights and/or pass political philosophies and beliefs. The last League of Women Voters candidate forum was moderated by Margie Doyle and one of the stated rules for questions was to leave the past alone. The moderator did a pretty good job of running interference for Byers as she was very careful in who got to ask the questions (to tell you the truth it was kind of boring). Not all, but some, of the posts on ORCAS ISSUES that directly challenge Byers have not been posted at all and comments of the same nature to other original posts have been deleted. Unfortunately there are many who would not speak up in the local publications do what you refer to as “the machine.” Had they, Byers, Pratt and Stevens would have a lot more baggage than they have now.
    Hughes on the other hand has zero bad press. With more positives than Byers and no negatives, one would think Hughes would slide to easy victory.
    We can only hope.
    Thanks for the review's. I did enjoy them.

  40. Can't forget the past. Byers was a member of the Policy Group for the San Juan Initiative that brought us the CAOs. No wonder she's comfortable with them. Check it out. See the bottom of the "archived" CAO documents on the county site. See page 6 of the Final Report to the County Council.

  41. Suddenly, everyone knows how to spell, McCLERREN.

    People love this guy. I think the analysis herein is superb, but I can see the possibility of McClerren leading the pack. (I love it...the guy with no money comes in first.)

    Lovel is done. Some person on SJI today set up a chained closed door on Roche Harbor Road with Pratt's name on it.

    Byers is the question mark. Anyone who has done any reading knows she has some very real basic problems. BUT, she has the money and brains to win. Still, I think thoughtful voters will go for the much less troubled Hughes. (Byers latest glossy mailing was not well done.) (Sorry, but Jarman's letter was also not well edited.)

  42. Will someone with a. Good flair for writing please publicly respond to Marlyin Gresseths nonsense letter to the guardian about how the national and state DNC "haven't given a dime" to L L and J.

    Please clue here in that she is arguing semantics. Every single sinking member of the local party had give time money and effort to those candidates.

    You can tell that is gaining traction when she attempts to deflect attention off her group on to a recentl formed grassroots organization

  43. Anyone see Hughes today strike out at the mean-spirited oral and written comments that are an insult to the voters and to the council? I hear that D. Dehlendorf publically apologized for suggesting San Juan County was a "Banana Republic."

    Second note...the L. Byers mailer has lots of nice pictures. Do you know any of those folks? The mailer is mediocre ... full of English student punctuation. Hardly a marketing piece.

  44. Interesting:

    One of the $500 contributors to Pratt's campaign is Macy Coffey, whose address is in MA according to Pratt's filings:

    Coffey is really a resident of Moscow Russia:

    Pratt's campaign signed the form saying that Coffey's address is MA using the statement that the information is true and complete to the best of their knowledge.

    Sloppy or indifferent? You decide.

  45. And now comes more from the Democrats: Jamie gets to go to the White House to thank the president for "protecting" the San Juan Islands. So glad that this isn't scheduled during the campaign to make it look--like the designation itself--a politically timed event. Oh, wait . . . .

  46. The politicians are announce their party sign's throw the tattoos designs