Saturday, April 27, 2013

Is Shireene Hale The New Jon Shannon?

Most of us probably remember Jon Shannon, the former head of Public Works. During his tenure, the solid waste situation in these islands grew progressively more bizarre, as well as expensive. It seemed like every solid waste solution ever proposed by Shannon involved making the program more affordable by making it bigger and more expensive. He led us through a costly planning process to relocate the San Juan Island transfer station, an effort that eventually failed when it ran headlong into a buzzsaw of public opposition. He borrowed heavily and regularly to keep the solid waste system afloat. His presentations to the Council often contained basic mathematical errors that no elected official ever caught. He needlessly caused compliance issues and then informed on himself, cutting the roof off the San Juan Island transfer station and subsequently notifying Ecology that we didn't meet stormwater requirements because of it.

Until his final days, he received (however begrudgingly) support from the Council. Even after Shannon had left, the Council still followed his agenda for a while by putting forward a solid waste tax and spending plan patterned after Shannon's philosophy that "more is better." It wasn't until the grandiose solid waste tax plan got shellacked at the polls in 2011 that the Council finally got the message.

Now we seem to be afflicted by another bureaucrat who believes that "more is better." She receives, however begrudgingly, steady support from the Council. She leads a byzantine County program that is as bizarre as it is expensive. In the clip below, you'll see her say that we have to keep her around because, as long as she's here, she can explain the CAOs to everyone else, even though in the last post we saw her admit that she doesn't fully comprehend them. Maybe we should dub the CAOs the "Shireene Area Ordinances," since having been made in Shireene Hale's image, they are both unintelligible and presumptuous.

In the clip, you will hear Hale say, for the umpteenth time, that the CAOs are complicated because we have adopted a site-specific approach. That is a complete red herring. For the umpteenth time, we will say in reply that we do not have site-specific CAOs. We have CAOs that are pointless because they are based on meaningless cherry-picked site variables, leading to a result that cannot be understood even by those who crafted them.


  1. As we slowly begin to dig ourselves out of this morass (which we created for ourselves) ... one way to at least try to understand the mindset of our public officials over the past 6-8 years. Their their dealings with senior staff has been like working with astrologists and geomancers rather than rational problem solvers or managers. After awhile the numbness gets to you.

    Carl Sagan put this very well:

    “One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we’ve been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We’re no longer interested in finding out the truth. The bamboozle has captured us. It’s simply too painful to acknowledge, even to ourselves, that we’ve been taken. Once you give a charlatan power over you, you almost never get it back.”

    ― Carl Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark

  2. What has amazed me and indicated a sign of sickness in this county is the inability to even be able to run a dump. These last elections do not mean a thing unless we thin the herd of nonproductive bulls,cows and steers that cost more to feed than they are worth. If you are a vegatarian you can liken it to chopping weeds in your garden.

  3. Basic solutions to basic everyday issues. There is need and then there is want. Things happen deal with it. Make a list, what is number one priorety to survive? How much money do we have? Simple. Quit sitting in your office seeing what grants are there wheter we need it or not.Grants are not free,more so if for something we do not need.

  4. How is it someone paid $80,000/yr to "plan" has produced something that has the county being sued, doesn't even understand what she's produced, and engaged in illegal activity still have a job?

  5. @2:53.

    Odd that you should propound that approach to government. We just spent thousands of dollars plus much of the remaining time of the Winter Council engaged in the entirely ridiculous Community Conversations, which did NOT present cost data to the public, but rather asked them to talk about what they WANT. This was actually worse than the SMP "visioning" process in the way that people's genuine feelings and comments were transmogrified and homogenized into what resulted in "spend more money." About the only part of the exercise that produced something useful for the new Council was the "what works/what doesn't" questions. What works: Sheriff, road maintenance. What doesn't? CDP. Even this is covered over in the "word clouds" that are the principal product of the entire exercise to date.

    The Acting Manager is preparing a report. we will see if it manages to make sense of a senseless process. If so, it will be worth the cost. Any bets?

  6. Is Jon Shannon also responsible for the amazing fleet of shiny Public Works vehicles that we seem to have? I know that he is responsible for the GIS system; the system website thanks him for "vision" and "funding." (And to think that I thought taxpayers paid for it.)

    Has anyone in Public Works ever considered obtaining services from island companies rather than maintaining huge fleets and staffs?

  7. Is there a way to remove Shireene Hale from her post?

    And....could someone start a petition or something to change the verdict on the pictometry? do we remove Shireene Hale from her post?

    Did I repeat myself? :)

  8. @3:00
    I think your use of the word "sued" is a bit of an understatement. How bout "appealed and sued by multiple parties over multiple issues, to a degree unprecedented in county legal history. Said ensuing legal battles will waste an unfathomable amount of time and money and serve only to further divide a community that was once close knit. "
    Sued doesn't quite capture it.

    Jon Shannon, to his credit only wasted money to the tune of 10 million dollars. Shireene on the other hand has damaged the soul of our islands, which a price can not be calculated.

  9. I also noticed all the shiny new public works trucks a while ago. Must have been high milage from all the freeway driving they do. Maybe the problem with the old ones was that they were paid off? The heads of the county departments never met a salesperson they did"'nt like.

  10. Critical Areas Ordinance?

    Eastsound Deconstructed What Land?

    Neither project has done any good for the communities, one has politically divided and the other has created blight in place of a forest.


  11. We must teach our County Government that :
    You have to be EVEN more careful with an Island Community-- or there will be consequences. The world credit bubble popped 5 years ago. Our government needs to tighten its belt considerably just as most islanders have had to. We all have to make it very clear that we expect them to live within our means---just like we have to.

  12. @4:04
    Shireene should do the noble thing and resign. She is way to arrogant and has an inflated sense of importance for that to happen.
    Council could do it, they, after all, have administrative authority.
    I don't think she should help fix this mess that she created. Sort of reminds me of the wild land firefighter who sets a blaze just to make sure there is work.
    This lady is utterly incompetent, arrogant beyond belief, and deceitful in her ways.
    In Shireene's own unqualified mind, this is somehow ecology's fault.
    By her own admission, this stuff doesn't make sense.
    I honestly have a fear that once his gets before the GRowth Management Hearing Board for the litany of appeals, the county may again be sued because of Shireene's actions. I think the GMHB may sue her for emotional distress for inflicting them with the debacle that is the CAO.
    I have an idea. How bout a $100,000 prize for best written CAO update. Must meet certain criteria defined by the council and see what we get.
    The proverbial monkeys with typewriters could have come up with something better even if they were given large amounts of LSD.

  13. We could reconvene the Charter Review Committee and have them rewrite the thing.
    Couldn't be any worse.

  14. We could, by initiative, enact/demand a privacy policy for use of aerial surveys--except that our local IT manager may have signed away the rights to the pictures. Wonder if the Friends are looking to buy in? And who are these people "contributing" money to this project? A realtor on Lopez?? Roche Harbor resort? Why? Civic duty? Money for nothing? Hhhmm.

  15. Roche Harbor rivals the FOSJ in the support of regulation to restrict development.
    They have an approved development plan in place. If you restrict development in other areas on the islands, it makes it easier for them to sell their lots and expensive spec houses.
    Again, follow the money.
    This motivation is similar for a lot of FOSJ supporters. Rich waterfront property owners with houses. Squash out other development and the price/value of existing inventory will go up.
    Ain't about the environment.

  16. Emmanuel GoldsteinApril 27, 2013 at 6:54 PM

    Peg Manning said: "We just spent thousands of dollars plus much of the remaining time of the Winter Council engaged in the entirely ridiculous Community Conversations, which did NOT present cost data to the public, but rather asked them to talk about what they WANT."

    My fear is that the only tangible result of the silly series of meetings, excuse me, "Community Conversations", will be the word clouds, which, as you point out, take no account of the costs involved in actually delivering the utopian dreams. They might as well have opened each meeting by saying "OK, assume we've captured a unicorn that poops gold coins."

    The idea of a word cloud as a deliverable could only make sense to a government official bent on justifying a job that likely shouldn't exist.

    "The government big enough to give you everything you want is powerful enough to take everything you have."

  17. The community conversations wrapped up by the Economic Development Council reminds me of the old joke:

    " A physicist, a chemist and an economist are stranded on an island, with nothing to eat. A can of soup washes ashore. The physicist says, "Let's smash the can open with a rock." The chemist says, "Let's build a fire and heat the can first." The economist says, "Assume we have a can-opener..."

  18. Wait a minute ... CAO by initiative ...

    Now I know a local CAO cannot be overturned by local referendum because the state requires the local government to establish a CAO.

    But does it say anywhere that a CAO cannot be drafted by citizens and established in law by initiative?

    Probably not, but hey, just trying to think outside of the box. Anyone know the answer to this?

  19. So maybe two initiatives need to be written and signed by the community.

    Is there someone good at this kind of thing? Writing the original I mean?

  20. @7:18
    Yeah, have the crack ace members of the Charter Review Committee write it.
    Their workproduct is stellar, clear, and legally defensible.

  21. Sorry to be MIA. THANK YOU to Peg Manning for your efforts on the County Boards and Commissions State requirements.

    A bit strange the Say on Pay Board (my title) is mandated at TEN members. Seems that is the only one mandated?

    As an aside, this, ours, is another group seemingly out of touch with anything other than wildly excessive government pay and benefits.

  22. ECK, you're the best!
    I have heard rumblings about Hale excluding stuff from reports that didn't fit her agenda.
    Anyone have some specifics?
    I'd like to read more about this.

  23. New trucks are not the problem - with what the clowncil has blown on the solid waste debacle and the CAO we could buy a fleet of new trucks.

  24. I see the vile Lovel the Hut has yet to congratulate Bob, or concede. The bullet dodged by the county cannot be overstated, this self absorbed narcisit and her communist pal Lisa would've driven this community to open hostility.

  25. I think she did concede and put in the call, but you're right she has not made a public statement and she really should.

    Your point about self absorbed narcissism is really well taken. Clinically speaking, there is no cure in part because the narcissist cannot look in the mirror and see a problem.

    Naturally undeserved self-love balloons in to the presumption that everyone else must love you. If they don't, they're the problem. I see this behavior really poison the public sphere on Lopez Island, driven by a pair of characters embedded in the leadership of the community land trust over there.

    And then of course there is our Lord Senator. Oh boy.

    What is it about Eco-narcissism that persuades us to put these strange sociopaths into positions of power and influence over our private affairs?

    And, speaking of private affairs, what the hell is the flight schedule and how do we stop this damned aerial photography in its tracks?

  26. @10:44

    If you go back to the council videos where there is public comment concerning the CAOs you can listen to them and then...

    ...go to the next meeting's video and look under docs. Shireene will have a list of "concerns" supposedly based on the public comment.

    Compare them and you may be surprised.

    I called Patty M and told her I'd noticed that but she didn't seem to believe it. In fact...the docs I was looking at had tons of "concerns" listed that had not been mentioned verbally at the meeting. That suggests to me that the Friends just submit written "concerns" and that those are pretty much the issues Shireene addresses.

    It's a big job to find the situations where this happens but I know one of them was a meeting where Mr. Mackie, the attorney for CSA spoke. When was that? Anyone know? Any specific cases? I noticed it at the time but didn't write it all down. Dang. Maybe sometime early Autumn?

    I'm going to look around but I need help. Is there anyone who can guide this search?

  27. per the questionable comments by Shireene....this is a start.

    Comments at the Sept 14, 2011 meeting and the docs at the next meeting.

    Am I right? Is Shireene leaving things out?

  28. check this out...

  29. from @8:52

    Maybe it's 9/11/2012

  30. speaking of Jon Shannon, he was the dumbass that decided to screw over consignment treasures. Being ignorant to ‘use’ terms and definitions he decided that since drop off facilities for recycling were not approved uses in RFF that meant Consignment treasures couldn’t be a drop off facility :). Even though the existing facility a recycling center was at the time an existing use and by definition "at the time" Recycling centers include all aspects of recycling including drop off. most intelligent professionals in the field would have understood this, but not Jon Shannon and of course our planners. Where is customer service when you need it?

  31. some great comments on this page!
    we have more than enough character and
    brains in this one column to take back our home, lets dot it!

  32. Wouldn't it be ironic and appropriate for a Trojan heron to accumulate the evidence to encourage concerned citizens of all political beliefs to take back our local government from the misguided civil servants who mistake themselves for regulators and policy makers, instead of serving the will of the people?

    Edmund Burke, Thomas Paine, George Orwell, and Christopher Hitchens would be amused and proud to see such a blow struck
    for rationality and common sense.

    It has been said many good county employees would like to see the Hales view Friday Harbor in their rear view mirrors as their last ferry pulls away from the dock.

    How much more demonstrated incompetence will one regulator family be allowed to inflict on the taxpayers? Has any one calculated the real cost and damage the Hales and Shannon have put us through in the name of their form of bad government and administration?

    I believe they were all Kevin Ranker's creatures. Shannon, the Hales, Lovel, the power machine so many liberal democrats and independents dislike and distrust. Will the electorate continue to buy a poor Bill Clinton imitation from our fdledgling Cassius?

    The callow political princeling is said to now fear his base of support is withering by dry root and dissimulation as he tries to distance himself from all his previous bad judgements and expensive, ill-considered projects.

    His excuses and distractions tire. Most of San Juan County knows Ranker only serves Ranker. Lovel's fate will be his, come next election. It is a small county with few secrets.

    Ranker would love for voters to forget he set this train wreck into motion to win higher office, then tried to erase his involvement.

    Anonymous Bosch

  33. I thought Shireene was the prime writer of the CAO's, with FOSJ, PSP, and DOE hovering over her shoulder. She is now acting like she doesn't understand what she wrote. How is that? Who actually wrote the CAO's?

  34. Wow! It looks like I just happened upon the website of the San Juan Taliban. When I visited, it looked like such a nice, friendly little community. Who knew there was such intolerance and hatred bubbling below the surface? Here's hoping you find peace within yourselves.

  35. Who would that make you? @ 9:31 pm

  36. @9:31
    Some things are simply intolerable, hence the intolerance.
    As far as "hate" goes, please kindly provide an example before making such allegations. Unfortunately your comments are too typical of name calling from the MSM. You left off "racist, zenophobe, tea partier"

    Thanks for dropping in. Comments are always welcome. Just that a comparison to the Taliban seems a bit outlandish. I don't recall the TH ever advocating shiria law, beheading infidels, stoning rape victims to death, destroying monuments of other religions, etc.
    I guess we are seeing the fallout from passage of I 502.


  37. 3:PM
    plausability is not her strong suit