Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Goodness, Where Have I Been?

Did you think that I was kidnapped by Kit Rawson? Beaten with a pencil by Kivisto?

Nah ... I was working on special assignment.  I didn't intend for it to last as long as it did, but ... life happens ... apologies.

We have a new Council, but many of the same old questions. For instance, when will our Council catch on that they are regularly played by staff? The Council was manipulated by staff over solid waste. They were played by staff (and consultants) about the CAOs ... about the Community Conversations ... and over Pictometry. Will we ever have a Council that isn't three moves behind staff? As the old saying goes, if you're in a poker game and you don't know who the patsy is, you're the patsy. It's been a long time since we had a Council that knew who the patsy was.

We may have our first glimpse into the perspicacity of the latest Council when they select a new County Manager ... possibly as early as today. So far, things don't look so good. We have candidates that were pre-selected by Prothman. Prothman was involved in the hiring of Pete Rose and Bob Jean. Prothman always gets the call when we're looking for a County big-wig. In my opinion, any search process that begins with Prothman has very little chance of turning out well for the citizens of this county.

Be that as it may, here is my short rating of each of the candidates, based on what little I've learned of them:
  1. Sinclair - she has a rural experience and a strong financial background. She seems as if she might be a particularly good fit.
  2. Pence - he has rural and tribal experience. He seems like a potentially good fit.
  3. Pascale - as much as I like Italian guys from New Jersey (and I really do like Italian guys from NJ), this does not seem like a promising fit. He's been in one place for a very long time, and I think the adjustment to this community would be too much of a stretch.
  4. Thomas - oh god no! We do not need a planner from King County.
  5. Wilbrecht - how did this guy even get on the list?
Staff (many of them, but not all) are still out of control, and we need a Manager who will help get this place shaped up. For a perfect example of what it means for staff to be out of control, just read anything written by Shireene Hale ... like her recent email to the Planning Commission.
From: Shireene Hale <shireeneh@sanjuanco.com>
Date: Fri, May 10, 2013 at 10:13 AM
Subject: Conduct of planning commission meetings
To: barbara thomas, Brian Ehrmantraut
Cc: Rene Beliveau <reneb@sanjuanco.com>

Barbara and Brian,

Is there a time next week the three of us can talk about the conduct of planning commission meetings and how to keep them civil and focused on the issues, and not on individuals? Barbara – yesterday I think you should have reigned Bill Wright in, and been the one to tell him that he needed to direct his comments to the Planning Commission – not at me. Brian, the second wetland hearing stands out as one of the most poorly managed meetings I have ever observed, with clapping and inappropriate, derogatory remarks directed at Dr. Adamus, Janus and I, that you did not control. I have also observed John Evans berating Janet Alderton in public meetings (though I don’t recall if that was before the Planning Commission).

When that kind of behavior is allowed, people begin to think it is acceptable. It also discourages attendance and participation by those who are uncomfortable with conflict, and it makes us look bad as an organization and as a community.

I think one of the things the chair needs to do at the beginning of each planning commission hearing is  explain what is going to happen, that testimony needs to be directed to the Planning Commission, and that we ask people to be civil, respectful and keep their testimony focused on the issues. If things start getting out of control, you can clear the room if need be, and resume the meeting (if we are in deliberations) or continue the meeting to another day. If you cannot get the crowd under control, we can always ask for a deputy to come over and clear the room. The point is, there are options for dealing with people like Mr. Wright. It sounds like Randy has met with other committees and commissions to discuss the conduct of meetings and we could schedule time for him to address the Planning Commission on this issue.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts. I am mostly available next week and can set up a three way conference call at a time that is convenient for the two of you.




  1. Translation:
    "When people begin to question my superior intelect, and my obviously un-questionable expertise on every subject, they must be silenced and removed from my presence."

  2. I was unaware of the direct reporting relationship of the Chair of the Planning Commission and some county department employee. I imagine it came as a bit of a surprise for the Chair of the Planning Commission to learn of this direct reporting relationship. I wonder if the new Council is aware of these lines and boxes in the organizational chart. Surely the $17,000 a month temporary management guy heard the news during his conversations with the community where he also learned that the islands were actually really different.

  3. Did anyone else know that the Roman god of transitions (Janus) had been attending Planning Commission meetings, and that the PC audience made derogatory remarks to Janus?

    How many times do we get to host a Roman god, and all we did was make derogatory remarks? That blows our chances of ever getting Zeus or Poseidon here (and I know, they're Greek, not Roman, but still). Our tourist board must be really upset. They would have been a big draw.

    Listen to Shireene everyone. We need police at our public meetings. Nothing discourages good public participation like a huge crowd of people at PC meetings trying to speak to our public officials. Seriously, we need to go back to secret meetings. That's public participation at its finest.

  4. Berating Janet Alderton? The wording of that HAS to be backwards. It should read "Janet Alderton berating."

    Janet Alderton never met a person she couldn't berate, and if the reverse ever were to occur, it would be a rare occurrence indeed.

    Poor Janet Alderton. So meek and unable to defend herself. This email shows the strong connection between Shireene and Janet. Where is Shireene's sense of civility when others are criticized or ignored?

    We are all going to Hale. Why does she still have a job?

    Council -- stop the bullshit and do something!

  5. ECK-

    I second your motion and ask for the chair to dismiss the field.

    Any process that gets this far and still maintains a candidate like Wilbrecht is one that needs to be scrubbed and started over again.

    Sinclair is likely the candidate of choice, but again, here we have a career politician whose aspirations are to hold political office. As I read the list I am starting to realize that if I could just get my foot in the door, there is a whole employment world out there for individuals who are looking to bounce from job to job with relatively little accountability and a great salary! Maybe there really is hope for Political Science Majors after all!

    Welcome back by the way!

  6. This from Zerohedge.com:

    Guest Post: Centralization And Sociopathology
    Submitted by Tyler Durden on 05/21/2013 - 12:31
    Concentrated power and wealth are intrinsically sociopathological by their very nature. We have long spoken of the dangers inherent to centralization of power and the extreme concentrations of wealth centralization inevitably creates. There is another danger of centralization: sociopaths/psychopaths excel in organizations that centralize power, and their ability to flatter, browbeat and manipulate others greases their climb to the top. In effect, centralization is tailor-made for sociopaths gaining power. Nothing infuriates a sociopath or a sociopathological organization more than the exposure of their sociopathology, and so those in power will stop at nothing to silence, discredit, criminalize or eliminate the heroic whistleblower.

    Helllo Shireene!!

  7. "When the people fear the government, there is tyranny. When the government fears the people, there is Liberty."
    Thomas Jefferson

  8. Wow, we have such a great IT department. the video stream never works. Thanks Stan. Isn't he fired yet?

  9. WOW! This note from Ms. Hale goes way beyond: "Who does this person think she is?"

    I worked in a town government about the size of this one for eleven years and I must say I never, ever saw this level of insubordination.

    Thomas and Ehrmantraut should request an executive session with the Council to discuss a personnel matter.

  10. San Juan Islander .. says
    Michael Thomas... new county manager..WTF?

  11. And Randy did a great job canceling the contract with Pictometry. Who are the other public agencies that we bought this for? Ahh, Thomas is an alumni of King County that famous cesspool of county government. Wonder why he moved around so much. Playing musical money?

  12. OK, TH is 1 for 1 in predicting the hiring outcome. TH listed Thomas as an NFW--and there's where the Council landed. Of course.

    Maybe someone can actually start off as a planner and NOT seek to control the lives of everyone with whom he or she comes into contact. Perhaps our horrible experiences under the Hales regimes is unusual?

    Is there a golden parachute in this contract? Did they have a lawyer look at it?

  13. Hubris (pron.: shireene hale):
    Means extreme pride or arrogance.

    Hubris often indicates a loss of contact with reality and an overestimation of one's own competence or capabilities, especially when the person exhibiting it is in a position of power.

  14. Hubris dovetails nicely with the earlier remarks on the Planning Commission sitting in the court of Roman and Greek gods. Poseidon especially would attract spandex wrapped eco-cyclers.

    Hubris and the gods. Yes indeed. Hubris sews the seeds of its own destruction. The error of thinking you are above the gods or forgetting to give them credit when they have helped you.

    Hubris is not a moral or ethical failure. To the Greeks it was just a failure of common sense, to fail to comprehend how the world worked. You might as well walk a cliff imagining you would fall screaming to your death.

    Hubris is the process of breaking natural law. Going against the laws of nature, in effect. And that is an outrage to the gods, who will prepare a very special place in Hale for violators, of all eternity.

  15. Oh dear me. Where is our little grammar and spell checking troll?

    Meant to say above: "You might as well walk off a cliff assuming you would NO fall screaming to your death."

    And yes I certainly agree the Chair of the PC is well within his rights to demand the immediate resignation of Shirene Hale. He will have broad support. She is more out of control than the maniac who hired her, and he left in the dead of night as I recall.

  16. Yikes. One more time. I meant to say: " You might as well walk off a cliff assuming you would NOT fall screaming to your death."

    Wile E. Coyote ... Shirene Hale wearing an Acme Rocket Belt ...

    Long day ...

  17. @5:28, 5:24, 5:19
    That many corrections is the cyber equivalent of slurring your speech. Hale rule drove you to drink?

  18. I am very satisfied with the selection of Michael Thomas for County Manager. He was my first choice after talking to all the candidates and researching their experience. My second choice was Michael Pence and third the city manager from California.MT and I had a good conversation about DOE. He has the right perspective for us.

  19. Thanks M Loftus for your insight. By "right perspective" regarding Ecology, does that mean we, as a county will stop listening to Ed and Shireene BS the legislators about some alleged consequence for not kowtowing to DOE?
    And that we are competent stewards of the lands without the nonsense regulatory schemes concocted by the likes of the Hales?
    Or was it something else? Curious for your insights. Thanks.

  20. I would sure like to know who and why the public meetings as supposedly video captured have for many weeks been corrupted chopped up and made incomprehensible to the public eye. As well the associated and connected documents have also been hidden from the same public view. From here it seems as though county staff wishes to view up the ass of private citizens, however they impose every measure to remove such transparency from public view. It is at this time most imperative that the council make it clear they act on and for the behalf of? and in response to the oath to the People
    And concerning the brief offer by the PA's office, useless pap that never once even considered to address the very real concerns of the people.

  21. Thanks for the input and perspective, Michelle. We've had so many bad experiences with planners in County government, perhaps we're due for some good ones to compensate.

    We'll keep our fingers crossed.

  22. You’ve heard it before, that a local or any other person not having governmental and bureaucratic experience in the areas that the 3 current Council persons lack, was not going to be the final choice. It is certainly understandable that this irritates the “buy local” thinking.
    It may help those that are a little chafed over the process and the result to consider some of the following thoughts on the subject:
    Imagine for a moment, 3 County Council persons lacking governmental and bureaucratic experience in most areas. Imagine for a moment, the current County staff members (who are the counselors and advisers to the County Council) are still in place and manipulating the County Council because they are the ones who do have the governmental and bureaucratic experience. Imagine now, hiring a local, or any other person, without the necessary governmental and bureaucratic experience necessary to advise and guide the Council.
    The end result of that scenario (of which 2 of the 3 our current reality) is a County staff continuing to running amok. The County Council bringing in an outside and well experienced bureaucrat was the only hope they had for gaining control over the County. The new County manager will be the lands through which the new Council sees its information. The new manager will have the experience to help in advising and guiding this new Council through the bureaucratic fog they are to experience.
    All that having been said today, as well as before, it will be the job of all the responsible citizens in San Juan County to constantly monitor all things before the County past, present and future. We must know what is coming, consult our local experts on a particular subject and joined together in advising the County Council and then holding them responsible for their actions. We must also use all means available to us hold the County staff, boards and committees responsible for their decisions. This will certainly take an involved and united effort by all of us.
    Ladies and gentlemen, now is the time to put the pressure on and get rid of those on the County persons elected, appointed, paid and volunteer who are incompetent, bias or agenda driven.
    Let’s take the next couple of days to vent, bitch and discuss all the negatives concerning the new Council and the new County manager. Then, let’s work with what we have and get the job done.
    My friends, that is what we have in common today.

  23. @don pencil
    What we have in common is a clear understanding of and unifying desire to see Shireene Hale removed. Her incompetence is only matched by her arrogance and contempt for pretty much everyone. She is wholly unqualified for the position she holds and finally admitted that her years of CAO "update" resulted in something that "even she doesn't understand" and claimed it is analogous to "the tax code".
    Please. Mr Thomas. Council. Hell, even Shireene, don't you have the decency to run from the mess you created. ?

  24. Well back to Pictometry.

    Fact: Regardless, Pictometry if allowed to proceed will acquire a full data set including obliques and retains full rights to sell those datasets to any customer.

    The county spin, you can read it in the Guardian. We won't take the obliques and Pictometry will shave a few grand off the contract but we're still for the multiyear, six figure deal.

    Huh? I thought the concern was no obliques. That is not what Gaylord negotiated nor do I see any off ramps clarified as the council directed.

    What in Sam Hill is going on here? There is no change here. The obliques will be shot, available to Homeland Security and any weird outfit in the county that wants to engage in "virtual trespassing."

    Really this is outrageous. What is the flight plan? Is this really proceeding? I am so very disappointed.

  25. It seems that LIDAR is being done with the picture's. Does no one understand that LIDAR is how the oblique's are generated?? Talk about bait and switch. They are doing the oblique's and we have bought and paid for it. Way to go Randy, got your cake and get to eat it too.

  26. @7:48pm so you are aware google maps is rolling out a new version that is combining much of the google earth and maps functionally together. They already are deploying oblique views of locations on the east coast. So while I join most on this forum who deplore the process the government engaged in, I am more annoyed by the fact that hundreds of thousands of dollars will be spent on functionally that will be free in no time at all. And regardless of what technology you have when push comes to shove the county will still have to deploy a body to go and inspect the real problem. The county could not enforce code violations via the technology alone. It is a shocking waste of money and a complete lack of basic due diligence.

  27. The FOSJ have been strong proponent of LIDAR for years, for obvious reasons. Understand that LIDAR imagery (we already have it) was processed by Dr. Adamus into data layers that presume reveal stream lines, wetlands and other CAO related features.

    The Dept. of Ecology has taken aerial photos of shoreline including obliques around the state, including San Juan County.

    Punch up https://fortress.wa.gov/ecy/coastalatlas/tools/ShorePhotos.aspx

    And go fly around. Find a house. Zoom in at an angle. Do you think the homeowner was informed before hand? Should they have been?

    The key feature to modern privacy policy is the opt-out choice to any data gathering of personally identifiable information. That's the basic deal. We need policy.

    Finally I don't understand the relationship of LIDAR to oblique images. I see LIDAR as sort of a grey digital elevation model, great for computing terrain features but not visual imagery.

    But yes, Google is good enough and it will improve to be sure. And I know we went through a similar challenge in recent years implementing E-911 capabilities here and lots of folks wanted to be left alone. But it was also real important to put that system in place.

    But this Pictometry stuff. Not so much.

  28. 8:53 LIDAR is the data set that tie's the images to the photo's. It correlate's everything so that it all fit's together.

  29. Lost in a Roman,
    Wilderness of pain
    And all the children
    Are insane...

    R.I.P. Ray Manzerek, you and Jim had it nailed in 1967

  30. I know, I know, the new Council is VERY busy, but seems Jamie Stephens is holding on to his chair. Make a note TH people.

    We have three experienced businessmen and I have to expect their selection of Thomas was the best, one could expect given the group presented to them. (Not getting into the unneeded rush to get this hire done...we have no faith in our own ability?)

    As to Ms. Hale; perhaps overlooked is a recognition by her that the free ferry is waiting for her and she wants to be obnoxious enough to get fired. Unemployment, a possible lawsuit, a possible settlement including long term health benefit payments, shit who knows how her warped mind is working.

    If I was management, I'd make her job so God awful, she would quit. You don't want this dame jacking your Experience Mod.

  31. I am so sick of those damned satelites staring down at my property, and that damned technology beaming the internet, and T,V., and phones, what bullshit, can't I just be alone...with my sheep...and velcro gloves...

  32. Who had his staff spend three weeks rewriting the CAO? Who took over the Pictometry negotiations? Who defended the "team" meetings? Who do I see a picture of getting to know the latest county manager? Well, I think I know who runs San Juan County.

  33. The more things don't change, the more they remain the same.

  34. Took you long enough

  35. I would imagine one of the reasons Mrs. and Mr. Alderton retired up here was so that they would not have to pay state taxes on their pensions from the state where they came from.

  36. @ 11:41 Well what's wrong with that? Once you have sucked one ecosystem dry, why not move on to another?

  37. Hard to believe but the new Pictometry contract is actually worse than before.

    Gaylord's goal? Do nothing to prevent the oblique shots from being "in the can." Mission accomplished. We're still paying for them to be taken but will save a paltry six grand in exchange for not having access to them.

    Better hope the obliques are licensed to Google asap. Until they are, all of the usual suspects will have access to views our private land owners won't. Real nice.

  38. Hey, stop picking on Stan for the repeated failures of the County video. Stan is a PR guy, not an IT person. I mean, well, he IS the IT person, but -- as recent experience has demonstrated -- he is NOT an IT person. Perhaps our new manager knows a good IT person? Then Stan can go back to Rumor Control. Or even better, to the Democratic party spin machine. Surely some pol on the mainland needs a professional prevaricator?

  39. What ever became of the Common Sense Alliance. They are kind of the adult in the room I thought on a lot of land use issues. Do they have a policy position on Pictometry? Don't they have access to this Council?

  40. And back to Pictometry;

    The issue is less about "what" we are getting and more about how we got there.

    From the first council meetings about this, county staff was instructed to do very specific things with very specific people. The raw fact is that they engaged in a contract without assuring that the specifics were in place.

    Honestly, Google will probobly have better imagery soon and for free, so as far as our privacy goes, that went out the window long ago. But what we should be up in arms about is the fact that staff willfully and negligently entered into a contract against the will of the council.

  41. For me, the issue was never the existence of the obliques. Fact is that Google already does that stuff. It was the way that the people who wanted to pay Pictometry for it flat out lied to Council (were you lying then or were you lying later) about who was paying for it and how the money was "found" for a pet project. And how Council couldn't even pay enough attention to find out what was going on after they knew that the Gang Who Couldn't Shoot Straight were acting in direct defiance of their instructions.

    Why is this three year contract still ongoing? And do the "Friends" have the ability to buy into the data, so that they can peep all they want but we (who paid for it) cannot?


  42. "This Council" could have been a lot worse, but no one has any real control. Jamie is still Chair and, unless his recent brush with defeat clued him in that the voters want something better, is marching down the road dictated by staff and their "friends." Bob listens and thinks but is only one vote. The key is Rick Hughes, who is the swing vote, tends to vote with Jamie, and needs to hear from voters what issues are important. He seems easily distracted and may be on his way to Jonestown.

  43. @ 6:58 The Common Sense Alliance is busy working on the CAO appeal (remember, Randy's "100 pages and 1000 citations"?), responding to both the county and the "Friends." The Heron really should do a dramatic reading of the Friends brief--humorous or terrifying, depending on your view of life.

    And on the shoreline master plan, which is proceeding very very fast toward the SNAFU product that the CAO became. (The people on the shoreline, especially the summer residents, need to wake up and pay attention.)

    Futurewise, the granddaddy of the enviro-scolds, has decided to come in and help the faltering Friends on the SMP front.

    So, yeah, CSA seems pretty busy even without Pictometry.

  44. Google doesn't gather overhead data on their own. Their updates come from outfits like Pictometry (which they probably own a stake in).

    The SJC photos Google has today are none other than those the County subsidized in the summer of 2008 (not 2006).

    It's not so much that the obliques are that out of the ordinary but I do wonder if Martha's Vineyard could be so easily duped. The contract could and should have been cancelled outright. Pictometry may have flown anyway.

    We are now subsidizing Google's update which local private landowners will be dependent on just to see what the Friends and others will be using against them.

    Witnessing the collusion of staff to drive forward their agenda with our Council representing nothing but a tiny speed bump is pretty demoralizing.

  45. For many of us the issue with Pictometry is indeed privacy. As citizens, and respective of our constitution and our neighbors, we have every right to demand every protection of our privacy. Some of us are not concerned. that’s just great but even with that, every one of us should demand the respect given to those of us who do care to be left alone to the highest degree possible. This council and the council before them will not, and never has advised or reminded by legal council to consider those potential constitutional provisions infringed by any new tool or law. Strict scrutiny is a standard that should be met in every conversation that considers to impose any loss of privacy, property, or infringe on speech, actions, or activity. the council and staff should be reminded of this fact every day, and as citizens we need to remember to respect the differences between us to the support of privacy beyond our own needs.

  46. Sorry to delay in my answer to a listed question. MT and I discussed the fact that DOE has been too involved in our county planning.I don't want to represent MT's opinion but I am satisfied that he has dealt with this issue and defends county control on this issue.He will have plenty of chances to prove this in SJC.