Friday, August 30, 2013

The ABCs of Political Patronage

Lead Salmon Recovery Entity ... MRC ... LIO/AAOG ... Conservation District ... Stewardship Network ... Madrona Institute ... Friends of the San Juans ... ECONet ... PSP ... glossy Friends messaging brochures funded by State-government (PSP) Targeted Awareness Grants (TAG) ... millions spent on "salmon recovery" with no measurement of results and no accountability for failure ... frivolous and abusive Friends legal actions opposing everything from an 80-year old widow wanting to retire, to the CAOs -- whose passage and approval the Friends demanded.

You can cut the environmental phoniness in this county with a knife. We don't have "save the environment" groups. We have "save the environmental bureaucracy" groups.  Their primary interests are ensuring that they continue to get paid while they protect the political patronage system they've built.

The current titular heads of the patronage system are Jamie Stephens and Ron Zee. They are working in tandem to hold on to as much of the patronage system as they can, despite the election outcome.  So far, they're doing a pretty good job, and Stephens, in particular, is doing a superb job.

One of the greatest achievements of the patronage system is that we all take for granted that the County deserves a "seat at the table" with the tribes, the PSP, and even its own departments ... instead of actually running the County itself. The County has been demoted to being just another stakeholder, and the group-think of unelected employees and appointees has been promoted to government. That's how the LIO/AAOG works ... and the Stewardship Network ... and the ECONet ... the Lead Entity ... even the County's own MRC.  These groups are accountable to no one, and they represent no one but themselves. They reward themselves and their patronage cronies with money and multi-decade appointments while the County sits on its hands, convinced that it's just a "fiscal agent" or some other bureaucratic label that equates to "eunuch."

The congress of "environmental groups" operating here traces back to relatively few people who appear over and over again, but the proliferation of organizations, committees, and trusts makes it seem like the County is outnumbered. The County has been Delphi'd ... go along with the crowd ... behave ... fall in line ... be patient ... be part of a team ... you want to agree with the rest of us, don't you? ... DON'T YOU?!?!

Stephens has this down pat, and he is working the other two Councilmen for all its worth. Stephens' protection of the patronage system is nothing short of heroic. He got himself appointed Chair of the Council. Stephens sits on the MRC. He's the Council representative on the LIO/AAOG too ... all the key places the patronage system wants to protect. Also, despite the fact that major aspects of the patronage system should have been (and could have been) dismantled immediately, Stephens' has effectively used a series of delay tactics and other maneuvers to convince the other Councilmen that they're "part of a team" and reform "takes time" and we need "patience" ... let's get more "input." When you hear one of our politicians use those words, that's the patronage system talking ... that's a Delphi zombie courtesy of Stephens.

John Cleese recently wrote a satirical piece about terror alerts in various countries in Europe.  Here's what he said about the French.
The French government announced yesterday that it has raised its terror alert level from "Run" to "Hide." The only two higher levels in France are "Collaborate" and "Surrender." The rise was precipitated by a recent fire that destroyed France 's white flag factory, effectively paralyzing the country's military capability.
Aside from that excerpt being terribly ironic given the positions taken by the UK and France over the last two days, let's hope it's not the role model for our new Councilmen as they contend with our system of political patronage.

Jamie Stephens, Chair of the San Juan County Council


Ron Zee, Chair of the San Juan Islands Conservation District


Thursday, August 22, 2013

Conservation District Watch: The Series - Installment #8

The Conservation District that exists today is not the same animal that formed in 1947. In fact, the Conservation District has undergone tremendous change in just the past year. In the last few months, they let go a long-time senior planner (Dana Kinsey). They hired Lyshall as District Manager, and they recently hired a couple of other part-time junior staffers.

Zee and the Stewardship Network Steering Committee (Zee, Lyshall, Stephanie Buffum, Lincoln Bormann) also appointed Julia Vouri as Coordinator of the Stewardship Network/ECONet "under the umbrella of the Conservation District." And when we decipher what that last sentence means, we'll let you know, but it sounds like Zee has found a way to get around the Conservation District Board and absorb whatever/whomever he wants into the CD by using bureaucratic sleight of hand.

So when the Conservation District talks about all the great things they've done (as they do in the email below), the people who are there now are not necessarily the ones who accomplished them. The people who are there now have a different agenda ... empire building. The CD is transforming itself into "grant central" for the county. The CD wants tax money, Salmon Recovery money, Voluntary Stewardship Plan money, and every other public penny it can get its grubby mitts on. It is getting ready for big plans, big money, and good times.

The Conservation District (with their farm plans and native plant sale) is to the Machine/Network what the Genco Olive Oil Company was to the Corleone Family. It's a front. It's a place to launder money from the State and elsewhere ... money for messaging and bad-science ... and re-brand it as grassroots, locally-based, environmentally conscious, conservation "science based planning."

Letting our Conservation District continue to operate would be like letting the mafia survive because we like olive oil.

The email below was sent out recently by the Conservation District to encourage people to support the CD's requested new tax assessment. It was effective. Many people turned out to testify before the County Council about the wholesome goodness of the Conservation District and the wonderful things it does (or used to do).  Honestly, though, look how anemic even the CD's own numbers are for the benefits they've bestowed on us.

80 ... they've helped 80 people. Not 80 people per year ... but over 5 years ... that's about half of one percent of our population of 15,000+.  And they have benefited (whatever that means) 3,500 acres. Our county has about 110,000 acres.

Frankly, that's not even much of a front. The CD has to go; otherwise, it won't be long before they're making us offers we can't refuse.
________________________________________________

----- Original Message -----
Sent: Friday, August 02, 2013 1:53 PM
Subject: Request for support

Dear SJC landowner,

I am contacting you because you have worked with the San Juan Islands Conservation District in the last few years and understand what we do and how we are placed within the context of land conservation for residential, farm or forest lands.

Our history goes back to 1947 in San Juan County. The work with do with landowners is done using a non-regulatory, non-enforcement, science based planning process.   We have continued to offer our services over the years while growing with the changes in science and our local land base.   We have offered access to information and cost-share opportunites for enhancing your management work and your working lands.  Our work has benefited over 80 landowners and 3500 acres in the last five years.  You were one of those landowners.

The current County Assessment Ordinance provides us with a $5 assessment per parcel. Because of a recent state Supreme Court ruling the ordinance needs to be re-worded to include a per acre amount to meet the requirements of state law. The proposed new ordinance changes the fee to $5 per parcel plus 5 cents per acre. In other words, an owner of a 10-acre parcel would pay $5.50 rather than the current $5 per year.  The additional revenues (approximately $3,800) will mostly be spent on County administrative costs to implement the changes.

To make this change in the ordinance a public hearing is required. Our hearing with the County Council is scheduled for next Tuesday, August 6th at 9:00 AM.

If you would be willing to appear in person (if you can!) or even write an email to the County Council members expressing your support we would really appreciate it.

If you do send an email please do send me a copy of it so I can refer to it during the hearing.

You may reach the County Council members collectively at:  SJC Council  <council@sanjuanco.com>

Our via each Council members email contact:

Bob Jarman <bobja@sanjuanco.com>

Rick Hughes <Rickh@sanjuanco.com>

Jamie Stephens <jamies@sanjuanco.com>

Please feel free to contact me or our new district manager Linda Lyshall if you have any questions!

Regards,

R. Bruce Gregory
San Juan Islands Conservation District
NRCS Certified Planner
Farm & Forest Resources
 ▲▲▲▲▲▲☼▲▲▲
Mail: 350 Court St. #10
Office: 530 Guard St.
Friday Harbor, San Juan Is. WA  98250
360-378-6621
b.gregory@sanjuanislandscd.org

Conservation District Watch: The Series - Installment #7

I'm sure you're familiar with the Dos Equis commercial? Well, judging by the doors that fly open for Lyshall, Rosenkotter, and Zee, I'm really beginning to wonder if they might qualify as the most interesting people in the world? Consider the following:
  • Their organ donation cards also list their grants.
  • Salmon list them as their emergency contacts.
  • They've brought in over $12 million in grants, which used to be a lot of money.
  • Orca and sand lances live vicariously through them.
  • Our Prosecuting Attorney questions them, just because they're interesting.
Okay, let's expand upon that last point a bit further.  It's not so much that our Prosecuting Attorney questions the Conservation District, it's that he seems to be eager to provide them with free legal advice even though the Conservation District is not part of our County government. As a State agency, the Conservation District is supposed to go to the Attorney General for advice, or hire their own attorney.

Our Prosecuting Attorney doesn't even provide legal advice to the average taxpaying San Juan County citizen, but somehow Zee and Lyshall have been able to get Gaylord to act as the Conservation District legal advisor on occasion (see emails below). How do they do that? How is it that taxpayers can't get legal advice from our Prosecuting Attorney, but the Conservation District is able to get free legal help? Talk about a sweet deal ... the Conservation District doesn't even pay taxes; in fact, they get taxes. The Conservation District meddles in our County affairs; they receive tax money from us; and then on top of that, they get free legal advice from our Prosecuting Attorney too.

It's ... just ... mind ... boggling.

Below are some emails from the Conservation District regarding their involvement with Gaylord. The first email describes the critical assistance the Conservation District received from Gaylord regarding CD plans for an increased tax assessment. The second email is interesting for what it doesn't say. It was redacted because the County claimed attorney-client privilege between the Prosecuting Attorney and the Conservation District. The only trouble with that excuse is that it isn't true. As mentioned, the Conservation District is definitely not the client of our Prosecuting Attorney.

Remember, the Conservation District doesn't always scam people, but when they do, they ... oh who am I kidding, they always scam people.
____________________________________________________________
From: Bruce Gregory <b.gregory@sanjuanislandscd.org>
Date: Mon, Oct 15, 2012 at 2:43 PM
Subject: Re: Re-writing the C.D. Assessment Ordinance!
To: Madrona Institute <ron@madrona.org>

Board,

OH Boy...I am glad I went.  It was Randy only.  Today was the 1st touch meeting. He grabbed me and we had a pre-testimony conference out side the C.C. chamber.  Thank goodness they were running late!
Randy gave the legal background on the issue.  I gave the overview of what we have accomplished already and need to do.

We have had:
Board discussion.  Mimic Island County, .05 per acre.  We have had meeting with Assessor & Treasurer.  They are happy because they will be able to pay for the needed changes in software and implementation with part of the funds collected (as per RCW).

Next steps:

Randy is writing the new C.D. Assessment Ordinance that will update and supersede Ord. # 23-2010.
We should set a date for a public meeting by this Friday.  (For a meeting in Nov.)  I suppose you could roll this into a board meeting but change the location of the meeting like we did in 2010 when this happened for the previous ordinance.  We need two weeks outreach based upon the RCW 89-00-040.  (Although Randy conceded this was out of the time line presented in the RCW which is set up for the usual approach and not a re-active re-authorizing so he was okay with working outside the stated timeline).

We need to make sure we have support in writing from Assessor & Treasurer that this will be a revenue neutral cost .i.e. the added income will pay for the process needed in assessment changes in Treasurer and Assessor office.  This would support Randy's work on the wording.

The second touch is Oct. 29, special Monday C.C. meeting.  I would suspect Randy will have his draft done by then and present it.

So, some timely decisions from the board or Chair, another discussion or two, a public meeting in Nov. 2012.  Remember we have to accomplish this before the end of Dec. 2012 for the 2013 tax year.
Whew....
Click to enlarge. Right click to download.


Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Conservation District Watch: The Series - Installment #6

When you're pulling a scam, it's a question of timing. Obviously, you wait until the entire plan is cooked and ready to serve, then it's time for the patsy.

For Rosenkotter, Lyshall, and Zee, after you've coordinated with the State, after you've informed the PSP, after you've gotten letters from the tribes, then you invite Jarman and Hughes around for a little "discussion." You present your scheme as a fait accompli ... a done deal ... just sign on the bottom line.

Then, you circle back with Jamie before going before the Council on July 15 and voila, the suckers will never know what hit them. It's just like taking candy from a baby ... or in this case, that might be better put as "taking oversight and millions from the County."

Only it didn't work this time. But the entire Conservation District ploy is an example of how it usually does work around here. By the time "they" reveal their plans to normal folks, the fix is already in. They've been maneuvering for weeks, if not months. They're a dozen steps ahead of everyone else.

If you're in a poker game, and you don't know who the patsy is, you're the patsy. We've been the patsy for a long, long time.
_______________________________________________________

From: Barbara Rosenkotter
Sent: Thursday, June 27, 2013 10:46 AM
To: 'llyshall@sanjuanislandscd.org'
Subject: RE: Meeting tomorrow?

Are we meeting at Rick's office?

‐‐‐‐‐Original Message‐‐‐‐‐
From: Linda Lyshall [mailto:llyshall@sanjuanislandscd.org]
Sent: Thursday, June 27, 2013 10:42 AM
To: Barbara Rosenkotter
Subject: FW: Meeting tomorrow?

‐‐‐‐‐Original Message‐‐‐‐‐
From: Rick Hughes [mailto:rickh@sanjuanco.com]
Sent: Thursday, June 27, 2013 9:05 AM
To: llyshall@sanjuanislandscd.org
Subject: Re: Meeting tomorrow?

Sounds good.

Sent from my iPhone

On Jun 27, 2013, at 8:21 AM, "llyshall@sanjuanislandscd.org" <llyshall@sanjuanislandscd.org> wrote:
>
> Ok. How about if we try to meet just after the picnic around 1:30?
>
>> Linda:
>>
>> Today the schedule is tight. There may be a few minutes after the
>> staff picnic and I will be on the 2:15 boat to Orcas.
>>
>> Not sure of my schedule on 7/3.
>>
>> Rick
>> Sent from my iPhone
>>
>> On Jun 26, 2013, at 2:31 PM, "Linda Lyshall" <llyshall@sanjuanislandscd.org<mailto:llyshall@sanjuanislandscd.org> wrote:
>>
>> Rick,
>> Barbara Rosenkotter and I would like to meet with you to discuss the
>> fiscal agent for the salmon recovery program. Do you have anytime
>> available tomorrow afternoon or the afternoon of July 3rd?
>>
>> Thank you,
>>
>> Linda
>>
>> Linda Lyshall, District Manager
>> San Juan Islands Conservation District
>> 540 Guard St., Friday Harbor, WA
>> Office: 360.378.6621
>> Cell: 425.478.9131

_______________________________________________________

From: Linda Lyshall <llyshall@sanjuanislandscd.org>
Sent: Tuesday, July 02, 2013 10:34 AM
To: Bob Jarman
Cc: Barbara Rosenkotter; b.gregory@sanjuanislandscd.org
Subject: RE: Meeting Request

Great. How about 4:00 at our office at 530 Guard Street?

From: Bob Jarman [mailto:bobja@sanjuanco.com]
Sent: Tuesday, July 02, 2013 9:13 AM
To: <llyshall@sanjuanislandscd.org>
Subject: Re: Meeting Request

Next Tuesday works for me just need to know where.

Bob Jarman

On Jul 2, 2013, at 8:44 AM, "Linda Lyshall" <llyshall@sanjuanislandscd.org> wrote:

Bob,

Barbara Rosenkotter, Bruce Gregory, and I would like to meet with you to discuss returning the lead entity
program to the Conservation District. I understand that Jamie has this on the agenda for the 15th and I wanted
to give you an opportunity to hear the details ahead of time, and to address any questions you might have.
The best times for us are tomorrow afternoon, anytime between 2:30 and 5:30, or next Tuesday between 4:00
and 5:30. Do either of those times work for you?

Look forward to talking with you,

Linda

Linda Lyshall
District Manager
San Juan Islands Conservation District
540 Guard Street
360‐378‐6621

_______________________________________________________

From: Barbara Rosenkotter
Sent: Thursday, July 11, 2013 12:49 PM
To: Linda Lyshall (llyshall@sanjuanislandscd.org)
Subject: Fw: Monday

FYI, I left a message last night for Jamie asking about the meeting. I suspected that we may only get through an overview of the various programs vs any decision making, which is probably for the best right now. Please see his response below.

Connected by DROID on Verizon Wireless

‐‐‐‐‐Original message‐‐‐‐‐
From: Jamie Stephens <jamies@sanjuanco.com>
To: Barbara Rosenkotter <barbarar@sanjuanco.com>
Sent: Thu, Jul 11, 2013 16:40:36 GMT+00:00
Subject: Monday

The original plan was to discuss the possible move of Salmon Recovery to the Cons. District. However, it is clear that a more basic discussion needs to had about the LIO, MRC, and SR. Roles and responsibilities; where funding comes from; and oversight. As we have discussed, the County doesn’t oversee Salmon Recovery, it just acts as the fiscal agent whereas that role changes with the LIO.

There is a misconception that if SR stays in the County that we will have oversight.

I hope this helps

Jamie

Monday, August 19, 2013

Conservation District Watch: The Series - Installment #5

Barbara Rosenkotter keeps in touch with inter-governmental officials with the same unstoppable vigor of a salmon swimming upstream to spawn. We've only shown you a portion of her correspondence with various officials. During the whole time she's been deliberatin' and conjugatin' with the tribes and the Conservation District, she's been keeping the State Lead Entity Program Manager apprised too (Lloyd Moody). She has such a good relationship with Lloyd that she even asks if she can have the Lead Entity contract term changed to fit her schedule better ... because the tribes just aren't moving fast enough for Rosenkotter's liking so that everything can get done by July 1. To paraphrase Lloyd's response to Rosenkotter, "he's on it."

It's marvelous how Rosenkotter is able to keep so many people in the loop ... except our County Council. If you read her email, you will note that she expects to get the County's blessing at the end of the process, rather than at the beginning. Oh wait ... Rosenkotter says that she's talked to one County Councilman who appears to be supportive of the move! Gee, I wonder who that could be?

Everybody's in on this, except Jarman and Hughes. Don't forget to copy Scott Williamson of the PSP too!
________________________________________________________________
From: Barbara Rosenkotter
Sent: Tuesday, June 04, 2013 4:37 PM
To: Moody, Lloyd (GSRO)
Subject: RE: LE Transition - Extend PSAR portion of existing contract?

Thank you!
______________________________________________________
From: Moody, Lloyd (GSRO) [mailto:lloyd.moody@gsro.wa.gov]
Sent: Tuesday, June 04, 2013 4:35 PM
To: Barbara Rosenkotter
Cc: Williamson, Scott (PSP)
Subject: RE: LE Transition - Extend PSAR portion of existing contract?

Barbara –

Thanks for your time on the phone to help me get a more clear picture. I’m on it. I’ll let you know what I uncover, assuming the legislature doesn’t do anything really silly…

Lloyd
___________________________________________________________
From: Barbara Rosenkotter [mailto:barbarar@sanjuanco.com]
Sent: Tuesday, June 04, 2013 11:41 AM
To: Moody, Lloyd (GSRO)
Cc: Williamson, Scott (PSP)
Subject: LE Transition - Extend PSAR portion of existing contract?

Lloyd,

FYI, I have one formal letter of support from the San Juan Islands Conservation District indicating their support for being the fiscal agent for the San Juan LE Program. I have requested an updated status from Lummi, Tulalip and Swinomish as to where they are in the process of providing letters of support and so far I have not heard any concerns expressed. And I have also spoken to one San Juan County Council member so far who is supportive of the move.

But it looks like this will continue to be a slow process, so is it possible to extend the PSAR portion of the existing LE contract with San Juan County through September rather than starting a new contract with San Juan County that then has to be redone with the San Juan CD? Seems like that would be the easiest solution.

Then once we have the county’s blessing to move the program then we can start the new contracting with the CD so it is in place when the move is likely to occur, i.e. in August or September.

I had a conversation with Scott this morning and it sounds like he would support this approach. Would this option also work for RCO?

Thanks

Barbara Rosenkotter
Lead Entity Coordinator for Salmon Recovery
San Juan County / WRIA2
barbarar@sanjuanco.com
360-370-7593
PO Box 947
135 Rhone Street
Friday Harbor, WA 98250

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Conservation District Watch: The Series - Installment #4

Another day ... another letter from a local tribe to County staffers and the State regarding our County's policy and funding ... with no cc to our Council. Some commenters have wondered, "Was everyone deliberately keeping the Council out of the loop, or was it just an oversight?"

With the email and letter below, we see the Swinomish sending their draft letter to Rosenkotter and Linda Lyshall of the Conservation District for pre-approval. The Swinomish are asking Rosenkotter and Lyshall, "Hey, does this look okay to you?" The Swinomish cc the other two tribes who have sent letters to the State already ... the Lummi and the Tulalip. The Swinomish even cc Ron Zee.

But they don't copy our County Council, which was apparently just the way Rosenkotter and Lyshall wanted it.
_________________________________________________________________

Click to enlarge. Right click to download.

Click to enlarge. Right click to download.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Conservation District Watch: The Series - Installment #3

Another Rosenkotter email to another tribe (Tulalip ... Rawson's former employer). The Tulalip letter to the State is at the bottom of this post.  As with the Lummi correspondence, no one bothers to inform or even cc our Council.
______________________________________________________________

From: Barbara Rosenkotter
Sent: Thursday, May 02, 2013 11:45 AM
To: Terry Williams
Subject: San Juan Lead Entity Transition
Dear Terry,
As a follow up to my voice mail message…

We are considering moving the fiscal agent for the San Juan / WRIA2 Lead Entity from San Juan County to the San Juan Islands Conservation District. As you may recall, the Lead Entity was originally housed within the San Juan Islands Conservation District when the Lead Entity program was established in the San Juans in 2000. It was moved to San Juan County in 2005.

Due to ever tightening county budgets San Juan County has sought to recoup additional overhead costs at the same time that federal and state funding for the Lead Entity program has been reduced. This has put an ongoing squeeze on the local program. As you know, the Lead Entity Coordinator position was reduced to part time this last year due to the reduction in funding.

The San Juan Islands Conservation District has offered to become the fiscal agent once again to house the Lead Entity program for San Juan / WRIA2. And is offering to do so at about half the overhead costs that San Juan County requires. It seems like a prudent step to accept this offer to move the Lead Entity program back to the local Conservation District. This move will allow for more funding to support the actual program and require less of the funding to be expended on overhead costs.

Based on the Salmon Recovery RCW 77.85 it is our understanding that tribal governments should be consulted regarding the proposed fiscal agent change for the San Juan / WRIA 2 Lead Entity program (see the statutory language below). And in consultation with Lloyd Moody of the Governors Salmon Recovery Office and the Recreation and Conservation Office, who oversees the Lead Entity programs across the state, he has confirmed that tribal governments would need to provide their support by letters or resolutions.

Thus this email to you requesting your assistance to provide a Tulalip letter of support or resolution in support of the change in fiscal agent for the San Juan / WRIA2 Lead Entity.

Please let me know if you perceive any issues with this request and also let me know if there is anyone else at Tulalip that I should work with on this request.

Thank you,
Barbara Rosenkotter
Lead Entity Coordinator for Salmon Recovery
San Juan County / WRIA2
barbarar@sanjuanco.com
360-370-7593
PO Box 947
135 Rhone Street
Friday Harbor, WA 98250

77.85.050
Habitat project lists.
(1)(a) Counties, cities, and tribal governments must jointly designate, by resolution or by letters of support, the area for which a habitat project list is to be developed and the lead entity that is to be responsible for submitting the habitat project list. No project included on a habitat project list shall be considered mandatory in nature and no private landowner may be forced or coerced into participation in any respect. The lead entity may be a county, city, conservation district, special district, tribal government, regional recovery organization, or other entity.
__________________________________________________________________________________________

Click to enlarge. Right click to download.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Conservation District Watch: The Series - Installment #2

In the last post, we saw Barbara Rosenkotter write to Kit Rawson to ask for a list of tribal contacts who might publicly support the move of the Salmon Lead Entity program from San Juan County to the Conservation District. Dutifully, Rawson provided a tribal contact list to Rosenkotter, and Rosenkotter started writing to the tribes. It was just that simple.

This is how influence works, and this is how easy it is for a rogue County staffer to wield influence in league with a power-hungry Conservation District. Below is the tribal contact list sent to Rosenkotter by Rawson. Then, below that is one of the emails sent by Rosenkotter to one of the tribal contacts without the knowledge of our Council or even so much as a cc to our Council. At the very bottom of this post, we have one of the tribal letters sent to the State in response to Rosenkotter's request ... again no cc by the tribe to our Council. It was all done on the QT.

We'll publish some of the other tribal letters in coming posts.
______________________________________________________

As of 12/12/2012 - Tribes and Tribal Chairs

Here are the names of the tribes and tribal chairs (in alphabetical order), along with others to whom the letter should probably be sent. As far as honorifics go, treat the tribal chairs as you would treat any other executive level leader of government.

Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe
1033 Old Blyn Highway
Sequim, WA 98328
William “Ron” Allen, Chair
(also send to Scott Chitwood, Natural Resources Director)

Lower Elwha Klallam tribe
2851 Lower Elwha Road
Port Angeles, WA 98363
Frances Charles, Chair
(also send to Doug Morrill, Natural Resources Director)

Lummi Nation
2616 Kwina Road
Bellingham, WA 98226
Cliff Cultee, Chair
(also send to Merle Jefferson, Natural Resources Director; Eldon Hillaire, Natural Resources Commission Chairman; Randy Kinley, Policy Representative; Alan Chapman, ESA Coordinator)

Makah Tribe (not a tribe with U&A in the San Juans, but I think you wanted to send to them too)
P.O. Box 115
Neah Bay, WA 98357
Michael J. Lawrence, Chair
(also send to Russ Svec, Fishery Manager)

Nooksack Tribe
P.O. Box 157
Deming, WA 98244
Bob Kelly, Chairman
(also send to Gary McWilliams, Natural Resources Director)

Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe
31912 Little Boston Road NE
Kingston, WA 98346
Jeromy Sullivan, Chair
(also send to Paul McCollum, Natural Resources Director)

Suquamish Tribe
18490 Suquamish Way
Suquamish, WA 98392
Leonard Forsman, Chair
(also send to Rob Purser, Fisheries Director)

Swinomish Tribal Community
P.O. Box 817
11404 Moorage Way
La Conner, WA 98257
Brian Cladoosby, Chair
(also send to Lorraine Loomis, Fisheries Manager and Charlie O’Hara, Planning Director)

Tulalip Tribes
6406 Marine Drive
Tulalip, WA 98271
Melvin R. Sheldon, Jr., Chair
(also send to Ray Fryberg, Sr., Executive Director of Natural Resources; Terry R. Williams, Commissioner of Fisheries and Wildlife; Kit Rawson, Conservation Science Program Manager)
_______________________________________________________
From: Barbara Rosenkotter
Sent: Thursday, May 02, 2013 10:43 AM
To: Stan Walsh (swalsh@skagitcoop.org)
Subject: San Juan Lead Entity Transition

Dear Stan,
As a follow up to our conversation yesterday, we are considering moving the fiscal agent for the San Juan / WRIA2 Lead Entity from San Juan County to the San Juan Islands Conservation District. As you may recall, the Lead Entity was originally housed within the San Juan Islands Conservation District when the Lead Entity program was established in the San Juans in 2000. It was moved to San Juan County in 2005.

Due to ever tightening county budgets San Juan County has sought to recoup additional overhead costs at the same time that federal and state funding for the Lead Entity program has been reduced. This has put an ongoing squeeze on the local program. As you know, the Lead Entity Coordinator position was reduced to part time this last year due to the reduction in funding.

The San Juan Islands Conservation District has offered to become the fiscal agent once again to house the Lead Entity program for San Juan / WRIA2. And is offering to do so at about half the overhead costs that San Juan County requires. It seems like a prudent step to accept this offer to move the Lead Entity program back to the local Conservation District. This move will allow for more funding to support the actual program and require less of the funding to be expended on overhead costs.

Based on the Salmon Recovery RCW 77.85 it is our understanding that tribal governments should be consulted regarding the proposed fiscal agent change for the San Juan / WRIA 2 Lead Entity program (see the statutory language below). And in consultation with Lloyd Moody of the Governors Salmon Recovery Office and the Recreation and Conservation Office, who oversees the Lead Entity programs across the state, he has confirmed that tribal governments would need to provide their support by letters or resolutions.

Thus this email to you requesting your assistance to provide a tribal letter of support or resolution in support of the change in fiscal agent for the San Juan / WRIA2 Lead Entity.

Please let me know if you perceive any issues with this request and how I may be of assistance.

Thank you,
Barbara Rosenkotter
Lead Entity Coordinator for Salmon Recovery
San Juan County / WRIA2
barbarar@sanjuanco.com
360-370-7593
PO Box 947
135 Rhone Street
Friday Harbor, WA 98250

77.85.050
Habitat project lists.
(1)(a) Counties, cities, and tribal governments must jointly designate, by resolution or by letters of support, the area for which a habitat project list is to be developed and the lead entity that is to be responsible for submitting the habitat project list. No project included on a habitat project list shall be considered mandatory in nature and no private landowner may be forced or coerced into participation in any respect. The lead entity may be a county, city, conservation district, special district, tribal government, regional recovery organization, or other entity.
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Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Conservation District Watch: The Series - Installment #1

There is simply too much information about the Conservation District being in cahoots with Barbara Rosenkotter, the tribes, and others to fit in only one blogpost. So we've decided to create a series where we will release information in digestible portions.

Zee is using the Conservation District as a vacuum cleaner to suck up all available eco-grant funding in the county. It's part of his grand plan to create a bureaucracy of mass destruction, and he's working on it with Barbara Rosenkotter (County employee), the tribes, the PSP, DNR ... and pretty much everyone except our County Council and the public. As usual, Zee is going about his business as stealthily as possible, writing letters and maneuvering while conveniently forgetting to copy the County Council on important correspondence, even when the subject matter concerns taking away County programs and funding.

San Juan County is the Lead Entity for Salmon Recovery for Water Resource Inventory Area 2 and has designated the San Juan County Marine Resources Committee as the citizens committee for salmon recovery. But for some reason (maybe the election outcome?) such an arrangement no longer pleases Rosenkotter, who is the Coordinator for Salmon Recovery here. Instead of devoting her billable time to saving salmon, Rosenkotter works to rearrange the bureaucratic levers so she can join forces with Zee at the Conservation District ... because we all know that nothing saves salmon like having a new office at the Conservation District.

In this first installment, we see Rosenkotter writing to Kit Rawson for the purpose of enlisting his help in getting the tribes' support for moving the Salmon Lead Entity program from the County to Zee's Conservation District. The Conservation District Board doesn't know about it. The County Council doesn't know about it, except for maybe Stephens (but more on that in later posts).

Below is the email from Rosenkotter to Rawson, and below that we see Zee writing to the State Lead Entity Program Manager (and not copying the County) to ask that the San Juan Salmon Recovery Lead Entity program be reassigned from the County to his Conservation District.
____________________________________________________

From: Barbara Rosenkotter
Sent: Thursday, April 11, 2013 8:09 AM
To: Kit Rawson - Tulalip Tribes (krawson50@gmail.com.)
Subject: Recommendations?
Hello Kit,
Hope you are enjoying all of your various activities. I heard you were snowshoeing recently.
I wanted to contact you regarding your previous job experience and expertise in working with tribes. We are considering moving the Lead Entity program from the county as the fiscal agent to the Conservation District. I think I could cut the overhead costs in half by making the move. I expect there will be more funding cuts so I know that I need to do whatever I can to make the program as lean as possible. And now may be the time to consider it since the CD is getting their management in order. The new Lead Entity contract would start July 1 so there is some time to get this all organized but not a lot.

So my question is which tribes would you recommend that I contact should we decide to try to move the Lead Entity program to a new fiscal agent? I would definitely contact the tribes who have been working with the San Juan LIO to make sure they would approve the move before we got too far down the road. Would you recommend doing active outreach to the others who have U & A in the San Juans? Or I could just inform them of the proposal and ask for any comments but not actively try to engage with them.

I would appreciate your thoughts, ideas.

Thank you
Barbara Rosenkotter
Lead Entity for Salmon Recovery
San Juan County
barbarar@sanjuanco.com
360-370-7593
PO Box 947
135 Rhone Street
Friday Harbor, WA 98250
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Sunday, August 11, 2013

Conservation District Watch: The Stacked Deck

The San Juan Islands Conservation District has merged with the San Juan County Stewardship Network and the Puget Sound Partnership's ECONet. Moreover, the non-profit Madrona Institute and the PSP's Action Agenda Oversight Group (AAOG)/Local Implementation Organization (LIO) have incestuous links to the Conservation District too.

Let's play a shortened version of 20 questions ... let's try 6 questions:
  1. Who is head of the San Juan Islands Conservation District?
  2. Who is on the steering committee of the Stewardship Network?
  3. Who is the founder and head of the Madrona Institute, which acts as the fiscal agent for the Stewardship Network, receiving a modest 5% to 10% cut on all grants?
  4. Who endorsed Pratt, Stephens, and Byers for Council?
  5. Who has been trying to take County programs and grants away from the County (e.g., Salmon Lead Entity Coordinator)?
  6. Who has been discussing #5 above with Jamie Stephens in relative secrecy?
The answer to all of the above is Ron Zee, who is part-creator, part-manipulator of a giant hairball bureaucracy that is a wolf (PSP) in Conservation District clothing. At the end of this post is an effort to depict this hairball with a graph, but honestly, it's an impossible task. Complexity is their disguise. It's a Gordian Knot of bureaucratic self-interest and conflicts of interest. Nevertheless, I hope readers begin to get an idea who the real power is behind this bureaucracy ... and it's not our elected officials.

The Stewardship Network is comprised of 24 organizations, including 5 separate County entities. The Steering Committee for the Stewardship Network is comprised of 4 people: Zee, Linda Lyshall (who works for Zee at the Conservation District), Stephanie Buffum of the Friends, and Lincoln Bormann of the Land Bank. This Steering Committee recently appointed Julia Vouri to be the coordinator of the Stewardship Network/ECONet "under the umbrella of the Conservation District."  The Conservation District Board had no say in the matter. Julia Vouri is the wife of Mike Vouri, who happens to be on the Advisory Board of the Madrona Institute. The Madrona Institute was founded and is headed by Zee. He has put together a 4-person Madrona Institute Board (himself, Land Bank Commissioner Jim Skoog, League of Women Voters member Sarah Crosby, and Elaine Kendall of the Ag Guild ... Zee's wife). In addition, Zee has assembled an 18-member Madrona Institute Advisory Committee that includes Linda Lyshall (again), Lincoln Bormann (again), the previously mentioned Mike Vouri, Nick Teague (National Monument/BLM Manager), and Katie Loring, wife of Friends' attorney Kyle Loring who Zee appointed as Associate Board member of the Conservation District.

Given the weight of all these heavily-networked advisors and board members, anyone who thinks the measly Conservation District Board has any power is at best an optimist and at worst a damn fool. The Conservation District Board consists of 5 members, two of whom are appointed by the State. There are just three elected members to the Conservation District Board in an otherwise sprawling complex of self-appointed greased-palm special interests.

And that's not even including the links between the Conservation District and the AAOG/LIO, whose links to the Conservation District are so cozy that the Conservation District has an office reserved for them in their new building. Who's on the AAOG/LIO, aside from the Conservation District itself? Let's see ... the Implementation Committee of the AAOG/LIO consists of a further 12 organizations, including the Marine Resources Committee (again), the Salmon Lead Entity Coordinator (again), the Stewardship Network (again), three County departments (Public Works, CD&P, Health), the Water Resources Committee, the Town, and 3 tribes.

In this impossible-to-follow Gordian Knot, self-appointed Zee-cronies are represented multiple times while the public is shut out. Let's look at the Salmon Lead Entity (SLE), for example. The Salmon Lead Entity Coordinator is Barbara Rosenkotter, who was the Treasurer for Byers campaign (endorsed by then-Democratic-Party-head Zee). Although Rosenkotter ostensibly works for the County, she represents the Stewardship Network, the MRC, and the AAOG/LIO Implementation Committee ... and she has been working stealthily with Zee, the Northwest Straits Commission/Foundation, and the tribes to move her position and State funding to the Conservation District.

There you have it ... 24 organizations in the Stewardship Network, 18 advisors to the Madrona Institute, 4 board members of the Madrona Institute, 13 members to the AAOG/LIO Implementation Committee, 2 State appointees to the Conservation District ... and just 3 elected members of the Conservation District Board. No independently elected official to the Conservation District or even to our County Council has a clue how they're being played by this bureaucracy of mass destruction. No matter how improved the Conservation District electoral system might become as a result of anticipated reforms and lawsuits, the fix is already in ... the elected positions don't even matter anymore ... the Conservation District is machine headquarters where the business of the PSP and Friends is done. The Conservation District is hopelessly broken as a representative body.

And this cabal will pass judgment on whether we, as a County, are good Puget Sound Partners. That's important because whether we are good Puget Sound Partners will matter when our County tries to obtain funding from the State. There is statutory language to that effect. Given the hearings this past week about Conservation District funding, the County Council may be under the misapprehension that they are funding the Conservation District, but in reality, it's the reverse. The County is being set up to be squeezed by the Conservation District, the PSP, and the Friends over State money. If we don't follow their whims, our State funding will be threatened.

And despite the high-minded labels (e.g., Salmon Lead Entity) and the strident, tearful pleas of bureaucratic insiders crying about the environment, absolutely none of the bureaucratic whims have anything to do with improving ecological health. The taxes and grants devoted to bureaucratic eco-efforts aren't funding on-the-ground "save the salmon" or "save the planet" initiatives ... they're funding "save the bureaucracy" initiatives.

Support the Conservation District and save a self-interested bureaucrat ... and maybe even earn a modest 5% to 10% cut for Zee at the same time.  Now that's environmental stewardship San Juan style.
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Saturday, August 3, 2013

Conservation District Watch: Conservation District = Stewardship Network

The grand plan in the last election had several components, but in typical iceberg fashion, we only saw part of it. The plan included the following:
  • Ron Zee, as head of the local Democratic Party, would endorse Stephens, Pratt, and Byers for County Council. Massive donations would pour in from party faithfuls, and the Zee-endorsed candidates would win handily.
  • Ron Zee would become head of everything else (see email below). Zee would transform the Conservation District into a local amalgam of all State agencies and their non-profit allies operating in the county: PSP (AAOG/LIO, ECONet), Salmon Recovery Lead Entity (Rosenkotter), WDFW (Windrope), the tribes, Ecology, the Friends, and others.
  • Stephens, Pratt, and Byers would increase the CD's special assessment in order to provide a local funding backstop against the possibility of diminished State funding.
  • Having statutory authority (RCW 89.08.580) for administering water quality and habitat protection grants, the new amalgamated CD would be in a position to blackmail the County into following every outrageous State whim (e.g., Action Agenda of the PSP).  Do it, or else no State grants for you! 
  • The Council would pass civility laws to stifle dissent at public meetings; a stacked MRC and Planning Commission would ram through a draconian SMP even easier than they rammed through the CAOs. "Everyone" would appear to line up behind fierce new anti-citizen regulations.
  • The County would upgrade its GIS system. High-resolution aerial photographs (Pictometry) would merge with the TACT grant activities of the MRC/Friends to provide ├╝ber enforcement opportunities. Open season would begin once the SMP was in place.
  • Our Prosecuting Attorney's (PA's) Office would stand by and watch it all happen, if not facilitate it. The Friends would file their usual lawsuits against everyone (except other Friends) and citizens would receive no help from the PA.
Effectively, the net result of the above would have been direct control of San Juan County by hostile State bureaucrats and their non-profit allies (i.e., direct control by the amalgamated CD).

To get an inkling of what that might be like, have a look again at the email from Martha Kongsgaard. You can see echoes of the PSP Targeted Awareness Grants (i.e., Puget Sound is in trouble, our environment is our economy, and locals don't matter).

Our economy should really hum along after we've all been gotten rid of.

The email below was sent out by Ron Zee this past week. The election may not have turned out as planned, but they're still executing the grand plan.

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Greetings All,
The Steering Committee is pleased to announce the selection of Julia Vouri as our new Stewardship Network Coordinator/ECO Net Coordinator, per the unanimous recommendation of the Search Committee at a special Network meeting held yesterday.  Contracting with the Puget Sound Partnership will proceed next week for the ECO Net Coordination grant under the umbrella of the San Juan Islands Conservation District.
Please welcome Julia to the Network when you see her.  With her help, we'll continue to move the stewardship ethic ever forward!

Cheers!
Ron

Stewardship Network of the San Juans

Website: www.stewardshipsanjuans.org

Email: stewardshipnetwork@gmail.com

A coalition of organizations who envision
a healthy, thriving ecosystem in the
San Juan archipelago, from land to sea

Conservation District Watch: The New Assessment

We'll start a series of stories with themes, and one of those themes will be the Conservation District (CD). This current post is mostly meant to clarify the misinformation about the need for a new Conservation District assessment. But before we get to that, I want to assure everyone that the petition to force an election to dissolve the District is alive. Since we last posted about the CD, we have been talking with attorneys about the wording of the petition and related issues. We expect to have petition coordinators on each of the main islands, and we're working towards having a presence at the Fair too (fingers crossed). Unlike County petitions, there is no time limit for gathering petition signatures regarding the Conservation District, so we have time. The questions surrounding the Conservation District break down into three main areas:
  • Are Conservation District elections fair, democrat, and legal? None other than the League of Women Voters came out with a report in 2011 which examined this and related topics. More about that in later posts, but please peruse the link. Moreover, in addition to the grassroots desire to possibly dissolve the Conservation District, there is a related movement building in the San Juans which is asking whether the Conservation District should be sued over their election practices. If you would like to donate to that cause, we will be able to provide a contact shortly.
  • Are Conservation Districts fulfilling their mission, and specifically, is our Conservation District fulfilling its mission? Conservation Districts conjure up images of a bygone era of black-and-white photos of farmers tilling the land and getting assistance from the local agricultural agent ... ya know, Green Acres sort of stuff. But there is a danger when we live with images that are no longer relevant. The recent behavior of the Conservation District, as evidenced by public records requests and personal accounts, suggests our Conservation District isn't your grandfather's Conservation District anymore. It's become the publicly-funded arm of the Stewardship Network and a place for public-private bureaucratic mischief. We can't let sentimentality for a bygone era distract us from the reality of the present.
  • Are Conservation Districts funded legally and are they telling the truth about recent court decisions regarding justifications for new funding? There have been reports recently in the mainstream press about the need for a funding change, so we'll give our view. Also, it appears from public records requests that our Prosecuting Attorney has been providing our Conservation District with legal advice and then subsequently invoking "attorney-client privilege" as justification for extensive redaction of emails between his office and the Conservation District. However, the Conservation District is not part of County government, and the RCW specifically says that if the Conservation Commission (and presumably Districts too) need legal advice they should turn to the State Attorney General's Office. Why is our PA giving legal advice to the CD and then claiming privilege?
Taking the last issue first, what are the facts related to the Conservation District request for more money? The Conservation District, backed by press reports in the San Juan Journal, is saying that their request for more funding is a legal mandate resulting from the State Supreme Court ruling in Carey v Mason.

That's not true.

There are two systems available for fundraising for the Conservation District, assuming the County decides it wants to fund the District at all (and we are not required to do so). We can raise money for the Conservation District via (1) a special assessment (RCW 89.08.400) or (2) a rates and charges method (RCW 89.08.405).

The court ruling in question simply held that Counties that choose the special assessment route have the choice of using (1) a uniform annual per ACRE amount, or (2) an annual flat rate per PARCEL ($5 maximum) PLUS a uniform annual rate per ACRE amount ... in other words, $5 plus ten mills, for example. Nothing binds the County to 5 cents an acre. If the County and Conservation District want to raise money via the special assessment route, they have to follow RCW 89.08.400.

But the County also could decide to use a "rates and charges" system rather than the special assessment. Under a rates and charges method, the County is allowed to impose (1) an annual per acre amount, (2) an annual per parcel amount, or (3) an annual per parcel amount plus an annual per acre amount. Notably, the rates and charges system permits consideration of which properties receive (and which do not receive) the benefit of Conservation District consulting. If the County and the Conservation District want to raise money via the rates and charges method, they have to follow RCW 89.08.405.

In fact, the current $5 per parcel CD fee could remain essentially the same if it were implemented according to the rates and charges method (RCW 89.08.405) instead of via the special assessment method (RCW 89.08.400) as it is now. However, the CD has not proposed rates and charges, they have proposed an increase to the special assessment.

In order to do its job properly, the County Council needs to be provided the full range of options available to it, not just the preferred staff outcome. The same is true for citizens. We are not mushrooms that need to be kept in the dark.