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


  1. Jonathon WhitbreadAugust 30, 2013 at 1:18 PM

    Those various organizations may have started out with good intent.

    However, as time passed, the outcome was certain..

    "Pournelle's Iron Law of Bureaucracy states that in any bureaucratic organization there will be two kinds of people: those who work to further the actual goals of the organization, and those who work for the organization itself. Examples in education would be teachers who work and sacrifice to teach children, vs. union representative who work to protect any teacher including the most incompetent. The Iron Law states that in all cases, the second type of person will always gain control of the organization, and will always write the rules under which the organization functions."

  2. @1:18

    I hope Rick and Bob don't become the second type of person. We need a little less talk and a little more action from them. I'm not going to be very sympathetic to "let me finish the job" election slogans if they don't try harder.

    TH is right. Jamie is doing an admirable job. Damn. His awfulness is excellent. He isn't getting his way on everything, but why is he getting his way at all?

  3. Jamie is getting his way for pretty obvious reasons. He has been in office long enough to be more sophisticated at the agenda process than the two newly electeds. It takes a year. Jamie has a few under his belt, the others less than a year but they are coming up to speed fast.

    Jamie got to be chair (having seniority) so double advantage, more experience in how to maneuver and in the position of actively managing the agenda ... because no one else is or will ... but that will change soon. We will take the agenda away from him.

    But also see that Jamie is like the little Dutch boy with his finger in the dike. He cannot hold back the rising tide of public outrage, dwindling funds and staggering incompetence. The patrimony, nepotism, cronyism and ideological favoritism is so pervasive the county political culture and cadaverous remains of the local Democratic Party so sclerotic and senile, this whole scene might as well be a back holler of inbred Arkansas hillbillies.

    Our Mean Green Machine is turning albino and dull-witted, Jamie and his Jaguar in the lead.

    Deliverance anyone?

  4. @2:13

    You wouldn't be asking us to be "patient," would you?

  5. Wait until next year. Wait for the election. Wait until we get a county manager. Wait for the new county committee rules (that was a good one). Wait wait wait. You just wait. We'll get them alrighty. They got it coming, just as soon as we get around to it. Oh boy, I wouldn't want to be them when we start doing whatever we're going to do.

  6. Where's the guy/gal who always posts how much the Hales have cost us this week? We need a patronage expenditure clock. Ya know, like those national debt counters. We need to know how much, in Hale expenditures for example, we are wasting while we wait.

  7. @2:31 & 2:50
    The wait should be over right?
    We have the final drafts of all of our "community conversations".

    Anyone want to write a mini-initiative that prohibits the county from using Prothman ever again? That might get some traction.
    This non-sense community conversation crap, well, the money could be spent on something far far better, like, oh, I don't know.. extra overhead costs to retain control of the CD?
    10k a year more for the guy that wrote the things?
    Lots of uses.

    My "patience" is wearing thin.

    Watch out, I may get really bent and throw pencils.

  8. It warms my heart to see TH'ers frustrated. Get used to it. Even when you win, you lose. Your candidates are just as willing to vote for our side as yours. Losing never felt this good. By the way, how's that CD petition coming?

  9. Lessee ... May, June, July, August. Sweet Jeezus on a Pogo Stick. Haven't they fixed this thing yet??!

    Anyway, lose patience at the slightest provocation if you want, but best keep your powder dry and wait for the barn door that these old fools are opening without even realizing it.

    Trojan Heron is Trojan Horse. Already inside the gates. Oh, by the way, they're not just inside the horse any longer ...

    Jamie is fun to watch, but his clock is ticking. So is the Conservation District, like a worm squirming on the hook. Don't forget, the petition has no deadline. We're patient.

    Get used to it. The County Fair was a great start and the Green Village was really helpful. Thanks everybody, we couldn't do it without you!

  10. You forgot that Jamie also got himself on the Salmon Recovery Council.

  11. I think that Jamie's shenanigans have been made to clear to his fellow councilpeople. Especially his behind-the-back stuff. He will be watched much closer now.

  12. @3:15
    Laugh all you want. Just know that some elements of the machine stepped WAY over the line.
    See who's laughing when the indictments come down.
    Have a great weekend.

  13. @4:46

    Don't underestimate Jamie. Watching him isn't the same as stopping him.

  14. Now that's just a creepy thought.

  15. The County Council web site seems to have the most up to date and accurate list of MRC members (see section on Boards and Committees and then look under MRC). Jamie Stephens is not listed as a member there, and he is not a member. The MRC charter has never called for, or allowed, a county council member to be an MRC member. Why does this post then say that Jamie "sits on the MRC." Another item of pure fantasy from TH, I guess.

  16. @7:32
    He is the council liaison to that committee. Rick and Bob serve in the same role on a variety of other committees.

    Your gotcha snarling doesn't become you. Thanks for the try.
    Semantics. Pure semantics to attempt to distract from the real issues.
    I have a list somewhere of which of the three is liaison to which committee. Nice try though. Thanks for coming out for amateur hour.
    Remember, it's Swearin Heron Friday, so feel free to toss out some profanity and personal insults since you failed at the attempted discreditation.

  17. In the last version of the Council Committee Assignments document I have handy, dated 5/20/2013, Jamie is listed as the Council Liaison to the MRC. He's not listed as a "member".

    Perhaps though this is the source of the confusion?

  18. @7:32

    The Council has decided that every County Committee and Board shall have a Council liaison. Stephens is the liaison for the MRC. If you know enough to check the County website, then you should also know enough to check the MRC's website where meeting minutes are posted, and where Stephens is listed in the minutes as being in attendance as the County Council liaison. For example, go to the following link to see the minutes from July 3, 2013.

    Thank you for providing me the opportunity to clarify Stephens' precise position regarding the MRC, and as another commenter has pointed out, he is also on the Salmon Recovery Council

  19. @7:32

    Looks like you guess wrong.

  20. @7:32

    The TH never said Stephens was a member of the MRC. The post says that Stephens sits on the MRC, and he does, as a Council liaison. You don't just guess wrong, you read wrong too.

  21. And now I really feel the need to quote Daffy Duck as a personal contribution to Swearin' Heron Friday, and a Friendly nod to @7:32.

    "Can you imagine anything so ridiculous as majority rule?"

    "Get me a proctologist right away!!"

    "Ha ha, it's me again. WOO HOO WOO HOO"

    "Hocus pocus. Flippety flam. A razzamatazz and ALACAZAM!!"

    "I may be a craven little coward, but I'm a greedy craven little coward."

    "Obviously I'm dealing with inferior mentalities."

    "Of course you realize, this means war."

    "Thanks for the sour persimmons, cousin."

  22. Lets dissect @3:15 pm - someone who campaigned hard and lost thinks that "Even when you win, you lose" Hum. Who is "you".

    Followed by "Your candidates are just as willing to vote for our side as yours." Not candidates but rather elected-still wishing there was an election I guess. And what side do you proclaim is yours, I am sure it is the correct one, of course, where you do the right thing and salmon swim up all the streams in the islands and need your protection.

    Followed by "how's that CD petition coming?" Must be a snarky CD employee takin money from tax payers and providin nothin but comments on the tax payer dime.

    More reason to petition to eliminate the useless tax burdens in the County!

    You gettem Daffy Duck.

  23. ECK, you don't need me to "allow" you to clarify things. It would be nice if you would just do that up front.

  24. @9:18

    Hmm ... I didn't use the term "allow." You're not having a very accurate night, are you?

  25. @9:18

    It would be nice if you just clarified your repeated errors up front.

  26. Remember on election night when Kivisto announced that Pratt had beaten Jarman? Now that was a doozey of an error. @9:18 reads english like Kivisto reads election results.

  27. Sorry folks, but when you win an election you take the reins, you grab em right away.

    The six stupid person council let Jamie float into the chair and the following new three person council did nothing.

    This was forecast as a huge mistake by yours truly way back then. Now comes the wake up call with dear Jamie engineering things as though he is part of a majority.

    The will of the chair is formidable, get it? Don't make this mistake again!

  28. If we were to play "guess the heckler" my money is on Dorf.

  29. @ 10:06 PM

    Perhaps Jaime is part of a majority.

  30. I don't think I am alone in stating that my vote for Rick was actually a vote against Lisa.
    It was a roll of the dice, to an extent. Now we shall see where those dice land.

  31. RH is a very patient team-builder who understands the political realities in this county.

  32. @11:57

    Yes, and Jamie is doing a superb job. Oh god!

  33. @11:57
    Could you do me a favor and briefly summarize the "political realities" of the county.
    I need to reconcile reality with what is in my head.

  34. @1:11

    Quote about RH from some members of the Machine. I don't know what it means, but they think they have him convinced of it. RH owes his political existence to the absence of political realities, but self-awareness is not a politician's strength.

  35. Patience and team building are positive attributes.

    But Rick and the council are not "stakeholders at the table" either.

    Rick needs to learn how to put a stake in the ground that speaks to his values and start making decisions that will move the really hard work ahead, of dismantling the network of corruption we have allowed to take over local government.

    He needs to act as if he will never be re-elected and begin to exercise his well advertised independence of mind. Does Rick want to make a difference?

    Let's hope so.

    As for Jamie, we'll have to deal with him for a little less than a year and a half now. He's done and the alternative looks pretty good for a second run. Jamie knows that and so do his handlers. That means they all know his is a lame duck right now.

    So it does not matter much to Jamie or his handlers do as long as he works hard to preserve the gains his confederates made, hold down the fort, fight the rear guard and pull the wool over the eyes of his colleagues as much as he can.

    I hope Rick figures out really soon that Jamie really does not have a lot to lose ...

  36. Is Rick even aware of Jamies underhanded sneaky maneuvering?
    Is Rick aware the extent of corruption in these little eco-quasi-government agencies?

    Does it make a difference if I write to him or is my voice only heard for the appearance of listening, while the powerbrokers behind the scenes have the real say?

    Rick? Can you make a difference, or was this all for naught?

  37. Reality is coming to surface here and part of it is a very large war chest was spent on Pratt and Byers.

    Will these people come willingly around for the next turn at bat? Will they see their hard earned money as wasted?

    Will they understand that an awakened young family politic will pound them into the ground like a tent stake?

    Hopefully an understanding will evolve here that to get along, you must go along, and it means a new beginning and while that has not happened yet, it is on the way.

    I would respectfully suggest those donors to the Pratt/Byers campaign carefully evaluate if they want to continue to back a dead cause by throwing more money down that rat hole.

  38. @12.21 am:

    Yes, Jamie is part of a majority--Jamie, BossZee and . . . oh, wait: we never elected Ron Zee. Or his candidates. Hhhmm.

  39. Hold on folks. You're already throwing RH under the bus because he is not doing, in your minds,what needs to be done now? Well give it some time. Dismantling so much f**ked up entanglements from the prior councils is going to take some time boys. We are talking years of mismanagement here. Going all the way back to Kev & his cronies. Make some's going to take awhile.

  40. @ 10:29 PM

    Agree. Patience does not mean lack of action or losing sight goals. Patience is an important means to achieve them. It took many years to get here and will take time to unravel.

    As to the money, it has moved on to the Mayoral contest in Anacortes where the first letters have hit the American asking why the hell is Washington Conservation Voters throwing lots of money into that race? Excellent question.

    The money will then move on to the 40th District races. Who knows what rumors to believe, but there has been a little scuttlebutt that Lisa Byers might run for the position long held by Jeff Morris who apparently is not running again.

    And of course there will be money backing Jamie but it is not going to be the big bucks like we just saw. Brian McClerren is likely to run again, and quite likely to win.

    Work towards that scenario but keep an eye out towards the region we are in. Remember: The national monument "community meetings" were held in Anacortes ...

    If I were Jamie and his Friends, I'd be working hard to consolidate gains made over the past 5-7 years. Burrow in. That is exactly what they are doing. The Conservation District play sort of "opens the Kimono" don't ya think?

  41. They fell for the community conversations. They fell for pictometry, had to scramble to pull back. They fell for the MRC appointments, had to scramble but didn't really pull back even then. They caught on to the CD-Salmon shenanigans. Bravo. Along the way they have missed bushels of low-hanging fruit that would make a real difference and quick to implement. Crickets.

    It will take a while to get things straightened out, I agree. When do you think we might start? So far, they've just been reacting to the plots and ploys of staff and the Machine. They've been off balance and out classed. They need to do better. Their grade so far is a C-. I hear they have big plans yadda yadda. We'll see. Not much to go on right now, that's for sure.

    The three Councilmen we have now were elected last November, and again in April. They were sworn in on December 28, 2012 and again on May 14, 2013. I'm old enough to remember a time when Presidents were measured by their first 100 days. Relative to the May swearing in, 100 days was 2 weeks ago. In total, they've been in office 8 months.

    Lincoln was frustrated with McClellan during the start of the Civil War and finally said, "If you're not going to use the Army, General, I'd like to borrow it for a while." Then Lincoln replaced McClellan with Grant.

    I think that if they're going to do something, they ought to get a move on. Where's General Grant when you need him? Now that's a grant I would love to see.

  42. @11:18

    You forgot the JS-RH Canada trip mess. They fell for that too. I concur with @10:06 that it was a mistake to let JS have the chair, MRC, LIO/AAOG, and Salmon thingy. The BOH pissed off people also, and that wasn't even JS's committee. I think that's RH's.

    Gotta be clear-eyed. It's been a very error-filled 114 days so far. C- is right. They need to get under it, and fast.

  43. 110 days since 14-May-2013

  44. @ 11:28 PM

    Gentlemen, here is your report card. Bob seems totally open to learn as much as he can as fast as he can and that there is a whole lot he does not know about.

    Rick does have his moments of clarity. I hope this isn't something about Orcas folks. Patty Miller had this really frustrating habit of defining an issue like a laser beam and then doing nothing about it. Over and over again.

    The hell with this nonsense that you gotta show up with armbands and stuff the legislative room with supporters every time some little outrage pops up. The most effective use of your time right now is 1) Read the agenda 2) Watch the video sections that are important to you 3) Let your council critter - or all of them - personally know your views. Meet with them personally.

    That is how to use your time. The tactics the Machine are using are old school and inefficient. Don't use their playbook.

    There is something really refreshing about being transparent on this blog, open discussion of issues and strategies. Who cares who is reading this? We grow stronger as a community for it and the word is getting out.

  45. We can clearly read the lettering on the collar on Jamie and even have a clear view of the hand holding the leash.
    It's the invisible one on Hughes we are concerned about. Who's holding that leash? Zee? My guess would be, at this point, Jamie.

    Without much notice, right after the election, none other than his own campaign manager Greg Ayers , was given a slot on the MRC. Now, 10 months later they have yet to fill the remaining positions except for 2 FOSJ stooges and reappointment for temporary terms of AC's Durland and Slocumb.
    Political favors and payback began the minute he took office.

  46. Another clue is the little gang who got to Rick before the election dangling the carrot to make him a real important guy during the upcoming economic development element for the comp plan.

    That little contingency was pushing for both Lovel and Rick, while at the same time pushing Rick as far away from Trust Islanders as possible.

    Look for that little special interest group to start making noises later on in the Fall. I am sorry that Rick snorted that line, but perhaps he has learned a thing or two since. We will see. He certainly does not owe them anything.

  47. I like Rick. We put a lot of faith and trust in him. The early signs are not promising.
    If anyone wants to talk about "political reality" here it is.
    Bob J is a man of the people, supports property rights and wants to see more limited, effective government locally.
    Jamie is a narcissistic puff piece put forth by the machine to implement their agenda. Rhea and Sandy aren't his only masters. He is devious and has been working behind the scenes to bring Rick along.

    Rick. Ole Mr Independent. He represents a majority for either of these sides, with both of the sides actively working to have him promote their agenda. We don't know where he really stands, other than he has shown a willingness to listen and consider things. How this translates in to votes on key issues remains to be seen.

    So the political reality is that Rick will be the deciding vote on all of the key and controversial issues. I hope he takes a stand either way so it is clear what his position is. As of now, it's not looking too good for trying to undo the established corrupt Eco and staff driven enterprises that have flourished.

    Time will tell, I guess we just need to be very watchful.

    Rick, if you side with the ecofascist Zee machine, we can accept that, but please do it soon so we at least can shift our efforts to litigation to stop this madness. We had hoped to put the brakes on it legislatively but it's not looking promising.

  48. An impression that I have is that the commissioners are introduced to subjects upon which they will vote. But who is preparing those introductions?

    This supports a previous comment about talking to the commissioners individually. I think that when there are good arguments given, or different viewpoints...Rick would very likely go w/the most rational ones.

    Again...a bad idea can sound really convincing depending on how it is introduced. Which puts our commissioners in the position of being victims of an unhealthy local government.

    Is it possible to explain Patty Ms previous crazy votes after seemingly understanding something this way? I spoke w/her personally and she made sense all the way until....the vote! It was like she'd been brainwashed.

  49. @2:45
    Asked "who is preparing those introductions"?
    Entrenched county staff bueracrats who want to promote DOE agenda and craft legislation so complex that they have to be kept on staff to provide "training". And somehow, they are allowed to further write policy that directly benefits their spouse too.
    And for the other items being brought forth, it is presented by pseudo Eco agencies and "committee members". CD, LIO, etc, of all the alphabet soup listed in this post and others.
    A lot of it can be traced back to the Zee.
    Oh yeah, don't forget, you are an evil SOB, satan incarnate because some of your energy comes from coal.
    Remember the Eco-fascist-alarmist predictions and blame for extreme weather events due to man caused global warming. First time in 11 years we haven't seen a named storm roll in from the Atlantic and cause hale like destruction.

  50. As we begin to move towards a more actively managed agenda "for the rest of us" the source for the agenda introductions and the information provided will begin to shift in tone, style and substance. That will bring a difference influence to bear.

    Make no mistake. Managing the agenda is pretty important. And it is not about getting your minions to show up at the council session on a work day.

  51. @4:20
    This sounds promising. What can the little guy do? I just work as a carpenter for a good island contractor and I have worked hard and saved and built my own house. It feels like all this regulation is meant to push me out. Can I ever build a garage or a guest house if I save enough in the next few years?
    That pond on the corner of my lot, will that make my lot unbuildable?
    Why do my taxes keep going up while my valuation goes down?
    My son is in Jr high now, will there be any construction jobs in 4 years or will we be forced to leave these islands?
    I gave what money I could to Rick, Bob and Brian because I believed they would do what is best for islanders.
    What do I do now? It seems like these CD groups and the Friends keep influence and no progress or change is being made.

  52. 6:25 Good to hear from you! Many of us on the TH are concerned with exactly the same issues as you.

    You are correct. Our current assessor views anyone banging couple of boards together as a prime candidate for reassessment and a tax increase. His hit squad burns 20 gallons a day.

    My advice; make every effort to stick around for at least another year. By then either we'll have a reality based government of we'll be headed for ... a visitor's public park.

    Fact is while the majority of real estate sales these days are at the low end, it could still take you a long time to get out of dodge.

    Much better you spend any extra time you have of getting young families and working families focused together and even joining up with us old farts who have a few bucks and who are in almost complete alignment with keeping and building a growing healthy economy that keeps our good schools and keeps and builds a social structure that works!

    Stick around, you do have a chance to be what you want here and I think that chance is finally moving up on the graph.

  53. Thanks for the encouragement. I get upset but feel powerless to do anything. I voted and gave what I could but it seems like an uphill battle.
    I hear people on both sides complaining about the Heron and others that appreciate it. I read a lot of the articles and the comments and I do see some negative comments, but in reality, that represents a more focused version of my frustrations. Some of these commenters are quite enraged with specific individuals, some of whom I haven't ever heard of. I actually understand their frustration. Mine, on the other hand, is not directed at any individual, rather the system itself, how it has been hijacked and perverted to these special interests. I see it in the news locally, state, federal, UN, it's really overwhelming.
    Part of island life is to be free from some of that but it seems over the years, people like myself have just been busy with our lives and our children or other activities and taken little notice.
    Seems like we get asked for a tax increase here and there and its always for the library, fire department or police, so who can say no. And they always sell it as only 3 cents per thousand or whatever. Well it's all added up and now my tax bill is more then ever. Then I hear about people scamming the system with forestry and farm breaks for having these hobby "farms". I like them, they are my neighbors, but I can't afford to have my taxes keep going up to support them.
    Thanks for the encouragement.
    As much as I love it here, I don't have any dillusions that it can last.
    I thought these guys were going to recruit business here? All they did was get us bombarded with tourists. That helps a little, but nothing like bringing a few small business here. I have 2 friends that work at Luxel. Can't someone figure out 2 or 3 business that size and lure them here? These comissioners can vote tax adjustments for the CONservation district with the stroke of a pen, how bout voting tax breaks for people that bring jobs?
    If they create 100-200 real full time jobs, those people will build houses, buy houses, shop locally, pay taxes etc. my boss would bid on a few of those and boom, work keeps flowing in. I, in turn, have more disposable income to spend on the island.
    It's sounds simple. Why isn't it happening?

  54. And now its Labor Day.

    My hat is off to these recent commenters. Thank you. This Trojan Heron is as complex as the island communities it is holding up a mirror to and these discussions are authentic.

    And so relevant to what Labor Day is all about. It really is time for the old farts with a few bucks and the hard working young family folks to join hands, cut through this fog and turn this thing around. And have some fun and get to know one other in the bargain.

    It is possible, and this thing goes far beyond San Juan County. But as the Machine was fond of saying over the years, if we can pull this off here we can do it anywhere.

    What we learn to do here, what we do over the next six months or so, will reverberate up and down the west coast. Believe it.

    A lot of communities are being hit hard and just beginning to wake up to what is being done to them in the name of a false environmental god who is no more than just Mammon wearing a Green Mask.

  55. @10:03

    My impression is that a LOT of college students come here in the summer, live as cheaply as possible, and make as much money as possible off the tourists...then off they go. It's provided great summer jobs for my college age kids but...they take the money off the island. And the jobs they have would not provide enough year round income to support much more than a yurt.

    I'm just so un-impressed by the "promotion" of tourism. It breaks my heart really. It would happen anyway! To attempt to increase the speed w/which it happens is just so ridiculous and sad in my mind. jobs. Did you know that the "affordable" homes on Lampard Road in Friday Harbor were built w/materials purchased through an OFF-ISLAND company rather than Browne Lumber? The bid from Browne was $400 more per house. $400.

    Browne Lumber has employees who literally stay w/them their entire lives. People who live here and shop here year around.

    Who made that decision!?! That sort of lack of awareness makes me crazy and I would love to know who all these crazy decision makers are!

    Whew....I've wanted to vent about those two issues for awhile now. My appreciation to the TH for providing the forum.

  56. To add to my previous post...

    my college age kids' friends from Florida, Minnesota, Texas, Colorado, Mercer Island....have all realized they can make a quick buck here in the summer. I wanted to clarify the situation to impress upon the "tourism promoters"...that the money made w/tourism is not all being spent here. Not by any means.

  57. @ 8:58 AM

    Jamie Stephens knows this. Bob Mhyr knows this. Stephanie Buffum knows this. Lincoln Boorman knows this. Ron Zee knows this. Kit Rawson knows this. Jim Slocomb knows this. Kevin Ranker knows this.

    Shall I go on? Find me the top of the eco-fraud foodchain that switched gears from being anti-tourism to being foaming at the mouth pro-tourism ... no so many years ago.

    Find me those promoters who switched their message. And I will show you the leadership of the Machine.

    Because it is about money and power. Not environment. Not community. Not economy.

  58. And of course there's the Lopez Islander fiasco where the friends made up their phony list of reasons that it should not be developed any further.

    The most ridiculous being the ferry traffic. Whoo boy Kyle. That was the best you could come up with?

    Just ridiculous.

  59. @ 9:58 AM

    That's because the Friends will contradict themselves in a heartbeat if the money flows to them. We all saw the email appealing for donations to hire a planning consultant to start that dustup. And that consultant has been on the MRC as long as the MRC existed. That planning consultant rammed GMA down our collective throats working full time for the county.

    But, hey, she needs to make a living too. It's only business. Just another 'ho in the 'hood.

  60. I'm like an earlier poster. I don't know who the people are orchestrating this. I guess I've been pretty busy w/survival and this all just slipped by me.

    So...who is this person? The consultant the Fs hired? Names?

  61. Hope everyone here is ready to eat some crow. This week we should see something from the GMHB. I have a strong inkling that Hale will be vindicated. Her superior intellect will cast shadows over the heron pond, creating a darkness the likes none of you have ever seen.
    This document is a testament to her brilliance and shoud be so recognized.
    Hale, you are such a humble individual who did such a wonderful job on both process and substance that I'm not sure this community could afford the massive reward you deserve.
    You own this Shireene. You don't want to blame the council like you have, claiming you were "just following orders". Not ecology either. We know that all of this CAO document was your works. You are much to strong and well respected in this community to ever even settle for less than full credit for your masterpiece, the crown jewel of local legislation.
    Some may fear that the GMHB decision will be a dark day, oh no, have no fear, this will be Shireene's finest hour. Praise, rewards, and recognition for the simply stellar work product shall begin to rain down on her.
    All heil hale.

  62. @10:13 said: "That's because the Friends will contradict themselves in a heartbeat if the money flows to them. We all saw the email appealing for donations to hire a planning consultant to start that dustup. And that consultant has been on the MRC as long as the MRC existed. That planning consultant rammed GMA down our collective throats working full time for the county."

    Just to be clear - FOSJ didn't hire that consultant, other than to document it in the paperwork. The consultant was directly hired by the wealthy [mostly] weekenders ("WWs") who don't want to come in contact with the déclassé clientele that they feel the Islander serves. The fiction that the FOSJ hired her was only to create a colorable argument that the WWs were making tax-deductible "contributions" to FOSJ and the FOSJ just so happened to take up the cudgel in the fight with the Islander. The truth is, other than the shaky documentation created by the FOSJ to paper up this tall tale, the consultant was absolutely hired by the WW whiners and she bloody well knew all along what the conclusion would be from her "analysis" [air quotes used intentionally] because it was bought and paid for with the first phone call from the WWs.

  63. @ 1:08 PM

    Correct. FOSJ did not hire the consultant.

    FOSJ was involved, in propping up the consultant case.

    There are plenty of ways to help broker a deal without the money passing directly through. I wonder if that consultant now owes a few favors down the line. That's usually how it works.

  64. As for the newly-favored tourists, had the chance to speak to several bike tourists this summer and they want to know why so many ugly guardrails. Asked 'em about bike lanes; they said they don't use them and that they come to the islands to use our rural roads, not bike lanes.

  65. @2:44 pm said: "FOSJ was involved, in propping up the consultant case."

    Actually, a chunk of the heavy lifting on the first draft was done by one of the WWs. Nothing assures that you'll get the result you want from your expert like drafting their analysis and conclusions for them.

  66. @ 5:13 PM

    The scope of work entailed arranging certain data to support a theory that insists on no campground expansion because it would increase ferry traffic of bikers who prefer rural roads to bike lanes and guardrails.

  67. As so richly stated earlier, look at the motives.

    The attempt at controlling San Juan County "is about money and power. Not environment. Not community. Not economy."

    Follow the money, dissolve the power hungry CONservation District, and stop any crazy 40th District Byers campaign (OMG). Are you kidding? #1 in self promotion but not good for the community.

    Get some trained people in positions of power for gods sake.

  68. It would be very nice to get some administrators who LIKE people, and maybe have a sense of humor, and maybe know how to use a pencil instead of a pen.

  69. Both wonderful and depressing to read posts of 10:03pm and 8:27am.

    Why are we spending money on a conservation district that accomplishes little or nothing? Because we always have?

    How about, as 10:03 suggests, we spend some money on a qualified person to bring YEAR ROUND good paying jobs to our community. Heck it's an easy sale. Good schools, a housing base that is pretty stable, a safe place. It is really pretty difficult to get shot here. (You might have to be honest about the weather.)

    As for the person(s) who as 8:27 pointed out are so anal that they can't find a way to take a local bid over a low bid, well those people we don't need.

    Now watch the Port, the only flush with cash government entity we have spin and twist and get nothing done. Oh my, we gotta talk to the DOE, we gotta do this bulkhead, we gotta get up early tomorrow. Oh my life is hell. Be honest people, you made enough money in the last month to pay for a complete reconstruction of the burn down.

  70. @10:02
    Very good points & well stated. When I moved here I thought this was it. Loved it. Now I don't and would love to leave, but economics make that difficult.

    Thanks TH for exposing the corruption in the islands. I thought I kept up on things but had no idea how much money grubbing is going on by the cast of characters you have exposed. What a shameful bunch of hypocritical bastards. They make me sick!

    As 10:03 stated let's get some businesses to come here. Enough of the tourist economy. By the look of things this summer, we can't handle the flow of people pouring in here. It can only get worse. A better tax base, better paying long term jobs that will support a healthy YEAR ROUND economy.Not too hard to figure that out folks.

    Good point on the new taxes. Enough is enough. Every year someone else wants a levy lift for something and we are all supposed to follow along in lock step. They bring forth what a small increase, etc., etc. We just keep doing it and it needs to stop.

    Fed up.

  71. Your damn right they took the low bid, I would have too. If your $400 figure is right then that amounts to about $10,000 in savings for that development that didn't come out of the pockets of our hard working low income families. That $400 doesn't come from some magical grant fund that Is ranted about on this blog, it came from a loan taken out in their name. I applaud those families for busting their butt for 18 months straight like that.

  72. @ 12:13. I was going to respond, then I wasn't and now I have.
    I feel sure you can follow the logic of that.

  73. @12:13
    $400 out of a total price tag of what 100K.
    The OP wasn't railing against the people who built the homes, the decision wasn't theirs to make. Rather, the management decision to save that $400 or $10k on a 2.5 million dollar or so materials package.
    This is subsidized housing. That's right, we the people are on the hook in someway. Is it too much to ask to see the 2.5 million or so dollars put in to the local economy, over $10,000 difference?
    Don't buy local! Is that the new theme?
    Ive lived here for 15 years without a Costco membership, but you have encouraged me to see see the wisdom of doing what is best for me, not what helps my community the most.
    Costco, here I come. And that guy from Waldron that sells flowers all around FH in his cart, I found a place online that I can get similar flowers for 65 cents less. Heck, that's almost a 10% savings. Sorry Waldron, economi consumerism realities.
    I needed a new item for my kitchen, Gourment Galley has it for $62.00, Amazon has it for $58.95. It's clear, locals be damned.
    At least you are honest, so for that I applaud you (If I can get applause at a bargain price)

  74. "Please prove you are not a robot". To post here.

    With our exponential advances in technology, I believe we are only a few years away from "Please prove you are not a human".

  75. @6:47
    Your argument is absurd. And full of so much BS I don’t even know where to begin.
    $400 extra for lumber on each house, why stop there? Those families should have bought local for everything on their house, hell they can afford it. It’s not like they are barely making it or anything.
    Subsidized? Please elaborate. They are on the hook for every cent spent on their house. The only subsidy they received is the opportunity to put in hard labor in lieu of a cash deposit. They still have a 100% loan, but just didn’t have to come up with the initial 20%.
    What you should be saying is, why the hell couldn’t Browne lower their price by $400 a house to help out their own community.
    Better yet, I think the next “subsidized housing” is going on next to the elementary school. Why don’t you show up onsite and tell those hard working families, many working full time at their job then putting in another 40 hours building their house that they need to step it up and SUBSIDIZE Browne.
    I got nothing against buy local but you don’t know how it really applies…

    1. Is it too much to ask to see the 2.5 million or so dollars put in to the local economy, over $10,000 difference? -@6:47

      This is a miss understanding. I know that they used Island Concrete Products and Carlson Enterprises for their site work. I heard Carlson did a lot off discounted/free work to help those families out. There were many local subs who got work and even more who just plain volunteered.

      Our local economy did not miss out on 2.5m but maybe Browne didn't get a cut because they didn't step it up.

      No matter how you spin it, building out that development and finding homes for local families is a win for our community.

  76. @8:19

    It is great that you are leaving these comments here. I'm not @6:47, but you're a great example of how language gets twisted around.

    If the Lampard Road residents paid $400 extra to Browne, that's not subsidizing them unless they received public assistance for it. A subsidy is financial support provided by a third party for the benefit of another. In a straight two-party transaction, there is no "subsidy," just mutual benefit via on a voluntary transaction.

    Alright, you don't see any benefit to buying local, so you value "buy local" at $0 instead of $400 or $10,000 or whatever number you want to pick. Okay, fair enough, but that's not a subsidy. It's just a reflection on what you value.

    The point is that the subsidy is created by where you get your money, not where you spend it. Where you spend it reflects your values.

    You're not defending the Lampard Road development so much as you are condemning every "buy local" effort that ever existed because you don't see any value there. Fine. Buy everything from China and eat food from Texas. Those are your values. You say you don't have anything against "buy local?" Of course you do. Those are your values, at least for housing supplies.

    Did you ask Browne to perhaps "donate" the $400 extra or did you just jump on the lowest price?

    The point that's been made on the TH over and over again, especially about residents who live in affordable housing, is that we should be under no illusion as to the affordable housing system, the people who live in them, or the developers. They are pursuing their own self-interest. That's the American way, so good on ya. If you can get something cheaper, then go for it. However, that's all it is, and it's an expression of your values. The Lampard Road development is only that. It's not "community." It's not la la land feel-goodiness. It's just people pursuing their own self-interest and buying everything as cheaply as possible, valuing local participation at $0. Nothing wrong with that, but that's the reality.

    Thanks for making that clear.

  77. In short, @6:19 is defending the right of people in affordable housing to have value flow one way -- towards them. When money and labor are donated to them, it's "value." When they spend money and labor in the local community, all of a sudden they're "subsidizing" us.

    It's very clear to me now.

  78. 12:13 and 8:19

    Really? I don't think you've thought this out.

    Buying local supports the very sort of people who need the housing.

    Don't you get it?

    Think about it. Think about it.

    My Dad had a small business here all his adult life. It's not as easy as it looks. I think in terms of...if I buy local..then that thing I need quick one day will be provided by the local person. They're holding it on their shelf for me but could not afford to do so...or at a reasonable price...w/out local business. My family is a huge supporter of Browne Lumber. I trust them entirely. Their bid was obviously not at all out of line. They are fair and hardworking and I wish you'd think through your arguments before you spew.

    With local buying you have a trickle in of local for locals who get paid and spend's a win win.


  79. You can't get through to people like @6:19. It's me me me me me. They don't see connections. They only see themselves. I wonder if any of the people in Lampard Road have ever worked at Browne's or a company that relies on Browne's.

  80. @6:19

    You need a basic, and I really mean BASIC, course in economics. You need help with the multiplier effect.

  81. @8:19
    Homes for Islanders is a non profit entity who receives funding from the USDA.
    That is subsidized housing.
    Period. My tax dollars paying for these services.
    I think some of these programs are good and I am not disparaging them, but of you think low income housing isn't subsidized then you wholly naive.

  82. Hold on a second.

    I know the Lampard Road development used Island Concrete Products for their cement and Carlson Enterprises for their site work. There were many other local subs who had work on that project and even more people who just volunteered to help out. I know Mike Carlson was a big supporter of that project and I heard he greatly discounted his services.

    I am not going to fault them or “management” for going out and finding the best price they could, that’s free market basics. And if Browne held out on their portion of 2.5m over $400 per house then that was their choice too. I am sure they had an opportunity to work on their bid; they are very professional over there.

    If you have the means to buy locally that that’s great. For the rest of us, you are damn right I have a Costco card and make runs off island to buy groceries and stock our freezer. If you think I am an exception that you are out to lunch. Some families team up and alternate their Costco runs to save on travel expenses. You think we prefer to do that if we could afford to shop locally all the time?

    That $400? May not seem like a lot do you, but I just don’t have it. And if had been building a house on Lampard I would have made the same choice. And IMHO you are using “subsidized affordable housing” to insult the grueling work those families did building their own houses. Period.

    Those families have a loan in their name for 100% of all the costs associated with building each house. USDA funds the administration costs of the Homes for Islanders program only.
    - 12:13

  83. @10:54

    That makes sense. Everyone acts in their own self-interest. It's just that it shouldn't be portrayed as anything but that. It's hard enough to live out here. We get that. But expressions like "subsidizing Browne's" are invidious nonsense. Last time I looked, Browne's wasn't listed on the Fortune 500. I'm sure it's not easy for them to match mainland prices, provide decent paying jobs, benefits. I could be wrong, but I don't think they're gouging for the sake of gouging. I don't think they're gouging at all.

    Buy where you can and according to what you can afford. That's responsible spending.

    From a macroeconomic perspective, however, it would be nice to invest in people and businesses that produced a return on investment for local businesses. Obviously, you're not it. That's no knock on you, just the facts as you've stated them. Maybe if we had those kinds of investments and businesses, though, it would be easier for you too.

    Personally, I think we have a lot of extra costs around here because of the damn Friends and all the crap they pull. @10:54, if you want a lower cost of living out here, then get rid of the people who make trouble for every homeowner and business. Get rid of the people in the County who've doubled the budget in the last 10 years. Get rid of the people who want needless government programs built for urban and suburban environments and paid for on a rural tax base.

  84. And those USDA "funds for the program" come from where again?
    Magic? Out of the genie bottle? On the organic money tree? Unicorn farts?
    No, it is tax dollars. It's a subsidy. Like I said, I don't disparage the hard work, just want to point out that the rest of us are footing part of the bill.
    Oh yeah, I'm sure there is some sort of property tax break as these aren't "allowed" to be assessed above a certain amount.
    They are subsidized, by me and the half of the population that pays taxes. Nothing more, nothing less. If you are unwilling to realize or admit that, then rational debate with you would be close to pointless.

  85. @11:57
    Personally I think this kind of development suffers mostly from increased storm water regulations, driven by Ecology. That development, as do many others, had to turn an entire buildable lot into a storm water detention pond to provide treatment.

    Let me try to respond to your “unicorn fart”:

    “just want to point out that the rest of us are footing part of the bill.”
    Um, you are right we are. No argument there so why are you trying to make one?

    “Oh yeah, I'm sure there is some sort of property tax break as these aren't "allowed" to be assessed above a certain amount. “
    What a bunch of crap that statement is. Take you buck shot BS elsewhere lets discuss facts here on TH. To quote you, If you are unwilling to realize or admit that, then rational debate with you would be close to pointless..

    “They are subsidized, by me and the half of the population that pays taxes. Nothing more, nothing less. If you are unwilling to realize or admit that, then rational debate with you would be close to pointless.”
    Like I said, USDA funds the administration costs of the Homes for Islanders program. Each home owner pays for their own land and house.


  86. There is a great article in the Sunday Sept. 1st Seattle Times Business section.

    It's called How Goya Became a Go-to Food Brand

    I highly recommend people read it.

    The people who are content w/the decision to use an off island supplier for the affordable housing have not convinced me that is the correct choice.

    A savings of $400 amortized over 30 years for a home owner is negligible when compared to the value of local jobs and support of local businesses.

    I don't know if the Browne Bros were offered an opportunity to meet the lower bid or not. That said...I believe they use a very careful formula to figure out what they can afford to offer. And included in that consideration are their employees and their lives.

    They have employees who have worked there their entire adult lives and who may have an interesting perspective and clarity on how the decisions are made.

  87. For the non-profit grant funded homes for islands to do ANYTHING other than accept the low bid would be wholly inappropriate and leads to a very dangerous slippery slope. It not just $400 for lumber (again I don’t know these numbers), its $500 for the electrical, more for the roofing, plumbing, earthwork, hardware, fixtures, etc…it all adds up.

    Where does it stop?

    Who’s call is it to make?

    It’s just a little here a little there, it’s for the greater good…yeah I hear that every time someone wants to raise my taxes. Drop in the bucket the CD said.

    Maybe you want the County not to award public works projects to the low bidder either. Maybe they should send work to some firm on Lopez because Jamie is friends with someone on their staff?

    Business is business folks. It’s black and white. Browne is a business too and they shop around. If you could guarantee Browne would buy my wood just because I’m “local” I would open up a saw mill tomorrow.

    Do you really want people I key positions, managing our tax dollars, having the discretion on where to spend our money?

    Really? Are you sure?


  88. Your right, business is business. Screw the people with low income. One word for ya. RENT. If you can't buy a house without a subsidized program, then do what people have done for generations and rent a place.
    Not sure where it is codified into law that we owe low income people anything.
    Guess roads, schools, police protection, fire protection and welfare for those most in need isn't enough. Guess we owe you help getting a house.
    What's next? Cars for islanders? Yachts for islanders?


    just a few of many

    thought provoking conversation! Is a part of the problem...that in our culture we do not have the ability to save and therefore spend up to or over whatever our income is? So buying is like a forced savings account if the value of the real estate goes up?

    I'm not sure about the rules for the homes for islanders. Are they allowed full appreciation?

    Just thoughts this conversation is bringing up for me off the top of my head.

  90. To those air heads that said the TH was only 4 to 7 people banging out drivel, I'd strongly suggest you read the last twenty or thirty posts herein. (What the heck, read em all.) Because:

    Man, are you wrong!

  91. Call it what you want, but many large cities require builders to hire at least a percentage of local talent. (A good local carpenter is knowledgeable, not just a "worker.")

    That extra amount paid for local employment comes back and serves the very people this housing is being built for. I don't think anyone in the general public is getting hurt to a measurable extent. (A ton of money was just spent on buying property on Stuart Island in the name of "salmon recovery" that has nothing to do with actual salmon recovery and everything to do with graft and corruption.)

    But we must move on:

    1) Has the Port of Friday Harbor hired a local company to clear out the burn down? There has to be a least five dudes here with the machines to do this work. When?

    2) Is the Port interviewing local visionary architects/designers and engineers for a new low rise building? When?

    3) If Browne's comes in $400 bucks over, will they buy off-island instead?

    Simplistic? No, basic.

  92. Great discussion. This is where its at. This is the "community conversation for the rest of us." I don't know whatever became of that Trust Islanders thingee but this is a hard act to follow. Memo to Trust Islanders: Do something.

    I digress. I like Homes for Islanders. Subsidy? Not quite. Rural loan program. OPALCO does the same damn thing for our mutual benefit by tapping Rural Utility Service low interest loan pools for energy infrastructure. Really, Homes for Islanders isn't any different. The loans have to be paid back. Were the loan pools set up by the Feds which used tax dollars to create them. Yes. State of Washington does the same thing. Its called public policy. Roads are not just for poor folks. Nor is electrical infrastructure, and the old time Farm Home Loan programs in USDA have been around for a long, long time. They have evolved, but they help smooth over the market distortions in rural areas and help locals build stake. Is that a bad idea? No it is a good idea.

    As to the multiplier effect. Good heavens yes, we need to get a handle on this. Does anyone know the multiplier differential between tourism and real honest to God agriculture? It's shocking. Agriculture multiplier effect is massive compared to tourism. Also consider the capital flight problem. In a rural economy half the battle is to prevent money from leaving quickly so that it can circulate more locally before it leaves.

    The Port of Friday Harbor has the money. They have a legal obligation to promote and support economic development in tangible ways ... but they don't. That's a problem.

    And do you think you will get the kind of quality debate about community economics from our puny little hijacked Green Machine Economic Anti-Development Council? Don't hold your breath.

    The real conversation is here right now. And if Trust Islanders will get their act together maybe we'll have some other players in the game.

  93. I wouldn't go so far as to say TI needs to get their act together. I'd say they got a good one together, on short notice and made a huge impact last time

    We are all islanders that trust each other. So what should our next move be?
    A printed flyer to rebuke the FOSJ? Finding the right candidate to support to bounce Ranker? Work on next years candidates for Lopez comissioner, PA, auditor, assessor, etc?
    TI can be a work horse but it can only do so much.
    Suggestions are welcome.
    Get rid of the CD?
    What actions now and money spent will have the best return?

  94. One further word about Browne's and local participation. I agree with the posters who say it is a valuation issue. If the people issuing the bid scope valued local participation, it would be in the scope. In other words, there would be a price preference for local suppliers. A 5% price break, for example, would mean that local suppliers could be within 5% of the lowest bid and still get the low-bid. If something like that is not included as part of the bid scope, then the buyer is not placing any value on local participation, and you get into the argument of "you have to accept the low bid to be responsible." Yes, that may be technically true, but it's because the bid scope did not scope any value for local participation in the first place.

    Then we also have the situation where our county and town governments go off-island for many services they could procure locally more inexpensively. Despite all the "buy local" talk, there really is no ethic for buying local, especially for big purchases. If there were, there would be programs and scoping that would place explicit value on it. In some states, like California, you can register with the state or county as a small, locally owned business. Then, the local municipality usually includes a scope item that requires such businesses to be considered first.

    Our county doesn't have anything like that. Washington doesn't have anything like that.

  95. So...who sits on the Housing Bank Commission?

  96. And is it a paid position?

  97. How many people that use power from Bonneville Power know that 20% if their bills are for the salmon. Something you can but at your local grocery store?
    I have to laugh every time I drive by Rock Island dam. The outlet for the fish to come back into the river probably kills half the fish that fall out of that pipe.