Saturday, September 28, 2013

Pure Imagination: Snowflakes Or Jigsaw Puzzles

In this series, we've talked about the overall environmental-ish illusion ... the illusion of perpetually bad environmental news, the illusion of the purity of tribal motivations, and the illusion of the Friends as a benevolent public-interest organization. Now, we want to talk about the illusion of freedom and individuality.

Are you a snowflake or a jigsaw puzzle piece? It's a strange question, but there is a point. Both snowflakes and jigsaw puzzle pieces are unique. But the individuality of a snowflake is derived from its unplanned development whereas the individuality of a jigsaw puzzle piece is imposed upon it by a larger order.

In actuality, this is a very fundamental question about your views of liberty. Should we allow ourselves to be transformed by our leaders ... shaped into more ordered, rational beings for the benefit of society ... and let our institutional bureaucracies create an authoritarian system that we fit into? Believing that people should "fit" into a free society designed by higher-ups leads to a terrible logic -- that we The People do not realize what true freedom is, and we have to be coerced into doing what is good for us.

Read the article below from the Plumas County News in California. It's a familiar story. Everywhere, municipal planners are coercing us into being jigsaw puzzle pieces for some bigger plan. I find one quotation particularly striking,
Senior Planner Becky Herrin, who represented the planning department at the meeting, thanked everyone for attending, but added that she wished they had been “here for the last seven years.”
In other words, the default position of the Plumas County Planning Department is that, unless the public is watching like a hawk, planners will work to impose a restrictive outside order on the community ... in the name of the community.
  Fearing that Plumas County’s new general plan could lead to a loss of private property rights, a group of concerned citizens wants to trash the document and begin again.
  With the Plumas County supervisors just weeks away from approving the updated general plan, the Indian Valley Citizens for Private Property Rights appeared before the Planning Commission on Jan. 17 and laid out their arguments.
  About 60 people packed the small conference room at the planning department with most standing, and some spilling into the hallway.
  Their spokeswoman, Carol Viscarra, gave a PowerPoint presentation outlining the group’s concerns and highlighting why the new general plan is Agenda 21 in disguise.
  Agenda 21 is a 300-page document adopted in 1992 at United Nations Conference on Environment and Development held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The document is designed to be a blueprint of how jurisdictions worldwide should move toward sustainable economic growth that simultaneously protects and renews environmental resources.
  Explaining that she was not a political activist, but rather an emergency room nurse and third-generation rancher, Viscarra was nervous. But “I believe it’s my civic duty” to come forward, she said.
  After several months of page-by-page review, she said it’s her conclusion that the general plan “seems to mirror almost verbatim Agenda 21.”
  There has been a growing theory that Agenda 21 is a conspiracy to take away individual property rights and move people off the land to urban centers.
  During her presentation, Viscarra presented a map that showed vast expanses of California as off-limits to the public, wide swaths that were treated as buffer zones to be heavily regulated, with only zones around San Francisco, Los Angeles and Fresno that remained unrestricted. “Eighty-six percent of the land will be set aside as wildlife corridors,” Viscarra said.
  Because 71 percent of Plumas County’s land mass is already in the public domain, Viscarra said Plumas County is an ideal locale for Agenda 21 to take root. “Be informed. Be courageous. Read about Agenda 21 and study it for yourselves,” Viscarra told those gathered. “The stealth of this organization is upon us in Plumas County.”
  She said that the local planning commission members and supervisors “emphatically deny” any relationship with Agenda 21, and she believes them. She attributes the inclusion of Agenda 21 language in the general plan to the consultants that help jurisdictions write planning documents and organizations that provide grants.
  She said the words “Agenda 21” never appear in such documents, but words such as “sustainability,” “open space,” “mixed-use housing” and “sustainable development,” which she describes as the “most egregious,” are all indicators of its influence.
  “They will never, ever call it Agenda 21,” she said.
  Viscarra said that the process began in Plumas County back in 2002 as local leaders embarked upon Vision 2020, with the aid of outside grants. There were meetings and scoping sessions and language terms such as sustained growth and development became more common.
  She said that in the county’s general plan update, the words “open space” are used 121 times, “sustainable” 77 times and “the county shall” is used 430 times. She said that the general plan also has “a lot of references to climate change” another popular theme in Agenda 21.
  Viscarra said that timber regulations, which restrict forestry practices in the county, are a good example of how Agenda 21 is already being implemented without people being aware.
  Addressing the ranchers in the room, she said, “If you’re not worried, it’s because you’re not paying attention.”
  She added, “I looked at the general plan through the prism of a rancher, but this should be a concern to all businesses.”
  Applause greeted the conclusion of her presentation.
  B.J. Pearson, a former county supervisor and developer in the eastern portion of the county, said, “This is one of the best presentations I have ever seen,” and suggested that she should make the presentation in each district.
  Sheriff Greg Hagwood agreed and described the presentation as “one of the most succinct and accurate” that he had seen.
  “I thought I would spend the bulk of my time protecting people against burglars,” Hagwood said. Instead, he said he found himself protecting people “from their own government. I encourage the Board of Supervisors to put strong language in the general plan regarding private property rights.”
  Many in the audience echoed Viscarra’s concerns about private property rights and the new general plan.
  “My understanding is that this plan doesn’t need to be approved until 2015,” Sheila Groethe said. “I ask you to trash this and write a new general plan appropriate to Plumas County.”
  As some of the comments began to degenerate and one man said implementing Agenda 21 to was tantamount to treason, County Counsel Craig Settlemire, who had attended the meeting, stepped in.
  “Everyone here is working to uphold our oaths and the Constitution,” he said.
  Senior Planner Becky Herrin, who represented the planning department at the meeting, thanked everyone for attending, but added that she wished they had been “here for the last seven years.”
  The planning department had held multiple meetings throughout the process including meetings in each community. She said that when the meeting was held in Indian Valley no members of the public attended.
  Her department is now in the process of writing responses to all of the comments that have been submitted for the environmental document associated with the general plan. She said many accuse the general plan of going too far, while others believe that it isn’t restrictive enough. When the document is complete, a hearing will be scheduled before the Board of Supervisors.
  How this latest protest impacts the process is unclear. The deadline for filing comments has passed, but during the Jan. 17 meeting, Planning Commission Chairwoman Betsy Schramel invited those present to put their concerns in writing.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Pure Imagination: Earth First to Me First

The Friends of the San Juans claim that they were formed in 1979 to defend the "county’s
first comprehensive land use plan." By the mid-1990s, one islander described them as "a curious bunch to watch in action, running from one meeting to the next, or sitting all day in hearings, or threatening lawsuits." Beth Helstein, the Friends President in those days, was quoted as saying, "One place where the taxpayers could stop growth would be by refusing to pay for new schools." In other words, we had warning signs long ago, and some islanders muttered even then that the Friends' motto should be "Sue thy neighbor," but most of us did not heed the warning signs.

Then, in 1999, Friends President Lynn Bahrych filed a petition to limit guesthouses, a cherished island tradition. That battle continued for the next 9 years, resulting in severe restrictions on guesthouses, and in the eyes of many, the loss of an important aspect of our rural character.

In 2001, the Friends hired Stephanie Buffum away from the Southwest Center for Biological Diversity (CBD). Along with her dog Kiva and her then-husband Kieran Suckling, Buffum moved to Shaw, Bahrych's home island. Buffum's husband was a co-founder of CBD, and coincidentally, a doppelganger for outgoing Friends Director Kevin Ranker. Buffum and Suckling's short marriage and 9-year relationship would soon end in divorce, with Suckling returning to the Southwest. But CBD's hardcore tactics would live on in the San Juans in the persona of Buffum ... an expansion of the CBD franchise.

When the CBD began in the late 80s, they were political outsiders complaining about subsidies to ranchers and other "abusers" of public lands who harmed the environment. In a 1998 interview, Suckling said:
Our government and its corporate sponsors have created a system of subsidies that has to be abolished. They turned the lands into a commodity. We have to get public land users off this welfare system. It is not a simple thing to break those chains.
One of the other co-founders of CBD, Todd Schulke, had been an Earth First activist and many CBD'ers drew inspiration from the unconstrained environmental advocacy of Earth First. While Earth First in the 1980s defined itself through direct action like monkey wrenching, CBD began to explore legal monkey wrenching ... relying on legal tactics, particularly litigation, and direct confrontation of bureaucracy. Fundamentally, the CBD strategy was an outsider strategy that did not depend on appealing to politicians or avoiding controversy. They were not interested in influence or being liked. They were interested in winning.

Somewhere along the way, however, the outsiders became the ultimate insiders, especially here in the San Juans. Nearly every Friends annual report since Buffum's arrival heralds the winning of more and more grants. Grant funding for the Friends soared from less than $200K per year before Buffum arrived to an annual high of nearly $450K in 2010. Friends members sit on multiple County committees and as advisors to the Conservation District. Ex-Friends Director Ranker is a suit-wearing State Senator and an ex-Councilman. The Friends have even attempted to silence opponents using accusations of being "uncivil" ... an odd turn of decorum for a CBD franchise. Suckling said as late as 2011 that “Psychological warfare is a very under-appreciated aspect of environmental campaigns.” Showmanship is too, and like the CBD, no Friends program was ever hindered by a lack of science.
With that appetite for litigation, how good are these radicals in their environmental assaults? Suckling claims his “unparalleled record of legal successes” is a cool 93 percent. With that success he doesn’t need solid science, and his own words reflect that. The Arizonan columnist Hugh Holub once asked Suckling if CBD activities suffer from the absence of a science-based approach in its litigious demands for endangered-species listings. “No,” Suckling responded. “Kids with science degrees are hindered by [taught] resource management values.” He added that he preferred philosophers, linguists, and poets who tended to be in front of the curve and were not handicapped by unproductive, traditional thinking.
-- Range Magazine, Fall 2013
With the arrival of Buffum to the San Juans 12 years ago, the CBD franchise expanded to the Pacific Northwest. It was a natural fit for a Friends organization that had been a kind of prototype of the CBD anyway. The Friends, in turn, helped infect other locales. For example, the Friends' first staff attorney, Amy Trainer, has moved on to northern California and is using CBD tactics to shut down the Drakes Bay Oyster Company.

The Friends heritage and personnel are inextricably linked with that of the CBD, but the Friends' end game has changed from saving the environment to saving the environmental bureaucracies that hand out the big environmental-ish grant bucks to insiders ... and directing the insider game to their own economic self-interests at the expense of the rest of society.  How might the Suckling of 1998 put it?
Our government has created a system of environmental-ish grant subsidies that has to be abolished. They have turned environmental causes into a commodity. We have to get environmental-ish groups off this welfare system. It is not simple to break those chains.
My ... how environmental-ish times have changed! Earth First has become Me First.
Two Friends in a pod? -- Ranker and Suckling, Suckling and Ranker ... both are named Kevin ("Kieran" is the Irish word for "Kevin")

Stephanie Buffum and mentor Lynn Bahrych at a Friends "All Species" Ball (circa 2009)

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Pure Imagination: Tulalip Burial Grounds

Dana Kinsey of Orcas Island, and formerly of the Conservation District, recently wrote an open letter to Councilmen Jarman and Hughes about her concerns regarding our Local Integrating Organization (LIO). In her letter, Kinsey alleges that Linda Lyshall has been shifting LIO funding to the Conservation Distict for her own benefit. Kinsey wrote:
It appears that [Lyshall] is determining projects, grantees and funding now. I thought she was originally hired by San Juan County to coordinate the LIO part time as a county employee. Now suddenly, in this new proposal all the work and money go to the Conservation District. Is it because [Lyshall] took a job there in May?
We agree with Kinsey that the Council should start asking the LIO a lot more questions ... everyone should. Even in a world where miscreant government is the norm, the LIO sticks out for being a freakish Franken-bureaucracy beyond compare.

The Trojan Heron will do an entire series of posts about the LIO in the near future, but for the moment, we want to provide some background about one of its governing members ... the Tulalip Tribes. 

First, we need to explain how the Tulalips fit into the LIO. The LIO is "governed" by an Accountability Oversight Committee (AOC) comprised of our County government together with three local tribes ... the Tulalip Tribes, the Lummi Nation, and the Swinomish Tribe. The LIO manages our local ecosystem, using the Puget Sound Partnership's Action Agenda for San Juan County as a plan.  That's right ... our local ecosystem is not managed by our elected County Council. Instead it is managed according to a blueprint (the Action Agenda) formulated by a State bureaucracy (the PSP) and then implemented by an intergovernmental panel consisting of 1 collective vote for 3 local tribes and 1 vote for our elected County government.

So what are our LIO tribal partners like? Here are some facts about the Tulalips.

As anyone who has driven down I-5 knows, the Tulalip Tribes have a reservation in Snohomish County. The 22,000-acre reservation is home to about 2,500 tribal members (another 1,500 live off the reservation) and about 8,000 non-tribal members. That gives the reservation a population density exceeding 3 times that of San Juan County. 

According to DSHS, tribal members are entitled to a $2,000 quarterly stipend, with a December bonus of $3,500. In 2012, tribal members received $11,500. The elderly and disabled receive payments of $1,000 per month. Tuition assistance is available for Tulalip tribal members attending college. Tribal members also receive an employment preference for jobs on the reservation.

Who gets to be a Tulalip tribal member? That is a very interesting question. These days, to become a Tulalip tribal member, a child has to be born to a tribal member who has lived on the reservation for at least 12 months prior to the child's birth. That means that a full-blood Tulalip born in Boston, New York City, or Portland is not a member of the tribe and can never be a member of the tribe. On the other hand, even a mostly non-Tulalip child born on the reservation to a tribal member is automatically a tribal member. These strange tribal membership rules are described by a Tulalip tribal member and blogger in the following way:
As a 20 year old Tulalip female, it disturbs me to know that there is no blood quantum to become a Tulalip tribal member. “The applicant must be a child born to any Member of the tribe, which Member is a Resident as defined herein.” [Sec.3.0] Since this is all you have to do to become a tribal member, the tribe ends up having a lot of non-native members. 
The rules provide a loop hole that permits whites and other non-natives to enroll. My cousin is a perfect example. He is less than one-eighth and is still an enrolled tribal member. His child is less than one-sixteenth because he is having a baby with a white woman. His child will surely be enrolled because he lives on the Tulalip Reservation and is a tribal member of the Tulalip tribes. The resident rule excludes some Native Americans from enrollment. 
For example, my younger sister didn’t have acceptable mail with her name and address on it. She needed it to prove residency which caused problems in enrolling her children. My sister is currently living on the Tulalip reservation with her children where they have been living since they were born. The rules also cause problems for Tulalip tribal members who move off of the reservation.
Other tribes tease the Tulalip tribes because many of our members are white. They call us white Tulalip because the large amount of white tribal members. A Native American tribe is supposed to be made up of Native American people not white or black people. If non-natives are allowed to be enrolled, they take money from the Native Americans.
In other words, Tulalip tribal membership isn't the same as Tulalip heritage anymore, and the Tulalips are not the only tribe to view tribal membership in this way. In fact, a congressional study predicts that nationwide only 3% of "Indians" will be full blooded by 2080.

The Tulalips have been very successful economically. The reservation operates Quil Ceda Village (a 100-store mall), Quil Ceda Creek Casino, Tulalip Resort Casino, Tulalip Liquor Store and Smoke Shop, Tulalip Broadband, a fish hatchery, and a closed hazardous waste landfill that used to be a Superfund site ... more on that in a moment.

Tulalip operations earn hundreds of millions in revenue each year (estimated to be more than $200 million back in 2005). Only a very small proportion of tribal revenue is generated from fishing these days. Reportedly, 30 tribal members are licensed to fish, which is down from about 130 tribal members in the mid-1980s.

Getting back to the Tulalip Superfund Site, the EPA says the following:
Tulalip Landfill is a 147-acre site located on North Ebey Island, within the boundaries of the Tulalip Indian Reservation near Marysville, Washington. The landfill is surrounded by Ebey Slough to the north and Steamboat Slough to the south. Surface water from these sloughs flows into northern Puget Sound, a federally designated national estuary that is a recognized habitat for shellfish and some endangered species, including salmon. The Tulalip Tribe leased land to the Seattle Disposal Company from 1964 to 1979. During that time, an estimated four million tons of commercial, industrial, and hospital waste were deposited in the landfill. In 1979, the landfill was closed. An estimated 7,800 people obtain their drinking water from private and municipal wells that are within four miles of the site. The nearest drinking water source is within one mile of the site.
The site underwent cleanup about 15 years ago, and in April 2013, the EPA completed it's third 5-Year Review of the remedy. The remedy consists of an engineered 7-layer containment system to better isolate the waste and contamination, groundwater monitoring for at least 30 years, and institutional controls (e.g., land use restrictions and administrative controls such as warning signs).

Prior to landfilling activities, the land on which the landfill is located consisted of relatively undisturbed intertidal wetlands. After landfilling operations ceased, contaminated leachate was seeping out into the nearby wetlands causing concerns for human health and the environment, so the site was added to the National Priorities List (NPL) in April 1995. In an editorial from that year, Greg Wingard, President Waste Action Project Seattle, wrote the following:
EPA investigation of the site showed hazardous and bio-hazard waste was disposed of there. Leachate from the landfill was determined to be toxic and a danger to salmon in the nearby Quilceda Creek.  When EPA sent a team of divers in to investigate the landfill's impact on Puget Sound, they found body parts, bloody bandages and other medical waste.
Most of the divers contracted armpit and groin infections as a result of their exposure. Tests run on bacteria samples by EPA showed most of the samples were highly resistant to the 13 antibiotics tested. Some of the samples were 100 percent resistant to everything used against them. This information is contained in the EPA Region X file on the landfill.
From looking at the documentation and the data, I have to say that I truly believe the Tulalip landfill has an effective remedy in place now. In its current remediated state, I believe that the risks to human health and the environment have been mitigated. But if the remediated Tulalip landfill of horrors can safety exist directly adjacent to the shore of Puget Sound, so can an average home in the San Juans.

The Tulalips have a role in managing our ecosystem via the LIO. Tribal employees (e.g., Kit Rawson) have been long-term tribal representatives to our Marine Resources Committee. Tulalips have "usual and accustomed" fishing rights in our waters. When you encounter Tulalip environmental-ish policies and statements regarding salmon ... or regarding climate change and sea level rise ... or even their heritage ... take note that fishing is just one more line of business for the tribe and its tribal members ... take note that the Tulalip reservation has a delisted Superfund site sitting in wetlands barely above high tide on Puget Sound ... take note of who gets to be a Tulalip tribal member and who doesn't ... take note that the tribe is an economic and development powerhouse.

I believe Tulalip tribal government officials have been very effective advocates for the economic and cultural interests of their tribal members ... and we should expect our County Council to be no less effective at advocating for us.

An oblique aerial photo of the remediated Tulalip Superfund Landfill on North Ebey Island on the Tulalip Reservation.  Where is the buffer?

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Pure Imagination: No More Good News Forever

Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce ended one of the most brilliant armed struggles in history by promising, "From where the sun now stands, I shall fight no more forever." Sadly, the environmental-ish movement seems to carry on its phony struggle according to the pledge, "No more good news forever."

Right now, we are at the tail end of one of the largest salmon runs we've ever seen. The pre-season Fraser River estimate for pinks was about 8 million fish. The in-season estimate was raised several times and now stands at more than 26 million. Sources say that experts believe the actual number may be closer to 35 million, but officials are reluctant to publicly announce such a huge figure. When you combine the Fraser runs with the 6+ million pre-season estimate for other regional rivers, it's not unreasonable to believe the total return to our waters might amount to more than 40 million pink salmon alone. At an average weight of 4 lbs, that's in excess of 160 million pounds of salmon biomass. By any standard, that's a lot.

And yet, where are the good news stories about this fabulous return? Where are all the people who profess to love nature and salmon habitat? Our County has spent $12 million on salmon habitat over the past decade. Why is no one crowing about the wonderful year we're having?

The good news doesn't end there. Compared to 1972, there are 10 times as many seals in the Puget Sound region now. Even the population of Stellar Sea Lions in our vicinity (the Eastern population) has been steadily increasing. 

There is even some good news about our climate, which is the third-rail of any eco discussion. We seem to have been in an undeniable "pause" in global warming since about 1997, and overall climate warming seems to have proceeded much more slowly than most projections. Also, while the Arctic ice cap is shrinking, the Antarctic ice cap has been steadily growing, and winters in the southern hemisphere have been brutally cold (if you consider that good news). Nevertheless, bad climate news is in demand and some scientists maintain that Antarctica, at least the Peninsula, is really warming ... so that's why Antarctica as a whole is cooling ... or some such nonsense. One paper along those lines received attention for its controversial use of reconstructed past temperatures to declare that, despite the growing ice cap, Antarctica was unambiguously warmer than the reconstructed (i.e., imaginary?) past data. Guess where that paper originated from? ... from our own University of Washington (Eric Steig).

Eric Steig is part of the University of Washington's new College of the Environment, which is chock full to the gills with the usual bad-news insiders. That's where David Dicks, formerly of the Puget Sound Partnership, has his latest sinecure as Director of Strategic Partnerships and Civic Engagement. Through its Advisory Board, which includes Martha Kongsgaard and Bill Ruckelshaus of "Trouble Brewing in the San Juans," the UW College of the Environment also has ties to the Bullitt Foundation. The Bullitt Foundation recently hosted a Seattle Times training session for the press about climate change. Here's how one attendee described that training session:
Journalists don’t normally sit in meetings and plot ways to tell only one side of the story; they simply write from their own personal perspective ... There are, however, exceptions to this rule as I discovered last week when I attended a two-day “Climate Change for Journalists” workshop hosted by the Seattle Times. Held at the Bullitt Center, which bills itself as the “world’s greenest building,” and conducted by the University of Rhode Island’s Metcalf Institute for Marine and Environmental Reporting, the event was precisely what we’re told never happens: a conscious, deliberate effort to coach reporters on the finer points of deceiving their readers ...
Good news? We can't have any of that! Let's train the press to report only eco-doom, despite the billions we spend on environmental protection every year ... because that's the 100% environmental-ish world of pure imagination. Doom is music to environmental-ish ears, and they don't want anyone singing a different tune.

 Governor Jay Inslee, right, laughs with Bullitt Foundation board member Harriet Bullitt, left, on her way to the podium at the grand opening of the Bullitt Center on Earth Day Monday, April 22, 2013, on Capitol Hill in Seattle. This six-story, 50,000 square-foot structure is the greenest commercial building in the world and aims to improve long-term environmental performance and efficiency through cutting-edge sustainable technology. (Jordan Stead,

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Pure Imagination: 100% Environmental-ish

Today we start another Trojan Heron series called "Pure Imagination" about the environmental-ish ideas we confront daily in the San Juans. The series title comes from a famous song in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, and one of the stanzas could be the motto for the Friends and their friends.
We'll begin
With a spin
Traveling in
The world of my creation
What we'll see
Will defy
Books like Fast Food Nation exposed the dark side of the All-American Meal, and there is a dark side to environmental-ish ideas too ... and oddly the two dark sides are linked. Like McDonalds, environmental-ish organizations spew images of wholesome goodness ... but there is an underlying profit motive distorting the truth. The truth about environmental-ish organizations is that their "wilderness loving" policies and actions actually promote urbanism ... by being against rural living. They even support and promote factory farming ... by demanding Conditional Use Permits (CUPs) for new family farming and suing to shut down family-run aquaculture.

If the environmental-ish proponents of the Growth Management Act (GMA) were to get their way, there would be über-planned cities and nothing else. The illogical conclusion would be that we'd all have to live in one crammed city bounded by uninhabited nature. There would be no country lanes ... no farm cottages ... no one-lane bridges ... no bucolic pastures. To feed people in the über city on the smallest possible land footprint, we would need planned factory farms, too ... there'd be no free-range chickens in that world.

At the density of Seattle, the entire population of Washington State would fit into Mason County ... with 50 square miles to spare. At the population density of Friday Harbor, the entire population of San Juan County would fit onto just two-thirds of Lopez. Do we really have a population and development problem, or do we have environmental-ish profit motives at work trying to separate people from nature and the land?

Watch the following entertaining video by (believe it or not) Chipotle, the Mexican natural (fast) food company. The images you'll see about mass produced food also apply to our centrally-planned, mass-produced environmentalism.  We're not getting real environmentalism anymore ... we're getting "environmental-ish" ideas that people (especially city people) consume without thinking.  And Crow Foods might as well be Friends Incorporated because both are only interested in money and image ... most certainly they are not interested in you, local food, rural character, or the environment.

These days, as with food, we have to ask ourselves, where does our "environmentalism" come from? We'll try to provide some answers in this series.

At the population density of Seattle, our State's entire population could fit into Mason County with room to spare.
Depiction of mass produced community ...  or what  "growth management" looks like in its ultimate stages (from Behind the Green Mask)

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Shooting Elephants

Even more than fossil fuel use, it is our misguided land use policies that are causing changes in atmospheric carbon.  More importantly, our land use policies are causing hunger, poverty, violence, social breakdown, and war ... or so says Allan Savory in the TED talk below.

Our CAOs assume that everything that Man does is destructive to the environment. The recent Growth Management Hearings Board (GMHB) ruling even says that our buffers have to be protected from agriculture. The GMHB ruling will require that our buffers be larger, and our buffers have to be no-go, no-touch zones.

It kind of makes you feel like an elephant, and for that explanation, listen to the video below. At one time, Allan Savory's "best available science" led him to recommend and implement the needless slaughter of 40,000 elephants ... 40,000 ... almost three times as many elephants as there are people in San Juan County.

This earnest biologist thought he was saving the ecosystem. Instead, he was killing it.

Press release from the Common Sense Alliance regarding the GMHB ruling -

Dear San Juan County Neighbors and Friends,

Three days of hearings in Friday Harbor before the Growth Management Hearings Board (“Hearings Board”) on the San Juan County’s Critical Areas Ordinance (“CAO”) culminated in a decision received by the parties on Monday, September 9, 2013. The determination remanded the CAO back to the County for changes consistent with Order of the Hearings Board that is found at the end of the 109 page document. The decision addressed only some of the issues raised by the 5 petitioners in the case, the Friends of the San Juans, the San Juan Builders Association, William H. Wright, P.J. Tagarres Company and Common Sense Alliance.

A core position that the Common Sense Alliance (“CSA”) took at the hearing is that an essential underpinning of the CAO, the proper designation of critical areas, has not been done by San Juan County. The Hearings Board dodged this issue by effectively saying that determining the legality of the County’s CAO is beyond its authority. By ducking the “legality” question the Hearings Board did not deal with the fundamental issue of whether the Ordinance, due to faulty construction, unlawfully interferes with the use of private property.

It is CSA’s contention that this flawed and incomplete decision leaves San Juan County with an unenforceable ordinance and the specter of an unknown number of future lawsuits brought by individuals who are denied the use their property. An unenforceable ordinance protects nothing and furthers the uncertainty in the real estate market that has been plaguing our County for so long.

CSA’s goal is an enforceable ordinance that complies with all aspects of the Growth Management Act, which is practical, reliable and good for our community, does not harm our fragile economy and makes a positive difference to our environment. CSA will be consulting with the public and weighing its alternatives for future action.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Robins Can Be Territorial

Jamie Stephens recently proposed three appointments to our Marine Resources Committee (MRC). Stephens slipped in the nominees at the end of a long day, and Jarman and Hughes rubber stamped the appointments without thinking.

One of the newly appointed MRC members is a Nature Conservancy employee who lives in solitude on an 11-acre preserve on Yellow Island. Another appointee is the Chairman of the Board of Kwiaht. And the third appointee is probably best known for having allegedly impersonated a County employee in order to spy on her neighbors ... so she could then tell the Friends what the neighbor was up to ... so the Friends could then turn that neighbor into State authorities. Sound familiar?

Once they realized that they had been hoodwinked by Stephens, Jarman and Hughes asked for reconsideration of their unanimous MRC appointments. After further deliberation, the appointment of Robin Hirsch, the alleged County impersonator, did not go forward, but the other two appointments stood.

Below are excerpts of emails documenting the Robin Hirsch saga. In a nutshell, a neighbor of Robin Hirsch's was having work done on their shoreline property.  The work was being conducted with the permission of the County. All the necessary permissions and permits were obtained. The homeowners were being entirely cooperative with the County, including being cooperative about ameliorating past permit and construction errors. Nevertheless, Robin Hirsch was not pleased about the work, and ... well ... you can read the email excerpts below for yourself.

Guess how Robin Hirsch described herself on her MRC application? She said, "I am honest, hard working, and diplomatic."

What's the concern with honest, hard working, and diplomatic Stephens' nominees?

From: Chris Laws []
Sent: Tuesday, April 09, 2013 12:24 PM
Subject: XX Hunziker Rd

Mr. XXXX, and Mr. XXXX,

It has come to my attention that someone maybe walking onto your property and impersonating a County employee, or suggesting that they work for the County.

Please be advised that this may be a violation of state law pursuant to RCW 9A.60.040 and the County takes this type of behavior seriously; the Prosecuting Attorney’s office has been apprised of the situation and recommends that those who have witnessed this first hand contact the Senior Prosecuting Attorney Charlie Silverman whom I have cc’d in this e-mail and can be reached at (360) 370-7605

I want to make it clear that all County Employees carry identification and will gladly produce them if asked; additionally, any County employee will also have their supervisor’s information readily available for you or your contractors and employees should they ask.

-       Chris

Christopher S. Laws
Code Enforcement Officer
San Juan County
(360) 370-7587

From:                                         XXXXX
Sent:                                           Tuesday, April 09, 2013 1:38 PM
To:                                               Chris Laws
Subject:                                     Robin [Hirsch] Impersonation of County Officer  / Orcas Island Residential Construction Project


Thank you for this suggestion. We were outraged but hardly thought that we had any recourse.

Robin [Hirsch], who lives about a mile from our property ...  came down to the property about two weeks ago (March 20th). She pretended to be a County employee, from your department, was extremely abusive to our contractor, Denny Howell, and threatened us with County revenge for “ruining” the place. When Denny asked to see her County I.D., Robin said she didn’t have it and continued to scream.


She took photographs and apparently returned to our property this weekend to take more ... We did forbid Robin and her husband to walk the property or trespass after the first incident. However, it now looks like we have to post No Trespassing signs and mount motion-activated cams / cameras around the place.  ...

I am just running out with our clients for lunch, but wanted to thank you first. I should be able to break away to call as you requested sometime tomorrow.

Yours Sincerely,


Sent: Wednesday, April 10, 2013 5:07 PM
To: 'Mackie, Sandy (Perkins Coie)';
Subject: Report on 3/20/2013 Trespassing Incident / Orcas Project
Importance: High


What follows was relayed to us by Denny Howell, our general contractor on our residential construction project ... on Orcas Island:

On the morning of Wednesday, March 20th, 2013, Denny and a member of his construction crew, Mike Welch , started work installing the planned and permitted metal deer fence along the west side of our property. A small excavator was used to clear a 5’ path through the salal in the woods. No trees were removed and only surface vegetation was cut back, leaving the root systems of the salal intact to regrow. Shortly after they started work, two men approached them crossing from the neighbor’s property on the west onto our property ... They demanded loudly of Mike: “What are you doing? Why are you working in the forest? Why are you removing salal?”

Mike called Denny over to answer them, and he told them they were installing deer fencing that was permitted by the County. At that point a woman named Robin came up crossing from the Hammer property, carrying a clip board and a pen. Denny asked what she was there for and her response was: “I am with the County. I’ve come down to see what you are doing. What are you doing? Why are you working in the forest and removing salal?” Denny again responded as above, and then asked Robin for her County identification card. She seemed put out, but replied that she didn’t have one. Then she started darting around in the forest taking photographs and screaming threats at Denny and Mike. She yelled abusively that this was not allowed and she was going to report it to the County. At that point Denny asked her to leave the property ... The three left.

Randy Pence, a carpenter on our crew, witnessed at least part of the incident and recognized that she was Robin [Hirsch] Roser;  

Since then Robin has been seen skulking on our property, hiding in bushes or behind trees taking photographs of the project. When we met the County building inspector, Jason Hensel, a week later on the driveway into our place, I mentioned to him what had happened and the fact she had impersonated a County officer. He asked for her name and seemed generally surprised, saying that she should have bought the property herself if she had wanted it so much. Yesterday, we received an email from Chris Laws, the County Code Enforcement Officer who had clearly heard from Jason about Robin’s masquerading as a County officer. He was outraged, wrote that it was illegal and requested that we file a complaint with the San Juan County prosecuting attorney. His email also stated that someone was trespassing on our property and taking photographs. This we surmised from the issues that came up earlier this week and the photos attached to the email from Kurt Baumgartner at the Washington Department of Ecology, which we know were taken on site between last Thursday evening (after it started raining) and Sunday evening (April 4 – 7, 2013).


All the Best,


Monday, September 9, 2013

Creating The Eco Matrix

The movie The Matrix depicts a dystopian future in which reality as perceived by most humans is actually a simulated reality called "the Matrix," created by sentient machines to subdue the human population, while their bodies' heat and electrical activity are used as an energy source.

In San Juan County, our dystopian present is created by the Machine to subdue our human population using trumped-up eco-doomsaying, while grants are used as an energy source. We saw this on display today during Amy Windrope's presentation for the undead San Juan Initiative. The zombie San Juan Initiative 5-Year Review was funded by a TACT grant from the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife. We've talked about the TACT grant before. It stands for "Trouble shooting, Action planning, Course correction, and Tracking and monitoring." Under this grant, the Friends and members of our MRC reportedly worked with armed state police in boats from WDFW's Enforcement Division to map supposed shoreline violations. Sources suggest that this grant-funded activity resulted in a phonebook-sized inventory of purported violations, especially along the west side of San Juan Island, where activity was focused.

This was all supposed to come together in a neat little package. The on-the-ground mapping of the TACT/San Juan Initiative was supposed to be reinforced by Pictometry. The Conservation District would facilitate State agency enforcement (enforcement based on bias and misinterpretation). It was all arranged, and "they" just needed an obsequious, complicit County government to play along with the demands of the State agencies (WDFW, PSP, Ecology), the grant-driven whims of our non-profits/quangos (Friends, Kwiaht, Madrona Institute, Stewardship Network), the illusory subject-matter expertise of the Conservation District, and the self-interests of the tribes.

That's how homeowners get framed. That's how the Eco Matrix is created, and before you know it (see the video), we have soccer moms talking like jackbooted thugs before the Council asking, "What is the concern with armed boats?"

She understands our concern ... sure she does.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

The Walking Dead Bureaucracy

Back in the heady days of 2006, the County entered into an agreement with a 501(c)(3) called Shared Strategy for Puget Sound to develop an ecosystem-based management system for the San Juan Islands. Amy Windrope was hired as Project Manager in November 2006 while a consultant named Jim Kramer ran Shared Strategy. As with most environmental initiatives around here, there was an awful lot of coordination that had to happen, paid for by a bucketload of grant money. Meetings were held; oversight committees were appointed; regulatory agencies and experts graciously devoted their time; and in the end, a report was written. Nothing actually happened to the environment, but a lot of people got paid handsomely for talking with other people about how much they love the environment.

Late last year (while she worked for the County), Linda Lyshall applied for a grant from the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife, where Amy Windrope now works. The purpose of the grant was to report on the County's progress in implementing the San Juan Initiative's work. When the grant was awarded, it became the subject of a County discussion when the then-Council found out about it after the fact.  It was covered in a story in the Island Guardian at the time:
Council Chair Patty Miller, while supportive of accepting the invitation to join in and hold a public meeting to review progress made towards implementing the Initiative’s previous recommendations, questioned who, exactly, applied for the grant in San Juan County’s name in the first place?

Miller also asked how many more grants has the County applied for, and by whom?
And just like that, the San Juan Initiative came back to life like Lazarus ... even though it's still not clear how this undead bureaucracy rose again or who constituted it. Now, after spending another $77K in grant and matching funds during its afterlife, a group calling themselves the San Juan Initiative is set to present a follow-up report to the Council on Monday. Incredibly, the list of report preparers includes Patty Miller ... the very woman who questioned how the grant came to be in the first place.

It is not clear who appointed these people. Were they appointed by the Council or did they appoint themselves?  It's not clear if they think they are the San Juan Initiative or some group following up on the San Juan Initiative.  Their letterhead says "San Juan Initiative," and the all-too-familiar list of serial participants includes:
  • Jonathan White, Co-Chair
  • Lovel Pratt, Co-Chair
  • Lisa Byers
  • Patty Miller
  • Linda Lyshall
  • Stephanie Buffum Field
  • Peter Kilpatrick
  • Tom Cowan
  • Marilyn O’Connor
Were Pratt and Miller working for the San Juan Initiative (and voting to receive their own grant money) while they were on the Council? 

Thursday, September 5, 2013

A Bankruptcy of Grant Recipients

If it's a "school" of fish ... and a "gaggle" of geese ... and a "murder" of crows ... then I propose the phrase,  "a bankruptcy of grant recipients."

On Tuesday of next week, Barbara Rosenkotter will be discussing the Lead Entity's salmon recovery efforts with our County Council. She sent out the following email to her colleagues asking them to support her during that meeting.

Looks like she wants a "bankruptcy" of grant recipients there to help her explain things.

From: Barbara Rosenkotter <>
Date: Wednesday, September 4, 2013 4:17 PM
Subject: Salmon Recovery Update to County Council - Sept 10th at 10:30am 

Hello MRC, TAG and project sponsors,
FYI, just wanted to let you know that there will be a salmon recovery update provided to the County Council on Tuesday, Sept 10th around 10:30am.  If you can attend, it is helpful for them to see folks in the room.  They will be meeting in Friday Harbor in the county chambers. 
Thank you,
Barbara Rosenkotter
Lead Entity Coordinator for Salmon Recovery
San Juan County / WRIA2
PO Box 947
135 Rhone Street
Friday Harbor, WA 98250

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

How Much Is That In Dog Grants?

The Island Guardian has a current article about the amount of money that has been spent on Salmon Recovery Grants. It amounts to $9.6 million state-wide this year. Over the past 10 years or so, with matching funds thrown in, the amount spent in San Juan County is about $12 million, according to statements and presentations by the Lead Entity Coordinator for San Juan County.

One of the recent grant-funded salmon recovery projects has been the purchase of a conservation easement by the San Juan Preservation Trust to "protect" land on Stuart Island. Just to be clear, grant money is coming from the State to our County, and then our County is providing the money to the San Juan Preservation Trust, who is purchasing a conservation easement from some private citizens who own land on Stuart Island ... who get the money and then get reduced taxes too because of the easement (yes, the State and County are giving out grants to lower their own tax base). The Guardian has the financial details, but the grant is for $800,000 ... with matching, the cumulative total amounts to a little over $1 million being spent on salmon recovery ... on that project alone.

Reportedly, this Reid Harbor project was highly rated by technical and citizen reviewers associated with our MRC. However, by my estimate, this project "protects" about 0.1% of our county's potential intertidal salmon habitat, assuming it was "threatened" at that location to begin with. Furthermore, the Guardian quotes Governor Inslee as saying,
"these projects will provide construction jobs and help countless numbers of Washington families and businesses, including tackle shops, charter operators, restaurants and hotels, that rely on the world-renowned Pacific salmon.” 
Another official says,
 "Puget Sound Chinook are about one-third as abundant as they were a century ago,” said David Troutt, chair of the Salmon Recovery Funding Board. “As we have developed our urban and rural landscapes, we’ve damaged many of the estuaries, floodplains and rivers that salmon need to survive. These projects have been selected as ones that will make big impacts on Puget Sound and salmon recovery."
Does this Reid Harbor project provide construction jobs (nope)? ... protection (well, "they" say it does, but nope)? ... in Puget Sound (nope)? ... increase salmon populations (nope)? ... estuary, floodplain, or river (nope)? ... big impact on Puget Sound and salmon recovery (nope)? Does this project do any of the things talked about? Is it anything more than vacuous "save the environmental bureaucracy" PR messaging?

Answer: No

Mostly, San Juan County has intertidal salmon habitat rather than salmon spawning habitat. We don't have the really important "estuaries, floodplains, and rivers that salmon need to survive." State law provides a statutory path forward for counties that do not have "sufficient" intertidal habitat, and RCWs 77.85.220 & 230 set forth the requirements for an Intertidal Salmon Enhancement Plan. However, we don't have such a plan ... not one that follows the statutory requirements anyway.  So, by inference, it would seem that the State thinks we probably have "sufficient" intertidal habitat already.

There's a disconnect. We're spending millions to protect intertidal habitat here despite not having a proper Intertidal Salmon Enhancement Plan, which the State (the sugar daddy of habitat "protection" millions) would require if we had insufficient intertidal habitat.

How do we know when we're done with salmon recovery here? Is our goal to make intertidal habitat more than sufficient? How do we know if any of our salmon recovery efforts are doing anything? Do we know if we're making any progress?

Answer: We don't know.

Barbara Rosenkotter, Salmon Recovery Lead Entity Coordinator for San Juan County