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)


  1. Kevin and Keiran ... separated at birth?

    What's the difference between the Friends of the San Juans and a McDonald's franchise?

    McDonald's serves cheap hamburgers to poor people. The Friend's serve expensive lawsuits to poor people.

    Why are McDonald's and the Friends of the San Juans alike?

    They are both franchises, not local businesses at all, not from around here, they both suck out local jobs and money and send them far, far away. They are both leaches on community economies.

    McGrants. McLawsuits. McPolitics. McEco.

  2. Both put out an image of wholesome goodness too, like the Chipotle Scarecrow video. 100% environmental-ish goodness.

  3. McFriends

    Don't buy what they are selling.

    Buy Local.

  4. I wanna ecoburger with Friendly Fries.

  5. The phrase "I want" does not exist in the McCBD lexicon unless you are on the inside. If you are on the outside, you will get what McCBD allows you. When all the McCBD'ers have been satiated, in the name of whales and slugs and butterflies, you'll get what's left. Oh look, surprise surprise, there is nothing left because they are never satiated.

  6. Now that the Errol Speed trial is over, and the photos of his palatial unpermitted palace have come out in the public record, I'd be fascinated to see a side-by-side comparison photo spread between Errol's shocking and extreme violations and those presumably quite minor building code violations committed by the various Friends.

  7. What was the sentence and who was the judge who signed the warrant and heard this case?

    In time we will become better acquainted with the large body of literature out there about how to control the "regulated community" where the rules are unclear and the enforcement budget nearly zero.

    Of course you would look to third world countries for insight, from helpful agencies such as the World Bank or OAS for this kind of social engineering research.

    No surprises. You do what the IRS has done for a 100 years. Look for high profile cases where you can absolutely destroy some poor schlep who misread an incomprehensible rule and twist them slowly in the wind for the world to see.

    That's the cheap way to keep the masses in fear and subjugated. Time honored tradition.

    So, who is the judge, what was the sentence? That is the target. That judge presides over a kangaroo court and should be ashamed, tar and feathered and run out of town tied to a pole. Should not this matter be taken to trial with local peers for a jury? Any random local jury would throw this case out in 10 minutes.

  8. One last time with feeling:

    The best way to deal with Code Violation is at property point of sale.

    The worst way is the way we are now doing it pitting neighbor against neighbor and handing a very powerful tool to FOSJ and others to intimidate and rule as a self appointed policing agency. The gunboat rat out crew.

    Speed and Zee wanted to do things with their properties that involved code violations. So what, who cares!

    Government, if it wants, can require a resale inspection before a property is listed for sale. Certainly real estate agents are going to be helpful, in getting property owners who wish to sell, in correction of code violations so they will pass a resale inspection.

    Money is usually available during property sales. For instance a buyer can negotiate a price reduction in helping a seller make a property suitable for sale.

    Mr. Law's job becomes resale inspections, not complaint inspections. Government can still do inspections that involve public health and public safety.

    If there is fault in the Speed debacle, it would seem to be that Law did not have the chops or personality to get Speed to the table. My guess is he would rather do resale inspections than this complaint driven crap and he might be better at it too.

    (Does seem like Zee got the light touch as he can greatly help the prosecutor's reelection whereas Speed was unable to bring himself to his knees and beg forgiveness.)

  9. @12:54

    Resale inspections sound like a great idea. No matter what else the Stephens-Jarman-Hughes era accomplishes, it will be noted for the first criminal prosecution of a land use violation. I understand everyone has a job to do, but I would like to have believed that at some point the council would have said, "Whoa, not on my watch!" The council is the prosecutor's client, so theoretically, the council can inform the prosecutor on whether to proceed on individual cases. The council could have been the adult in the room, looked at the big picture, and told everyone that the big picture was not pretty. That's what Hughes told Windrope, and we applaud him for it. He should have said the same thing to Randy together with Jarman and Stephens. Major fail.

  10. @1:05 Note well - our County Prosecutor has two distinct hats.

    One is the lawyer-for-the-county hat, and in this role, the County is his client, and he answers to the Council.

    The other is the Prosecuting Attorney hat - the Council has no say on what he does when wearing this hat, and no control of his actions (other than budgetary) in deciding which criminal cases to pursue - he is an independent elected official.

    Don't conflate the two jobs.

    Now, the Council can certainly exercise significant control by writing sensible laws for the Prosecutor to work with...

  11. @1:21

    Then what you are saying is that CD&P had no role in this prosecution other than to supply evidence to the prosecutor as a witness. CD&P was only a witness, and the prosecutor made use of county staff in his individual capacity as a prosecutor but was not working for or with CD&P in bringing this suit. This is important to clarify because it distinguishes whether this was a CD&P action brought by the prosecutor on behalf of his client, or whether it was Randy's action decided upon solely by Randy. Which was it? Randy with CD&P as a client or Randy as Randy? The answer to that answers a lot.

  12. Let's see: Mr. S and Mr. Z each may have unpermitted residences on their property.

    The County knows that Mr. Z has one (if not two) unpermitted residences AT LEAST FIVE YEARS AGO. Mrs. Z even admits it.

    The County hears a rumor that Mr. S. has an unpermitted residence but has no proof, nor even probable cuase to get a search warrant.

    But Mr. Z. is politically correct and Mr. S is annoying, challenging the "authori-tay" of the permit peeps. Who is committing the more serious "crime"? (Oh, yeah, it's now a crime--building on your property, even if it's a tiny shed!) The person who has had the violations the longest or the person who is annoying?

    Deciding is called "prosecutorial discretion."

    "Attorney General (and later Supreme Court Justice) Robert Jackson once commented: “If the prosecutor is obliged to choose his cases, it follows he can choose his defendants.” This method results in “[t]he most dangerous power of the prosecutor: that he will pick people he thinks he should get, rather than pick cases that need to be prosecuted.”

    Prosecutors could easily fall prey to the temptation of “picking the man, and then searching the law books . . . to pin some offense on him.” In short, prosecutors’ discretion to charge—or not to charge—individuals with crimes is a tremendous power, amplified by the large number of laws on the books."

    Take a look at for more discussion of the "choose the target, find the crime" approach to law enforcement.

  13. @1:34 The answers to your questions, and many more, are to be found in the code, and in the proceedings of the trial.

    No need to construct some sort of imaginary legal system or management hierarchy.

  14. @3:04

    The prosecutor wears two distinct hats, but you cannot apparently give a distinct answer as to which distinct hat he was wearing in this matter. The answer is in the code and the trial proceedings. Kumbaya, the answer is blowing in the wind. No need to construct an imaginary legal system. You say yourself that one of the distinct hats is that the county is the client of the prosecutor. If I'm inventing an imaginary system, you are right there with me. I'm guessing from your responses, and the code and the trial proceedings, that you believe the prosecutor exercised independent prosecutorial discretion in this case. OK, then it looks like Chris Laws and CD&P are off the hook because it was Randy, and not CD&P, controlling events. CD&P only acted as witnesses for Randy in his individual capacity as a zealous prosecutor. As a supporter of manumission, John, can you free us from whoever did this, once you decide who was wearing what distinct hat. No, don't tell me, the answer is in the code.

  15. @3:30 I'm sorry you are confused. The way the law works in the State of Washington is pretty darned clear, and is easy to discern, even for us powerless proles. Chris Laws and CD&P have no power to prosecute a criminal case, nor to order the County Prosecutor to do so on their behalf.

    If you wish to put words in my mouth, or go off on a tangent, well, that's your hat to bear.

  16. Okay thanks. There's been a lot of talk on here about CD&P being to blame and Chris Laws specifically. You have clarified the situation quite distinctly. It's in Randy's court, literally and figuratively.

  17. @3:53 To be clear, it is Judge Stewart Andrews' court, not Randy's.

    San Juan County District Court.

    He's an independently elected official too.

    If you want to rage against the machine, study how the machine is built first.

  18. Castigating Chris Laws for enforcing the building code on Speed's house would be like castigating Sheriff Nou for enforcing the law on shoplifting, both are minor infractions, but if a shoplifter lies and refuses to cooperate they will be prosecuted too - place the responsibility for bahavior where it belongs.

  19. 4:21
    Im sorry you have not even begun to consider vast and even reversed differences.
    A building code is suited to the purpose of protecting occupants.
    In a occupancy held and occupied by a private citizen, whether a cardboard box, a car or a constructed shelter. the duty of the building official is to protect to the best of his/her ability the occupant of that condition. Where it is not possible to provide a better circumstance for each protected occupant the first duty is to that citizen. Was relocation assistance assured? somebody needs to get their head out of their ass.
    Shoplifting is stealing from another person.

  20. Back to the judge, who signs a warrant brought to him by whom? The prosecuting attorney. Is this to suggest the judge is not also in a position of discretion or power of legal interpretation to alter or amend or constrain the warrant in any way?

    Of course the court has discretion and even the duty to blunt an overzealous prosecutor especially if the judge has reason to believe the power of prosecutorial discretion is at issue.

    And then the judge hears the case, in a matter apparently not taken to a full jury trial.

    And the judge renders the sentence.

    A decision flow chart would be helpful. This begins to appear as a case of prosecutorial discretion gone wild, with the passive assent of the local court who did nothing to constrain Gaylord's over-reach.

    This increases the likelihood that this entire case was pushed to create 1) a strong precedent for the new code enforcement ordinance and 2) to control the regulated community when clear rules do not exist and where sufficient funds to equitably enforce to not exist.

    Thus this matter appears inequitable and cries for relief.

    Who cares if the defendant screams at passersby and is a card carrying member of Zombies for the Anti-Christ?

    And of course, you may be next. Because this case was intended to establishment precedent for the code enforcement ordinance. Pure and simple.

    A better test case would have been the Matter of Zee. We just need a new prosecuting attorney who will go after the bad actors.

  21. Adding to that,
    It should be understood building codes are not bright line laws. This for the purpose to provide the necessary discretion to support best possible outcomes. No matter your personal concerns about patterns of behavior to potentially restrict anyone from safe haven on their private property, Where their has been no circumstance of harm towards another is simply egregious.
    In fact to understand you correctly lying vs loosing your home. YOU CHOOSE, When your County is so F'd up that you cannot be supported in your efforts to exist, hell yes you have no choice.

  22. So why again is possessing cocaine illegal? It's not harming anyone if I have it in my house.

  23. The judge refused to recuse himself from the case. It is a known fact Andrews is a rubber stamp for the PA.
    Over reach of the PA office is what is happening here. The real issue at hand is ..that the judge created a new law, not found in SJCC. Created by the director of cdp..the owner builder code empowers the people. The county government does not like this. This is pure intimidation of the citizens of San Juan.

  24. 5:30
    again read the post "what is the purpose of the building code" and every class of citizens are covered by this code. Even those living in crates, we dont want to take the crates away "do we" that would run counter to the intent of the code. Unless they happen to be on your property

  25. It doesn't matter to me if Speed was found guilty or not. It bothers me that he was tried as a criminal. Cocaine is illegal to keep us from enjoying original Coca Cola. John Jay, to be clear, Judge Andrews presides at District Court, but technically speaking, the Court itself is not "his." If you check the title for the courthouse, you'll find that it belongs to the County. If you're going to rage against fellow commenters, you should study your own snarky remarks first. The main point of a housing code is to guarantee safe housing, not serve as a tool for taking it away. QED

  26. Wonder what would have happened if Errol had tried telling the truth?

  27. 5:30 kidding right he cant be that stupid.

  28. @6:15 - except Errol wasn't found guilty of lying. Did he lie or did he not give the answers that they wanted him to?

  29. @6:23 It seems Errol was found guilty of building a structure without proper permits, and of failing to have a permitted and installed approved septic permit. The photos in the Island Guardian make the structure look sorta-kinda like a house. I don't see any photos there of the septic system, so hard to say.

    The jury seemed to fall for the argument.

    The jury did not find him guilty of "Making false or misleading statements to a public servant", or of "Unlawful occupancy of a building or structure without an occupancy permit".

  30. Dear all: Speed did not and could not bring himself to fall down and crawl before public officialdom.

    I'm sure many, many readers of the TH would be a lot like that.

    I have a neighbor who has been shitting in the same outhouse for thirty years or more. (Guess he does not use much TP) Do I care? NO. Should I care? NO.

    I have another neighbor who has a failing septic system which overflows in the rainy Winter season into the bay. Maybe 100 gallon a day into billions of gallons of salt water. Do I care? NO. Should I care? NO!

    This stuff is the definition of "de minimis" (SP?) and directly relates to code violations that have virtually NO effect on the general public good, or anything else.

    What impact did or do Zee and Speeds projects have on the public? Probably NONE.

    Completely agree with those who say the building code is to protect people on their own property. The building code is not a vehicle for prosecution or for the County to make money!

    Nor should it be used by those wrong doers sitting at FOSJ.

    We need nothing less than a complete revamp of the County approach to this whole issue.

    What we are doing now STINKS a lot more than my neighbor's nice clean outhouse.!

  31. I'm probably the only person in the county who supports Chris Laws and Errol Speed. If you're going to have an enforcement officer and if the laws are going to be on the books, then Chris Laws has to do his job. I think he's one of the better and more reasonable enforcement officers we've ever had. The Island Guardian article is amusing in recounting Errol Speed's explanations. Hard to believe those tall tales, but I don't care what he was living in to be honest. Aside from having a chuckle, I don't even care if he was lying. He wasn't hurting anyone. No one could even see Errol Speed's home, uh, agricultural building. I think the verdict will be reversed on appeal because there are too many questions about definitions of "abiding" and "residence." An appeal reversal would be interesting. Interesting drama. I know people living in buses, yurts, shacks, and to tell the truth, I like it. I only dislike it when the same people who live under the permit radar then go after other people for permit violations. I hear Errol Speed used to do that, and that aggravates me more than what he lived in. I think that if you file a complaint, your property should be inspected first. I bet complaints would dry up pretty quick. I also like the idea about a resale inspection.

  32. Can we please turn to something more relevant to the post?

    How 'bout them butterfly wings?

  33. goin back to those land subsidies, grants, no profit positions, will some entity on our council please ask, or venture to define.
    What is the real cost????? of all this beurocracy necessary to execute a series of clean up efforts worth 5-50k
    I expect the cost of all this beurocracy is many many times more BS than its worth. Couldnt a small county like ours do its own interest and stay out of all this crap?

  34. Yes this post was all about the history of the Friends and their Friends and how all this bullshit got started in the first place and why this particular permit case even got serious attention.

    So the Speed case is unfortunately very relevant. Maybe he got hit with his own karma, I don't know.

    I like little cabins in the woods. I understand what de minimis means. It means "beneath regulatory concern." It means you get to round numbers on your tax returns. It means there your actions are so insignificant there is no harm and no reason to call out police resources to take you down.

    So, what we have here seems to be a pretty clear case of 1) Abuse of discretion by both prosecuting attorney and district court judge and 2) circumstances that are de minimis in nature not deserving the use of public funds to prosecute. The purpose was to set an aggressive precedent for the new code enforcement ordinance in a manner that contradicts the owner builder ordinance which is about as pure an expression of our rural character as I can think of.

    This has absolutely nothing to do with Chris Laws as far as I can tell.

    This case is an abomination. And it portrays the end game the FOSJ has been pushing towards for several decades now.

    This is destroying our culture and community. The concept of de minimis is really important and one the County Council can actually codify in a way that balances the owner builder code in spirit and word. And the Council should do it so this case does not set precedent. Policy can trump this crap.

  35. @10:07 The SJC owner-builder program still seems to require a permit. Probably you need a septic system too.

  36. Asleep at the switch here, thank you Island Guardian. Right. OK.

    This is an agriculture building if you say it is an agriculture building. I am sure if I was up until midnight food processing for the farmer's market I might grab a glass of wine and collapse on the sofa there. That's what living here is all about.

    If this was an open and shut case, the jury should have found Speed guilty on all counts.

    The real artful dodger here is Ron Zee, not Erroll Speed.

    Discretion is also the purview of the property owner. If he says this is an agriculture building and he resides in an old trailer so be it. Welcome to the islands. Ain't nobody's business and ain't hurting nobody.

    And a jury divided like that opens a clear shot at an appeal. Speed said what he said, and the jury did not find he did not tell the truth. Deal with it.

  37. The county lost more than it won. They lost on lying. They lost on occupancy. Those are big losses, especially occupancy. They only won on building with no permit and no septic. BFD. It might be funny to read Speed's explanations in the Guardian and look at the photos, but the photos seem like overwhelming evidence of occupancy. Despite that, the jury was hung on occupancy so some of them must have accepted his explanations. I'm surprised the jury found him guilty of no septic but hung on occupancy. If you're not occupying, why do you need septic? I don't think the result incentivizes either side. Both took it on the chin. I think the county lost more.

  38. You might find the Island Guardian good for a chuckle but this is someones life...they have already been on trial..the invasive process that it all of you judging them . They have been through a search warrant on their property, aerial surveilance by CDP, renting a plane on a Saturday taking more pictures of their private property, and have been through a trial. There is no good reason for them to publish the pictures of their private property. Their privacy has been invaded on so many levels.
    Jack Coreys article is a disgusting display of bad journalism, if you can even call it that.

  39. All parties responsible in taking this case to this level...Chris Laws,John Geniuch, Rene Beliveau, PA office, Rob Nou, and Judge Andrews.
    Don't forget John Geniuch who made a point in participating in the jury instructions with Peter,thePA.
    Judge Andrews was intrumental with the PA in making sure that most aurgument was never heard by the jury.
    It became very clear that when Rene B tesified that he has no real knowledge of what the codes says.
    The council should be investigating how this entire case went down, and where the staff was in error. What illegal process was followed. Judge Andrews did not want it to come out that the processed followed was illegal, and he was part of it. He shored up their faulty process...and the question is why would you do that to a citizen?

  40. @6:39 What was illegal about the process followed? What arguments and facts did Judge Andrews keep from the jury?

  41. I go for the earlier comment asking for a flow chart of this case. Don't know who has that kind of expertise or time but it would really help.

    Really troubling that the Guardian published the photos. I suppose they were all trotted out at the trial and are now in the public record, but this is a perfect example of how surveillance is getting way out of control around here. I'd expect that kind of behavior out of Kivisto's blog, not the Guardian.

    It does seem that the timeline to this case demonstrates that Speed was a bit of a troublemaker ... who then sought to make an example of him, as a warning to others. Have we forgotten the Charles Dalton affair so soon?

    Another thing about the timeline, if I'm correct. When CDPP got their first secret, anonymous complaint (that's how it all starts doesn't it ...) the new enforcement ordinance hadn't gone through. By the time of the trial, it had.

    So, this trial is setting precedent over how that new enforcement ordinance will be used. It's a a bright and shiny new hammer in the toolbox.

    And the Council should take a very, very close look at this and then step back and consider the big picture.

    And put some policy in place that puts more teeth into the owner-builder law, defines what de minimis means and amend the enforcement ordinance accordingly.

    Otherwise its just open season for the Friends and their Friends.

  42. @6:52.. Andrews decided that RB could change the law in SJCC independent from the elected legislative ( the council). The law is in our code and he effectively changed that with his desicion.
    A notice of correction was mandated by code and not issued, no attempt was made to reach civil remedies as required by law. A statement of exemption was not accepted without any discourse. Plans are required by cdp yet the law does not require them.
    There are a myriad of descisions by Judge Andrews that are in conflict with law. The appeal will be the only way to test them.
    The county is bleeding Speed out$$$$. This is the power of the state.

  43. When is Andrews up for re-election? He is starting to look like a quisling.

  44. Anyone following the Friday harbor story about the depraved scumbag wannabe gangsters that put on masks and kicked in a family's door in order to rob them?
    Sick depraved scumbags. Thank God our police caught them. The local paper releasd their names so we can know who these sick f'ing degenerate, morally bankrupt, weak, depraved, scumbag, pathetic animals are.

  45. @7:10
    I'd say Speed's lawyer is the one bleeding him out of money.
    BTW Errol, isn't it weird to write about yourself in the 3rd person?

  46. @7:22 Do you have a link to his home invasion story handy?

  47. @7:22 and7:24. Our CDPD at their finest.

  48. Anyone see that "sleepy" Howie is running for a hospital board position? Can we rally the troops and do what we can to oppose him from holding elected office in any form?
    Thanks THers.

  49. Howie is done, poked with a stick. How on earth is he any use to the hospital district. This is about Howie not public service. He should be applauded for his many years of tireless service and encouraged to enjoy his remaining years in retired relaxation. He will only fall asleep at the meetings.

  50. Hoping to get back to the post topic here, and kind of curious to learn more about Kieran Suckling and the several years he was living in the San Juan Islands, before he returned to the southwest.

    I wonder how active this guy was in San Juan County, given his background?

    TH says this will be a series. Looking forward to learning more.

  51. How did the Ron Zee/Friends of SJ hookup happen? Did he move here to do all this to us, or get bored and dacide to make us better?

  52. @4:27
    Good question. I have nothing but speculation but my guess would be somehow through the tribes. He likes to play chief and was doing so down south. Seeing as how the tribes and FOSJ are pretty entwined, I would make that my guess.

  53. Good stuff here. Why not get rid of complaint driven code enforcement? Any person with an axe to grind or a spouse run astray can pick up the phone and bury somebody.

    This is ridiculous. Given our huge long time generated code, there are no innocents.

    Think you got it perfect? Dream on brother.

    I like the idea of code enforcement being only at point of sale. It seems like a really good way to do it. Apparently many jurisdictions use it so it would not take much effort to copy those most successful.

    PS: TH: Do you think or know you are being hacked? Re: 9/24/2013 7:24. (Certainly this could have been a shot in the dark, but the TH has also said somethings sometimes
    the would seem insider.)(I don't think we want a look over the shoulder.)

  54. @7:11

    No need to look over your shoulder since they are shots in the dark or educated guesses. We don't know who you are, and no one else does either. Maybe you are old enough to remember the game of battleship?

  55. Yes I believe Zee's self-described career in "intergovernmental relations" involves capers with tribes that mess with rural communities and local governments.

    Speaking of which, CNN has a timely article about modern casinos. I often lay over at tribal casinos during regional business travel, the rooms are nice and the price is right and they are everywhere. For obvious reasons.

    I have no hanker for gambling probably because I had the good fortune of bad luck when I was young and did not get a taste for it. So, early in the morning, off for a bite to eat, it is really sad and compelling to see poor, downtrodden, chain smoking people glued to slot machines at 7AM. What is that doing to us?

    Read this ...

    "Modern casino gambling is computer gambling. The typical casino gambler sits at a computer screen, enters a credit card and enters a digital environment carefully constructed to keep them playing until all their available money has been extracted.

    The industry as a whole targets precisely those who can least afford to lose and earns most of its living from people for whom gambling has become an addiction.

    The impact of casinos on local property values is "unambiguously" negative, according to the National Association of Realtors. Casinos do not revive local economies. They act as parasites upon them. Communities located within 10 miles of a casino exhibit double the rate of problem gambling. Unsurprisingly, such communities also suffer higher rates of home foreclosure and other forms of economic distress and domestic violence."

  56. @7:11

    "I like the idea of code enforcement being only at point of sale. It seems like a really good way to do it. Apparently many jurisdictions use it so it would not take much effort to copy those most successful."

    I like that idea too. It is actually what has happened for us w/two previous moves around the island. It often is a natural part OF the sale and any inspections etc.... Strongly agree w/your idea.

    Also....I heard Rick Hughes talk about a period of amnesty for un-permitted structures. To help everybody get up to date w/out a huge expenditure. Does anyone know what's happening there?

  57. A little off topic (or perhaps not)-

    Is there anything on the upcoming ballot that we should be discussing? It seems to me that things are quiet. Perhaps too quiet?

  58. Bravo Bravo. A post on the TH about Stephanie Buffum and Kevin Ranker and it gets sidetracked, run in the weeds. That takes real skill, spin skills. No wonder they are in charge!

  59. September 24, 2013 at 6:14 AM

    Jacks. article was written in the style of Sharon Kivisto. Lots of irrelevant and snarky comments. Clearly allied with the enforcement folks. Lots of suppositions.

  60. September 24, 2013 at 7:22 AM: the "home invasion" of which you speak was a typical San Juan County sheriff freak-out: a drunken brawl is not a home invasion, but it's so more exciting to have a HOME INVASION and even an EXPLODING SUITCASE to keep the citizens entertained.

  61. We're really starting to have some first world problems around here aren't we?

    Watched Parallax View on Netflix last night, remember that old '70s political paranoia thriller starring Warren Beatty? Twas ever thus.

    Drunken brawls as home evasion ... Briefcase in the bushes across the street from the Friends Corporate Headquarters ... Guardian blows chunks at hapless hermit with authority issues ...

    And somehow, all this was brilliantly timed to coincide with the Trojan Heron expose on Kevin Wanker, Kieran Suckme, Stephanie Bufferfield resulting in secret troll operatives cleverly diverting attention away from who is really in charge.

    Bwuahh hahhhahaaaaaa!!

  62. I'll never understand how a complete waste of space like Kevin Ranker keeps getting re-elected. He's a trust fund kid who's never held a real job in his life. He started his rise to power as president of an extreme left wing enviro-nut group. He is as far out of the mainstream as you can get, unless the mainstream is the hard left wing that constitutes the ruling elite in San Juan County. Ranker is an oxygen thief who produces nothing, does nothing of consequence, yet constantly drains the taxpayer.

  63. Is there a prayer of bouncing him at the next election? Any other viable candidates from other counties in district 40? I'm not in the loop on this one.

  64. My kid brought home this algebra problem, maybe someone here can help:
    "2 environmental activist groups leave the San Juan Islands bound for Olympia at 10:00. Group A takes the ferry and loads in to a Prius while group B takes a small plane. Travel time for group A is 2hr 46min, for group B 48 minutes. If group A has a net calculated carbon footprint of 32nm/person/hour and group B is 69/nm/person/hour, which group is eligible for the most grant money?"

  65. @8:48

    It's a trick question because grant money is handed out based on connections and extremist views, not by mode of transportation or carbon footprint. Normally, the "environmentalists" with the largest docks and biggest bulkheads get the most grant money and win awards.

  66. the personal attacks serve no purpose to anyone, they seriously detract from a very serious lot of factual data which makes this blog come across as a radical blog for misfits, true we may all be misfit but the value of truthful statements is therein denigrated.

  67. "So if it's just us... it seems like an awful waste of space"

    There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
    Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

    - Hamlet (1.5.166-7)

  68. Economist Ludwig von Mises (1881-1973): "The champions of socialism call themselves progressives, but they recommend a system which is characterized by rigid observance of routine and by a resistance to every kind of improvement. They call themselves liberals, but they are intent upon abolishing liberty. They call themselves democrats, but they yearn for dictatorship. They call themselves revolutionaries, but they want to make the government omnipotent. They promise the blessings of the Garden of Eden, but they plan to transform the world into a gigantic post office."

  69. @11:14
    What personal attacks?

  70. @11:14

    Thanks for the feedback, that helps.

    Looks like Senator Ranker's name got misspelled.

  71. Anyone get a look at how well Ed Hale's newly-improved stormwater system for Eastsound performed in the rain last night?

    I only counted half a dozen minor businesses in town flooded out - like the Pharmacy, the Post Office, the office supply store, the sporting goods store, the second-hand resale store, and a few others.

    I suspect the cleanup damage won't run more than $10k-$60k per structure.

    Thanks Ed!

    I feel bad for Council member Hughes, as his building seems to have been one of the worst hit.

  72. Looks like our favorite "journalist" is jealous of the Speeds' unpermitted "residence"--better quality than her own?

    What hacks. Both Guardian and Islander have a lot to learn about stating FACTS. Of course, at least they report something; the Sounder and the Journal are too busy doing stories on Girl Scout cookies.

  73. Yup. Post Office. Pharmacy. Office Cupboard. What a mess. I think the Pharmacy might be on lower ground, but odd that the flooding also occurred on A St., isn't it?

    Isn't that where Public Works put all that new stormwater pipe? We saw the contractors sucking out the pipe that the Hales got us big bucks for. Too bad they didn't think about cleaning it out before it started raining.

    Is anyone going to investigate why this amazing flooding happened? Because I don't think that the solution is BUILD MORE STORMWATER PROJECTS IN EASTSOUND.

  74. @ 12:09 -- the Orcas people in the jury pool were all challenged. Many indicated that they knew the Speeds and that was the kiss of death. The prosecutor reportedly even kept former and current public officials off.

  75. Customer service training for our county managers:

    Respect their authoritay!

  76. @ 11:14 am--what personal attacks?

    Sure, calling someone fat or stupid is, er, stupid, but calling public servants out for their misdeeds is something altogether different.

  77. I would be the last person to accuse our Senator of being fat and stupid. That would be incivil.

    Moving on. In today's news the ravages of tribal casino gambling hit home territory pretty hard in DemLand. You just can't make this stuff up ..

    "The former head of a Democratic Party fundraising committee in Washington state has been charged with embezzling up to $300,000 in campaign contributions to feed a gambling habit, prosecutors said on Wednesday."

    To think that money could have gone to the Brickworks or another worthy community project. What a shame.

  78. I wouldn't jump on the stormwater issue at rays too quick.

    That portion of the system has not been re-built, and if it is what I saw this morning, it was a back-up of the on-site system that caused the issue, not a back up of the street system - which would make it a land owner problem.

    I'd await definitive info before burning Ed at the stake (although it is a good idea either way).

  79. It's sad that so many people are missing the point about the Eastsound floods. The real question is, "How many salmon have been killed?" Right now, emergency meetings are probably being held at the conservation district, public works, and the reincarnated san juan initiative in order to put in place an emergency grant plan of action to hold intergovernmental and interdepartmental meetings for coordinating a response that will come in the form of a report. The root cause of the problem is ultimately climate change, and nothing solves climate change like more grants for more meetings. We need the Friends, Kwiaht, and the MRC to hold more training sessions funded by the tribes.

    Isn't that always the right plan of action?

  80. It was not a flood. It was clearly rising ocean levels. Caused by guest houses. Or was it the too small of setbacks from the wetlands. What was it that grant said to say?

  81. Remember even if the ice caps regrew by 60% this past year that's still climate change. Polar bears may be crushed in the encroaching iceflows rather than cracking through thin ice to a watery grave.

    The point is, its all your fault. Maybe you didn't build that but you did cause this. Whatever it is. Warming, cooling doesn't matter. You're to blame and must be controlled.

  82. And only rich selfish developers were flooded. Think of the amphibians who have been displaced. This wouldn't have happened if we had 5000 foot buffers. I don't think any of those businesses should be able to reopen without first obtaining a CUP and several consultant studies.

  83. Thank goodness we got all those guardrails installed just in the nick of time for winter too. These floods would have been a lot worse without them guardrails all over the place. And those community conversations! How would we cope without Bob Jean's masterpiece of a report. At least we had the foresight to add debt last year. With the freshly fattened budgets for the Land Bank, funding for Reid Harbor, and those new safety taxes, we'll get through this with the help of the Hales, Rachel Dietzman, John Manning, and Rene Beliveau.

  84. I'm looking at the voters pamphlet.

    Someone tell me why I should vote against Proposition #1?

    Also, why do all the contested races exist on Lopez? I'd love to vote out my local school board member, but he's running unopposed- again! Another 4 years of the same crap.

    We should be able to push the "delete all" button after 2 terms.

  85. I'm sure the wife would like me to spend less time reading the TH, she does yell a bit, but I can't quit, because there is so much good thinking, good ideas and worthwhile interaction...well I just gotta get the TH fix most nights.

    Many thanks to you all for the humor, ancient famous quotes, and even the awful poetry, truly all amazing stuff.

    I do think there is more than seven people herein. Otherwise somebody is working very hard to get that #100 posting.

  86. @8:47

    Have you read Nick Powers latest post. Very interesting take on School District law. Killing Tinkerbell - i love it! I know on Orcas only 1 of the 3 races is contested. It's likely to be the same old wasted spending again. Our board here just went back to the same failed administrative structure that was in place when they nearly went bankrupt 6 or so years ago. And is using the same administration.

    Sounds like they've taken a page out of the county spending book. If all else fails just hire more people to be in charge of wasting money; that'll fix it!

    For Proposition 1, It's my opinion that the only ones who would vote against it must live on Lopez. It's good for the county, but bad for the 1.3 votes that every Lopez resident gets.

  87. What's Prop. 1? Are ballots out already?

  88. So close so close. 90 comments and only 10 to go for that big one hundred. You may qualify for cool gear and stuff, Trojan Heron coffee mugs, T-Shirts, and CAO user manuals (some assembly required).

    It's Swearin' Herron Friday, let's take it over the top.

    Anyone gone to those National Monument community meetings all over the county this week? What, you didn't know? 10-noon in Friday Harbor today, Grange Hall. This evening over on Lopez. Anyone go to Orcas meeting last night?

  89. Ok, swearin heron Friday....
    Dorf those dorfing dorfs.
    Here is the worst profanity you could ever utter..... I LOVE COAL!!!!!

  90. What National Monument meeting, can anyone clue me in on this? I heard some old light houses got turned into monuments or something but I don't really understand it. What's up?

  91. You can read all about it here:

  92. How big of a buffer will be required around a national Monument?

  93. Sorry to digress, well maybe only a little sorry. The Guard rails are flying into the ground all over the place and perhaps the most relevant issue of the whole exercise is; SAFETY! (I have been quiet a bit because I realize there are many people deeply into that word.)

    We all know anything with a public safety lead is guaranteed greenbacks. In this case more money than most of us earn in several years, all in the name of SAFETY.

    And perhaps more important again we return to this idea of prevention overkill. A cow poops, fish die. Well...maybe, and maybe not.

    The key words in the guard rail justification were: " Additional sites were identified with similar characteristics." "Similar" as in those identified as some with actual accidents.

    Or, we got all this money and by God we're going to spend it. (Please note the guardrail installer is off island, certainly we don't have such expertise, do you need to wonder why?)

    This is a rural community, we need to stop hiring people who want it to look like downtown Seattle.

    PS: the maintenance on all these guardrails is going to be killer. Weeder work around every post and repair of all the dings.

  94. You know the thing about looking like downtown Seattle is pretty funny.

    From the mid '90s to the present day the population of San Juan County has grown by about 4,000. 15 years, 4,000 people. And over the past decade or so, hardly over 1,000. Remember the doomsayers fear mongering about 250,000 people here?

    Maybe that has happened, but that is the annual tourist crush that the Friends promote (good for the ecosystem mind you), not the small number of actual number of residents here (who are killing the ecosystem mind you).

    We were very rural then. We are very rural now. But we are being turned into National Monument Disneyland I'm afraid.

    OK, only a few more comments to go to bring Swearin' Heron Friday over the 100 mark.

  95. Stop giving grants to these Eco-scold franchises. Nope, good ole clowncil just agrees to let the LIO have boatloads more money. This in turn gets funneled to the FOSJ.
    At least Hughes shared his 502 vision of having elite strains of ganja here. Now there is something I can believe in. Real serious money the drug biz. Perfect. Hell yeah.

  96. The County Engineer claims not to have heard a peep against the guardrails or the Lopez or other projects paving over our islands. So do please let her know how much you like them. (Some bicylist-tourists pointed out that the guardrails limit their ability to get away from cars.)

    Oh yeah--the COunty Engineer has her eye on taking down some trees on Crow Valley Road too. That should be exciting. Anyone else wanna sign up to chain ourselves to the trees??

  97. Hooray, this is comment #100 and coming full circle. Wanna learn about chaining yourself to trees? Just ask Kieran Suckling of the Center for Biological Diversity of whom we're sure to be hearing much more of in the weeks and months to come.

    So, when do I get my free gear and stuff? Do I qualify for a CAO user manual? I need two TH T-shirts, one for the heronisto and another for the heronista.

  98. The CAO user manual is indeed being shipped by truck as we speak. (UPS & Fed Ex begged off as it was too heavy.)

    The trucking company will be phoning ahead for residential delivery. Please have a hand truck and covered space available for the pallet.

    By explanation; the computer version repeatedly caused hard drives to go into the click of death.

  99. @9:56

    Interested in the population statistics.

    I'm wondering if any of the "residents" are 6 months only. At what point do people count as residents? Is there a month count? Does anyone know?

  100. @12:24
    I don't know but it would make sense to use the same "residency" requirements for voting.
    Just my buffer protected 2 cents worth.
    I heard that the CD & FOSJ are suing Santa Claus, seeking injunctive relief barring him from putting coal in stockings of those who have been naughty. I'll post updates as they become available.

  101. The Friends would let Bob Crachit freeze at his scrivener desk.

    Even Scrooge gave him a lump of coal.

  102. @ 12:24 p

    The County seems unable to accumulate any meaningful data about population. As for "residents," all you have to do is say you are one (remember the cases of the Seattle schoolteacher who came up here for weekends and voted here?).

    The good news seems to be that we have a lot of property owners who pay full property taxes but only live and use services here a few months a year.

  103. Or another view is if these property owners voted here things would be quite a bit different.

    Them that pay have an attitude of responsibility seemingly missing with the gang running things.

  104. What all residents are paying for one way or the other, is the shared cost of public infrastructure designed for peak load capacity during the summer tourist season.

    Never could understand Friday Harbor's water rates, but building and servicing peak load infrastructure with 25,000 residents is nuts. The Town has its own water supply, a lake, a watershed and distribution. Why is that so expensive? The water is free. Not purchased like Oak Harbor paying tofo use a portion Anacortes water rights drawn from the Skagit River.

  105. er, oops, meant to say 2,000 residents above, not 25,000. Geez getting a handle on the population thing is a trick ..

  106. To continue, I hope the TH continues with anything goes, and I do think total free speech is not only great, but entertaining too.

    "Statesmanship" is that the new word for "civility.?"

    However, as soon as the TH seems to get moderates and readers on all sides we also get these trolls or wingers from either end screaming about the completely abstract, nothing to do with the needs of San Juan County.

    This is an important thoughtful forum here, the only one here, we need to keep it so.

    We CAN change things local, if we continue to present good ideas and common sense with good humor thrown in.