Sunday, March 23, 2014

Ah, Have Scott Call Me ...

We'd like to know what's going on too, Jessica.

Back on February 9, we covered a story about Orcas Island Fire & Rescue (OIFR), which drew the ire of some usually supportive TH readers. They'll probably be mad at us again because of this post. As we reported back on February 9, many Orcasites have questions about the management of OIFR. There is no doubt that Orcas firefighters have behaved heroically in battling some very dangerous blazes, especially of late. But for many Orcasites, that heroism exists alongside questionable management decisions and behavior ... it exists alongside the alleged cover-up of a suspected DUI involving one of their own, Jack Delisle ... and it also seems to exist alongside a deepening siege mentality that lashes out at any critique.

Orcas Issues recently carried an editorial about the OIFR DUI controversy, which (along with other OIFR questions) is being brought into greater focus because of an upcoming vote about an OIFR levy. The old propane tank at the Country Corner, which serves as a makeshift Orcas community painting board for events, currently says "Vote no on the fire levy ... government accountability starts at home!"

Lord knows that Orcas has suffered more than its fair share of failed government accountability over the past few years ... the Charles Dalton situation, the Eastsound mosquito hatchery, floods in Eastsound, the Mt. Baker Road project, the Deer Harbor bridge ... and representation by electeds who seem hell bent on throwing us all under the CAO bus. If people are getting fed up, is it any wonder why?

Below is a recording of the report of the Delisle accident by OIFR Deputy Chief Mik Preysz (pronounced "price" for you non-Orcasites) to the San Juan County Sheriff's Office. The recording was obtained via a public records request. It's been making the rounds on Orcas ... people playing it for one another on their cell phones ... and passing it around via email too.

The call was logged at 3 a.m. on March 9, 2013. For context, you can refer to our original blog post from February 9, which includes the police report of the incident along with inserted questions of a commenter from Orcas. Note too that the police report doesn't seem to be entirely accurate with respect to the phone call from Preysz either.

Maybe the whole thing is no big deal, but would you have been treated this way? Does it sound like normal procedure to you? Can we have Sgt. Brennan call us the next time we get in a scrape?

Propane Tank -- some readers questioned the tank message aspect of the story, so here is a photo.


  1. There are definitely people on Orcas who love the fire department, and Kevin O., so much they aren't willing to admit it has any faults.

  2. If OIF&R is behaving arrogantly and defensively now, just wait till the levy passes. They really won't have to pay attention to anyone then.

  3. Not only are we fed up, but all these bozos band together all the time. Guess who is supporting the levy? Rick Hughes. If Rick Hughes supported a ballot measure for eternal life, I wouldn't vote for it right now.

  4. So a while ago the TH alluded to some fiascos with the mt baker road project including something about lidar which sounded interesting but it was never followed up on. Still would like the details on that one.

    Now there is the new bridge on channel road which I have a stake in and would really like to know what the the TH means because it could effect me. Lets not give credence to the whoe mud slinging thing. I need details on this.

  5. OIFR is the most exclusive and expensive adult boys club on Orcas Island.

  6. The Chief and the fire Commissioners are still standing behind the Chief's characterization (in October) of the accident as "minor", even though the vehicle was totalled and a substantial insurance payout was made to the vehicle owner. This is not the average person's definition of a "minor" accident. Oddly, those who are supporting the levy, including the Commissioners, apparently have no problem with this, and will not address this subject.

  7. Ten months after the accident, the fire department member who had the accident was charged with negligent driving (by the Chief's Uncle Randy
    Gaylord' s office) and paid an uncontested fine. The Commissioners and the Chief still will not address the accident.

  8. There is something else the Commissioners and the Chief are not saying: they said in public meetings last fall, that the levy is "light" on money for capital expenses. But they did nothing about that observation....the comment was made that they couldn't "sell" the public on more money than what they are asking for.. And rather than look at reducing the rapidly rising admin costs (now $1mm a year or half of the levy), they are submitting a 10 year levy that they already know will not cover the capital costs for 10 fact the submitted levy budget ends in the red.

    The Chief has said that somewhere 5 years or so into the levy, the FD will have to come back to the public for more money. Seriously??? This is lack of integrity and transparency is not ok in the FD Chief or Commissioners. I'm voting no on the levy.

  9. There is a letter in the Orcas Issues (January 31st, 2014) from Chief O'Brien--"O'Brien Explains Fire and Rescue Levy" that says "The lid lift expires at the end of 2014 and is the primary source of funding for OIFR (99%)." The lift portion is a little over $1mm of the $2mm levy. That would be a little over 50% by my math. How does the Chief get 99%? This is wrong! How can they let this stand in public documents?

  10. At a Commissioners meeting last fall the question was asked "what will happen if the levy fails?" Chief O'Brien immediately said- "we would cut service". But that isn't true....they will re-submit the levy just like the school district did....because that is what you do when a levy fails, right?

    And besides...when they say they will cut service, which they know is designed to scare people....if we take a moment to think about that threat...what does it mean? Will they make the volunteers quit going out on calls?

  11. From what I hear, the fire department needs to re-think their concept of how they spend our taxpayer dollars. A public records request showed that between Jan and October of last year, the department spent over $1600 on coffee, ordered 25lbs of chocolate on line and paid $25 shipping (even though they make Costco runs and Costco sells chocolate), flew in Chinese food twice from Bellingham for meetings, and spent hundreds of dollars eating out. Each of these individual events doesn't seem significant, but combined, paints a picture of fire department admin who have no respect for the public money with which they are entrusted. And the Commissioners, who sign off on this spending think this is all ok, and there is nothing to cut in the FD budget?????

  12. The Financial officer who quit in October was making about $2500/mo. She was replaced on an "emergency" basis (because they needed help with the 2014 budget and the levy numbers) with an off-island CPA that Chief O'Brien knows from his time at the Renton FD. The Commissioners agreed to the Chiefs proposal to hire the CPA "on retainer" for $4500/mo for 3 months. But at the end of the 3 months, nothing had been done to hire a permanent person, so the Chief and Commissioners decided to extend the emergency contract for another 3 months (through the end of this month). Now, they have decided to continue with the CPA at $100/hr as needed, estimating 20 hours per month.

    The County Auditor's office used to do the FD books, and has said that they could do them now, if desired, and the charge would be under $5000 PER YEAR. But the department is not interested and continues to maintain that there is no way they can cut their expenses.

  13. Regarding the attached call that Mik made to dispatch: Chief O''Brien said in his October statement that the accident was "promptly reported". His statement apparently referred to this call, which was made over an hour after the accident and after they towed the wrecked vehicle to the fire station. But if you listen to the call, Mik doesn't report the accident...he just asks for a call from the supervisor. Bet every drunk driver the FD encounters would like this kind of treatment from the FD and the Sheriffs office, which didn't show up until the next day to "investigate".

  14. There have been a lot of pro levy letters that emphasize the increase in the number of calls over the past 10 years....and we would expect the calls to increase. But there is something important to note here. You may think that when the fire department tells you they had x number of calls last year, that their vehicles went out that number of times. But they have CHANGED how they COUNT calls. The total number of response calls now includes folks who walk in the door for bandaids or headaches or with other medical questions. Apparently there are quite a few walk-ins. This is not how they counted calls 10 years ago. So when you hear the FD talk about there being a big increase %-wise in the number of calls over the past 10 years ....remember that they are not comparing apples to apples. But they don't tell you this.

    Counting walk-ins, the department is responding to 2.3 calls per day per San Juan County dispatch. And there are 4 full time paid paramedics, in addition to the volunteers. This is not a lot of calls! But it is one of the most frequently cited justifications for approving the levy.

  15. Rick Hughes is supporting the levy? Does he ever attend fire department Commissioner meetings? Has he even looked at the budget? On what basis does he say he is supporting the levy?

    More likely he got a call from the levy committee asking to use his name, and he said sure.

  16. As bad as the FD looks, the sheriff's department looks bad too. Is anyone going to run against Nou? He's a disaster.

  17. I've noticed that most all the pro levy letters are testimonials from folks who have been helped by our great EMS folks. And that is all good. But as taxpayers, we are supposed to not just be appreciative of the work the department does, but also do some intelligent thinking about how the department is managing the money voters give them. And the pro levy folks either act like this side of the ledger doesn't exist, or say they are fiscal conservatives who have taken a good look at the budget and and do not find even a dime of waste or questionable spending. But it sounds to me like any thinking person does not have to look too deeply to find questionable spending. And we have a civic duty to look at this! It is how checks and balances on public spending are supposed to work!

    It seems to me that the County and the School Board (and maybe even OPALCO per Bob Jarman) would all benefit from this kind of thoughtful, caring basic scrutiny. Perhaps it has been a public blind eye and a free ride for these groups for too long. And they have gotten sloppy and forgotten who is paying their bills. Time for some basic activist democracy.

  18. And please, someone needs to run against Randy.

  19. Boy this seems like a no-brainer for Orcas voters. Just say no to the levy.

  20. The fire department is trying to sell this levy by saying it is slightly below (.0013) the millage rate for the expiring levy. But what they neglect to point out is that that expiring levy had hundreds of thousands of dollars in it for building the Eastsound and Deer Harbor fire stations and for buying new equipment....very little of which has any meaning for the new the new levy should be a LOT lower than the current one. And it could be except for all the new positions they have created and their free spending habits.

  21. This is how it works around here. It's been run by the same group for years. They have their Friends and family in every position of power . This took years to build and can pretty much protect their power at every turn. Think Deep South, South America ,Russia...... that kind of power. Follow the money. The system makes it easy to buy power when you can donate money to elections, and groups like the FOSJ. This is what you get when you let lawyers and politicos make the rules. Some of the most powerful are both of these.

  22. The problem with government, especially government populated by heroes real or self-proclaimed, is that they begin to feel entitled. Look at Stan Mathews's posts on here. He wants love and respect from taxpayers. OIFR is not different. Granted they are more heroic than Stan Matthews will ever be, but because they save people's lives and homes, they think they are entitled to operate without scrutiny or criticism, which seemingly means that they should be allowed to drive drunk, cover it up, spend money like drunken sailors, and lie to the public whenever it suits them.

    Better give them what they want because if you don't your house might burn down. I don't know about you, but I'm tired of having a gun held to my head by all the people saving me all the time.

  23. @9:38. You know what, though...the only way "they" can continue this behavior, is if "we" allow them to by not taking the hard uncomfortable steps and calling them on it, and persisting and persisting, until the behavior stops and/or we vote in new people. There are way more of "us" than there are of "them". If we won't vote them out by finding and voting for candidates with integrity, we deserve what we get. And thats how we got into this mess...

  24. Most likely Jessica Peacock, SJC Sheriff dispatcher.

  25. Time for the public to wake up and care about the state of our island organizations and government, eh?

  26. We have a culture of bad government that extends from our school boards, to our Ports, to police, to our county. As someone else mentioned, we have a culture of entitlement, corruption, and stiffing the public.

  27. Let's change that!
    No more spenders, caretakers of our pocketbooks or our liberties. Rick has got to go also, he doesn't even recognize he is only sucking up to those that didn't vote for him anyway

  28. About the only one who seemed to get the whole issue in this scenario was Jessica. If you listen to the tape, she is obviously skeptical of the call and of the possible DUI scenario. She tried her damnedest to get the Asst. Chief to make this a reported accident.

    The assignment of a Neg2 citation to the driver is a sure sign of a cop-out. Per the RCW this is not only a possible DUI, but is a textbook case of Hit-and-run. Property damage was done, and the party responsible left the scene of the accident and NEVER reported it to the proper authorities. Read the police reports. Delisle never self reported this accident. He left the scene and got out of town as quickly as possible.

    It seems from reading that the officers investigating this case did all they could to get a straight story, but were either thwarted by their superiors or misled by the witnesses every step of the way.

    The leadership on this needs to come from the commishioners. Come on Clyde, do your job and get some answers! Hard to read all those fancy "Support EMS" signs in your yard when you let them behave this way!

  29. What happened to the deputy fire marshall that works out of Orcas?
    I used to see him driving the county truck around all the time and haven't seen him in a while.
    I was looking around the orcasfire web site and it says that the Orcas medical program director also serves as Island Air Medical director.

  30. If you look at the police report, when JD was offered a ride home by Kimple's wife, the report says that he and Ybarra "politely" refused. Politely? The minute you see something like that in a police report, you can bet your bottom dollar the exact opposite happened. There is no need for the word "politely" to appear except to attempt to spin the situation as something it wasn't. The rumor mill on Orcas says that she got screamed at so badly it scared her.

  31. FD members eat out a lot and get reimbursed, on one FD card $8,828 was reimbursed for eating out from Jan-Oct in 2013. In the same period, the FD spent $1,614 on coffee but because of complaints they have since adopted a coffee policy.

    And I couldn't care less in one regard, but the vibe these guys give off now, especially at Commish meetings, is so FU-ish towards the public and their critics that they are getting on my nerves.

    I'm voting no, not solely because of the spending, but because of the attitude.

  32. Anonymous to AnonymousMarch 24, 2014 at 6:32 AM

    Anonymous, you must be carrying a huge chip on your shoulder and a major axe to grind. 32 comments in 24 hours essentially boiling down to a rant about not liking the fire department levy, the Chief, government, Randy and Rick.
    If you want to vote no that's your right but for heavens sake stop the blabber.
    It looks like you live on Orcas and possibly go to the OIFR meetings so I know who you are. So please come up with something constructive to say, cheeeech.

  33. I'm from San Juan, and from here it looks like A to A has a pretty big chip on his/her shoulder too. One man's legitimate point is another man's unconstructive cheeeeech. Street noise.

  34. @6:32 You're not helping.

  35. "Carrying a huge chip on your shoulder and a major axe to grind."

    That is the message, yes. Though it doesn't seem like the reasons have sunk in yet given your "come up with something constructive to say" dismissiveness.

  36. I know who you are?!? wtf?

  37. Anonymous to AnonymousMarch 24, 2014 at 7:11 AM

    Hmmmm. I thought that you're voting no. How can someone that is from/lives on San Juan vote for an Orcas Fire levy? "Seriously??? This is lack of integrity and transparency is not ok in the FD Chief or Commissioners. I'm voting no on the levy - March 23, 2014 at 6:39 PM".
    You must come over to go to OIFR meetings then: "There is something else the Commissioners and the Chief are not saying: they said in public meetings last fall, that the levy is "light" on money for capital expenses. But they did nothing about that observation - March 23, 2014 at 6:39 PM"
    Really? "One man's legitimate point", this statement is really a stretch and full of second and third hand hearsay, rants and rumor "The rumor mill on Orcas says that she got screamed at so badly it scared her. - March 24, 2014 at 5:23 AM"
    Still blabber!

  38. 6:32
    Thank you 6:32 this really helps me decide how I will vote. You perfectly showed the attitude others were trying to explain .

  39. @A 2 A

    I made the San Juan comment because I live on San Juan, but I did not make any other comment on here -except for this one, so I don't know who you are talking to. I don't think you know who you're talking to either. Sounds like you might be a OIFR commissioner. A word of advice, don't presume that everyone on here named "Anonymous" is the same person. If you do, you'll end up looking stupid, which for you is probably unavoidable anyway.

  40. Anonymous. No not that one, the other one.March 24, 2014 at 7:28 AM

    Hey A to A - here's an internet pro-tip: if you think everyone using the tag "Anonymous" is the same person, do everyone, including yourself, a favor and stay off what Sen. Stevens called the intertubes. How embarrassing.

  41. The recursive ness of Anonymous is becoming problematic. Maybe to tell all the anons apart, it would be helpful if each of you appended a unique number after your anonymous tag. I'll toss out the suggestion of using your home phone number.

    Tongue firmly in cheek,

    David Hume

  42. Certainly problematic for the OIFR commissioners like @6:32. Thank god we only trust these geniuses with our lives and money.

  43. From Orcas. Have only posted 1 comment (okay, now 2).

    So I guess there's at least 2 of us.

    Most of us that are voting against the levy are not able to speak up because of the ties we need to maintain in the community. The few folks who have spoken up by name have put themselves square in the cross-hairs.

    The pressure from those who support the levy is so intense that even simply NOT saying that you support this is making you a target.

    When this story first broke, those that brought it forward were publicly admonished by both the chief and the commissioners that nothing happened and there was to be no more discussion. (And yes, I was at the meeting) Now, a criminal citation has been issued and it looks like those people were right in the first place. But yet again, they are being chastised as somehow un-orcas because they refuse to tow the party line.

    It's too bad people on orcas refuse to allow dissent on issues. I guess we'll have to all fall in line. Kool-aid to be served at the next Fire Commission meeting.

  44. @7:41 just remember that they know who you are now ROFL.

  45. Here's something constructive: how about voters shouldn't give more money to aloof,unaccountable PUBLIC SERVANTS who have a proven track record of financial irresponsibility. Responsible parents don't give car keys and whiskey to 16 year old boys. A vote for the levy is closer than we'd all imagined to doing just that, as it turns out.

  46. OK now I get it. This blog has one unconstructive commenter, named Anonymous, chattering to his own self late at night, a victim of OCD and multiple personality disorder.

    Remember the Far Side? Anyone remember the classic of the ventriloquist on stage with his puppet on his knee? Went something like:

    Puppet: Flee! He's mad! Run for your lives!

    Ventriloquist: Heh heh. Don't worry. Pay no attention to my little friend here.

    Puppet: He's mad. Mad I tell you! Run! He'll kill you in your sleep!

  47. @DHume

    I know you were attempting to speak metaphorically about money, car keys, and whiskey, but that is the literal truth for the Orcas FD.

  48. Jessica should get a medal for holding her ground in spite of the pressure put on her by Chief Prysz! She smelt a rat immediately because this is NOT how accidents are handled... Prysz should resign for this abuse of his position.
    Ask yourselves why was he even involved?

  49. When you cannot dispute the facts the only thing left is to attack the messengers.

    Truly sad, pathetic and self righteous.

    How about telling us which part of the story we have wrong?

  50. @6:32
    Quote from you: " I know who you are. "

    This kind of attempted personal threat, that is cleatly intended to intimidate, is what the pro levy people (supposedly upstanding, intelligent Orcasites) are using as a weapon...thinking somehow it will scare people from presenting the verified facts. Shame on you. This so, so low level.

    Instead, why dont you present your defense of the really bad behavior of your fire department people? I believe you would, if you could: but the behavior isnt defensible. You cant argue with facts.

    So you resort to trying to distract voters from the facts by pretending they arent out there, and threaten (!) and attempt to intimidate people who raise truly legitimate concerns about the fire department. This is desperate behavior. Shame shame shame on you. You should become more of a student of how democracy works. And more honest about the behavior of the department you want to defend. Unless "anything goes" is ok with you when it comes to the spending of public money and drunk driving cover-ups.

  51. @8:36
    And Jessica has left the building. Moving out of state. She is a good woman.
    Makes you wonder why she really is leaving? Hmmm
    I am anonymous 3.1415

  52. Is it bye bye Ms. American pi?

  53. @6:32 say "stop the blabber".... And what you are calling "blabber" are actual facts from the sheriffs reports, the PA's neg driving citation, commissioner meeting discussions, public records requests, and Chief O'Brien's letters and statements to the public. You think all these are "blabber"? (!). 'Nuf said.

  54. I'm not from Orcas, but you folks over there gotta get your house in order. Everyone likes to complain about Lopez, but holey cheeseburgers, @6:32 comes out of the same fine tradition of public service as Gaylord, Fralick, Miller, and now Hughes. You guys gotta clean house. The levy is the least of your problems. The people running the show are all Marie Antoinette.

  55. To 6:32AM

    Would be interested in hearing you address the various issues that have been raised about the drunk driving accident and the Chief calling it minor and the attempted cover up, and the spending etc.

    If you have a case to make about the various things that have been brought out, please make it. That would be more productive than ignoring the facts presented as though they didn't exist, and attacking the messenger.

  56. I think its fine for a volunteer fire department to buy pizza and sandwiches occasionally for volunteer firefighters. Show appreciation. It works. I was a volunteer fire fighter myself for a number of years.

    But $1,600 for coffee? Ordering Chinese takeout from Bellingham? Chocolate? A high priced "emergency" accountant from Seattle rather than out County auditor's services, commonly performed for the taxing districts? Not reporting an incident properly to the Sheriff's department when you said you did? Say what?

    If you don't pass our levy lift we will "cut back services" (of volunteer firefighters??) and your house will burn down and babies will die?

    And this is all documented?

    Yeah, there does seem to be some blabber out there somewhere but I'm not sure its here.

  57. @6:32 thinks "I know who you are".

    Nope, 'cause if you did, you'd know that I'm posting from your crawl space.

    Will you feed your cat - he's driving me crazy.


  58. @12:42
    I hope you aren't violating any crawl space buffers. We need to take extraordinary measures to protect the functions and values of crawl spaces, as well as random stray feline species.
    Thank you. Please consult with a crawl space-feline habitat expert before continuing with your activity. You must show that you aren't causing further harm.

  59. Please immediately cease all human activity within 10' of the crawl space. Cock roaches are a species of interest and cannot be disturbed. Oops, sorry, that was a Friend with a camera up there. That's OK, they were just checking your property to make sure there were no possible violations to prrecautionate against. It is for your own protection.

  60. @5:47 pm: "OIFR is the most exclusive and expensive adult boys club on Orcas Island."

    Almost nailed it. Chief O'Brien, Uncle Randy, the fire commissioners & the vocal pro-levy few are engaging in more than a fair amount of self-promoting bullshit re: how well OFID is managed. Which makes total sense - when you get 25 Down's syndrome kids in a room, there's bound to be a fair amount of hugging.

    However, let's not forget to recognize that the mostly young guys who actually do the work deserve respect and the resources to do their job. But not a blank check, which is essentially what O'Brien is asking for. Sadly, I think the levy probably ends up going down, when a reasonable levy put forth by responsible management would probably make it.

    Support from Hughes at this point is of questionable value - Rick needs to rethink his direction of the last year and compare what he's "accomplished" (using the term as loosely as possible) to what he sold his vision as to the voters. We voted for an agent of change and what we got is a sock puppet for county staff.

    I agree with the other Anonymous above (we have the same name but we're not related :P ), that the most constructive course of action is to vote No on the levy and precipitate a crisis. At the end of the day, that will be the only way to get a responsible fiscal footing for the Boys Club.

  61. Unfortunately 30 to 50 year old men holding responsible public positions--doing this kind of drinking--where the Assistant Chief fallls asleep on his boss'' couch at 8pm (per the Sheriffs report; and the Chief going to bed "hours" before his employee--Jack Deslile-- left his house (see Chief O'Brien's quote in the Sounder (Cali Bagby article 3/16/2014)...(is that what YOU do when you host a party??). .these folks have much more serious issues than 16 year olds drinking....

  62. There are many Anonymous tags, but this one is mine.March 24, 2014 at 2:17 PM

    Drunken parties, passing out, DUI car accidents, cover ups, the attitude that all sins should be forgiven while drinking deeply at the public trough - it's like having our very own version of the Kennedy family. Without the dead blondes. So far.

    It's a wonder that the peasants aren't camped out in Chief O'Brien's driveway with pitchforks and torches. Supporters of the levy should be King Hell angry that a few people are f'ing this up. And the county should be knocking heads.


  63. This reminds me of the part in Animal Farm when the animals look in the window of the house and see the pigs partying with the humans.
    Some animals are more equal than others.

    Someone needs to push the reset button.

  64. TO:
    To 6:32AM
    "Would be interested in hearing you address the various issues that have been raised about the drunk driving accident"
    They will never answer your question. They cannot. The truth of this accident would result in both chief's having to resign. This is why the pro-levy folks get angry at the ones asking the questions, as if it is their fault.
    It is so sad that the current administrators have allowed so much damage to be done to the good name of Orcas Fire. It may take years to recover. If they had only had the guts to man up.

  65. So who are the more strident vocal supporters of all this, the ones that get in your face for even asking simple questions? ("How DARE you question our collectivist wisdom!?") I mean, who are these guys anyway?

  66. @5:06 "These guys" - they are fictional straw men set up by CAVE (Citizens Against Virtually Everything) to sell you on this shamefully vile narrative stitched together of out-of-context data, sneering innuendo, half-truths, and libel.


  67. Some how the county, orcas fire, the friends and others got it in their heads that everything is theirs. They will lie, cheat and threat to protect their turf and jobs.
    How did they all lose sight of the fact that it is ours, all of us together. Now we are all "they".
    I cant think of one thing that has been pushed to benefit we the people. Even though it is presented as for our good.

  68. @5:45 Beat me to the punch.5:52

  69. @5:45

    I am against virtually everything when virtually everything is run the same way and by the same people. Call me a proud CAVE Heronista! I'm surprised you have enough time to comment. No all-night binge drinking party to go to or no dinner being flown in from Bellingham tonight at public expense? Do you use the sirens when the pizza is getting cold too?

  70. The fire department folks talk to the high school seniors before prom each spring. The fire folks are clearly not the right people to talk with kids about drinking and driving....unless everyone is ok with a whole lot of hypocrisy.

    The school should find someone who walks their talk to do it, or they will make a mockery of it. Kids hear about stuff...some of them, at a minimum, will know this story.

    Please schoool board....have someone besides the fire department do the " don't drink and drive" talk this year at least.

  71. If you want the high schoolers to avoid drunk drivers, make sure they're all at home before the fire department party breaks up.

  72. Ok
    @5:06 sell you on this shamefully vile narrative stitched together of out-of-context data, sneering innuendo, half-truths, and libel.
    Ok 5:06-- Here is your golden opportunity to explain the events of that night -We are all waiting because we have read the report and listened to the tape---
    So three simple questions-
    1. Why didn't Jack tell the owner of the car (Paramedic who was awake writing reports) that he got into an accident with his car? He had two opportunities to do it!
    2. Why was the assistant chief awakened at 230am and come to the station to make this very damaging call to dispatch?
    3> Why was the chief untruthful when he finally was forced to answer to the commission?
    Please explain to us all exactly which part of this story is as you puut it "vile narrative stitched together of out-of-context data, sneering innuendo, half-truths, and libel."--
    We are all waiting. You have had a year to come up with something.


  73. All 5:06 has is name calling. It is sooooo revealing. Like talking to a 7 year old.

  74. I'm surprised the pro-levy crowd hasn't started attacking Jessica for daring to ask Preysz questions on the 911 call. Still, Preysz deftly avoided answers anyway. Second nature.

  75. An open request to fire department Commissioners Barbara Bidell, Clyde Duke, and Jim Coffin:

    Before Chief O'Brien made his statement about what he called "malicious rumors" (the accident, flying in Chinese food, etc) in October, you three KNEW the vehicle that Jack wrecked had been totaled, and by then the owner of the vehicle (a department employee) most likely had received his substantial insurance payout. Yet: you supported the Chief's statement that the accident had been minor, and instructed the public to respect the department because they had earned respect. Really? Why? Did you not do any homework about the accident before you took your so strong stand? You owe the public an apology or at least an explanation.

  76. Libel? Which one?

    Half-truths? Which ones?

    Is the levy converting what was mostly capital investment money into salaries for positions that did not exist before? Or not?

    Will the Chief go on record that the levy will cover the capital needs of the FD? Or not?

    Will the County Auditor do the FD books for a lot less than the FD is paying an off-island concern? Or not?

    Does the chief admit that this is not a minor accident? Or not?

    Was Chinese food purchased and FLOWN IN on two occasions? Or not?

    Were the guys at the party drunk as skunks? Or not?

    Just trying to help you focus on facts rather than name-calling.

  77. Don't live on Orcas, but no one will be getting my money if I can't ask a question and get an answer.

  78. We have our own bullshit here on San Juan.
    We have county directors and managers driving OUR taxpayer paid for vehicles home using OUR taxpayer paid gasoline.
    We have administrators and managers and directors pulling six figure salaries to manage what?
    We have planners planning the most ridiculous asinine rules to tell all of US TAX PAYERS how we get to use OUR property!
    Vote no on ALL taxes, bet your ass a levy lid lift is coming too...what horse shit.
    Orcas, pull your head out and vote NO!


  79. I don't see what the problem is, the fire, sheriff and pa office have reciprocal agreements in place. Randy researched it and said everything is a-ok.
    Everybody should just butt out of their personal-personnel business. There is no one who will do anything about it anyway.
    After a certain amount of time a crisis becomes just the way things are, its been working why mess with success.

  80. Part of the job responsibilities for one of the new positions at the fire department is to serve as "confidential assistant" to the Chief.

    Why does the Chief need a confidential assistant?


  81. Maybe the Chief needs someone to give dicktation.

  82. I'm kind of stalled on the idea of flying in Chinese food. I just can't imagine any scenario where it is ok for my taxes to pay for flying Chinese food to Orcas Island for firemen to eat. Am I missing something?

  83. @7:56

    That comment is mean and serves no productive purpose.

  84. Here is the official explanation as posted on Orcas Issues 10/11/2013---first from Chief O'Brien and followed by Fire Commissioner Chair Barbara Bedell. They still stand behind their respective statements. Do they think the public is stupid?

    "Certain malicious rumors regarding Orcas Island Fire and Rescue have been circulating in the island gossip mill. These rumors contain profound misinformation. The following are the actual facts regarding each of the events in question.

    Vehicle Accident
    Over six months ago, I hosted a private barbeque dinner for my family and friends. After I had turned in for the night, I learned that one person had a minor accident after the individual had left my home. Fortunately, no one was hurt and no public property was damaged. The San Juan County Sheriff’s Department was promptly notified of this incident, and I determined that no official action was needed by the Fire Department.

    Food Delivery from Bellingham
    Orcas Island Fire and Rescue is fortunate to be located next to the Orcas Island Airport. Twice in June of this year we have paid for delivery of food for training events by an air taxi service. The price for air transportation was between $1.25 and $1.75 per person for a total of food and transportation of less than $10.00 per person. This amount, including the air taxi, is about half of the amount in the Fire Department’s per diem food reimbursement policy. It is the desire of the Commissioners and myself to use on-island food vendors when the department pays for food in the future."

    Following O’Brien’s statement, Barbara Bedell, Chair of the Orcas Island Fire and Rescue Board of Commissioners, then read the following statement:

    "I believe that it is important to note that the key word in the new Strategic Plan for Orcas Island Fire and Rescue is “respect,” and I believe that this Commission and Chief O’Brien have acted respectfully and with good faith and have tried very hard to engender the public trust.

    Both the Commission and Chief O’Brien deserve to be treated in the same manner instead of in an adversarial environment that accomplishes nothing. The negative public comment, the rumors that have been spread with no attempt at determining their accuracy, and the interference that the Commission and the Staff have had to contend with are unwarranted, undeserved, and do little to improve the Commissioners’ governance or help the Staff fulfill the mission of Orcas Island Fire and Rescue in a beneficial and constructive way. With the issues that Chief O’Brien has just clarified, I hope that we can go forward from this point on in a spirit of cooperaton with more positive dialogue and reasonable civil discourse."


  85. 25 POUNDS of chocolate? Really? I would love to know how this chocolate was divided up and where it went.

    And who pays $25 freight on $25 of chocolate (or anything for that matter. Ever heard of amazon prime?)

    The market in Eastsound has some great chocolate and that little place on the corner has chocolate to die for.

    Do firemen require chocolate? Can I stop in at the station and get a taste of what I paid for?

  86. The 25lbs of chocolate cost $95. The $25 shipping was on top of that. Now that they got called out for that and the $1600+ on coffee, they have new policies about it.

    Would have hoped they could have figured it wasn't a good use of public funds before they did. It...not after.

  87. @8:29

    Thank you for posting, but this is a good example of why people are so angry.

    "I hosted a private barbecue ... The San Juan County Sheriff’s Department was promptly notified of this incident, and I determined that no official action was needed by the Fire Department."

    Private? No action needed by the FD? Then why did OIFR staff pull the "one person" (no mention that he is an employee of OIFR) from the ditch, tow it to the FD station, use FD equipment in the process, and why was it reported by the Deputy Chief? This was no arms length private matter.

    Seems to me OIFR has painted themselves into a corner. They've lied and covered up and people aren't buying it anymore. Doesn't matter if the levy passes. The department is tainted. They're trying to manage their PR by attacking critics and lying, and that never works.

    Respect? Give me a break.

  88. Does it really cost only $10 to get Chinese food flown in? How come we're not all doing that?

    "The price for air transportation was between $1.25 and $1.75 per person for a total of food and transportation of less than $10.00 per person."

    That's less than ferry fare. Why does my Kenmore Air flight cost so much?

    I wonder if the $2500 per month accountant scrubbed these numbers.


  89. @8;:21. Ok, fair enough. So will you tell me what a confidential assistant does for the Chief?

  90. If only the Chief had done the
    right thing when he found out
    about the accident. Call the
    Sheriff NOW ! but instead they covered it up and only after the public found out about it,did the Chief make a comment at a public meeting but did not tell the truth.
    The Chief put the department at risk, how did
    they know that Jack was not hurt since there is no medical report ? and Jack drove off in a fire department vehicle ? The Sheriff's report is full of gaping holes, they never
    questioned the Chief and it goes on and on. I am not giving these guys any more
    money !

  91. @756\|
    "The negative public comment, the rumors that have been spread with no attempt at determining their accuracy,..+

    Excuse me? The chief verified the rumors that day. And as far as attempting accuracy, it wasn't until the public forced the SJCS to investigate and most of the truth came out. Rumors were verified.
    Why is the FD afraid to tell the truth and answer very legitimate questions from the public?
    Only one reason, the truth will reveal that something is very rotten at OIFD. Man up Chief and stop embarrassing our amazing volunteers.

  92. No wonder the Sheriff could not find the barefoot bandit!
    and when sent out to do
    an investigation on this accident we get things like dealing with getting out of the Chief's driveway or opening locks in order to show that you were not impaired ? and the Chief stated that he would not let anyone leave his place if they were impaired ? but I thought that he said that we went to bed early but the party was still going on for hours after that ? Maybe we need the guy that stopped the
    hay ride on Christmas Eve to
    come here with his big guns? or a little one ! to ask some tough questions ?
    I am about to write a novel
    about we enforce the law in
    San Juan County.

  93. If everyone who reads this forwards it to 10 friends, most people on Orcas would find out pretty quickly whats up with the fire department and their levy, and that would be a good thing. People deserve to know this stuff.

    Hopefully people will say no to the levy request for way more money than Orcas Fire needs.

  94. Let's clean the fire house before we give them any more money to play with.

    They have shamed the volunteers!

  95. Stan Mathews , we really need your special skills here. This is why you get the big bucks as county communication manager. Feel free to impress us here. Or maybe Kit could tell us how the tribe does this kind of work. Or Ron Zee or someone from the FOSJ, Rick are you out there? We really need your respect here.

  96. Question: Does the Orcas levy need 60% to pass?

    As most know we San Juan people voted down a similar EMS levy mainly because of ridiculous financial assumptions. Orcas seems to have a whole lot more reasons to vote theirs down.

    Someone, here on the TH, surmised a bit ago that with our small island population public employees could and likely do vote as a block for any and all money headed to any and all public employees. You do me, I do you.

    Golly, who needs unions? (At least you can talk to them!)

    I got my fingers crossed these fools need 60%. With our large retired, read older, population, this thinly veiled threat to withhold service caries the day every time. Here on San Juan a completely thoughtless levy got 55%. OUCH.

  97. I was wondering about the 60% too. I don't know what an EMS levy would require a different percentage of different islands, but I have heard no mention of the 60% figure on Orcas.

  98. I called County elections today and the woman who answered said 50% plus 1 vote.....a simple majority.

    3807 voters.

  99. No minimum turnout I bet. Classic. April 22 special election, most don't bother to vote, just slip it through. This is how levys are floated.

    As a former volunteer firefighter I always knew the paid administration was super important, for any number of reasons but the only reason a small community can have a paid chief and staff is if the firefighters are a volunteer force.

    Thus, who does the FD administration serve, why do they exist? Obviously they serve the public interest but in the practical day to day reality, the administration serves the firefighting volunteers. They coordinate. They help train. They manage the infrastructure. They ensure safety protocol. All in order for the volunteers to do what they do in a way that saves the public a lot of money that no one can afford or a fully professional force.

    If the Orcas FD admin situation is so bolloxed up that it cannot properly serve the volunteer corp, the admin needs to go.

    And the volunteers have a responsibility to speak out. Is pressure being brought to bear on them? Is there intimitation? What is really going on?

  100. Anyone ever audit the Deer Harbor capital project? I heard that one of the good ole boys got a decent annual salary to oversee things. This is in addition to all the contractor fees for doing the same thing.
    Slush fund.

  101. @8:08 One of the volunteers finally spoke up this morning.

    – Annalies Schuh –

    There is no better feeling then giving back to the community. The crew at Orcas Island Fire station not only goes above and beyond the call of duty, they do it without even hesitating. When the pager blares, they respond during the worst weather conditions, in the darkest middle of the night, they even leave loved ones during family celebrations, and then they see the most horrible human circumstances that would make many us have lasting nightmares. Vote YES for the levy!

    As someone who has been on island for 18 years and part of the fire ‘family’ I feel I have earned the right to speak out against the naysayers. I’ve watched my parents volunteer for all of those 18 years, my brother Cameron joined the department in 2011, and I too have recently become a volunteer EMT. From my experiences, I know the equipment we need, the vehicles we need, the maintenance we need, the leadership we need, and the personnel required to do the job of protecting the citizens of our community have increased over those 18 years. Therefore, it stands to reason, so have the costs.

    I have personally witnessed the numerous changes the fire department has gone through over the years. I remember way back as a little girl when our fire station used to be the building Roses is now located. This small station was so packed that even EMT drills had to be held in the freezing cold bays while the equipment sat outside. Today, as I sit in the same area eating wonderful food Roses has to offer, I think back to playing with my brother in that engine bay. Since that time, this community built a station that can hold all the required equipment, vehicles, offices, sleeper quarters, and meetings are now in a warm carpeted space. Our equipment has changed to include rescue rigs, rigs in outlying stations, and even 4 wheel drive vehicles so responders can get to some of the remote areas or steep driveways of the island.

    There have been some half-truths told about volunteers and fire staff staying at “fancy” hotels. The hotels have been where a conference was held, booked at the government per diem rate, reserved well in advance before the entire venue was sold out, and our Assistant Chief was asked to be a presenter. When you do not plan ahead, rooms become no longer available and thus forced to book at someplace else, such as The Days Inn. Additionally, when training was held at the fire station everyone agreed to pool their lunch money, again at government per diem rate, to order a combined amount of Chinese food. Amazingly it was actually cheaper to do this and have it flown here on a commuter plane than to buy a meal for that many people on island. I believe the practice from now on will be to order locally no matter if the cost exceeds the per diem allotment. Lesson learned. Finally, from my very recent training, a definition of a ‘major car accident’ involves injury, trauma, one of more patients, and usually more than one vehicle. Rather than quibble about staying in a comfortable bed at a conference location, the definition of ‘minor’, or an agreed upon less expensive meal, lets look at the bigger picture. Vote YES for the levy!

  102. (continued)

    Consider that numerous volunteer members who give up their time on Wednesday nights for EMT meetings or on Thursdays for fire drill. Add in some additional training on weekends as well. Trainings in vehicle extrication, rope rescue, AED use, airway devices, epi pens, pediatric emergencies, and much much more are the new normal. All of this takes time, effort, lots of paperwork, money, and staffing. These trainings are usually conducted by our paramedics, medical control doctor, an outside expert, the Chief, or Assistant Chief. Volunteers and staff go to these meetings to better educate themselves so they can help save Orcas lives and property. Vote YES for the levy!

    What is so wrong with paying these experts in the field a prevailing wage? Orcas seems to have an attitude of ‘we’ll get things done on the cheap’. Well guess what, in the real world highly trained fire department personnel and administration make a whole lot more in wages than what this community ever offers. Luckily, the things that attract good people to the island are the beauty and the escape from the ills of big city life. Certainly not the wages. Asking for a salary percentage increase over a period of ten years hardly seems unreasonable.

    The department has lots of vehicles. They need to be replaced on an ongoing schedule. In fact, if certain ones are not then the insurance rates for the department actually increase. Does it not seem likely that over a period of 10 years there would be several vehicle purchases? Vote YES for the levy!

    Yes, the department has added more staffing in the last 15 years. Think about it, our community needs have grown, government regulations continue to increase, the amount of paperwork and accounting is climbing exponentially, aide and fire call volumes have quadrupled, and requirements of volunteers have become very stringent. A staff of 3 just cannot do it all. With all of this, Orcas Fire has some of the fastest response rates, one of the highest level of cardiac saves, and some of the best training available. The King County online training system was adopted as well as the hands on testing. This has raised the level of expertise amongst the EMTs to ensure they are capable of handling medical or traumas on their own until the paramedic arrives.

    I recently graduated from the EMT course that was offered on San Juan Island. For six months, two times a week, I traveled over to San Juan. Spending the night one of those days because there was no possibility of getting home due to lack of an evening ferryboat. For me, there was no gas, food, or lodging money exchanged. However, I know the investment in this entire EMT class of participants took wages for my trainers, equipment, ambulances, consumables, a building, heat, and definitely lots of paperwork. There is nothing free in this world.

  103. (continued)

    In my very short time as an EMT, I’ve sat with patients on calls for over seven hours, done search and rescues till the early hours of the morning, helped firefighters rejuvenate after saving burning buildings, performed CPR on several people, helped with an effort to save someone who fell over 150 feet, and I’ve not asked for or received a single cent. I simply am doing it because I love my community and helping people is like no other experience. I get something back from all of you though; my reward is seeing the joy on people’s faces when they know Orcas Fire and Rescue have arrived and are going to take care of them. Vote YES for the levy!

    It upsets me that people wouldn’t be willing to continue the levy, that bright orange rude political statements were put on our strictly ‘community events’ tank corner, the horrid stuff that is written online anonymously which include disgusting references to special needs children, and that so much vitriol is being spewed against the people I admire and respect. I cannot change the minds of people who seem to be bent on causing the destruction of every island public organization through some sort dissection of every intricate detail. BUT I hope you’ll take the time to talk to my mom, my dad, my brother, or me if you are at all on the fence. Look at the website OR come on into the station and discuss your concerns as responsible adults. Vote YES for the levy!

    Many people don’t realize the sheer time and effort every single one of our volunteers and administrators puts into making the Orcas Fire Department run smoothly. I am confident we provide the best quality care to the islanders as is humanly possible and the department is prudent in utilizing taxpayer dollars. I ask you to invest in your community, keep your taxes at the same level, and invest in Orcas Fire by voting YES on the EMT/Fire levy.

  104. The work that the volunteers
    do is not the issue here.

    It seems that the questions are to the management and the
    procedures involving the reporting of an accident that
    involved fire department people at a private party but
    using fire department facilities and equipment and not reporting the accident in the proper manner,
    The response from the volunteers as always been
    awesome and we thank you for that.

  105. I agree...the work of the volunteers is awesome and is the heart and soul of Orcas Fire. No one is questioning that.

    But a determined effort is being made to focus Orcas voters solely on the emotional issues of EMS response, and to ignore legitimate and necessary questions about the business side regarding what appears to be very inappropriate and wasteful use of public money. Additionally, the highest levels of the department (with the Commissioners publically backing them up) appear to be covering up and lying about what certainly appears to be a drunk driving incident. It is wrong for the department to call an accident with a totalled vehicle "minor" and to accuse those who have brought the true facts to the public of "malicious rumors". It is wrong for drunk fire folks, even off-duty ones, to get special treatment from the Sheriff. The huge increase in salaried positions in the past few years is troubling and requires public scrutiny. The department putting forth a levy that they believe does not include enough money for capital expenses over the life of the levy, and the Chief's saying they will likely request a new levy in a few years makes me doubt the integrity of everything the department says and does.

    These are important questions for the public to get answers to before they vote on the levy. But no answers are forthcoming. Just a steady stream of letters trying to divert public attention from the genuine questions and issues. You have to wonder why department supporters and the department itself want the public to not ask or get answers to these questions. Quite odd.

    I don't see how anyone can vote for the continuation of this behavior. I have to vote no, and require them to come clean. And justify all the new jobs, since we had great service before without these jobs. And cut the wasteful spending. They will then submit a new levy...that is why this one is in they have time to do another one before 2015. Let's require accountability, transparency, legitimate spending of public funds, and integrity on the business side of Orcas Fire.

  106. It has been said that if the levy fails the department will "cut service". This statement would appear to be intended to frighten people into voting for the levy.

    They cannot make volunteers not respond to calls, so that should not be a fear.

    So what "service" can they cut? Because they got criticized for it, they have recently cut spending on coffee (over $1600 in 10 months), chocolate, and frequent eating out. Huh? (Why does the public have to point out this is wrong before they change these behaviors? Shouldn't they know these things are wrong???) How about dropping an off-island CPA whose work the County auditor used to and can do for an annual cost of what the department has been paying per month? How about cutting merit pay for people who already make a lot of money? Last year with all the odd stuff that went on, the Commissioners gave the Chief $5000 in merit pay. And merit pay is in the budget again for 2014.

    If one took a good look at actual expenses there is probably a lot more to be cut, because the department can't seem to draw their own line about what is legit spending and what is not.

  107. The levy should be lower.

  108. If the levy fails, the department budget gets cut 50-60%, as the levy drops to the permanent levy of ~$900,000 from the asked-for ~$2 million.

    Cutting service *will* happen in this event, and if you don't think so, you are being silly. It's not a threat, it's just reality.

    State laws govern fireground operations, based on NFPA standards. If the volunteers do not have proper training and equipment and drill hours, they can not safely or legally respond to many calls, and it would be foolish of the commissioners and the management to allow them to do so. Getting the volunteers what they need, and documenting that they have it, requires a certain level of staffing and expenditure. Gone are the days that people just show up and fight fires and do rescue work in their Carhartts.

    It's not as simple as "they cannot make volunteers not respond to calls".

    But that doesn't make a good story.

  109. So I guess @11:37 is saying we all need to just suck it up and always vote for whatever Chief O'Brien wants. Well, that clears that up, not really much need to hold an election, really - O'Brien can just pick us up by the ankles and shake us until the appropriate amount falls out of our pockets.

    BIG vote for accountability there 11:37 - apparently your motto is "Shut up and pay me!", which doesn't really work as a mission statement. "You don't deserve any answers!" doesn't really work either. O'Brien and the commissioners work for us, not the other way around.

  110. Fire departments and police departments run on coffee. There's always a pot brewing at the station, and people coming back from calls or heading out grab a cup, especially in cold dark nasty weather.

    I heard at the Orcas Firefighters Association meeting a few weeks back that the baseline coffee consumption at Station 21, the Eastsound station, runs about $60 of not-particularly-high-end coffee. They don't have a Blue Bottle barista serving up hand-pulled espressos.

    So in 10 months you'd expect $600 of coffee to be swilled down.

    Why the $1600? Notice that the time period in question covers the time of the recent fire academy, where there were ~30 additional people in the station several days a week, in class all evening and drilling all day on weekends. And the time period covered the newly rigorous physical aptitude testing, and the EMT testing, and half a dozen other things.

    So there were a lot more people in the station, doing a lot more work, presumably drinking a lot more coffee.

    So yes, it's easy to whip out $1600 and say "bad firefighters, sucking at the public teat".

    And so now our volunteers pay for their own coffee, out of their own pockets, when they are at the station.

    Coffee. We won't even pay for their coffee.

    And yet they still get out of bed in the nasty storms and come and help us.

  111. @11:49

    "Time period in question" for the coffee number was not during the recent fire academy. It was Jan-Oct of 2013. And yes, under the recent coffee policy change that came because of complaints, I understand the coffee quality has changed.

  112. @11:37 AM

    "If the levy fails, the department budget gets cut 50-60%, as the levy drops to the permanent levy of ~$900,000 from the asked-for ~$2 million."

    OK, let's talk about this. How do the numbers play out? If the levy fails on April 22, the budget will be cut ... immediately ... by over 50%.

    There must be a contingency plan in place for this possibility since it sound really dramatic.

    So, what will happen and in what sequence? If the department says it will cut services, what exactly does that mean. Rather than frighten the public with vague uncertainties if the levy fails, why not lay out the facts on the table of what services will be cut, in what sequence and for what consequences.

    Let's be adults about this.

  113. I thought that this was
    a story about an accident
    so now we are talking about the future levy and
    not giving our volunteers
    coffee. I am sure that
    there is not a person that do not support the
    volunteers. So I hope that we can separate the
    issues here.
    Too many doubts!

    1. Proper accident
    investigation, let's
    get to the bottom of
    this so that we can
    have trust in the
    2. Why so much money as
    15 yrs ago.
    3. The volunteers are
    great and we should
    buy them a cup of

  114. @11:49 The recent fire academy ran from Jan->April of 2013. The current academy is the rescue academy, running through this April I believe.

  115. @11:37 am

    If you are saying ( and your are) that the department will not resubmit the levy with lower numbers--just like the school district did--then the department needs new administrators. The whole purpose of your post is to scare people. They will resubmit the levy. The Commissioners talked about that possibility in public meeting.

  116. "Gimme my money! What's it to you what I want it for? Oh, and I want immunity from the laws you're subject to!"

    Actually, I'm pretty tired of being viewed as a ripe suck. By the fire dept, the school district, the county council, county planning, FOSJ, "et cetera, et cetera, et cetera".

  117. @11:37

    "If the levy fails..." They will resubmit it. And to say or think otherwise is nonsense, and would be hugely irresponsible on the part of the department. And you clearly do not think they are irresponsible.

    The current levy runs until 2015. If this levy fails... Yeah!! They get to make a more reasonable one that doesn't take all the money that was in the last levy for new buildings and new trucks and apply it to new payroll expenses..and then say this is a great levy because it is the same as last time. Not! They have made a massive switch of monies from capital projects to salaries...and intentionally shorted the capital side to do that.

    And don't forget they have plus or minus $500,000 in reserves.

    You are just being silly when you assert service cuts. Or trying to engender fear. Because surely the department is not that irresponsible?

  118. Anyone at anytime is free to donate coffee, filters, and the like to the fire station.
    Like taxes too. Anyone at anytime is welcome to send the government a check for more.
    We are constantly bombarded with tax here tax there. It's always just pennies or fractions of pennies. If I don't vote for it, people will die, buildings will burn, seniors will starve and the like.
    Does anyone understand that some of us don't have anymore money to give and that continual increases in our taxes threatens to push us out?
    I'm voting no because I can't afford it.
    If my house is on fire, you can let it burn. I have insurance for that.
    My smoke alarms work and I test them regularly, so my family will get out in a fire.

  119. It's getting to the point where, if taxes go up, the tax payers will die, burn, starve, and the like.

  120. Everyone I know on Orcas loves our volunteer firefighters and EMS, and deeply values their significant contributions to the community. These levy questions have nothing to do with the volunteers or the quality of their service. It is about management decisions only.

  121. Fact:
    The conference was NOT held at the Resort! Somehow that message has gotten twisted. Why? Please tell the truth.

    Chinese food was brought to the island not once, not twice, but three times! And it had nothing whatsoever to do with volunteers "pooling per diem".And the chief didn't put an end to it because it didn't look good. He put an end to it because he got caught.

    Why do the pro levy people feel it is necessary to lie? Tell the truth, let the voters vote on facts.

  122. Still no answers about the accident. Simple questions.

    They cannot answer.

  123. I think Analise makes a great point for voting no.

    She very deftly points out that she remembers a time when the fire station was at roses, and the equipment was far less. And so, the enlightened voters at that time approved a massive levy to improve the capital infrastructure of the department. The money that was approved built multiple fire stations and paid for several levels of vehicle improvements.

    So, since NONE of those expenditures are part of this current proposed levy, then why is it the same size?

    Thank you Analise for pointing out how much we SHOULD be able to accomplish with the new levy that we are not!

    Bravo for the young mind!

  124. Here is an article by Colleen Armstrong from the Sounder dated 10/13/2010 in which then Orcas Fire Financial Officer Rick Anda projects that the 2014 levy (which we are voting on next month) would be reduced by 10% because the bonds for the new buildings and equipment would be paid off. This group was fiscally responsible!! Why isn't this levy 10% less than the old one, as Rick Anda projected it would be? Answer: there has been a big jump in payroll and lots of spending. Here is the article:

    "For the first time in its history, the Orcas Fire Department has paid off its bonds early.

    “It's almost unheard of to pay off debt service early,” said financial officer Rick Anda. “It's certainly the first time in our history, and it may be the first time in Washington state.”

    The Board of Fire Commissioners approved to pay off the 2014 bonds in the amount of $195,000 and the 2013 Bonds in the amount of $185,000 on Dec. 1. The result is a net savings of $66,750 in interest. The savings will be used for Orcas Island Fire amd Rescue operations.

    In 1999, voters approved a bond levy of $2 million for new construction of fire stations and aging equipment replacement. The funds built the Headquarters Station 21 in Eastsound, purchased a new four-wheel drive ambulance, four Wildland Attack Structural Protection (W.A.S.P.) engines, a Rescue Response rig to replace the 1970 truck, and built the final project, the Deer Harbor/Spring Point Station, which is slated to be done by Thanksgiving of this year. Builders Wellman & Zuck were the low bidders for the Deer Harbor station at just over $425,000.

    “At the time (of the 1999 bond) it was kind of a guess how much money was needed,” Anda said. “Now that we know the final cost of the Deer Harbor station, we looked at our final cash balances, and we thought, 'do we just sit on this or what?'”

    Coupled with the fact that interest on the savings had dipped from 4.7 percent to 2 percent, Anda says it made financial sense to pay off the bonds.

    The district has around $300,000 in its bank account, which will get them through March 2012, when property tax money starts coming in.

    “It cuts us short on cash for now, but it's doable,” he said. “We don't have any immediate capital needs for right now.”

    Orcas Fire's current levy runs through 2014. Because the district doesn't have to make bond payments now, it doesn't require as much money from the levy. This means it could put a reduced levy before voters prior to 2014.

    “Now we can reduce taxes that go to the fire department by 10 percent,” Anda said. “(Paying off the bonds) really gives us some flexibility.”

  125. @8:08 Says "And the volunteers have a responsibility to speak out."

    I see that the Orcas Island Volunteer Firefighter/EMS Volunteer Association has endorsed the levy.

  126. Of course the volunteers are supporting the levy, do you think that they can omit their names from the list of supporters. Let's leave the volunteers out of this.
    We want to see accountability and responsibility relating to the accident investigation and taxpayers money being spent.


  127. Why do the volunteers have a association and what are there benefits?

  128. @1:42 if you are going to talk about me please at least have the courtesy to spell my name right. It is clearly listed at the top of the letter because I am not afraid to put my name out there. I wrote this letter by myself without being asked by anyone. I simply wrote it because it needed to be said.

    The station was built because the old roses one was so small. There was no meeting room and and a very small kitchen and sleeping space. Would you really want us responding from the middle of busy town on a summer day?


  129. @5:20

    I'm just waiting for someone to say --

    Benefits: free coffee, Chinese food flown in from Bellingham, chocolate from Amazon, and all the alcohol you can drink at the Chief's house. No questions asked.

  130. @Annalies

    I am not @1:42 but I want to say that maybe you should have gotten help in writing your letter because some of your facts are clearly, irrefutably incorrect.

    How about writing another letter to correct them, since you seem to be rather picky about mistakes, like the correct spelling of your name?

    If you need a starting place for your corrections, see @1:19.

  131. @5:20

    But those are only for paid staff, not volunteers. It is the paid staff costs that have been spiraling and are the problem.

  132. Not an Orcasian, but this is turning into a Mike Myers movie. Someone named Anna lies is "correcting" the record?

  133. @5:53 HA! Like I haven't heard that one before..... Seriously how immature!!! Way to be a bully. It's like I'm back in elementary school.

    My name actually comes from a very smart lady who lived in Holland and was a pediatric doctor. Who helped my mom out when she had to take her younger brother river rafting because my grandpa had fallen off a ladder and shattered his ankle.
    But that's irrelevant to the real matter at hand so please don't bring the spelling of my name into this.


  134. @Annlies

    It IS irrelevant to the matter at hand, as is your explanation. You could make a relevant comment by addressing your mistakes however.

    Care to do something relevant and correct your misstatements, or have you heard that one before too?

  135. Some people make innocent mistakes, Annalies. There are others who deliberately lie and mislead.

    Which one are you?

  136. lol. I believe you brought the "spelling of my name into this" Annalies.

    Dodge dodge dodge.

  137. That was classic avoidance and redirection, and unfortunately, @5:53, you fell for it. Annalies won't discuss the facts or her misstatements, but she will discuss the spelling of her name and how mean you all are.

  138. The volunteer's don't get any benefits?

  139. To the anonymous person that copied my daughter's letter and posted it on this blog;

    You did not have permission to re-publish her letter and I consider your actions to be a form of plagiarism. Had she wanted her words on this venue she would have submitted them to the moderator herself. Instead, she chose to publish her thoughts on sites where commenters cannot hide behind their computers spewing insults, nastiness, and hatred. The recent discovery of the viciously gross seedy underbelly of Orcas via the Trojan Heron was what prompted her to write the letter in the first place.

    Kari Schuh

  140. Doesn't look like Annalies' mom is going to talk about the facts either.

    Public domain, Kari. Look up "Fair Use."

    "Viciously gross seedy underbelly of Orcas." Points for creative writing, but we just want the facts and have people stop lying to us.


  141. The underbelly is just wondering why the "brain" does what it does to it.

  142. And a man's foe shall be they of his own household. Kari and Annalies, you need to look among your own supporters for the "plagiarizer" because it was probably posted by someone wanting to spread the Gospel According to Annalies.

    It just didn't go as planned.

  143. Ummmm. Plagiarizing is when you try to pass off something that is not your own work. What the poster here did was quote from another. Big difference.

    It's like drunk driving as a citizen and wrecking a car and drunk driving as a firefighter and having your buddies cover it up. 2 different things but they could appear similar.

    -John Conner

  144. Vicious gross seedy underbelly? Is that the all-boys drink until you pass out club? Or if you know the right people, you need not obey the law club? Sheesh.

  145. @ 10:00 p.m.

    You called the County and someone who answered gave you an answer? Did you wait five minutes and call back?


  146. Plagiarism? She must not have any experience with Facebook or Pinterest

  147. Advisory to the voters of Orcas.

    Several months ago San Juan Island voted down a similar levy. I wish I could say this misguided levy got totally snuffed at the polls, this was not the case, it only lost because it needed 60% to pass. You will have to work hard to get voters to reject yours, even if, to any thinking person it seems obvious this levy is chocolate sauce.

    But, let me say this. Since the loss of the levy on SJI there has been dead silence and NO reduction in service!

  148. Wow, what a great comment @8:23

    "Viciously gross seedy underbelly of Orcas spewing insults nastiness and hatred."

    Like we haven't heard that one before! HA! Good to see the pro-levy people refrain from name calling.

  149. Kari,

    The moment your daughter published her letter it became material for public consumption. It also became a piece of political writing.

    It is great that she has chosen to enter into the political process. Part of making that leap is being ready to debate the issues and ready to face the criticism of the other side.

    I think your response was a great example of why people don't feel comfortable speaking out in public. If you represent the fire district then they need a new PR person. What a hateful and divisive tone. At least your daughter tried to make a point.

  150. Let's get back to the questions at hand, heh?
    Obviously a LOT more to the accident. If nothing was wrong why would he wake up Preysz? Why didn't Delisle report it to the sheriff?
    Why didn't Delisle even have the courtesy to tell the owner of the vehicle (Paramedic Kiniski-who was awake and on duty at the station when they went
    to get the chain and again when they dropped the wrecked vehicle off behind the station) that he totaled his truck?
    Why was it necessary for Preysz to come to the station at 0300 to be the one to tell Kiniski that his truck was wrecked?
    Why was it Preysz trying to contact the on duty officer privately instead of reporting the accident per fire department protocols?
    Why wasn't Delisle checked out medically and made to sign a release? This was a significant impact! The truck was totaled and airbags deployed. We were all put at great risk by these shenanigans....
    Most importantly, how is it that the chief was allowed to say the accident was "minor" and no one was hurt when neither are true?
    These are all FACTS from the police report and 911 call--no innuendo, no rumors, no lies.
    Simple questions.
    Kari? Annalies? Anyone from OIFR?
    We are all waiting.

  151. Have you heard of copyrights?
    Most publications are copyrighted. So reprinting her letter, without permission, is not allowed. Also it is just bad form. If you wanted people to read it - provide a link.

  152. Bad form is referring to people as "viciously gross seedy underbelly of Orcas spewing insults nastiness and hatred." Bad form is covering up a DUI. Bad form is getting your facts wrong in a letter to the media.

    The link was provided, attribution was given, and it was for educational purposes. Fair use. Go play your "bad form" scam on someone else.

  153. @11:21 AM

    Go to the library and ask the librarian. Go to the Sounder office and ask the editor. Go to the high school and ask any English teacher.

    You are confused. The link was provided and full attribution was made. Do you believe posting a link somewhere on the Internet constitutes copyright violation? Wow. If you can't sort this one out I very much wonder if we can look to you as a good source of information about the fire department controversy.

    By the way, the Guardian has several thoughtful letters published on these issues, from a few adults in the room:

    They are here:

    One written by Pierrette Guimond and another by Suzanne Morrissey.

  154. People! Please stop the personal attacks and nasty comments. It's clear that no one has a problem with responders, paid and volunteer and are held in high regard. And the fact that people are questioning administrative decisions and motives should not be taken personally by responders. In fact, the responders should want their administrators to be open and above board so they can feel confident that the ship is being steered on a true course. The sketchy food purchases is a good example. There are laws, rules, and policies that dictate the parameters for spending public money. The volunteer shouldn't have to wonder if it was purchased properly. The person authorizing the purchase must ensure that is is proper. And if it is brought in to question, even if it is technically legal, does it pass the “sniff test”. Same thing for enforcing the laws and policies for behavior. I would be willing to bet that anyone of us would have a moment of pause if we were approached by our kid or a best friend if they called us to help cover up a crash that could result in a charge. It would be tempting, and some of us would help and some of us would follow the law. But when you hold a public position the answer is already laid out- you follow the law/policy! I know that members of the fire department have been disciplined for bad behavior that was completely outside of the department but could reflect badly on the department. Well I expect the administrators to hold themselves to the same standard if not higher than what they expect out of their own volunteers. I would say the sum total of a variety of recent incidents equals loss of trust in the administration, not the responders. And it is not wrong for us to say so and request some answers.

  155. @12:07 Kari Schuh is the one who originally protested her daughters letter being put on this blog and called it plagiarism. She is a High School teacher at Orcas Island High School. Here is her profile

  156. Wow .. I don't know what to say ...

    But her LinkedIn profile does mention at one point:

    "President and board member, Orcas Island Firefighter/EMT Association (OIFFEA), 2001-2004"

    Plagiarism is when I some one steal substantial words and uses them verbatim as their own without any reference, citation or attribution to the author. The purpose is to deceive others that one wrote that which is not theirs to claim. It is fraudulent. One would be expelled from school or worse.

    Copyright on the Internet of course gets more interesting, but fair use wins, especially in news and public affairs. There is no difference between referring to another's work and providing a hyperlink as way of citation, than to copy their words and provide attribution to the author.

    One could argue the grey areas in this until the cows come home, but the citation and attribution were appropriate in the context of use. No one is trying to make a buck off of thew words of others here.

    One might consider using the most restrictive form of Creative Commons licensing which of course, just tends to annoy people and what good does it do to your cause if you refuse to let anyone spread your good word? Makes no sense at all. Why bother?

  157. Orcas voters: Someone here called this levy "chocolate sauce" and that is a good title for it.

    Vote No! (Don't worry, they will be back. Darn it, they always do try again.)

  158. As someone who has on several occasions over the past many years dropped off baked goods for the first responders, I'd like to echo what several have already tried to make clear: we don't know of anyone who is anything but appreciative of the volunteers and paid first responders. They are not the issue; neither, in actuality, are expenditures for break room coffee and the like. Those are simply examples of questionable judgment that make it all the harder to swallow the notion that a controversial "one-time" CAPITAL levy that was finally approved and was sufficient to build two firehouses and buy many new firetrucks now must be renewed in order to cover the costs of new management positions, or else -- old people will die!! How can that be?

  159. Can anyone name a public agency that doesn't want everything? Wanting more and more and more is part of bureaucratic nature. The OIFR budget is full of money pits. We can't trust our current managers to manage them properly.

  160. Please stop with all of the rhetoric regarding the letters from Kari and Annalise. It is totally irrevalent to the fact that there was a huge cover up by some in the higher levels of The OIFR and people are working very hard to try and divert your attention away from this. The public needs to keep asking questions until this is acknowledged from the top down.

    As for the spending of tax dollars for flying in food from the mainland, buying chocolates and all of the other questionable expenditures which have been brought to light by citizens requesting the receipts through the open public records process send these to the state auditor so when they come to audit the district they will have them in hand. Find out when the next audit is and be sure that the results are made public by the district. Keep in mind some of these over the top expenditures may be considered legal but morally not so much.

    I don't think anyone disputes the fact that the majority of our volunteers are dedicated to helping their neighbors. What everyone has to keep in mind is that the paid personnel earn some of the highest wages on Orcas which will make them defend everything they do by any means possible . Power and greed are great motivators.

  161. The problem at the fire department has nothing to do with our hard-working volunteers. Lets stay focused on the problems with Orcas Fire that badly need fixing.

    The problems are these:

    We have a Department who thinks they have the right to spend money on whatever they want until they get caught. We need a Chief who knows what is appropriate spending of public money and what is not --without having the public always having to watch over his shoulder. And we need Commissioners who will do their jobs and actually watch the department expenses and not rubber stamp them.

    We need a Chief who will not propose a huge amount of money to be spent to hire an emergency CPA and then when that term is up, fail to have a plan, and therefore default to an extension the $4500/mo contract for another 3 we can keep the CPA "on retainer"! We need Commissioners who just cave in to this kind of failure to plan ahead.

    We need a Chief and Commissioners who will not, as they are currently doing, knowingly propose a ten year levy that has inadequate capital funding--knowing they plan to come back to the public in a few years for yet more money. This is so wrong.

    We need a Chief and Commissioners who will uphold the law! WA law does not exempt salaried fire department employees (even "off-duty" ones on their way home from a drinking party at the Chiefs house) from drunk driving laws. And we need a Chief and Commissioners who do not think it ok to coverup a drunk driving accident.

    We need a Chief who, when he changes how the department counts "calls" and then uses % increases to sell the levy, will honestly tell us he is not comparing apples to apples, and that "calls" now include people who walk into the station for band-aids. In fact they are encouraging the public to use the station as a free de facto medical clinic that is open 24/7, and not just for emergencies. This is ok if the public decides openly to support the increased cost that result from this. But maybe there should be a public discussion of increases medical center hours.

    I think we need to vote no on this levy because of all these reasons. They say if we do, they will "cut services". This kind of knee-jerk threat is clearly intended to scare people. It does not come from a sober assessment of the situation. If the levy fails, they will have to cut frivolous spending, indeed, but they will not tell volunteers they can't respond to calls--and that is the department's real "service". They will have to cut chocolate and coffee and lots of meals out on the public dime. The Commissioners already told the Chief he had to cut a $25K discretionary fund he had originally requested for himself. (Say what?). Let's tell them to cut merit pay...which is in the 2014 budget (regardless of what some may tell you). Why do salaried public employees need merit pay? Lets tell the fire department --by voting no on the levy,--that we want changes at the fire department. They will put forth a more fiscally responsible revised 2nd or even 3rd levy, if needed, just like the school board did. And we will have a better Orcas Fire as a result.

  162. So the pro levy people say vote yes for the levy because its the same amount of money as the last levy, so that makes this good, right? So lets see: the last levy had money for salaries and operations and hundreds of thousands of dollars for capital funds for new fire houses and new fire trucks.....and now this levy for the same amount money only covers salaries and operations and by admission of the Commissioners has inadequate money for capital costs. Where is all that money that went for new stations and fire trucks going?? Hummm something about that doesn't make sense... Why would any thinking person think this is a good deal?

  163. The Chief originally proposed a $25,000 discretionary fund for his use? Wow. I want one too!

  164. There seems to be a fundamental misunderstanding about how things work around here.
    Randy Gaylord is in charge around here.
    Randy Gaylord decides what's legal around here.
    Randy Gaylord does all " sniff test" around here.
    Randy Gaylord gets his own sales tax ( safety tax) around here.
    Randy Gaylord gets his relative as fire chief around here.
    Randy Gaylord wants more money for his fire department around here. Guess what happens?
    Randy Gaylord is King, God ,and your momma around here.
    Don't like that ? Report him to his boss.
    Randy Gaylord has no boss around here. Or anywhere .
    That's what makes him King!
    Ok now you can go back to arguing about coffee money.

  165. Bad behavior has to be defeated one levy at a time. We gave Randy his levy out of fear....we believed him (instead of doing our own homework) when he threatened to cut service if we did not vote for his levy. Shame on us for just buying into the threat without thinking it through.

    Now his nephew Chief O'Brien is threatening to cut fire service if we don't vote for his levy. Its so easy to threaten people. We know there is lots of extra slosh in his budget...will we have the courage to say/vote NO?

    If not, we deserve the bad behavior we are currently getting.

  166. Did anyone even notice that Kari & crew chose to ignore this very basic post? Know why? Because lies were told and they cannot get out from under it. Since they refuse to answer here I suggest you ask your friends on the island who are pro levy to please address these questions:

    If nothing was wrong why would he wake up Preysz? Why didn't Delisle report it to the sheriff?
    Why didn't Delisle even have the courtesy to tell the owner of the vehicle (Paramedic Kiniski-who was awake and on duty at the station when they went
    to get the chain and again when they dropped the wrecked vehicle off behind the station) that he totaled his truck?
    Why was it necessary for Preysz to come to the station at 0300 to be the one to tell Kiniski that his truck was wrecked?
    Why was it Preysz trying to contact the on duty officer privately instead of reporting the accident per fire department protocols?
    Why wasn't Delisle checked out medically and made to sign a release? This was a significant impact! The truck was totaled and airbags deployed. We were all put at great risk by these shenanigans....
    Most importantly, how is it that the chief was allowed to say the accident was "minor" and no one was hurt when neither are true?
    These are all FACTS from the police report and 911 call--no innuendo, no rumors, no lies.
    Simple questions.

    Kari? Annalies? Anyone from OIFR?
    We are all STILL waiting.

  167. One thing is obvious, the more Kari writes the better it is for the vote no people.

  168. Midnight musing: what connection, if any, is there between the off-island CPA and O'Brien? Is O'Brien or any relative also a client of the CPA in any other capacity than the "official" so-called emergency relationship between OIFD and the CPA? If there is some other relationship, what is the billing nature of that relationship? It's just weird that the closest CPA who could handle this is so far away. No answers here, just more questions.


  169. Only one reason to pay an off island CPA and pay more, cook the books.
    Who does the OIFR PR work? I got a flyer in my Deer Harbor p.o box , "Join us For An Open House".
    Tour the newly completed fire station, meet Orcas fire members and learn about their operations, participate in an optional 5-minute hands-only CPR class? and ENJOY HOT DOGS, CHIPS, COOKIES and SODAS!
    Think the timing of this has anything to do with the levy vote? Thanks for the "free" refreshments to highlight your point of view.
    The contract to build the station was given to a off island company, the lowest bidder and then they hired one of your own to supervise the job. What was the connection on the person that got the landscaping job?
    It just finally got completed? So it must be known how much it ended up costing. Tell us, how much? Your CPA must have it at their fingertips.
    I feel the need to call 911 for EMS every year when I get my property tax bill and see how much goes to OIFR. Good way to boost your response calls.
    It is difficult for me to comprehend the lavish spending in certain areas when I am trying to basically survive.
    The "merit pay" thing just boggles my mind. Better add a emergency psychologist to the budget.

  170. OK so the scum is starting to rise to the top here finally. This is really starting to appear to be nothing more than about nepotism and the sense of entitlement that tends to accompany this kind of little backwater family mafia.

    O'Brien is Gaylord's nephew. You can follow the money but try following the family tree and see how the branches shake out.

    Of which cousin? On which side of the family? Any other patterns of favoritism out there?

    The nephew of Prosecuting Attorney for Life Randall Gaylord feels he can fix things up with the Sheriff's Department ... with impunity? Is that what this is really about?

    Seeking a $25,000 descretionary account is telling. Especially with an emergency mainland high priced accountant to help manage the books.

    Randy Gaylord simply must go. Along with the Friends of the San Juans, Gaylord is engineering the largest expansion of local police power in the county's history through his Critical Areas Ordinance abomination.

    The House of Gaylord is utterly out of control. That is what this is about. Vote out Gaylord and a lot of these other problems will go away on their own.

  171. Voting out elected officials will do nothing, we've done that.
    Until you get rid of the entrenched bureaucracy nothing will ever change.
    Wankers like the un-talented dolts the Hales and Glue horses like Pamela-I-give-myself-and- my-overpaid-do-nothing-boy-toy- awesome-pay-raises-Morais who all are not surprisingly bff's and sailing buddies all laughing it up as they cruise around on our paychecks.
    They will always baffle any elected with a stream of B.S. and veiled threats involving ecology and mythical "penalties".

  172. So, stay the course, the elected folks don't matter, is that what you are suggesting? No fooling. It must be more gratifying to complain.

  173. The CPA also does the books for the Renton Fire department where Kevin used to work, and Kevin knew him from there. Because Orcas was in the middle of doing the budget and the levy, and thus they needed someone quickly, apparently Kevin reached out to someone he was familiar with and who was experienced in doing fire books. Commissioners have said the CPA has made some helpful suggestions. But that said...have you tried to read the budget? A bunch of stuff is being shifted around to different categories...was it misplaced before? The budget is hard to read, but maybe that is the nature of the beast and I'm not experienced enough in reading budgets.

  174. @8:20
    Hmmm, what coud the public do directly to control the size and scope of bureaucracy, hmmm, let me rub your two brain cells together...Ah Ha! Got it, an initiative or referendum! They can be on ANYTHING, think of tangible public sponsored legislation that would limit the size and scope if the county need for clowncil.

  175. Budgets can be hard to read, even if structured properly. What really helps is a budget narrative, written in plain English that systematically goes through every major cost category and explains rationale, priorities and spending strategy. With that tool in hand, it is amazing how clear the numbers become.

    The public has a right to know, and budget obfuscation cannot be tolerated. For the money they are paying this accountant, there should be narrative descriptions being provided to nontechnical audiences such as commissioners and the general public.

    Does such documentation exist? No one in their right mind should vote for this levy unless and until the department explains the budget in simple written English. Period.

  176. @8:59 AM

    You are correct, almost. true the public has not effectively exercised its powers of initiative and referendum. Especially mini-initiatives. Also, you can't just do anything you want.

    Wouldn't be handy for the public to toss out the CAO by referendum an introduce a more sensible alternative by initiative?

    You will find out that long ago the courts said no. Such a shame.

    Here I get the sense that pushing for initiatives/referenda is sort of a nuclear option, there is kind of standoff between factions. Like, if our faction pushed for an initiative the other faction found intolerable they are going to fight ours and then push back with theirs and we'll have a big citizen initiative war like California. That's just my guess anyway.

  177. Orcas is going to be re-rated for fire protection this spring by WA Surveying & Ratings Bureau (WSRB)...for the first time since1988. This re-rating was postponed from last fall at the Chief's request because he was so busy with the budget and the levy figuring. The Chief believes our rating will be downgraded like two areas of San Juan Island were two years ago. According to the Chief, someone in the fire department in FH had his homeowners insurance go up $300/year. Hopefully that won't be our fate.

  178. Orcas Fire employs:

    - 4 Career Paramedics (One on duty 24 hours each day)
    - 1 Fire Chief/EMT
    - 1 Assistant Chief/Paramedic
    - 1 Safety Officer/EMT Responder
    - 1 Mechanic Responder
    - 1 Volunteer/HR/Public Education Coordinator (EMT Responder)
    - 1 Administrative Assistant (EMT Responder)

    Which of these staff positions should be eliminated? Which ones are "bloat" or "top heavy"? Which ones are overpaid?

  179. @9:02

    Would read the Orcas Fire budget and report back on if you think it is clear? There has been a lot of moving stuff around from category to category this year.

    One question: why is merit pay in a section called "extra help"?

  180. @9:33

    You neglect to mention the monies that have been going out for the CPA--it that because the Financial Officer position was moved last fall from being an official department position to someone on retainer and now is hourly....don't hourly people making $100/hour count? It is public money out the door. What about the new IT position for $75/hr? Doesn't that count in your numbers? IT is a new "position" ...

    Why do we have an assistant chief for $114K (including benefits) when we have never needed one before?

    Why do we have a new $40K plus (plus benefits) volunteer coordinator/confidential assistant to the Chief? The volunteer coordinator used to be a volunteer...what was wrong with that? Why does the Chief need a confidential assistant?

    "Mechanic/responder". He now has a negligent driving charge from an apparent drunk driving accident that he cleared and left the scene he legal to drive a fire vehicle/emergency vehicle with a negligent driving charge? Couldn't this be a liability for the department to have him driving?

  181. Omigod omigod omigod!!

    Your fire insurance rates will sky-rocket if you don't pass the levy! We will be forced to cut services! Babies and elderly widows will die! But even worse, your fire insurance rates will send you to the poor house!

    Omigod! Omigod! Omigod!


  182. @10:02
    Whether or not we pass the levy, if we do get down-graded in the re-rating we could see increases in our homeowners insurance just like the FH person did.l.

    Given all the money being spent on new salaries, why--until just recently--wasn't everyone available assigned to work on ratings criteria. to ensure we wont be downgrade?

  183. The distinction between what is fair use and what is infringement in a particular case will not always be clear or easily defined.

    FYI: There is no specific number of words, lines, or notes that may safely be taken without permission.

    Acknowledging the source of the copyrighted material does not substitute for obtaining permission.

  184. 10:25---What constitutes "copyrighted"?

  185. Truly hilarious that these simple questions cannot be answered. Why? Because the answers reveal a cover up that goes all the way to the top. Way to bring the island together Kevin!

    1) If nothing was wrong why would he wake up Preysz? Why didn't Delisle report it to the sheriff?

    2)Why didn't Delisle even have the courtesy to tell the owner of the vehicle (Paramedic Kiniski-who was awake and on duty at the station that he totaled his truck?
    3) Why was it necessary for Preysz to come to the station at 0300 to be the one to tell Kiniski that his truck was wrecked?
    4) Why was it Preysz trying to contact the on duty officer privately instead of reporting the accident per fire department protocols?
    5) Why wasn't Delisle checked out medically and made to sign a release? This was a significant impact! The truck was totaled and airbags deployed. We were all put at great risk by these shenanigans....

    6)How is it that the chief was allowed to say the accident was "minor" and no one was hurt when neither are true?
    These are all FACTS from the police report and 911 call--no innuendo, no rumors, no lies.
    Simple questions.

    Kari? Annalies? Anyone from OIFR?
    We are all STILL waiting.

  186. Myth #1: It's okay to use anything that doesn't have a copyright notice

    Myth #2: It's okay to use anything that's online, because if it's online, it's in the public domain and up for grabs.

  187. Well at least we've taken inapppropriate claims of plagiarism off the table. That is just silly.

    Personally I probably wouldn't copy and paste an article/letter from one place to another even if I did reference the link and attribute the author. Best to reference and attribute with a short quote to put the item in context. It's just a bit more erudite that way, and concise for the reader. But anyway, the issue here is one of fair use, as others have raised already.

    17 U.S.C. § 107

    Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 17 U.S.C. § 106 and 17 U.S.C. § 106A, the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright.

    So to summarize, the notion of plagiarism is nonsense and under the doctrine of fair use there has been no infringement of copyright under the laws. So, remain calm and go shopping.

    Can we get back to the simple questions on the table the Vote Yes crowd is ignoring?

  188. Its clear the pro-levy crowd will continue to ignore the issues of how the fire department is managed because they cannot refute the facts.

    So they will continue to try to keep public attention focused on emotional feelings and the volunteers (neither of which are germane to the question of whether the levy should be approved) and hope the public doesn't inquire about what the fire department is actually doing with our money and why they are ok with the lack of integrity re the accident.

  189.'s very clear we have to vote no on the levy if we want to see any change.

  190. I don't intend to be nasty but really, how much admin staff do you really need? Especially considering the size of the department and community. There is a small city size admin staffing going on there. Seriously? With two full time high paid administrators there needs to be yet another layer below that. Secretarial staff is a given but I think an agency can make the job as complex and bureaucratic as the dollar will allow. To me it looks like we have very high paid supervisors to the supervisors to the semi supervisors, etc. A serious look should happen on structure there because it should not cost that much to administer an agency of that size.

  191. At least we still have full faith in the integrity of our honorable Sheriff who works tirelessly to earn and maintain the trust and respect of the citizens. I'm sure this alleged drunk driving incident will be fully investigated.
    Oh wait, is sarcasm copyright protected?

  192. No problem, satire is fair use.

    So over the past few months we have witnessed a pretty wide spread abuse of discretion pattern in county law enforcement.

    Between pulling over a hay wagon of innocent children singing Christmas carols and threatening their families with deadly force? On the one hand. And on the other hand. The nephew of the Prosecuting Attorney feels he can game the Sheriff's department with impunity Because he can?

    And the entrenched Prosecuting Attorney is working over time and a half to lock these islands down with authoritarian regulations that expand local police powers far beyond anything in the history of these islands.

    Really? Really? Don't tell me our elected officials don't matter. Throw these yahoos and tin pots out before they throw us all under the bus.

  193. Anonymous, yeah, that oneMarch 28, 2014 at 5:16 PM

    At 8:30 am said: "The CPA also does the books for the Renton Fire department where Kevin used to work, and Kevin knew him from there. Because Orcas was in the middle of doing the budget and the levy, and thus they needed someone quickly, apparently Kevin reached out to someone he was familiar with and who was experienced in doing fire books. "

    I know that's the official story they've all agreed to tell, but Renton's auditor is the WA State Auditors office, so I'm not sure why a private CPA firm would be doing their books. Their story doesn't make sense.

    Again, I question whether there is some kind of quid pro quo going on between the CPA and O'Brien. The pro-levy people can get their knickers all wadded up as much as they want over the question even being asked, but after the non-DUI DUI incident, it's not like management can claim to be virgins on the ethically challenged front.

    O'Brien can disclose what the relationship is or affimatively state in an affidavit signed under penalties of perjury that no such relationship exists. Or more likely: he'll shine the whole thing on and rely on Uncle Randy to look the other way if things get tough.

  194. March 27, 11:40 am said: "Myth #1: It's okay to use anything that doesn't have a copyright notice

    Myth #2: It's okay to use anything that's online, because if it's online, it's in the public domain and up for grabs."

    If you're going to attack someone for a faux copyright infringement claim, I think it's probably not sporting to do it by
    wait for it
    "violating" someone else's copyright in exactly the same way you're accusing the first person of doing.

    Oh, the irony.

  195. "Isn't that special?"

    Oh, wait is Saturday Night Live going to sue me?

  196. Golly, it is so interesting to read about several dissections of copyright law while this distraction produces lost focus on what matters.

    Vote NO on the Orcas Levy. It is a no brainer, just like the one earlier on SJI.

    Listen to the audio on the Growth Management Board rulings as appealed by the Friends and CSA as made available by CSA. (This will be a commitment on your part, which I think you need to make.) (It took me three sittings!)

    In my view, it is clear from the attack plan of FOSJ, via Kyle Loring, their attorney, that these assholes are truly committed to turning the clock back, I mean WAY back, maybe 100 years.

    Being a good steward of the environment means nothing to these people. You get no points and you certainly get no respect for having cared about your land.

    They know what is best, and they will ram it down your throat.

    CSA Attorney Mackey does a good and formidable job of sorting through and citing all the garbage law involved here.

    What will shock you is the level of authoritarian control FOSJ is reaching for. THEY ARE CITING CONDITIONS OFF-SHORE AS REASONS LIMITING WHAT YOU CAN DO ON-SHORE, EVEN IF IT HAS NO IMPACT.

    These people will make shoreline property worthless.

    Time to pay attention people.

  197. @7:51

    "Listen to the audio on the Growth Management Board rulings as appealed by the Friends and CSA as made available by CSA. (This will be a commitment on your part, which I think you need to make.)"

    Any chance you can share a link to the audio?



  198. Sheesh, might as well make it 200.

    I think the people of this county are amazing; we are waking up and speaking up. It is working, people are listening and talking to their neighbors. There is hope, folks, keep it up!