Tuesday, April 1, 2014

County Flush With Cash

No, not an April Fool's joke, just an elementary deduction based on the raises the County Council is handing out.

When the Charter Amendments were being contemplated, one of the questions asked was, "Should a small rural county pay its County Administrator more than the Governor gets paid?" With the passage of the Charter Amendments and the hiring of Mike Thomas, that problem was fixed ... we only paid our new County Manager about as much as the Washington State Treasurer instead of the Governor. But apparently that's not enough because three weeks ago our Council gave Mike Thomas a 7% raise, about half of it retroactive to the beginning of the year (see image at the bottom of this post). That now makes our County Manager more highly paid than anyone in State government except for the Attorney General and the Governor.

And speaking of fiscal responsibility, wouldn't it be nice if someone ... anyone ... involved in the financial chaos of our county public institutions finally spoke up and admitted the faults that are so plain to outsiders?

Meet Bill Evans of Lopez who has been serving as the Lopez/Decatur Superintendent of Schools. Last year, the Lopez School District tried to get voter approval for a $15.5 million bond measure to renovate the Lopez school campus. The bond measure got crushed at the polls, and during the election campaign, the school board received howls of criticism for being financially irresponsible. At the next election, a slate of financial reform candidates ran for office ... but paradoxically, they lost. The "bond board" stayed in office.

In the past few days, the Lopez School Board announced the resignation of Bill Evans. Below is the text of Bill Evans' resignation letter. It's a doozy, but I hope it inspires other public servants to be honest with the public. 

Thanks, Bill, for doing the right thing.
The District has suffered some unfortunate shortcomings of late in our human resources and financial oversight functions, involving potentially significant negative impact upon financial, management, and other resources. IRS reports and required fund deposits were not made in a timely manner, employee records have not been kept accurate, and payroll and benefits calculations have not been consistently accurate. The late IRS reports and deposits have resulted in potentially serious fines and penalties. The inaccuracy of personnel records has resulted in significant inconvenience and financial impact to individual employees. We have incurred significant consultant costs in attending to the problems we have discovered.

We have diligently and conscientiously attended to each negative issue as immediately as possible upon discovery. I am very impressed with the efforts of our current District Office staff and consultants in these efforts. We are moving forward with appropriate interventions and strategies to mitigate the negative effects of all of this, including aggressively appealing to the IRS for possible abatement of the fines and penalties.

Throughout my career as an educational leader I have tried to lead with integrity and an allegiance to an ethic of service. A cornerstone of that ethic of service is the conviction that I am ultimately responsible to the organization for its sustainability and continued growth. The buck does, indeed, stop with me. I am deeply sorry that these shortcomings have happened to the District on my watch and I accept responsibilities for them.

It is clear that the part-time model for the District Office that we have tried hard to implement, is not working as effectively as we have needed. We need to look at other options. We are currently aggressively exploring the idea of outsourcing appropriate elements of our financial requirements to experienced personnel and resources at one of the several ESD’s that have such technical services to provide. We are also looking at a different model of District leadership. In the face of ever-increasing demands of bureaucratic accountability and state and federal mandates, some serious decisions will need to be made about how to efficiently provide the management support this organization absolutely needs, while also striving to maximize resources to focus upon the academic side of the equation. It is clear that we must find the right service model for our District Office, to avoid future issues such as this.

To support full consideration of multiple options for a new model of leadership, and to provide flexibility to implement appropriate options, I have adjusted my long-term retirement plans and I am recommending to the Board that you accept my resignation from the District, as soon into SY 2014-15 as it takes to successfully hire and transition to a new Superintendent. It is the right thing to do for the District. By my stepping aside, the District will have an opportunity to seek new leadership, with a different skill set than I have to offer. We need a Superintendent whose skills include a high degree of financial savvy, to complement the outsourcing of financial services and provide the necessary oversight of that outsourcing. I pledge my full energies, for as many months as it takes into SY 2014-15, toward assisting in the transition and the restructuring and rebuilding of the District Office. It is my strong recommendation that we initiate posting for a new Superintendent/Finance Director position as soon as possible within the next few weeks.

I take responsibility for the current shortcomings and very much regret their happening on my watch. I believe my recommendations represent a positive action plan toward a preferred future. I recommend serious consideration of these recommendations and I hold great optimism for the opportunities afforded the District by these recommendations.

Thank you.


  1. Wow. Bravo to Bill Evans.

    Conservation District? OIFR? County Council? Port of Friday Harbor?

    Anyone? Anyone? You're next. Step right up

  2. Orcas. Are you paying attention?

  3. And today, Rick Hughes took a principled stand on a serious issue, putting his overwhelming support behind meaningful legislation designed to benefit islanders, not special interest groups. These actions clearly demonstrated a toughness, fortitude and dedication that we all hoped to see once elected. Finally!
    (Sorry. Check the calendar).

  4. Don't forget OPALCO. Seen the letters in the Guardian? OPALCO is a train wreck also. They just hide it better.


  5. I got a phone message on Orcas from the OIFR to vote yes on the levy. Working the phones, whatever it takes.

    Thats right...count on it, why? Well, you cant expect Mr. Thomas to live on 100k + per year, he needs 250k...

  7. This is absurd. Guy makes over 100k and wants more? The county workers I know get small increases, annually. I guess if you are the chief, it has it's privileges. Must be nice.
    I see that all 3 of the clowncil voted for it.
    Here's the question. How did it even get brought up for a vote?
    In the midst of all the other legislation going on, all the to doings, they just decided, let's give this guy who hasn't even been here a year a 7% raise.
    That is probably close to 10k a year more.
    I think the CRC should have looked at codifying a salary cap.

  8. Thomas was hired at $120k a year. This will boost his salary to $128.4k when it goes into complete effect.

  9. What troubles me most is the vote on Lopez.

    Without doubt they rejected a ridiculous school bond issue, but then KEPT the very people who put it forward. This worries me because I sense there is something else going on here. What is it?

    Is this what I fear the most? Public employees able to easily outvote the rest of us?

    The truth is the only really good jobs here in these islands are public employee jobs.

    Maybe the Lopez school District employees got their buddies across the rest of the island to vote for the known, easy to chart, board members.

    A new board was more a threat than any bond loss.

  10. The County employees are PISSED, this is insulting in the mosy OBSCENE way, so many of us took furloughs and were laid off-not ONE over-paid manager was laid off...not one, and here Thomas gets a huge raise...a guy making $120,000? Why did the union endorse Hughes and Jarman?

  11. $10,000 per month...in a county of about 15,000 that's what, .75-$1 frome every single man woman and child in the county, well you are fucking welcome, guess my family doesn't need it you greedy sorry son of a bitch, what the hell is going on around here?

  12. Everything is always about giving more money
    to the top guys. How can
    they justify a raise of 7% and the person has not
    been there for a year ?

    And following the levy for the fire department on Orcas,they are calling people at home
    and telling them that
    fire stations will be
    shut down if the levy
    fails, there is only one
    station opened right now
    on a full time basis.
    Cutting excessive staff
    and salaries is the way
    to go !


  13. Yikes, idiocracy in action.

    Where is the reset button?

  14. @10:40
    Sorry, but we pushed the reset button already. It didn't work. We got the likes of princess Hughes. Disappointment.

    The only thing I can see that would really get their attention, and it would take a very, very concerted effort to pull off. the opportunity would be only 2x per year to do it.
    Gather enough property owners that are willing to pay a small fee, and simply withhold property tax payment for 60 days.
    If we could somehow mobilize 1/4 of the landowners to do this, it would probably have a noticeable impact.
    Otherwise, we are left with mini-initiatives.
    Voting for different people sure didn't work too well.

  15. They passed the CAO and inflicted a huge financial hit on all taxpayers, and then they reward themselves. Cut the tax base and discourage businesses that pay taxes while increasing public salaries. No. Sense. Get. Rid. Of. All. Of. Them.

  16. How do we stop this nonsense? I'm looking for fresh ideas. Anyone? Anyone?

  17. Here's an idea.
    An initiative that caps county management pay to 1.75 x the average hourly rate of all hourly wage earners in the county - currently it is about $20/hour.
    Manager? Want a pay raise? create an efficient work place, and support policies that will increase the standard of living for all county residents.
    Probably dissuade most of them from being active supporters of the FOSJ too.

  18. Here's an initiative ...

    "The San Juan County Budget Priorities and Control Ordinance"

    Of course it would require some active management and we know we would rather rant than actually organize and do something

    Plus to implement this kind of ordinance would require a new position, a Fiscal Control Officer, at about $130,000 a year or so. That would rein them in, ya shore ya betcha

  19. The Is Guardian photo of OF Chief OBrien side by side with Senator Wanker should tell everyone all they need to know.

  20. Our county government's ability to hide the ball should be made into a "How To" book for every corrupt and money-grabbing polictician EVERYWHERE. We could actually MAKE some money selling it. And, apparently, no one wants to get their hands dirty cleaning house! Seems as if every candidate who enters the election race with their "new" and "transparent" agenda gets sucked into the county corruption and "buy my vote" machine. Bob Jarman, I thought you were going to be "different." What the hell happened??? Are you actually a Good Ole Boy who spends your supporters' hard-earned money giving raise to over-paid people? Too late now. You let us down. We knew the rest of them would, but you...you, Bob? Why? We really need you to explain yourself here...we trusted you.

  21. Did anyone consider that maybe Thomas deserves this pay increase? You have heard of combat pay and hazard pay right?
    What about dumbass pay?
    Working with this council. Listening to Kyle the bed wetter drone on. Constant bombardment by staff with immeasurable bullshit.
    When I think about it, he might be underpaid.

  22. I could not be more depressed about this guy Jarman.

    I mean Patty Miller really was a surprise to me, but Jarman has blown by her psychotic ineptitude like a fast freight.

    Explanation for either one of them? There ain't any.

    But we need to ask some really nasty and direct questions of any person running for an elected office. (OPALCO is coming up.)

    PS: The latest David Dehlendorf missive(WHY does the Journal publish this shit?) can only be called; pathetic.

    Hello David! Brien Ehrmantraut likely joined the Board at CSA, because he has a brain that works. The ability to think clearly should be valued by any board or commission membership.

    AND, not that long ago your FOSJ ninja occupied damn near every power position in the County. I don't recall you whining back then.

  23. could you link the Dehlendorf thing?

  24. It's not in their online edition. It's on page 7 of their "green edition."


  25. Is there any reason that the County does not support a county-wide school district? I mean, why have three superintendents, three high school principals, and three grade school principals for what amounts to a handful of kids? We could maintain our existing facilities but at least get rid of the excess superintendents. Maybe then we could spend the money on schools and teachers.

  26. Don't forget that the Charter Commission people stated from the outset that the fact that we were paying three councilmen full time $75,000 per years PLUS benefits meant that we could afford to pay only $75,000 a year for the "manager,"who would be doing much less than the infamous Pete Rose. But then thy went and hired someone who seemingly has never had a job in the real world, where people compete and have to justify their existence to get paid. He is a full time cheerleader for County management. He sets and carries out the agenda and our three councilmen take home the pay while doing nothing of substance--lots of trips to Olympia and meetings of meaningless committees, but nothing about the nuts and bolts of government.

  27. The County is counting on a new levy lid this year. It's been in the works since our temporary administrator conducted the Community Conversation farce--it was part of the plan to support a levy lift this year. Somehow they attended those meeting s and heard: "Please spend more of our tax money."

  28. Bill Evans is a great leader and his honesty and recommendations ought to be listened to. Lopez and all the islands need to stop being blinded new projects.

    There is obviously no accountability in this or the other operations like OPALCO, the Conservation District, the Madrona Institute, and all the crazy non-profits that love to partner with state, county and federal agencies. Lots of do-gooders with little knowledge but to line the nest with funding from people who work.