Friday, February 27, 2015

If a Tree Falls In a Wood, And the Committee Can't Remember It ...

In several previous posts, the Trojan Heron has covered CAPR's lawsuit about the Open Public Meetings Act (OPMA). This lawsuit has to do with the alleged secret meetings of the former CAO Implementation Committee, which was comprised of County staff (including a Deputy Prosecutor) and three former Council people. The committee was formed to help shuffle the CAOs along, which are the subject of a separate lawsuit involving the County, the Friends, and the Common Sense Alliance.

Regarding the OPMA and the CAPR lawsuit ... the closed meetings of the CAO Implementation Committee took place regularly for months. CAPR's position is that these meetings should have been open to the public, according to the OPMA, because the committee took action on behalf of the Council in reviewing and discarding CAO options ... and because the committee involved a negative quorum of Council members (three members being sufficient to vote down a proposal).

The County alleges that no actions were taken in these meetings ... nothing happened. There were hundreds of hours of meetings, and nothing substantive occurred. They invited in consultants and staff, but only discussed ministerial functions such as scheduling. There are no meeting minutes, only some hand scribbled notes in addition to emails between staff and committee members. When deposed about the content of the meetings, participants could not recall what they discussed. 
  • Lovel Pratt was deposed on January 3, 2013, and she expressed 67 denials of knowledge (63 "I don't recall", 4 "I don't know")
  • Richard Fralick was deposed on January 3, 2013, and he expressed 22 denials (21 "I don't recall", 1 "I don't know")
  • Patty Miller was deposed on January 4, 2013, and she expressed 63 denials (51 "I don't recall", 12 "I don't know")
  • Shireene Hale was deposed on January 17, 2013, and she expressed 100 denials (52 "I don't recall", 31 "I don't know", 17 "I just don't have a specific recollection")
Despite all this "nothing" going on, in a January 2013 Council meeting, the Council spent time in one of their non-secret meetings congratulating themselves on the work they got done in committees and subcommittees. Councilman Stephens even referred to the CAOs directly. Pratt said that she could hardly remember any Council votes where subcommittees didn't get their way.

Yesterday, this case finally reached the Washington Supreme Court. Oral arguments were heard. A ruling is still several weeks away. The justices were very engaged and asked good questions yesterday. Several seemed skeptical that the County could spend so much time in secret doing nothing.

They aren't the only ones.




106 comments:

  1. Shireene Hale was afraid of public meetings. She couldn't remember what happened in private meetings, and she didn't understand her final work product in the end either.

    Tell me again what we're getting for our tax money?

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  2. At least Gibboney and Kuller do nothing in public, and are proud of it.

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  3. Really? After 6 years, a few elections, the complete voter rebuking of Pratt, the long overdue dismissal of Hale, and the damage they inflicted on this county resurfaces. They are gone but not done damaging things.

    Well, if the county loses this one, they can just raise building permit fees to pay for the costs? Right? That's legal isn't it?

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  4. Amy Vira's logic is utterly preposterous. To agree with her, you have to agree that the committee met for literally hundreds and hundreds of hours over the course of many many months and their SOLE work product was appointments on the council's calendar.

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    1. Lovel. Patti. Fralick. Shireene. DOE folks.
      It's not out of the realm of possibility that they did nothing for hundreds of hours.

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    2. Yes but they could have done nothing in plain view as they usually did. No need to have secret meetings to do nothing. It's a paradox. If you did nothing, then why the secrecy?

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    3. Hard for me to believe they talked about scheduling and there were no notes. I don't know about you, but when I used to have scheduling meetings, I took copious notes. I couldn't keep track of things otherwise. Then there were follow up emails with assignments and checking on people. Schedules on MS project sometimes. I don't know how it is possible to have coordination and scheduling meetings and not have corresponding coordination and scheduling notes or action items in evidence.

      Vira's argument is that the plaintiff has no support for their allegations about deliberations, even after lengthy discovery. I am surprised that no on has pointed out that she is in the same position. There is no support for Vira's position that coordination and scheduling took place. If we accept Vira's argument that "if there is no documentation, it didn't happen" then coordination and scheduling didn't happen either.

      So what did they do? Vira's position suffers from the same weakness she alleges of CAPR.

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  5. That's correct, except remember they had county legal staff at these gatherings I'm sure Jon Cain was just there to make certain they did just nothing. Otherwise I'm certain they would have allowed the public through the door. Gee why didn't anyone invite Jon Cain to clear this whole thing up?

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  6. Maybe because Jon has an honest bone in his body.

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  7. Jon Cain must be in the witness protection program or something because he's been scarce. Once this thing broke, he's nowhere. Notice too that Vira made the arguments and had to answer for Gaylord's memo, not Gaylord sitting right behind her.

    What do you call a Deputy Prosecutor? Answer - sacrificial lamb.

    Remember to protect the boss. Prime directive.

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  8. True, We do go through a lot of lamb here!

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  9. It would be interesting to take a pick and shovel inside this place, nothing would surprise me about what you might find. Wouldn't be pretty!

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  10. Where were the CAPR, CSA, Trust Islanders when Jenny Rice and her brother were getting screwed by the county? Seems like a clear cut pro-business property rights issue to me. Nobody spoke up?

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    1. Then you didn't understand the case. It was a clear cut easement property rights issue to the judge and almost everyone else who examined the facts in the case. The Rice's were trying to weaken property rights, not defend them. Not surprising that "nobody" fell for it.

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  11. agreed!, must have missed that where is the video?

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    1. Unfortunately, lots of people have been screwed by the county. There are more stories than can possibly be told. Yes, the Rice case involved many of the same issues that we always see with the county, wrapped in the context of pot.

      The opposite can also be said. Where were the Rice's and their advocates when the CAO was being debated? Where were they when Helen King was attacked by the Friends and county for wanting to sell her B&B? Where were they when the Honeywells were fined $80k for clearing brush?

      It is the nature of property rights that nobody cares about them until their own ox is gored. For years, some people and organizations (like the ones you mention) have been opposing the job-killing, life-destroying system of oppressive regulation with its accompanying attachment points for every imaginable complaint by anyone with an axe to grind.

      There was no special vendetta against pot. The normal vendetta that exists against every business and homeowner in San Juan County was enough to kill it. It was a mistake to think that it would be any easier for pot than for any other business. If you were asleep or complicit, or maybe supportive, in the construction of a system that destroys people's dreams, don't be surprised if it ends up destroying yours.

      The point is to change the system, and many have been trying to do that for a long time. Instead of complaining that you didn't get your way, maybe you should look at why you didn't get your way. Or why you thought it would be easier for you than for anyone else.

      During the time that the Rice situation took place, how many other island businesses went under? By my own anecdotal account, it was several. From the Doctor's Office to the Scurvy Dog. You don't hear about them either, but their lives matter just as much as yours, and maybe if you'd been participating and paying attention for all these years, their outcome would have been different too.

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    2. Very well said.

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  12. Was this about some harm to a property owner a neighbor or just good old county government incompetence.

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  13. The CAPR case is more than government incompetence. It is deceit and not consistent with the spirit of the law.
    We, the people of the State of Washington, grateful to the Supreme Ruler of the Universe for our liberties, do ordain this constitution.


    ARTICLE I
    DECLARATION OF RIGHTS


    SECTION 1 POLITICAL POWER. All political power is inherent in the people, and governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, and are established to protect and maintain individual rights.

    Just a short snip from the Washington Constitution.
    What is it that these government workers and politicians don't understand?

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  14. Oh, never mind, I see there is no legal access for this conduct. It never should have gone in in the first place. Best she can hope for is a big single family farm unless there is a legal means of access. This isn't defensible.

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  15. How is the growing of marijuana not agriculture?
    And there is a legitimate point in asking where were CAPR and CSA on this issue?
    The Rice's were screwed by the same oppressive governmental regulations CAPR & CSA complain about, their silence is deafening.

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    1. before you go there, there is the absence of legal access in this case, and defense of the property rights of another. Beyond that damn right there will be support. We are island neighbors.

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    2. You'll have to head down to Olympia or ask Ranker about that one. The state made the law classifying it as industrial. Talk about deafening silence, where is dear Ranker?

      CAPR and CSA didn't make those laws so don't try to transfer blame, while the people who actually did the dirty deed get off scot free. You are throwing out red herrings. You got a problem with a law? ... complain to your representative and stop whining that CAPR and CSA didn't fight every little one of your fights for you. Do something yourself.

      As a previous poster mentioned, did CSA or CAPR take positions on Helen King? I think they take positions on policies not individual cases. Individuals associated with CSA or CAPR might get involved in helping individuals, but the organizations focus on policy.

      As for your deafening silence, stop whining and do something yourself. Fight your own battles or if you feel CSA or CAPR should be involved, then make your case to them. No one has. You just complain, and you complain about the people fighting against the same things you want to fight against instead of the people who created the situation.

      Your whining and transference is deafening.

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    3. Yes, as the reply post says, there were property rights on both sides of the Rice case. Side with the Rice's and you are weakening easement rights. Side against the Rice's and you are siding against the rights of people to use their property however you wish. It is not straightforward.

      If the legal access issue weren't there, it would be a different.

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    4. "The Rice's were screwed by the same oppressive governmental regulations CAPR & CSA complain about, their silence is deafening."

      I don't recall hearing about the Rices contributing time, money or support to the fight against the CAO that CSA/CAPR has been waging. For that matter, all of the pro-weed weenies who are busy writing letters to the editor about the Rices were conspicuously silent during the CAO process. And I don't recall seeing many letters of support from the pro-weed crowd as to the MarVista cockup last year. My point being that the pro-weed stoners seem content to sit on the sidelines about property rights except when it's their particular ox being gored.

      As noted elsewhere in the comments here, the suit against the Rices was hornbook law - I'm surprised summary judgment wasn't granted in favor of the plaintiffs before trial. I think the legal term for the Rices having pursued putting an industrial use (or agricultural, take your pick) on a piece of property where they only had access for residential use is "fucking stupid". That the use is pot production doesn't make them not fucking stupid. Rather than educate themselves about how property law works, every pro-weed person in the county appears to have been awarded a law degree with their internet service.

      A few other thoughts:
      a) as noted elsewhere - the determination that growing weed is not an agricultural activity but an industrial one was determined by the language of the initiative and the regulations issued by the STATE - SJC doesn't get to decide.
      b) there have been three court cases so far about counties and municipalities adding their own additional restrictions about weed activities and in EACH case the courts have determined that municipalities and counties have EVERY right to add their own additional restrictions as to zoning, size, etc. on top of the state statute.
      c) No one except stoners care that SJC had the highest vote percentage for the initiative - in every legal and government sense, no one gives a shit. Award yourself a little weed leaf embroidered patch though if you want.
      d) CAPR/CSA have expended hundreds of thousands of dollars pursuing legal action trying to fix the CAO mess. And they're not done - probably tens of thousands of more dollars will be spent. If the pro-weed constituency is so large and so butt-hurt over what's happened to the Rices and about greenhouses in general, go ahead and start (and fund) your own organization to do battle with the state. CAPR/CSA has chosen their own battle, they're not under any obligation to fund your hazy Don Quixote quest.

      The sad truth is that even if you want to start a farm that raises unicorns that poop gold coins, zoning and other peoples' property rights are all still in effect.

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  16. I'm not real clear about a previous post comment. It referenced "David and Jenny Rice were screwed by the county".
    Not sure the county "screwed" them.
    They didn't have a legal easement. They knew this. They thought they could plow ahead and deal with this down the road.
    The neighbours a didn't want this nearby. In fact, the neighbors had put in an easement decades ago to control and limit the activity.
    Jenny knew this when she bought it.
    Do I agree with the neighbors tactics? No. Are the Rices just an innocent party? No.
    I think CAPR should be given Kudos for taking this fight all this way, at great expense, to expose the CAO fraud that was placed on all of us.

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  17. Anyone have a list or remember what "consultants" were at these secret "gatherings"/meetings.

    I'm seeing the name "Parametrix" surface in some other contexts and wondered if they were involved.

    It is patently absurd that they want us to believe that people from the DOE and outside paid consultant groups traveled to the islands to just pencil a few things in on the calendar.
    It's really insulting when you think about it.

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  18. Is Jaime the only sitting council critter who was involved in this fiasco?

    Yes, the silence of CSA and CAPR over the Rice affair is significant. There are old guard NIMBY's in that crew as much as there are in the FOSJ. This is case of common interests leading all three outfits to keep real quiet during all this. And part of the old guard still doesn't get that the war against dirty slacker hippies is long over. Pot went mainstream decades ago for good reason. For some other reason, the old guard will just not move on.

    What we have here is a Byzantine clump of malevolent regulations that anyone can use to destroy anyone else's dreams around here. We know how the Friends work this. We didn't know the anti-pot geriatric ward within the other groups were willing to toss principle out the window and do the same thing.

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    1. Agreed! now lets change it! We need to work together!

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    2. I don't think people have any idea the thousands of hours of volunteer time that go into CAPR and CSA and how exhausting it is to fight against the well-funded Friends and the "Byzantine clump of malevolent regulations" and the regular screw ups by the county and the active ineptitude of the council and Ecology. It's exhausting and the deafening silence you hear might just be exhaustion and lack of resources.

      Instead of kicking CSA and CAPR, you might help them if you think they could be an ally.

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    3. No no - the other anonymous.February 28, 2015 at 10:25 AM

      "Instead of kicking CSA and CAPR, you might help them if you think they could be an ally."

      That would require putting the bag of cheetos down and getting off the couch.

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    4. I'm a pot supporter and a property rights supporter. I may be in a minority of one. I think it is a serious mistake for the pro pot/Rice side to complain about "deafening silence" when they/we have been deafening silent about EVERY OTHER issue of interest to CAPR/CSA. The "deafening silence" meme is a loser and is about the most hypocritical phrases I've heard from anyone other than the Friends. You can't expect people to jump to your aid if you have done nothing for them forever.

      As Yogi Berra used to say, "Always go to other people's funerals, otherwise they won't come to yours."

      If you don't like Yogi, you can go with "Dig your well before you're thirsty."

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  19. Here's the truth about pot. Plenty in the old guard property rights camp who don't like pot or potheads. Plenty in the pot camp who are facing government bureaucracy for the first time and are appalled, shocked, and hurt. Each side has common ground, but each side has to vent at one another for a while and get it all out. More in common than differences. Not going to be easy, but each side should look to the other as an ally while being honest about their differences. They won't always see the same situation the same way. Don't think there was any way the Rice fiasco was ever going to be seen the same way because of the easement issues, but that doesn't mean that the property rights people don't see the county as having screwed up royally in dealing with the Rice's.

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    1. It would be helpful then for all of use to encourage all three local land use groups to put together their own press releases and stake a public position on the Rice affair. The Friends, CSA and CAPR. Perhaps volunteer burnout is a factor. But given the energy it takes to pursue court cases and keep the public informed about the issues at stake, it doesn't seem to hard to take public positions as the local collateral damage continues to destroy what is left of our communities.

      By the way, this reply feature of the updated TH is terrific!

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    2. Agreed. Had the council been on board and ahead (you mean like LEADERS...wow) of the pot growing permit process the issue of how and where you could have a pot farm would have MAYBE been resolved.

      The crushing blow for me in listening to the justices is where one justice asks Vera what difference a finding of County violation of the open meeting act would have on the resulting CAO, and Vera seems to get agreement from the justice in saying "NONE." The reasoning was that there were so many PUBLIC meetings after all the closed door ones that the resulting command for public meetings would still have been met. OUCH!

      Missing from the CAPR argument was just as the justices hear each other and learn the thought process each has, then so too it was in these "gatherings." Pratt became the boss and that was that. By the time the public meetings got going the die was cast and the damage was done.

      Also agree about Cain. His sole purpose in being there was to use the veil of "conferring with legal counsel" in a private meeting. Also, it should be noted that Cain did not seem to relish this situation one bit.

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  20. Those complaining about CSA and CAPR "silence" on this issue perhaps are just upset that the money they donated isn't being well spent.
    Oh wait. Oh you didn't donate. Oh. Ok. Thanks for clearing that up.

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  21. It's always helpful to follow the money in situations like these. There may be significant donors to these groups (though not the same folks) who wanted things kept quiet on this one. Not really a matter of who did not donate or could not, but rather who did, in significant amounts. It's hard to say.

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    1. Only the Friends run on money. CSA and CAPR run mostly on volunteer time. If there was a perceived lack of a response on this case, or any other case, it means the CAPR/CSA volunteers are tapped out and/or couldn't spare time in their already overloaded schedules to help complainants with a weak case who hadn't paid them the time of day before this and won't pay them the time of day after it either. The Friends didn't help because they didn't get paid. CSA and CAPR are different. They aren't willing to be exploited or bullied into helping people who really don't care about them, their mission, or anyone else.

      Virtually no one in the pot camp cares about property rights or being over-governmented. They care about pot. If pot got a free ride and everyone else in the world were crushed by regulation, that would be just fine. I suspect that would not be fine with CAPR and CSA.

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  22. Could the TH post a link to the actual court complaint?
    The justices discussed remedies and asked Vira if this would invalidate the CAOs.
    Anyone have specifics on requested judicial relief?
    Also, if the court agrees with CAPR and these meetings were not legal, but the court doesn't go as far as invalidating the CAOs, is that also the final word on CAO, or does it give other pending litigation a decision they can cite?
    Thanks.

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    1. You can do a google search on "Washington State Supreme Court 90500-2" ... which is the case number. That will provide links to the briefings.

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    2. The CAOs are the subject of a separate lawsuit by the Friends and CSA against the county. The ruling on OPMA won't directly relate to the other lawsuit, but it may become a material fact in that case. If the Supreme Court rules against CAPR, the CSA lawsuit against the County will continue on its own (separate) merits. However, if the Supreme Court rules in favor or CAPR, that would bolster some of CSA's arguments perhaps.

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  23. I'd think the Court would have to take up the question as to whether the conduct of this committee could be reasonably seen as tainting the public participation process and that such taint was incurable because the public cannot ever discover what in fact took place or did not. I think at least two of the judges seemed pretty skeptical. Not sure if all judges spoke or asked questions. Don't think the chief justice did. The new fellow from Bainbridge certainly showed his hand (Wiggins?) You should check out his campaign donors. He is the one who beat Richard Sanders. I think I know how Sanders might have weighed in on this ...

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    1. Which one is Wiggins (?) Was he the baldish man? Who seemed a little on the side of the county w/out cause?

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  24. As you say, the Court would "have to take up the question....".
    Is that something they can just do, or does a case need to bring it before them? or would CAPR have to file a new suit in a lower court to reverse the CAOs?

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    1. I think at that level they can pursue any related angle they choose. OPMA is to liberally construed by legislative intent. That gives the Court wide latitude to address the public interest. Unlike the lower courts.

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  25. I don't mind saying I'm pro pot. I am not a pothead , a weedy, a hippie or any of the foolish names generated above. I am a pro property rights anti government bullying citizen of this county. I will say I would certainly take up the property rights defence on that access before I would defend another's right to trespass against another. It's that simple. And unless we begin to stand together on the things we will very soon not have any go rights left.

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  26. Government hacks at every level will quash all resistance.
    At every level you will run into a big gov baby nursing on the teet of taxpayer money and they protect their own.
    John Geniuch tried to expose them and look what happened.
    Resistance is futile.
    You shall be assimilated.



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  27. Does anyone think that if the facts were identical except the Rices were putting in a greenhouse to grow orchids that the stoner community would have roused themselves from their slumber to get all uppity about "property rights"? My guess is that San Juan Sungrown Orchids LLC would've just sunk beneath a tide of "don't have time to give a shit" on the part of the pro-pot people.

    And it's interesting that the Rice supporters somehow fault the Friends for not supporting the Rices. C'mon - the FOSJ are, unfortunately, the most focused, the most militant and the best funded special interest group in the San Juans. And they actively oppose personal property rights - their end game depends on being able to tell everyone what to do with their property - namely: let it go fallow and return the San Juans to what they were 1,000 years ago. The FOSJ don't want a pot farm going on the county any more than they want any other activity that generates human activity of any kind, much less middle class jobs. Their goal is de-growth and de-population - if that has to be accomplished via trickle-down poverty, so be it. Anyone who thinks otherwise hasn't been paying attention.

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    1. Excellent! I'm sorry to see all this attention to the Rice's pot farm. They screwed up, big time. You can't build commercial in residential zones, game over, end subject. Nobody was being mean to you, you were just not being very smart.

      The matter at hand is are these obviously smart justices...(these folks know lies when they seem em) going to not only crush San Juan County for the blatant violations of the open meeting act, but will they also, pardon me ladies, have the balls to throw out the resulting CAO.

      PS: I think I might qualify as a "donor." Maybe only $500 to CAPR, but $4,500 to CSA, and $1,800 to Brian. Also I built the locked door Pratt sign the Open window sign for Brian and the NO gear heads sign on the way to Cattle Point.

      NOW, I know you pot supporters are willing to put in a similar effort. Hey, why not?

      YES, we need year round well paying jobs, not tourism, but I'm not sure pot farming would be a good choice. I'm certainly willing to give it a try. Anything at this point!

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    2. You would qualify as one of my heroes

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  28. Commercial agriculture AKA farming and what it is or is not is the issue. And can anyone confirm or not whether any of the opposing neighbors were/are running business on their residential lots. There is probably more to this story to be told. Juxtaposed with the CAO/CAPR case at the Supremes is kind of interesting.

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    1. There really isn't any conspiracy, and farming IS the issue. The road does not allow for anything but access for a single family dwelling. I don't know if someone else is violating the easement too, but even if that were happening, that's not a defense. They could be shut down also. If you are bitter enough about the ruling, you can do unto others and stop them too. That would be typical for this community, but it wouldn't change anything for the Rices, but it would spread more misery.

      Probably better to add that farming would be the issue if marijuana growing were farming, but the state declared marijuana growing to be an industrial activity. First time I heard that, I thought it was the craziest thing I'd ever heard, but that's your government for you. The easement does not allow access for agriculture or industrial activity. Nothing more than that.

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    2. Seriously, this access road/easement ran, basically, right through family yards. Was it 16 or 19 "full time employees" (during the slow part of the growing season) working there. Really. Think about it! How many vehicles going through each day and how many times. That's the problem. Nothing to do w/pot as far as I can see. If it hadn't affected them VERY personally...they would not have raised a finger. But it DID affect them personally and anyone else would have reacted the same way unless they were bribed w/a percentage of what it seems might have been high profits. But greed has it's price. Or...maybe money couldn't buy them! Interesting to ponder on.....

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  29. @ 6:21
    The real question is if it was Orchids LLC would the Nolan's give a crap, answer is no.
    And to answer the other post, I believe Mr. Noland runs his business out of his house.
    But in this county hating on your neighbor trumps ethics.

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    1. I used to have a general manager who would tell me, "If you knowingly put yourself in a vulnerable position, you're an idiot."

      If your business depends on ingress-egress and you don't have that nailed down, even if others are as in as vulnerable position as you are, then you are being foolish with your business strategy. You can't depend on the "I was only behaving as illegally as my neighbor" defense. Not with much success.

      Anyone who has lived in SJC for any length of time should know by now that hunting and killing your neighbors hopes and dreams is an island tradition. Lynn Bahrych perfected that tradition to a high art form. Don't you understand that we do it because we are "protecting" this special place.

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    2. "If your business depends on ingress-egress and you don't have that nailed down, even if others are as in as vulnerable position as you are, then you are being foolish with your business strategy."

      Exactly. The second best advice my grandfather gave me was "Don't be a dumbass." Knowing you rely on an easement for access to your property and knowingly violating the easement falls well over the "dumbass" line.

      The best advice my grandfather gave me was: "There are two things the men in this family never pay for. One of them is parking."

      As far as the comment that if it were Orchids LLC the Nolans wouldn't give a crap - we'll never know. Maybe the Nolans are allergic to orchids. Maybe they would have hated the noise associated with the one or two delivery trucks a day coming by to pick up the orchids. And on and one with what ifs - it all comes back to the point above: if your business depends on ingress-egress provided solely by an easement from your neighbor, you'd damn well better make sure you're following the language in the easement to the letter before you spend any money starting the business.

      Coulda woulda shoulda - the pro-weed community will find 99 reasons why they're being discriminated against. In reality, the Rices appear to be just bad business people - failure to follow the exact language in the easement? Check. Get in trouble with the WSLCB? Check. Start operations before the zoning was nailed down? Check. Is there anything they did right?

      None of the pro-weed SJC people seem to remember that Sungrown was in trouble on multiple fronts. The WSLCB doesn't have all that many rules for producers, and they're clearly spelled out in the regulations. Sungrown either willfully or negligently failed to follow the rules badly enough that WSLCB had moved from writing citations to fining them. If you wanted to pick a role model for a pot businesses to follow SJSG probably wouldn't have been a good choice.

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  30. Throw out the CAO?
    Are you KIDDING?
    The smartest most amazing and talented person on the planet is in charge over ther at CD&P with al her years of being a planner in - oh wait, she has NO experience as a planner, but she has spent yeeears as a Building Official, oh wait, no experience there either.
    Huh, why is she in charge again?
    Ohh yea, because she's an FOSJ Tool and the clownsil just does what it's told.

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  31. OPMA lawsuit and the Rice pot farm situation. Can anyone point to the common thread?
    Here's a hint, it rhymes with EDP.
    That's right, the planning department.
    I recall a previous heron poster a while back talking about group names of animals. "Gaggle" of geese, a "school" of fish, a "pack" of wolves. Then asking what a group of planners should be called and decided that a "hassle" of planners fit the bill. That pretty much nailed it.
    Why is there just such a general reluctance by the county to get this department squared away?
    Honestly folks, the French guy, Rene, wasn't bad at all, as evidenced by what may have been a record tenure.
    His only failing was to not reign in Shireene. In his defense, the CAO process was well underway for a bit before he was put in office. Aside from not reigning her in, he seemed reasonable and the bunglings and debacles seemed few and far between. There wasn't a lot of outlandish rulings either.
    OPMA outcome and any fallout will definitely be worth watching.

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  32. Sun Grown helmsman D. Rice was well aware of a potential easement issue but choose to blaze ahead with his project anyway. Starting a controversial project that was submitted in a hurried fashion to this county, before the appeal period is over? Not the brightest move there.
    David and his project rushed to get going and didn't even come close to the appearance of due diligence being performed.
    The easement thing was known. It was the thread that could cause an unravel. He gambled and lost. But he also realized it and moved on.
    Jenny, however, is getting the short end of the stick. No one cared about the horse activity, too much, until the pit farm debacle.
    Now her land is tainted with the pot farm memories of construction and development and lawsuits.
    They are pressing the easement to the point of vindictiveness so that her previously tolerated activity is no longer welcome.
    It's too bad things turned out how they did. And it's too bad that each side won't accept that there were huge mistakes and bad moves on every side, all 3 sides. Farm, neighbors, planners.
    Again, planning department messed up. I didn't know that they would grant a development permit to someone that had no legal access to the site for the intended development purpose.
    Guess that isn't taught in planning 101.

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    Replies
    1. Very good summary.

      Delete
    2. "They are pressing the easement to the point of vindictiveness so that her previously tolerated activity is no longer welcome" They are not. It was said in court that they were not pressing against the horse operation and the judge felt that would go a long way toward mending the issues. As far as the issues and difference between "commercial", "agriculture" and "residential", thats the difference between a little extra traffic during haying season, and 15 employees in and out 3 times a day. I don't think anyone would want that on their little one lane country drive and be accepting of that. Nolans are not the villains here. The easement language was clear, the shame is that the neighbors had to go to court to enforce what was clear. As far as not complaining about orchids? If it resulted in that same amount of traffic I would still complain.

      Delete
    3. and the very worst trespass of all in my opinion for any neighbor of any pot farm is the potential for government regulators cameras and or drones showing up anywhere near my property!, that is the worst trespass I could ever imagine! even worse than Pictometry! "if thats possible"

      Delete
  33. And there is no way to force people to sit down ahead of time and discuss things amongst the affected parties?
    Might have gone a long way in the Rice scenario.
    How did OPMA lawsuit get so far off track and into pot farm discussion?
    I'm just excited that the TH is churning out articles again and there is some good healthy debate.
    Maybe the TH got a new round of grant funding.

    ReplyDelete
  34. Things I am THankful for:

    1) New #Trojanheron and new current news stories.

    2) It's not an election year.

    3) our beautiful island communities: the beauty and natural abundance are worthy of my large gratitude, but more than that, it's the people, our friends and neighbors that I am greatful for.

    We have to work through our differences and reach some common ground so that our core beliefs and ideas can advance.

    Chief among those goals of ideals would be blunting the expansion of local government power when reduction is what is needed. This overdue reigning in will be painful but it starts with citizen participation. And that starts here.
    It's ok of the debates get heated. It's ok if a little profanity drops on swearin heron Friday, but let's try to really discuss an issue, here. That means that we all have to be willing to listen. Truly listen.

    ReplyDelete
  35. I'm for an initiative that requires every new resolution undertaken be required to prove it's worth to all classes of citizens or rejected.
    And property rights also take a rightful place in every discussion that serves to relieve people of them.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good idea. Even a basic cost analysis. And, cite the section of the constitution that allows or authorizes the proposed legislation.

      This can be done by mini-initiative. Easily. This is how we take government back from the ruling class and restore our local self governance.

      Delete
  36. And damn it counselors must reign in the destructive power of those prosecutor's. This one office in County Government is tearing this county apart! It is the most destructive influence used over individual rights and freedoms ever inflicted on our small society. Take Down an enforcement t ordinance that does not provide proper respect and service to all people. Our land use and building regulations and that administration is so disgustingly discombobulated. We would serve each other better to help each other and work together to protect and enhance this beautiful place we all live.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yet good ole boy Randy keeps getting elected, unopposed. We desperately needed someone - anyone - to come forward and run against him in 2014, but no one bothered. What a pity.

      Delete
    2. Not just anyone can run. You have to be a member of the bar. That really narrows it down.
      Probably more money to be made helping deal with the non sense that comes out of the county.

      Delete
  37. Wasn't it the prosecutor's office that recommended that new, improved charter has a clause in it that makes amendment of the charter impossible for a period of ten years. Isn't the whole point of electing to be a charter county that you can change the foundational terms of the government. It's like making an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that says there can be no more amendments. Ummm, can't think of something much more unconstitutional than that. I have heard of constitutional monarchies, but I think may have invented a new form of government the Unconstitutional Monarchy.

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  38. It's interesting to look at how Judge Hancock's decisions on land use issues in San Juan County are viewed by different factions. 1) His decision in favor of the County's arguments defending their CAO implementation committee and 2) His more recent decision defending neighbors opposed to an agricultural enterprise. Damn his eyes for the first one and damn right of him on the second one.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Your point being?

      The lower courts don't rule on constitutional issues or issues related to legal theory. The OPMA lawsuit is in that category. To get the proper review and hearing, OPMA had to go up the chain. I think it's great that OPMA went to the Supreme Court. Couldn't be better.

      No legal theory or Constitutional question involved in the Rice case as far as I can tell, but the Rice's are free to make their case on appeal, if they think there is. Simple contract law and the facts. Even Judge Hancock can do that.

      Delete
    2. Indeed and as readily as local governments take what doesnt belong to them, there is no constitutional protection for the people. rarely can the people compete with the endless supply of money the prosecutor's steal from the people to use to steal some more rights from the people.

      Delete
  39. Damn right of him then and point taken.

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  40. Come on folks let's hang together so we don't hang separately. Don't let them divide and conquer.

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  41. OK, everyone got their latest property tax statement in hand? Did it go up or down on the bottom line?

    Really want to hear from any of you that got a drop on the bottom line and why. (Because I don't believe you exist.)

    The assessor posse is out looking over every fence to stick it to you and these people are good at it. Not only do they look for any "Improvement", but also they have the damn on board computer to track other neighborhood changes in value.

    The high rollers build the never to be used large homes (5,000 to 9'000 sq ft.) and some of us sit back and assume this is good. These idiots are paying my taxes....well no dude...they are increasing your taxes! They are sending you onto a ferry ride out of here.

    FOSJ's environmental tourist drive, the new CAO, and ever expanding cost of County government are rolled into that piece of paper called your property tax bill.

    Think about it next month when you write that big check. And please resolve to be a hard ass and call a halt to this nonsense.

    Let us all VOTE NO! Cut off the money and get respect.

    And tonight get down on at least one knee with a promise to be a good person for a least couple of days if the justices will stuff the falling hair of Ms. Vira, well you know where.


    ReplyDelete
  42. My tax bill has a section that says "other" and is a about 12% of the total.
    WTF?!?!?
    Imagine you are a private corporation. You send your client a bill for services that says "other" and has a big amount.
    Think they just write a check?
    Anyone here ever appeal their valuation? Is it worth it? Is it fun just to hassle the cogs of the money machine?
    We have a new assessor. I have met him personally and he is a decent, honest man. Let's see how he does.
    At least the assessor types don't have planning degrees.

    ReplyDelete
  43. This is not the Rant & Rage page, this is the comment section for the above posting.

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  44. Anyone have a guess or range of time when the Supreme Court decision will be handed down?

    ReplyDelete
  45. If it were up to the County, another year on a decision would be nice.
    Delay is one of the tactics used by the County.
    They dodged a few OPMA bullets with a biased appeals court ruling, but now, hopefully, the SC justices will listen to reason and uphold the intent of the laws.
    Prosecutor slowly wearing down the citizenry.
    Classic tactic. Probably effective too.
    Randy just got re elected, giving him a term that will carry him to the quarter century mark of serving as PA.
    Someone needs to run against him or we should just stop complaining.

    ReplyDelete
  46. Speaking of which we're still waiting to hear a decision back from Appeals on the voter distracting debacle in San Juan County. How long ago where the Appeals hearings? Was Moses floating in the reeds back then?

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  47. The OPMA story is good but now what?
    From what I hear all that is likely to happenbis that Mr. Reynolds will be awarded his attorney fees and the rest of us will be stuck with the idiotic CAO being administered by FOSJ hack Gibboney.
    You think the assessors peeking over your fence is bad wait until CD&P enforcement is spying on you.

    ReplyDelete
  48. Always open season on SJC residents! But wait, there is this new/old TH and there is air in the air. There is an important thing here.

    If a person goes back, even way back in the TH they will find two basic things; one is good hard thinking, and the other is humor.

    While we wait for the big court's decision we must continue the right of humor that knocks you off the chair.

    Many thanks to those who are really good with those posts. Many are priceless.

    ReplyDelete
  49. Wonder if CD&P can get a grant to buy drones.
    I'm sure that's next, drones and directional microphones and infrared surveillance equipment.
    Gotta keep an eye on people trying to enjoy their private property.

    ReplyDelete
  50. Actually, gotta keep an eye on any changes in enjoyment from year to year of private property so the enforcement officers and FOSJ can keep track of things. That is what Pictometry is for. The digital imagery is programmatically compared year to year, to identify any changes on the ground. Hey, there wasn't a dog house there last year! To say nothing of the national security backdoor into the data. Just a precautionary measure you know.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And if the FOSJ crowd, in government or not, can't drum up a fine you'll still get hit with increased assessment for that pizza oven you built out back.

      Delete
  51. Anyone have a summary or tally of how SJC has fared at the Supreme Court?

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  52. As in Communists = 4 and Patriots = 2, that sort of thing? One sense I have is that the chief justice is going to work hard to achieve as close to a consensus don this as possible. A split court decision on this, whether it favors plaintiff or respondent, is really going to muddy the waters on the meaning of a very important law. Washington is well known in the country for the strength of its open meetings laws. There is bi-partisan pride here that goes way back. It is in the spirt of the Washington Constitution. Somehow I have the feeling that this court is going to think very hard about any decision that will tend to diminish OPMA rather than strengthen it. Why did the Court even agree to hear this case at all if it did not recognize the over-riding constitutional issues raised that the lower court did not, or could not address? Amy Viera's arguments were almost indistinguishable from the party line taken at Superior Court, that is: "You ain't got nothing on me copper, see? That's my story and I'm sticking to it." She seemed nervous as a cat. She did not raise or really respond to any of the higher issues that brought this case to the Supremes at all. I think that is telling. Whether the Court does the right thing by the people of the state is another thing. Good luck to us. Would be interested in hearing other viewpoints, especially from folks who watched the hearing.

    ReplyDelete
  53. Sorry to the structure folks as this is a bit off topic, but it seems there will not be a lottery in CD&P for the ADU (Accessory Dwelling Unit) permits this year. Why? No one applied.

    Good job, FOSJ, you guys certainly got the huge "double the density" problem well in hand. Meanwhile, us regular residents have to continue to deal with your intrusion into virtually every written word in the County Code.

    As the Honeywells, property owners on the West side of SJI found out the hard way, FOSJ will bury you in State or County inspections and fines if you dare to miss out on all those thousands of words of regulation they have in place.

    Maybe it needs to be updated, but the County is still showing (or maybe it is new) that you need a permit to do ANYTHING within 200 feet of the shoreline. Who has more than that? So that land is effectively your entire property, is it not?

    Me, I'm looking at making a measuring device to measure trees at four feet Mean Breast Height (sorry short girls), which at that level it seems I can trim or get really crazy and transplant if at that four foot MBL the diameter is three inches or less.

    My point is that when you make a ridiculous rule like three inches for tree trimming and the ADU fiasco what you get is nothing. No one gives a shit. Everyone marches off paying no attention. When faced with total nonsense why would anyone do anything different?

    ReplyDelete
  54. And now we have Sam Gibboney, FOSJ tool and fool in charge of CD&P.
    Good job clowncil, way to check out those you place in charge.

    ReplyDelete
  55. Interesting debate about county Supreme Court cases and the local pot farm debacle. I was wondering why previous commenters grouped CAPR, CSA and Trust Islanders as a single group. CSA and CAPR are active, member based groups that take on key property rights issues. Trust Islanders was a one time PAC (political action committee) that funneled money in to the 2012 election.
    Very different. Just saying.

    ReplyDelete
  56. Good question, but don't see any grouping there other than what someone might want to infer. The only common thread is that these were/are various organized efforts over the past few years to push back against the Friends of the San Juans, Department of Ecology and the County corruption that enables them. No real mystery to it is there?

    ReplyDelete
  57. So our local county government bends the rules, breaks the rules, and rewards those on the inside.
    What are we to do?
    Trojan Heron is exposing things but what is it going to take to put the brakes on this machine?
    Seems like the hydra we are battling.

    ReplyDelete
  58. Exactly, but this is a very long story, history even, of a group of control freaks who were not only successful, but also successful in planting a governmental garden with their ideals, mostly a whole bunch of rules on people, and property owners specifically.

    If you read the San Juan County Code, you might be struck with how uniform it is. Goebbels/Riefenstahl could hardly have done better. It states over and over countless times how the environment is the only thing that matters, people and their lives and economic needs are dismissed. (OK there is a bit of lip service here and there...likely stuck in from a single Planning Commissioner.)

    The International Building Code which we all pretty much live by these days, sets down a rule or rules and then clearly states exemptions. The County could have followed this format, or other successful formats from other jurisdictions, but no, instead we have a total mash-up of countless spasms of environmental "protection."

    Say it once, say it right, and shut up.

    ReplyDelete
  59. @9:21
    Nice try. Trying to provide a logic based approach are we?
    Trying to be practical and fair?
    Cute.
    Why don't you just let the planners finish their work. Just give them plenty of money and time.
    What could possibly go wrong?

    ReplyDelete
  60. The Trojan Heron is like a database of well analyzed problems and pretty detailed proposals for solutions. How can we start mining this several year old knowledge base? There is plenty there to figure out a real road-map for change. At that point, a Kickstarter campaign to raise the resources to create real change would make sense. And all the underlying questions of trust, who will do the work, who will get paid and so forth because relying on purely volunteer energy simply won't work. The basic issue of democracy: how can a larger group believe the small group can get the job done? Because ultimately that is how things get done, by small groups.

    ReplyDelete
  61. Maybe Pictometry has an app we can use for just that.

    ReplyDelete
  62. Oh I'm sure they do, or if not, they will sell an app soon. Except for the kickstarter dream 9:08 is getting it right, in my view. The TH could and maybe is a resource to SJC more than we know.

    There is feedback here the dormitory drones don't get from anywhere else and there are good ideas here you can't buy.

    The TH is BACK and roaring to 100!

    ReplyDelete
  63. The Spanish Revolution was romantic and doomed. How do patriots with no resources go up against industrialized warfare? Maybe the Kickstarter dream is a little unrealistic for the time being, but what are the practical alternatives?

    Otherwise these little ad hoc volunteer brigades are just gonna keep getting mowed down by the other side's superior numbers, firepower and finances. You can play asynchronous or guerrilla tactics and even the odds to a point but you still gotta feed the troops and maintain the supply lines.

    "Well I wasn't expecting a sort of Spanish Revolution?" "Nobody expects the Spanish Revolution! Bwahahahaha!"

    ReplyDelete
  64. I believe it's nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition.
    Anyhoo,
    The solution, as mentioned again and again is for people to become involved.
    We need those who believe in small transparent government to run for office and be a part of all the ridiculous committees.
    There have to be a few good people who hold to the ideas presented here who are willing to step up.
    And, don't forget about referendums and initiatives.

    ReplyDelete
  65. Looks like the county may end up in court again.
    http://www.sanjuanislander.com/news-articles/government/san-juan-county/18275/class-action-suit-filed-over-permit-fees

    ReplyDelete
  66. This appears, lawsuits, to be a major problem in SJC. Pardon me, but I care about the cost of this nonsense. Surely we can have a leadership that resolves issues instead of fomenting them.

    All who deal with CD&P know for years funds have been stolen for a myriad of wages and expenses for consultants and "planners."

    Mr. Powers is going for the broad brush. It will be insanely expensive for all involved. These days being right doesn't mean much, settlement value two years from now will tell and cost plenty for all.

    ReplyDelete
  67. The way I read the suit published in the guardian is that if successful, the money would be returned to some "1,300" people.
    I was unaware that CDP was pilfering. What does it take to stop them?
    Maybe this?

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  68. Money spent on stopping planning and central planners from continuing to put forth nonsense regulations is money well spent.
    2 things are well known running jokes in the legal community of SJC, one is the CAO was nicknamed the "attorney permenant employment act" and second, when there is a horrible planning director, it generates abundant work in the legal industry. Hendrickson was great in that respect. Beliveau, not so much. He acted much more sanely and litigation was lower, notwithstanding the CAO. Now Gibboeny. Local attorneys probably want her to stay.

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  69. I am floored this county did not opt out of GMA. I have worked in this sector for many years and don't you think being on a island is growth management in itself?? Duh! So sick of public servants who don't behave as such. We have to be givers not takers. Truly disappointed in what is going on here. As for the comment above even more so disappointed in mangers waiving codes for outsiders. Time to step down please.

    ReplyDelete