Saturday, February 14, 2015

Who's in Charge Anyway?

As County watchers may know, Sam Gibboney has the title of Director of Community Development & Planning (CD&P). She took over when Rene Beliveau retired. Gibboney, in turn, hired Linda Kuller to serve as Director of Long Range Planning. Kuller replaced Shireene Hale, who was shown the door after she spearheaded passage of the litigious CAOs.

Among other things, Hale was ignominious for feigning fear of ordinary public meetings. In one email to our County Council prior to a public meeting, Hale accused both a former Planning Commissioner and a former County Commissioner of "intimidation" and of "stirring up fear, hatred, and hostility," and she added, "the possibility of violence should not be dismissed." Distraught with imaginary fear, Hale subsequently insisted that the now-defunct-sheriff Rob Nou stand guard over a public meeting involving her and the Council, without providing any prior notice to the Council itself.

But back to Kuller ... Kuller came to us from Snohomish County. Before that, she was with Skagit County. Before that, she worked as a planner in Georgia. Note that we have other imported planners from Georgia also -- Colin Maycock came from there. We've gotten planners from Idaho too (Hale). Colorado (Biletnikoff). San Juan County must be heaven for planners because we attract them from all over. When in Snohomish County, Kuller "Wrote official code interpretations, rules, policies procedures, and press releases. Informed or managed special planning and policy projects such as comprehensive plan updates and seven year review, the NMFS/FEMA biological opinion, flood hazard area conditional letter of map revision, Endangered Species Act biological assessment, and planning grants."

Grants ... of course ... grants had to be in there somewhere. Don't forget that Kuller used to be Linda Lyshall's housemate (Linda Lyshall of Conservation District fame). Lyshall was recently in the news because, barely had the thawing of relations with Cuba been announced, than Lyshall and the Conservation District were inviting Cuban communists to our islands to talk about Foundations for a Sustainable Future. Remember that our County Council voted to support the Conservation District with our tax dollars, so those aren't just any Cuban communists advising us on how to live, those are tax-sponsored Cuban communists advising us on how to live.

On to Gibboney ... she (yes, "Sam" is a "she") transferred over from San Juan County Public Works, but before that, she lived and worked in Jefferson County. Gibboney has a degree in engineering, but she is not state licensed. In addition, she has no background or work experience in planning that would suggest qualifications to head Community Development & Planning. However, she is politically connected. While in Jefferson County, Gibboney was campaign manager for Steve Tharinger. Steve Tharinger is a Democratic member of the Washington State House of Representatives.

A photo of Sam Gibboney in an email message to Teamsters,
thanking them for their incredible support of Steve Tharinger
Press reports and records from Jefferson County describe Gibboney as an "environmental activist" who received "$500,000 in grant funding to the Watershed Stewardship and Research Center." The WSRC conducted "comprehensive site and ecosystem evaluations." In addition to doing work for the WSRC, Gibboney was the "Greater Seattle - Olympic Peninsula Conservation Director at Cascade Land Conservancy and President/Owner of ISE Consultants (environmental services). Gibboney's firm, ISE Consultants, was "hired by the State Department of Ecology to assist with the public process for adopting an instream flow and water management rule for the Dungeness Basin" in Jefferson County.

Sam Gibboney -- Ecology Consultant
That's right. We have a politically-connected environmental activist and former Ecology consultant as our CD&P Director. But wait ... there's more. While in Jefferson County, Gibboney also was President of the Port Townsend Food Coop when a dispute arose regarding a possible boycott of products from Israel. Gibboney came under fire from Coop membership for holding secret meetings to resolve the dispute.
Dena Shunra, one of the member-owners, said, “I’m troubled that board members of our own food co-op would hold closed meetings on a subject that has aroused so much interest within our community. We need to shed more light on this issue rather than open our co-op up to allegations of back-room deals.”
So ... correction ... we have a politically-connected environmental activist and former Ecology consultant as our CD&P Director who has a history of alleged secret meetings. Moreover, it doesn't look like Gibboney made a clean break with her private consulting work before joining San Juan County either. Based on at least one email, it looks like Gibboney used her San Juan County public email to finish up closeout work for WSRC and her company, ISE.

So ... correction ... we have a politically connected environmental activist and former Ecology consultant with a history of alleged secret meetings who used her public email for private business. But wait ... there's more. In 2014, Sam Gibboney issued a $5,000 contract to former County Councilwoman Lovel Pratt, ostensibly related to oil spill preparedness -- never mind that Pratt has no serious background in such matters. Gibboney was forced to cancel the contract after its existence came to light. The contract came about because Gibboney spends a considerable amount of her time devoted to marine resources activities, not planning activities as you might expect. In addition to CD&P, Gibboney is simultaneously head of the Executive Committee of the Marine Resources Committee. It was via this connection that Gibboney slipped Pratt her contract, misusing her spending authority as CD&P Director to quietly award it on a no-bid basis. Aside from bogus contracts, what do we get from Gibboney in her MRC role? The minutes of Council meetings tell us:
Ms. Gibboney presented the Natural Resources Department Update, explaining the interrelation among the MRC (Marine Resources Committee), LIO (Local Integrating Organization) and LEAG (Lead Entity Advisory Group) and answered Council’s questions.
She liaises, coordinates, and interrelates with the usual alphabet soup of time-wasting, grant-sucking bureaucrats.

Nothing is different in CD&P, and arguably, they've gotten worse under this Council and County Manager, Mike Thomas. A few months ago, our Public Works Director, Frank Mulcahy, departed for greener shores. Mulcahy reportedly despised Mike Thomas. Mulcahy was a 20-year Navy veteran who had served in Iraq. He'd seen some pretty bad situations, but San Juan County was too much for him. Mulcahy even contemplated taking a job in Guantanamo Bay to get away from here.

When planners and Cuban communists are coming to San Juan County, and 20-year military vets are thinking about going the other way ... you know things are worse than ever in San Juan County.

But just wait ... there will be more ...


  1. Holy crap! Good to see the TH write an article.

  2. Wow. How do we stop the madness?

  3. Anyone have any idea how much this woman is getting paid?

  4. The answer is too much.
    Just another example of this Council not properly vetting people, they are simply led by the nose and do the bidding of the real leader of San Juan County...Pamela Morais, who also has done such a marvelous job managing personell for the George Johnson , awarded $200,000 for wrongful termination, and Maureen See, who also won a wrongful termination case and from what people are saying it will cost the County over $400,000...well done Pam, you shiuld sign off on another big pay raise for yourself.

  5. I don't know the most recent data, but long ago the TH reported the salary adjustments that took place in 2012. The Department Head positions went up from $84k to $95k because, ya know, we were underpaying them relative to a basket of other counties, including King County. Morais' own significant other, John Manning, benefited from that raise. Morais raised her own salary from about $76k to $88k. We don't even let Congress raise their own pay, they have to raise it for the next guy, but San Juan County allows it. Hale's salary was "adjusted" from about $69k to $75k. So let's assume that Gibboney is getting $95k. Kuller is getting $75k. Morais is getting $88k. We know Thomas gets $134k a year, as of last June. He started at $120k the year before. Let's add that all up together with the mistakes mentioned in the last post, Kuller at $75k, Gibboney at $95k, Morais at $88k, Thomas at $134k, Johnson at $200k, See at $400k. That's $992k, and bear in mind that $392k of that is an annual, not a one time charge. What are we getting for this extravagance? Are these guys worth it? Doesn't look like it.

  6. TH, why didn't you tell us this sooner?

  7. Why didn't Gibboney get fired over the Pratt contract? Wasn't that a misues of funds? If it wasn't a misuse of funds, why was the contract cancelled?

  8. Enjoy seeing the new version of TH. I like it. I knew that the county was F----d up but the revelation about Gibboney is shocking! Who was the imbecile that hired her?

  9. There were 3 imbeciles, one ring leader, and one clown.
    The County only fires someone after a person is allowed to fully realize their incompetence for 3 - 6 years.

  10. Trojan Heron is back. Tanned. Ready and Rested. Much work remains to be done ...

  11. So the Trojan Heron has been removed from the endangered species list?

    That's great news that the species is healthy, vibrant and making a come back. The downside is that since no longer endangered, probably no grant money to toss around.

  12. Ah, the tabloid journalist is back to warming the tar and plucking the feathers. But isn't this the wrong nest? Which website are we using these days? I suppose it doesn't matter as long as Mr. Cory continues to be the sole traffic driver.

    Let's be honest, this hergon isn't a muckraker. He's a propagandist claiming to be the voice of the "common man". Yet so few have hopped on the bandwagon. Once again, the heron has resorted to an 'ad hominem' argument to push a point. Nowhere does the article bring up valid cases, instead relying on mud slinging.

  13. Carl! We missed you! If it walks like a duck and talks like a duck and squawks like a duck, it must be a Carl Marks supporter.

    Thanks for spending your time reading a blog that no one reads. You're right. Move along. Nothing to see. No facts. No background.

    What's a "hergon" anyway? That wouldn't be a misspelling would it? Do you want "her gone" too? Looks like we may want the same thing.

  14. For a blog that is never read, the Carl Marks's of the world seem to know the location of TH's nests.

    Carl - you can't have tar in a heron nest. Everyone knows that! Sam Gibboney and Ecology would have to get a grant to study the nest watershed if that were the case. The Friends would be placing drift cards in heron nests. Pratt would get a heron-nest-tar-study contract too.

  15. Back to the topic of the blog, I honestly wonder how Sam got her position. Did Mike Thomas not know, or not care? What about the Council? Are you telling me that Bob Jarman and Rick Hughes were okay with this?

  16. Sometimes seems like this Council only has a rubber stamp, but not a gavel.

  17. The voters empowered the Council to have ultimate administrative authority yet they have chosen to be nothing more than yes men and hide behind M. Thomas's skirt.
    Rick has sealed his fate as a one term failure, who knows what Bob is doing and we all know the Jamie is Rhea Millers' tool.
    What a sad state of affairs.

  18. I don't think Jamie needs any of Rhea Miller's help. If anything, he's the strongest member of the council.

  19. Jamie is the strongest member of the council, most professional, and arguably the smartest.
    Most of the TH readers happen to philosophically disagree with him but his conduct and professionalism is leaps and bounds above others.
    Problem here is he is part of the "oil spill" crisis crowd, complete with grant funding and glossy brochures. Since the whole Global Warming stuff is slowly being exposed as data manipulated to "prove" a certain theory, a new boogeyman emerges. Oil Spill prevention.
    Jamie and Sam to the rescue.
    Don't worry folks, it will only cost you untold millions and likely encumber us with more utterly bizarre and unnecessary regulations.

  20. That's like saying Jamie is the tallest midget in the circus.
    We need better people to step up and become leaders.
    We seem perperpetually stuck choosing from the shallow end of the gene pool.

  21. This county elects the leaders it deserves. I can think of local leaders who would do a magnificent job, but they would (a) never want to do the job and (b) never be electable. No getting around blaming the citizens of this county for the way it is run. You get the government you deserve, and you get it good and hard.

  22. Oh! Another character assassination! Classy. Luckily your contingent is about 5% of the population, so all the navel gazing in the world isn't going to get anybody you like elected.

  23. No need to waste your time on a blog that is so unpopular then. Pay no attention to the TH. We don't influence anything.

    And thanks for stopping by. Your comment is really classy.

  24. I'm not seeing any character assassination.
    Could someone point it out for me?

  25. @11:03AM
    Wow. I didn't know the Trojan Heron had such a broad reach. 5% of the population. Damn. That's almost 400,000,000 people.
    I had seen the Dutch Trojan Heron so I knew there was a broad reach. Didn't realise we made it to 5% this fast.

  26. Anyone know what this Gibnoney woman did at public works before being put at the helm of CDPD?
    I don't remember ever seeing a job description for this position. Did they really just pluck her out of the blue and not bother to interview and screen anyone else?
    Wow. Fail.

  27. She "managed" garbage grants...perfect...just when you think it's not possible to waste tax dollars any worse than the MRC we have a garbage grant manager running the waste of all wastes...CD&P

  28. I thought that solid waste had been "privatized".
    Did they really hire her to manage that? something that was no longer a county function?
    WTF is wrong with this government? Hiring someone incompetent to do a job that isn't needed, and then passing a ballot measure to pay for all this stuff. Otherwise, if we don't raise taxes, what will happen? Seniors don't get lunch, the library closes, and the fire and police might be slow to respond, right?