Wednesday, April 8, 2015

TACKA Morgan - Part Deux

The analyst currently known as (TACKA) "W.D. Morgan" has been following the various OPALCO conversations in the media, and she wanted to post a response ... but as she worked on her response, it kinda ballooned into a new post.

So here is the new post from W.D. Morgan.

It might be worthwhile for the people buying into the “dark conspiracy” storyline of Chom & Steve Ludwig to just take a step back and look at the really big picture. A couple of people have made comments along the line of “well, if OPALCO is raising revenue over the period through 2019 to the tune of $27 million and all they have to do is buy a $15 million cable, then why can’t they just drop the rate increases to let members keep the ‘extra’ $12 million”.

Two things to consider:

First, let’s start at the 10,000 foot level: replacing the Lopez-San Juan underwater cable isn’t the only thing OPALCO has to do over the next few years. BPA power costs alone are expected to rise from $7.5 million annually in 2013 to $9.3 million annually in 2019. Spending on energy savings programs is expected to rise from $832 thousand annually in 2013 to $1.35 million annually in 2019. Depreciation was $2.7 million in 2013 and is expected to rise to $4.2 million in 2019. A word about the depreciation: first, depreciation isn’t a cash cost, it’s the recovery of a cost already spent. But, it’s indicative of the “using up” of the asset, so it’s an important number to watch; and if it’s an asset that you’ll need to replace, the depreciation must be matched by either savings or increased borrowing capacity to be able to pay for the purchase of the replacement asset.

And, oh Lord, we have a lot of assets that will need to be replaced. The biggest and most talked about it the Lopez-San Juan underwater cable. But remember, that’s just the start. Comparing our costs to the costs of mainland communities doesn’t make any sense, despite the apples to carrots comparisons that some of the “energy experts” around here like to promote. OPALCO serves a rural, not dense, service area with challenging terrain (rocks, hills, wetlands, etc. etc. etc.) THAT IS SEPARATED FROM THE SOURCE OF OUR POWER BY 5 MILES OF SALT WATER. Comparing OPALCO’s maintenance costs to some urban or suburban village on the mainland far away from salt water is pointless. All the things that make the San Juans special make it a difficult area to serve from a utility standpoint. [Want a market-based existence proof of that? Two words: Century Link.]

And, as OPALCO has noted, the marine environment is causing cable replacements to happen earlier than they originally thought. And the Lopez-San Juan cable is only the start – OPALCO has pointed out that they’ll need to replace at least 3 other underwater cables within the next 20 years. Remember – OPALCO will either need savings or borrowing capacity to fund those replacements. Oh, and the changing environmental concerns means that OPALCO can’t just leave the old cable in place – OPALCO must remove the cable being replaced. Maybe we can have a work party to take care of that – everyone bring your diving helmet!

Let’s climb a little higher to 30,000 feet and consider OPALCO’s forecasted income.  [Numbers here and above are drawn from OPALCO’s 2019 budget document, found here.]

Taking into account the new rates, here is the net margin that OPALCO is forecasting through 2019:
  • 2015          $1.098 million
  • 2016          $0.929 million
  • 2017          $2.075 million
  • 2018          $1.470 million
  • 2019          $2.101 million
So, a total of $7.673 million in budgeted net income over the next 5 years. Not increase in net income. Total net income. On a total budgeted revenue of $139.2 million for that same 5 years. So the budgeted net income amounts to 5.51% of income.

Yes, gross charges for electricity and facilities are going up. But that net income is needed to cover increases in costs and reinvestments in plant and facility over the next 5 years – and OPALCO will need to save for repairs and reinvestments for the period after that 5 years is over as well. If the savings isn’t directly spent on those capital expenditures, it will be needed to demonstrate the ability to repay loans to fund those costs. As members of the cooperative, we should be asking questions regarding what the money is getting spent on. OPALCO has provided a lot of information about that already, but it’s incumbent on every member to satisfy herself or himself that the reinvestments make sense.

My second point, and I’ll make this much briefer than the first, is that it seems like a large part of the discussion is about the breakout between electric charges and facilities charges. Emotional arguments aside, this is simply a cost allocation issue – if most of the members agree that the money OPALCO is taking in needs to be spent on specified costs, then the remaining question is how is the allocation done between the marginal cost of electricity and the cost to have access to the grid. One way or another, all of that money is going to be collected from the members.

Let me break this subdiscussion down into two separate conversations: first – what is the reasonable way to charge for facilities costs vs the actual electrons people use. Second, what, if anything, should be done to assist those members most in need – Chom and others want to combine those into a single discussion, but they’re really separate issues.

What is the true cost to have a meter on your house? Well, the utility is paying the same costs to hang your meter, you’re using the same distribution lines, the maintenance gals and guys are maintaining the entire system and your meter is hooked up to the same underwater cable as everyone else. That’s true even if you have solar pre-heated water, even if you have a solar array on your roof, even if you have a windmill, even if you turn the switch off on your power cords, even if you have LED lights instead of compact fluorescents, and on and on. The costs to maintain and install the system and line up to your meter are the same irrespective of whether you only use the system on the coldest days in the winter or whether you leave your doors and windows open and the a/c on all year. Maintenance and repair on the system isn’t caused by the number of electrons running through your meter, it’s caused by weather, the marine environment, the passage of time AND THAT WE LIVE 5 MILES ACROSS AN OPEN OCEAN FROM OUR POWER SOURCE. Sorry, it just is what it is. Discussing a reasonable facility charge in the San Juans by reference to how a utility in Southern California does it, where their electricity distribution lines run a short way from the source ACROSS OPEN SAND, is pointless.

Lastly, the members need to have a discussion about what, if anything, it is reasonable to do to help our least fortunate members afford electricity. To conflate this conversation with the determination of what the facility charge should be is wrong-headed, but if your goal is to confuse members, it’s a good way to inflame the discussion. But we do need to talk about who should be assisted, what the income cutoffs should be, what the form of that assistance should be and what measures should be in place to ensure that no member is gaming the system. And we should have that conversation bearing in mind that OPALCO is a cooperative – WE are the utility, so every dollar someone doesn’t pay is a dollar that must be collected from someone else.

-- W.D. Morgan


  1. The basic dynamic at play is this.

    1. There are various groups with nothing in common except that they want to stop broadband.

    2. Instead of just outright opposing broadband, they are slow walking the issue by saying, "I'm not against broadband. I'm against corruption, and LOOK! OPALCO is corrupt!"

    3. We just want honest people on the Board, not these corrupt monsters.

    4. Vote for candidate xyz. He/she is honest.

    5. Coincidentally, the "honest" candidates don't support broadband. They might support putting solar panels on everyone's roof or giving grants to the conservation district or any number of other crazy spending schemes, but they don't support broadband.

    6. Whoever is elected will be faced with the same underlying bad economics associated with the core electricity business because the bill has come due to upgrade that infrastructure at current prices, and to pay for any additional amounts at spot prices.

    7. The "honest" candidates and their supporters are actually being deceptive. They truly may not know enough to know they are being deceptive, but they are. There is no conspiracy at OPALCO, just increasingly complex economics for a sleepy utility that can't ignore real world economics anymore. Electricity demand is up all over the northwest, and OPALCO has to pay market rates on top of paying for infrastructure, part of whose cost has gone up because of environmental requirements. That infrastructure has to be bought and paid for no matter how many of us put in PV panels. You (we) are going to pay for it no matter what.

    8. OPALCO has made bad PR mistakes in the past, but they are changing. Regardless of the screw ups they have made in the past, there is no actual evidence in the numbers to suggest they are (a) corrupt, (b) fiscally irresponsible, (c) price gouging, or (d) guilty of improper planning. If only the county books were in as good a shape as OPALCO.

    Oppose broadband if you will. Fair enough. But don't say you're for it when you really want it dead. Broadband will be bought and paid for separately from the electricity situation. It is not being subsidized by the base rate increases in electricity.

    1. "If only the county books were in as good a shape as OPALCO."

      If only the county were as diligent about putting financial & budgeting information online as OPALCO is.

  2. I think Morgan is missing a huge point here.
    Trying to rely on facts, documented evidence and actual real world numbers when preparing a rational, reasoned argument simply isn't going to cut it.
    Chom has pretty pretty graphs. Pretty graphs and shiny presentations generally win over most readers.
    I do have to say thanks though because I have learned a lot about OPALCO that I wouldn't otherwise have known.
    (Insert "knowledge is power" Opalco joke here)

  3. The IG guest colum by Chom provides the following:
    "(Greacen is co-founder of Palang Thai, a nongovernmental organization that conducts public-interest research and works for fair, sustainable, and democratic development of the energy sector. She graduated from UC Berkeley and lives on Lopez Island with her husband and two children)"

    Fair and sustainable energy sector development?
    Great news! Hopefully we can count on Choms public support for increased fracking so we can get at almost unlimited "clean" natural gas.
    She probably would be in favor of some massive new nuclear desalination plants as well. We definitely need the water.
    Did I miss anything?

  4. I disagree with Morgan's comment that all customer meters have the same cost to OPALCO. That is not really true. OPALCO has to size all its power distribution system including wires and transformers to handle the 'peak' load that is possible should everybody turn on all their heaters, lights and various appliances all at the same time. The peak demand for sizing distribution infrastructure (submarine cables, etc) is estimated based on the number of consumers, the rated size of their power service and historical data to generate growth projections. A 400A service panel puts a greater demand on the system than a 100A service panel, and requires more investment in facilities that are 'upstream' of the consumer meter to be able to supply that potential demand. The continual need to upgrade and enlarge submarine cables and other infrastructure is driven by the steady increase in power demand that is forecast based on recent historic trends. The trend over the last 20 years with new construction is towards bigger and bigger service panels. Many new larger homes have two 400A service panels.

  5. to finish my thought from that previous comment:

    I suggest OPALCO adopt a graduated rate for facilities charges based on the size of the main circuit breakers connected to the meters. If somebody has 800A of service they should pay more than somebody with 100A. That seems much more fair than forcing everybody to pay the same flat rate.

  6. Well, if we're going to fine tune the facilities charge to take into account the size of the electrical panel in the house, shouldn't we also make separate calculations as to distance from main distribution lines and size facilities charges to the size of the service lines to service the neighborhood?

    I'm not saying charging by the size of the electrical panel isn't a good idea, I'm suggesting if you want to get into the weeds, it's far from the only variable that truly, as opposed to income of the member, influences the true cost of providing the facilities.

  7. There will never be an agreement on "fairness". Why not simply have the price of everything be based on income? Everybody has a standard credit/debit card or ApplePay, and when person A buys a loaf of bread it is 39 cents. For person B it is $1,157.00! Wouldn't that be fair?

  8. Alternatively, we could base it on the inverse of income - those people who have multiple advanced degrees earned at public expense from public universities who've chosen to live in poverty in order to take advantage of the system should be out earning a living to support those truly less fortunate. The only way we'll pry them away from their chart-making software and out into the real job market is to tax their choice to be impoverished. Maybe a 4X multiplier on their facilities charges to fund the truly poor until they go get a job.

  9. But still, OPALCO just did a major (about 1.5 mil) new cable to Henry Island. This new cable was drilled 70 feet deep below the deepest part of Mosquito pass which is 50 feet of water at the crossing. Rightfully the shortest distance where you can cross and where the existing long term easements already exist, and where floating cable has failed about three times. The guys that did it worked every minute of daylight and OPALCO surely got full value.

    So how many people live on Henry island full time? Eight, 8, V111, yes, EIGHT! (Word I got was there was NINE, but someone got real old and moved off-island last year.)

    Was extra conduit installed for? Yes it was, and why not, as any good manager would max out the benefit of any construction project.

    So Henry Island is ready and able for a nice high tech work house, or, as suggested, a really good whorehouse that can process a credit card in less than a second.

    Frankly I believe in equal rights for those eight people on Henry, but maybe we're trying to be something we're not.

    Just maybe the broadband should have focused on the two town centers and that's it. (OK, a business park or two would be nice for attraction of employers and year round family type employees, anything but these F-ing tourist attraction grant funding initiatives please Madam Mayor.)

    Let us march, but let us march in a practical direction.

  10. If OPALCO is planning and financing for peak load demand (which any responsible utility public or private would do) let us not forget what really drives infrastructure loading in the World Famous San Juan Islands. Not the residents. Not local businesses. Tourism is the driver. Who pays?

    1. Uh, when do you think peak electrical demand occurs? Hint, highest in December, lowest in June. When domthe tourists come?

  11. Xmas ... Val Day ... Mem Day ... extended shoulder seasons ... Not so simple

  12. W.D. Morgan expounds with known stuff like we're five miles of water away from reality.

    So I did not expect streaming video when I moved here, did you?

    No TV for many years now and do I miss it, well yes a little bit. But the ability to fire up a movie, any movie, for five bucks. No, don't need that, got my Netflix and newspapers and lots of other print media, I can hold in my hand, and have sitting there waiting for me to pick up again.

    Do we need the latest tech in communication for good jobs? YES! But do we need it everywhere?

    That is the real question; just how much money do we spend to drag along this urban life we left behind.

    1. Excellent - we can become a theme park for tourists wanting to see what life was like in rural America shortly after electrification. We'll be the NW version of Colonial Williamsburg.

  13. Interesting thoughts on what is "fair" for power prices.
    I like the hybrid idea of basing rate on use + distance of transmission.
    Any chance the co-op or current leadership would pull this off? Or even have a debate about it?
    What ever happened to the $150,000 that OPALCO gave to the Conservstion District?
    Sees like we should have seen some real world results. You know, some local business and homes updated with more efficient water heaters and light bulbs. Right?
    Instead we will probably get a "feasibility study" for $150k that explains how more grant money is needed to truly explore the problem.

    1. Here is where the $150K went.

  14. So I read the link above for what The Conservation District is doing with the $150,000 that OPALCO paid.
    3 public outreach fair type booths, best I can tell.
    So what about the other $145,000?
    I wonder vere zee muney vent?

  15. This community is beset by professional scam artist who have discovered a disconnected and oblivious populus upon whom they can prey upon.
    They have built entire enterprises based on fleecing the citizens of San Juan County, they rove from committee to NGO to county management ravaging public funds and destroying all sense of trust.
    These vile adulterous vipers must be driven from among us and exposed as the disgusting parasites they are.

  16. Headline should read OPALCO flushes $150,000 in to the conservation district grant toilet.
    OPALCO just fed the machine. This should be direct action money for members. Or come up with a real plan.
    From the sounds of it, all Lyeshall and Boss Zee know how to do is use the money to get more grant money and spread it to their friends again.
    What the hell is the Madrona Institute again?
    Can someone provide a real answer because I can't figure it out. Hell, I even asked my life coach and they had no clue either.

  17. Well, from their own website, the Madrona board of directors specializes in " providing special expertise in financial resource development that advances the organization’s work. "
    Wow @9:59 had it right. Scam artists. Swindlers. Latitude 48 pikeys.

  18. OPALCO isn't the scam here. Conservation Distrcit is.
    OPALCO is guilty of stupidity for giving the CD $150k.
    Come on Zee, Lyshall. Don't we at least get a glossy mailer about using LED bulbs? Coupon for 10 bucks off a lightbulb?
    Something other than the promise of more feasibility studies.
    CD sounds more ruthless than the county. If you don't subscribe to perpetual grant writing, kiss your ass good bye.
    I mean, what if someone came along and used a fraction of the grant money for it's full intended purpose and said, well, we don't really need all the money, we can do a bunch for about half.
    Yeah. Heresy. Flat earther.
    Ven vill zee citizens realize vhat zee problemz are in our izlandz.

  19. The basic purpose of a grant is to control the receiver of it. Government, "non-profits" and individuals with lots of money, have found that by using grants they can easily make people do what they want.

    Apparently in SJC we have a large number of people who think this is OK.

  20. Didn't Zee run and lose a bid for OPALCO director slot a few years back?

  21. Ahhh yes, OPALCO and CONservation District articles and discussion.
    No one happier about that right now than CDP "director" Sam Gibboney.
    For a brief moment, the spotlight of her micromanaging, unqualified, agenda driven, incompetent performance is shifted elsewhere.
    Enjoy the moment. It too shall pass.

  22. Quickly I hope. Gibboney needs a ride on the free ferry.

    Full marks to whoever on construction of the OPALCO ballot. Looks even handed this time.

    Here's one last nit to pick. Good job with the straw pick for the ballot listing, BUT believe it or not, the pamphlet reading list should have got it's own straw pick too.

    What will it take to make us happy? Shit, I don't know.

  23. You missed one. The use of (incumbent) after a candidate name on the ballot listing has also been fought over for some time. Not sure, but currently, usage is moving toward to only allowing it as an identity in the paid pamphlet write ups.

  24. For anyone who has had the pleasure of riding the Elwha (did I spell that right?) for the annual OPALCO meeting and old time potluck, it is easy to see that the primary constituency out there are older folks on fixed incomes who want to keep electrical rates low and stable and are not too keen on new fangled broadbandish kinds of services younger generations tend to required now a days.

    It may be that the internal OPALCO culture has shifted enough to find some equilibrium to balance both, particularly with the broadband constituency becoming more vocal and organized in recent years. The acquisition and partnership with Rock Island is a good sign IMHO of a positive direction.

    However, the Ron Zee and Confidence District angle ... a few years ago the Mean Green Political Machine around here sensed an opportunity to co-op and exploit the emerging broadband constituency as a "Progressive Cause" they could own and control, similar to their long standing attempts to cozy up to local agriculture and claim that constituency as their own.

    As a result, for a while, we've seen this unsavory relationship appear between OPALCO, the Conservation District and Boss Zee to the tune of a $150K along with attempts to get operatives (and not just Zee) elected to the OPALCO Board. Thankfully these guys didn'[t make the cut with the voters, but there was still enough political influence to cut a big grunt (oops, grant) to the Confidence District, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Madrona Institute.

    Seems like OPALCO may be righting its sails now a bit, but part of the past confusion, and lashing out by OPALCO insiders over the past few years has been Machine driven, a "power struggle" if you will where broadband was turned by the Machine into a political football. Perhaps that power play has begun to wind down. But I could be wrong.

  25. The OPALCO/broadband/facility charge discussion has made for some mighty strange bedfellows, politically.

  26. Speaking of strange bedfellows (literally)....
    So an Israeli diplomat walks in to a food co-op meeting.....
    And the rest, as they say, is history.

    It really comes down to trust. Do we trust our leaders? Do we trust those who spend our tax dollars?
    I sure don't.
    Adultery and betrayal is only a symptom.
    Corruption. Must. Be. Exposed.

  27. Why did I receive a targeted mailer today asking me to join with my neighbors and pony up unspecified dollars for broadband?
    Anyone else get these?

    1. I haven't, and I'm on Orcas in one of the non-priority areas. Still, I'll pony up when the time comes. I WANT THIS!

  28. Talking about neighborhood broadband is like reaching for the third rail. The costs always seem unknown, and the neighbor that wants is pitted against one who doesn't.

    Those that want it in our tiny neighborhood have been honest about what they know and what they don't and their side seems to be running a bit on the plus side.

    In looking carefully at the numbers, (beware the so called discount) the wife and I have concluded if we go with the high side estimates which we this is practical, then this thing is expensive for us, especially since it is something we don't need.

    That said, we do know the islands really do need this tech upgrade, at the very least in the town centers and resorts and no one but OPALCO id going to come in here with the capital needed knowing the return is something less than zero.

    OPALCO, using their current projects for cost basis, is refining many cost estimates. (Digging in dirt is one thing, rock is another.) It will be interesting to see actual costs evolve.

    In the meantime, lets hope we can all get along.

  29. Well, well, now with the Pratt's candidate blessing, she, sitting under a court gavel, (and still she thinks her opinion is important), we know who not to vote for. Thank you Lovel!

  30. The problem with Pratt's irrelevancey is that she doesn't realize it. Also, Kivistos blog publishes her drivel.
    Meanwhile, Pratt is out doing busy body stuff, going to meetings and trying to angle for funding for doing nothing.
    On it's face it's sad, but it's actually disturbing that people that contribute nothing and seek to leach the taxpayer money are still at it.

  31. John Bogert’s post on Lopez Rocks is interesting in that it’s surprising how much innuendo can be packed into four short paragraphs.

    He first asserts that “the electric side of OPALCO is paying for the ‘middle mile’ … for connections to Rock Island where no ‘grid control’ is employed. It’s one thing to deceive the membership; it is another to deceive the lender.”

    Questions for Mr. Bogert: First, are you asserting that that statement is a statement of fact? Second, on what basis are you making that assertion – on the basis of facts generally known to the public? [Pro tip here: talk to an attorney before you answer that question.]

    Let’s unpack his post a bit more. When he says that the electric side is paying for fiber under the guise of grid control costs where the only purpose of the cable is for Rock Island customers, he’s saying OPALCO is violating a directive established by the board. See board agreement of accounting treatment here: , which reads in part: “Only infrastructure constructed for the sole purpose of extending services to the third parties of IN users would be recorded as assets of IN”. [“IN” is Island Network under the old nomenclature.] Thus, the situation described by Mr. Bogert should, under the board’s directive, be treated as solely an asset of Island Network/Rock Island. This accounting treatment was recommended and endorsed by Moss Adams.

    More questions for Mr. Bogert: are you saying as a statement of fact that OPALCO management and the board has been deceiving the lender? If so, on the basis of direct personal knowledge? Making a fraudulent statement to a lender is a crime under state law, but, if the lender is a federally insured financial institution, is also a crime under federal statutes. Have you communicated your allegations to the local federal attorney and the WA state AG’s office? If you haven’t, what is the reason?

    Bogert goes on to state that Moss Adams has no responsibility to “go into the field and verify that all ‘fiber expansion’ is required by the electric department” and that that is “not their job”. Actually, that statement is incorrect. Moss Adams would be expected to issue a standard auditors’ report on OPALCO. That opinion reads in part: “We conducted our audit in accordance with U.S. generally accepted auditing standards. Those standards require that we plan and perform the audit to obtain reasonable assurance about whether the financial statements are free from material misstatement.”

    Since fiber operations are broken out separately on both the asset statement and profit and loss statement of OPALCO, incorrectly including assets, depreciation, revenue and expenses for cable that should, by board directive, be on the fiber operations sections on the electric utility sections instead would be a “material misstatement”.

    “Not their job” really isn’t a concept that independent auditors are allowed to follow. They’re required under their professional standards to perform substantive testing of all material financial statement assertions made by management. The professional standards specifically contemplate that in areas where the auditor is not professionally qualified to evaluate those assertions, they have an affirmative obligation to use a third party specialist. For example, engineers. So, if Moss Adams didn’t feel they were able to determine the proper classification of a particular cost because they lacked the engineering expertise, they have an obligation to consult with a third party specialist.

    Bogert is alleging that the financial statements of OPALCO contain material misstatements related to the misclassification of specific costs. As noted above, his post implies that he has specific direct knowledge. Mr. Bogert – have you contacted the partner at Moss Adams in charge of the audit of OPALCO’s financial statements with these allegations of fraud? If you haven’t, what is the reason?

    1. It sure would be helpful if a link could be provided to the content being discussed. For example, "John Bogert’s post on Lopez Rocks" is something I cannot locate, therefore I have no context within which to read Liz Browning's post.


  32. So is it acceptable to make false accusations of criminal activity directed towards respected members of a community?
    Is it ok to make false and baseless claims because it fits your narrative?
    Are there legal consequences for making such slanderous statements?
    Asking for a friend. Thanks.

    1. To answer your questions in order:
      A) not only acceptable, it's the raison d'ĂȘtre for an entire group of anti-broadband, anti-people, anti-jobs Zee-monster activists in SJC.
      B) yes, see answer A).
      C) now, there, that's the really interesting question. I suspect OPALCO will roll with the punches on these smears as part of their new, friendlier attitude. Personally, I think that's a mistake, especially since the most recent smear seems clearly actionable. But that's me, I'm a murum aries attigit kind of guy. The bad news for The Machine is that there's new money in the county who think similarly.

  33. PART 1:

    Chris Gracen’s post last night on Lopez Rocks ( ), was an entertaining read until I realized he was serious. For those who haven’t seen it yet, he suggested “it should be fairly easy to put this issue [the issue of accounting for grid control costs] to rest by providing a publicly accessible (through internet link) accounting of every Opalco past and planned investment in fiber or communication equipment, together with an item-by-item justification of its use for the electrical grid, the cost, asset location, and date of execution. Doing so would go a long way to putting to rest this controversy and demonstrate Opalco’s prudence and transparency.”

    To rephrase his request: his concerns would be easily resolved if OPALCO were to only:

    1. Make a list of every asset ever purchased that
    2. Might remotely relate to “fiber” or “communications” equipment
    3. Listing each item’s original cost,
    4. Exactly where it is located,
    5. And it’s date of “execution” (assuming here he means the date of installation – hopefully OPALCO isn’t executing either assets or employees).

    There you, simple as pie. Just provide all of that information and, Bob’s your uncle, all of the anti-broadband activists will simply shut up and accept that their smear campaign is both wrong and defamatory.

    If only life were that simple. If only people like that were that simple.

    Consider the process of preparing the report Chris asks for. OPALCO has been installing fiber since at least 2005. Arguably they’ve been installing “communications equipment” since they installed the first phone at OPALCO HQ. OPALCO’s current budgeting runs through 2019. So Chris is asking for a simple report detailing item-by-item purchases for at least the last 10 years and the 5 years into the future that are budgeted. Probably OPALCO has tentative engineering reports discussing possible underwater cable replacements and possible costs going out much further than that into the future. At least I hope they do.

    That word: engineering. The lists of every asset purchased will be in the accounting records, the detailed rationale for every item’s installation will be in engineering, maybe. More likely, the earlier years’ information doesn’t exist any more – few companies have that kind of detailed record retention schedules.

    Exact location: that information will probably be located in yet another department. Also, it’s possible that some of the assets may have been moved or relocated since the original acquisition date. Chasing down that information will take yet more time.

    In short, Chris is asking for a report to be created that probably doesn’t exist in the form he’s asking for – it’s likely that this information is spread across a couple of departments, maybe more than a couple. But, if only if only if only he had that report, this issue would be put to rest.

    1. when you go to Costco, you get a receipt. Isn't it reasonable to ask for a list of major communication and fiber optic items that have been purchased? Maybe just all that cost over $1000 and a one sentence description of how they're improving grid reliabilty? We members own OPALCO... we own it... don't we have a right to have at least a rough idea of where our money's going? Talked with a former OPALCO head of engineering who said that very little of this fiber stuff is actually the cheapest way to achieve reliability. There's other, cheaper ways -- radio links, line carrier stuff. Are you confident that all of the fiber optic and communication stuff going in has been through a thorough analysis to determine if there might have been cheaper ways to do it? Or do you think it's within the realm of possibility that a lot of fiber optics and routers and whatnot going in that will ultimately mostly be used for broadband, serving, say, 25% or 30% of the membership base... but that it's being paid for by the whole membership. I think that's what Chris was getting at.

    2. Costco receipts? We've hit a new low in paper-mache dioramas of finance and accounting when you want Opalco finances presented in the form of a Costco receipt. I take your point, though. Chris couldn't understand the voluminous information already provided, so he asked for the equivalent of a "Costco receipt." I suppose he could have asked for a storybook pop-up of Opalco's plans too.

      There are standards for presenting financial information, and if you cannot understand information presented in accordance with those standards, that's your problem, not Opalco's. No business, whether it's owned by us or not, has an obligation to present its financials so that the dumbest person can understand it. They just have to follow generally accepted accounting standards, auditable standards, for presenting their information.

      I think that's what Opalco was getting at.

  34. PART 2

    Not bloodly likely. Other people have commented here and elsewhere about the strategery employed by the anti-broadband, anti-OPALCO crowd: keep asking questions, when those questions are answered, ask more questions, confuse the issues, keep asking questions. Throw in some language implying conspiracies. Criminal conspiracies. More questions. Be sure to remind people that you’re NOT anti-broadband or anti-OPALCO – you’re just concerned and have questions. It’s all about “fairness”. And “the children”, usually. Things that are difficult to say you’re against. But that’s not really the agenda – the agenda is to slow down (and ultimately stop) broadband work, make it seem like broadband is the reason members of the co-op’s bills are going up.

    The reality is that if OPALCO provided all of the information that Chris asks for, they’d then ask for something else. I don’t know – education records going back to kindergarten for all current and past employees. Fecal samples from current employees. Fecal samples from every current employee’s grandmother. The requests will never end, because asking questions is the tactical tool to achieve the strategic goal of stopping broadband expansion in San Juan county.

    As a co-op member, I’m hoping that OPALCO management simply explains to Chris that rather than being “fairly easy” to respond to his question, that his request is “fucking difficult” (which is actually what he intended when he came up with his list) and rather than respond to his request, they’re going to simply say: YHGTBFSM. Unless of course he and his cohorts want to pay OPALCO to prepare the listings. It’s kind of hilarious on one hand for Chom to complain about OPALCO having to increase their budget for public information while her husband is making outlandish information requests.

    Of course, the elephant in the room is that John Bogert hasn’t responded to the questions as to the very serious and possibly defamatory allegations he’s made. Maybe his attorney won’t call him back.

  35. Where are we? Chom won't answer questions about whether she ever bothered to ask OPALCO her questions about.......wait for it.......OPALCO before publishing her hit piece on.........OPALCO. Bogert won't answer questions about the source of his allegations of criminal activity regarding.......OPALCO. It's just so funny that the community activists want to ASK questions, but they won't ANSWER questions.

  36. I have some questions:
    1. Is Chom a member or supporter of the FOSJ?
    2. Has she or Bogert recieved support from the FOSJ?
    3. What is Chom's relationship with Ron Zee?
    4. Why is Chom and Bogert trying to deprive our children the technology they need to compete in the tech savy world where people are expected to start businesses or get jobs not simply start idiotic NGO's?
    5. Why are Chom, Bogert, and the FOSJ trying to hinder middle-class job creation?
    6. Is Chom, Bogert, FOSJ, and Ron Zee communists or supporters of communist?

    Questions and more questions.

  37. 3:46. This is not productive and I'm sure you know it. The weird allegiance some people subscribe to, mean not much; the only bit of crux, is do what they have to say of any importance.

    Personally, I like the above: "Not bloodly likely."

    Still, I think all would agree, OPALCO should be able to withstand some lively election discourse.

    So where are the candidates anyway?

  38. @9:04
    I am not the 3:46 poster but I disagree with your conclusions.
    It is important to ask these sorts of questions. Most people here can see that this Chom lady took her narrative to a nother level, the level of slander.
    It's important to ask why.
    The FOSJ is just one head of the hydra. You can't defeat the whole thing unless you can see it. You can't see it if you don't look. You can't look without asking questions.
    The Choms and Bogerts do throw up a lot of accusations and twisted questions but refuse to engage in a meaningful dialogue.
    This isn't passion. Let's call it what it is. Agenda drive propaganda.
    False statements suited to ones own narrative. Propaganda.

  39. Washington State Auditor (a democrat btw) gets federally indicted for tax evasion, lying to investigators and receiving stolen goods. NOTHING TO SEE HERE.

  40. Hydra is a perfect description of the FOSJ/ZEE/MADRONA INST./MRC/LIO/CDP/DC
    monster that lurks in every nook and cranny of our islands.
    They lie in wait for the low information life coach poetry writing jewellery making voter to mindlessly vote for levy lifts and taxes to fuel its insatiable thirst for grants and control.
    The questions asked above are actually the most important ones asked thus far.

  41. Well, Julienne Battalia has weighed in on Lopez Rocks as to OPALCO broadband, so at this point I think it's safe to say, with respect to the election:


    1. 18 months ago, Julienne was complaining that wifi and/or cell phones were the cause of colony collapse disorder in bees. Since studies now show that it's more than likely caused by several factors, with pesticides being the primary culprit, she's changed her tune. Now, wifi and cell phones cause brain cancer. In children. Well, actually in everyone, but it's always best to argue that some action is necessary "for the children". Never mind that her primary argument in favor of this are a number of largely discredited studies in academically suspect journals, plus that the WHO has put cell phone radiation on the same list as things like styrofoam, wood smoke, water, and cardboard. I'm certain other maladies linked to cell phone and wifi radiation will be coming from her as well. Probably crab grass, halitosis and shorter tire life. Anyway, it's all a mask for anti-technology.

  42. Siegfried: How do I know you're not Control?

    Maxwell Smart: If I were Control, you'd already be dead.

    Siegfried: If you were Control, you'd already be dead.

    Maxwell Smart: Neither of us is dead, so I am obviously not from Control.

    Shtarker: That actually makes sense.

  43. Looks like Cornelius has the legitimate props. But what of Adams and Sutton? Is this the horse race?

    Adams goes from Stanford to yoga. Sutton goes from Plexiglas to food distribution.

    Thomerson also has the props, but also some baggage. Some people think he is a great speaker and salesman, but trying too hard to overlook the cost of broadband for every islander.

    These three need to do or at least say something different. You wanna win? You gotta work for it.

  44. What is it that the Lopezians want? No to Broadband of any kind. No to better cell phone coverage. No to any way to raise money for the replacememt of the undersea power cable. Yes to a petition to account for every dollar ever spent on fiber communication. Yes to free solar panels for everybody, paid for by a tax on big power users. Yes to some vague "democratic energy" something or other. What is the goal here?
    It kind of reminds me of Saul Alinsky and Si Kahn.

  45. I'm embarrassed to live on Lopez sometimes - a substantial portion of the population isn't taking the drugs they've been prescribed because they like Teh Crazy and another portion should be cautioned to not post things on the internet while drunk. It's like the Mad Hatter's Tea Party with a ferry stop.

  46. Kudos to Judah Finney for the IG letter opposing the island wreck tax hike. Most of the public sentiment is all in favor of tax increase after tax increase. Finney makes a great argument why we need to have more responsible government at every turn. I think this election will give us some important info, namely, how large is the voting block in our county that remains silent but is wise enough to see tax increases for what they are -- funding irresponsibility of local government.

    And speaking of irresponsibility, does anyone feel safer because the local keystone cops can't tell the difference between a destructive explosive device and mighty putty? I know at least two, and probably more of the deputies served in the marine corps. They can't tell the difference between C4 and mighty putty?
    Instead we get hysterical over reaction and expensive commotion.
    This is oil spill and global warming mentality with a dash of precautionary principle thrown in.
    Sad that we have incompetence and waste at so many levels.

  47. Hats off to Judah Finney, and THANK YOU!

    I was feeling quite lonely in my thinking that the rec levy was priced to high, but now, if Finney's figures are right and they do look accurate, then this thing is just like EMS; a worthy cause WAY over sold.

  48. But but but the children.
    First you "broadbanners" and "wireless cellular" advocates are complicit in the genocide of honeybees.
    Now you want to relegate children to working in dangerous factory conditions instead of having after school programs.
    If you guys aren't careful, I swear I will start an online petition that makes completely unreasonable demands for the production of documents.
    Once I have 12 or 13 signatures, you will know how serious I am.
    No tax is too high if it is used for children, law enforcement, emergency services, fire fighting, schools, parks, seniors, sustainable democratic energy plans, oil spill response and prevention, salmon recovery, shoreline habitat enhancement feasibility studies, or endangered species habitat investigation and restoration.

    Come on folks, it's not like the county tax assessor and auditor royal screwed up and we are now being asked to foot the bill. It's not that at all.
    It's. The. Children.

  49. "Once I have 12 or 13 signatures, you will know how serious I am."

    Ain't it amazing that getting 1,200 or 1,400 people to pre-commit to broadband last year was a "failure" while getting 100 dopes to sign an online petition demanding tens of thousands of dollars of consulting services be spent in the next 10 days is considered such overwhelming demand that ACTION MUST BE TAKEN. You could get 100 people on Lopez and Waldron alone to sign a petition calling for the repeal of gravity.

    Of course, we'll see if they ever get to 100. Scamming OPALCO may be less popular than repealing gravity.

    Of course, you have to remember that these are the same people who think that getting 16 people in a candidates' forum on Orcas is a huge demonstration of the failure of OPALCO management and board policies. One six.

  50. But, seriously, close to a Million bucks a year for Park & Rec on little ol San Juan Island? Holy Shit, is that like real money?

  51. Two things you need to keep in mind about island wreck.

    1) the SJC tax assessor, who is now retired, screwed the pooch to the tune of $350,000 is dollars. The SJC auditor somehow missed this gross error. This wasn't a one time thing, this was cummulative over several years. Now we are being asked to foot the bill.

    2) Unqualified, incompetent CDP director Sam Gibboney, a person who embraces and suckles of grants and taxpayers as a way of life, has a spouse high up in the island wreck system. Part of this money will be used to pay for the Gibboney taxpayer funded lifestyle. Not much different from the Hales and potentially more damaging to the county and citizens (if anyone thought that more damage than hurricane Hale was possible).

    Funding local government irresponsibility is right as a previous poster described it.

    Sell it with pictures of puppies, kittens, bunnies, or children and only the most depraved among us would dare to oppose.

    I'm voting no.
    This one snuck up on us. No notice for opposing views were given.
    It will probably pass.
    Unlike the last EMS levy where tons of information was disseminated on both sides and voters made an informed decision.

    Dang, I'm going to have to double up my sessions with my life coach for a while to deal with this one.

  52. If what Chris's petition is asking for would cost, say, $100,000 for a consultant to do in 2 weeks, who's supposed to foot the bill? Us members? And when do the members EVER get to see the actual evidence on which Chris and Chom have based their defamatory accusations?

  53. An excellent point - it's humorous that someone who's spent most of the last few years pleading poverty and asking for a break on his OPALCO bill, whose wife complains about OPALCO increasing their public information budget, would make such an outlandish request.

    And the source of Chris, Chom and John Bogert's very serious accusations is still undocumented. That part isn't humorous, it's appalling.

  54. Interesting editorial column in the SJ Journal April 15th print edition. Editor Scott Rasmussen notes that they are sort of regretting not vetting a previous letter to the editor about the IMA. He has concluded that it was provocative and deviated substantially from the truth.
    A couple of thoughts on this. One, my hat is off to Scott for coming out and admiting a wrong. Rare these days. It gives some credibility to future actions.
    I'm curious if this was driven by outrage or if the Journal actually got a note or call from an attorney?
    Perhaps they will, as he states, scrutinize letters a bit more.
    When you read the drivel from Chom and Chris, and the subsequent fact laden rebuttals, there should be substantial concern from anyone claiming to be a professional journalist. That letter should have never been printed.
    Slander isn't ok just because it fits your narrative. I doubt this will ever be realized unless the perpetrators are met with substantial consequences for their actions. I know it's hard to prove damage in slander cases, so Chom and Chris's lies will probably go unpunished. Statements Such as their's, in a community this small, with the % of low information voters we have, can make an impact on a board election.
    That was probably the goal.

  55. Here's two more NO votes on the San Juan Island Park & Rec Levy. We support Park and Rec ($188 at the end of this month) But this Levy would jump us up over $600 next year, well that is just too much. (For the numbers people, yes, we did make some improvements with the reward of getting reassessed.)

  56. Socialists and communists have a 100% failure rate. Repeat. For the thick heads. Socialism and communism has a 100% failure rate, despite repeated attempts spanning 100 years and 120 million dead. Still a fail. So WHY then are airhead ignoramuses in our society still pushing for socialists policies? Talk about supreme idiocy!

  57. That IS the goal. As has been stated here and, now, numerous other places, their goal is to ask unanswerable questions, confuse the issues, and keep asking unanswerable questions. The more questions, the better, even if they don’t relate to utilities or broadband. Throw in a health dose of conspiracy innuendo and supposed mysterious behavior and you’ll confuse people who aren’t or don’t want to pay attention.

    Speaking of low information voters, we’re now encouraged to be skeptical about OPALCO’s intentions by someone whose claimed qualifications for utility expertise are eating dinner with a Seattle City Light employee as a child. My college roommate’s father was good friends with Robert Frost, but I am no poet. Apparently I can claim to be one on the internet though.

    The tactics of the Graecen, Bishop, Youngren, Bogert machine attacks on OPALCO are sleazy, but designed to resonate in a county were we have more than our share of voters who are 9/11 Truthers and who believe that chemtrails are government-funded attempts to psychologically control the populace.

    The latest thing to get thrown on the wall is this silly petition. Riddle me this: how is it possible that getting 900 subscribers to financially commit two years ago to an OPALCO broadband initiative years in the future was decried by anti-broadband people as a failure, while getting only 100 people to sign a petition asking OPALCO to spend a huge sum preparing a needless (and useless) report will (if they can find 100 clowns) be seen as a victory?

    Someone else noted above that the attendance at the OPALCO candidates’ forum on Orcas was pretty sparse, especially since it’s being hailed by anti-OPALCO people as an example of the populist outrage. However, there weren’t 16 people there – there were 14. I counted. With over 11,000 members in the cooperative, getting .12% of the membership to show up anywhere there’s free coffee isn’t much of an achievement.

  58. Those are not just unanswerable questions. It's the Big Lie/Swift Boat technique being used by folks who claim to be forces for good. Shame on them.

  59. The vote yes on island Rec letter writers miss the point. Just like EMS, yours is a worthy cause, but it ain't that worthy!

    This levy is way too much, just as the EMS levy was. We all want to support school sports and much of what Rec does, but you're asking too much, way too much, and I think you know it.

    The library got away with it and ever since the taxpayers are seen as Carte Blanch.

    If your levy was even close to reasonable, it would pass in a heartbeat, but I'm voting against it, because exactly that; it is not reasonable.

  60. Three days and Chris still hasn't found 100 losers to sign his silly petition. I'm mildly surprised - maybe people are catching onto the scam he's pulling.

  61. Meh, don't worry, they'll find the people they need to get the petition over "the top" to the relatively low bar they've set for themselves. Probably most of the potential signers are still recovering from the Procession of the Species festivities - a man's got to have his priorities in order.

  62. Anyone have any idea what the FOSJ usual suspects are meeting about today? 20+ of them in a get together.
    Be good to find the guest list and see if Gibboney or Stephens are out there. (At the resurant location they are at).

  63. Which restaraunt?

  64. A whole bunch of them out at Roche.

  65. Golly, get it together people. I could have used my ear muffs to hear every FOSJ word at 50 ft. The muffs are for my chop saw, not a firing range which they were designed for. I can hear the wind under a bird's wings with these things.

    Maybe next time we can treat FOSJ like it treats us.

  66. Hi everyone,

    I am trying to get 25 people to sign my petition and send it to FedEx, UPS, and the US MAIL. I think that in the interest of fairness, global warming prevention, social justice, oil spill awareness, buffer protection, technological advancement prevention, and some other things that get me paid grant money, we need to BAN DELIVERIES to LOPEZ!!
    Imagine a world without noisy delivery trucks, massive carbon boot prints arriving daily to deliver needless items like groceries and medicines. The earth has everything we need.
    Come on, join me.....
    Only 25 more to go to reach our goal.
    Then, with this massive outpouring of support and populist uprising, once and for all, FedEx, UPS, and US Mail will HAVE TO listen to us!

  67. 25 seems like a lot. Probably should have defined 5 as a successful petition. Anyway, I'd have signed your petition, but you didn't mention children. I only do things where The Children are direct beneficiaries. Maybe you could change your explanation to include that? Also, you need to change your list of demands so that it costs fedex, UPS, etc, a lot of money to comply.

  68. I wonder if the TH could ever do an article on the Eco-frauds newest boogeyman. No. Not oil spills, but "ocean acidification".
    Kivisto's blog just published some kids paper about how the sky is falling, right here. And the amazing "conclusions they have reached."
    First, they redefine acidity vs. alkalinity. 7.0 on the pH scale is the magic middle number. This is an absolute scale. If you measure hydrochloric acid, it's rely low on the scale, lower than 7.0 and somewhere towards 1.0. Above 7.0 and you are alkaline, or in other words, non acidic.
    This paper claims that "seawater" is acidic at 7.8.
    This is insane. Redefining an established scale to suit the narrative of your paper which was written to "prove" the bullshit your professors are feeding you.
    This is not scientific. It is junior activism.

    1. I do not know specifically which "kids paper" you are referencing. I did look at the San Juan Islander and found a pointer to an article written by someone named Hannah Hickey for the University of Washington UW Today daily rag, an article which may be of interest to the folks in the San Juans as the paper involves work performed at UW Friday Harbor Labs.

      Hannah's article is a reasonable take on ocean pH if you allow that the 'natural' state of seawater is pH 8 (which makes seawater a base as compared to pure water with a pH of 7). From that perspective, seawater with a pH of 7.8 is more acidic than seawater with a pH of 8. Or one could say 'less basic' - you choose. Note that Hannah qualified the statement: "water surrounding the lab has an average pH of about 7.8, which is acidic for seawater", and within that context they are correct - 7.8 is more acidic and less basic than 8.

      From another perspective, it's unlikely you'd actually create 'acidic seawater' (e.g., pH less than 7) as seawater is significantly more basic than pure water.

      Here's the work Hannah mentions, it was recently published in Limnology and Oceanography, which is a peer-reviewed journal, and it's an interesting read:

    2. If I allow the natural state of sea water pH 8?
      So in the last what? 10, 20, 100 years out of a total of 4.something billion years, the definitive pH baseline for seawater has been established?
      Sounds like pseudo science from Kwhait.

      CO2 concentrations in water being compared to air? Ummmmm correction factor? At what depth? Or height?

      The kid that wrote this took a flawed paper and reported the findings to fit the narrative being taught in school. A false narrative.
      But wait, we now have the Friday harbor acidification research center. Thanks to my money for a new grant.

    3. I do not know whom or what 'Kwhait' is, so the reference is unclear to me.

      If you want to reject the measured pH values of seawater that we do have, you're free to do that; it's the best baseline we have at the moment - which isn't much, given the timespan we think the oceans have been around. Note that past pH can be inferred based on geological record and fossil chemistry. If you want to reject the idea that sea water pH has been around 8 for as long as we have been able to work out, you're free to do that too. At which point you're free to remove yourself from the discussion of ocean chemistry science - which would be unfortunate, as most of the folks posting on trojan heron seem to be intelligent and articulate.

      And what was flawed in Murray's paper "An inland sea high nitrate-low chlorophyll (HNLC) region with naturally high pCO2"? The water depth from which seawater samples were obtained for pH measurements were 2 and 3 meters.

      Murray's paper uses the term "surface seawater". I do not know at what height/temperature/pressure are used for standard air concentrations. Presumably near surface, but I do not know that for certain.

      Note that you can attack or question the concept of atmospheric and oceanic CO2 interaction, and you can question whether or not people have or had anything to do with that (e.g., are we observing a natural swing in pH and CO2 concentrations? perhaps we are). What you shouldn't reject is that state can be measured and change detected; the cause of that change everybody can argue about. For myself, I'm not convinced either way as to whether or not human activity is a root cause of the change.

      As an editorial comment, I find it unfortunate that some folks posting comments on trojan heron can be just as ignorant and just as pig-headed as the folks over on salish rocks. It makes me wonder if the two groups are capable of working together.

  69. This was in one of the FOSJ member's hot tub right? These new salt water tubs have their PH problems as all hot tubs do, so the kid noticed a bit of prickle as he floated to and fro.

    Oh it's the movies, I tell you. But all the children are genius. Well, surely.

  70. Such a sad contrast. I just read Kivisto's editorial and agreed with it. She points out the utter uselessness and absurdity of CDP and the council looking at greenhouse and marijuana land use regulations.
    Worth a read. Hats off to Sharon for a well written piece on the waste of time that CDP continues to display.
    Rubbish fueled by Jarman and Stephens.
    We have rules. The state has rules.
    Also, in case these dumbasses didn't notice, the NIMBY crowd essentially drove out MJ producers to the point that most rational people wouldn't consider starting an operation here.

    Then, to blow it by publishing a WSU student paper as if it were some how this valuable non agenda driven peer reviewed paper is just disheartening.
    Sharon, you gave me hope. Damn if my hope didn't leave the building faster than a thrown pencil.

  71. Wow. What a poorly written article. The title mentions natural acidification. The report ascribes a wide percentage range to "human fingerprint".
    So poorly written.
    Why would Sharon run such a poor article written a month and half ago.
    Oh yeah, earth day. Duh.

  72. I'd just like to point out that, after a week of flogging the faithful, Chris Gracean only has 85 signatures on his petition to force OPALCO to spend tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands of dollars answering his silly questions. Which is only 85 more signatures than I got for my petition to fire the entire board and install W.D. Morgan as Dowager Empress of OPALCO. If I'd only started that petition, I'm sure the totals would be much closer.

    And his latest post describes 85 as "about 100". OK, fair enough, then by my math, 85 signatures out of 11,500 members is "about zero percent" rather than the more accurate .7%.

    1. In the petition business, it is 'quality' not 'quantity'! It may only be 85 out of 100, but it is the right 85. These are the voices of "the people". They just know that behind each signature, there must be 100 "silent but concerned" voices who share their angst. That means 8,500 out of 11,500 or "about 75%".

    2. Are the signatures available for viewing?

    3. Well, they're up to 88 "high quality" signatures. Which, given that it's been 8 days, I'd say pretty much taps out the nutjob-but-not-so-stoned-that-they-couldn't-figure-out-how-to-click-a-button-on-the-petition-page constituency. If they want to get to 100, they're going to have to tap into the drug-addled hippie child population. Maybe offering a dinner combo (bag of cheetos and box of fudgsicles) for stoners who sign and leave a comment. If I were Foster, I'd be laughing my ass off about now.

  73. No, I already tried to figure out a way to see them on their silly petition site - it'd be great to get an easy to print out list of whom to avoid doing business with. #ActionsHaveConsequences

  74. Out of bounds. Thoughts about Judah Finney? Maybe not quite a Brian McClerren , but his mind works and he does his homework and he stuck his neck out like McClerren. Would it not be impossible to get two people like this on the County Council.

    Things would get done. You could keep an old fart for the insane balance these islands want. (Or, a good old fart would give the young bucks a reality check as needed.)

  75. Sorry to come in late.

    Of course you can better study PH changes in Puget Sound, but it would be difficult and expensive.

    First you must pick where you will take sample sea water from. Each of these sites will have its own singularity. That is to say water in each sample area will have its own chemical identity and that each will change differently.

    Not only would samples have to be taken over a long period of time, but also they would have to be take frequently, like every hour given tidal flows.

    Water is water. It all looks the same. Well no, it is not the same. The issue here is that we have thousands of acre feet of water coming into the Sound from many very large sources. (Think of the Skagit River next time you cross the bridge.) This inflow directly affects PH, and so in a yearly cycle there might be some readings you could make as "standard." Good luck with that.

    UW flushes it's pipes with fresh water frequently to keep sea water growth from clogging their pipes. I have no info if they think this affects any PH tests they run, or if they run them.

  76. Oh yeah, let's Remeber too that probably 100 yards or less away from the labs where the pH measurements are being taken is ......guess what.......
    Oh yeah, the Friday Harbor Sewage Treatment Effluent Diffusers.
    I'm sure that's noted and corrected for in the report.
    But but warming. Ocean acidification now. Why? Because the GW horse has been best to death.

    Publish whatever, as long as you sensationalise it and it fits the narrative. Science be damned.

    1. Well, if we all want to be bozos on this bus then we can ignore the science. If you choose to ignore the science then don't be surprised when folks working with the results begin to make decisions that affect you, based on information you don't understand, for reasons that don't make sense. Alternatively, you could choose to do a little reading and learn about what can (and can't) be measured when obtaining results (data), and conclusions one might draw from the data.

      Murray's paper states that the sea water at Friday Harbor Lab is more acidic than sea water out in the open ocean; this is a fact, as measured. The interesting conclusion drawn from this fact is that if you want to study how animals might react to, survive in, or handle stressors in the form of more acidic sea water (which current science forecasts for the future) - you can come here to Friday Harbor and study the animals in that environment right now, as we already have those conditions here.

      As an aside, yes, the paper does discuss the inflow of fresh water sources, in particular a study that was done at Fraser River (measured to be low in dissolved inorganic carbon as compared to local seawater). An interesting point is made that in Puget Sound there is more dissolved CO2 in the seawater than in the air, therefore CO2 is passing from the water to the air (and not the other way around) - that was new information to me.

      So, if you want to remain ignorant you can ignore or dismiss the studies going on around you (in all sorts of areas, the Mars rovers are another science project I like to follow). Following the science doesn't mean you have to be a tree hugger, but at least you would be informed.

      And no, there was no mention of the sewage treatment effluent diffusers in Murray's report. If the thinking is that the diffusers could impact measurements, then perhaps the study should be modifiefd to factor those in. It's useful to question methods, and perhaps improved studies can be designed that take into account more factors that might (or might not) impact results.

      At any rate, enough on this topic. The science is happening now and it's out there to read and review if you're interested, and you don't have to look at it if you don't want to.

    2. "....So, if you want to remain ignorant...."

      or with comments like that, if you want to remain a condescending prick....

      "..Murray's paper states that sea water at Friday Harbor Lab is more acidic than sea water out in the open ocean; this is fact..."
      NO IT IS NOT.
      This is false. Disingenuous. Deliberately misleading to support the new narrative that we need all sorts of money from grants.
      The oceans are NOT ACIDIC. Far from it. They aren't even close. To say that seawater X is "more acidic" than seawater Y, when neither of them are acidic is patently false.
      Seawater is not acidic. Maybe it will become that way in the next 200 million years, once it does, then yes, you can refer to it as more acidic.
      Sodium Hydroxide (aka Lye), for instance, one of the strongest bases (highest pH) around is simply that. A strong base. It is never referred to as a "Super Duper weak mild Acid".
      The statement made in Murray's paper is equal to saying that Baking Soda is "more acidic" than Lye. It has a lower pH, that is the fact, not the statement that Murray puts out.

      Until the reports that are being pushed can grasp basic academic honesty and not be narrative and grant funding driven, we will have this problem.

      The pseudo science is happening now and you can buy in to the bullshit if you want, and even pull false and misleading statements from these papers and sensationalize them on earth day, if you are interested. Or you could approach things using real science, doing experiments that may, get this, actually disprove a hypothesis or not fit the narrative.

      This is climate science, global warming and climate change for all the people who missed out on the last round of grant funding, here is the next boogeyman.

      If you say the oceans are acidic, you are lying. Period. That is indisputable.
      My 3rd grader can prove it to you with the hot tub test kit we have.

    3. No, I am not saying the oceans are acidic, in fact I said that sea water is a base.

      I do not know where the sensationalized term 'ocean acidification' came from; if you object to that term, do you have a term you would prefer to use to describe the change in state of ocean pH? I'm not talking about the state of sea water itself (current pH is above 7, which makes the ocean a base - most folks would agree with that statement, as your 3rd grader can establish with the hot tub test kit. We're instead talking about creating a label to describe the change in state. 'reduction in basicity' might be one, do you have one that you like?

      As it is, in popular lexicon 'ocean acidification' has taken root and that's what the people working in that area of research label themselves - such as Friday Harbor Laboratories Ocean Acidification Environmental Laboratory.

      I will still stand by my statement that one can refer to the difference between two pH values synonymously as 'more acidic' = 'less basic' simply because the scale can be looked at from either the acidic endpoint or the basic endpoint. This is at least one way to describe the delta of two pH values while not indicating the absolute pH values. It's no issue at all to me if you prefer to state the delta of pH values above 7 as 'less or more basic' and value below 7 as 'less or more acidic' - that works, though it does seem a bit short-sighted.

    4. Do I have a term to describe the change in ocean pH?
      Not likely happening.
      Or, pseudo science similar to climate science.
      They are still trying to force the narrative, even when it is starting to be exposed that a large amount of "adjusting historic temperature records to fit the narrative" occurred.
      The myth of ocean acidification is no different.

  77. I'd like to invite us all to sustainably celebrate Swearin' Heron Friday at the end of an Earth Dazy week, by proudly stating that I am not a Climate Denialnator. No. I am opposed to Climate Change. So should you all. Stop the climate before its too late. If not us, when? If not now, what? Chant from the roof tops: "No more Climate Change. No more Climate Change." Remember the good old days when the Climate did not Change at All? Bring them back. Stop the Climate before its too late! Do it for the Children.

  78. What future do we grant our children if we do not spend our grants today?

    The truthiness is already settled, the climate must stop. As a diligent citizen scientist going only where my research (which is mine) takes me, I have now formed my theory (which is mine).

    My theory leads me to conclude that if we do not stop the climate now with major grants, there may be no future grants for our children. Of course I could be wrong, but any level of risk is unacceptable. We must take precautions.

    Say it loud. Say it proud. Stop the Climate. Stop the Climate. Before it might possibly be later than never.

    Its the only way to really know for sure because otherwise I really don't know at all.

  79. TH....where art thou TH?
    Tis been too long.
    Please spare us this rambling OPALCO diatribe

  80. Just write a petition and demand that the Heron return. If 16 or more people sign it, it is a clear voice of the will of the people. Simple.

  81. OPALCO was a comment topic? That's good. I thought the info on PH was informative, almost to the level of the science study we are all now beholden to.

    Tell me what to study and I will. The info on CO2 in Sound seawater was news to me and could be important.. (There is a whole bunch of Sound seawater--but you know that. Study it here and study it there, likely not any correlation. or maybe?)

    But it does seem there are too many announcements jumping from mediocre study these days, thus hurting the ability to explain the real truth and have people understand and believe it.

  82. When considering the usefulness of the information Chris and Chom Gracean are so graciously providing in their “reverse hockey stick” graph [that they’re posting virtually everywhere – I found one stuck with a wad of chewing gum under a table on the Elwah yesterday], you have to keep in mind that Chris and Chom have a personal economic stake in the allocation of members’ OPALCO costs between facilities charges and actual electric costs. A personal economic stake above and beyond the OPALCO bill they get every month.

    Chris and Chom consult on solar panel installation and are involved as distributors in solar equipment. One of the key elements in determining whether a solar installation makes economic sense is the “payback period” on the equipment cost. The elimination of tax credits for consumers installing solar arrays has put a serious dent in the economics of installing solar. In parts of the US where facilities charges are low and per kwh charges are high, the payback period on solar capital costs might be only 12 – 15 years. Where per kwh costs are low, like OPALCO’s rate structure at a bit over 8¢ per kwh, the payback period stretches out. Where the payback period exceeds the expected life of the solar panel, installing solar makes no economic sense. So then you’re left with the “because the chhhhhiiiiillllldddddrrrreeeeennnnn” argument.

    Follow the money – Chris and Chom personally benefit from doing whatever they can to shift the costs away from facilities charges and into the kwh charge. I get it – times are tight in their chosen business, but playing their fellow OPALCO members for rubes is just shameful.

    1. Do you have any proof that Chris and Chom personally benefit from any of this? Chris is a World Bank (that bastion of communism) consultant who works in Tanzania and Myanmar. What grid-connected solar equipment are they distributing that benefits from high kWh charges?

  83. If we assume that OPALCO is correct and needs to bring in more money, what do you see as more (if not most) fair? I see the electrical grid as a significant installation and value, and if we want a grid it needs to be maintained and operated. It's weird that the grid actually costs more per year than the power we actually pull over it, but maybe the kWh charge is too low. That would be one way OPALCO can claim to have the lowest kWh rates around...

    I do not like that people doing major energy conservation expect to conserve themselves down to zero kWh usage and zero $ charge (and therefore zero grid financial support - other than the facilities charge, which is way below actually facilities expense).

    At the same time, I do not like the punitive nature of the OPALCO facilities rate hikes. There ought to be a middle ground in the somewhere, and I have no idea what it might be.

  84. The solar panel personal profit motive of Chom and Chris very interesting.
    Solar sounds so wonderful. It's free. It's the sun. Endless power.
    Might be true.
    What isn't ever discussed in promoting these new or emerging technologies is how dirty they are.
    Ever research how these panels are made? Ever read the list of chemicals and compounds in them?
    Nasty stuff.
    Same with batteries in electric cars.

    1. Has anybody bought a grid connected solar panel from Chris or Chom? What's their business that sells grid-connected solar in this county? All I can find is that Chris is an co-author of a World Bank book:

      Seems to me like these accusations are a crock of shit.

    2. All I can find is that Chris is co-author of a book. Yes. I don't think Chris has the drive to sell solar panels. He would probably enjoy a consulting contract from opalco to preach mini-grids and distributed power. I don't think he's cut out for much more.

  85. OPALCO election will come and go.
    One topic that has a seriously rapidly approaching deadline is the OPT OUT for GMA.
    We need to consider compelling the council by initiative or mini initiative since they are unwilling to do it on their own.
    I think we could try to get it on the august primary ballot? not sure, but November election would be the last time to have it on the ballot.

    Bob, Rick and Jamie aren't going to lift a finger to save the county from the GMA non sense. Mike Thomas is a dyed in the wool GMA'er from King County, so no help there.
    Gibboney can continue to get more grants to suckle from and perpetuate her incompetence, so she wont speak out about it.....

  86. To complete an initiative, there is a 120 day period prior to the general election that it must have been filed.
    There are 189 days until the election.
    That leaves 69 days.
    There is about 10-15 days of back and forth process with the auditor.
    There is time on top of the 120 days to validate signature. Say 10-15 more.
    That leaves, say 35 days for signature gathering of the approved initiative petition. We would need 15% of the voters from the last gubernatorial election. So we need about 1,550 signatures.
    That's doable.
    Anyone have the time to write an initative and get it to the auditor in the next 2 weeks?
    If we don't, then this will never be on the table again.
    Just sayin'

  87. So, can San Juan opt-out, or only the 4 counties listed in the text below? If we can, then the language for an initiative is pretty simple.

    Reverting to Partially Planning Under the GMA (36.70A RCW)
    Pursuant to Chapter 147, Laws of 2014 ( EHB 1224 2014 Legislature amending 36.70A.040, 36.70A.060, and 36.70A.280) and until December 31, 2015, the legislative authority of an eligible county that chose to voluntarily plan under the GMA, may adopt a resolution to revert to partial planning under the GMA.
    An eligible county must adopt a resolution to remove the county and its cities from the requirements to fully plan under the GMA. Such counties will still be required under the GMA to adopt Critical Areas Ordinances (CAOs) and utilize Best Available Science, designate and protect resource lands, and have a Rural element in their comprehensive plan that is consistent with RCW 36.70A.070(5).
    If not currently in compliance with GMA requirements, Commerce will utilize a “determination of compliance” process to assist a county or city with their obligations to achieve statutory compliance and revert to partially planning status.
    Eligibility and Requirements for Opting Out of Fully Planning Under the GMA Consistent with 1224.PL and Effective June 12, 2014
    • You originally opted into fully planning under the GMA.
    • You meet the population threshold established in 1224.PL of less than 20,000 people between April 15, 2010 and April 15, 2015. (Counties: Columbia, Ferry, Garfield, Pend Oreille)
    • You opt-out of fully planning under the GMA prior to December 31, 2015.
    • You notify your cities 60 days prior to adopting an opt-out resolution for fully planning
    under the GMA.
    • 60% or your cities representing 75% of the incorporated population have not adopted a resolution opposing the opt-out of fully planning action of the county and having provided written notice of their opposing resolution to the county.

  88. I read the original opt in by SJC. I believe we qualify. Is it 100% certain? No but arguing such wouldn't be frivolous.
    Reading the timeline, I actually think we might be out of time to do via initative.
    Lobby Rick Hughes is our only hope? Uh oh. I think we are dorfed.

  89. Bullshit: Professional signature gatherers can do it in a matter of days. These folks chase people in parking lots. Forget respect, can't get no f-ing respect! But, get it done.

    Who will lead the charge? Royce?, John?
    Or, those of you forever in purgatory for the Charter re-write? (Yes, you Gordy. You got the smarts and the money. Get us out of the GMA and be a hero again.)

    Money? I promise here on the eve of a huge property tax payment, to donate $1,000 cash green to anyone who will helm getting us out of the GMA. Don't worry the money will flow in as "leave us alone" islanders get traction.

  90. No, not that one, the OTHER anonymousApril 27, 2015 at 8:12 AM

    "Don't worry the money will flow in as "leave us alone" islanders get traction."

    Yes, I'll kick in an equivalent amount as well. Money won't be the issue, finding someone to lead the charge who has knowledge of the process is the issue.

  91. And this is why the TH is laughed at. Here's two K on the rubber with no questions asked and dead silence is all you get.

  92. May I suggest a consortium. Trust Islanders and Common Sense Alliance (others welcome) with their established tax standings go to work with the seed money already committed to ramrod the job.

    You folks can do this. You know you can.

    OUT NOW.

  93. @ 8:40
    Everyone wants to complain, few want to act and fewer still dare to lead.
    Former Building Official John Geniuch bravely spoke out and was attacked and silenced by the machine while the "TH Legion" sat at home posting more complaints.
    Mr. Geniuch stood up for what was right and confirmed what many of us suspected all along yet few had his back and many more simply did nothing.

  94. Is this a problem?

    Census says San Juan County population is 15,845
    18 and over (can register to vote) 13,914
    Voted in April 28 election 5,748 46.8% turnout.

    So, 2,874 people can decide stuff for 13,914 who could if they would?

  95. And, about 235 people (the number above that 60% on SJI) just tacked another 400 bucks onto my property taxes for many years---forever actually---ever seen a tax go back down?

    I like and want to support Park & Rec, but a huge jump to 38.5 cents was just way too much and as you say only a very few brave souls even bothered to question it.

    However, re the numbers, was the voting County wide, but on different issues? Were their other levies that overcharged and passed? Just curious at the mental positive state here in the islands. Maybe it's the Spring flowers or the promise of AIRBNB.

  96. @8:20 AM
    Geniuch did the unthinkable. He spoke out about corruption and blatant misuse of public money.
    The result? Punishment and loss of job/career.
    While the county may or may not be penalized monetarily, they got their point across quite clearly.
    How many county workers out there know of serious waste fraud and abuse? Any of them likely to step forward now?
    Even if the county pays, the long term benefit of keeping people squashed and afraid of revealing misdeeds was probably worth it. The sickening part about it is that it probably was part of their calculus.

  97. In addition, do the individuals who concoct these tax levies take responsibility for being irresponsible?

    The, " let us get the max we can" attitude has done well, but what of the damage it does.

    It is common here that property owners are rich ON PAPER but struggling month to month.

    The fact that a person has property assessed at a big number does not mean they can afford you guys "shoot for the sky" levy increases.

    I say shame on you. Take your dirty money and try to buy your pricey dreams. Sleep well.


  98. @8:07
    You do realize that every single tax levy and new regulation is only put in place to protect our children?
    Island wreck? The children.
    Critical Area Ordinance? Children living in a wonderful environment.
    Firefighters and EMS? Pulling children from burning buildings.
    Law and justice tax? Just protecting our vulnerable children.
    Overcharging building permit fees to pay for planning? Well, the children need safe houses and schools.

    So shame on you for being anti-child. Maybe you should get involved in something that helps children. Start by reducing your carbon foot print. Next, prevent the spill of oil. Next, don't eat from the feeder bluffs, that turtle food. (Turtle children as a matter of fact).

  99. It's always the risk you aren't paying attention to that bites you in the ass. Like the casino a decade or so ago that got all wrapped up in figuring out high tech ways to stop card counters. To save what, probably outside risk, maybe a million dollars over the course of a few years (figuring that if successful card counters got greedy, they'd out themselves as being anomalies as winners). What did the casino owners miss? One of the housekeeping employees who got all pissy about the dental plan set the top few floors of the hotel on fire, triggering multi-million dollar lawsuits, tens of millions in repairs and maybe hundreds of millions in lost bookings and gaming because the top floors of the hotel were closed for over a year as the repairs were effected.

    In the eyes of the county government: meth labs on Lopez? Meh, no big deal. Heroin dealers on San Juan? That's not really a crisis. Large numbers of home break ins on Orcas? Meh, there's always been crime. Let's focus on passing through grant money to Madrona Institute can do (actually WTF does Madrona Institute do?), making sure FOSJ has enough money to make their silly little fucking plywood toy boats/marine litter, and that the Conservation District has that $150K to run the 4 energy information booths they did at farmer's markets and fairs.

    Fiddling while Rome burns, I tell you.

    Or, an alternative theory: if the end goal is depopulation, maybe making life untenable for middle class families in the county while spending heavily on environmental utopia chasers is a feature, not a bug.

  100. Any student of globalization and sustainable development movements recognizes that the end goal is less about mitigating climate change than it is about changing and reducing the traditional patterns of consumption that created the middle class as we've known it. Destroy the middle class by whatever means necessary, and reduce those patterns of consumption. Thus less harm to the planet and reduced stress on ecosystems. However, do not expect these pressures on the middle class coming from wealthier elites and their big foundations and government programs to consider that the top percent need change their consumption patterns. No, because it is a good thing to concentrate most of the wealth among a very small percentage of private individuals because to do so would dry up the consumption capacity of what's left of any aspiring middle class. This top elite couldn't begin to figure out how to spend their money so quickly and on so much stuff as to remotely achieve the same level of consumption of a mass consumer class. So there you have it. Sustainable development, which movement may have begun as all well and good, has been captured as a tool for global economic aggregation at the top, who of course ... yup you guessed it ... are "Only doing this for the childreeeeennnnnnn ..."

  101. Anyone else get the county notice that the building department is cutting hours of inspections next week to work on "process improvements"?
    I have some suggestions:
    If you are charging a ton of money for building permits, spend it on inspectors. Don't subsidise planning. Voila. Process fixed.
    Getting rid of incompetent micromanagers like Gibboeny who are clearly out of their depth would help too.
    How is that woman still there? She is barely qualified to work at the build-a-bear workshop at the mall. No way qualified to run CDP.
    How many others interviewed for the job? Oh yeah, none.
    The heck? Are the Israeli diplomats pulling the strings behind the scenes?

  102. @1:18am
    Can't you let Gibboney just waste our money and execute her incompetence in peace?
    Try giving her a break. Look what she has done in 2 years.
    She changed the name of the department. Don't you realize the breathtaking leadership that demonstrates? Did you realize that by changing the name of the department, all previous transgressions of the department are forgiven?
    And ummm, well, ummm, ummmm, I guess that's it.
    Lighten up. It's not like her micromanaging and stupidity will lead the county in to extensive and expensive litigation.
    Heck, she should get a raise for all she's done. Don't you think she's worth it?

  103. Well she's working hard to precautionate the climate stuff for the childreeeen.

  104. This is county government. Incompetence is rewarded. Hardwork, customer service and dedication are punished.
    Gibboney and Geniuch are perfect examples of that.
    The incompetent agenda driven micromanager is allowed to remain in place after destroying department morale and having nothing to show for it other than the spectere of litigation.
    Geniuch begged for more resources, and by all accounts, the money was there to fund more building staff. Look what happened to him. Pretty sure other county staff that see wrongdoing will think twice about saying something.
    See something, say something, get punished.
    When oh when are we going to elect the true leadership we need to restore our little county government to sanity?
    We should be opting out of GMA. we should be reducing the size of local government and scaling the budget back. Instead we have planner extraordinaire Thomas and his CDP strooge Gibboney applying for more grants and spending money like a drunken sailor.
    It will get a lot worse before it gets better.

  105. The CDP department is applying a "LEAN" model to their processes?

    Maybe they should apply it to staff diets. Some seriously in need of leaning.

  106. After 2 dedicated and comprehensive posts about OPALCO, anyone have comments on the election outcome?

    1. The fact that Winnie Adams and Randy Cornelius won (leaving Chris Thomerson behind by 333 votes) means OPALCO members are no longer buying the story line of Chris Thomerson (and thus OPALCO's) and want change! I'm glad Chris got unseated.

    2. You're basing that statement on what polling data?

      The rants of fewer than 100 anti-broadband zealots does not a constituency make.

    3. But but but....
      Well, the narrative.
      If your hypothesis doesn't get proven by experiment and modelling, you can always adjust your historic data so that magically the narrative is intact.
      If the climate folks can do it; why not the OPALCO crowd.

    4. Not sure why, but after reading the first comment with the thinly & weakly proclaimed mandate about OPALCO, I have a Tom Petty tune stuck in my head.
      "....Even the losers get lucky sometime...."

  107. So, some of the old guard was unseated. Does that mean OPALCO will stop giving $150,000 grants to the CONservation district only to see is piddled away on a handful of energy fairs and in reality, used only to pursue other larger grants?

  108. Does Adams actually live on Waldron, "off the grid"? If true, seems a bit strange she was appointed in the first place. Mind you I'm not criticizing her. (I know very little about her and so voted for Sutton and Cornelius.)

    My feeling is the board needed some balance, and hopefully it just got some.

  109. Oh great. Mike Thomas and his merry band of council idiots once again select a candidate for an important position that, by all appearances, is probably the worst fit.
    Yep. Public works director.
    Plucked from the ranks of the nearly retired as well as formerly employed by the largest county in Portland Metro. Then who made his way to Clark County, a county with previous corruption issues that puts our local admin to shame.
    You think we will get anything resembling continuation of our rural character?
    Grants? Guardrails x20 here we come.