Saturday, June 13, 2015

When is a Wetland not a Wetland?

We’ve been reviewing the statistical and demographic train wreck that is San Juan County, but we want to pause for a moment to update everyone on some current events.

During public comment at the County Council meeting last Monday (June 8), some citizens finally brought to light a situation regarding wetlands that has been brewing for some time. We’ve been following this story quietly, letting events unfold. Now it’s time to summarize some of the salient points and let the general citizenry evaluate this situation for themselves.

It’s a controversy involving wetlands … specifically some purported wetlands on San Juan Island in a development called Portland Fair. Now, before we get into the details of this story, we have to first state that we, at the Trojan Heron, have a particular point of view about “wetland science” and “wetland scientists”. Namely, if you were to send 5 wetland scientists out to an identical property, you are likely to get 10 different opinions about the presence of wetlands on that property. No matter how much mumbo jumbo may be spouted about the integrity of wetland science, the only repeatable aspect of this “science” is its non-repeatability. We’ve seen this time and again. For example, Adamus insisted his methods were essentially 100% correct regarding the presence and location of wetlands in the county, but we’ve seen numerous instances where the official county wetland consultant (Scott Rozenbaum) has disagreed with Adamus’ work, and so on. It invariably occurs that every wetland scientist is absolutely convinced about the veracity of his or her wetland determination for a particular property, but with inevitable regularity, that determination differs violently from that of every other wetland scientist who evaluates that same property. We won’t go into why that happens here … just suffice to say that such occurrences are a basic fact of life in the confusing wetland world, and it plays out in the story we are about to relate.

Our story begins with Sheryl Albritton. Albritton is a resident of San Juan Island, and she also happens to serve professionally as a critical area consultant. She was interested in buying a piece of property adjacent to her home. After performing due diligence on the property, including discussing wetland issues with the County (Annie Matsumoto-Grah), Albritton and her husband declined to purchase the property because they felt the parcel was too heavily impacted by critical areas issues, specifically wetlands.

Subsequently, another couple purchased the land, and Albritton soon noticed that the property was being developed in ways that she understood to be illegal. Albritton filed a complaint with the Washington Department of Ecology regarding the filling of wetlands on the subject property. Albritton also objected about San Juan County staff being overruled by management when they tried to perform wetland reconnaissance for the subject property, as per the San Juan County Code.

When the Washington Department of Ecology receives a complaint like Albritton’s, they fill out an Environmental Report Tracking System (ERTS) form and notify the local Code Enforcement Officer, who in our case is Chris Laws. Laws received the ERTS complaint for this situation, and he then had the responsibility to conduct an investigation, assisted by Ecology as appropriate.

Laws’ investigation found that County employee Annie Matusumoto-Grah had previously provided written information to Albritton saying that the subject parcel was potentially heavily impacted by possible wetlands; however, the new owners nonetheless had received County approval for their development from Annie Matusumoto-Grah … but Matsumoto-Grah’s approval came at the specific direction of Sam Gibboney, head of DCD, who stated that County Manager Mike Thomas walked the site with “local wetland expert JT” and found no signs of any wetlands. The “JT” evaluation circumvented the “normal” wetland ordeal that would typically afflict any other property owner in a similar situation.

Matusmoto-Grah had requested from Gibboney the identification of the mysterious “wetland expert JT” and his/her qualifications, but Gibboney refused to provide any information. Matsumoto-Grah nonetheless documented the situation as best she could in the county permitting database.

As Laws' investigation went on to discover, the new owners of the subject parcel had asked their local councilman for some “help” with their development project. This councilman, in turn, went to County Manager Mike Thomas to ask for a favor for his neighbor/constituent. While Mike Thomas has no expertise in wetlands that we know of (he’s a planner by background), his wife, Jennifer, is a wetland scientist. In fact, some of Jennifer Thomas’ work can be found in San Juan County's CAO Best Available Science on wetlands. Jennifer Thomas, as it turns out, is “JT”.

Jennifer Thomas’ drive-by and walk-through property inspection superseded the formal wetland reconnaissance required by the CAO County code. Apparently, wetland science includes the protocol that when (through your connections) you can get the right bureaucrats to say there isn’t a wetland on your property, you can avoid all the onerous requirements of the CAO ... while everyone else is thrown to the wolves.

In case you are keeping score regarding the opinions of the professional wetland scientists associated with this property, here’s the tally so far: Adamus thought there were wetlands on the subject property (hence the original advice by Annie Matsumoto-Grah), Sheryl Albritton thought there were wetlands. Jennifer Thomas (whose work is in the County BAS blessed by Adamus) didn’t think there were any signs of wetlands.

But wait … there’s more … while Laws was conducting his background investigation, Professional Wetland Scientist Doug Gresham of Ecology was undertaking his own evaluation in parallel. Gresham visited the subject property to conduct his own wetlands review, and he determined that there wasn’t just one wetland present, but three.

Okay … those are the “facts” … and then the alleged cover up began. The details are sketchy, but based on information pulled together from various sources; this is what appears to have happened since then.

Laws asked Ecology to formalize their 3-wetland finding in a report so he could place it in the enforcement file. A couple of days after agreeing to Laws’ request, Gresham of Ecology called Laws to tell him that he could not finalize his report because he was told by his superiors (the notorious Erik Stockdale) not to finalize it … because of political pressure.

Matsumoto-Grah, who had documented in an office memo the coercion and interference of Mike Thomas and the refusal of Gibboney to provide any information about “JT”, was then instructed to re-write her official statement to exclude any references as to how she felt about the involvement of Mike Thomas or Gibboney vis-a-vis normal staff procedure related to wetlands.

Based on the information gathered during his initial investigation, Laws filed a “whistleblower” complaint against Mike Thomas with Prosecuting Attorney Randall Gaylord for Improper Governmental Action (IGA). Reportedly, Laws has been the subject of harassment and intimidation within the County ever since.

And that’s where we will leave it for now … but there is more to tell … and more to come ...

The SJC permit database documents the involvement of JT (Jennifer Thomas) in securing the permit.


  1. At the same time the county is defending the CAO in court, they are circumventing the CAO with winks and nods for "special" people. The Machine is stronger than ever.

  2. Favors. Insiders. Stockdale again. I'm tired of all of them. Throw them all out. County government is thoroughly corrupt and dysfunctional. I hear Mt. Baker road on Orcas is crumbling despite millions of dollars in unwanted work too.

    1. How many times does Stockdale have to be caught lying, destroying evidence, or suppressing information before he is shown the door?

      Stockdale's bromance with RF was repulsive. Now MT and Stockdale are blowing kisses to one another.

      Why doesn't Charles Dalton or someone else victimized by these SOBs sue them for something. Unequal application of the law. I don't know. I'm not a lawyer, but it seems there should be some case associated with some people being run through the gauntlet and others being let go.

      I see the Friends got $100,000 for oil spill studies. Here come more drift cards.
      The rich and connected get richer and more connected.

    2. Can't Stockdale get in trouble for telling an Ecology employee to butt out for "political" reasons?

  3. How morally bankrupt can you get, when the top people in the county pass laws that they don't even follow. This is disgusting.

    I'm confused by something. Sharon mentions Bob. The linked articles talk about Hughes. Are the Hughes's any relation to Rick Hughes? If you watch the video, all the of the council men say they know nothing about it. Who knew about it? Who was lying?

    Thomas didn't say anything and didn't react. He's a pro.

  4. "Welcome to Wetland World" its gonna be bigger than Jurasic World. Staring Chevy Chase, Dennis Hopper's ghost and Eric Stockwell. Coming to a draining ditch near you any day now.

  5. No relation to Rick Hughes.

    1. Thank you Rick. Did you know about it? Did Jamie know about it? Were all of you lying last Tuesday or just Bob?

    2. This isn't Rick. I can take a breathalyzer and blow 0.0 to prove it.
      To his credit, Rick didn't deny knowledge of it, only Bob and Jamie.
      Rick asked a question of the union guy (Dean) but that was basically it.
      I can't figure out why Jamie was so upset?
      This thing belongs to Jarman, not him from what I can tell.
      But he is definitely not helping himself by lying.

  6. Two whistleblower complaints against the county this year. The inmates are turning on themselves.

  7. There are more than 2.

    1. The union rep showed up for the June 8 meeting & talked during the public comment section. All very friendly, very indirect, lots of passive verbs, but anyone who was watching picked up the subtext: the rank & file is not f'ing happy. And the union is going to start flexing some muscle. The union just fired a shot across the bow of the machine.

      Here's the thing though — a bunch of people, from our see-no-evil council down to Thomas & down at least as far as Gibboney should all personally be consulting with attorneys. Some of the acts (some alleged and some obviously true) would appear to constitute gross malfeasance sufficient that personal civil liability might attach. It's one thing to fall on your sword for your boss if you don't have anything at risk, but how does Gresham at ecology or Matsumoto-Grah feel about losing their homes/savings/etc in a civil suit?

      Lastly, at this point, Jarman is electorally f'ked, I have a better chance of being elected pope than he does of re-election. Is there any constituency in the county other than his immediate neighbors who he hasn't royally pissed off? I'm not saying he wants to get tarred and feathered, but if he did, what would he have done differently? He'll need AT LEAST 3,000 to 3,500 votes to get re-elected. Does he have 3,500 neighbors?

    2. Word, David Hume. The union rep showing up is really something.

    3. Contemplating Jarman's political future reminds me of the joke about the hunter and the bear. The one where the punchline is "You don't really come here for the hunting, do you?"

    4. I'd give pretty reasonable odds that Jarman doesn't run for reelection. He's got that pledge of allegiance part of the meetings down like a champ, but after that, he starts falling apart. He's old, he's got health issues, and frankly, he looks befuddled when discussing any issue other than ones he hasn't screwed up on (greenhouses, CAO, Geniuch, and now this). When discussing those issues, he looks like a stupid greedy man with something to hide. If we're not careful, we could end up with a doucherocket like Zee or The Dorf on the council.

    5. Dorf?? ROFL. Zee? He never comes out into the open does he?

  8. So does this mean that Thomas and Gibboney are going to have Chris Laws fired like they did John Genuich?

    1. Speaking of Geniuch, take a look at the screen shot provided for this permit. Annie apparently signed off on the permit and gave it to Geniuch on 9/12/14. He issued it 4 days later according to the record.
      And we got rid of this guy? Why again?

    2. "We" got rid of him because he made Gibboney feel "unsafe." Apparently, the default excuse for all bad behavior in CDPD is "feeling unsafe."

  9. I watched the video from Monday.
    Jamie is lying. Period. This is news to him? Huh? Patently and demonstrably false.
    Bob is lying, more than once. This is the first time he has heard about it? Sorry it's not swearing' heron friday, but I call bullshit.
    Bob knows about this full well. He is embarrassed about it and plenty of people know he knows. For him to come out and say he doesn't know is appalling. What does he think of us? That we are as stupid as he acts?
    Then to race over to Sharon's office and convey the message that "it looks bad but there was no wrong doing?"
    Read the county policy definition of "improper governmental action". It has a very specific definition.
    Resolution 113-1992.
    1. "Improper governmental action" means any action by a San Juan County officer or employee:
    a. That is undertaken in the performance of the officer's official duties as a county employee, whether or not the action is within the scope of the employee's employment; and

    b. That (i) is in violation of any federal, state, or local law or written departmental policy, (ii) is an abuse of authority, (iii) is of substantial and specific danger to the public health or safety or (iv) is a gross waste of public funds.

    Then read the memorandum from Gaylord dated March 11, 2015, see page 6. This is the words of the Prosecuting Attorney. "The instruction to issue the permit without a wetland reconnaissance report is contrary to county ordinance and policy."

    Any questions?
    Read the definition of improper governmental action as defined by the county.
    Read Randy's conclusion.

    Thomas and Gibboney are guilt. Period. Jarman to some extent too.

    For him to claim this is the first he heard of it, now to run to the press and tell them "it may look bad but there was no wrong doing".?
    Aw shucks. At least you still know where all the damn phone cable is buried, right?

    1. You don't say anything about Rick. What about Rick? He and Mike Thomas are disgustingly friendly, and I find it hard to see how Thomas could keep this secret from his special buddy.

    2. The council was made full aware of this situation. Rick knew. He just didn't deny anything. He basically sat back and, probably wisely, didn't say anything.

  10. So is the payroll clerk guilty of "improper governmental action" every time she issues Gibboney's paycheck? According to the definition, item (iv) "is a gross waste of public funds".
    If that doesn't qualify, then I'm not sure what does.

  11. 2008 Best Available Science Document

    Jennifer Thomas and Associates are listed, as well as several FOSJ knowns.
    This is way beyond improper.

  12. Boy this thing tastes funny. @11:19 spells it out pretty clearly. Gaylord's March 15 finding letter is fairly blunt and to the point. Then there is a conflict of interest here involving the House of Thomas. He needs to issue a political favor so sends in his wife to produce the opinion he needs ... Oi. Last but not least, and I may have missed this please tell who bought this property? Ah, Portland Fair. Bob's neighborhood. Christ, we've all been warning for years what this CAO clusterfu**&k was going to create -- corruption, pure and simple.

    1. Chris and Jenise Hughes of Sammamish.

  13. Sam and Thomas, pardon me -- SG and MT -- believed they could keep the ID of the wetland scientist hidden by using initials. They have to be the dumbest corrupt government employees in the whole world.

    1. I'd be curious to know what role RG at the PA office played in all this.

    2. After Jarman's cock up here, and on the Geniuch case, and a few other times, I'll bet Gaylord views Jarman (and to some extent Thomas) as a horrible case where retarded 16 year old boys have been given access to both car keys and whiskey. When they're not in the room, you're sure that things are getting more fucked up every second. And it may not be fixable. Gaylord is the worst kind of career politician, with no regard whatsoever about his fiduciary obligations to taxpayers, but compared to either Jarman or Thomas, he looks damn good in comparison. Which should horrify every taxpayer in San Juan county.

  14. I want to know how deep this goes for Mike Thomas. When the John Geniuch affair came up, Mike Thomas had to side with Sam Gibboney because she was doing his lying for him on this. At the same time, Mike Thomas replaced Phil Obrechts as Hearing Examiner and installed someone he knew from Enumclaw.

    Was Mike lining up people he could depend on if this ever went to the HEX?

    1. Very suspect. The very last HEX report issued by Obrechts related to the issue against Geniuch. Obrechts went on to form a conclusion that supported Geniuch and trashed the county/Gibboney narrative that he had done something wrong.
      So yeah, get rid of that guy too.
      My money is on Chris Laws being fired next.
      Mind you it should be Gibboney and Thomas, but in a corrupt world that is local government, most likely won't play out that way.

  15. "You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy. We must be cautious."
    -Obi-Wan Kenobi

  16. I had to pay $2,600 to get a wetland report done. I wish I had known about the special privilege available if I was friends with Jarman.

    How many other people have paid as much or more than me for wetland expert reports?

  17. As anyone sane should know by now, the CAO is a system for dispensing political favors ... or political punishment as the case may be. It's a patronage system, not a system for environmental protection. As Glen Morgan is fond of saying, "The process is the punishment." If you can exempt someone from the process, you've done them a giant favor. Alternatively, the CAO also allows you to target troublemakers and teach the a lesson. The CAO has nothing to do with actual conditions on the ground.

    In this case, the system worked. Favors were dispensed. That's what it was built for. The only teeny little problem is that people are beginning to find out how easy it is for some and how punishing it is for others.

    When Kelly Emerson, former Council woman from Island County, was being targeted by her own planning department for fake wetlands on her property, she took it on the chin for a while. She was being targeted for political punishment using the CAOs. For a while, the county enlisted the help of Ecology to punish the Emersons, and then Ecology discovered that Emerson was an elected official. Once that came to light for Ecology, Kelly Emerson received a phone call from the Erik Stockdale equivalent in her case, offering to make everything go away because they had not realized she was an elected official.

    Kelly turned them down flat. Kelly is the anti-Bob Jarman. Doesn't even deserve to be mentioned in the same sentence as Bob. He can't hold a candle to her.

    1. I can't believe someone else knows the Kelly Emerson story.

      Yes, and Kelly and Ken ended up winning a complete and total victory. It cost the tens of thousands of dollars and nearly 4 years, but they confronted the issue head on, and they beat them all on every single point.

  18. Mike Thomas, Bob Jarman, and Sam Gibboney. You each need to resign now. Please, leave.

  19. Is Mike Thomas related to Barbara Thomas of the Planning Commission? Barbara Thomas's son just got a $1.2 million contract from Jamie Stephens to renovate one of Jamie Stephens's buildings in Lopez Village. The renovated building is going to become the Lopez version of Whole Foods and sell the produce of Barbara Thomas's daughter too.

    Lots of hands washing one another.

  20. So what are the consequences for corruption and malfeasance by upper level county managers?
    Who is overseeing them?
    Surely it can't be the HR lady? She probably has been complicit in all of this.

    1. No one does, not even the Attorney General.

  21. The cover up is always worse than the crime.

  22. The cover up is always worse than the crime.
    The lying to your constituents after you get caught covering up is even worse than the coverup or the crime.

    Bob Jarman should be ashamed of himself. A public apology needs to be forthcoming. Before that happens, he has to do one simple thing. Stop lying.
    He did know about this well before last Monday.
    There was in fact wrong doing.
    Mike Thomas and Sam Gibboney coerced subordinate staff to violate local polices and procedures.
    People were able to avoid regulatory burdens simply by being connected.

    Apologize Bob. Then resign.

    I'm still puzzled as to why Jamie was so upset?

    1. Because he was caught off guard.

  23. If the law stinks, then it has to stink for everyone. If you don't want it to stink for someone, then change the whole law. No more hypocrites.

    Even non-Friends have turned into hypocrites. Don't you remember this? Bob, this is what you've become.

  24. Jamie was upset because the essence of the machine was threatened. Jamie is #1. Machine is #2. Any questions?

  25. This council has always believed that their first and greatest accomplishment was hiring Mike Thomas. They were right.

  26. How come Bob Jarman is both a Fire District Commissioner and a San Juan County Commissioner? I thought the Washington Constitution prohibited this sort of thing. Something called incompatible offices or sumthin. Like when it comes to signing the inter local agreements and such -- like when the Fire District #3 contracts with the County to buy a boat -- Bob gets to sign twice?

    1. "It doesn't look good, but there was no wrong doing"....

      Probably some non-sense like that.

      Wonder why Jarman isn't running for fire commissioner again? Oh yeah, Milene told him that he can't hold both offices.
      Major conflict of interest.
      Jarman was a hope of rationality and sanity.
      He has been an abysmal failure.
      Every once in a while a good politician comes along who isn't corrupted, who has the talent, tenacity, and intellect to navigate the landscape, make meaningful changes, and govern effectively.

      Jarman is about as far from that as you can get.

  27. I believe all can, and seemingly do, now agree that the new CAO "rules" have very little to do with the environment, or protecting it. (Some day, I even expect the big D's will come to realize they are being screwed every way but sideways.)

    "Best available science" produces nothing more than constant employment for unemployed PhD's. The more they disagree, the more money made.

    And all this, I suggest, is and has been for some time the economy base generated by County Government.

    The CAO's are nothing but a cash generating tool for government and "consultants" and of course the perfect sharp knife for sticking it to your enemies while rewarding your Friends.

    Certainly all know now that this junk has absolutely nothing to do with protecting the environment.

    1. Probably a bunch of lies, huh?

  28. The really frightening part goes beyond the blatant corruption and misfeasance of Gibboney and Thomas.
    What is most frightening is that they are in charge of staffing most levels of our county government. These two severely ethically challenged individuals will be hiring and appointing people that have police and enforcement power over our lives.
    The chances of them hiring like minded planner centric people vs. rational citizen minded non-bueracrats? I would put it close to 100%.
    Or roughly the same odds of them not willingly doing what is dignified by resigning.

    I wonder if this property owner happens to be an Israeli diplomat?

    This is by no means Gibboney's first ethical failure.
    I guess we need to investigate Thomas to see if it is a pattern or not.

    Yes, the Council does love boy wonder superfly, but his behavior, Gibboney's behavior, at the direction of a council member, is appalling, likely violates multiple know ethical standards for government employees, probably violates the employment contracts.

    I'm curious what Randy's take on this is, aside from the pussyfooting around obfuscating memo he wrote where he feebly attempts to cover for these ethically challenged individuals.

    Fortunately, we have transparent government and all of this should be able to come to light through a few basic public records requests. Right?
    Not like the county is trying to hide stuff, or keeping it on a private server or something?
    That only happens at the federal level.
    County Hard Drive Maintenance by Lois Lerner. Coming Soon.

  29. All of you have to stop beating up on Jarman. He's the best we've got.

    1. If that's true, a Jonestown-style mass suicide is the only answer. Pass me a Dixie cup of Kool-aid.

    2. Ok, fair enough. I will stop beating up on Bob Jarman as soon as he stops lying. As soon as he comes forward, publicly apologizes, and then either resigns, or holds Thomas and Gibboney accountable for their malfeasance and terminates them.
      They have removed employees for far less than this.

      So yeah, we can ease up on Bob, as soon as he eases up on lying to us. Only seems fair.

  30. When is the council going to look at Thomas's record of failure and say "Enough is enough"?

    It's embarrassing to be a taxpayer in SJC and I didn't even have a direct say in Thomas's hiring.

    1. Everyone is held together by mutual lies and ass-covering at this point. Splitting them up will be like splitting the atom. Gibboney covered for Thomas. Thomas covered for Jarman. The Council covered for Thomas. Gaylord covered for everyone. Morais covered for Gibboney and Thomas.

      It's government jenga.

  31. Jarman is the best we have?
    We. Are. Screwed.

    1. Or, if this is the best you've got, then perhaps San Juan County is not competent to have its own government. Merger with Skagit Co might be the best option.

  32. So we should excuse behavior that is corrupt and unethical because the other clowns are worse?

    That is some of the worst logic I have ever heard.
    It's not even bad logic, it's illogical.

    Give this rapist a break, at least he didn't murder the poor girl.
    It's about like that.

    Jarman could easily cleanse his hands but he has to hold Thomas accountable.

    I wonder what the spin on this will be from the county?

    You know Jarman, aw shucks, it ain't really a wetland, what's the big deal?

    We need to investigate this Thomas fella and see what else he is hiding. What other misdeeds he has committed.
    Anyone ever try to get a straight answer from the council why they gave him a retroactive pay raise after only 6 months on the job?
    I got from Rick that "well, we brought him in below market".

    Does Hughes really believe his own bullshit? Does he think we are stupid?

    Below market? Really? You had like 12 other applicants ready to take this at market rate. In fact, Thomas was given the high end of the range. Not just near the high end, the very top. That somehow wasn't good enough, so they gave him more?


    Thomas needs to go. Gibboney needs to go.

    If Jarman stepped up and took charge and fixed this, we could forgive him. Take control, act like a FU**&G ADMINISTRATOR. We passed substantial charter changes and empowered you guys to do just that. Thomas isn't the only one that is supposed to be doing dirty work and heavy lifting.

    Jarman needs to quickly fish or cut bait.

  33. You guys think that Jarman will actually step up and do something?
    He already showed his true colors by running to Kivisto's office right after the meeting on Monday and lying to her, trying to set the story straight.

    I would encourage everyone to write the council and let them know that you are upset that the rules are being circumvented and upper management, very well paid by tax dollars and permit fees, are coercing staff to wrongdoing and then covering it up.

    I just found out that this Annie girl left. Wonder what the circumstances behind that were?
    Yet another CDP staffer with integrity trying to do their job chased out by Gibboney and Thomas?
    Come on people we can do much better than this.

  34. OK, let's pretend for a minute that Kvisto runs something that you could call a newspaper or something else where the word "journalism"' might properly be used in the same sentence. Like I say, let's pretend. Assume you had a morning like Jarman last Monday: multiple people show up at the public comment time to publicize FACTS surrounding your fuck up, not to hint that there might have been wrongdoing. On what planet does it make sense to, immediately after the meeting, run to the "newspaper"' and proclaim that no wrongdoing occurred? What a f'ing rube. Jarman needs to lawyer up and STFU.

    Interesting that of the three clowncil members, Jarman did the dumbest thing. Jamie took the limited hang-out route and said he had no idea what anyone was talking about - itself a risky strategy, especially in since that assertion is demonstrably false. Not smart, but at least not Jarman-like. Which leaves Hughes having done the only sensible thing - say nothing. It's morally wrong, but legally, he was the only clowncil member demonstrating a functioning cerebellum. Scary. If we'd kept the council at 6 members, we'd statistically have had a higher chance of having one council member with an IQ over the average.


  36. See RCW 42.23.070(1) below for the State's take on this.

    I say get rid of them all and start over. If upholding the County Code places to much a burden on the Council or Administrator then they should resign. What they are doing and have done in the past is against their Oath of Office and the Charter not to mention this RCW.

    Also see County Charter --- Section 2.31 – Executive Powers and Duties

    (2) The County Council shall exercise its executive power by adoption and enactment of ordinances or resolutions. It shall have the power to:

    (c) Ensure that all actions of the County are compliant with all
    federal, Washington State, San Juan County codes, laws and procedures, and this Charter, seeking advice from the Prosecuting Attorney or other sources as necessary.

    I guess it says "shall have the power to" so does this mean they don't have to exercise that power if they don't want to ?

    And who is putting "political pressure" on Ecology to back off?

    Any attorneys in SJC who will step up and take this on?


    RCW 42.23.070 Prohibited acts.

    (1) No municipal officer may use his or her position to secure special privileges or exemptions for himself, herself, or others.


    Hubbard v. SPOKANE COUNTY, 50 P. 3d 602 - Wash: Supreme Court 2002

    Based on the plain language of RCW 42.23.070(1) and the legislative intent in enacting the Ethics in Public Service Act, ---   RCW 42.23.070(1) clearly prohibits municipal officers from using their positions to secure special privileges or exemptions for others.  -----  Furthermore, the express purpose of the act was to ensure that government officials conducted business in a “manner that advances the public's interest.”     We therefore hold that RCW 42.23.070(1) creates a valid public policy in favor of prohibiting municipal officers from granting special privileges or exemption to others.   In so holding, we recognize the burden this may place on public officials.   However, because public officials serve the interests of the citizens of Washington, consistent with the Ethics in Public Service Act, we find it appropriate to hold them to a high standard.

    1. Hmm.....wonder if that was the topic du jour for one or more of the executive sessions the clowncil availed themselves of today.

    2. More than likely they were trying to figure out how to fire Chris Laws for doing his due diligence in this investigation.

      Or yeah, probably a session of combined finger pointing and ass covering.

  37. Dear SJC Council.
    Stop hiring Prothman prostitutes who come here, do a few tricks, then run off to the next community stupid enough to hire them.
    Enough already

    1. Yeah, remember back when the Charter Commission decided to put management of the County into the hands of the Council and double their salary, then suggested hiring a "manager" at $70,000 or so, lots of folks said. Hey, hire a manager with real world experience! We have a bunch in this County. But NO. We hire another professional bureaucrat. And Council walks away from actual management while giving the "manager" $150,000. Remember?

  38. Check any map, google, polaris, old soil survey, dnr fpa maps. It shows the old streams that run through PF and heritage farm...water is all still there even though the streams channels are heavily altered....and they are all connected. An old friend John Bradley delineated those in the 1990's and Bob was pissed then. How crooked can you get Mrs. Thomas, please take ecologist off your resume. Also, I talked to Sheryl Albritton, its nuts that she is working with DOE, Doug Gresham in fact, to restore other sites while she watches wetlands be filled out her office window and they won't back her. Wow

  39. Annie quit??? Who's left? The only shot across the bow came from the union and that may be the only entity with the power to demand and get corrective action. Employees don't like having to lawyer up for simply following the SJC code as ridiculous as it is.

  40. San Juan County Council = Port of Seattle .

  41. Annie was a good diligent worker.
    Probably got sick of witnessing corruption.
    She saw first hand what happened when an employee, a manager for that matter, spoke up about it.
    I would get the heck away from Gibboney and Kuller.
    Imagine working under those two?
    Loud, obnoxious, borderline turretts.

    As bad as those two are, they were just following orders from Thomas and/or Jarman.
    Need to have a house cleaning from the top down.

  42. In my almost 30 years as a public servant, Linda Kuller is a the hardest working planner I have ever met. She had no part in this so lets keep her out of it. Loud and obnoxious are the last two words I would ever use to describe her. Please be nice there is no replacing her.

    Sheryl Albritton

  43. What's the over/under on how long before Annie files a lawsuit against the county?

  44. Still thinking there is a real backstory behind who and how Stockdale was yanked away from the case because it was too political. Who pushed the buttons at Ecology? Jarman? Really? I don't think so. Ranker? Sure but he doesn't owe Jarman anything. It seems that the folks who bought this property would have been advised by their realtor about likely CAO encumbrances, I cannot believe they were unaware before the purchase or afterward. Jarman is a long time fixture out at PF, I can see him getting a bit caught up in just being a good 'ol boy and helping out a neighbor. But the best way for Jarman to help his neighbors out is to be just a wee more "proactive" about pulling the teeth out of this atrocious law, not side stepping the hard legislative work only to give a well oiled constituent a free pass. But I really want to know who pushed Ecology to call off the attack dogs. That's a story to be told!

    1. The Hughes were told by several of the wetlands and old stream that cross their property. They chose to do what ever they want and instead of using the old driveway they filled a new one through the wetlands.

  45. Jarman's ticket to get out of hell: 1) Cop to the error, you just wanted to help, that's what happened, you just didn't think through the consequences, to err is human, but the impulse was good, the intention was good; 2) To pay for your sins, GET. US. THE. HELL. OUT. OF. GMA. NOW. You know how that one works, we have until the end of December 2014 and no one on Council is kicking up dust over this.

    You know the only reason that San Juan County was airbrushed from the law permitting small rural counties to give GMA a pass is the exact same reason Ecology airbrushed any serious evidence of wetlands from the property at issue. It is just politics. Get San Juan County back in the legislation, and GET. US. THE. HELL. OUT. OF GMA.

    Do those two things Bob and you will get a "free pass" to Wetland World.

  46. Because of climate change, obviously, don't deny it!

  47. Can we all pitch in and hire an attorney to sue the county on this one ?

  48. Chris and Jenise Hughes need to clean up their mess and get proper permits for wetland fill. The heavy trucks broke up the PF road in front if their cabin which was repaired and disposed of in the wetland too. Drive by and check it out 310 treeline.

    1. Maybe we should mail this info to their lender

  49. Could the Trojan possibly draw this story up in a family tree type format? I'd like to use that to avoid paying big bucks on a wetland study next week. Do you think that would be enough political pressure to sway Eric Stockdale?

    And....did the person who ultimately bought the property get a bargain due to the threat of wetlands?

    1. Chris and Jenise Hughes closed on the land on November 26, 2013 at a purchase price of $115,000, which looks in line with the prices of other lots in the area. Only an appraiser could give a truly informed opinion, but it looks like they didn't get a discount. Were they buyers who paid too much for an unbuildable lot and looked to Jarman to help out when they realized that they'd been bent over? Maybe. Were they buyers who paid a fair price for a buildable lot (that they knew was unbuildable) and thought they'd be able to fix that little "unbuildable" problem with their new lot by utilizing the ins and outs of the SJC political process? Maybe - maybe just another set of rent seekers trying to game the system. In any case, they shouldn't be able to bend the CAO to their will - caveat emptor and all that stuff.

      How this turns out will be a good insight into whether the clowncil is truly committed to running a transparent, fair, and truly honest government or whether they're planning on keeping on keeping on with the same greasy venal system of rewards for friends (and Friends) that The Machine has been committed to building and keeping in place for a couple of decades.

      American voters are a pretty beaten down bunch. At this point, they don't especially care if politicians f**k the interns, but they care when the entire system seems lined up against them. Come election time, Hughes and Jarman should expect to have to answer the question "What did you do to try and reform the system to make it fair?" So far, their answers would have to be "Not a damn thing."

    2. Anyone who tries to argue this case on the merits of it being or not being a wetland is seriously clueless. There is no merit to the way wetlands are identified or delineated. It is make believe. Wetlands and habitat are in the eye of the beholder, and the County set it up so beholders see CAOs everywhere. Every wet spot is an argument, thousands of dollars, and a bureaucratic nightmare involving multiple conflicting opinions and the lordly opinions of the Department of Ecology, who sees wetlands everywhere.

      Adamus wanted to ban anyone who had ever disagreed with Ecology from every being able to do a wetland report ever again. I guess Erik Stockdale would now fall in that group. Jennifer Thomas would now fall in that group.

      The wetland scam is just that. It's a scam and a gauntlet. To be given a pass on the gauntlet and not comprehend what you did wrong shows either an appalling misunderstanding of the system or appalling phoniness.

      I would love to know what the Feds and courts think about this wetland. Either it's a wetland and somebody's very wrong, or it's not a wetland and somebody's very wrong. It doesn't matter to me who's wrong. Either way, it shows how arbitrary and ridiculous the professionals and politicians are who are make up with this stuff.

      Tear it down. It's nonsense. All of you fools ruin other people's lives for no reason and give yourselves a pass on all the crap you rain down on others.

  50. I can't seem to find the comments about the wetland in the council video. Could someone tell me where that is? Thank you!

    1. Look at the public comment period at the beginning of the June 8 video.

  51. "My daughter's new Agenda 21 Eco-friendly bedroom"

  52. Administration of the new CAO certainly is going to be more expensive than anyone's wildest dreams.

    Oh, wait, we'll get a grant just for measuring dampness. Looks like we'll need another one to finance a full-time lie machine operator.


    Status: wagons circled. Storyline - thought up & all participants apprised of the new new narrative. Full speed ahead!

    The only fly in the ointment is that one of the participants is Jarman - who's befuddled enough that getting him to stick to a narrative is problematic. Example: New storyline: Hughes never contacted Jarman or asked him to intercede. Problem: Wouldn't that have been a good tidbit for Jarman to leave with Kvisto when he visited the SJIslander office last week? Maybe he did & Kvisto left it out of the article - it's not like she's exactly a real journalist - but you'd think a detail like that would have been included in the story.

    It'll be interesting to see how this unfolds - Jarman has a history of talking out of school and being out and out confused, so keeping a rein on him will be Job #1 for Mike Thomas and Gibboney.

  54. Ummmmmm.
    The Island Guardian article?!?
    Jack is making Sharon look like the professional journalist.
    The article looks like the only "proof" reading was probably 80-proof.

    Maybe Jack should change the name of his paper to "San Juan County Government Guardian" instead of Island Guardian.

    Here is a synopsis of Jack's article, in case you didn't read it.
    1) Blame the messenger who reported a blatant violation to ecology. Ridicule them a little and make it sound like any and all reports of wrong doing to any authority is bad.

    2) Confuse the issue and throw out words like "farm pond" and "exempt". Exempt from what exactly? Don't provide any factual issue.

    3) Insert a ton of typos, grammatical errors, factual inaccuracies

    4) Pooh pooh it like Jarman has done.

    Some of the worst writing in terms of technical, topical, substance, factual accuracy, etc.

    I hope people don't actually pay to advertise on Jack's blog.

    1. Jack knows it's wetlands he perked and designed the site after the first fill.

  55. All they had to do is use the other driveway and avoid filling the old stream bed additonally for their second driveway. These are real wetland not a puddle.

  56. The article in the Guardian is off, Sheryl offered the owner and builder the info she obtained on the property she doesn't work here. Their going to Jarman is documented.

  57. 12:41pm and 10:10am are spot on. If this fiasco is going to be typical of the new CAO's then Lord help us. This is a nothing deal somehow on simmer for many months and now no one seems able to tell or maybe even know the truth. Dollars are flying into the street and a whole bunch of people are really pissed off.

    As the TH rightfully commented, no one seems to actually adhere to some fixed definition of a wetland.

    The County should never have decided to play with wetlands and we should consider if this is just the beginning of many parts of the CAO being contested.

    OUT of the GMA. OUT NOW!

  58. Wetlands regulations have been in place way before CAO.

  59. "Wetland regulations have been in place way before the CAO".
    Water is denser than air.
    So what.
    The issue is the new CAO promulgates nonsensical regulation and unjust burdens on property owners.
    This is a manifestation of that.
    This topic here goes way beyond regulations and wetlands, it is specifically about government corruption.
    Bob Jarman and Mike Thomas willingly subverted the process.
    There is a process that everyone is supposed to follow.
    Bob and Mike used their positions of power to remove their neighbor from that process.
    They did so 1) Outside the scope of the authority granted to them in the charter 2) contrary to county policy (which is literally the definition of "improper governmental action"), 3) through ethical violations that have been documented 4) through coercing subordinate staff to signing off on things without following proper process.

    This is illegal, unethical, disgraceful, and frankly why people are time and time again sickened with current politicians.
    Jarman is no better than Lovel Pratt, just ideologically different.

    We need to reach across the isle to the younger generation on both sides of the machine and find candidates that can support common goals and cause.

    Jarman should resign or be impeached. Knowing his foolishness, he will probably seek re-election.

  60. Bob Jarman is no better than the machine he sought to defeat.
    Jack Cory and the IG are now complicit in trying to confuse and bury a serious issue.

    Imagine if Lovel Pratt or Jamie Stephens had done this for one of their neighbors?
    Bypassed process to benefit a friend or neighbor?
    Got the county manager and his wife to break clear contractual obligations in addition to committing serious ethical violations?

    Jarman and his ilk would be jumping up and down screaming.
    I'm among those that would be demanding answers and trying to hold people accountable.

    Where people like myself, the Trojan Heron, and a growing number of others differ from the IG editoir is that we are holding the person we supported in the election accountable as well.
    Not having a double standard just because he was our guy.
    It's a little thing called integrity.
    Thomas and Gibboney clearly have none.
    Jarman is quickly showing the same.

    1. Be careful what you wish for, I guess.

  61. Island Guardian article goes beyond poor writing and in to the realm of hack propaganda.
    The author attempts to discredit the person who made the initial report, some casual vague notion that somehow she solicited work from the property owner and was turned down.
    Shameful really.
    Sheryl had nothing to gain in all of this. She knows the history of the parcels in the area, did due diligence, believes in protecting habitats, and saw these people subverting process and damaging a wetland area.
    IG is almost as bad as Jarman and Thomas. Not quite because we have had less hope and lower expectations.
    Shameful for sure though.

  62. “When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.” -Thomas Jefferson

    If we can't figure it out by next election, we need to look to the next charter review process and really fix this process.
    Our local government is broken.
    51 million dollars to spend every year and they whine for more. Pay Mike Thomas 135k for being a failure and succumbing to corruption.
    This is an insane amount of our money.
    For this sort of money, we need transparent, functional, accountable government.
    Not the crap and yahoos we have now.
    Fix the process 2016.

    1. San Juan County is not capable of governing itself. Should join with Skagit Co.

  63. The first proof of guilt to any investigator is when the suspect doesn't address the charge and begins ad hominem attacks on the witness or complainant.
    Sheryl Albritton didn't coerce staff to approve the permit "...contrary to county ordinances and written policies." Mike Thomas and Sam Gibboney did.
    Sheryl hasn't been lying about the incident, Jarman, Thomas, and Gibboney have been.
    And Sheryl hasn't been attempting to sweep the incident under the rug, BJ, MT, SG & RG are.
    JT apparently couldn't find a wetland if she fell in one - thank god she contributed to the CAO.

  64. Hey Jack... the ponds are not exempt! Not sure what it is going to take to get that through Bob's head. Oh yeah he thinks he can do what he wants.

  65. Thank you 8:48. I was thinking my mind had truly departed with reality.

    I was one of those folk naïve enough to write the CAO scribes pointing out that all the "wetlands" they labeled as such in our neighborhood (not PF) were all in fact man made ponds, NOT wetlands.

    They answered that all ponds were now going to be considered wetlands until proven otherwise. On reading this I had to take a very long walk.

    1. So if proven otherwise, then magically they would not be wetlands, yes? This because the Pictometry data only shows there could be dampness down there and the GIS folks bring that up on the screen and conclude there may be a possible wetland but ground observation controls over aerial so better send in the clowns to poke around and generate conflicting interpretations and charge thousands to hapless clients.

      Do I have that about right? In other words if you can't pay for the letter of indulgence to get you off the hook, you are stuck with the presumption that your property is a bog and fen, build nothing, God help you and the Devil take you. And, if you can pay for that letter of indulgence, the heavens part, you are forgiven, the mapping data is duly noted and you can start your project.


    2. "Indulgences" - perfect description.

  66. The PF ponds are wetlands and not an isolated farm pond. No more farm therefore the pond can remain as is. There is so much water they have an overflow that pours the water that used to feed the streams to the ditch. Check it out during fall winter. The whole cooridor of PF is wetlands. Check your stream maps and old soils survey. If I were the downstream neighbors I would be pissed.

  67. I just read the Guardian. Does Sharon Kivisto write for them now? I've never read a more slanted piece, except in the Islander.

    So, we all agree that Thomas directed Gibboney to approve the permit WITHOUT the wetlands report. All other facts aside, this is just plain wrong. EVERY OTHER CITIZEN has been and will be required to file a report, and jump through as many other hoops as CDP came make up, just for the heck of it. Yet, this owner had a walk through by the County Manager's wife, with no report (no fee?) and the employees were forced, despite expressed reservations, to approve the permit--and FAST.

    Absolutely amazing that this is just fine with the Guardian. Or anyone with a brain and a sense of right and wrong.

  68. The only thing that explains all of this is a man-crush triangle. Jack loves Bob who loves Mike.

    1. Yes, no problem there with the Council members being chummy with Thomas--he does all their work and they keep raising his salary. Councilman asks for "help"; Thomas brings his wife over and then tells CDP to process the permit. Next up: Thomas's new salary and benefits package??

  69. The TH titled this post "When is a Wetland not a Wetland?"

    Perhaps they should have titled it "When is a leader not a leader anymore?"

    Wouldn't take long to write that one:

    A leader is no longer a leader when they subvert the rules they are charged with following, when they direct staff they supervise to break the rules, when they lie about it when wrongdoings are discovered, and when they attempt to cover it up.


  70. I am so confused. I remember hearing from the powers that used to be that a pond under the CAO would be a wetland unless and until a report from an appropriate wetlands specialist was presented AND -- like in the Dalton case -- vetted by Ecology to be sure that the wetlands specialist wasn't subversive. Yet here planning gets a note or call from Mike Thomas (not a wetlands specialist, though that's the least of the issues here) telling them he walked by (on his own, without even telling Planning in advance) and didn't see a wetland. Then Gibboney instructed the planning dept. person (Annie M. Groh) in charge of processing the permit application to issue it because Mike Thomas said to. Over her expressions of concern. (She's gone now. Hhhmm.)

    Randy then says yes, they didn't follow procedure but no big deal?

    In less corrupt places like NYC there would be a big deal.

    Can the Sheriff tell a deputy that he didn't think someone was really drunk so the deputy needs to cancel a DUI? Can a principal tell a teacher that he's talked with a student and thinks he should graduate and therefore the teacher should remove the failing grade?

    Has anyone else been the recipient of Mike Thomas's indulgences? Or did you have to get a wetland report before your project permit was issued?

    This contrasts strongly with the treatment of less-well-connected Charles Dalton over on Orcas. Poor guy had a shed near a stream and had a highly-experienced licensed engineer do a wetlands report, which the County took to Ecology because the engineer was NOT a Friend of Ecology. Then Ecology rejected it, because politics.

    Too bad Charles didn't have the same access to Mike Thomas and his indulgences.

  71. Anybody who was even in one meeting with Bob Jarman when he was running could tell he was clueless on the issues. Nice guy, but clueless. If you didn't like the available opposition you should have run instead of supporting him. Recall is still available under the charter, I think. Go for it, but please have someone competent in mind to run before you do.

  72. What a half baked article Jack wrote. The Hughes are infuriated, are they serious?? Word on the street is they screamed and even called and bullied the neighbor when all they did was ask about the report requirements for their own project. Hughes refused to believe that and called their actions questionable. Really who do they think they are????

  73. They swear they never talked to Bob, nope, uh uh, not a bit. This in Portland Fair where BJ has lived for years, where BJ is the elected head of the association, where BJ is deaf dumb and blind to the goings on in the 'hood never heard a thing about it, where Mike Thomas also lives (??!!) who of course was never spoken to either. No one else on the association board was spoken to by these guys, no other board member carried water unto Bob. Is this some twerky attempt at claiming plausible deniability? Oh please. And Jack: I guess we hardly knew 'ye, not sure what to say. Bob just cop to it and get us the hell out of GMA.

    1. Right, this has the PA fingerprints all over it now. This is right out of the OPMA lawsuit depositions. Can't recall. Gosh, no notes, sorry. That's our story, we're sticking to it even if it means a dumbstruck Supreme Court.

      I can see Randy coaching in the background. "OK, campers you know the drill. You don't know nothin' see? Nobody talked to youse, got it? There's nothin' to see here folks, move along, move along."

  74. They all knew and Sheryl resigned from the board of PF due to this wetland debacle.

    1. The County does nothing so well as turn neighbor against neighbor through its incompetence.

  75. So what is up with the Island Guardian article... half baked is right. If they did not solicit BJ and MT then how the hell did this train wreck get started. I drove by the site last week and am kind of appalled. Granted I have not been in PF for at least 10 years but that driveway was never filled to that level and the entire property front was all wetland swale. So they fill part to get the septic to fly fine but to damage further??? I just pulled the asbuilt and Jack was the designer hmmmmmmm???? .....and Why is their asphalt debris disposed of in the wetlands?

  76. Maybe a smooth operator who knows who's who in the zoo had a quiet word with such and so to help solve a little problem even got Ecology to call off the dogs. A walkin' one and only.

  77. There are not three wetlands so much as there are now two fills within old stream channel cutting the wetland into pieces or separate sections. All one wetland really if you dig a hole.

  78. Relax, people, nothing to see here. Council just had some secret sessions and let us know there is nothing wrong, move along.