Letters to Editor
To Contact the Editor
-- Guest Column --
(02-20-12)Become Involved In New Recycling Opportunity
By Frank Penwell
Consignment Treasures/CT Recycling (CT), has been operating for 7 years as a private not for profit business, and it has provided over $130,000 to local charities and citizens.
In the last few years, CT has taken a lead in community recycling activities, and in 2010 it recycled approximately 73 tons of materials.
-- Guest Column --
(02-13-12)"The Charter Has Been Hijacked"
by Charlie Bodenstab
When the charter was written we freeholders were careful to include a provision for reviewing it in five years. We specified a “Charter Review Commission” to perform this task in order to make the adjustments that would inevitably be needed for something so new.
-- Guest Column --
By Alex MacLeod
Anyone who has watched the six-member County Council since its creation in 2006 has probably been struck by how inept it has been in its leadership of the county. While the charter’s creation of a professional administrator has, at least in theory, been an improvement in the county’s ability to manage its day-to-day responsibilities, the expansion of the Council has undone any improvements voters expected in approving the Charter.
-- Guest Column --
(11-22-11)Time To Review Priorities
By Nick & Sara Jones
The issue we are objecting to is whether or not it is reasonable to demand that farm-stands come up to commercial code.
The price of the permit is irrelevant if compliance with the permit is going to cost $20-30,000(contractor friends came up with this estimate).
-- Guest Column --
(11-01-11) A Charter Proposal
By Sam Buck II
My big concern is for the people of the San Juan Islands: working people, retired people and the preservation of all the life styles on all the islands. We have assets: 16,769 people, a wonderful population of very well educated, very capable and responsible individuals of all walks of life - from cabins to castles - who love the land, waters, and peace and tranquility of the islands.
-- Guest Column --
By Ed Kilduff
Quangos may sound like a strange kind of endangered species, but they are a political animal. From my perspective, we have a quango management problem in the County, and I hope it can be effectively and dispassionately addressed in the upcoming charter review.
“Quango” is primarily a British term that originally stood for “quasi-non-governmental organization.”
-- Guest Column --
(10-27-11)'No' On The Solid Waste Charge
By Mike MacDonald
As a veteran of the Solid Waste Advisory Committee who wearied of banging his head against the department of Public Works’ arrogance and lack of respect for the taxpayers, I urge you to vote NO on the solid waste charge.
There has been some recent progress towards a more rational trash system. A yes vote to extend funding for those who wrecked the current system is a step backwards.
-- Guest Column --
(10-11-11)In Response To Gaylord Letter
By Sam Jacobson
Randall Gaylord’s letter [see below -Ed] is classic rhetoric used to cast fear, doubt and uncertainty on the opposing side. His argument focuses on selective “unknowns” that go along with Plan B. [related story-Ed] Sure, some exist -and much has been done to address these issues (see http://planbanotherway.com/ for more information).
While Mr. Gaylord introduces on a few scare tactics related to Plan B, he avoids a slew of things we know to be true if you vote “yes” on the solid waste user fee:
-- Guest Column --
(10-11-11)Why is Ocean Science missing in the SJC’s BAS?
By David Hyde
My wife and I came to San Juan Island in 2009 to enjoy the wonderful ambience of these Islands. Like many friends and neighbors, we are environmentally oriented, I having retired from 40 years of ocean technology work, and she a long career in public relations. We both are alarmed by San Juan County’s recent CAO developments and public disclosures --her from a public information perspective, and I from an ocean sciences point of view.
-- Guest Column --
(08-12-11) Time To Return To The Tried & True
By Sam Buck III am 84 years old, was born on San Juan Island and have lived here most of my life. My father was farming at Doe Bay on Orcas Island when other returning World War I veterans persuaded him to run for county attorney. He was elected, moved to Friday Harbor, and served from 1920-28, then two years in the state legislature, and two more terms as county attorney. My brother served as county attorney from 1946-54.
-- Guest Column --
(08-02-11) The State Of The Orca
By Mark Anderson
The just completed rule-making process that led to Protective Regulations for Killer
Whales by the National Marine Fisheries Service has left San Juan Islanders in the current situation:
-- Guest Column --
By Peg Manning
The County Department of Public Works has applied for funding (a total of $600,000) for something entitled “Roadside Hazard Mitigation Program,” whose stated purpose is to “identify and systematically mitigate . . . roadside hazards”-- trees, ditches, water and steep embankments
-- Guest Column --
The Rest Of The Story
By Paul Dossett
San Juan Islanders received a mailer from the San Juan Island Library this week. The mailer is supposedly giving the electorate the facts relating to the Levy Lid Lift Ballot for the August 16th 2011 Primary Election.
Every community should have a library and most of the ferry served islands have Library Districts, similar to San Juan Island.
-- Guest Column --
"Tell Planning Commission To Reject Draconian Code Enforcement Rule Proposal"
By Tim Blanchard
Did you know the County Community Development and Planning Department (CDPD) has proposed a significant expansion of its code enforcement authority?
I suspect that most citizens and land owners are not aware of the proposal currently before the Planning Commission that would dramatically change and increase the power of the CDPD to regulate almost everything we do on our land. Ask yourself:
More of the Story
To the Editor:
I have written this as a single board member. Although I believe everything I have included has been discussed in public meetings, here it represents only my opinion.
One could easily conclude from Mr. Pflueger’s recently published narrative (subject Guest Column) that he has been a victim of an unfair system. I have been involved in each event he describes and know that to be untrue. Over the past two plus years Gary has received direct, consistent, constructive feedback as to ways in which he needed to improve his skills and behaviors. This feedback has been based on a set of well understood and well researched performance expectations for elementary school principals. Not only has he not acted on this feedback, he has openly disputed its validity. Gary claims to “sincerely believe no one person is more important than the education of the children in a community”. If that is the case, then it is time for him to move on.
Mr. Pflueger’s reaction to this feedback including in our most recent meeting (discussed in detail below) has continued to convince me that he is not the right person to lead Friday Harbor Elementary. I have been disappointed by his refusal to take the steps necessary to allow the school and the community to heal. His latest attempt to return to his job more than two months after voluntarily resigning (which is now throwing our district into further turmoil) is placing his personal need and desires ahead of the best interest of the children and the district.
Mr. Pfleuger first received feedback about the need to improve his skills the day he was offered the Friday Harbor Elementary Principal position. Then Superintendent Michael Soltman communicated his reservations to Mr. Pfleuger about his hiring. He was told that there were concerns about his lack of demonstrated educational leadership. At that time Superintendent Soltman received a commitment from Mr. Pfleuger that he would make a concerted effort to build his knowledge and skills in these areas.
“Educational leadership” is not a code word for some esoteric set of administrative duties. It is at the core understanding and identifying what is needed to provide a better education for the students, communicating a vision and charting the path to make those improvements, proposing and aligning plans and funding within the district, the staff, and the community, and guiding the implementation of those plans through to a set of measurable objectives. Studies have shown conclusively that while teachers and community play hugely important roles in our schools, it is the quality of the educational leadership provided by the principals and superintendents which most directly determines overall student achievement.
In his first year performance review with Mr. Soltman, Mr. Pfleuger was found to be deficient in areas of educational leadership and building administration. He had shown little or no effort to make improvements in these areas. While Mr. Soltman gave acceptable review scores, the review narrative describes this significant need for improvement.
In the following year, Interim Superintendent Walt Wegener expressed serious concern with Mr. Pfleuger’s ability to perform his job and his unwillingness to respond to feedback. It was only at the insistence of the Board that he be given more time to improve that Mr. Wegener refrained from putting Mr. Pfleuger on a plan of improvement at mid-year. At the end of this year, Mr. Pflueger’s performance review clearly communicated to him that his performance in educational leadership and building administration remained unacceptable and that despite the feedback he was receiving he was neither showing effort nor making progress toward the goals which had been identified for him. Mr. Pfleuger wrote a letter rejecting the conclusions in Mr. Wegener’s review and asked that it be placed in his file.
In October 2010, new Superintendent Rick Thompson expressed concerns to the board and to Mr. Pflueger about his performance in these same key areas. He began a series of regular meetings with Mr. Pflueger in which he expressed his concerns to him and suggested concrete steps for making improvements. Again, Mr. Thompson was met with resistance. Most significantly Mr. Pflueger, without consultation, resigned from a state training program which Mr. Thompson had identified as being critical to his career growth. To a third superintendent it became clear that Mr. Pfleuger had a very different belief about what is important in elementary school administration, and was unwilling to take feedback to the contrary. This was presented to him in another substandard performance evaluation for which he again wrote a letter of disagreement.
Mr. Pflueger was then given three choices: a structured plan of improvement in which Mr. Thompson would work directly with him in the needed areas, an alternate administrative role in the district, or resignation. Mr. Pflueger chose to resign. There was no coercion in this process. Plans of improvement have many safeguards and appeals procedures. They are designed with many legal safeguards to give the employee every opportunity to succeed. The administrative option was a valid job offer and would have allowed Mr. Pflueger to continue to contribute to the district with a generous salary and benefits.
After he submitted his resignation letter, Mr. Thompson and I met with Mr. Pflueger to discuss how he would like it to be communicated. As with many resignations of this sort there were two options: either openly discuss the issues which led up to the parting of ways, or to allow Mr. Pfleuger to say that this was a personal decision and to begin looking for a new job with as little of a cloud over his head as possible. Clearly we would not lie for him, but also would not offer more information than necessary. Mr. Pfleuger expressed a strong desire for the latter, to communicate that this resignation was his choice. We agreed to this strategy, which unfortunately I now regret.
Throughout this entire process the fundamental issue has not changed: Mr. Pfleuger professes that if he provides a safe civil and productive climate for the staff and students, and does little more, the students will thrive educationally. We have great teachers at Friday Harbor Elementary. They are continuing to initiate and implement wonderful enhancements to our educational programs. But, this alone is not enough. We are a small district with three individuals tasked with the primary responsibility of designing and leading in the implementation of our district-wide curriculum: the two Principals and the Superintendent. They must all be active participants in this process for it to succeed. There is room for our district to do substantially better for our children than it is doing today. It can only do this with the right leadership.
Three Superintendents, a district consultant, the Superintendent of our regional schools district, and the Board of Directors have felt that it is necessary for Mr. Pflueger to step up to contribute as an educational leader, and believe that, not only has he not done so, he has consistently refused to even acknowledge this as a valid requirement. Recently the board met with Mr. Pflueger for three hours to discuss his proposal to rescind his resignation. At this time we explored in depth whether there was any change of heart on Mr. Pflueger’s part to accept and work toward the leadership the state standards require of a principal and the past three Superintendents have asked of him. His answer was no, he would not.
Now, Mr. Pflueger has publicly stated his desire to return as the Elementary Principal and there are those who continue to persecute the district trying to get it to accept this offer. This is a very difficult and unpleasant situation.
While I fully realize how popular Mr. Pflueger has been with the children, the staff and the community, I believe that I was elected foremost to help provide the best education for the children of our community. It is my opinion that a decision to bring Mr. Pflueger back as Elementary Principal, would be to refute decades of well accepted research into school leadership, and while obviously popular with many in the near-term, would be selling our schools and the children of our community short.
San Juan Island
A Flawed Process
By Juniper Maas
I am writing as a community member, lifelong islander, potential neighbor to the Beaverton site, and avid SWAC meeting attendee for over three years. Please educate yourselves to a seldom printed portion of the history and background of this project, The SWAC process, NIMBY'S, and the waste of finite resources (taxpayer's dollars = hard earned money).
Having been a mainstay at nearly all of the SWAC meetings for the past three years it is very clear where the members stand, and all for good reasons some personal, some moral.
George Post (Chair of SWAC) declares that the people who think the site should stay where it is, are saying it for the wrong reasons.
Frankly George has bullied those meetings for a long time and whenever someone has something legitimate to say about fixing the current site, the fact that we have an amazing recycling center already (Consignment Treasures), or, god forbid, extreme negative impacts on a new piece of land, its as if his ears had eyelids. They shut, he refuses to take it in or digest it at all, all the while clenching his fists and feverishly raising his voice saying no, no, no, it will not work. I call that complete ignorance and hypocrisy.
What about the reduce, REUSE, recycle mentality. George does have good intention as far as his vision, but he just isn't doing his research, or keeping an open mind. A cool $600,000 plus has been spent on "studies" alone. It's a sad disgusting waste of money if you ask me.
That money could have easily put a new roof on the tipping floor, built a lean-to or two for steal, metal, copper, electronics, appliances, and built another average sized metal Texmo building for hazardous waste etc.
If you go to the Exchange on Orcas they just have the stuff hanging from branches in the trees and that is FREE! In a time when people are being laid off left and right we should be ashamed of even thinking of dropping multi-millions of dollars on a new facility, when we have other options and resources if we just use a little more ingenuity.
Maybe its time to take a look at the powers that be controlling this messy waste of taxpayers dollars.
Anyone who does a thorough investigation of this charade over the past few years can see a crooked web of lies, spins, and down right poor management. Starting with the tearing down of the tipping floor roof which Jon Shannon CHOSE to do rather than repair. Jon Shannon and Public Works have had the Beaverton property in mind for a Transfer Station long before the public had any idea.
I am sure you have all heard us Beaverton Valley whiners talk about how slighted and full of fear we are because of the less than transparent process of the property purchase and use intention. Before the property was purchased a group of Beaverton Neighbors sat on the porch of Nancy and Willie Jo Cavanaugh's (r.i.p.) while Jon Shannon and Kevin Ranker pointed out to the pristine wetlands straddling both the Beaverton Valley and False Bay watersheds saying this is where the new dump is going to be.
Outraged, terrified, full of disbelief, (anyone would feel this way) we all started asking questions. The question four years later still ringing in my ears is when Dave Hall said "wait, wait, everyone" and got everyone's attention and silence, then asked Ranker, and I quote "So basically this is a done deal and the only way to stop it is to sue you" quote Ranker, "Yes".
The property seller David McCauley made out like a bandit as well. Selling the portion of the property over market value to the county for over a million dollars than what he paid for it and claiming emanate domain avoiding capitol gains taxes, meanwhile putting a slough of covenants and restrictions on the property. A couple of the bordering neighbors delayed paying their land taxes in an attempt to get their bearings about them and slow the process down and make it more transparent (a deal like this can't go through if there are unpaid neighboring taxes) enter McCauley who graciously paid the elderly peoples taxes against their wishes.
The moral of that story is the rich get richer by avoiding taxes and trampling on the little people. The list of cover-ups and spins go on and on.
As far as all this chatter about NIMBY'S it is a very real and human reaction, we are talking about a garbage dump here, about the only worse thing would be a sewer plant. I find it extremely non "Islander like" of all the folks living near the current site who wish for it to be moved rather than fixed up. If only they could see themselves, I guess the greed has made them go blind.
They are there at every SWAC meeting taking notes with twinkles in their eyes when points are made in favor of relocation and frustrated frowns when points for fixing up the current site are made. They are ready to sue (and have already) if any talk or motion of expansion at the current facility takes place. Let us not forget, they chose and were fully aware of their neighbor, the dump (and probably got a really cheap deal on the land because of it).
I find it ridiculous when they say it can't be done at the current site, where there is a will there is a way. Those in opposition say "it's on a slope, it won't work", "there is an old landfill there". One of the greatest cities in the world was built on a landfill and is quite hilly as well....San Francisco.
Another point that somehow manages to be swept under the rug is the fact that the town can still operate a transfer station there if they wish. They have a myriad of options especially if the price is right. They could end up contracting with Roche Harbor, and of course their own trash.
Why would the town go pay high rates at the Bigger, Better, Faster, More transfer station when they could use their own? Isn't it backwards logic to create an expensive-high-tech-transfer station that caters to a wasteful society making it convenient for people to not have to think about their waste with their purchase?
I personally think the more progressive approach is to start at bottom with education. So what if people have to wait in line on a Saturday to dump their garbage maybe the less convenient it is they will take a moment to really realize what they are doing and think about reduction. As far as a recycling center like 'The Re-Store" you can just check that one off the list, do your homework and check out the Friday Harbor Fire Department Thrift House or Consignment Treasures on Roche Harbor road.
The issues of cost and safety are very real (another thing that George Post doesn't want to consider). The amount of traffic that will be diverted to Beaverton Valley road is huge. The Draft Environmental Impact Statement states that it will be prohibitively expensive to construct at the Beaverton site because of the amount of work needed to be done to the road (including paving No. 2 schoolhouse road).We are talking about a mostly rural road with a few low-impact businesses.
Many of the guests at my Inn choose to walk or bike to town as I, myself, do as well on a regular basis. Beaverton Valley is a skinny road with not much of a shoulder. Even Kevin Ranker can attest to that as he was hit by a car on his bicycle less than a mile from the proposed Beaverton site. I can attest, as well, that it is a bona fide fact that planes fly in low right over the proposed Beaverton site as they come in from the south to make a landing. I see it all the time. That is why the FAA and all of the local pilots are in extreme opposition to this site selection.
I feel strongly that if this were to go to an island wide vote, the vote would be to keep the transfer station where it is and fix it up to serve Islanders better and lessen the impact on current neighbors. I also believe that the recommendation from SWAC in no way reflects what San Juan County resident tax-payers want. I encourage the County Council to develop a referendum so that Islanders can have a say on this extremely hot-button issue.
(Juniper Maas is a lifelong San Juan Island resident, and the Owner/Innkeeper of the Juniper Lane Guest House)
More Cell Towers Are Not Needed
By Steve Ludwig
The name of the game is "Beggar Thy Neighbor." You sign a lucrative contract to put a cell tower on your land and let the people living around you suffer the consequences: The health effects from around the clock electromagnetic radiation, loss of property value, loss of the enjoyment of your land and the sight of the ugly tower itself.
Thousands of people in North America are in this situation, stuck in a house they can’t sell, often with radiation caused sickness. If you’re caught in this trap do you think you’ll get a property tax reduction or compensation from the cell phone company? Fat chance.
SJC residents have been protected from these horrors by one of the best cell tower ordinances in the U.S. since 1997 (SJCC Chapt. 16.80). It’s not perfect, more protection is needed for people in our so-called "activity centers," but it’s pretty good. This ordinance came about through years of effort by perhaps as many as 100 people from Lopez, Orcas and San Juan Islands (This is a LOT of solidarity for this county). The effort involved a Federal lawsuit, training and practice in non-violent civil disobedience, too many meetings and hearings to count, several petitions filled with signatures, a protest camp and even a flock of sheep that were conscripted into the struggle. I know it’s difficult for most, essentially rootless, SJC residents to understand the need people have to protect their land and neighborhoods and the idea of place as home, indeed, as your only home, but it exists, and it is the only effective form of resistance to the radical evil of rulers and their stooges.
Now the newly-formed "Cell Phone Task Force" and the Prosecuting Attorney are busy writing a new ordinance to strip away all the protections the old ordinance has. The setbacks, and the requirements for public hearings, conditional use permits, and radiation monitoring are considered by the Task Force to be "onerous" because they impede the industry! As if it was the duty of local government to assist rapacious corporations to plunder their jurisdictions rather than protect citizens from this very thing. The Task Force is made up entirely of cell phone enthusiasts, nearly all employees or ex-employees of the telecom industry. It’s a lot more force than task force.
We’ll never be told the real reasons for this sudden rebirth of the adolescent fantasy of 100% cell phone coverage. The stated purpose; to improve emergency medical services, is obviously bogus. Why would they expose thousands to hazardous electromagnetic radiation for such a purpose? That would mean that "health care" is the enemy of "health."
The question now is: Can we muster the solidarity to defeat this latest threat from local government? It won’t be easy, County officials just love things that pit neighbor against neighbor. "Divide and rule" is still the prime directive for those in authority.
(Steve Ludwig is a Lopez resident and secretary of the Green Party of SJC he can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
Crumb Rubber The right surface for the new Friday Harbor Elementary School Playground?
By Janice Peterson
The new playground has been anticipated for a long time and from what I have seen and heard, nearly everyone is very happy with it. The crumb rubber surface makes it much harder to get hurt and has the advantage of using recycled materials (tires). Some parents and concerned others, however, have raised questions about the material that should be satisfactorily answered - Is it safe in terms of toxicity levels? Is it flammable? Does run-off from the material cause any problems? Are there things we should know about it that might be negative? And so forth.
The Costs Of Illegal Immigration
By Scott Knutson
I have read some of the comments and articles in The Island Guardian regarding the "illegal" immigration issue, and I share the views of others that this is a federal issue and that the US immigration laws should be fully enforced. I generally remain quiet about these issues, but the fact that the social issues created by illegal immigration are festering in the San Juan Islands is--how shall I say it--disheartening.
I was born is Seattle in 1960 and grew up in Kent, and I own property on Orcas. Although I currently live in California, my roots in Washington where my parents still live, as well as my two brothers and sister; and my daughter is a freshman at UW
As a 20+ year resident of Southern California, I have witnessed the illegal immigration madness first hand. What is happening here and in other small resort communities in Southern California should not be allowed to occur in the San Juan Islands. Down here, there has been a slow erosion over the past 15 years in the quality of public services (medical, schools, etc.) and infrastructure as this area has embraced the mass migration of uneducated, unskilled labor. The question I always ask myself is why is this occurring?
The Aquatic Reserve
By Janice Peterson
The following nine points represent, in my opinion, important questions, reservations, and criticisms of the Department of Natural Resources document requesting proposals for an aquatic reserve and the Marine Resources Committee’s ill-advised (and unauthorized) activity to support it.
1. The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) request for aquatic reserve proposals is so ponderously written that much of it is impossible to understand. It appears to have been written by scientists for an audience of scientists even though the vast majority of those who will be affected if a San Juan County reserve materializes are non-scientists.
The Marine Resources Committee (MRC) proposal is easier to get through but still seems willfully obtuse. Is it necessary to cite “anthropogenic distress” rather than describing “human activity?” I have to wonder if there is method in this ferociously complicated writing.
Most people who are going about the business of earning a living and maintaining a household simply do not have the time to wade through these documents with the goals of understanding what is being said and determining whether an aquatic reserve will be an asset or a detriment to their lives.