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Home » Archives » December 2005 » Can You Define "Friend"?

[Previous entry: "Wolf in Sheep's Clothing – An Update"] [Next entry: "We defined "Friend", and a "Bigot" is?"]

12/26/2005: "Can You Define "Friend"?"


Dear Editor:

If we could assess and levy a tax on hypocrisy we would be the richest county in the state. And the biggest assessment would fall on the Friends of the San Juans.

Notice how The Friends dress themselves up as reverent servants to The Law when it suits them and run stark raving naked over it when it doesn't? Remember the jet ski issue? People overwhelmingly wanted to ban jet skis in our county and the Friends were very involved in changing that law.

And now, regardless of very clear public support for guest houses in our county the Friends elect themselves as the champions of The Law and insinuate themselves into the public process.

Hey neighbors…it's a public process and this is an organization whose membership lacks the courage to stand in the light of public scrutiny and allow themselves to be known.

Webster's Dictionary defines "friend" as: "a person whom one knows well and is fond of; intimate associate; close acquaintance".

I'm very curious exactly what percentage of their membership reside in San Juan County…or even in the state of Washington.

I was a member of the Friends of the San Juans and I live in Friday Harbor. Here's how I was introduced to that organization and why I became a member:

Four years ago all of the neighboring property owners surrounding my property had received an alarming letter from someone claiming to be a neighbor alerting them of my plans to sub-divide and develop my property. This was not true. There was also reference to the threat to the riparian character of my land. Riparian means creeks and rivers…something non-existent on my land.

I did not receive a copy of this letter from the writer (I guess I'm not relevant) but I did receive one from a neighbor. Perhaps if I was a little lost whale or a sprig of eelgrass I would have warranted some courtesy but with these "friends" it's always about the property…never the people.

I did a little investigating and discovered that the author of this well-written letter ( my so-called "neighbor") was a retired land-use professor and rumored to be a member of The Friends of the San Juans. I also discovered that he owned a small piece of land 2 miles from my property and that he was a full time resident of Vashon Island...so much for being my "neighbor".

So I ponied up $25.00 to the Friends of the San Juans to become a member hoping to find out if this letter-writer truly was affiliated with that organization. I called Stephanie Buffum and asked for the membership list. Guess what?... just like Al Qaeda and the Ku Klux Klan… their membership is confidential.

Webster's Dictionary defines "friend" as: "a person whom one knows well and is fond of; intimate associate; close acquaintance".


Take a good look at the Friends quarterly newsletters. They like to print and mail out a surplus of these newsletters. This is evident by the plethora of them tossed into the recycle bins at the post office (right along with the Victoria's Secret catalogs and the credit card come-ons). Here are some excerpts:

The Friends encourage "a population mix of young people, professionals, retired people, artists, and craftspeople" . Now that may be a concise little list of desirables that best describe the Friend's ideal islander but it surely does not bear any resemblance to the people here I grew up with and work with.

"Clearly, the pressures to make this small county in the sea into an I-5 burb of some kind are immense." In the past it was the very scary "Urban Sprawl". I guess that wasn't scary enough… now it's "an I-5 burb" . You would have to be deliberately obtuse to think that one house every five acres constitutes "urban sprawl" . Sheesh.

"The San Juan County population expanded 40% to 14,077 between 1990-2000."
Although I don't dispute this number I'm curious: how many members of the Friends of the San Juans moved here between 1990-2000 and contributed to this frightening statistic. But of course we'll never know. Remember…it' a secret.

"Why Bother?" This is where the Friends get downright goofy with a forecast of the "consequences of unmanaged growth" . Out of one side of their mouth they warn of lack of diversity and out of the other they prattle about " the importation of a hodgepodge of values and styles from everywhere else" . HUH?

They warn of too many rules, rule makers, rule keepers, rules of conduct, and bigger government when, arguably, they have, in their zeal, thoughtlessly contributed to our loss of independence and the need for bigger government.

And then they have the brazenness to glibly allude to "rural practices" .

I'd be willing to bet that their list of acceptable rural practices would include lavender, llamas, and whale worship but to a lot of us the memory of when this island was rural is entirely different. To a lot of us rural is working class people with a burn barrel in the back and a broken down truck or tractor in the front, a truckload of firewood for sale downtown, a free pile along the side of the road, and not a single sign or mailbox that wasn't riddled with bullet holes.

Of course this image of "rural practices" doesn't fit the politically correct picture perfect postcard likeness that is part of the Friends schematic for social engineering but it is the way it used to be…and we liked it.

And now, like gluttonous trespassers, we have the Friends favorite hand puppets Ranker and Lichter surrendering to the Friends a place at the bargaining table over the Guest House issue. Since when do they get a place at the table? I don't recall voting for them…do you? Allowing them to determine policy about guest houses is just letting the fox guard the henhouse.

Here's a quote from a recent letter regarding another recent Lichter/Ranker blunder:
"we may all have to go squat on the county steps and beg for affordable housing."

It's so ironic that the longer a person has lived in this county the more tolerant they are of newcomers and the bigger a piece of land they own the more agreeable they are of letting people do whatever the want to with theirs.

What, me worry? (and Happy New Year)

Scott Bell
San Juan Island


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