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Tuesday, May 25th

It's All About the Money!

To the Editor:

If you attended the Council meeting last Tuesday (May 18) as I did, you heard Council Chair Richard Fralick give a report from the Budget Subcommittee to the other council members that even when the economy turns around there is no way that the County can sustain the course they are on. When asked if this also applied to the Capital Fund, he hesitantly shook his head "yes," and went on to say that even maintenance of the infrastructure is being foregone. We also know that the County has borrowed from the Road Fund to pay their bills.

At the same meeting, we also heard the Council decide that they could not find $2,700 to match the Town of Friday Harbor and state money that would be "found" by Senator Ranker, so that a person could be hired to manage the summer ferry traffic through town. Now, we learn that the Sheriff's salary has been reduced by $10,000.

We also hear now that Public Works has recently hired yet another engineer. Where does it end? Perhaps you've seen lots of fancy yellow county dump trucks running through town unloading gravel from the barge at Jackson Beach. And, have you ever taken notice of how many county employees drive new cars? Do they use them for personal use, too? And, what about the dump? I sat through two years of Solid Waste Advisory meetings and can confirm what Mike Macdonald said in his recent Letter of Resignation from the SWAC is correct: The past ten years of solid waste management have been an exercise in futility where "serious errors in judgment" have been committed leading to an incredible waste of public funds.

Why do we need a Public Works Department (PW) in the first place? A majority of the services PW performs could be provided by local private contractors and by COMPETITIVE bid. Why do we need to pay the entire PW overhead that mostly attends redundant and ridiculous meetings with no results?

On Tuesday the Council is likely to decide to accept the Puget Sound Partnership's Local Implementing Organization, even though doing so may usurp their local planning power under Home Rule Charter, because . . . Guess why? They need the money. That's how the previous County Commissioners apparently got us into this mess in the first place. They accepted money with strings attached to the GMA. Now, we stand the risk for a great loss to our community and property through the imposition of onerous regulations under the veil of cleaning up Puget Sound, even though the State Health Department's 2010 list of "Threatened Shellfish Growing Areas" does not include San Juan County.

When you or your neighbor's property is reassessed downward because of regulations, yours and their taxes will go down, but others will increase to compensate for the loss in revenue.

You should be troubled about the financial state of our County and what is and is not being done about it.

Jane Cable
San Juan Islan


Saturday, May 22nd


An Apples & Oranges Problem
To the Editor:

I was disheartened to read the article that the SJC Citizen Salary Commission reduced the Sheriff’s salary.

Basing the salary on counties comparable in population and size does not take into account the island make-up of our county and the complexity of situations that it causes.

I remember past discussions about the Sheriff making less than the people he supervises. That is why the salary was increased and the caveat of making sure the Sheriff was a percentage over the rest of his employees was installed. With cost of living increases and other benefits and overtime for the Deputies and Detectives, it was very easy for the Sheriff to earn less, even with the added duties of running the department and its administrative needs, budgeting, etc. I for one do not want a Sheriff that only sits in his office and does administrative duties.

How does this reduced salary compare to the non-elected department heads? Seems to me some of them make a nice salary and don’t need to carry a gun for dangerous situations. (Although, at times now that I think back, maybe some of them should have!)

Lil Hamel
Orcas Island

(Mrs. Hamel was for a number of years the Clerk to the County Council)

What Were They Thinking?

To the Editor:

This is ridiculous. [Related Story]

Sergeants not only get only overtime pay, both on call pay, educational incentive and other benefits that a salaried Sheriff would not. In essence the Sheriff would certainly make less money that a sergeant with a High School diploma and a lot less training and liability, but would be working 100’s of hours w/o pay just to keep the department going. Bill runs the boat at night and in bad weather but works holidays and any emergency at no pay. The sergeants get time and ½- for the same thing.

You get what you pay for. One of the reasons I decided not to run was because of the vast amount of uncompensated time involved in running a department of this size and the personal liability the Sheriff bears. It is a tough, complicated job and things like this just show how little it is appreciated.

Not to be too negative but it doesn’t sound like the citizen’s salary commission has any real idea of what the Sheriff does or how complicated and time consuming the position is. You get what you pay for and quality candidates don’t apply for positions that pay less that the people who they train and supervise.

Good luck with that.

Jon Zerby
San Juan Island

(Jon Zerby is the San Juan County Undersheriff)


Wednesday, May 19th


PSP Agenda :"The Fix Is In"
To: San Juan County Council:
Re: LIO Resolution

The proposal to elevate the PSP/LIO proposal and the Action Agenda ahead of the normal GMA-required County planning process is a bad idea. Despite the disclaimers, the draft Resolution obligates the County to give full weight to implementing the PSP/Action Agenda. Otherwise, why pass the Resolution?

At a minimum, the Council has an obligation to inform the public, in writing, as to how the PSP/LIO will interface with the GMA-required CAO/shoreline update planning process and how meaningful public participation will be addressed. As the draft Resolution/agreement now stands it is likely the County will be trying to defend its action in Superior Court before the ink dries on the Resolution.

The main points are not hard to understand.

To any reasonable person reading the Resolution, the County is placing the PSP Agenda “first in time, first in right” ahead of the legally mandated GMA public process.

Input by local citizens in a fair and open public process is marginalized. The review of pertinent best available science and adoption of local BAS is marginalized. The Planning Commission becomes irrelevant. The County obligation to seriously consider all 14 GMA goals when updating the Comprehensive Plan is marginalized. The decisions will already have been made by a select group. The “fix will be in.” Local input will become background noise.

Further, the Resolution states that two or three Council members and two or three tribal representatives will join with County staff and the members of ECO net, (aka the San Juan Stewardship network ... a collection of 20 primarily environmental connected organizations from the Friends to the Land Bank) to promote local adoption of the PSP/Action Agenda. The LIO structure places the remaining Council members in a the position of considering a coarse of action that has already garnered two or three Council/LIO member votes before the full Council takes up the matter.

The Council should be well aware that once the LIO Resolution is adopted, the PSP/Agenda is largely a done deal. A healthy Puget Sound is a worthy goal. San Juan County’s role may or may not be relevant to the full agenda as outlined by the Puget Sound Partnership.


John Evans
Executive Director, San Juan Builders Association
PSP About To Roost In Our Own Community?

To the Editor:

As a concerned citizen of San Juan County, I was dismayed to read the news that the Washington State Auditor's Report found: “The Puget Sound Partnership (PSP) circumvented state contracting laws, exceeded its purchasing authority and made unallowable purchases using public funds.” Furthermore, I’m appalled at purchases made with our tax dollars, for example:

$ 3650 for 5000 tubes of lip balm
$ 6853 for 120 monogrammed fleece vests
$ 5044 for 30 monogrammed jackets

Not to mention the illegal distribution of $4.8 million of taxpayer money on prohibited sole-source, no bid contracts, the jackets and lipstick pale in comparison to this bit of malfeasance.

And now, I discover that this same organization is about to come to roost in our own community. To my dismay, on Tuesday 18 May, our County Council proposed a resolution that would effectively contract with, yes, the Puget Sound Partnership, effectively turning over to them our local control of land use planning policies. The proposed Council’s action, though unnecessary, would sell out its citizens to a non-local governmental agency, and such action is contrary to the Council’s governing authority under the San Juan County Home Rule Charter.

Why would our County Council want to enter into an agreement with a mainland organization that has demonstrated such lack of proper process and disregard for the law?

Ah ha, it must be the money! The County is so strapped for funds, that the Council feels it is forced to trade our local control for the questionable promise of more state money -an age, old trick of big government to take control of local issues.

Contrary to the Council’s claim this action is not mandated by the Growth Management Act. On 25 May at 2:30 PM, the Council will again consider entering into this dangerous relationship with the PSP. Their action will adversely affect many island property values thereby increasing most other owner’s taxes. Without control we will have no recourse. Further, the chaos created by the already published Action Agenda of the PSP is already restricting economic activity on our island with no regard for the hardship that it is causing to all citizens - not just property owners.

Contact your Councilperson and ask him or her to explain how they will vote on this proposal.

Bill Hancock
San Juan Island
Local Integrating Organization Not Local

To the County Council:

The purpose of my letter is to reiterate my concerns regarding the proposed adoption of a Resolution to form a Local Integrating Organization (LIO).

I am uncomfortable with the LIO, its lack of clear purpose, and its sponsorship by the Puget Sound Partnership (PSP). Further, the implication that the LIO has the authority to "Ensure implementation of priorities," etc. in San Juan County, as well as the PSP’s agenda to participate (meddle) in the development of our local regulations and regulatory processes is intrusive and extremely worrisome to me . Most of all, my concerns focus on the potential for the County Council to abdicate its governing authority under the Home Rule Charter to an outside agency, such as the PSP.

Moreover, recent information regarding certain improprieties of the PSP, as revealed in the “Accountability Audit Report,” issued, just days ago, on May 12, 2010, by the Washington State Auditor’s Office (a copy of which the Council and the Prosecuting Attorney have received), adds even more fuel to the fire. For example, in summarizing one of its findings, the Audit Report states, “Partnership (PSP) management has not placed a priority on adhering to state rules and regulations over expenditures of public funds.” Further, the Report goes on to say, “Public funds set aside for the restoration of Puget Sound were improperly spent. If the Partnership continues to make accountability over public resources a low priority, additional money will be at risk.”

I must ask, why would the Council want to enter into an agreement with an organization that has demonstrated such a lack of proper process and disregard for the law (particularly in the area that is the basis for the PSP’s involvement)?

The record shows that, during the January 5, 2010 meeting, the Council concluded that a lawful process had not been followed; that there had been no proper review of the existing regulations; and that best available science must be obtained for San Juan County. Subsequently, on February 16, the Council signed Resolution 12-2010 "Regarding Next Steps in Reviewing and Revising Comprehensive Plan and Development Regulations to Protect Critical Areas Using Best Available Science."

Why would the Council affiliate with an agency that has already published an agenda contrary to the Council’s? It’s also puzzling that the PSP Action Agenda presupposes an outcome based upon its own foregone conclusions (and mission) while having had no local, relevant or peer reviewed best available science to properly guide the development of the Action Agenda.

Moreover, I’m appalled at the notion that County employees such as the Director of Public Works, the Director of Planning and three Council Members would be resources committed to the LIO -- and to more meetings! Apparently, I’m not alone in that concern as Councilman Peterson expressed his feelings about increasing the size of San Juan County’s government bureaucracy during the earlier LIO discussion on January 26, 2010.

In contemplating a contract with the PSP, I implore the Council to “just say no” until you have considered the many critical implications of such an affiliation, including and most importantly, the confidence and trust of the citizens of San Juan County.

Thanks for listening,

David Cable
San Juan Island
Fleeced, But No Logo Vests?

To the Editor:

Thank you for publishing the story about the State audit of the Puget Sound Partnership, and Mr. Peterson's column discussing its disturbing findings.

Apparently neither federal or state rules, conflicts of interest, or apparent conflicts of interest matter much to this crowd. What do we expect when the Congressman with the greatest power over Federal appropriations for "environmental" projects funnels hundreds of millions of taxpayers' dollars in the direction of the Puget Sound Partnership, and the Congressman's son is then given the position of Executive Director (with an entourage that includes an Executive Assistant, a Special Assistant, a Deputy Director, and a "Senior Adviser," all in his immediate office).

And the same cozy group of "scientists" and "consultants" are paid outrageous no-bid sums to "study," "coordinate," "liasion," (and other non-action words) at our expense. Not only do we pay their salaries and expenses; they insist on telling us what to do with our islands.

They're difficult to take seriously when they have yet to produce any meaningful improvement in the Seattles and Everetts and, yes, the Vancouver and Victorias of our region. What tangible products has the PSP or any of its interconnected special-interest organizations produced?

Committees, commissions, workgroups, task forces, study groups, reports, plans, agendas, collaboration, "performance management," "constructive dialogue and problem solving," and "framework alignment."

The PSP arm operating in our neighborhood, the San Juan Initiative, met and studied and discussed and contracted and interacted for several years and still failed to produce any valid scientific evidence of harm caused by the residents of the San Juan Islands to the Puget Sound. Indeed, the report--though expensive--was virtually unintelligible.

Despite this fundamental failing, the San Juan Initiative did manage to produce a whole list of things for the County to do, and PSP has made them part of its Action Agenda.

Now PSP has told the County to form a Local Integrating Organization (LIO) to implement PSP's Action Agenda, with an LIO "Accountability Oversight Committee," "Implementation Committee," and assorted "Ad Hoc Technical Committees." The "Implementation Committee" would "provide community input into prioritization of funding and improving coordination between groups working on Action Agenda implementation." And while "diversity" of species and habitat are great concerns of the PSP, diversity of opinion is apparently not.

Among the 13 members of the LIO Implementation Committee are governmental employees and members of government-funded groups--the "usual suspects," as some would say, and nary an ordinary wage-earner or business owner--because our points of view are apparently irrelevant.

Guess we won't be receiving PSP fleece logo vests or mahogany gift boxes of sparkling cider.

Peg Manning
Orcas Island


Tom Bauschke
John Evans
Mary Kalbert
Ron Keeshan
Gordy Petersen
Janice Peterson
Bruce Sallan
Terra Tamai
Amy Wynn
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