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Friday, June 30th

Love That Mary!



Editor,

Thank goodness for Mary Kalbert! I love reading her column. She is a breath of fresh air. Her southern charm takes away my occasional homesickness for the great state of Texas.

Kathleen Kaska
San Juan Island
[more..]


If You Can't Fight Them, Join Them



It's an age-old ploy in politics: if you can't argue the issues, make a personal attack. And who can argue the mission of Friends of the San Juans?: "To protect the land, water, sea and liveability of the San Juan Islands through science, education, policy, law and citizen action." Can anyone who lives here or has ever visited these blessed isles not be a friend of this place? And if a friend, why not a Friend?

The problem the foes really have with Friends is that there are too darn many of them! And they are everywhere: next door, across the street, on the ferry, in the grocery store, and even (gasp!) in the courthouse! This is a small county with a small population. Everyone knows everyone else (almost), and we are on a first-name basis with our local elected decision-makers. That's all part of what makes this the special place that it is.

If you can't fight them, join them. Be a Friend, and be a part of the conscience of this special place. I may not always agree with what they do, but I would still rather be a Friend (of the San Juans) than a FOE (friend of you-know-who)!


Miki Brostrom
Waldron Island


[more..]


Sunday, June 18th

EXPO Success Due to Support of Many



To the Editor:

The San Juan Island Health & Fitness EXPO, hosted by the SJI Chamber of Commerce and co-sponsored by Regence Blue Shield, was a great success! Liz Illg, co-owner of Nonprofits Unlimited did a terrific job pulling together the largest group of vendors (32) and attendees (1396) the EXPO has experienced to-date, giving exposure of participants' products and services to a large number of people. Thank you, Liz!

As with any event, success is dependent upon its supporters and volunteers. The Chamber would like to thank the following who gave their time, talents and/or products to help us "make it happen"! Browne's Home Center for paint, plywood and rebar; Shel Bedsell and Christine Miller at the SJC Fairgrounds for support and use of tables, chairs and banners; Ian, Shay, and Cam Byington of Shamrock Sound for audio support; Alisa Schoultz for help with set up; Maureen See for help with set up and staffing the Chamber Information Booth; SJ Islands Visitors Bureau for loaning us the backdrop for our booth; Samantha Gilbert for Information Booth support, Clark Gilbert and Paul Hopkins for help with break down; Don Pigman for cutting out the plywood runner silhouettes; Donna Maloney for painting silhouettes; Rich Osborn, for putting up runner silhouettes around the island; Jerry Jamison with King's Market Thriftway for painting signs; Mike Close of Paradise Lanes for product sponsorship; San Juan Health Associates for scheduling mammograms; and Coldwell Banker for donating sign frames for Jerry's signs.

Again, thanks to all!

Debbie Pigman
San Juan Island Chamber of Commerce
[more..]


Saturday, June 17th

How did Mr. Grout become a finalist?



Letter to the Editor

I applaud last week's editorial, "Straddling the fine line," regarding the influence of the "Friends of the San Juans" on our County Council. An important additional related issue needs mentioning: the recent hiring process for our Charter-mandated County Administrator.

Many of us were shocked when Dick Grout's name turned up on the short list of finalists provided by the consulting firm, Waldron & Company, hired for $35,000 for this purpose. While Mr. Grout has strong environmental and planning credentials, his background and experience as an administrator didn't begin to compare to the other finalists, nor match the job's requirements. These shortcomings became apparent during the interview process I observed, particularly a session with the Citizens' Panel. Nevertheless, the Island Guardian reported that Lynn Bahrych and Larry Hendel, influential "Friends," still ranked Mr. Grout as the best qualified candidate.

How did Mr. Grout become a finalist?
Was he on the consultant's "short list," or did Councilman Ranker arbitrarily add him?
Did the "Friends" and/or the Council encourage Mr. Grout's candidacy?
If so, why would they do such a disservice to our community and to a clearly under-qualified candidate?
Did the immediate strong negative feedback the Council received on the subject prevent an unwise selection?

Fortunately, this is only conjecture after-the-fact. The Council, at the end of the day, chose the best candidate. The fact remains that the political maneuverings of the "Friends" creates continual issues of propriety and disproportionate influence in the affairs of governance.

David Bayley
Roche Harbor
Former Freeholder

[more..]


Thursday, June 15th

EXPO Success Due to Support of Many



The San Juan Island Health & Fitness EXPO, hosted by the SJI Chamber of Commerce and co-sponsored by Regence Blue Shield, was a great success! Liz Illg, co-owner of Nonprofits Unlimited did a terrific job pulling together the largest group of vendors (32) and attendees (1396) the EXPO has experienced to-date, giving exposure of participants' products and services to a large number of people. Thank you, Liz!

As with any event, success is dependent upon its supporters and volunteers. The Chamber would like to thank the following who gave their time, talents and/or products to help us "make it happen"! Browne's Home Center for paint, plywood and rebar; Shel Bedsell and Christine Miller at the SJC Fairgrounds for support and use of tables, chairs and banners; Ian, Shay, and Cam Byington of Shamrock Sound for audio support; Alisa Schoultz for help with set up; Maureen See for help with set up and staffing the Chamber Information Booth; SJ Islands Visitors Bureau for loaning us the backdrop for our booth; Samantha Gilbert for Information Booth support, Clark Gilbert and Paul Hopkins for help with break down; Don Pigman for cutting out the plywood runner silhouettes; Donna Maloney for painting silhouettes; Rich Osborn, for putting up runner silhouettes around the island; Jerry Jamison with King's Market Thriftway for painting signs; Mike Close of Paradise Lanes for product sponsorship; San Juan Health Associates for scheduling mammograms; and Coldwell Banker for donating sign frames for Jerry's signs.

Again, thanks to all!

Debbie Pigman
San Juan Island Chamber of Commerce
[more..]


Friday, June 2nd

Will Council Choose Experience, Or..??



To the Editor:

Three of the proposed four finalists for the position of County Administrator possess solid experience as administrators of other communities. The fourth possesses a record of being close to and supportive of the agenda that brought us the GMA and its very expensive lawsuits. It will be interesting, indeed, to see whether our county council continues its headstrong subservience to this same agenda and tries to hire someone without any actual experience as a county or city administrator.

Albert Hall
Friday Harbor




[more..]


Stop County Council



The County Council is on the verge of surrendering important property rights of landowners in rural and resource lands.
Unless and until the County loses the guesthouse appeal now pending in the Court of Appeals, property owners in those areas—which constitute a significant proportion of County lands—have the right to build a main residence and a small accessory dwelling unit to use as they please. (The overwhelming majority use their guesthouses for friends and family on occasional visits. A small number rent their guesthouses long-term to supplement heir income. And a very, very small number rent them on a transient basis.)

The Council is poised to extinguish those rights, permanently and for no reason other than to appease the "Friends" of the San Juans. Make no mistake: the so-called "local solution" now pending before the Council may purport to authorize a few guesthouses for a few property owners, but as a practical matter, no one we know would be able to satisfy its ridiculous prerequisites. For most, the requirement of a separate water membership—even when the existing water access is sufficient for both structures—is an insurmountable impediment. And the proposed "vesting ordinance" leaves most of the people who have been planning (and waiting) for years to build their home or guesthouse in the lurch.

The hearing next week will likely be the last chance County property owners will have to voice their opposition to these unnecessary limits on guesthouses, short of formal litigation. Once the County dismisses its appeal, the rights of property owners will be extinguished. Rather than executing their surrender to the will of the "Friends," the County should let the appeals court decide the issue; unless the court rules against the County--which seems unlikely at this point--it will be clear to one and all that the County Council, and the Council alone, is responsible for this abandonment of its citizens.

Ever the since the "Friends" began this litigation many years ago, they have sought to persuade County residents that there is a guesthouse problem, and that having a guesthouse is both illegal and environmentally irresponsible in most cases. This is simply not true. Until the "Friends" sued to invalidate the existing guesthouse ordinance, there was no question that a guesthouse was permitted in rural and resource lands. Although the "Friends" persuaded the Western Washington Growth Management Hearings Board, and the Superior Court upheld one part of the Board's decision, that case is on appeal and that decision is not final. If the appeals court rules in the County's favor, the old guesthouse rules will still be in effect. But if the County dismisses the appeal before the Court rules, then the Board's overreaching decision will stand.

So, in preparation for the final showdown on June 6, we should review the issues that have been obscured by political double-talk over the past two years as the "Friends" have been maneuvering for a settlement, rather than a decision, in the guesthouse case that they filed some seven years ago.

Peg Manning
Orcas

[more..]


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