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Tuesday, June 14th

What Others Say About Us

Dear County Council,
Where is the local environmental problem that requires a new regulatory solution? We deserve an answer. Please prove to us that our existing regulations are inadequate before attempting to impose further restrictions. We take our property rights seriously. You should too.

Locals and visitors alike love the abundant natural beauty of our islands. We have a long tradition of preserving and caring for our land. Our waters are filled with abundant marine life and our shorelines are healthy and vibrant. Can anyone point to a place that has received better protection by both its residents and through public and private programs? Where’s the problem?

The observable facts regarding the environment in San Juan County indicate that current patterns of land use and development are sustainable and that our existing Growth Management Plan protects the environment. As yet there is no evidence that proves existing regulations or our extensive preservation programs are inadequate or have failed to protect critical areas. Consider the following statements from scientists and state agencies:


Monday, June 13th

"Not Ready to Make Nice," Or Is It Time?

Dear Editor,

The Dixie Chicks' Grammy winning song "Not Ready to Make Nice" could serve as an anthem for the many people on the island still irate over the firing of Gary Pfleuger. The song's themes of sticking to one's beliefs and especially its tag line of "I'm mad as hell" neatly capture the raw feelings of many of those who stood for hours at SJI school board meetings hoping to change the course of events.

Now that a new principal has been chosen, though, I think it's important to listen to another message from that song:
"It’s a sad sad story when a mother will teach her
Daughter that she ought'a hate a perfect stranger"

I bring this up because my daughter returned from school the other day puzzled and distraught by a conversations she'd heard on the school bus. Apparently kids around her were relishing how much they were going to "hate the new principal" next year. These were kindergartners and 1st graders, so I doubt they, personally, have strong opinions about how representative democracy let them down.

Principal Pfleuger may be leaving our school, but that does not mean that the "Safe, Civil, Productive" signs need to be torn down. The desire to keep him as principal was motivated in part by the respectful attitudes he inspired in his school. I hope that all parents who appreciated Gary's leadership will do him the honor of instilling those same attitudes in our children with or without him.
"They say time heals everything
But I'm still waiting."

Michael O'Donnell
San Juan Island

[Or Is It Time?">link]

Tuesday, June 7th

Public Urged To Put Name Forward For Charter Review Commission

Letter to the Editor

Friday, June 10 is the filing deadline to be a candidate for the Charter Review Commission. A group of 18 commissioners will be elected from our six council districts this November for a mandated review of our County’s guiding document which was passed overwhelmingly by voters six years ago.

As a Freeholder who participated in the original Charter movement, I urge civic minded citizens to participate in this important review. It was a challenge to research and craft a new governing contract for our County, and the rarity of voter approval anywhere in the State could have been discouraging. (two previous local efforts failed)

Instead, our diverse group from all walks of life and political persuasion managed to work together with a spirit of respect and cooperation that fills me with a sense of pride and accomplishment to this day.

I hear complaints about various aspects of our County government, either about our budget, or the people we’ve hired to serve us. Somehow, the Charter gets blamed for these issues in some quarters, a notion I don’t accept. If there’s a personnel issue, changes can be made without changing the Charter.

The Charter Review will be a much simpler process than the original effort since “tweaking” is a lot easier than creating anew. One obvious issue, I would think, would be to consider “at large” voting for council seats on Orcas and San Juan. We originally felt that district elections would make elected representatives more accountable to their immediate constituents. Others may feel that San Juan voters, for example, should be able to vote “at large” for all three council seats. Participate in this debate to help insure that “Home Rule” isn’t merely a slogan.

Respectfully submitted,
David Bayley
San Juan Island


Opposed To Chip Sealing Road

Dear Editor,

We live on Watmough Head Road on the Southeast end of Lopez island which, we understand, the County intends to chip seal in late June. Like the great majority of people living down here, we oppose this plan. Much of this area has been preserved through BLM purchases, Land Bank conservation easements and the like. This also is an area in the county to be included in the proposed San Juan County National Conservation Area (NCA) which the San Juan County Council unanimously supports. To pave the road will permanently alter an important feature of this natural area.

We recently spoke with a representative of San Juan County Public Works who told us the reason for paving is “cost saving,” that “it will happen,” that there will be public notices but no public meeting or hearing. We have also learned that this action was not specified in the County Road Plan approved by the County Council last year. We are in receipt of a copy of an email sent by Pete Rose, County Administrator, to Bob Myhr, former County Councilman, which states: “You are correct. It [the paving of Watmough Head Road] should have been listed specifically on the county road plan.” It was not.

We strongly believe there are many more factors in addition to “cost cutting” that should be considered before making this decision, which will irrevocably change the landscape.

We urge concerned citizens of San Juan County to contact the County Council, County Administrator, and Public Works with their input. At the very least there should be some opportunity for those on both sides of the issue to be heard in public.

But contact them quickly as the machines are set to roll.

John and Patsy Sangster


Letter on Colton Harris Moore Charges Vs. Local History Context

To the Editor:

We have followed the saga of Colton Harris Moore. He is being charge with 15 felonies in San Juan County. He stands accused of similar charges in a number of other jurisdictions. There is a public clamoring and buzz for "justice to be done". I do not condone the crimes he is alleged to have committed. I would like to put it in a bit of context. Lets look at some recent crimes committed in San Juan County and the punishments they received.

Young adult kills brother with shotgun in apartment in Friday Harbor. 7 years in prison.
Young adult kills friend while drunk driving. 3 years in prison.
Teenager kills bicyclist on Lopez and maims young girl with car. 45 days in juvenile detention.
Trio of individuals convicted of multiple felony burglaries on SJI. 1 year in prison.
Very recently a man convicted of burglary, drug charges, fights cops during arrest. 120 days in jail.

Again, Colton's crimes are not to be condoned, but bear in mind, he never committed a violent crime. He never waved a weapon at anyone. All of his alleged crimes are property crimes.

Using the crimes listed above and sentencing outcomes as a guide, he should get 1 to 1.5 years in prison.

Just something to think about in the days ahead, as this case is discussed.

Lets see what our Pro$ecuter does.

Harold Wilson.
San Juan Island


Thursday, June 2nd

Time For Howie To Resign


To the Editor:

It’s time for Howie to resign from the San Juan County Council.

If an enforcement officer can’t see well enough to shoot straight anymore or can’t hear the high-pitched beeps from a radiation monitor to possibly prevent a terrorist attack, it’s time for him to retire or resign. If a soldier or sailor on guard duty can’t stay awake and it is wartime, he may suffer some very dire consequences including the loss of his friends and comrades because of his negligence " no matter that he may have been under severe stress and sleepless for days.

If a San Juan County Councilor can’t stay awake and hear/see testimony that may be vital to community interests he should have the integrity and honesty to resign and leave the job to somebody who is able to do it. While he’s not on wartime guard duty or protecting against terrorism, he is involved in a responsible position that has a lot to do with our tax monies, our local freedoms and our property rights.

It would be easy to treat his sleep apnea as a local cuteness that brought some notoriety to our small county. It would be a nice thing to think we could trust him to stay awake to fully understand and act appropriately about the issues facing us, but I don’t think we have that luxury. How many years has the solid waste issue plagued us? How many times has the Council ignored public testimony and created public policy out of private sessions? Yes " They’ve improved in the last two years, but we still have the flawed policies affecting us each day and with each tax payment.

Now they are embarked helter-skelter on a quest for CAO without any demonstrated problem, scientific or otherwise.

Whether it’s in our private lives or our public local policy when we have real economic issues facing us, we can’t afford to ignore an obvious problem that affects all of us. If you are a business owner and have an employee who can’t do the job, sleeps on the job or doesn’t show up on time you may have to let him go. You hired the person for good reasons " you’ve grown to like him, but you simply can’t put up with his inability to perform properly.

We need to get serious about the problems our county and our country face today.

Dennis R. Hazelton
San Juan Island

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