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Sunday, October 25th

LETTERS IN SUPPORT OF REFERENDUM 71


Approve Referendum 71 and Retain Equality and Fairness

Governor Gregoire signed on May 18, 2009 Senate Bill 5688 titled,
"Expanding the rights and responsibilities of state registered domestic
partners". The law ensures that all Washington families are provided
with the same protections, the same rights, and the same obligations as
their neighbors. The law extends equality and fairness to registered
domestic partners (same-sex couples and opposite-sex couples where at
least one partner is over age 62).

Among the provisions of the law that address equality and fairness
are: the right to use sick leave to care for a domestic partner; the
right to wages and benefits when a domestic partner is injured, and to
unpaid wages upon the death of a domestic partner; the right to
unemployment and disability insurance benefits; the right to workers'
compensation coverage; rights to insurance, including rights under
group policies, policy rights after the death of a domestic partner,
conversion rights and continuing coverage rights; rights related to
adoption, child custody and child support; and business succession
rights.

The November 3 election day ballot mailed to registered San Juan
County voters contains Referendum 71, a referendum sponsored and
endorsed by opponents of the registered domestic partnership law. All
referenda ask the same question: 'Should an existing law be approved or
rejected?' The domestic partnership law already exists. We urge you
to vote to approve Referendum 71 on your ballot and to retain this
important law. Your vote to approve Referendum 71 is your statement
that all families in Washington are to be treated equally and fairly.

Roger deRoos
Steering Committee
San Juan Island Chapter
ACLU of Washington
Friday Harbor, Washington


[link]


Friday, October 23rd

LETTER ON ORCAS RECREATION DISTRICT


Dear Editor:

This past July over 650 people signed a petition to place the Orcas Island Recreation District Proposal on the ballot. Now is the time to vote to
approve the district.

We are fortunate that this district will have solid leadership. I have met with all of the commissioner candidates and I am impressed by their
enthusiasm, interest and credentials. If you are unsure of what the district may be in the future, just talk several of the commissioner
candidates. Or, check out Island Rec on San Juan Island - it is a great example for what good leadership can do to promote recreation programs for
people of all ages. www.islandrec.org

Recreation programs provide physical activity and mental challenges that promote a healthy lifestyle. This proposal reflects what I want for our
community. Please join me and vote to APPROVE the recreation district.

Randall Gaylord
Eastsound, WA 98245

[link]


Wednesday, October 21st

Ag Guild Reponds To Guest Column


Dear Editor,

Lynn Danaher’s recent Guest Column in The Island Guardian rightly points out that we should support our local farmers’ market, but expresses opposition to the proposed Nichols Street market facility.

As a board member for the San Juan Islands Agricultural Guild, I want to respond to some of the concerns expressed in Lynn’s column. By way of background, I am an “at large” board member for the Agricultural Guild, meaning that I am neither a farmer nor a formal representative for one of several island, county, and regional organizations represented on the Ag Guild board. I attempt to represent the interests of island residents and more specifically, the customers of local farmers.

First, I would like to address the issue of site selection in general. Last year, we completed a feasibility study of potential locations for a Permanent Farmer’s Market facility, which listed requirements and considered 9 properties total, with detailed analysis of the top 3 properties. These top choices were 150 Nichols Street, 330 Spring Street, and the SJ County Fairgrounds. Of these choices, 150 Nichols Street met more of the criteria than the alternatives, and was identified as the first target for the Ag Guild to pursue as a home for the Permanent Farmer’s Market. The feasibility study was made public (with an executive summary) on the Ag Guild’s website (http://www.sjiagguild.com), and hard copies were distributed widely to each of the organizations involved including the Town and County.

The fairgrounds were strongly considered as a location for the Permanent Farmer’s Market. Speaking for myself as a board member, there was intense discussion at board meetings (for which we try to make notes available on our website on a timely basis) concerning site selection, and I do not believe that the fairgrounds were dismissed as a possibility without strong consideration. Current zoning restrictions at the Fairgrounds are being addressed that would potentially allow for farmers markets and/or other markets to take place at the Fairgrounds. The Fairgrounds Director has indicated that new facilities may not be able to be constructed given the amount of impervious surface allowed. Thus, the potential use of Fairgrounds facilities would not necessarily include dedicated facilities for farmers markets or other markets on specific days of each week. Furthermore, while the cost of development would be significantly less (given the fact that the property is already publically owned), the operating budget may not be sustainable.

The Ag Guild board has to weigh the importance of a downtown location heavily in our site selection criteria, for several reasons. First, both farm vendors and craft vendors repeatedly express a strong preference for a downtown location to maximize customer traffic. Whatever kind of business each of us is involved in, surely we can understand that the old maxim, “location, location, location” applies to farmers’ markets and arts & crafts markets as well as any other retail business. Second, customers reliably express a preference for a downtown location, convenient to the other businesses they patronize. And customers of the farmers’ market are everyone else’s customers. Remember �" a downtown location maximizes the chances that a farmer’s market customer will then walk next door and patronize other local businesses. This represents a win-win situation for local businesses. Third, a downtown location maximizes the tourist appeal and traffic to the farmer’s market. Farmers’ markets around the state are well-documented draws for visitors, and the Ag Guild is confident that the Nichols Street market facility will follow the trends seen in Bellingham and Olympia and elsewhere, helping to boost local economic activity across the board.

Finally, the Town’s own Economic Development element of the Comprehensive Plan states “The Town should support the establishment of a permanent farmers market in Friday Harbor.” This is the source of the Town’s support for a downtown location, and the Ag Guild considers the Town a vital long-term partner for creating a healthy farmer’s market, as local municipalities have been in Olympia, Bellingham, Seattle, Puyallup, Federal Way, and elsewhere in our state.

In short, the Ag Guild board is following the expressed preference of a wide segment of our community in working hard to develop a downtown location. Downtown, only two sites meet the bulk of our criteria, and we must all realize that no site will be perfect and meet all of our desires and requirements. 330 Spring Street would be a terrific location for a market as well, and as many have observed, has potential for parking. But the property is much bigger than even our optimistic hopes for small farming in the islands, and is much more expensive than a small non-profit, even with public-private partnership, can afford.

150 Nichols Street, in short, meets almost all of the criteria originally outlined for a Permanent Farmer’s Market facility, and is appropriately sized and priced for the project. The Land Bank’s participation as a historic preservation project will save and preserve the last historic industrial building in downtown Friday Harbor for future generations, and the Ag Guild is committed (and working on) raising matching funds from private donors and sources of grant funding for the renovation and operation of the facility.

Finally, I want to address the issue of parking, since it is a subject of great concern. We should separate two issues: parking for vendors, and parking for customers. The first is critical for the Ag Guild to address as part of the planning process for the project. Market vendors will be required to park outside the downtown core and not use on-street parking marked with anything under 8-hour time limits, or park in residential areas adjacent to the market. This is critical to ensure that the Ag Guild and our market vendors are “good neighbors” to local businesses and residents.

The second issue �" parking for customers �" is one that all businesses in Friday Harbor face, and it is one that none of us can solve alone. Customers will use whatever legal parking spots they find available. In doing so, they will walk past, and often patronize, other businesses on their way to and from the Permanent Farmer’s Market facility. This is a positive benefit, not a downside, to locating the market downtown. But in the long term, we all recognize that the Town, downtown businesses, and residents will need to address the need for additional parking, and the Ag Guild stands ready to be a strong partner when an appropriate plan and location is identified, since it will benefit everyone.

In closing, I simply wanted to give a perspective as a non-farmer board member from the Ag Guild on the current plan to acquire and renovate 150 Nichols Street. As with any project, we are working to build the best facility possible but there are always areas where our plans can be improved, and we welcome the feedback we’re getting from Ms. Danaher and other correspondents.

Ag Guild board members are happy to discuss the project and plans with all interested parties. We did so this summer by staffing a booth at the current farmer’s market location, and we answered many questions and listened to customer’s concerns and desires for the market. Now that the market occurs less frequently, we encourage those who wish to ask questions to visit our website, contact board members, and come to public meetings. Building a Permanent Farmer’s Market that we can be proud of, and that will stimulate economic activity and growth will take more than the efforts of a non-profit, even with Town and Land Bank support. It will take the support of customers, farmers, local businesspeople, and the community as a whole.

Thank you for the opportunity to share some of the details that have led the Ag Guild to the current plan for 150 Nichols Street.

Sincerely yours,
Mark Madsen

[link]


Monday, October 12th

LETTERS ON FULLY FUNDING 4-H


The recession means that things are tight across the economy. Families are concerned. Seniors are concerned. Home values are down. Local tax receipts are down. County revenues from fees are down. The County Council, like many families, has had to reduce expenses to balance the budget

. One area that should not be cut is the support for the County’s 4H program. The 4H program brings parents, children and our community together in a positive manner that is not duplicated by any other program. At a time when children face many challenges, some of which lead down a destructive path, a positive program that is so beneficial for our youth, families and community should not be set aside.

4H builds and strengthens a young person’s character, fosters constructive relationships between children, strengthens families and establishes a foundation from which children grow to become successful adults in our community.

The Council has the budget authority and an choose to spend a little less on roads, less on consultants, less on administration, less on attorneys or less on employee overtime and, in turn, fully fund the 4H program if. Please contact the County Council and encourage them to give our local 4H program the support it needs to serve the children and families in San Juan County, whether or not the levy lid tax increase is passed by County voters.

John Evans
Doe Bay
former County Commissioner
Executive Director of the San Juan Builders Association
[link]


Wednesday, October 7th

$270,000.00 Must Be Cut From FH Budget!


The Friday Harbor Town council now struggles with trying to get a balanced budget. I can understand that. I can also understand that each of the town departments will have to struggle to make the cuts necessary to fill the estimated $270,000.00 deficit. I can also understand that it won’t be easy.

But.. It would have been much easier had the council done their homework when a couple of weeks ago they approved the purchase of the $600,000.00 fire engine. The budget deficit amount almost matches the difference in the cost of the fire engine that should not have been purchased.

Coincidence? The money allocated for the fire engine came from the emergency fund. If a nearly $300,000.00 deficit is not an emergency, then Webster needs to re-evaluate the definition.

Let’s not forget that this year, we will see a 24% increase in utilities. Coincidence?
What can we do to make them understand that it’s our money they are throwing away? DON’T LET THE SAME PEOPLE STAY IN OFFICE “VOTE” THEM OUT because they are not listening to us no matter how many times they say they are.

Let’s understand that these budget issues are not to be simply “o well’d.” they are important, critical and vital to the continued well being of our town. Let’s NOT make the same mistakes bureaucrats have been making for years by spending needlessly and without regard for the taxpayer.

I have received news today (Monday) that the council has asked the treasurer to find a way to get the fire engine with a loan. That’s good news, too bad it still will cost $600,000.00. You can get a video of the September 17th evening meeting just so you know I wasn’t dreaming all this.

Robert Low
Friday Harbor

[link]


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