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Weekly Nag Purpose
THE WEEKLY NAG is a column dedicated to giving vent to some of the many things that we may find confusing, perplexing, frustrating, exasperating etc. about Island life. It’s tone is intended (the path to hell is paved with…) to be light hearted, and non-libelous.
The Weekly Nag welcomes contributions: All submittals are subject to being edited without review from the contributor. The Nag may publish "anonymous" submittals, but only if the author is revealed to the Editor
When we’re in a hole the best thing we can do is stop digging, but some denizens of San Juan County don’t get it.
How many overlapping bureaucracies do we live under and why do we think we must add more?
There are the: FBI, DEA, ICE, CBP, NFS, USCG, SMP, CAO, USF&WL, WSP, SJ SHERIFF, PORT OF FRIDAY HARBOR ET AL, 4 SCHOOL DISTRICTS, LEGISLATIVE DISTRICTS, CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICTS, COUNCIL DISTRICTS, FIRE DISTRICTS, PARK DISTRICTS, ISLAND REC, HOSPITAL DISTRICT, LIBRARY DISTRICTS, TOWNS/VILLAGES, ZONING, SIGNAGE REGULATIONS, DMV, LICENSING, ASSESSOR, TREASURER, AUDITOR, LOCAL/STATE/FEDERAL/SUPREME COURTS, NMF, FAA, PUBLIC WORKS, BLM, NATIONAL PARKS, BLM, WA DEPT. OF FISHERIES, TSA, BORDER PATROL, PERMIT CENTER, COMMERCE, HEW, DEPT. OF STATE, BATF, U.S. MARSHALLS, POSTAL SERVICE, DOD, OSHA, CONSERVATION DISTRICT, HEALTH & COMMUNITY SERVICES, LAND BANK, PROSECUTING ATTORNEY, PUBLIC DEFENDER, SOLID WASTE, SECRET SERVICE, CORPS OF ENGINEERS, EPA, FCC, HOMELAND SECURITY, IRS, SOCIAL SECURITY, BIA, FHA, USDA, DOE, NATURAL RESOURCES, TOURISM, NOXIOUS WEEDS, LIQUOR CONTROL BOARD, and many more I haven’t recalled.
Look at the below website to see a list of WA state license requirements. Then think of the ever growing number of licenses and permits we need to do almost any human endeavor in San Juan County. Inspect your septic system and pay a $25 fee to report the results to the county.
Next they’ll be thinking we should have a license to hold hands or kiss our spouses in public; perhaps we can’t look at a particular view without paying a view tax.
Every time we turn around somebody wants to put hands in our pockets and take cash from our wallets. How often have we heard, “It isn’t a tax, it’s a fee”? The sad thing is that each board, commission, working group, etc. that is created feels it must “do” something to justify itself. Then we start having multiple hearings, reports, experts and arguments about an issue created out of thin air at a high elevation. Naturally, they need some staff support, so we buy office furniture, computers and personnel to fulfill their “needs”.
From what I read in letters to editors, I don’t think I’m alone in my knowledge that there is too much intrusion into our lives and our pocketbooks.
At least think before you blindly jump on a money-hungry bandwagon.
Dennis R. Hazelton
San Juan Island
Shell Games and Critical “Patients” in San Juan County
In watching today’s County Council session, I kept thinking how all of this could look to a local resident who -being occupied with such things as holding down a job- had never before seen local government at work.
Collectively, the Council members seem hard-working and conscientious. The challenges they faced today were neither unique nor common, but probably averaged out to be fairly typical. They were collegial and respectful. That said:
• Visitors were here today from a state-funded outfit called The Puget Sound Partnership. The two of them were treated deferentially and they had all the time they wanted to talk. They talked a long time, or it seemed like it, and they were not well-organized. They came bearing gifts of money -maybe- and with lots of strings attached. The money is connected to yet another mandate from the state on what our County has to do to comply with their rules. (Some people don’t think the State Department of Ecology has near the amount of power to boss us around that they think they do). One of the “Partnership” people said they were trying to be ambassadors. He said they were not “the ministry of Puget Sound.” He said our County is pristine and magnificent. They aren’t here to say, “You should do this.” The Council asked questions and listened to the answers. One Council member said our County has had a net loss in finances while dealing with the “Partnership.” There were other gripes. No one mentioned all the trouble they got into a few months back using public funds to buy down jackets for their friends. The “Partnership” employs dozens of people. What do they do?
• In response to some complicated discussion about money we are going to -maybe- get from the “Partnership,” one council member said, “This looks like a shell game.”
• Some members of the public spoke during the public comment period. They were very well-organized. They got three minutes.
• The chair of the Eastsound Planning and Review Committee presented Eastsound’s Action Plan. He compared Eastsound to a critically ill patient who would be a “red” case (most extremely sick or injured) in a medical triage situation. It sounds like a disaster in Eastsound. They have parking problems. They have all sorts of problems. They live in the middle of a wetland. One of the state mandates we’re dealing with wants us to put buffers all around wetlands where you can’t build your house or go play in the swamp or whatever. Some of their Eastsound houses are IN the wetland. How is that going to work out?
• The EPRC chair said that Eastsound gets pushed out over and over again because the County’s priorities keep putting state mandates ahead of them.
• Is this crazy? We are spending time, money, unbelievable effort, and anxiety trying to satisfy state mandates on problems we haven’t even been able to identify while our own neighborhoods are suffering with very clear and identifiable problems.
• Is this upside down? How can we get right side up? If you had $75,000 or so, who would you give it to, Eastsound or paying for a new Puget Sound Partnership employee to conduct the “liaison” for implementing state mandates?
(Name known and confirmed, but withheld per author's request -Ed)
Not My Fault!
“It’s not fair!!” said Howie with a gleam in his eyes
We deserve retirement like the full time guys
There are now six of us instead of three
And we’ve added a manager to the organization tree
It’s not my fault the room is so warm
Energy too low to have a brainstorm
The chairs so soft and the voices low
My brain takes a break in the afterglow
Power point - It’s too hard for me
I feel so warm and cuddly
I know we’ve got problems - the budget a mess
But when I’m asleep I couldn’t care less
The garbage problem still seems to be there
It’s cost over two mil but what should I care
It feels like an overwhelming money trap
But why should I worry when I still have my nap
Perhaps they won’t notice when my eyes are closed
I don’t have to answer the questions they posed
And here on the island amid the seas
It feels like time to claim a few zzzzz….z
Oh Dear! Those Sexy Deer!
I read your article about the deer population and I am outraged!!!. The over population of deer is clearly a result of man caused global warming and your paper neglects to mention this.
The connection is obvious. Warmer weather, deer are going to be wearing less clothing, leading to more attraction to deer of the opposite sex, thus the over population.
Please try to present a balanced view.
One more issue. would it be possible to refer to Mr. Gaylord as: "$an Juan Pro$ecutor"??
Deputy On Wrong Side
I love Herb's Tavern. It is an Island Institution, at least in our lives.
My Nag is that Herb's is the only bar in Town that the Sheriff's Deputes go behind the bar. In the last 3 years I have questioned 2 different Deputes on why they were behind the bar, their answer that they could better do their job. I questioned that, being a former bartender in this community,
I had never had a deputy behind my bar. The only person that they could arrest on that side would be the bartender for over serving. In my opinion it doesn't look good for a person in uniform to be behind the bar in uniform and with a loaded weapon. I called the dispatcher one night to report a deputy behind the bar, it didn't work, he was back again Saturday night. To me it is bordering on police state. Please comment
(comments may be sent to email@example.com -Ed)
Party Time Closes County Offices
(07-20-10) I would hate to be too harsh for a NAG, but is anyone else bothered that the San Juan County offices (such as the Auditor) can close down early to have a party?
Thursday will be the second time this has happened to my knowledge. And will we be paying their salaries to party????
(UPDATED 07-27-10) Stan Matthews, the Communications Program Manager for San Juan County, has responded to the above Nag -with kind of a Nag complaint all his own:
"(a) The Auditor’s Office did not close down. Only the people related to customer service attended the training. Everyone else on the auditor’s staff was at their desks working; (b) [The Nag] also said “And will we be paying their salaries to party????” There was no party.
The office did close down early one day last December for a staff Christmas [holiday] party with staff bringing their own goodies. You know what kind of year last year was for County employees as well as everyone else. If you think that providing a brief opportunity for celebration and staff bonding once a year during the holidays is inappropriate, so be it."
Ah Yes, Cuts For You, But Not For Us
There for awhile I had some hopes that the Imperial Council and four (count them) SJC School Districts would “man-up” and bite some of the bullets the rest of us must chew on. Those hopes were dashed by their recent decision to cut the budgets of nineteen departments resulting in layoffs of service staff, but deciding to delay the cut of one clerk position on their own staff.
It doesn’t matter to them that the public is less served by reductions of hours and days of service; it doesn’t matter that we may have fewer teachers available for children in San Juan County schools. They need to have their own minions to maintain their own level of importance. It was heartening to see that some of them showed some sense, but the whole body did not take the needed action even though they know what it is.
It is my bet that some of the Imperial Council members have noticed that property values have plummeted; property sales have dropped significantly and the ability of retired folks and people on fixed or diminished incomes are having a harder time of making ends meet.
My suspicion is that income levels of real estate brokers and home builders have diminished. All of this has been well-recognized by most of us for the past two years, but the Imperial Council seems to think they’re still leading a parade that turned a corner behind them long ago.
They wave their pompoms; the drum major lifts his baton and the music of the parade has faded away. But they -as a group- do not seem to have noticed. They passed an additional tax regarding noxious weeds that is simply not justified. Island Rec -a wonderful organization- is asking for more money to support San Juan Island sports while the school boards of the four districts in the county won’t even consider reducing educational overhead by combining school district staffs and administrators.
My knowledge about the pro-anti of the waste transfer plant isn’t complete. It seems that both (or more) sides all have good arguments. One of the reasons we have elected representatives in our republic is to assure that needed actions can be taken on a timely basis.
How long ago did the SJC Council buy the Beaverton Valley property for the transfer plant for what I recall was a million plus dollars? Since that property presumably belongs to the county it has probably been removed from the tax rolls. If the Sutton Road site is closed, will they be able to sell it or is it too contaminated and will we still have two properties off of the tax rolls?
It is time for the Imperial Council to stop preening their peacock feathers, to reduce their flow of personal minions and to make the decisions they should make to support and maintain the community. The same goes for the various school boards.
When I see the public bodies that use our taxes get serious about saving and expending on a more rational basis, then I will consider voting for them and for tax increases. However, if those bodies in control of our tax money fail to proact effectively I will vote “NO” and do what I can to throw the slackers out office.
Dennis R. Hazelton
San Juan Island