Wednesday, November 25, 2015


Well, gosh Selinda...Why don't you tell us what you really think?

Now, if you haven't read the article about Selinda Barkhuis calling upon the County Commissioners to fire Jim Jones, you really ought to. It's long and fascinating and very illuminating - though not always in ways those involved probably intended.

Again, I urge you to read the article for yourself. I'll just include one of the more interesting little tidbits here, as a sort of teaser...

County Sheriff Bill Benedict said he was surprised to see Barkhuis' email, which he forwarded as a news release at 4:12 p.m.

“I am embarrassed for county elected officials, to see that coming from one of us out of the blue,” Benedict said later Monday.

“Nobody has seen Selinda for months coming to work, and she has the temerity to put that out?”

So yeah, on one hand, you've got Selinda seemingly acting kind of crazy, and coming across as possibly a little paranoid about the hostile workplace and good ol' boys out to get her.

But on the other hand, you've got the County Sheriff taking it upon himself to send out an internal email as a news release - an action which clearly fits into Selinda's hostile good ol' boys out to get her narrative. I mean, really, since when does the Sheriff send out news releases about internal budget battles?

Hmmm...The Clallam County Courthouse as a hotbed of sexism? Of cronyism? Of backroom deals and backstabbing BS? Ground zero for good ol' boys self-serving sexist cronyism backroom deals?

Might not such a place indeed be very, very hostile to those challenging or threatening the status quo? Gee, ya think?

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Winter, Spring, Summer and Fail

Now, I know what I first thought when I saw the latest batch of people-free photos that Tyler sent to me. I thought, "Oh, no one is out and about because they're all off feting Russ Venalmaw."

Ah, but Russ had his bonehead voyage party on Friday in the early evening, and these photos were taken on Thursday, at High Noon. In downtown Port Angeles. A place without people.

Downtown, the ferries, and the transit center...
And yet, no people to be seen.
Note the lack of any footprints in the sand. Even more
revealing - note the lack of paw prints in the sand. Not even
a dog is interested in Nathan West's Wasteful Waterfront Beach.
If you're on The Walking Dead, it's a good thing to not have
any walkers. But if you've spent millions on a new walkway...
It's maybe not such a good thing.
And speaking of spending millions of dollars...Note how,
even after spending millions on the CSO/Turd Tank project,
and the new waterfront, the City still has to post signs informing
people about the sewage outflows. (Well, they'd be informing
people if there were any there to inform, that is...)
Seen in this light, it's no wonder that Don Perry cut his "heritage tours" down to one a day. The only real wonder is why he hasn't cut it back to one a week. Anyway...It seems like Tyler has been documenting the changing of the seasons in Port Angeles, and the unchanging reality of the downtown being a place that is, for all intents and purposes, devoid of people 99% of the time, regardless of the season.
Given the content (or not, as the case may be) of these photos, and the approaching holiday season, I can't help but remember the Christmas Parade we went to our first winter in Port Angeles. A section of First Street was all blocked off with orange cones. A few hardy souls, no more than a couple of dozen people, were out lining the street in the cold evening. And then, the first small group marching in the parade came by...Followed immediately by a City truck picking up the orange cones that had been out blocking the street off for...nothing. It was all over in less than five minutes. 

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Fill the Barrel - Then Toss Russ In and Seal It Up Tight

Because I just know you all will want to be there...

A farewell party Friday will celebrate retiring Russ Veenema's 15 years as executive director of the Port Angeles Regional Chamber of Commerce.

The event will run from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. in the Red Lion Hotel, 221 N. Lincoln St. at the foot of Lincoln Street, and will feature snacks, beverages and a no-host bar.

Although not required, participants are invited to bring bottles of wine to “Fill the Barrel” as a gift for Veenema.

Hired in the fall of 2000, he earns $89,000 a year.

During Veenema's tenure, Port Angeles captured national attention as the second-place finisher in a nationwide Web-based “Best City Ever” competition run by Outside magazine and kudos in a survey of small towns by Livability magazine, plus mention as one of the country's “coolest towns” by the Matador Network travel website.

Holding on to a job he was no good at for way, way too long? Check.

Getting paid way, way more than he ever earned? Paycheck.

Taking credit for things he had nothing to do with and/or that had no actual, verifiable meaning? Check.

Taking money for all those years to represent Port Angeles while never actually living there? Check.

Practicing the most obvious forms of nepotism in hiring? Check.

Having a haughty, rude manner and alienating many of the very people (business owners) that he was supposedly representing? Check.

So yes, Russ Venalmaw really does represent so many of the finest aspects of Port Angeles. That being so, don't piss away this opportunity to put something extra special in his bye bye barrel.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Numbers Crunching! Ball Busting! Threats! The Clallam County Budgeting Process

After weeks of budget talks and number crunching, Clallam County commissioners Tuesday set public hearings on a final draft 2016 budget that returns employees to a 40-hour workweek and uses reserve funds to balance the general fund. It uses $2.7 million in general fund reserves to restore a 40-hour workweek for 37½-hour employees, to add new staff and to pay for one-time expenditures in an effort to stimulate the local economy, staff told commissioners Tuesday.

Commissioners received public testimony Tuesday from Teamsters Local 589 representative Dan Taylor, who said predictions of a budget shortfall in 2014 were false. Taylor said board Chairman Jim McEntire, who lost his bid for re-election against Mark Ozias on Nov. 3, had “been around the county and local community long enough to know the reality.”

An arbitrator ruled May 27 that Clallam County violated a collective bargaining agreement when it placed about 45 Teamsters employees on a 37½-hour workweek in January of 2014 and again in January of this year. “After losing in arbitration the grievance over a 37½-hour workweek, the county is suing the union to get the award overturned,” Taylor said. “This is the very reason that arbitration is in the agreement — to keep us from suing each other and driving up the cost. The board was so disingenuous and so arrogant, the union had no choice but to come after the commission. That is what we have done.”

“You, Jim, are a direct result of what a few hundred folks who were treated badly by you can do,” Taylor told McEntire, who was traveling for county business but participated in the meeting by phone. “The union will make the cost of getting elected in Clallam County much higher, if it does nothing else.”

Taylor then turned his attention to Commissioner Bill Peach and Jim Jones.

“Bill, make no mistake, we are watching you closely to see what you do in the future,” Taylor said.

“Jim Jones, I will remind you that it only takes two commissioners to make your at-will position belong to someone else. That, gentleman, is all there is to say.”

McEntire, Peach and Jones did not respond to Taylor's remarks...

How about you? Do you have anything to say in response to Dan Taylor's remarks?

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Up, Up and (Going) Away

So yes, I was out in the wilderness for a day - the wilderness of Port Angeles. We went up to get my last remaining relative there out. Doing so felt so good.

On the way to Port Angeles, we passed through Portland, which looked like one big construction zone. I guess it's true that Portland is the new San Francisco, because the way they're building condos and apartments and everything else, there must still be literally tons of people flocking there.

The Pearl District is becoming a whole Pearl Necklace...
And then some.
Wow! As impressive as it was, it was all a bit too much to deal with traffic-wise for a simple lunch stop. Plus, it was still kind of early in the day, so we decided to get lunch at a place we like in Olympia instead.
With that in mind, I said we could almost certainly park across the street from where we wanted to go downtown in a big (and usually emptyish) parking lot behind a bank. At least that was the plan...But when we got there, we discovered that this was going up where the lot once was...
Hey kids - get yer red hot condos here!
Oops! Olympia was pretty booming, too. No more parking lot behind the bank - now it'll soon be five or six stories of condos and apartments, with retail below. In other words, when we did manage to park, we may have gotten one of the past open parking spaces in downtown Olympia. (Oh, and the downtown was extra buzzing that day because it turned out to be the first day of their 32nd annual Olympia Film Festival...)
And so, lunch having finally been acquired, we hit the road again. Our full bellies gave a bit of a lurch as we made the turn onto Highway 101.
But we got to see the new, improved sections of 101 in Clallam County - which were weird and totally out of scale. This was especially noticeable due to the very light Friday traffic on 101. I mean, for all intents and purposes, there was no traffic on 101 in the late afternoon on a Friday.
Coming into town, we noticed that the porn and firewood trailer is gone. That was, I will admit, a bit of a disappointment. Then we passed the bleak Border Patrol facility. The closed Bushwhacker. We saw that a vet is moving into the building where the liquor store used to be - but that the store next to that is vacant.
Passing the Air Crest, we were, of course, aware that we wouldn't be seeing the Moldy Mattress. But still, we looked, just in case. (Later, we saw something I liked even better: A shut down, beat up and spray painted soda machine leaning lifelessly against the side of the previously discussed Holiday Lodge.) We saw the STILL FOR SALE Lincoln Theater.
The Lincoln Theater...Not sold, just old...Very, very old.

Everything looked essentially the same as it did a couple of years ago, only dingier, more run down. Gross's Florist & Nursery was just that - gross - with peeling paint and mildew overshadowing any plants on site. The streets were grubby and nearly deserted. The PDN informed us that Toxic Teresa Pierce would be appearing in some sort of Christmas show. Cherie Kidd still had her big campaign banner up across from the gas station - in violation of State law.
But the thing that seemed to sum it up to me, that seemed to encapsulate the whole Port Angeles vibe to me, was the still signed and still closed Maria's Mexican Restaurant on Lincoln. That place was closed before I even left town, but the sign was still up, nothing had changed. It had been run by a kook (Herbert Lutz), who got in a pissing match with the City over - irony alert - their sign codes, and it all ended with Lutz ending the business.
Maria's: Still closed for business seven days a week.

Except that...It hasn't ended. Despite the City's sign code, the very one that Lutz found so onerous, the sign for Maria's still stands. The empty shell of the building still sits there, a history of anger, civic dysfunction, petty feuds and economic decline trailing out behind it, and, apparently, in front of it. Is it a ghost? A warning to others? Or just another eyesore?
Herbert Lutz and Matthew Randazzo...Before it went
so horribly wrong for both of them.
All I know is that I spent about ten hours each way going through a big chunk of the Pacific Northwest, and most places things seemed to be booming, thriving, vital, alive. But not Port Angeles. It just seemed dingy and dark and treeless and lifeless and lost.
It felt so good to get someone out of that place, finally, and to know that we would never, ever have to go back for any reason. I know some people are going to cling to Mark Ozias as a ray of sunshine in the darkness, but the fact remains that Clallam County is a very, very, very dark place. It's like the old pun about a thousand points of blight. I just feel bad for the good people who are there, because it is a place run by and for bad people, evil people.
No place is perfect, to be sure, but it feels so good to be home in my legitimately progressive town, with its tree-lined streets, and low unemployment and high civic involvement. I've said it before, and it's worth repeating: Life is too short to live in Port Angeles. It's a place beyond hope, without a prayer. It cannot be saved, certainly not in our lifetimes, but you can save yourself. It is worth any price to get out. 

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

It's the Sexism, Stupid - OR - It's the Stupid Sexism

Let us assume that, as of this point, Mark Ozias has indeed defeated Dim King Jim to become the next Clallam County Commissioner.

Let us assume that this makes people of a moderate to liberal outlook happy. Especially if we also assume that many of those people think it's difficult for moderate to liberal candidates to win elections in Clallam County.

Ah, but let us remember that Obama has carried Clallam County. In recent years, other clearly liberal candidates - Larry Little, Max Mania, Sissi Bruch - have won elections in Port Angeles.

And Port Angeles is the population center in Clallam County.

So, why has it been so difficult for the Democrats to win County Commissioner elections in Clallam County?

Because of the Democratic Party in Clallam County, and the sexism (among other ills) that is so pervasive within it.

Remember: Linda Barnfather, a qualified and connected candidate, ran for County Commissioner - and had people within her own party sabotage her campaign. Dale Holiday, a highly qualified candidate, ran for County Commissioner - and had people within her own party sabotage her campaign. Sissi Bruch, yet another highly qualified candidate, ran for County Commissioner - and had, at best, tepid support from within her own party.

All three of these educated, connected, skilled women ran, and lost, thanks in no small part to the poisonous plotting against them from inside their own political party.

Now, nice guy novice, political nobody, Mark Ozias runs - and defeats a well-fortified incumbent.

Of course, Mark Ozias is almost certainly bearing a penis, while the three women mentioned above lacked that item. So clearly, the advantage must go to Mr. Ozias. Which is not to knock his passion or abilities. But, really, given the past three elections for County Commissioner, I have to ask the question: How big a role does sexism play in local politics in Clallam County? Does anyone else see a pattern here?

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Election Night: You Can't Hold a Fistful of Sand

Well, alright then...PRELIMINARY election results are in! But please note: Somewhere around four thousand ballots have yet to be counted, people. So let's keep things...measured, shall we?

But, if percentages do not change, then the lights in the Clallam County courthouse will soon be dimming for Dim King Jim. Right now, he's down by less than a thousand votes - with the aforementioned four thousand ballots yet to count. So this is not a done deal by any measure, at least not until more ballots are counted. Still, it's got to be a blow to Dim King Jim's ego to know that so many of his subjects are ungrateful for all he's done for him, er, them...

Speaking of which, golly jeepers, Cherie Kidd finds herself in the position of barely fending off her (mostly non-competing) competitor, Dan Bateham. Is Cherie smart enough to see this as a fairly widespread NO CONFIDENCE vote in her? Nope! She'll just know she won, and leave it at that. Deep thoughts are a stranger to Cherie's bleached noggin...

Meanwhile, our own Marolee Smith has lost to Michael Meridith. Since no one seems to know much about the Mysterious Michael Meridith, even at this late date, perhaps now we can find out..?

And, over in the unopposed corner, Sissi Bruch has been reelected by a non-landslide. I say that because, if you look at the totals in the other two City Council races, you've got vote numbers in the neighborhood of twenty-four or twenty-five hundred. But Sissi managed to drum up fewer than eighteen hundred votes. That's a little bit of an undervote NO CONFIDENCE vote right there, as well...

Finally, remember that statistically speaking, it's likely that a majority of the (nearly four thousand) ballots left to be counted come from outside Port Angeles, which means that the City Council results and percentages are probably a lot less fluid at this point than the results and percentages for, say, County Commissioner.

So, no matter what, well done, Mr. Ozias. But I'm not ready to declare you the winner yet. Stay tuned...

Sunday, November 1, 2015

And the Winner is...

We're just days away from Election Day. Decisions will be made, fates will be sealed.

Will Dim King Jim's fake face of "fiscal conservatism" carry the day? Or will the desire of Mark Ozias to be a professional and responsible representative resonate with voters more?

Will Cherie Kidd once again be rewarded for her chipmunk cheerful idiocy? Or might the indecisive dark horse Dan Bateham pull ahead? Or will a loud cry of "NO THANKS" to both candidates be the popular position?

So many races, so many votes, and so few days left...What do you predict is going to happen?

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

17% of Ballots VS. 100% of Your Disdain

Turnout is low, low, low so far in the Clallam County elections - just 17% of ballots have been returned at this point. That may creep up into the 20s, but still, it's a shamefully low percentage for a participatory democracy.

Ah, but as so many elected leaders there have learned, in shame there is opportunity! So this is your opportunity to finally give Cherie Kidd the heave-ho. You could vote for her on again/off again opponent, Dan Bateham. You could write in Peter Ripley. You could vote for the Moldy Mattress. Or, you could simply write in "NO CONFIDENCE." But you should do something.

Send a message. Let Cherie and her ilk know they are embarrassments, not wanted, and, in the junior high perspective that Cherie sees the world through, not popular. Even if Dan Bateham doesn't get a majority of the vote, wouldn't it be nice to see Cherie fall below 50% of however many ballots come in?