Sunday, December 28, 2014

Let's Have a Ball!

And now, dear readers (and commenters), it's your turn.
This blog has documented a lot that has happened in Port Angeles and Clallam County over the last year, and even a few things from other places.
I think we'd all probably agree that Port Angeles is a place that is, in many ways, stuck in and living in The Past. Whether it's past, passed or Pabst, I think it's safe to say that Port Angeles has it down cold.

But even a place so stuck in the past must, however slowly, however grudgingly, move forward into The Future. Which is to say that, like it or not, 2015 is right around the corner.
So, now it's your turn. Put on your thinking caps and, informed by what you know about the past (and the passed, and the Pabst) in Port Angeles and Clallam County, tell us what you think 2015 has in store for the Olympic Peninsula.

What will it be like to have the, count 'em, three Republican County Commissioners? Will this produce a change in what we see coming out of the courthouse? Or will there be little noticeable difference?
Who will be leaving us this year? Rumors swirl about Jim Jones retiring - what have you heard? How about Dan McKeen, sock puppet captain of the sinking ship City of Port Angeles? He's lost a lot of face since coming onboard, and the City is still going under. Will Dan go down with the ship, or take an early retirement?

Speaking of the City...How will those pesky legal problems play out this year? Will Toxic Teresa Pierce still make a stink? Will Yvonne Ziomkowski get her day in court?
When the dust finally settles, who will come out on top after the gunfight at the Not OK Corral? Will there be a PADA? Will there be a Chamber of Commerce? Will Port Angeles be "United"? At the end of the day, will anyone even care?

Will the school bond pass? Will Sissi Bruch stick around? Will the City's new beach and sidewalks turn downtown into a thriving business district? Will Karen Rogers rise again? Who, if anyone, will be the new voice of reason on the political scene? Will Nippon shut down the mill? Will Barb Frederick find happiness? Will Nathan West find his long-lost soul?
There are many questions, so many...And only YOU have the answers. So give, people. Let's hear what you have to say about 2015. There are no wrong answers, so don't be shy.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

When There's No Future, There Cannot Be Sin

One of my key personal beliefs/perspectives is this: Any civilization that is serious about surviving must make educating and safeguarding children the focus, the center of their society. If we are not teaching and protecting the next generation, well, there might not be a next generation, you know?
So kudos to the City of Port Angeles for shitcanning their after school program. It represents a burst of rare (and almost certainly unintentional) honesty on the part of City Hall: Hey kids, get lost! There's no future for you here!

Mind you, I never could quite understand why the City needed to have an after school program, since it was a far cry from their core services, and since there were other groups in town (Boys and Girls Club, the YMCA, etc.) that had them as well, and were better suited to doing them. But hey, what is life in Port Angeles and Clallam County about if not creating multiple, duplicative layers of repetitive bureaucratic BS?
And mind you, we all know the City has had trouble with their program, what with the whole Amber Mozingo Missing Money Caper, and other staff-related issues. (Amber's husband also got in on the act in his own way, having been recently arrested for child rape.)

But, all that being so, the fact remains that the City did offer an after school program, and they did take parents money for said program. Which is now gone.
Yes, it's gone, due, so they say, to "unanticipated budgetary constraints." I would take issue with all three of those words. When your whole financial system is as stable as a house of cards, how can you say that problems are "unanticipated"? Put all our eggs in one big Nippon basket, and now Nippon is shutting down? Gosh! Who could have seen that coming???
Only anyone with one eye and a dozen brain cells.
As for "budgetary," that's a word that implies some sort of order, some sort of system, which is not what the City has. The City has a big pool of General Fund dollars sloshing around, pushed here and there to suit momentary (not budgetary) whims and personal agendas. It's a shell game, at best. At worst, it's fraud, a criminal conspiracy.

And "constraints"? Please. The City can't constrain itself from spending money - so long as it's for stupid, bloated projects that provide pocket-lining opportunities. No money for the kids, but tens of millions for the Turd Tank? Oh, okay. No money for the kids, but the shouldn't-they-be-self-sufficient-by-now Juan de Fuca fools get tens of thousands of dollars for a tent? This on top of the previously mentioned $50,000 spent to buy - and store - the infamous Bubble House. Constraint? Don't flatter yourself, mayor DiGuilio. Port Angeles knows zero about constraint, restraint or ain't that a bad idea. Let's talk constraints the next time a City Council member charges for mileage, or a meal eaten out at a restaurant.
So Merry Christmas, kids, and Happy New Year. Have a nice future. Now, go away - you bother me, and I can't bother with you.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

How to Beat the Juan de Fuca Festival to Death with a Pipe (Dream)

First, thanks to the anonymous poster for the tip about the "news" about the Lincoln Theater. I had already gotten a call about it from a friend in PA who couldn't stop laughing while telling me about it. Anyway, I dutifully logged on and checked out the article in the PDN, and...

...I caution you not to get too terribly excited about this notion that the Lincoln Theater has been "SOLD," despite the four rickety letters propped up in the box office window.

Take away the "S" and you've got a shorthand
description of the property itself.

Let's all take a breath, sit down, and look at how many qualifiers there are in this big "breaking news" story.

Scott Nagel wants to buy the theater, and then turn it over to a non-profit. Scott Nagel doesn't have the money to buy it himself, of course. So, despite admitting that he hasn't got the money, and hasn't raised the money, Nagel says he's entered into this (strange and fraudulent sounding) process "to get the process started." In my experience, you're generally expected to have the money to pay for an item you're buying before you buy it.

So, despite the gee whiz tone at the beginning of the article, and the implication that this is all a done deal...It's nothing like that. "We are negotiating with the building owners," said Nagel. "we have an offer on the building, subject to raising the money (from potential future sponsors)." The article then goes on to explain that Nagel "has neither the intention nor the money to buy the Lincoln...Instead, he hopes to secure it through a capital campaign...Raising that capital is the first phase."

I'd say that's putting the cart before the horse, but I'm not sure that Scott Nagel even has a cart.

I scream, you scream, we all scream
for pipe dream!

Anyway, then, once the theater is somehow purchased and then the money raised to purchase it...Nagel hopes to put the operation of the theater under the umbrella of a non-profit organization. Enter Dan Maguire, executive director of the Juan de Fuca Foundation for the Arts. Maguire says the organization would consider such a move, though it would have to be approved by the foundation's board of directors. Said board is - rightly so - concerned about both capital and operating expenses.

Then, after the theater is bought with funds that have yet to be raised...And the City gives their blessing to the whole thing...Then, and only then, apparently, will there be a "community campaign and visioning process" to determine what to do with the place. Which is, again, kind of cart before horse. How do you purchase a theater with money that hasn't been raised yet? Furthermore, how do you raise money for a project that hasn't been defined yet? And how do you get a non-profit to take you under their wings with all that uncertainty?

And especially when, for once, Dan Maguire inserts a note of sense into the conversation. "It's not the capital that's so hard; it's the operating expenses." Put another way, would you want to pay Port Angeles utility rates to heat the Lincoln Theater? Put yet another way, we have a theater and arts center here that is a little smaller than what is (admittedly vaguely) described here, right downtown like the Lincoln is. It has a staff of ten. So, even if we're generous, and say that the Lincoln could somehow be run with half that staff, that's still five staff members. Year round. Plus those aforementioned utility bills and insurance and maintenance and advertising and everything else. Is it really reasonable to think that Port Angeles can support a downtown arts center that would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars a year to operate? Look how difficult it is to get the City to give the PAFAC ten or twenty thousand dollars at a time.

The Number One item at the concession stand?

In any case, unreality asserts itself again as the article winds up, with Deadwood Dan Maguire clearly trying to strike a positive note, but really pointing out the biggest weakness in this whole crazy scheme. To quote: "Anybody who's invested in this town is going to want to do what they can to make it happen."

Make WHAT happen, Dan? This is a tissue thin fabric of "ifs" and "maybes" - at best. And who is invested in Port Angeles, Dan? Who is going to want to invest in Port Angeles? After years of shameful neglect, the Lincoln finally went under because the owner didn't want to invest any money in it. The Downtown Association is imploding because they couldn't do anything right. Businesses move out of downtown and out of Port Angeles proper because the City is so chronically inept on every level. The same City, as cited mentioned above, has a long, long history of not supporting their own existing arts center. The population is shrinking. Ferry runs are dwindling. Hell, even McDonald's is thinking twice about sinking any more money into the sinking ship that is Port Angeles.

All of which is a long-winded way of saying this...If you would really, really like to see the Juan de Fuca Festival die, if you'd really, really like to see that particular event cease and desist, then voice your support for this whole crazy pipe dream. Because if this comes to pass in any form remotely like what Scott and Dan are talking about, then the Lincoln Theater will become a HUGE and ultimately fatal financial burden for the Juan de Fuca folks, and will be a money pit deep enough to swallow the festival and Deadwood Dan whole.

Dude, your theater sounds AWESOME!
Totally f***ing AWESOME! Do you accept
Canadian currency?

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Relations Normalized!

After far too long, a political breach has been bridged. Yes, after so many hurtful words, and a period of unnecessary distance, finally relations have been normalized!

Oh. You thought I was talking about what? The U.S. and Cuba?

Well, no. Actually, I was referring to the Port Angeles City Council and the New and Renewed and Really Good Now Port Angeles Regional Chamber of Commerce United. Yes, after that hurtful, painful, and hurtful period in which it was implied by some that the Chamber hadn't "been all that they could be" in terms of delivering the goods, now we can let the stealing - er, healing - begin. Again.

Russ gives his critics the finger...I mean a brochure.

The issues at hand were: Who will be in charge of "marketing" Port Angeles, and who will be tasked with running the Visitor's Center? Both, needless to say, involve money changing hands. Russ Veenema and his crew of acknowledged underachievers have now had their official, "Heck of a job, Russie" moment, and all is well. The comrades at the Take Their Money and Run Regional Chamber of Commerce can now resume their unproven, unprovable and likely highly inefficient "marketing" of Port Angeles to the world. This will, as you know, allow the booming economy and flood of visitors to Port Angeles that they helped create to both continue unabated.

Yeah, right.

Now available at the Port Angeles Visitor's Center!
In delightful downtown Port Angeles brown!

Which of your City Council members, you might ask, would be SO STUPID as to trust Russ Veenema? With his well-documented history of avoiding tough questions, offering zero proof for his claimed successes, and generally being one of the most incompetent-yet-arrogant people around, which members of the City Council would believe ANYTHING he has to say?

Why, the mayor, Dan DiGuilio, for one - or should I say for two? He supported the Chamber of Horrors for both tasks, as did dittohead Dan Gase and how-low-can-he-go Brad Collins.

On the other hand, who had the sense to say "Hell, no!" to giving the long-time losers at the Chamber of Incompetence any more money? Sissi Bruch, and, of all people, Pat Downie. They both voted NO both times. (Meanwhile, showcasing their lack of getting-itness, Cherie Kidd and Lee Whetham both voted yes for one, and no for one. Which makes little sense, but, then again, look who we're talking about.)

Sigh...What is there to say about this sorry bunch?

How about you? Do you have faith in Russ and/or the United Chamber of Clodhoppers? Was it enough for you that the City went through the motions of pretending that they might split from the tried-and-through Port Angeles Regional Bedchamber of Commerce? Or were you holding out hope for, you know, actual change or accountability?

In any case, let's end on an up note: Heck of a job, Downie!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Just Locke Out the Bad News AKA Black Tar and Golden Arches (SECOND UPDATE)

WOW. That's quite an article in the PDN about the increasing use of heroin on the North Olympic Peninsula. "Not going away." That's an understatement.

Do any of you remember the movie Westworld? It was about a theme park designed to look and feel like the old west, complete with robot gunfighters for visitors to have duels with. In other words, it was a tourist destination with violence and death built into it as part of the attraction.

Port Angeles is starting to seem a little bit like that, frankly - a would-be tourist destination with death and destruction built into it. Let's call it Worstworld.

Here you have a sparsely populated county, which has the highest per capita opiate-related death rate in the state, higher than even densely-populated-and-grunge-loving King County, and yet the Jefferson and Clallam County's shared public health officer, Dr. Tom Locke, "doesn't speculate on the Clallam-versus-Jefferson disparity in heroin use. He is instead seeking to save the lives of overdose victims."

You're the public health officer, and you won't speculate? Isn't it possible that the insights gained from such speculation might "save the lives" of some of these people, sir? Or are you simply concerned about being the bearer of (even more) bad news, and fearful of losing your job on the Clallam County end of things? Amazing. I call this a dereliction of duty, Dr. Locke.

Meanwhile, one of your own nurses, Julia Keegan, reports that one out of five inmates displays symptoms of heroin withdrawal. At least that's what she's willing to state for the record, talking to the PDN. I know that when I last spoke with Julia before leaving, she told me it was one out of four. Either way, that's a pretty staggering number. But hey, why speculate about it, right? After all, it's only lives, families and entire communities utterly destroyed.

And how does this destruction manifest itself in the community? Well, another article in the PDN today gives a pretty good, and expensive, example of that. See the article headlined "Copper thief cuts power to 2,000 after damaging Clallam Public Utility District substation west of Port Angeles." In case you didn't know, Dr. Locke, it's very doubtful that this copper was stolen by someone who is just crazy about collecting copper. No, I'd speculate that it was stolen by someone who is...Hmmm...Addicted to drugs, perhaps?

And just this one little escapade could result in damages costing over $120,000, according to the report from the Sheriff's Office. All to net someone enough to buy probably $120 worth of smack or meth. That's some lethal math for a community any way you look at it. Oh, except, oops, I forgot, you don't want to look at it, do you Dr. Locke? Looking could be seen as a form of speculating, and we know how you feel about that, don't we?

But you know who does seem to be looking at this? The McDonald's Corporation, of all things. Per yet another article in the PDN today, "The international fast-food chain unexpectedly has delayed...plans to replace Port Angeles' golden arches with a new $2.5 million eatery." Per owner Brian Beaulaurier (who lives in Jefferson County, by the way), the existing restaurant is "old and tired."

Now, I don't claim to know what drove this decision by McDonald's to "delay" this long-simmering project. But if you Google the phrase "mcdonald's heroin," you'll find a veritable cascade of news stories about McDonald's workers selling heroin via the drive-thru window, parents overdosing at McDonald's, people selling heroin and shooting up in McDonald's parking lots, etc. In other words, a torrent of bad press linking McDonald's and heroin already exists. Maybe, just maybe, that came into play when higher-ups discussed the idea of investing millions in heroin-plagued Port Angeles?

So, could the Sunday news combo meal get any worse for Port Angeles? Yes, yes it could. Per the PA Police Department, they don't have enough officers to properly patrol the city.

High rates of drug abuse, and corresponding high rates of crime. A checked out public health "leader." Reluctance in invest further in properties in Port Angeles. A thinly spread law enforcement presence.

Yep, welcome to Worstworld. Would you like some (old and tired) fries with that smack?

And as if the above weren't bad news enough...Yes, thieves have stolen all the Christmas toys that the Salvation Army had in storage for needy children. I wonder if Dr. Locke would care to speculate on how much heroin you could get for a truckload of toys? Naw, probably not...


And it's true! Tom Locke is quitting - kind of. He's quitting his job as Clallam County's public health officer - but will stay on in that role in Jefferson County. (Poor Jefferson County!)

Meanwhile, he'll still live in Clallam County, and is taking a new job with the Jamestown Family Health Clinic in Sequim. (Poor Jamestown Clinic!)

So...Hmmm...So, you're not retiring. You're not moving. And you're not even partially retiring by quitting your job at Clallam County, because you'll be taking a new job at Jamestown. So...Hmmm...Gee, Tom, it sort of looks like you're jettisoning the underperforming portion of your portfolio, you know? Or like you're walking away from the big ol' public health liability that your own laziness helped create and foster.

But, you know what, Dr. Flakenstein? You're probably going to regret not moving away from the monster you helped create. Because, at the very least, you're still going to be living in the county where you're much more likely to have your house or car broken into by, you know, someone hooked on drugs. Now I realize that's just some of that nasty speculation on my part, but...

You might also find it a bit uncomfortable to be seen out and about in the county you just screwed over. I'm guessing that your woeful job performance, and the way you're just sleazing out of your duties here, won't sit well with a lot of people.

So, in an effort to help any and all of those pissed off people, here's a picture of "Dr." Tom Locke, so you'll know him on sight. Be sure to tell him what a stellar job he did before bailing out.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Insanity is doing the same thing, the same way, over and over, and expecting different results. Insanity is doing the same thing, the same way, over and over, and expecting different results. (UPDATED) Insanity is doing the same thing, the same way, over and over, and expecting different results.

Do you know why the City calls it the Lodging Tax Advisory Committee? It's because once they have an idea LODGED in their head, it's nearly impossible to get it out.

And thus, we get the recommendations from the LTAC after their meeting last Wednesday, which is more of the same stupidity that has helped push Port Angeles to the brink of destruction, along with one possible change - for the worse.

Who does this group think should be in charge of marketing Port Angeles as a "tourist destination"? Why, the same old, good old, good old boys at the...Chamber of Commerce. Yes, the same COC that's done SUCH a great job at that so far. Heck of a job, Russie.

Or, they also trust that tried and through, uh, I mean true, cutting-edge designer, Laurel Black. Yes, Laurel "my business photo is twenty years old and so are my ideas" Black. Another well-connected, well-established piece of dead wood.

Or, in true City fashion, Vertigo Marketing of Bend, Oregon. Yes, the habit of hiring out of the area consultants does die hard, doesn't it?

Meanwhile, the one recommendation that this brain trust supports that could be called "change" is definitely not for the better. Apparently, they are open to the idea of Edna Petersen "hosting" the Visitor's Center in her shop! Anyone who has ever been subjected to one of  Edna's leech-like come-ons will know what a bad idea this is. This is the woman who puts the "offensive" in the phrase "charm offensive." Can't you just hear it: "Welcome to Port Angeles - perhaps you'd like to buy something from my shop?"

The forward-thinking crew on the LTAC also seem to not be thinking about the fact that such a change would also create yet another empty building (the proposed former Visitor's Center) downtown.

And they are still locked into small, backwards thinking in other ways as well.

They recommend giving $70,000 to the Juan de Fuca Festival to buy a tent. Yes, a tent. One that will get used - at best - a weekend or so out of any given year.

Meanwhile, they would give the Port Angeles Fine Arts Center - a year-round, 24-hour-a-day resource and destination - a paltry $26,300. The PAFAC also does double-duty as green space, a spot to absorb rainwater (to avoid flooding), a viewscape, etc. And did I mention it does this year-round?

Ah, but Cherie and her cohorts don't really get any of that, do they? They understand a tent, and, inexplicably, they know and like Edna...But as for the rest of that whole change and growth and nature and art as marketable commodities thing...Well, it just kind of seems to make them feel, oh, I don't know...AFRAID.

Way to double down on dumb, Lodging Tax folks.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Roll 'Em If You Got 'Em (UPDATED)

File under NO SURPRISE AT ALL: Nippon is in the process of shutting down its paper operations in Port Angeles - and elsewhere.

Down, down, down...The ring of fired, the ring of fired...

Google "Nippon Shoalhaven," and you'll see that it seems Nippon is also shutting down a big paper mill in Australia. It employs about 75 people, and has been running just one production machine. They produce security-grade paper used to make passports.

So I guess the takeaway from this is that not only are fewer people reading newspapers, but fewer Australians are getting passports.

Whatever the case, this has clearly, undeniably been coming for years. Even the late "great" Harold Norlund spent his last years in Port Angeles talking about how the paper market was a shrinking market. Despite that, and despite all the other cultural and economic cues that this was coming, expect local leaders like Pat Downie and Cherie Kidd to be "shocked" by this news.

Pat Downie feels your...

I'd also expect that eternal booster of "industrial-type jobs," Peter Ripley to be among those gobsmacked by this announcement.

But I like to think that the people who read this blog are a little more astute than Peter, Pat and Cherie. I trust that many of you are less than shocked by this announcement, and that some of you are even, dare I say it, pleased?

As for me, I have to say I laughed out loud when I saw mill manager Steve Johnson refer to the PDN as a "source of intelligence." It's probably the first time the paper has been accused of that.

So what will the loggers and Luddites in Port Angeles do now, as the image of PA as a "Mill Town" continues to totally and utterly fall apart? Will this lead to self-examination and positive growth? Or will it simply add to the unemployment rate? Will those in charge recognize this as an opportunity? Or will they simply wring their hands in sorrow? Is there a Plan B for Port Angeles? Was there ever even a Plan A?

Stay tuned!


Yes, stay tuned...Because this move on Nippon's part also will cost the City of Port Angeles hundreds of thousands of dollars in utility taxes, according to a memo from City Manager Dan McKeen. He puts the figure at $360,000. That's quite a sizable chunk out of the already bloated and strained City budget - especially since the City views utility rates and taxes as their only viable growth area for "revenue."

Now that Nippon is going down, watch the City Council revisit whether or not your utility rates need to go up again, to make up the difference. Let's also watch to see what the City does when it gets to renegotiate Nippon's industrial water rate in the not-too-distant future.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Bye, Bye, Barb! (UPDATED)

Well, gosh - goodbye, Barb.

While it's undeniably not only a good thing you're being let go, but also a just thing, it's possible to ask a few final questions...

The first and foremost being, how did you manage to keep your job for SO LONG when it was painfully clear to everyone in town that you were in over your head?

For that matter, how did you even get the job in the first place? Other, more qualified candidates didn't even get a phone call, yet you got shuffled right in. I can't help but think that's because you were just what the PADA Board was looking for: A local, no-brain, no-spine patsy. Another name for patsy might be fall guy, and you're sure taking the fall now, Barb. Timber!

Here are just a couple of excerpts from the PADA Board of Directors email announcement:

"As you know the Downtown Association board of directors has had a challenging year, and your funds are still being withheld by the City."

Translation: We're not the villains here; it's that big bad City. We'd still be getting away with it if not for that meddling City!

"She began as the PADA Executive Director January 2, 2008 and has led us well through many challenges."

So many lies in such a short sentence! Is it the truth the use "led" to describe someone who is well known for literally hiding from other people? More than once I saw Barb get asked a question, and her response was to turn to Jan Harbick to signal that she should answer it.

Pairing that lying "led" with "well"...Well that's a lie, too. Was it leadership when Barb let the PADA's own registration with the State of Washington lapse? Was it leadership to totally fail to go after the low-hanging fruit of those B&O funds? Was it leadership to let the Main Street program languish and wither? That's not "well" done, PADA Board members, that's just plain burnt up. You know, like much of your membership has been FOR YEARS. Under YOUR watch.

The PADA Board's email is really great. On one hand it lauds - or dare I say, fetes? - Barb, while tossing her to the wolves. It also essentially absolves the Board of any wrongdoing or complicity in the current state of affairs, and makes the City the big, bad meanie in this. All of which goes to show that the people on the PADA Board of Directors haven't learned a damn thing from their years of manipulation and failure. Not a thing.

In other words, Barb may be gone, but the stench lingers on.


Just so you all know...This post is crazy popular, and approaching 1,000 pageviews since it went up. Who knew Barb was such a big draw?

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

American Horror Story

There's no nice way to put it: Death has been in the air in Port Angeles. With all the recent focus and discussion on the need for suicide barriers on bridges - to spend, or not to spend, that is the question - there's no denying that the strong and steady undercurrent of despair in Clallam County has become more visible.

Clallam County is reliably one of the top two counties in the state when it comes to suicide. It's always in the top three for rates of opiate overdoses and substance abuse. Unemployment rates are persistently higher than average. Graduation rates are consistently lower than average. These are but a few of the long-term and painfully obvious realities that map the contours of hopelessness and desperation in Clallam County.

That being the case, what are we to make of the blasé attitude of the local elected officials? The City likes to spend itself into oblivion on stupid projects, while turning a blind eye to the wolf at the door. On the other hand, the County likes to try and brag about how little they spend, how tight their belts are. Meanwhile, the junkies shoot up, the jumpers fall down, and the bodies continue to pile up.

How can this cycle be broken? Can it be broken at this point? Is this an epidemic of despair that can be treated, or an endemic situation that, at best, can be managed? And what is the role of elected officials in all this? Should they focus on the budgets and leave the rest to sort itself out? Or do they have blood on their hands?

Sunday, November 30, 2014

You Get What You Pay For

When I went to look at the PDN's website this morning, I saw this: "Enjoy unlimited access to PDN website this holiday weekend, proudly sponsored by Price Ford Lincoln of Port Angeles."

What a holiday gift to the community! Hey kids, get in here quick! Wow!!!

Unlimited access to the PDN and its archive of
high-quality and 100% accurate news-like articles!
For limited time only, comrades!

But seriously, all this tells us is that the people at Price Ford must have more dollars than sense to sponsor such a lame "giveaway." I'd love to have been at the meeting where this turkey of an idea was pitched to them.

And I see that the PDN is still flogging their own no appeal staff to the community, with their seemingly eternal come-on, "PDN speakers available to address clubs, organizations and other gatherings." Uh, yeah, we know. You've been feting that one for a long, long time.

Paul Gottlieb is really, really available
for your child's birthday party. No, really.

Anyway, this does bring to mind some questions I've had about the PDN, and maybe some of you readers have some insights to share. The first thing I wonder about is how the traffic to the PDN website is doing (exciting free weekend aside) since they imposed the double whammy of having to have a Facebook account to comment, and their attempt to limit the number of pages you can view for free. I would imagine those two things have caused the number of hits to their website to plummet. There sure seem to be a lot fewer comments than there used to be. Before the shift, even fairly innocuous articles might generate a long string of crackpot comments. Now, most articles don't have any at all, and it seems to take a really controversial topic (Hi, Steve Markwell!) to generate much in the way of response.

Does anyone know any of the poor souls who work at the PDN? Has anyone heard how their website traffic is doing? Is it true they have two sets of numbers - one for reality, and one to show to advertisers?

The PDN: We report, you deride!

And how are ad sales, anyway? Not everyone has Price Ford stupid money to piss away. Have the PDN's ad rates changed to reflect their own actual value and standing in the community? Or do they still charge Cadillac rates for their tricycle product? And what do Black Press, the PDN's Canadian overseers, think of their poor Clallam County cousins?

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

They Won't Sign Up If You Keep Them Beaten Down

One of the great things I found when I moved to my new home was just how active and involved many people are in the business of running and advising our local governing bodies. It's a very engaged place, and whenever there's an opening on any sort of committee or board, there are multiple applicants, and they go through a real application process, with forms to fill out, interviews, etc.

And other citizens often come to the meetings of these various boards and committees to voice their opinions on the issues at hand. Whether at the city or the county level, these advisory groups here carry a lot of weight and power in their recommendations. It seems to me to be a real, functioning example of democratic rule, the power and influence of regular citizens made real.

But wow! Look at all the vacancies on Clallam County's advisory boards and committees. There are currently seventy-nine vacancies on twenty-three groups. Even the heavy-hitters are woefully malnourished when it comes to real, active citizen participation...

Two vacancies each on the North Olympic Library System, and the Lodging Tax Advisory Committee.

Three vacancies on the Marine Resource Committee, the Heritage Advisory Board, the Building Code Board of Appeals, and even the Planning Commission.

Four vacancies on the Developmental Disabilities Advisory Board.

Six vacancies on the Permit Advisory Board.

Eight big vacancies on the Sheriff's Citizens Advisory Committee.

And a whopping nine vacancies on the Homelessness task Force.

Among many, many other vacancies. And, unless things have changed, the City is in a similarly dismal situation participation-wise.

It's not hard to understand why. Year after year, decade after decade, the people of Port Angeles and Clallam County have been asked for their time, for their input, only to have the perspectives they offer completely disregarded a majority of the time. These advisory groups may exist, but they aren't intended to actually function. They're democratic window dressing, just going through the motions. The efforts the City and/or County put into them are about as meaningful and sincere as a recorded message saying "Your call is important to us."

And now, after all that wasted time and effort on the part of local citizens, gosh, it just seems harder and harder to find people willing to step up for these groups. Local politicians may wring their soft hands a little bit, and ask why, but they don't really care.

After all, they created the façade, and they're happy with it. A disenfranchised, abused and cynical populace is easier to manipulate and run roughshod over than one that's been empowered and respected. I think these vacancies say a lot about the state of affairs in Clallam County. How about you?

Sunday, November 23, 2014

A Clallam County Dozen AKA How Many Broken Eggs Does It Take To Break Your Heart?

I'm sure I'm not the only one to have seen the recent "report" from Bill Greenwood, Executive Director of the Clallam County Economic Development Council, in which he trotted out a dozen "potential" new businesses that are "considering" coming to Clallam County.

And I'm sure I'm not the only one who noticed the heavily qualified way most of these "potentials" were described. It was definitely a report heavy on the "ifs," "maybes," "could bes" and flat-out "it's not impossible thats."

Youthful go-getter Bill Greenwood delivers his report
 into the welcoming arms of...

Let's start by looking at Greenwood's Big Top Three...

Number One: "A company" that supposedly wants to "put a first-class hotel" close to the Black Ball Ferry landing. Kinda vague, especially given the decline in ferry traffic we've seen in the last decade, but...Let's try to look past that. Then, per the PDN, comes the killer: "But the firm needs a conference center nearby to survive the offseason, Greenwood said."

So, in other words, all the City has to do is pony up the money to build and maintain a sure-to-be-money-losing conference center, and Port Angeles can have a new hotel that will, at best, be at around 60% capacity for four or five months of the year (and lower the rest of the year).

Oh, and according to Nathan West with the City, "no hotel companies have approached city officials with an interest in coming to Port Angeles."

So Number One sounds incredibly iffy at the very best, and, even if it came through, would hardly be a game-changer downtown. The net effect would probably be fewer customers at existing motels/hotels, not any actual new customers coming through.

See also: Port Angeles now has no air carrier.

Number Two: A Lynnwood medical technology firm is considering relocating to either Clallam County or the Tri-Cities area. Again, "considering" is a very qualified phrase, and we know there's at least one other area in the running.

So what's the potential deal breaker? According to Bill Greenwood, "They are worried about what they can find in terms of local employees." Uh oh.

See also: The dismal graduation rates in Port Angeles; the shockingly high rates of opiate abuse in Clallam County.

Number Three: A bottler - of some kind - who is supposedly interested in opening a facility in Forks. It's kind of confusing as to what they actually bottle, since Greenwood mentions both fracking and bottled water, so...But either way, Forks, is a long, long, long way from anywhere, which means super high shipping costs and other associated expenses. And, frankly, if they're talking about 50 jobs, it probably means 35-40, and that's still a smaller number than the number of people who have been laid off from mills closing in the last several months. So, best case scenario (even if this particular long-shot comes in) is a slight ebbing of the highly degraded status quo.

See also: Damn, Forks is in the middle of nowhere - and Clallam County has a real opiate abuse problem.

Man, the water in Forks is just so fracking good!

And these are the Big Three that Greenwood and the EDC are trying to pimp to the community. (See more examples below.) Long-shots and pipe dreams, some built on the same kind of outrageous expenditure of limited government funds that helped get Clallam County into such a mess in the first place.

This doesn't sound very promising to me. This hardly seems like a roadmap to success. This looks like someone who trolled some offices in Olympia, found some business that are potentially on the move, and said, "Hey, maybe it's us!"

I don't think so. But I'd love to hear what others have to say about this EDC report.

Some further highly qualified samples from the report:

A "boat builder company" has "been asked to consider locating on 19 acres of Port of Port Angeles property." (See also this blog's recent post, "Putting the Poor in Port." Maybe if we only charge $200 a month for those 19 acres...)

Another "boat builder" has been "asked to consider 10-25 acres of Port property. Perhaps needless to say, Port officials have not heard back from either company.

A "confectionery producer" who would only employ 20 people would, in theory, for some reason, spend $20 million dollars on a facility. In the middle of nowhere. With a drug-addled workforce. Sure.

A "furniture manufacturer" is "evaluating the state of Washington" for a manufacturing facility. And if you think it's expensive getting confectionery ingredients in, and finished products out, just imagine the cost of doing that with large pieces of furniture.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Who Woke Up the City Council?

Well, golly jeepers, who done went and woke up the Port Angeles City Council?

I mean, they've only been funding the completely useless Port Angeles Downtown Association FOR YEARS. They've only been putting up with Barb Frederick's utter incompetence FOR YEARS. For those Council members who ever bother to go downtown, they might have noticed that it's been drying up and dying FOR YEARS. Downtown business owners have been complaining about the PADA, you guessed it, FOR YEARS.

I remember something like FIVE YEARS ago, when Council members Max Mania and Brooke Nelson - not exactly simpatico in most respects - both were talking openly about defunding the PADA, yet nothing happened. Business as usual, la la la, nothing to see.

But now that the patient has died, the City Council seems to have suddenly seen the wisdom in changing doctors. File this one under "Too Little, Too Late." The damage that has been done through incompetence and neglect is huge. The amount of money wasted on the PADA is pretty huge, too, almost as huge as Barb's big...dunce cap. Think about it: In just the last five years, the City has pissed away a quarter of a million dollars in salary for Barb. Imagine what else could have been accomplished with that much money?

Meanwhile, look at what Barb had to say about the PADA's response to the increasingly dire warnings coming out of City Hall about the PADA's failings: "We got a late start this year." "We should have gotten an earlier start." Well, yeah, Barb - like maybe years ago?

But Barb's oh-so-slow-to-respond response only mirrors the inaction she's seen from City Hall FOR YEARS. Failure after failure never stopped the funding from coming, so why would she have upped her game? If you ever saw her give one of her infamously vague and confusing "reports" to the City Council, then you already know that her deep, deep incompetence was publically and painfully obvious - except to the City Council. Until now.

Amazing. They say slow and steady wins the race. But just plain slow? You're still in last place.

On a related note...When I went to Google Images, and typed in "Barb Frederick Port Angeles," the image below, printed earlier on this blog, is the FIRST one to come up!

Oh, and I just have to say that $5,000 for Christmas lights for downtown Port Angeles is a LOT of lipstick for that particular pig. I'd love to see Barb tell us how the "investment" of that much money will result in enough of an increase in sales downtown to justify the outlay. But somehow, I don't think Barb will be around to give such an explanation, even if one were possible...

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Customer Service...What Customers? What Service?

Well, first of all...When your Chamber of Commerce is hosting a session about dealing with mentally ill people coming into businesses, I'd say that's an indicator that that's something that's happening fairly regularly. (PDN headline: "Port Angeles Chamber of Commerce panel discussion looks at approaching disruptive people in a business.") You probably wouldn't have a panel discussion like this to deal with a problem that's not a common problem, right?

Which makes it all the more amusing that the messages presented fell into two camps. Dr. Joshua Jones from Peninsula Behavioral Health obviously tried to tow the Party Line. From the article: During the question-and-answer session, Jones sought to dispel a commonly held suspicion that people are bused to Port Angeles to take advantage of the city's social and health services. "There is no data to suggest people are coming here in hordes..."

And yet...Another panelist, Julie Black, Olympic Medical Center safety manager, may not have offered up "data" on this, but she did offer a totally different view: The hospital has increased its security presence at Olympic Medical Center in Port Angeles and facilities in Sequim, she said. An increasing number of "really angry individuals" is showing up at clinics and confronting receptionists, Black said.

For once, the Chamber actually had an informative and revealing presentation. Clearly this is a problem is Port Angeles - a problem compounded by the fact that the City allowed so many social services facilities to locate downtown, in what should be the commercial/economic core of the town. This puts unnecessary pressure on, and unpleasantness in, downtown, impeding the success of the very commercial enterprises that pay taxes to provide, yes, social services.

The "no data" dodge is just that - a dodge. Just because there's no data proving that it's happening doesn't mean that it's not happening. And the lack of housing for the mentally ill in Clallam County is a dodge, too. Other towns don't send people to Port Angeles so they can find housing. They send them there to get them the hell out of their towns. Duh, doc.

Finally, how appropriate is it that the article about this COC event was written by Paul Gottlieb? I mean, if there's one writer at the PDN who knows mental illness inside out, it's Paul.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Putting the Poor in Port

One: All these morons who run the Port like to pretend they're smart, worldly, fiscally conservative pro-Capitalism types.

Two: The results of the State Auditor's report clearly show this not to be the case. From the PDN: "The Port of Port Angeles continues to violate state law and be noncompliant with port policies on lease contracts...Violations included contracts that were under fair market value and lacked adequate security bonds..." (See below for examples.)

Three: Isn't this the same Port that just lost their air carrier? The third air carrier in a row to leave Port Angeles?

Four: Some have suggested that the best, most sure way for the Port to have gotten Kenmore to stay would have been to subsidize them. Is one of the reasons the Port didn't even consider that is because it was too busy giving away property at below market value, and thus didn't have the cash on hand?

Five: Of course, these would-be worldly, pro-Capitalism types might well have bristled at subsidizing a private business to bribe it to stay...

Six: Except that's exactly what they were doing by giving out cheap land, isn't it?

Seven: What does it say about the Port and about Port Angeles in general that even when the powers that be are literally giving it away, the town still can't make a go of it, or attract new businesses to come there?

Examples of your Port at work:

Magna Force was being charged $179 a month for 3.78 acres.

The Civil Air Patrol was allowed to occupy a building - for free.

Shepherd & Thunderbird got a 2,647 square-foot building for $181 rent.

High Tide Seafoods got a 6,000 square-foot warehouse, on a 7,000 square-foot lot, for the low, low price of $1,910 a month - and still they were (are?) delinquent on the rent.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Christmas Comes Early for Dick Pilling

I'm sure that the ever racist/sexist/homophobic Dick Pilling would say he loves, loves, loves Jesus Christ. After all, to be an accepted, red-blooded American Republican leader like Dick, you pretty much have to throw a little love towards the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.

What, me worry?

Well, after this last election, I'm sure that Dick has a new favorite Holy Trinity - and come January they'll all be sitting right there in the courthouse. Three Democratic County Commissioner candidates in a row have gone down in flames, leading to this - a county that will be governed by the Republicans, for the Republicans.

Goodbye to Mike Doherty, who was a good guy, and really did care, really did work hard, and really did know the ins and outs of local and state government. Hello to three goons who don't know, don't care, and don't care that they don't know. As ugly and dismal as things have been in Clallam County, I suspect it hasn't hit bottom yet.

Hey, liberals! Hey, environmentalists! Hey, pretty much
everyone except for me! F@#& you!

Now, I key out Dick Pilling not just because he's a right-wing zealot, and not just because he's a right-wing zealot deeply involved with Clallam County politics. No, I key out Dick Pilling because, in his business life, Dick's a realtor. His profession is, in a sense, Ground Zero for change and growth in Clallam County. If things are going good, then you'd expect more property to be selling, and property values to be rising.

But if things are going bad...Well then, you'll have the opposite. And I suspect that there'll be a lot of the opposite coming up soon. (Which isn't to say things haven't already been rough with just two Deep Red Commissioners...) That makes Dick a sort of experiment. Will he see the correlation? Will he make any connections? Is it more important to score political points than business points?

In other words, will Dick keep smiling as things fall apart around him, wrapped up safely in his ideological cocoon?

And how about you, dear reader? Do the results of this last election make you want to throw some business to a local realtor, and get out of town? The road out is twice as wide now...

Friday, November 7, 2014

Sissi Bruch: "I am very surprised"

Well, so far as I am concerned, it's all over, and Sissi Bruch lost. That of course means that Bill Peach won, which further means that the lucky, lucky citizens of Clallam County will soon find out what it's like living under the rule of three full-time Republican nutbags.

So what did Sissi have to say, other than that she's not quite ready to concede? "I am very surprised that the voters are wanting to go in this direction, I guess a more conservative direction."

And that little quote sums up what turned out to be the fatal flaw in Sissi's campaign: Her own naivety. Clallam County is a poor, rural, reddish county in a big blue state. Two of the three sitting County Commissioners are Republicans. Bill Peach nearly beat Mike Doherty last time out. Sissi sits on the City Council with a whole bunch - a majority, in fact - of Republicans. And yet, somehow, she is "surprised" by the fact that, what, there are a lot of Republican voters around there?

Is Sissi better educated and smarter than Bill Peach? Almost certainly. Is she better acquainted with the real world and the issues we all face? Probably. Is she a hardline, partisan hack willing to plumb the depths and stab backs in order to get ahead? I don't think so.

But is she really, despite all that, so naïve as to think all she had to do was help Clallam County "get to yes"? Yes. And the quote above shows she still doesn't get it.

Ah, but Clallam County is going to get it. Though this political race is over, the race to the bottom has just begun. I would expect a lot more pandering to be coming out of the Courthouse, and a lot less sensible governing.

In any case, I'd love to hear your thoughts on this election, and this race in particular. Will it make a difference? Will it affect City politics? Will Sissi stay? How low will Clallam County go?

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Election Night!

It'll all be over soon...For better or worse. Which do you think it will be? What do you think of the election results? Once the voters have spoken, it's your turn to respond.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

None If By Air

Wow, it really does just get worse and worse.

Being that the last post was all about escaping from Port Angeles, the timing of Kenmore's announcement that they're abandoning Port Angeles is almost eerie. The routes of escape are being whittled down. There are fewer ferry runs to Victoria than there used to be, and now the airport is being shuttered, too. I guess that solves the Lincoln Park problem, huh?

How many body blows can a town take before it's over? How many signs do there need to be before everyone admits the obvious, and calls PA in as DOA?

There have been the big blows, like all the local mills closing, like Gottshalk's closing, like the Lincoln Theater closing. All those have been against the backdrop of the not-so-slow but oh-so-steady growth of empty storefronts downtown, all around town. Even businesses that didn't actually close, left Port Angeles, like Maurice's. ACTI is a union-busting, minimum wage black hole of hope. Nippon is going to shed all its jobs when that mill finally closes like all the others. So where will PA's huge cohort of high school dropouts dream of getting work?

On the political scene, Larry Williams, notorious conservative, fled town as soon as his term on the City Council was over. Max Mania, notorious liberal, didn't even wait for his to end before fleeing for greener pastures. No one wants to run for City Council, so all those unopposed bozos slid right into office. Now, that deadhead bureaucrat Dan DiGuilio is mayor - again. Utility rates continue to skyrocket. Karen Rogers is still pulling strings at City Hall, in the business community. Glenn Cutler is gone, but his ridiculously expensive legacy lives on and on.

And finally, on the personal or individual level, there are those U.S. Census numbers. Port Angeles is shrinking, and fast. Hundreds of people have left PA in the last few years. Sure, some have doubtlessly only gone as far as, say, Sequim. But I suspect that most of them have gotten as far away from Port Angeles as they could. Of those people remaining in Port Angeles, depression sure seems to run high. That might explain the staggering rates of opiate and alcohol abuse in Clallam County, which are nearly the highest in Washington State.

So, again, doesn't it seem obvious that this is a DOA case? The patient has clearly died. So if you have any life, any hope, left in you, I urge you to save yourself and get out. There is no honor or joy in going down with the ship. There's no reason to live your life in a dead town. Like I said earlier, life is too short - and too precious - to live in Port Angeles.