Thursday, March 6, 2014

Clallam County Crazy, Part 2

This post will share a theme with the previous one on Rick Porter: Clallam County and Bullying.

Yes, the County is apparently a pretty good place to work – if you’re a bully.

Starting right near the top, with the head of HR, Rich Sill, bullying is the dominant theme. Before Sill was hand-picked by Mike Chapman and Jim Jones to be head of HR, he worked in Code Enforcement, where he bullied a worker out of his job. The worker sued the County; the County lost. Everybody paid, in terms of lower employee morale and higher insurance costs for the County. Your tax dollars at work!

Further down the food chain, in the Health & Human Services department, the manager of the public health program and nurses, Christina Hurst, is such a notorious bully that some of her employees (who actually feared for their own physical safety working with her) secretly videotaped her out of control behavior. When Hurst found out about this, heads rolled, and one of the women who had recorded her was fired.

But that wasn’t enough for Hurst. Now she’s suing the woman, because a good bully just doesn’t know when to stop, do they?

And I’m sure we all remember Dr. Holiday’s official complaint of being bullied at Clallam County. Well guess what? It’s been verified from a pretty reliable source: The woman who replaced her, Leeann Grasseth, is being bullied in the exact same way, by the same supervisor – Judith Anderson. Taking things up a notch, Anderson has even “forbidden” Grasseth to talk to one of the members of her own anti-drug coalition. It must be kind of hard to run a coalition when you’re not “allowed” to talk with the members. That’s crazy, right?

But such craziness is well-known and condoned by Anderson’s own supervisor, Iva Burks, who also is well aware of Hurst’s well-documented abusive behavior. But Burks is fine with it all, and is actually quite close to Hurst. Talk around the courthouse is that Burks is grooming Hurst to take her job when she retires.

And finally, to bring the circle to a close, Burks’ shortcomings in dealing with her abusive employees is well-known by the head of HR, Rich Sill, who is fine with the status quo as well.

All this in addition to the increasingly public temper tantrums and shout downs from County Commissioner Mike Chapman. All this in addition to the steady program of revenge and terrorizing that has marked Sheila Roark Miller’s first term in office. And on and on and on.

Yes, Clallam County is a pretty good place to work – if you’re a bully. For everyone else, it’s more like a war zone. No wonder the County can’t hire or retain good people. No wonder the County is regularly getting sued by its own employees.

Your tax dollars at work…What can you tell us about Clallam County? Why is it such a dysfunctional place?

60 comments:

  1. Problems can sometimes creep up from the bottom and overwhelm an organization, but the overall tone is set from the top. The commissioners and Jim Jones must condone this sort of behavior or it wouldn't be allowed to continue.

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    1. Since I actually believe in the stated goal of this blog: of speaking truth to power, I'm going to try this once. Supervision of workers/people is widely taught in business schools and seminars as the single most difficult job there is to do. People like to do what they want, when they want, given the information they have available to them at the time, and often react unfavorably towards any "management" that inhibits their ability to do so. While I really believe that MOST people actually do want to do a good job, and the right thing, they don't always have ALL the information about the specific issue confronting them to deal with it appropriately. The more people you have in an organization, the more opportunities there naturally will be for something to go wrong. In a public service organization like the county, with 400+ employees, it is almost inevitable that conflicts will arise, worker to worker, worker to supervisor, and supervisor to supervisor. In a private company, not subject to Public Records and Open Public Meetings Acts, these conflicts do not play out in the open, but they still happen just as often (and maybe more often from my experience in the private sector) as in the government organizations. Personnel issues, are made much more difficult when they play out in public because of privacy laws and court rulings that enforce them, so the full story is almost never allowed to come out. In a public organization, half-truths (like much of what is related above) come out because of the public nature of the results, but the whole story can not be told, causing much speculation and untruthful inuendo, that legally,cannot be refuted. I have repeatedly stated (and I have had many people take me up on this offer) that I will meet with ANYONE who wants to ask me an honest question about anything going on in county government, and that I will give them an honest answer (within the legal limits of privacy laws) if I know it, and will find out if I don't. Good public leaders need to have a Servant Mentality, one where they recognize the value in actually serving the public, it is not always easy to do, it is not always recognized as being done, but I believe almost all of our local public leaders are genuinely trying to do so. Jim Jones, Jr. , Clalam County Administrator

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    2. So Jim, is it true that you and a couple of the commissioners carry guns with you at the courthouse?

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    3. It is my considered opinion that, when someone posts as anonymous, then "signs" someone else's name at the end of their post, anything they said should be taken with a large grain of salt. This is especially true when that person is supposedly an elected official or administrator who should have better things to do with their time than trolling blogs online. That is my opinion. Obviously, others will have other opinions. But I wanted to state my position for the record.
      Barack Obama, President of the United States

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    4. As was said above: "...I will meet with ANYONE who wants to ask me an honest question about...county government..." Why would anyone need to know the answer to this question involving the legal right to bear arms??

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    5. The right to bear arms is legal, yes. But in this context, is it sensible?

      The county's solution to all security problems is "Call Gary." Well, Gary's a big guy and all, but he can't be everywhere at once. So if the county's fallback "security" plan is to have gun totting elected officials, that seems like insanity to me, and incredibly bad policy.

      So yes, it IS a legitimate question. Especially given that the county has refused to join the rest of the country and install metal detectors or other mainstream security systems to safeguard everyone who uses the courthouse.

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    6. The way I read that rather heavily qualified response from "Jim Jones," he's essentially saying that 50% of 50% of what you've said isn't true.

      That still leaves you with about a 75% accuracy rate - far better than the PDN, that's for sure!

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    7. Being more accurate that the PDN is hardly a difficult task, but it does seem clear you've poked the hornet's nest at least a little. Only someone else is crying like they got stung.

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    8. Taking the President's advice to heart...And assuming that the earlier poster might - might - be Jim Jones, allow me to respond.

      First, Jim, you can certainly speak freely, but you cannot speak truth to power, because locally, you are power. You make extremely good money, have a huge influence over policy in the County, and you are on a par with the Commissioners in terms of position and power in Clallam County.

      That is why you cannot speak truth to power. It's the same reason that the King cannot tell the peasants the "reality" of their lives, because he is so far removed from those lives. You are above our petty concerns, Jim, and I don't think there are many who would believe that you have a whole lot of insight or empathy for the common folks of Clallam County. And don't even go there with the whole "Servant Mentality" thing. You serve power. You try to conserve power. These are self-serving things.

      And I have to agree with some of the responses here that your denial of the events reported here is lacking...conviction. Nothing makes it up here until it's been verified by at least two sources. Yes, there are over 400 employees of the County, and some of them are undoubtedly happy. But many, many County workers are miserable, fearful, and abused. That's just a fact. The County's record on being sued by its own employees is a testament to that. Your own half-hearted denial of some of (some of) that speaks for itself.

      One thing I forgot to mention in the original post - and this goes right to the security issue - is that the courthouse apparently has panic buttons for when (not if, when) things go horribly wrong. But there is a great deal of confusion over where the buttons are, who has access to them, who is supposed to hit them when things go wrong, and who will respond if and when someone does hit them. (Some at the County say City police will respond; some at the City say County sheriffs will respond. Maybe this means no one will respond?) This leads right back to Gary and the guns being the default "safety net" for the County - which is a pretty shabby net.

      So, like it or not, the County IS viewed by many, many people as a terrible employer. As an employer that doesn't care. As an employer that enables and condones bad behavior by managers. No one is saying that every one, every day is miserable there. Just that a great many are. And that that condition is bad for the workers, bad for the budget, and bad for the community.

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    9. On a somewhat related note...This little newbie blog has now raced over 1300 pageviews...With over 300 just since this morning. So people do pay attention, people do care, and people do like to get some useful information without Paul Gottlieb filtering it for them.

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    10. I'm not surprised people are responding. KONP? The PDN? Sad jokes. We know the actual fact content of those sources is extremely low, and censored.

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    11. Scary to think how right you are about the influence of Jim Jones, who was never elected by the people, and is not beholden to them either.

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    12. As a county worker I want to thank you for at least bringing up security issues at the courthouse.Many of us have been trying to get the commissioners to listen for years, but they don't seem to care.

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    13. Speaking Truth to Power works best if Power stays and listens. If all you do on this blog is rip anyone offering some basic management insights, all you'll do is talk to yourselves. By the way, a 5 minute look at the public court filings shows only ONE lawsuit filed (at least in Clallam County) against the County by any former employees over the last 10 years. Two sources for all "facts" doesn't prove TRUTH. Many more than two sources swore the earth was flat...How did that work out.

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    14. The comments about who responds in a crisis is just one example of a larger problem: The inability of the city and county to cooperate. Look at all the bad blood between them over the recent flow control ordinance. And on and on. City hall and the courthouse are just across the street from each other, but most of the time it seems like they're a thousand miles apart. This costs all local citizens in terms of time, money and poor planning. I just wish both bodies would grow up!

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    15. So at this point is it safe to assume that Jim Jones, or "Jim Jones" will not be posting here anymore?

      These thin-skinned, so-called "leaders" amaze me. Offer some concerns or criticism, and they just retreat. Back to their little bubble of comfort. Then everything is fine, just fine.

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    16. I wouldn't post if I was him. All he (?) did was offer some insight on management issues, no name calling, no defensive whining, no slams...and look how he was slammed back, even ridiculed for taking the time to "troll" the blog. He did offer to meet anybody and answer anything he could, in person. That is more than the rest of us have offered, hiding behaind our masks or anonymous postings.

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    17. Just to remind you...The "Jim Jones" you're talking about also did officially post ANONYMOUSLY.

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    18. I did my best to respond in a polite, reasonable manner. Any one is welcome to post here any time. But I did have to object to the idea of Jim Jones "speaking truth to power." Coming from him, that's a ludicrous notion.

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  2. Don't forget the PUD too. Something is going on there with their treasurer, obviously. I'd say include the Port too, but no one stays fired there. They just come back with fewer responsibilities and more pay. So yeah, this whole area is really, really screwed up.

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  3. The people I have know who have worked at the county have pretty much all said it was a miserable place to be. Nice to know that nothing's changed.

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  4. Please note the language the person claiming to be Jim Jones uses: "half truths (like much of what is related above)..."

    So if we're to believe that this poster actually is Jim Jones, whether he thought about it or not, he's actually verifying that much of what you said is true! So keep on digging, Crypt Kicker. Truth is the sword of us all.

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  5. I blame the tone and bad behavior we've all seen displayed - and the money we've all seen spent - at the feet of the County Commissioners. The buck should stop with them. The taxpayers of Clallam County have a right to demand better service and better stewardship of OUR tax dollars. Start hiring smart people, not someone's cousin. Stop allowing managers to be petty little tyrants in their departments. It's not fucking rocket science, folks. It's how it's done in most of the country.

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  6. "Why is it such a dysfunctional place?"

    Because the dysfunction is very functional for a chosen few. And they don't care how it affects the rest.

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    1. You got that right!

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  7. Jim Jones lives up to his name. Now that he's run out of budget tricks, I suspect we'll be hearing about his retirement in the near future.

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  8. I'll be interested to see if you get any response from "Jim Jones" to what was posted here.

    Both the county and the city take a head-in-the-sand approach to criticism. They never want to admit that there might be a problem; the only problem is that you're bringing up problems. So long as people are willing to ignore the glaring deficiencies in our local governing bodies, those bodies are perfectly happy to go on sliding down into the toilet.

    If you really want to adopt a servant mentality, "Jim," the first step is to actually listen to your critics. You might - gasp! - learn something.

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  9. I can't be 100% sure about the accuracy of what gets posted here, but I do appreciate having another seemingly reliable source of local info. The fact that Jim Jones, or someone taking the time to pretend to be Jim Jones, responded so quickly would seem to say you're on the right track.

    Keep it up. We'll be reading.

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  10. Yeah, I have it in writing, from PDN staff, that the PDN knows the City is lying to the public. And, it seems to be willing to let the City do this.

    How can a community really function, when the "public servants" intentionally lie and manipulate?

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    1. If such a document exists - and I don't know why it would, frankly - I'm sure we'd all be interested in seeing it.

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    2. Oh, it absolutely exists. It is in my possession, and I'm just trying to figure out the best way to get the most number of people to appreciate it's contents.

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  11. From the outside, it sure seems like all they care about at the county is having the damned budget balanced. Things can be going to hell all around them, but as long as that budget is supposedly balanced, everything is OK.

    But look around Port Angeles, look around the unincorporated county. Does it look OK to you? So now 101 is wider - WHAT FOR? There's no growth here, no jobs here. Why do we need a wider road? Seems like that money would have been better spent on some economic development, or even on better code enforcement, something that really affects the quality of life.

    A wider road? A balanced budget? WHo cares? There's no life here.

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  12. The servant mentality the previous poster spoke of is quite clear from the county's perspective. Their mentality is that we are all servants (tax payers) and should be grateful to have such wise leaders.

    Bullshit. The blind bleeding those in a bind is more like it.

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  13. So it looks like we have another 6 million reasons to thank Glenn Cutler for his non-solution solution to the fact that it rains here AND people have toilets. This waterfront turd tank boondoggle is a classic example of how stupid decisions come to life in Port Angeles.

    AND cost you the ratepayer and taxpayer a ton of money.

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    1. This is the result of MILLIONS of dollars already spent? We STILL have sewage roaring into our harbor?

      I can't wait to see how it works once they're spent the whole $50 million. I suppose then we'll have a harbor full of sewage that's also on fire.

      Great, just great...Have a nice weekend everyone!

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    2. From the PDN, regarding the sewage overflow: "Two outfalls discharge near Port Angeles’ newly completed downtown waterfront esplanade."

      So if you add in the cost of the esplanade to the cost of the turd tank, it's really like spending, say, $60 million dollars to create a viewing platform for people who like to watch sewage.

      Money well spent, City Council! You do us proud! Can't wait to see the Chamber's tourism campaign for this!

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    3. Six million more reasons to move away from this rundown dump...It's so fitting. It's such a shitty little town, and then this...Sigh...

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    4. Ya gotta remember that this $50 million sewage project is NOT to fix the reason the sewage overflows happen. The City, in it's wisdom, decided trying to capture and contain all the rainwater that gets into the system (in that turd tank), instead of trying to keep it out in the first place. This project doesn't STOP the pollution, arguably, it increases it.

      Part of the project is a new outfall pipe, further out into the harbor. That way, people won't see any problems. See, the crap is less polluting when you pump it further away from you.

      During this last flood o crap, the city's system reduced it's level of treatment for ALL the city's crap. It poured more disinfecting chemicals into the soup, and dumped it into the harbor. This is what this great new system is designed to do. What else can you do, when you decide to treat rainwater as sewage?

      It's like spending big money on a bunch of equipment to pump out water getting into a ship, instead of fixing the holes in the first place. What if the equipment fails? Ooops. How much does it cost to maintain and replace all that equipment? Wages? Insurance?

      Not Cutler's money.

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    5. Let's all remember this little tidbit, too...Glenn Cutler doesn't live in the city proper, so he isn't subject to the many fees, taxes, etc. associated with paying for his many idiotic, old school non-solutions. Nice set up, eh?

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  14. And yet...Cherie Kidd still sees fit to criticize Victoria for how they handle their floaties...

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    1. Do we remember Cherie saying " Don't blame us for the big bills on your utility bills for our sewage overflow project, it is an "unfunded mandate"."

      Really? If you look at what the City says is the second half of that $50 million being spent, it is for a pump that would be a "stand alone project". As the City says, they would be replacing this pump, whether they were doing a sewage overflow project, or not.

      So, the actual cost of what it takes to comply with the State and stop the overflows the citizens are being told is a "unfunded mandate", is a fraction of what residents are being made to pay for.

      That most of the $26 million in this second stage of the project is regular infrastructure maintenance they knew would be needed at some point, and just added it onto this project. And then told the residents this project and costs were part of an unavoidable State mandate we all would be fined for if we didn't bend over and comply with.



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    2. As one City Council person told me recently, " Oh, I know this ($26 million ) pump replacement is not really part of stopping the overflows. But, we have to get it done, somehow." I replied" Yes, but isn't that a lot like lying to your constituents?".

      They had no comment.

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  15. "Port Angeles: The Authentic Northwaste"

    "Port Angeles: The Best Brown Downtown Around!"

    Russ, call me! Let's talk tourism!

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    1. Funny - but tragic, too.

      Yeah, Port Angeles has made a lot of stupid, stupid, stupid, STUPID and expensive decisions - decisions that have cost the city in terms of image (garbage and sewage in the Strait) and in terms of tax dollars ($45 million to put a sewage tank on the shoreline).

      Yet the local business community, as represented by, say, the Chamber of Commerce, have said nothing about any of it. They bury their collective heads in the sand, and just pop them up occasionally for a minute to approve some stupid, stupid, stupid slogan that they think is THE key to prosperity for Port Angeles.

      Hey business leaders (so-called), here's an idea: Maybe if you start putting pressure on the city council to stop making so many stupid, stupid, stupid, STUPID decisions, that would result in Port Angeles being more prosperous and viable as a town, both for locals and for visitors. Ya think?

      Because, at the end of the day, all the slogans and sawblade logos in the world won't be able to wash away the very literal stink of sewage that has attached itself to Port Angeles - under your watch.

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    2. "The Authentic Northwaste"

      LOVE IT!!!

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  16. Appreciate you efforts to open things up and get some truth out there. We all know the local media doesn't really do that.

    If it's true that people like Jim Jones are already reading this. maybe they'll actually learn something. Maybe they'll see that all is not well in their community. Maybe.

    Maybe.

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  17. SOMEONE is listening/reading. We've had a surge in pageviews over the last couple of days, with 700+ yesterday alone. Most are from the U.S., with a fair number from Canada. And there have been well over 100 comments published as well. So again, people are responding, for whatever reason.

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    1. CK=Genius. That's all for now. :)

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    2. Sure we are listening/reading. Now you are a daily go-to site for anyone who actually would like to SEE some change. The problem has been: fear and an inability to connect. However, clearly, people are still afraid, as I don't see many names, just anonymous. We aren't afraid because we're paranoid. This is a very cliquish town, to put it mildly.

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  18. The business "leaders" in this town are their own worst enemies. Seriously, 90% of them simply don't know what they're doing. They spend way too much time going to PADA, PABA, COC, etc. meetings, and far too little time running their businesses. They don't keep up with cultural or market changes, and are in deep, deep denial about the reality of the town they live and - barely - operate in.

    And it's from this pool of people that 90% of the candidates for public office come, thereby spreading and amplifying the effects of their foolishness.

    As someone who just lives here - and is trying to get out of here - it's amazing to watch from the outside. They hate the ONP and the hundreds of thousands of tourists that come for nature - because they also hate nature. Meanwhile, they ignore the painfully obvious decay all around them. How many empty storefronts downtown? How many social services offices downtown? The city is spending how many millions to build a new sidewalk along the water - versus how much on our horribly degraded infrastructure?

    Now you can't even get away from it for a couple of hours by going to a movie downtown...Because the theater closed, too.

    Like the folks at NOAA said when turning Port Angeles down cold...There's no quality of life here. Just saw blades and bird brains.

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    1. Logging mentality "company" town. This town was started by a bunch of redneck yee-haws who lacked eduction, foresight, and intelligence. The smart money stayed away. That left dumb money, shovel-heads. Now, several generations down the line the "leaders" are even dumber. Clearly, easily fleeced by consultants and con artists, who have also nuzzled their way into the shovel-head camp.

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    2. Couldn't have said it better myself.

      Or, as a true Rough Rider local might put it: "Go back to California!"

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  19. Running a business in this town (by an "outsider") is an expensive exercise in futility. Everyone wants $$ from you (PADA, PABA, CoC) for nothing in return. The city charges higher utility rates. The PADA downtown fees are insane. The parking permits for your employees is a joke ( $15 per employee per month is promoted as "not much"). Then there are permit fees for everything, might as well be in a communist country. Insanity. It's death by a thousand paper-cuts. And, then there are the building owners (a very small group of nasty oldsters own 90% of downtown). They are slum-lords. They don't maintain the buildings, but believe they can set rents at Seattle prices. Hell, they'd opt for triple net if they could get it. (Too bad most of the new businesses get negative numbers.) Any upgrades must be paid by the tenant, except, the buildings haven't ever conformed to code (probably weren't to code when they were built). This may be the most unfriendly-to-business town on the Peninsula, and certainly, in the top ten in all of Washington State.

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    1. You nailed it with your assessment. Yet the right-wing, property-owning realtor crowd who really run things still rail against the ONP, the Federal Gov't and environmental groups as being the reasons for the financial meltdown that is Port Angeles. They are all greedy, greedy pigs, but they're just so incredibly bad at making money...It's amazing to watch.

      This town, with the location, the ONP, access to Canada, waterfront property, etc., could be a real goldmine. But the bozos in charge keep trying to destroy all the things that could actually make them wealthy. They don't just shoot themselves in the foot; they keep firing and working their way up the rest of the leg.

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  20. CK, I agree. But, I think the order of operations was wrong. They started by shooting themselves in the nuts, then started working down.

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  21. Just remember....in the 1980's they TOOK OUT RAILROAD TRACKS that went from the Victoria ferry to Port Townsend. What a tourist dream that would be. They were taken out because....someone wanted the scrap metal money, undoubtedly.

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    1. Yes, but now there is a new, wider road on 101 to handle all the...exact same flow of traffic there was before. Who needed those trees and front yards anyway, right? We need MORE blacktop in Clallam County! That's a sign of success...or something.

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  22. Yes, but watch the Troopers mount a big campaign at the start of summer (just like the last 5 years) where they put up speed traps and wolf packs and give hundreds upon hundreds of tickets for everything under the sun (including 3 miles over the speed limit!!), and then have the Seattle papers write an article about "stepped up enforcement on the Peninsula" right before July 4th, and watch how few people want to drive out here. Seriously, it's such an easy target for the troopers (one road in, one road out) and once someone gets a hefty ticket out this way, they never want to come back.

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  23. "Soaring Heights, Surprising Depths - and a Bonus Ticket"

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