Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Water Effrontery

Against the background of a City drowning in pre-existing debt, while also watching much of its infrastructure crumbling, I’m curious what the responses to the following questions will be.
Question One: Do you think it’s a good idea for the City to commit to spending a minimum of $17 million dollars on a new waterfront?
Question Two: If yes, why? If no, would you rather see a similar amount of money spent on necessary infrastructure?
Question Three: Given the reality of climate change and the anticipated rising tides associated with that, do you think it’s wise to spend money trying to create a new, manmade beach in Port Angeles?
Question Four: There are twenty-eight new security cameras along the waterfront. Twenty-eight. Is that enough, too much, or not nearly enough?

Twenty-eight cameras to watch the waterfront...More cameras than people down there?

Question Five: Do you think that the majority of the City Council voted to approve the new $17 million dollar waterfront because they, A) Truly think it will somehow boost tourism, B) Truly think it will be an asset for local residents, or C) It’s sexier and more exciting to have your name associated with a new development than it is to say, “Hey, I voted to replace old sewer pipes”?
Question Six: How’s the view of Nippon from the new waterfront? Would you buy a postcard of that view?
Question Seven: How’s the smell of those sewage outfall pipes from the new waterfront? Does it smell like success?


  1. I'll give you an answer to question five. It's a modified C. Modified because before the project is actually finished, or paid for, Brad Collins and Dan DiGuilio will be dead of massive coronaries, Cherie Kidd and Pat Downie will be, if not dead dead, then still brain dead, Sissi Bruch will have finished her term and moved away, and Dan Gase will be off running for some other office. This leaves Lee Whetham to do both the plumbing repairs and the PR to explain why this stupid and outrageously expensive project went forward at the worst possible time.

  2. One) Hell NO.
    Two) Strong possible. At least that would have concrete, tangible benefits for the people who live here.
    Three) File under DUH. What are they thinking? How many medical marijuana users are there on the City Council?
    Four) What are they expecting to have happen down there?
    Five) C. It's all about egos.
    Six) Depressing.
    Seven) It smells like Fart Angeles.

    Bonus question and answer eight) As a downtown business owner, I have seen how much increased business since the new sidewalk went in? None. No increase at all.

  3. This project is irresponsible. Totally irresponsible. It's not intended for locals, that much is obvious. But how will tourists get to it when the streets leading downtown are nothing but potholes? Why will tourists comes when there is NOTHING for them in Port Angeles? And when will these numbskulls on the city council wake???

    1. Tourists don't really come to see cement even if it is near a waterway. If the city wanted to make some tourists appear they'd put in a big timber roller coaster, or something else that would attract attention.

  4. The last time that the college had a Geologist speak at their Studium Generale, he said the beaches around Port Angeles and the Northwest sides of the Olympic Peninsula are rising faster than the water levels are predicted to rise with Global Warming/Climate Change (our Mountains are getting taller as well). I wouldn't want to be along the waterfront in Port Townsend or in Puget Sound however.

    1. well, the good news is that if any of those old buildings downtown catch fire (and it's only a matter of time...few are to code, and there are NO FIREBREAKS between them (they probably weren't "to code" when they were built, and good luck finding where permits were pulled for most of the alterations) we can hope that a Tsunami puts it out, or the rising water line....either way, win-win.

    2. I suspect the buildings most likely to catch fire are the ones with the most fire insurance. Or do I give these slumlords too much credit?

    3. there is an awful lot of asbestos in those old buildings....

    4. OMG. I just posted a comment about this issue on another site of his.
      DOT, DOE are just fools, but none match the incompetency of the City Council. Garbage Berm, Beach improvements etc. Mike Doherty warned about such issues and was ignored.
      Realtors won, that said if the fools buy property on 3 Crabs Rd. they deserve what they get.

  5. Where to begin?

    Most of these projects are the result of some city staff person seeing a way to apply for some grant money. Need? I mean, real, logical need? As if there is ANY real justification for 28 surveillance cameras on the Port Angeles waterfront, as a clear example.

    Yes, you say it right when you ask if City Council members think " It’s sexier and more exciting to have your name associated with a new development". The reality is, they are only part timers. They only get their "Staff Packet" a couple days before the meetings, which are only twice a month. Many only pick up their packets the day of the meetings, because they know they're just rubber stamping what staff tells them.

    I lay blame at the City Manager's office. From there, it is descending layers of responsibility.

    As an example, Cutler was the department head of public works. He had a number of staff in his department, working on different problems, who all reported their work effort back to him. Cutler was responsible for sorting through the info, determining what was worth proceeding with from that which needed further development. He then would report to the City Manager.

    But, this becomes a problem when you have new staff members coming into the picture. Cutler outlived a number of different City Managers. So, the new City Managers each relied upon Cutler to tell them what was actually going on, much in the same way the new public works head replacing Cutler is relying on Cutlers minions to get him up to speed. This way, the "Party Line" is maintained.

    This way, the culture of promoting "projects" that will make the City's applications for grant money viable, continues.

    How else does a small community with virtually NO documented problems with cross border trespass or crime warrant 28 security cameras on its' waterfront (and staff time to monitor them?), or the similarly outrageous expansion of the Border Patrol to 50 agents?

    Tourism? Hello? There used to be 3 ferries running daily carrying people to Victoria, only a few years ago. Cars used to be lined up overnight, downtown, waiting for the first ferries. Aggies had cots out on their porches, to accommodate overnight ferry passengers. Those people used to patronize downtown businesses.

    But they aren't there any more, and haven't been for years now.

    It's as if City Staff is using data from decades ago, to justify the waterfront "improvements". They don't get it. The tourists were here ON THEIR WAY TO SOMEWHERE ELSE. Those cars were lined up to go to Victoria. Port Angeles was not the destination.

    And still is not.

    So, "prettying up" downtown, when we can't afford it, is a misplaced priority. It isn't going to result in more people coming to "beautiful Port Angeles". Few spend their vacation dollars to go to places to view oil tankers in the harbor, and smoke spewing from stacks.

    Now that the residents are being taxed so much, how much more can the City squeeze out of them, to do much of anything?

    1. There's only so much squeezing you can do before you just squeeze people out. And that is what's happening in Port Angeles. Squeezed out, hollowed out, and falling over.

    2. When the Feds imposed "passport only" documents for the border crossing we saw the lines waiting to cross evaporate overnight. That is when business dropped by 80% downtown. Why? A passport costs each member of the family a lot of money (Parents $140, kids $95). Its also not something you can get on whim, it takes several steps, and some planning ahead (unlike in the days you could cross with a valid photo ID).

    3. The previous comments are well put. Port Angeles would be lucky to have enough people and activity in its downtown to warrant 28 security cameras.

      We all know downtown has been in steep decline for years, and it seems to me to be getting even worse lately. The loss of the Lincoln was a blow. As noted above, the decline in people even passing through has dropped steeply. We're in deep, deep trouble, and putting an expensive bandage on a still bleeding wound isn't going to do anything. A waterfront walk is - Hello! - a secondary use. The primary reason people would be downtown is to go shopping, eat out, etc. With the ever-more-limited number of places to do either, the waterfront is utterly meaningless.

      Perhaps all the people using the social services offices downtown will use it? Perhaps they are the ones the cameras are intended for?

      Finally, if they're really going to have someone actually watching the monitors for all these 28 cameras, you can bet that Barb Frederick will try to count it as "job creation" for the downtown.

    4. A close examination of who owns property and/or businesses near the waterfront might offer clues about who was pushing the most for the city to spend money on cameras and the "esplanade"(not to mention the Gateway parking ramp).
      Here are some names to help begin the inquiry: Edna Peterson and her "Necessities and Temptations" shop. Butch aka Anthony Hoare, rumored to be Edna's special friend, and who is also rumored to be related to the Ruddell auto mall family. The Harmons - former clients of Karen Rogers (per her PDC reports) and owners of the Victoria Express boats that were docked at the Landing Mall.

    5. don't forget Captain John Westrem, the man who thinks Port Angeles and Sequim is a monopoly board. Slumlord in SoCal, made money in spite of himself, and now he owns a chunk of the "ferry parking" (you know, the unimproved ones..the mud lots: shove your money in the hole), several buildings downtown AND a glut of rundown rental houses, commercial property, etc. Can't forget his smiling face, now can we? The other landlord is that gosh awful woman (owns the Morse Building) who believes that tenants only complain and steal her money. Right. Explains most of the mental attitude of our esteemed (not) downtown.

    6. the waterfront project is putting a bandage on your toe when your head is bleeding.

    7. Anonymous 7:17PM - Thanks for the name and info. Anyone have any more???

      Anonymous 7:18PM - Well put. You hit the nail on its bleeding head.

  6. I think you already know the answers to your questions.

    Too bad the city council doesn't.

    And the bills keep piling up...

  7. Apparently two bald eagles were found shot to death out in Forks. Off topic, I know. But I marvel out how hateful and angry so many people are in Clallam County - even our national symbol gets shot down, probably by some good ol' All American rednecks. Disgusting and spooky stuff.

    Maybe we should put more cameras up to protect the poor eagles. That I might support. (There, I came back on topic!)

  8. 1) No.
    2) No.
    3) No.
    4) More than enough!
    5) C
    6) If you're a business owner you'd better hope they don't sell postcards of that mess.
    7) Smells like waste. A waste of money and a waste of time.
    Can you please get my results to the city council? thank you!

    1. It is my heartfelt hope that members of the City Council are not only reading this blog, but also taking what they read to heart, or at least are thinking about the deep dissatisfaction so many of us have with the way this town is run (into the ground).

      Please do feel free to send a link to this blog to your favorite Council member. Your call is important to theory.

    2. I am a Sequim resident so I cannot comment on your City Council members. I do urge all of you to investigate the Charter Review Board candidates as they are elected for an eight year period and basically write the outline for local government. EA. district can elect five members and there are 10 plus candidates in each district. I found three I could live with in District 1. Two or three in the other two districts.
      As for your P.A. city council members Sissi Bruch is running for commissioner. Is she or will she be the best choice? Don't know. All I do know is that I can't stand McEntire or Chapman and adding Jim Peach will just continue the 'old boy' network. Sometimes, we do have to vote for short term practicality.

      The Auditors office has a link -- hard to negotiate through but it is there and gives the profiles of all the candidates for the Charter Review Board.

  9. You know...You could almost, almost, buy into the city's attempts to redo the waterfront. God knows it's been ugly enough, long enough to warrant some serious attention.

    But then you remind us about all those stupid, spendy cameras, and the fog clears and we realize that, like everything else they do, the city will fuck this completely up and then send us the bill.

  10. I tried to walk down to the big ribbon-cutting on the waterfront, but I tripped over the disintegrating sidewalk in front of my house and fell.

    1. At least you had a sidewalk! Many streets have huge sidewalk gaps that force pedestrians to either walk in the street or literally beat a path across the turf in front of somebody's house or lot. Example: try walking from the pocket park at the harbor end of "C" Street (4th Street) to the old Lincoln School & Skill Center at 8th and "C". Sidewalks are missing for much of the way.
      Money used to pretty-up a few blocks of the waterfront's sidewalks would indeed have been much better spent improving neighborhood infrastructure, and for other projects that could improve city residents' quality of life. Example: Just think what an attraction Civic Field could be if the city invested even half of that $17 million in updating it!

    2. Civic Field...Just one more local amenity they have let decay to the point of nearly complete destruction.

      But give them points for consistency. They let EVERYTHING go to hell here. At least everything that is needed or used by actual Port Angeles residents.

    3. You'd think that, what with it being the 21st century and all, we might expect to live in a community with sidewalks. They aren't new; they've been around in many, many places for many, many years.

      But no, it's just one amenity that the city sees fit to NOT provide, along with reasonable utility rates and open government. In all the places I've ever lived, I've never seen such clueless, out of touch leaders. They really, really don't seem to get that 75% of what they do is unwanted and/or harmful to the public good, and they have lots of blind spots that allow them not to see all the average, normal things we should have and don't - like uniform sidewalks.

      Then again, the cracked, crummy intermittent sidewalks are a good visual metaphor for the cracked, crummy and intermittently intelligent leadership we see here.

    4. You have to remember the "new culture" in City government pn Port Angeles. Remember it is ALL about getting grant money from the State or Feds, or ANYBODY.

      The City Council is lead (by City staff) to believe they are being SOO clever by creating these projects that the City applies for grant money for to address. Most current is the landfill bluff stabilization project.

      See, nobody cared, for years, that garbage was falling into the Strait, UNTIL it was figured out that this affront (to everyone but City staff) could motivate lawmakers to find money to give to poor Port Angeles. Every other community has leadership that looks ahead, and plans for/budgets for things that will have to be dealt with.

      Why fix anything, when you can let things deteriorate into such a bad state, and then you can whine to the State to come up with funds. ( Remember Port Angeles United's primary, initial focus on getting its members to concoct a "Statement of urgency"?)

      City staff tells the Council members they are being so clever, because they are "leveraging" moneys. Oh so efficient.

      But, as they say, the "proof is in the pudding". After all the blah blah, what state is the community really in? Year after year, the community declines, while the BS is still slung.

    5. "Year after year, the community declines..."

      That about sums it up, doesn't it? Declines in number of jobs, declines in quality of life, declines in number of visitors, and just plain declines in people. The census doesn't lie: Port Angeles is shrinking, while the world around it is growing. Port Angeles is devolving, while the world around it is evolving.

      Port Angeles is...a really good place to leave.

    6. BINGO...ding ding ding ding...we have our new city motto: Soaring Heights, nope. Amazing Depths, you betcha. Port Angeles: A really good place to leave.

    7. How about this for a catchy and novel sign on all the roads leading into town: Welcome to Port Angeles - GET OUT!

  11. When I've heard the members of the city council talk about this project, they always refer to it as an "investment" in downtown and Port Angeles. At $17,000,000, that's quite an investment. But they seem to have no way to explain how we (the people who live in Port Angeles) are going to get any sort of return on that investment.

    They talk in totally vague and unquantifiable terms like "improved quality of life" and "more welcoming for visitors" and "civic pride."

    What I want to know in some sort of verifiable way is how my "quality of life" will be improved when I am saddled with a crushing debt load. I am sure many of my fellow citizens are wondering the same thing.

    Put another way: How can we have renewed civic pride, or even enjoy a walk on the new waterfront, if we can't afford to buy shoes?

    Put another way: It's an undeniable fact that the people of Port Angeles need bread, but all the city council seems willing to pay for is another circus.

    1. Well put. It's a real let them cake council. No job? No sidewalks? Bad schools? Meth burglars bringing you down? Tale a walk on the waterfront, and everything will seem so...much...better.

  12. I have posted here before. I have done so in depth at times, and I have done so in bursts of sarcasm other times.

    I just wanted to post a note here to say THANK YOU to those who take the time to post thoughtful, and informative messages here. Yeah, it's fun and necessary to vent at times, but we all need to really read and think about what the hell is wrong with this town, and what can be done about it.

    So thanks again to all the serious posters here. Your efforts are appreciated, if not always acknowledged.

  13. Ah yes, the Smart Meters, the ones that aren't smart. At least the City Council wasn't when they approved them.

    I don't personally believe there's anymore health risk from them than there is from any number of other everyday items people use. BUT - this does provide another case where the Council has been remarkable tone-deaf to how their actions are received in the community. AND - it has, of course, as is usual, gone terribly off-track and is set to cost a lot more than originally proposed.

    So while the city may have thought they were somehow being quite "cutting edge" with this, it has ended up being just another classic Port Angeles cluster-you-know-what.

  14. Has anyone else seen the email exchange between Mike Gentry and Nathan West regarding the waterfront? If not, it goes something like this.

    Mike Gentry: "Nathan, I see the city is using uncovered rebar on the waterfront project. That is going to be a problem in the future."

    Nathan West: "Mike, that is so silly. We have been told that the rebar Primo is using is fine, just fine. Your worries are baseless."

    Fast forward just a little bit, and then you'll find that the city is having trouble due to...uncovered rebar being used in the waterfront construction.

    This is exactly how things (don't) work in the city of Port Angeles. It doesn't matter if you're informed, or if you're right. In fact, those things will be used against you.

    Mike Gentry has been right about this and other avoidable failures on the part of the city - that's why he has been shut out from ever getting a contract with the city, regardless of his qualifications. Max Mania was on the losing end of so many votes - but he was usually proven to have been right. That didn't help him though - it just made the city staff and the rest of the council double-down in their efforts to marginalize him.

    No wonder so much goes wrong, when the political environment here punishes you for being right. I wouldn't trust the city to be able to build a bird house without messing it up.

    1. It's like that old joke: That's right, you're wrong!

      Failure isn't just an option here, it's a beloved way of life. Barb Frederick? Totally incompetent, and probably PADA director for life. Jeff Robb? So totally awful at his job they just pay him to stay home.

      But those right-thinking people? Mike Gentry is frozen out of everything at the city, because he dared speak up. He has to get work outside the state to stay afloat. Max Mania got driven out of town permanently. If Sissi Bruch keeps voting against the CSO fiasco, she'll get drummed out too.

      But Cherie Kidd? Not a clue to the harm she's doing, and will doubtlessly be re-elected. Dan DiGiulio? Back in the mayor's chair, and will doubtlessly be re-elected.

      Good is bad and right is wrong. Welcome to the bizarro world of Port Angeles. I hope you've had your shots.

    2. Even if this were somehow to become front page news - "Nathan West ignored waterfront warnings" - there'd be no negative consequences for him. There's essentially ZERO accountability in Port Angeles, as has been discussed here.

      City Councils and city staff and Port Commissioners and County Commissioners all piss away tax dollars without a care in the world. When you think of the massive amounts of money that have been spent on various projects locally in, say, the last ten years, and look at how little we actually have to show for it in terms of long-term jobs created, quality of life enhanced, or basic infrastructure maintained, it is stunning.

      A few pockets are being well lined, but everything else is going to hell.

    3. Another problem here in Port Angeles is that many of the people who set themselves up as politically savvy or knowledgeable are, in truth, either incredibly stupid and/or incredibly naïve.

      Clearly in the incredibly stupid column is Dick Pilling, local Republican stalwart and Great Leader. He's so totally out of touch with reality that he "grooms" dolts like Cody Blevins to run for office. Yes, I know, Republicans do win elections here - but it's usually despite Dick, not because of him.

      Ed Chadd is seen by a lot of liberal types as pretty politically astute. That's a laugh. Ed's "wisdom" tends to run to clichés and platitudes, and, other than the occasional appearance at a public meeting, he's kind of an out of touch homebody. Still, some think he's got insight. I'd call it navel gazing.

      People like Zac Garripoli feel free to flap their traps constantly on the PDN website. Again, some see him as a reasoned and informed commenter. But when he's constantly advocating that an already strapped city "simply" spend another $100 million dollars to buy an industrial autoclave to burn up all the trash threatening to fall in the strait, Zac displays the kind of know-nothing spendthrift wisdom that qualifies him for a spot on the City Council.

      All these guys end up sounding like Peter Ripley's ever-so-slightly-less-idiotic brothers. But hey, you know what? At least Peter actually does get out and around and goes to meetings. He at least tries to keep up with what's going on before shooting his mouth off. These other guys just occasionally read the PDN and think they "know what's going on."

      Hardly. People like these fools who think they offer solutions are, in fact, a big part of the problem. Through their stumblebum activities, they aid and abet the people who are well and truly dragging this town down for their own gain.

    4. So we'll spend $100 million to create Peter's island...Then we'll spend another $100 million to put Zac's autoclave on it...And use the power generated to run Peter's carnival to raise funds for social services. TOTALLY DOABLE.

      Nathan, can you get working on the permits for that? Thanks!

    5. Ed Chadd? Wisdom?

      What was his oh-so wise position on the Turd Tank project? He supported it.

      His position on the Biomess project? He supported it.

      His position on Climate Change? He doesn't know what to do, but doesn't want to talk about what the County does because.. wait for it.. HE works for the County!

      Anon 5:21 puts it very correctly. People like these fools are harmful to the progress this community needs. They effectively distract well intentioned people with their blather. And, as we have seen with people like Ed Chadd, they actually end up HELPING the decline of the community.

    6. Here is a current, good article on plasma gasification of wastes. From reading this, it looks like some of our garbage may already be being processed with this technology. I don't know what Zac is talking about, but this system is seen as the future of waste "disposal":

    7. Anonymous 10:52AM: I think the point was not that the SCIENCE behind Zac's autoclave-cures-everything suggestion, but rather his blasé suggestion that the city, already swamped by debt and adding more by the day, shell out another $100 MILLION DOLLARS to buy one. As if that were even remotely possible.

      Maybe we could save a few million if we built a rocket and "simply" sent our garbage to the moon?

    8. If you're at all progressive, and want to run for political office around here, you do need to talk with Ed. After hearing his positions on local issues, take a position 180 degrees from his and you'll do fine.

      But if you want to follow his advice...Well, we don't really need you to run for office then, do we?

    9. Let's not forget that that liberal tree-hugging and salmon loving environmentalist supported Mike Chapman for county commissioner over Dale Holiday, who was only about 1000% greener and more environmentally-friendly than Chapman will ever be.

      At the end of the day, Ed Chadd is another privileged white male, who is unaware of his own sexism or privilege. He has built his little low budget kingdom in the county, where he makes no waves, but thinks he's got the inside scoop on things. But he's clearly much more comfortable with the good old boys who put up with him than he is with actual progressives. Too bad he's such a lapdog for people who laugh at him behind his back. He's so concerned about seeming "fair" and "balanced" that he bends over completely backwards and actually supports projects and people who go against everything he says he believes in.

  15. Hey CK. Actually, this gasification thing, which might be different than what Zac is talking about (industrial autoclave??) can be more affordable than what we are doing now.

    One, as many already know, our garbage is trucked to the Columbia River, where it is put on barges, towed up the Columbia to Boardman, where it is then put on trains to finish it's trip to that huge landfill. Carbon footprint? Energy intensive? Stupid??

    But, these gasification facilities create more energy than it takes to run them, so, they produce income.

    No, Port Angeles by itself probably can't justify one of these, but a regional facility makes a LOT of sense.

    1. I'd say that it makes sense in the abstract. But because it makes sense, our local leaders will not want to touch it. And I'm pretty damned certain that our local residents don't want to have to pay for it, on top of everything else.

    2. I might be more inclined to NOT discount every thing that Zac says if he didn't post the dumbest comments, 24/7 on the PDN facebook site. Rah rah rah. No one (over the age of 16) is that pro- whatever.

    3. Over the years, I have been to a LOT of meetings here in Clallam County. I cannot recall ever seeing Zac at a single one. So if all he's doing is getting his information about what goes on from the PDN...That's a starvation diet, knowledge-wise.