Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Weasels Rush In Where Rats Fear To Tread

The headline today says “Groundbreaking for proposed Port Angeles marine science center planned for summer.” But if you read the article about this presentation given to the Port, the key word is “proposed.” This shaky, shady Oak St. deal has a lot of unknowns and weasel word qualifiers attached to it.

A repository of all our hopes and dreams? Or just another
ill-conceived Port Angeles scam?
Gary Donnelly, project administrator of Neeser Construction Inc. of Anchorage, Alaska — which has agreed to buy the 1.96-acre plot of land from Tod McClaskey Jr. of Camas, the owner of Olympic Lodge in Port Angeles — declined to discuss whether the sale has been completed.
I can’t comment on that today,” he said, adding that the latest construction might start is in August.

A deed transferring ownership to Neeser had not been filed as of Tuesday with the Clallam County Auditor’s Office.
McClaskey could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

McAleer and Hallett expressed qualified support for the use of the dock.

Final designs of the phases are in flux, as decisions continue to be made on how the buildings will be used by such tenants as Feiro.
Feiro officials are awaiting the finalization of the project but haven’t yet signed contracts, said Melissa Williams, Feiro executive director.
“I feel positive about the prospect,” she said.

Those plans are under review, said Nathan West, director of economic and community development for the city.
City officials plan to begin construction in July on a city West End Park adjacent to the proposed marine science center and the pier, said Nathan West, director of economic and community development for the city
The City Council is expected to award a construction bid Tuesday.
Meanwhile, the City and Port are clearly moving ahead with logging - oh, I mean clearing problem trees from Lincoln Park. Please note the weasel words included in that article as well, though: The exact number and location of trees proposed to be cut for the plan has not been released.

Given all the weasel words used here, and all the weasels sitting in Port offices (except for Jeff Robb, who is sitting at home), and given the dismal history of their enterprises, does anyone feel good about this project? Given the City’s dismal record, and the glaring-but-unaddressed conflict of interest that Dan Gase has, does anyone feel good about the City’s role in this project? In other words, with this collaboration, do you believe two wrongs are going to make it right?

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Putting the Rat in Democrat

As of the recent close of filings, Steve Tharinger had drawn two opponents. One is Thomas Greisamer, of Moclips, who describes himself as a “semi-retired” psychiatrist, and who is running as a Republican. The other is Stafford Conway, a neurologist who moved to Sequim less than two years ago, and who is running as a Libertarian.
Curiously, both of these men went to the same less-than-stellar, for-profit medical school, the American University of the Caribbean, which is run by DeVry. (Bloomberg News headline from September 11th, 2013: “DeVry Lures Medical School Rejects as Taxpayers Fund Debt.”) Sadly, both would seem to be unknown kooks who have little chance of winning.
Sadly, you say? Yes, sadly. I’m as progressive as they come, and support progressive candidates - and generally oppose far-right candidates. In my opinion, radical right-wingers can do immeasurable harm to our political system if given control. The only thing that does more damage to progressive ideas and policies are those frauds who masquerade as people who have progressive views, when in fact they do not.

Steve Tharinger is one of those frauds. Though he always has a big Democratic D by his name, his actions are much more like those of a greedy, Republican corporate whore. His actions speak louder than any words. And his actions –  public and private – do much to damage the causes that so many of the people who blindly vote for him support. His hypocrisy is a poison in the political system of our State.
Let’s look back to 2010, shall we? In 2010, the Salmon Recovery Board allocated $525,000 to Clallam County to buy a house as part of salmon recovery efforts. That house was owned by Steve Tharinger, and even he described the price set for it as “on the high end of the market.”
After the State allocated the funds to Clallam County, the County then purchased the property – while Tharinger was a sitting County Commissioner. Tharinger recused himself from discussions of the purchase, but still…Doesn’t it seem more than a little improper?
Oh, and who was the chair of the Salmon Recovery Board when they allocated the money for this purchase? Steve Tharinger. Doesn’t that also seem more than a little improper?
After the property was sold, Tharinger bought a house a mile away for $437,000 – clearing almost $90,000 for doing his part for salmon restoration. I’m sure Steve Tharinger still smiles when he thinks about salmon recovery in Clallam County.

Steve Tharinger believes salmon recovery efforts are very, very important
to his local economy.
Moving ahead to 2011…Tharinger managed to win election to State office while still serving as a County Commissioner. This meant he was making $63,504 annually for being a County Commissioner, while simultaneously being paid $42,106 a year for being a State Representative. That’s a total of $105,610 a year for holding both elected offices. That’s also known as double-dipping. It’s not illegal, but, like so many of Steve Tharinger’s actions, it certainly seems to be highly questionable ethically.
This unusual position brought a little heat down on Tharinger, who promised to pay the County back for any pay he got if he was working less than 40 hours a week on County business – while simultaneously supposedly working full-time in Olympia on State business. He said he would track his own hours, and pay back what he thought he should at the end of the legislative session. Of course, he also said that even when the more than full-time legislature was in session, he wouldn’t give all of his County pay back, because “I don’t work for free.”
No, but you certainly seem to forget who you’re supposed to be working for, Steve.
In any case, after making many wildly different statements on this issue, and generally misleading voters as to his intentions, Steve Tharinger drew two full-size government paychecks – and kept two full-size government paychecks. Based on the Commissioner’s $63,504 annual salary, and a 40 hour work week, Tharinger’s County pay was just over $30.00 an hour. When the legislative session was done, Steve Tharinger “paid back” the County to the tune of just over $300.00, or, about ten hours work.
Now, given that he was missing some Commissioner’s meetings, phoning in for parts of others, running back and forth to Olympia…It seems likely that Steve Tharinger missed much more than ten hours of County work during the full-time legislative session. What he did may have been technically legal, but it sure strikes me as sleazy.
And speaking of sleazy…It was about this time that Steve Tharinger, along with Kevin Van De Wege, introduced a fresh poison to our local political scene, when they installed the infamous Matthew Randazzo as head of the Clallam County Democratic Party. Randazzo’s many misdeeds have been discussed at length elsewhere on this blog, so I’ll keep this short. Suffice to say, this arrogant and sexist little man spent most of his time scamming money, attacking local Democratic and progressive political candidates (especially if they were women), while simultaneously helping to prop up Steve Tharinger’s conservative County Commissioner friend, Mike Chapman – a non-Democrat if ever there was one. Randazzo and his unbalanced cohort, Jack Slowriver, left the CCDP in tatters, before they both left town. Randazzo, with the help of Tharinger, was installed in a position in Peter Goldmark’s office in Olympia.
Around the same time that all the chaos was occurring in the CCDP, a great many environmentalists and progressives were upset by, and working to stop, the Nippon biomass project. They feared for the health of the people of Clallam County, and for the health of our forests, as the project intended to gobble up a great deal of the forest slash and “waste” that feeds the soil of our forests, and burn it instead. Democrats, Greens and progressives worked together and spoke with one voice to oppose this project.

Steve Tharinger to Nippon Corporation:
I drink to your health!
Meanwhile, Steve Tharinger was sponsoring HB 1663, which extended for another eleven years a State sales and use tax exemption for the purchase of “hog fuel” – the slash and forest “waste” mentioned above – for the production of electricity. In other words, while his constituents were agitating against the Nippon biomass project, Steve Tharinger was busy doing Nippon’s corporate bidding, and supporting corporate welfare over the welfare of his own local residents and local forests.
Once again…This was not illegal, but highly questionable, and certainly more like something you’d expect from a Republican. But corporate whores are where you find them, and Steve Tharinger can be found right in Nippon’s pocket.
Oh, and do remember that Nippon was also actively busting their workers union around this time as well. So much for Democrats being the ones to stand up for unions, eh?
Steve Tharinger to union members: Drop dead!
Maybe all this two-faced double-talk and money grubbing is why State Rep Steve Tharinger can’t win a majority of votes here in his own County – even as other Democrats (like Obama) are winning here. We know him best, and we like him least. Only a strong Democratic vote out of Jefferson County allows him to continue to hold public office.
In my opinion, Steve Tharinger is a fake. He’s a self-serving hypocrite and a liar. I don’t trust him, and I don’t like him. And I sincerely wish that there were a good choice in the race for his seat. But two kooks and a crook doesn’t make a very good choice, so I guess that I’ll have to write someone in. I’m open to suggestions.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Might I Suggest..?

By way of finishing things off on this topic, the following are my endorsements and warnings about the many, many people running for the Charter Review Commission.

Given the obviously high and organized level of involvement from people very involved with the local far-right establishment, I can only surmise that there is some sort of plan afoot out there to try and change the County Charter to make Clallam County even more lopsidedly Republican-friendly than it already is. With our local economy and political scene both already being in the toilet, this would seem to be not a good idea. It'd be like if you were already hitting yourself in the head with a hammer, and then switching to hitting yourself in the head with a sledge hammer. Ouch! That hurts even more.

There will be five people elected from each of the three County Commissioner districts, so I will break these down by district.

Commissioner District No. 1:

Recommended candidates:

TED MILLER. An intelligent, community-minded, progressive guy. Contact Ted at:
BRYON GUNNERSON. Organic farmers are good to me. He was also a generous donor to the Obama re-election campaign. Contact Bryon at:

Candidates to avoid:

SUE FORDE. A long-time, perennial right-wing fringe candidate, and a Republican Precinct Committee Officer (PCO), and the State Committeewoman for the Clallam County Republican Party (CCRP).
BRANDON JANISSE. Another former right-wing crackpot candidate and Republican PCO.
JERRY SINN. Anyone involved with the Concerned Citizens of Clallam County (FourC) is the farthest out of the far-right nuts. Mr. Sinn is very involved with the FourC.
ANITA READY. The 2nd VP of the Republican Women of Clallam County (RWCC).
NOLA JUDD. The treasurer for the RWCC, and a Republican PCO.
JON ALAN KIRSHBAUM. Yet another Republican PCO.

Commissioner District No. 2:

Recommended candidates:

NORMA TURNER. An intelligent, community-minded, progressive woman, and a long-time community/good government watchdog. Contact Norma at:
LINDSEY SCHROMEN-WAWRIN. A volunteer with Streamkeepers and a Green Party member. Contact Lindsey at:
MARCIA FARRELL. Just to break things up a bit, a Democratic PCO. Contact Marcia at:
MAGGIE ROTH. Yes, Maggie Roth. There's no way this thing is going to come together without a Republican or two on it (at the very least), and I think that Maggie, while no genius, is not as harsh or hateful as some of the other Republican choices. So why not try to get her in instead of some of the people on the "Candidates to avoid" list? Contact Maggie at:

Candidates to avoid:

KAJ AHLBURG. The treasurer for the CCRP, and one of the shiftiest people I've ever met. Of all the people in Clallam County I view with suspicion and don't trust, Kaj is right at the top of that list.
GLENN WIGGINS. Glenn's a nice enough guy, but he's as right-wing as they come. He's also a retired timber guy, and, as the former mayor of Port Angeles, one of the people who helped create the fractured community we all have to struggle in today. Oh, and, of course, he's a Republican PCO.
SEAN RYAN. A full-fledged, run for any office open, Dick Pilling-endorsed nut.
JUDI HANGARTNER. The 2nd VP and Membership Chair for the RWCC, and a Republican PCO.
STEPHANIE NOBLIN. In charge of publicity for the RWCC.
SUSAN SHOTTHAFER. Also involved with the RWCC, and gave money to Michelle Bachmann's campaign, as well as the ActRight PAC.

Commissioner District No. 3:

Recommended candidates:

BARBARA CHRISTENSEN. An employee of Clallam County who has education, experience and integrity. Contact Barbara at:
MIKE DOHERTY. He's outta there, and he gave Chapman and McEntire the finger on the way out. Good for you, Mike! Get your last licks in here. Contact Mike at:
CHERYL WILLIAMS. Another good and well-informed employee of Clallam County. Contact Cheryl at:
JOHN MERTON MARRS. There are a lot of idiots involved with the local Democratic Party, but Mr. Marrs is one of the intelligent people involved there. Contact John at:
DEREK MEDINA. Given that Derek's not a Republican, and did take the time to write in here and introduce himself, I'd say he's shown all I need to know. Contact Derek at:

Candidates to avoid:

ROD FLECK. Mr. Fleck works as both the city attorney and the city planner for Forks, and does neither job to great acclaim. He is a good ol' boy from way back.
DON CORSON. Mr. Corson already had his say in County politics when he managed the redistricting for the County a couple of years ago. He's also another retired timber guy, having been a VP at Merrill & Ring.
WILLIAM G. WHITE. One of many, many Republican PCOs running for this Commission.
ANDREW MAY. He's withdrawn from the race - now if we could only get him to withdraw from everything else.

Needless to say, there are more races out there, and there'll be more on them here. I'm also hopeful that I'll have some Q&A from Sissi Bruch soon. In the meantime, feel free to make your pitch here as to why you agree that I've chosen the best possible candidates - or why you think I've missed the boat. Candidates should feel free to participate, too, of course.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Ask for Forgiveness or Forget It?

After writing my previous piece on Astoria, I didn't think it would come back up as a subject. But then I read an article (excerpts below) that made me think, once again, of a situation we find ourselves in locally. The following is from the Daily Astorian:

It took nine years to complete, but Saturday closed a dark chapter of Astoria history to fix a decades' long mistake.

The Garden of Surging Waves, a Chinese-Astorian commemorative park, officially opened to the public, following a morning ceremony which hosted leaders, community members, donors, and the Chinese-Americans who can still remember a time when the Chinese were treated like second-class citizens.

Chinese workers at a fish canning factory in Astoria.

"Astoria, Oregon is going to get just a little bit better today," Mayor Willis Van Dusen said. "This is not a park about China. This is U.S. history. This is American history."

Suenn Ho, the designer of the project...said "Astoria...You have helped us to understand how important it is to listen to other people's stories. And you have so many stories to tell. We will continue on. This is just phase one."

Whether it's the truth and reconciliation effort in South Africa, or official apologies to tribes like they did fairly recently on Vancouver Island, or efforts like this one, these types of movements and acts have often seemed to have the power to help people and places move past the blocks caused by bad history.

Closer to home, there are those who say that all the problems that Port Angeles has are the result of being cursed for our own bad history with local tribes.

So my question to you is simple: Should Port Angeles apologize to the local tribes for the crimes committed in our past? Should the County apologize? Do you think it's the right thing to do? Is it a functional thing to do? Or does it risk accidentally poking a wound that's still trying to heal?

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

If You Swallow the Pie in the Sky, You'll Still Be Hungry

And verily the pie did shine down upon them...

Do YOU have an extra $500,000 to spare?

If so, then you’re infinitely more qualified to talk about doing “something” with the old Lincoln Theater than the people who are currently doing so.

I toss out the $500,000 figure because that seems like a reasonable baseline figure for what it would cost to actually be able to do anything with the Lincoln. That’s about $250,000 for purchasing it in the first place, then another $200,000 to convert it to digital. Then I round up with $50,000 to account for various upgrades and repairs that would be necessary to make it a little bit less of a rundown, dark, sticky pit.

Now, no one would be happier than I would to see something positive happen with the Lincoln. But the things being tossed out now just seem completely, painfully unrealistic.

Former Port Angeles resident Rick Shaw is one of these fantasy purveyors. He wants to show old movies (to get around the no compete clause) and Seahawks games on Sundays. Well, okay. But you still need to buy it, and convert it to digital. Which brings us right back to Mr. Half-a-Million. Then there’s licensing fees for the films, licensing fees for the games, advertising, utilities, staffing, etc. All of this is against the backdrop of trying to entice people to leave their homes and pay money to watch these things in a dingy, nasty old theater. Even with my dog crowding me on the couch, my house is a lot, lot more comfortable than the Lincoln Theater, and a lot of people I know have TVs even bigger than mine. So why are people going to pay to watch old movies (which they can do at home) or football games (which they can do at home)? I don’t know that they are. We know people are plenty pissed off about local politics; try getting them to come out to a meeting, though.
We're fighting a LOT of inertia in Port Angeles, people...
Now, maybe Mr. Shaw has money to burn to make the Lincoln into some sort of playland for himself. That I don’t know. But I do know that you generally aren’t making huge money working as a behavioral analyst – especially one who is early in his career (Shaw is only 41). Shaw and his wife also bought their house at a foreclosure sale – which again, doesn’t speak to someone with a lot of spare cash floating about. We’ll see, but I’m not holding my breath.

Rick Shaw: Secret Santa? Maybe, but...

Then there’s the pie-in-the-sky idea floated by Dan McGuire, who envisions a non-profit running it, pointing out “Creating a new nonprofit 501(c)3 is relatively easy and inexpensive.” He goes on to say, “The first order of business is to secure the property. If a bank would finance the purchase with a 20 percent down payment, we’re probably looking at something somewhere north of $50,000.” Then he throws in another $100,000 to “develop the facility as the board of directors (of the proposed non-profit) sees fit.” He sees that money coming from a loan or a grant. There’s a lot of “ifs” there, Dan.

And Dan…If you’re going to run it as a movie theater, there’s also the additional $200,000 to convert the theater to digital. If you’re going to run it as some sort of event center or concert venue, then you’ll have to tear out the wall between the two downstairs theaters, repair and restore that space, buy new theater seats, etc., etc. That would likely cost even more than $200,000. Just because the first step – Hey! We can form a non-profit really quickly! – is easy, doesn’t mean the rest of it will just fall into place. If you think raising money to make it all happen will be easy, too, well…I guess you’re not paying attention to the local arts scene. PALOA anyone? PAFAC anyone? The existing arts groups here struggle mightily – I don’t think adding yet another one to the mix will change that. It might even breed resentment from some of the other existing groups, already fighting for funds, grants, etc.

Again, I would be delighted to see a realistic plan for doing something worthwhile with the Lincoln put forward. But all I’ve seen thus far are some wildly unrealistic and half-formed ideas. I can’t get excited over that. It just seems like typical slapdash Port Angeles, too little, too late, with a pinch of “we’ll get a grant to pay for it” pixie dust sprinkled on top.

People, whether it’s politics or arts, no outside “angels” are going to come save us. And grasping at half-formed ideas without doing due diligence isn’t going to work, either. Sure, it’s “easy” to form a non-profit. Sure, it’s possible there might be a grant out there to help get “something” done. But how likely are those outcomes? Are they realistic? Is Port Angeles the type of community that could and would really support the ideas being proposed? If so, why haven’t they happened already? These are tough questions, but they have to be asked.
Yeah, yeah - I'll be ready to go to that
City Council meeting/fundraiser/school play/whatever
 in just a minute, baby...

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Canning Peaches

"Building a Future by Exhuming the Past." That's what it says at the top of the page. With that in mind, and the interesting County Commissioner race now underway, I thought it might be a good time to reprint what Bill Peach had to say the last time he ran for Commissioner. The following questions and answers come verbatim from the 2010 primary election guide.

1) Why are you running for this position?

Peach: I am running for county commissioner because I can apply my business and leadership skills to address issues including property rights, business retention and fiscal responsibility.

2) What personal qualities do you possess that recommend you for this position?

Peach: My strengths include the ability to engage, focus and deliver results.

3) How would you balance the needs of West End residents with needs of the rest of Clallam County?

Peach: The fundamental difference between me and the incumbent is, he supports values from outside the county which result in direct loss of property rights and economic growth. I have the opposite view.

4) What would you do to foster economic growth in the West End?

Peach: I have 26 years of meaningful experience in private industry and have been president of the Clallam County Economic Development Council. I live in the West End and recognize our strengths, which include natural resources and the values of the people. I support job retention, reducing the cost of implementing regulations and protection of property rights. I see excellent potential for renewal energy and have experience in business development including construction of a greenfield plant.

5) Do you side with Clallam County Public Utility District on rejecting the draft watershed plan for West End Watershed Resource Inventory Area 19? Explain.

Peach: Yes. The plan ignores the authority of the intergovernmental agencies to manage the process, which includes the PUD. The Clallam County commissioners tasked the incumbent with responsibility for WRIA 19. His failure to provide leadership has resulted in use of $750,000 in taxpayer dollars to develop a plan that can not be adopted by the county commissioners because it does not comply with the law.

6) Where would you cut if you must cut the county budget?

Peach: The county has drawn on reserves for two years and must do so again this year. At the rate of drawing down the $11 million reserve at $2 million yearly, Clallam County will experience financial crisis after four years. I support job retention. The budget question is not what to cut, but what to grow. It is time to collect taxes that were not paid years ago that resulted in county timberland ownership.

7) How much emphasis should the county put into addressing climate change?

Peach: Bill Gates in his book, Business at the Speed of Thought, responded to the question about the future of the Internet with the statement that we will overestimate the short term and underestimate the long term. I drive a diesel car. It was a personal choice. I have no right, nor does the county, to impose values. The role of the county commissioner is to represent values.

8) Why should voters choose you over your opponent?

Peach: The choice is to vote for a county commissioner who will either support the values of people who live in Clallam County or support the values of the people of Clallam County. I support the values of Clallam County.

As I remember the 2010 primary, Peach was able to come across as the calmer, more mature of the two Republican candidates, simply because Robin Poole was so over the top angry every time he appeared in public. Peach will not have that favorable contrast going for him this time. (And remember: Poole came out ahead in the primary, so angry obviously plays well with local Republicans.)

Also, for context, in the 2010 primary guide, Peach's answers were generally much shorter than Doherty's, and even Poole's. Note the xenophobic, us-vs.-them thar outsiders tone he strikes repeatedly, and the (sometimes confusing) harping on "values" over actual, tangible details involved with being a County Commissioner. And note, of course, the regular invocations of "property rights," a standard far-right must-have item, which is really shorthand for getting rid of all rules and regulations that pertain to property, permits, etc.

And, given his squishy answers to the last two questions, I still would like Peach to explain the differences between "imposing values," "representing values" and "supporting values." Look for him to attack Sissi for being an "outsider," and for continued denials of climate change impacts. The debates should be very illuminating.

Friday, May 16, 2014

The End Times...Or Just the End of the Week? Updated!

Who knew that Charter Review was a hobby so many people enjoyed?

Here we are on the last day for filing, and people are still signing up for the Charter Review Commission. One of them is Derek Medina, an attorney here in Port Angeles. He's involved with the local Democratic Party - and has been ever since he was recruited by Matthew Randazzo, if I recall correctly.

Also signing up today is former Port Angeles mayor Glenn Wiggins - who is also (of course) a Republican PCO. He's also yet another retired timber guy.

It's amazing how many of these old, old, old guys with their old, old, old ways still really seem to think they're the future. Here's a quote from Glenn circa 2002 (but I'll bet he still stands by it): "As Americans and leaders of the world, we must become smart very soon. If we allow extreme environmentalism to decide our prosperity or lack thereof as we have in timber, I am pessimistic about the outcome." That's from an editorial Glenn wrote for the far right website Citizen Review Online, in which he waxes poetic about an undervalued piece of logging equipment, while not seeming to care if forests get clearcut, species go extinct, etc. Marvelous. While mayor, I believe he also wanted to log the Fine Arts Center.

But on the lighter side...Here's a link to a video of Glenn singing a Frank Sinatra song. No, really. I'm as surprised as you are.

Update: Here's the rest of the crew who signed up to run for the Charter Review Commission...

Bryon Gunnerson, of Sequim...Seems to have made a ton of money in telecom-type businesses. Gave $7500 to Obama in 2012. He's the co-owner of Lamb Farm, which grows organic grains and garlic.

Sean Ryan, of Port Angeles...Ran for Director of Community Development at the County in 2010, and came in fifth out of five. Also ran for Fire District Commissioner (No. 3) last year and lost. But what you need to know is that he's been officially endorsed by Dick Pilling, our local whacko GOP leader.

Selinda Barkhuis, of Port Angeles, is the current Clallam County Treasurer. Selinda comes across as nice enough, but several of her co-workers have found out that, if you upset her, she will spread lies about you - like formally complaining that you've been inappropriately "talking politics" during an election cycle. So watch yourselves, folks - and yourself, Selinda.

Diane Haffner, of Port Angeles...The wife of Hugh Haffner from the PUD. If you like Hugh's lack of vision and leadership, well then, you'd probably like his wife, too.

Susan Shotthafer, of Port Angeles...Is, like so many others signing up, involved with the Republican Women of Clallam County. She donated money to Michele Bachman's congressional campaign, which tells me all I need to know.

Joe McGimpsey, of Neah Bay, is a Makah tribal member, and is involved with the Democratic Party. A couple of years ago he got screwed out of a seat on a state committee by Matthew Randazzo - who then failed to show up for a single meeting of said committee. Go, Joe!

Cheryl Williams, of Port Angeles...Is another employee of Clallam County, in the Health & Human Services department. Not a lot of information out there about her, other than that people seem to genuinely like her.

Rod Fleck, of Forks...Serves as that city's attorney and planner, and by all accounts, does neither job very well. He's also the 2nd VP of the EDC, which is probably not a good sign, either. I don't know if he's so much a GOP person as a GOB (Good Ol' Boy).

Ronald Bell, of Sequim, is an attorney and former member of the Clallam County Planning Commission. He was involved in a "big" controversy at the Sequim Chamber of Commerce in 2008 involving questionable memberships and Walt Schubert (who is pretty much always questionable). How many old white guy attorneys and/or timber industry representatives do we need on this thing?

Ken Hays, of Sequim, is the former mayor of that city, and is currently the VP for the EDC (see comments above). Though Ken's a thoughtful enough guy, I also have to wonder how many elected officials we need on this thing? Don't they have their say enough already?

Timothy Bruce, of Sequim...Yet another County employee, working as the Health & Human Services Planner. Those I've spoken to about this are shocked he's thrown his hat in for this, because they all describe him as being meek, retiring, etc. So that's interesting.

Marcia Farrell, of Port Angeles...For a change of pace, is a Democratic PCO. I found one article about her online that said she gave $400,000 to Obama in 2008. If that's true, she's obviously a very generous woman.

And Robert (Rob) Robertson, of Port Angeles...Has a name made to be confusing when seeking information about him. I did find one connection he seems to have to a Robertson Logging company, but that's a little shaky, and I welcome any information that anyone else has on him.

Of course, I welcome any information anyone has on any of these candidates. Is it too much to hope for that someone will host a public forum/debate that features ALL the candidates for the Charter Review Commission?

Thursday, May 15, 2014

If You Don't Like Jim Jones, I Have Good News for You! Plus Updates!

It's too early to say whether or not this next election cycle will be "productive" for Clallam County, but it's clearly going to be an interesting one.

Reptiles can often be found basking on hot pavement...

I don't think I'm alone in saying that I think that one of the biggest problems at the County is Jim Jones. He's a slimy, reptilian bureaucrat who wants nothing more out of life than to keep his job, and does so by encouraging the worst impulses of those he works with and oversees. A dysfunctional County is one in which Jones can thrive.

...But a snake oil salesman should not be trusted any time, any place.

As an example: Remember back when the County's human resources director, Marge Upham, was leaving, and the County was looking to replace her? (Melissa Turner, who worked in HR, and who would have been a logical "next in line" to replace Upham, was suddenly and mysteriously fired at this time, too.) Remember how Mike Chapman and Jim Jones hatched a "solution" to filling that position that involved Chapman taking it himself? Only after this deal was done, and the County started spending money to train Chapman, he started to take some heat for the sleazy way he was chosen.

So Chapman stepped aside, and then Jim Jones personally handpicked Rich Sill to take the job - even though Sill had zero experience in HR, but did have baggage. In doing so, Jim Jones blew right past a County employee who had thrown their hat into the ring for the HR job. This employee has twenty years experience in human resources. Yes, twenty years - compared to the nothing that Rich Sill had. But Jones wouldn't even interview or talk to her, even though she made it clear she was interested in the position. Sexism and cronyism are all Jim Jones knows, so she was shut out completely and immediately.

That woman is Barbara Christensen, from the Superior Court Clerk's Office, and she has now thrown her hat into the ring for the Charter Review Commission. I would personally very much like her to be part of that process. Given her history with the County, and the insights afforded by her personal experience there, I think she'd bring a valuable perspective to the process. And it might give Jim Jones a headache or two.

Yes, this time it's personal. And not just with the Charter Review Commission. I look forward to seeing how the Republican vs. Republican smackdown between Bill Payne and Mark Nichols plays out in the Prosecuting Attorney's primary. Nichols, like Christensen (and so many others, frankly) got a raw deal and public screwing from the County, so I think we can all see why he might be motivated to run. My hope is that he comes armed with information that will reveal some of the inner workings and backroom dealings of the County. Obviously, Payne got off to a rough start with some of his "Oops!" heavy hiring, but we all know there's more going on there than that.

Mark Nichols. The possibilities for "bring the Payne" puns are limitless.

So good luck to Barbara Christensen, and to Mark Nichols. I can't wait to see who else - and what else - pops up before filing closes.

UPDATE: You heard it here first, and you're hearing it here first again.

As we told you a week ago, Bryon Monohon, Mayor of Forks, has signed up to run for County Commissioner. But he's signed up with No Party Preference. Good choice, Bryon! This will be interesting.

There's also another person signed up for the Charter Review Commission - this time it's Jerry Sinn of Sequim. On one hand he's the treasurer of the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Olympic Peninsula. Who could object to that, right? On the other hand, the colorfully named Mr. Sinn is also the Chair of the Steering Committee for FourC - the Concerned Citizens of Clallam County, a group of far, far, far right-wing kooks who don't want you to have healthcare reform, but do want you to be afraid (ever so afraid!) of Agenda 21.

2nd UPDATE: It's official...

I don't think that Mike Doherty would be signing up to be on the Charter Review Commission if he were planning on running for County Commissioner again, so he is obviously out. Done.

Also signing up for the CRC...Port Angeles City Council member and fake progressive, Lee Whetham...Also representing the City of PA is Dennis McBride, who lives in Sequim, but works as the Equipment Services Division Manager for the City of PA...And sad sack former County Commissioner "candidate" Patti Morris, who didn't so much run for office as crawled, playing the role of spoiler as one of Matthew Randazzo's dirty tricks during the last Commissioner's race...

3rd UPDATE: One more slips in...

One more candidate for the Charter Review Commission slipped in today, and he's an interesting one. Don Corson is probably best known for being the co-owner of Camaraderie Cellars in Port Angeles. Interestingly enough, he and his partner (Gene Unger) also managed the recent redistricting of the County, with districts shifting in the direction of the West End to account for all the growth in Sequim since the last redistricting.

But the fact about Don Corson that stands out to me is that he retired in 2009 from his job as VP of Planning and Development at...Merrill & Ring. So, yes, yet another timber guy, even if he does make wine now.

With just one day left to file, the following people/positions are still unopposed: Hugh Haffner (PUD District 1); Rick Porter (Judge for District Court 1); Kevin Van De Wege (State Representative Position 1); and Bill Benedict (Sheriff). The race for Prosecuting Attorney has two Republicans, of course, but would be even livelier with another perspective added.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

They're Coming to Get You...3rd UPDATE!

One of the things we'll be voting on this year is the Clallam County Charter Review Commission. Rather, we'll be voting for members of that group. These are the people who will (rather obviously) be reviewing the County Charter, which is an important task. So as a public service, let's take a look at the people who have signed up to run for this group so far. Let's see if any patterns emerge, shall we?

First, there's Ted Miller of Sequim - current City Council member, and all-around pretty smart and liberal guy. I like Ted. He sometimes makes me wish I lived in Sequim.

Hey, kids! Retro is cool, right? Uh, right?

Then there's Andrew May, well-known loudmouth, egotist and a certified Friend of Edna. Despite his occasional "non-partisan" claptrap, Andrew is clearly a not-so-closeted Republican.

Sue Forde is running, too. She and her husband have been longtime far-right gadflies and seekers of public office. She's the Clallam County Republican Party's State Committeewoman, and a Republican Precinct Committee Officer (PCO).

Anita Ready is the 2nd Vice President of the Republican Women of Clallam County.

Nola Judd is the Treasurer for the Republican Women of Clallam County.

Brandon Janisse is a Republican PCO from Sequim. You may recall that he ran against the abovementioned Ted Miller, and you may not know that he is (if I recall correctly) an amateur bigfoot hunter.

William G. White is (or was) an elected Republican PCO from Beaver.

And Connie Beauvais of Joyce is a right-wing member of the Clallam County Planning Commission, and didn't like the County's own plan for dealing with stormwater runoff. Here's an excerpt from a PDN article from March of this year:

The goal of the plan is to prevent storm runoff, defined as rain or snow melt that drains into streams without penetrating the soil. from carrying pollutants into waterways and shellfish beds...Some of the methods recommended to accomplish that involve public education, new development standards, control of illicit discharge and ongoing monitoring.

Planning Commissioner Tom Montgomery of Sequim said he felt the plan's assumption that educating the public more about stromwater runoff would be key to controlling it was "way, way, way too unrealistic and idealistic."

(Planning Commission  member) Connie Beauvais also took issue with the plan's language of promoting changes in the "behavior" of landowners. "My mother had difficulty trying to change my behavior," she said.

Clearly the Republicans have been beating the bushes to get their people on the Charter Review Commission. Personally, I don't think it would be a good idea to have this be a party for one party. How about you?

UPDATE: Look out below! Here are some more people who have signed up for the Charter Review Commission:

Maggie Roth, Republican PCO and well-known (unsuccessful) Republican candidate for office.

Jon Alan Kirshbaum of Sequim, who, not surprisingly, is also...a Republican PCO.

And last, but not least, the always Continental and highly questionable Kaj Ahlburg, who is to the right of the far-right, and is the Treasurer for the Clallam County Republican Party.

So that's TEN known Republicans and right-wingers signed up versus ONE brave, lone Democrat. Even if the Democrats get busy, they've got some catching up to do here.

2nd UPDATE: And some more people who've signed up - as of 3:30PM, May 13th:

John Marrs from Port Angeles, who is closely associated with the Democratic Party.

Norma Turner from Port Angeles - another Democrat and a good government watchdog.

Lindsey Schromen-Wawrin from Port Angeles, who, since he's affiliated with Stream Keepers, I'll make the guess he's not a rabid right-winger.

Stephanie Noblin of Port Angeles - who does publicity for the Republican Women of Clallam County.

And Judi Hangartner of Port Angeles - a vocal opponent of the "Smart" Meters, a GOP PCO, and the 2nd VP and Membership Chair of the Republican Women of Clallam County.

3rd UPDATE: As of end of business day May 14th:

The Democrats have been roused - at least it seems that way. Bill Lowman and Scott Clausen (both of Sequim) have signed up, as has Henning Holmgaard (also Sequim), who seems to have Democratic affiliations.

Also signed up: Steve Burke, executive director of the William Shore Memorial Pool. And Barbara Christensen, from the Superior Court Clerk's Office. Does she have a conflict of interest in this process? I guess the voters will decide.

On a related note...It strikes me as so bizarre, yet so perfectly Clallam County, that the local Republican Party is essentially split into His and Hers branches. I guess no one has told Dick Pilling that those silly women got the right to vote years ago. In any case, the Republican Women of Clallam County will have Port O Call publisher Dale Wilson as the speaker at their next meeting, on the 17th.

And on a related if larger scale note...Derek Kilmer has filed for re-election, and already has a challenger. Though W. Greybeard "Bill" McPherson of Port Angeles has a somewhat convoluted name, I like the straightforward nature of what he had to say about why he's running. Simply put, he says that Congress needs members who "are not owned by corporations and the super rich." Mr. McPherson has no party affiliation, but has my thanks for running. He may also have my vote, depending on who else jumps in (or not).

Sunday, May 11, 2014

It's Called a Phone

As you heard here Thursday morning, yes, Sissi Bruch is running for County Commissioner.

Well, probably.

Per the article in today's PDN, Sissi is quoted as saying "I'm going to go ahead and apply, and if (Doherty) runs, I'll withdraw."

Oh, good lord.

It's called a phone, Sissi. You use it to communicate with other people. As in, calling Mike Doherty to talk to him about this before announcing you're going to run. I know you have a phone, Sissi. I know you can get Mike's work number, and probably his home number. Hell, even I have his home phone number somewhere. Wouldn't it have been smart to just call the man? Wouldn't that have demonstrated, you know, your ability to plan? Barring that, couldn't you have just walked across the street from City Hall to the County Courthouse?

You've certainly demonstrated this jump in first, ask questions later approach to things on the City Council, Sissi, and it generally doesn't amount to much or sit well with people. It also costs money to sign up to run for Commissioner, so whether you intended to or not, you've also just announced that you're perfectly happy to waste money on these poorly thought out endeavors. So this is not exactly an auspicious start to your (maybe) campaign.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

A Peach and Two Lambs

As the quote says, absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. But...

The fact that both Bryon Monohon, Mayor of Forks, and Sissi Bruch, Port Angeles City Council member are considering running for County Commissioner, would seem to tell us that Mike Doherty is not running again. It's difficult to imagine either Bryon or Sissi planning to run without checking in with Mike first, so I'm assuming he's out. (And who can blame him?)

If both Bryon and Sissi run, it will mean a primary for them. Given the latent sexism in the local electorate, and the recent problems within the Democratic Party, I'd say the odds would be in Bryon's favor. The last two women who ran as Democrats for County Commissioner were both sabotaged from within their own party by Matthew Randazzo. Of course, he's gone, but the dysfunction and distrust he created is still there. That being the case, I have a hard time picturing the Democrats rallying around Sissi. And given how closely Bryon is identified with Forks and that county district, I'd say he has a natural advantage in a primary that Sissi doesn't. (Does anyone in Forks even know who she is, really?)

We don't have a local volcano for sacrifices, Sissi,
but would the biomass incinerator work for you?

But either way, the Democrats are in real trouble. Remember: In one sense, Mike Doherty "lost" the last primary, garnering only 47% of the vote. But because there were two Republicans in the race, they split the rest of the votes, and Doherty and Robin Poole went on to the general election.

The guy who really lost that 2010 primary, Bill Peach of Forks, has already announced his candidacy for this race, and if the Republicans are smart, they'll work to keep anyone else from their party out of it. As a former candidate, Peach is a known quantity. As a Forks resident, he matches Monohon's west end affiliation. He even has a tribal connection (former executive director of the Quileute tribe) to match Sissi's connection with the Elwha. And, as a retired Rayonier employee, he's got the kind of connections that could draw in big, dumb timber dollars and votes.

Bill Peach may stick a Forks in you to see if you're done, Bryon.

If Peach ends ups being the only Republican in the race, it's probably his to lose. Again, in the 2010 general election, Mike Doherty barely won with 51% of the vote. Given his history, standing in the county, and the undeniable idiocy of Poole, that was a scary-close margin.

That same year in the general election (in Clallam County), Dino Rossi beat Patty Murray. Doug Cloud beat Norm Dicks. Jim McEntire beat Steve Tharinger. And Kevin Van De Wege just barely beat Dan Gase. This tells us two things.

One is that local Republican candidates still have an advantage in Clallam County itself, but have a harder time competing outside the county in this blue state. The other thing this shows us is that the Republicans and their candidates keep coming back. McEntire and Gase both lost elections in 2010, but are both holding elected office now, in different positions.

Of course, there could still be half a dozen other candidates out there that spring up, throwing all this into freewheeling west end chaos. But right now, with how the race is shaping up, if I were Bill Peach I'd be smiling. Because if nothing else changes, he'll be a peach alright, and the other two will be sacrificial lambs.

Insert your preferred Peach pun and/or Republican joke here.
And try to remain calm.

How about you? Are you looking forward to Peach season? Any thoughts? Do you think Clallam County would be well served by having three Republican Commissioners?

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

A Big Ol' Biomess of News!

Well gosh...What a lot of news there is today. I'd intended to delve into the background of the Gateway Transit Center, but I couldn't just let these other items pass without putting them out for comments. We'll sort of move up the scale, from small to large.

They'll struggle onward in spite of losing Dick's spite...

First up, Dick Goodman of KONP has retired. Obviously KONP has been hampered by this move on Dick's part, since they haven't even got a story about it up on their own website. Dick was responsible for most of the "news" content on said website, and it was always notable for his errors in spelling, grammar and facts, as well as injections of his own personal vitriol and right-wing wackiness. Will KONP be able to maintain the level of "quality" Dick Goodman brought to them? Stay tuned...

From the audio to the visual, we move on to the efforts to revive the very much dead Lincoln Theater. Folks, it's easier to fix a car while it's still functioning, rather than waiting until it dies. Where were all these people when Paul Cronauer and Max Mania tried to save the (still living) Lincoln a few years ago? Do they understand what a hindrance a non-compete clause is? Do they understand how much it costs to convert theaters to digital? Are they prepared to raise and spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to buy the Lincoln, hundreds of thousands more to update it to digital, and then (at a bare minimum) hundreds of thousands more to at least spruce the dump up? Cronauer was at least willing to invest seriously in it - anyone else stepping up to the plate? These people who are envisioning it as being a dinner theater or anything like that obviously haven't been inside the Lincoln for a long, long time. It's a dump. Dark, dingy, rotten, with totally non-ADA compliant bathrooms, etc., etc.

The Lincoln joins the ranks of the local living dead.

I'll say it again: If it could have been saved while still in operation, it would have been smoother and easier to transition to something else, something new. But once a theater has closed, it's very difficult real estate to move. Especially if it's in the kind of rundown shape the Lincoln's in. I fear it will just join the long list of Port Angeles albatrosses that litter the real estate landscape.

Moving on now to a living business that is still having problems...Our friends at Nippon are having heartburn with their boiler. There are cracks in the boiler's water tank, which was obviously built to Port Angeles levels of quality. (Which is to say, expensive and non-functional.)

Well now, I think I see what yer problem is fellas...

Now, as someone who is adamantly opposed to the whole biomess idea, I could gloat about this delay - one in a series of delays affecting this project. (So many delays and "maintenance outages" and other bumps in the road to make one suspicious that they're planned events...) But I will instead focus in on the last quote in the PDN article on this. Given how many different versions of their plans that Nippon laid out prior to building this mess, and given how many outright lies they told during that process as well, it's amazing to see mill manager Steve Johnson quoted as saying: "It shows the value of effective and honest communication on a timely basis." Now that is some chutzpah.

Finally, we come to the ongoing drama at the County Courthouse. That is to say, the ongoing drama at the County Courthouse surrounding Sheila Roark Miller.

Long story short, the State compiled a 515 page report on her, a report which contains many, many troubling allegations and established facts. The State, which doesn't actually do anything to enforce its own rules in most cases - think the Port, for instance, and Karen Rogers - isn't going to do any more with this issue.

Mike Doherty thinks the County Commissioners should at least read the report. But Mike Chapman and Jim McEntire both say they aren't going to do even that. Doherty - rightly - cites concerns about how documents were backdated, altered, and destroyed, as well as how Roark Miller mistreats County employees. Both other Commissioners insist that they're done with this issue. Done, even though, really, they never got started, since they won't even read a report.

The ever-slippery Mike Chapman is quoted as saying "It's up to the public at this point to determine what needs to happen." Never mind that it's your job to do your job, right Mike? And how do we square that statement with these others you made, such as "I don't think there's a need to come back," and "I'm not going to change my opinion"? So you're saying that, sure, the public can weigh in and speak up, but no matter what, you've already made up your mind? That's a predetermined outcome, Mike, not one that the public can affect. So you're not only blind, not only happy to cover these problems up, but you're also a liar and a hypocrite. You and McEntire can circle the wagons all you like, but it doesn't make these problems just go away. Kudos to Mike Doherty for speaking up for the people, and for a thorough and open process to deal with these issues.

Anyway, now it's your turn to speak up. How many missed opportunities can one city survive? How many red flags can one county survive?

Sunday, May 4, 2014

This Week's Round Up of Ridiculous

Another week, another City Council meeting...And yet another Executive Session to discuss "potential litigation." If this keeps up, they should just add this as a regular agenda item, hmm? There's no dollar amount attached here yet, so...

This week's meeting also includes an increase in the cost of the contract to remodel the Police Department - an increase of $40,000. If passed - and we all know it will be - this will be amendment 3 to this contract. This amendment also extends the time of the contract - which will allow for more time for further increases in the future. As we've discussed here previously, this is how these things work.

Moving right along, we also will see a vote on another $250,000 for the WTIP waterfront park project - this time the area west of Oak Street to the east side of the Valley Creek estuary. Oak Street...Oak Street...Now why is that standing out to me? Oh yes. That's where there's a proposed development, isn't it? And doesn't the development sort of hinge on finding anchor tenants? And isn't the City considering leasing some of the proposed space? And hasn't there been some concern about the realtor for that property - Dan Gase - also being involved with City Council decisions relating to that property? (You know, conflicts of interest and all that kind of stuff...)

Gosh, I think there has been some concern about that. Which makes it perfect that the selection team for choosing Vanir Construction Management, Inc. for this project included Mike Puntenney, Nathan West and...Dan Gase. Thanks for being so tone-deaf, City of Port Angeles. You make us so proud.

Of course, the big ticket item this week is the proposed $13,086,625 contract for dealing with the Garbage Bluff. That's a pretty huge number, but it too is just an appetizer. Port Angeles is paying the cost for decades of dumb decisions. It would be nice if, as those costs mount, the dumb decreased - but I think the jury is still out on that.

As a final note, the City Council is also set to appoint Jerry Dean to their mythical "Ethics Board" this week as well. This despite his giving remarkably listless and uninspiring answers to the remarkably boneheaded and uninspiring questions he had to answer. (Listen to the audio recording and you can hear just how disgusted Sissi Bruch is with both the question she had to ask, and the non-answer she got.)

It'd be nice to think that the "Ethics Board" would perhaps look into the whole conflict of interest thing with Dan Gase, especially since the City seems to be doubling down on it. I don't expect that to happen, of course, but I am very interested to hear what you all have to say about this.