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?


  1. Sadly, Sissy has shown such poor leadership on the council she does not deserve to be considered for higher office. She has been clumsily building consensus throughout the county instead of looking after her city constituents,
    Name one major item she has led the charge on. Name one major item she has voted against the majority. If all is hunky dory who needs leadership. If there are no votes against the city amassing the largest debt in its history we have a problem and need real leadership to fix it.

    1. While she has steadfastly voted against the CSO Turd Tank project, in every other way, she hasn't stood out much.

      But how does one stand out when surrounded by so many morons? More to the point, how does one convince three or more of those morons to vote your way? Bribes worked for Brooke. Flattery can work on Cherie. But it's a tough job, you must admit.

    2. Given her voting record on the city council, I have no plans to vote for her in the county commissioner race. Who needs another rubber-stamper in office?

  2. (Does anyone in Forks even know who she is, really?)

    Did you forget that there are significantly more registered voters in District 3 that live East of Lake Crescent than live West of it?

  3. There has never, ever, been a better time to sell your house, pack your things, and get out of Clallam County.

    1. Sadly, I think you're right.

  4. If Sissi is really considering this, she needs to get real. Look at how the Dems undercut their own candidates when they are women. Both Linda Barnfather and Dale Holiday got sabotaged by their own party. Randazzo did the dirty work, but he was just the monkey jumping to the orders from higher up. Couple that sort of insanity with the state of the electorate here, and her candidacy would be a very long long shot.

    Remember too how Matthew Randazzo sent a threatening letter to Bryon Monohon during the whole Steve Markwell dog shelter crisis. Randazzo referred to "their mutual political interests" or some such phrase. Remember also, Sissi, how Randazzo took your money and then screwed with you when you ran for city council. Again, the people who were pulling his strings are still around. They will NOT be supportive of you. And I suspect they have cut a deal with Bryon, who will still have an uphill fight, no matter what.

  5. Since both Bryon and Sissi are holding office now, people will be looking to see what they've done in those positions.

    Bryon has weathered the doggie death camp controversy, and the end of Twilight-mania. Fewer brown-skinned people are now being harassed and driven out of Forks, mainly because they already drove most of them out.

    Sissi has consistently voted against the CSO/Turd Tank boondoggle, and...That's about it.

    So, yeah, if Peach plays up his timber/business experience, his past experience as a candidate, and has an "R" by his name, this seems like his time.

    Scary thought. Still, he's not as scary as that guy Poole that ran last time. He was always SO incredibly angry, I think it even turned off angry people.

  6. Even IF they run, and even IF one of them won, why would they want to sign up for this? Sissi would be trading having to deal with six idiots for two - but she'd still be dealing with idiots. Bryon would be setting himself up to make a lot of trips from Forks to the courthouse - to deal with idiots. Neither of them IF elected, would be able to get anything done. So why would they want to beat their heads against the wall? Ugh....

  7. Bill Peach is a moron, he obligated taxpayers to a $700,000 debt by binding the Business Incubator to repay a loan from State via the County to fund the school District to finish their Skills Center. As a result the incubator collapsed, the County (i.e. taxpayers) got stuck with the debt and the School got the North Olympic Skills Center as an asset on their balance

    1. Are you suggesting that being a moron somehow disqualifies you from holding office in Clallam County? I surely hope not, because there is a great deal of evidence to the contrary. Said evidence can be found in City Hall in Port Angeles, the County Courthouse, the Port Commissioners office, and let's not forget the P.U.D.

  8. It's not surprising that Mike Doherty is looking forward to retirement from his current position with the county. But I suspect he will still be involved in politics --- just at a different level. He has been a savvy political player, who will bow to corporate influences (see, for example, the Nippon Biomass project) and do what he can to further (or not get in the way of) the agendas of state office holders.

  9. Mike Chapman has Mike Doherty and Steve Tharinger to thank for Chapman's first election to county commissioner. Democrat Carole Boardman was running for reelection then, but her fellow commissioners Doherty and Tharinger largely sat on their hands and didn't actively help in her campaign. Some would say they even worked quietly behind the scenes to defeat her.
    This happened years before Randazzo arrived on the scene. He was astute enough to pick up on the tradition of back-stabbing, though, and figured he could do so even more openly and get away with it.

  10. The first phrase that comes to my mind is "Why change what is working so well?"

    Clearly, Clallam is doing great with two out of three of the Commissioners being republicans. Clearly, the republican sentiments that dominate the electorate here are creating a happy, healthy and prosporous county.

    I noted Bill Peachs' emphasis on making Clallam more "business friendly". As if everything isn't already all about "jobs, jobs, jobs"? As if HarborWorks wasn't all about whoring Port Angeles for ANY kind of industry or economically oriented proposal ANYONE would propose?

    People need to get past party politics, and think about what will actually work.

    1. I agree with you that party affiliation locally means little. Max Mania, who was tarred and feathered for being a "liberal," was actually very conservative fiscally. On the other hand, many of these "conservatives" here are incredibly liberal with the amounts of money they spend (Federal, State or local - so long as they're tax dollars). Jim McEntire used to rail against grant money - until he actually got elected. It's the person, not the party.

    2. Like the original poster says, if being "business friendly" meant being successful, Clallam County would have 3% unemployment and streets paved with gold. After all, no one here, the city or the county, really enforces the rules.

      The sprint boat yahoos illegally destroyed over an acre of wetlands - which the city did nothing about. Nippon started work on their biomass facility without a permit - and the city did nothing. Sheila Roark Miller has acknowledged backdating and destroying documents to "help out" businesses and property owners - and nothing happened to her. Two of the three county commissioners refuse to even read a report on her actions.

      And on and on and on...

      But, the fact is, communities that actively pass and enforce laws to regulate businesses, protect the environment, etc., generally do better economically. They attract more businesses, more investors, because a solid system of rules means stability and security. That's what the money people want - not this Wild West insanity that prevails here.

      Look at it this way. If you were looking to invest in a property or business here, what would you want? Would you prefer a well defined system of rules and regulations that told you what the playing field looked like, and gave you assurance that all players are treated fairly? Or, would you prefer a system like the one we have, where your prospects are subject to the changeable whims of people like Sheila Roark Miller and Sue Robards?

      It's clear from the sorry, sorry state of our local economy how the people with money and means have "voted" on this. They've moved or looked elsewhere for investment opportunities.

  11. I will point out, again, my concern regarding judging the future based upon the past.

    Unlike the previous elections referenced above, there are now new forums for community discussion that did not exist during those past elections. The PDN, with it's regressive views, and KONP, with it's regressive persepectives, were the only "news" sources for much of Clallam County, concerning local events and issues.

    Now, things the public were shielded from are being openly discussed via these new forums. As an example, Port O Call has stated it's desire to highlight and publish election related issues through the Fall campaigns, and reaches thousands of area households. It is not beholden to the logging interests, or the "good ole boys". That is a new variable.

    And, as we know, the voter turn-out has been low. What are the real political views, and what would the voter turn-out be if people did not feel hopeless about casting a vote? Is Clallam really so right wing, or is it that the more liberal oriented people have not turned out?

    1. I don't know that Clallam County/Port Angeles should be described as right wing. It's more that the people here don't speak up for themselves regularly enough, or loudly enough. They allow their interests to be hijacked and, most of the time, then go meekly back to their individual homes.

      The leadership of the Clallam County Democratic Party sabotaged the efforts of their last two female Democratic candidates for County Commissioner (and Carole Boardman, as mentioned by a poster). Too many people simply fell for the lies and sabotage, while most others, aside from a few ruffled feathers, just went about their business. No one was ever actually called on the carpet for all that went on.

      And how many times have people gotten up a little bit of steam (Wild Olympics, biomass/air monitors, Lincoln Park, etc.) and given the City Council a little public pushback, only to be rebuffed? Then, instead of coming back louder and larger than the first time, once again, people just roll over, shrug their shoulders and go home. The City Council never gets properly called on the carpet, either.

      There's no real public accountability here, which breeds the corruption and dysfunction we see so regularly. This then further alienates people, so that no one even wants to run for office. There's no real accountability in uncontested races, either, you know?

      So the impression lingers that this area is a right wing fantasy land. But really, it's just a sick and tired and scared place, generally governed by the lame and the halt, rather than the best and the brightest.

    2. CK, I couldn't agree more. We, the people, just don't care enough to do much of anything.

      I agree that Port Angeles/Clallam isn't as right wing as it appears. The right wing gets to do what it does, because the rest of us mostly don't bother to make much of an effort.

      And, by moving to another town doesn't make things any better, if people don't make any effort in their new chosen paradise.

      Like they say, garbage in, garbage out. Translate that into politics, and local governance, and you get what we see here. People don't bother to make much of an effort, and we end up with lame, stupid "leadership".

      You know, "leadership" that represents the effort we put into electing and supporting them.

    3. It's been said here before, but it's true. We get the government we deserve. Since no one bothered to even run against him, we deserve Pat Downie. Really, think about that. Right now, Pat's probably down polishing the trim on the visiting tourist boat, all excited and thinking he's being an ambassador or something.

      Meanwhile, the city is swollen with debt, the streets are a wreck, we've got high unemployment, high drop out rates, and super high rates of substance abuse. What we've got a thousand boats full of tourists won't cure.

      But don't tell that to Pat. He's simple and probably happy as a clam, playing at being a real, live politician. Because we let him. If he's a clown - a destructive clown - it's because we let him be.

  12. I gave up on voting for candidates, I just vote out incumbents.

  13. In other election news locally...Did you all see that Shoona Riggs is going to run for county auditor? Shoona Riggs who has never lived anywhere but the No. Olympic Peninsula. Shoona Riggs who, according to the PDN article "said she almost completed an associate degree with an emphasis on childhood education at Peninsula College."

    In other words, she's got a high school education, couldn't even make it through a two year program at the joke of a "college" here - a program that has zero to do with her job, of course - and she feels qualified to be county auditor. I'm all for learning on the job, but come on. When you see things like this - THIS is the best we can do for candidates? - it explains so much about Clallam County.

    A high school grad who's never been anywhere is qualified to run a department with nearly a dozen employees and a budget of over a million dollars? I don't think so. But again, the bar is set so remarkably low here. I mean, Edna got appointed to the City Council and she never even finished high school. So few of our "leaders" here have lived anywhere else, or have had any sort of real higher education. It is wildly out of touch with the needs of the world we live in - even here in Clallam County.

    1. It's absolutely true that we generally don't get good candidates or elected officials. Remember, the Democrats destroyed Dr. Dale Holiday, their own candidate, who has a PhD in planning, which is certainly relevant to being a county commissioner. But instead of her getting elected, we got Mike Chapman again. Before he was a commissioner, he had been a security guard, had no real education, etc. But this is a place that underwhelming candidates like Mike and Shoona and Cherie can get in, and then they do nothing but try to make sure they keep their seat. Look what Shoona says in that article - she has no real plans for the office if elected. But like Mike, I'm sure she'd be thrilled to make more money than she could ever make anyplace else, especially with just a high school education. She'll be another do nothing, just like Mike, Cherie, etc.

  14. I don't know Mary Ellen Winborn personally, but I do know her husband, Joel, a little bit, and he seems like a genuinely good guy. (And as a county employee, he probably gets an earful of Sheila stories...) I know Mary Ellen is from out of the area, which is good, has a real education, which is good, and I like that she goes right there in calling Sheila out for her unprofessional practices. It's nice to see that Sheila Roark Miller won't be running for re-election without an opponent, and it's really nice to see that we may have not just another choice, but a much, much better choice.

    1. Watch your back now, Joel! The forces of darkness will not take kindly to this decision your wife made, or to the things she's saying. (But good for her, by the way.)

      I remember when Scott Johns, who works with Nathan West at the city, got threatened when his wife, Taylor, made some initial moves to get politically active. Scott was taken aside and asked, "Do you like your job? Do you want to continue to work here?" Scott got the message, Taylor dropped out, and Scott's been a useless chair-filler ever since.

      Such a nice little town, yes?

  15. I just visited this blog for the first time, and I am amazed at the amount of information here. I wish I'd found it sooner. Thanks so much.

  16. The old-timers in the area have a deeply ingrained xenophobia of anyone from "out there". They prefer to select from the ranks of "home grown" in a way that is eerily similar to the folks in Appalachia (i.e. hill folk, hillbillies, and moonshiners) with their clannish ways and long-term family feuds. Sadly, the newcomers (unless hired "consultants") are viewed with contempt, and loathing. The arrogance of the ignorance is so high that education is discounted as "not meaning much". Clearly the people elected are mostly-homegrown.

    1. It is amazing just how insular and in denial so many people here are. As though they could simply banish the value or necessity of "book learnin'" by simply chanting "It don't mean nothin', it don't mean nothin'" over and over again. As you and another poster above point out, the people elected are generally homegrown, and thus likely to have internalized this wrongheaded view themselves.

      It's so bad that even professional cheerleader Russ Veenema, if you'll recall, had some very negative things to say about our chances of attracting new businesses here - because our workforce (or "our product" as I believe he put it) is so poorly educated, poorly trained, and in some cases, poorly socialized.

      On the other hand, you also have a few people like Nathan West who keep hoping that Port Angeles is somehow going to become a magnet for tech companies and young telecommuters. Which...isn'

      In a sense, I'd characterize the problems here as being the result not just of ignorance, but also laziness.

      No one in government wants to do the hard, step-by-step work it would take to build this town up. Everyone is looking for the quick, magic bullet. WiFi! AMI! New waterfront! Biomass! Never mind if some of these things conflict with each other - maybe one of them is THE thing to save us.


      But the people here are lazy, too. Despite the sorry state of our political "economy" here, they also are looking for a magic bullet, a savior, to make it all better. Betsy Wharton! Max Mania! Sissi Bruch! Never mind that these people get elected, yes, but are still in a minority. They also generally have come one at a time, when a group effort is needed.

      And, as another poster pointed out, whenever some screwball idea gets floated here, if people do push back and get rebuffed, that's always it - game over. But the fighting is in rounds. People here generally give up if they lose the first round. Which, yes, only vindicates and encourages those local dopes making the bad decisions in the first place. "See? They went away! I guess they realized they were wrong."

      Which is a wrong understanding on their part, but given the way things play out here, it's easy to understand how they could think that. We need a sustained, adult conversation. What we usually get is the equivalent of a kid throwing a tantrum, then going to bed.

    2. To the above poster: I like the way you have analyzed some of the problems ....but what is the solution?...I agree short term band-aid fixes are not the answer and getting mature dialog started is essential but how do the "mature , tuned-in people" who are NOT LAZY initiate change.?....other than this blog which is a good start what can we do?

    3. As has been said before, a citizens' group should be formed, with a long term view. Yes, this forum is great, and what makes it great is that through the topics discussed, people are learning what the problems are, who is involved, and how we got to where we are.

      To build crediblity, people who want to inititate change need to understand the issues, show up at local governmental meetings as a group, and state their objections and goals. We need to keep at it, and work to change things throughout the year, not just get involved at election time, every couple years.

      We need to be clear, and stick with the ideas we want to see implimented.

      Yes, we can point to the past, and point to lack-luster candidates. But, look at what the political climate was, then! Who in their right mind would basically walk to the front of the crowd, alone, and be subject to all the abuse that gets thrown at them?

      We have to remain active, and support our candidates, once elected. The "others" have to see our candidates have our active support, throughout their terms.

      We have to guide our candidates as they serve their elected terms. Do the homework, do the analysis, and give them good, defensible information to advocate with.

      We can't just sit back, and abandon them, once elected.

      And, what candidate wouldn't want a group of supporters, helping them on an on-going basis?

      A lot of people are looking for changes.

    4. Though I agree with what you say, Anonymous 7:03 PM, but first you have to find the candidates for office. If any can be found, this forum will be a place to educate and support them.

    5. I disagree. That approach continues with the mindset that it is primarily all about the candidate, instead of the community.

      I've been through this exact situation in atleast two other towns. Towns that were being run by the same type of self-interests common in many towns, for the same reasons.

      The groups fprmed out of concern for the future of their communities, and worked together on developing the issues, doing the research, eytc. In that process, members of the community that otherwise had been silent stepped forward, seeing there were others also concerned, and willing to work for real change. Lawyers, graphic artists, writers and others donated their skills. (Lots of retired folks in Port Angeles to draw from!)

      We had regular meetings, became friends and developed bonds. We confronted to Councils, Planning Commissions, School Boards etc. with real infomation, legal points, and got lots of local press coverage. More people joined. We divved up the areas of concern, such as community development, school board, environment, economic development etc, to people who had either related skills and experience, or a sincere interest, and they gave reports at our open/public monthly meetings.

      Of course, we also had private meetings for strategy sessions.

      After a year or two, THEN we got interested in supporting candidates. By then, the community knew who we were, saw that we were well educated and involved. We got press coverage, because we were undeniable "players" in the political scene.

      Through our work, those with the abilities to be good candidates surfaced. And, those people saw there was a community to support them in their candidacy. With a few months lead time, these candidates were educated, and were credible voices during the campaigns.

      And, our candidates won, every time. We changed those towns. They remain changed, to this day.

      But, that has just been my experience. We can continue doing politics the way we have been, here. Doesn't seem to be working, but...

  17. I'd love to see, and participate in a citizens action group. Tell me where to sign up/show up. (Just don't start in with the "don't talk about constraints" or "only happy thoughts" as this town seems to be way, way over the top with that nonsense.)
    From what I've seen this town has groups started that go no-where, and that are all talk, one ego pushes their way to the top, and then it's "think like I think, or else".
    At that point it becomes all TALK about what needs to be done, but if anyone actually tries to push forward and GET ANYTHING DONE, the group closes ranks and ejects that person. (Seriously....this is from experience.)
    This town is about as into leaders as a herd of skittish sheep. "Progress" is in showing up at meetings, not about creating priorities, and action plans, doing research, and following up.
    Been there, done that. It's so very frustrating.
    But, sure, I'll put aside my past experiences and try again.
    Just don't label it Democrat or Republican (because there isn't any difference anymore) and once we start to divide the ranks, things fall back into the abyss.

    1. Yes. We'll have to work on that. I agree with all your observations about what has transpired here, before. Clearly, that didn't work, and we don't need to repeat that.

      We'll have to give some thought on organizing the first meeting.

    2. Democrat or Republican doesn't matter here. It's all about servicing the existing power base of crooks and incompetents. Matthew Randazzo and Jack Slowriver were "Democrats," but they attacked and smeared Democrats. Why? Because they were trying to climb the political ladder here, and to do so they had to service the existing power structure. That structure doesn't take kindly to challenges to it.

      Mike Chapman is a great example of the BS that prevails around here. He got "kicked out" of the Republican Party for not being right-wing enough, then got the Democrats (Randazzo, Slowriver, Steve Tharinger) to attack his Democratic competition so he could win re-election - then he veered way back to the right, to cozy up to Jim McEntire.

      No values, no moral center. Mike Chapman symbolizes what Clallam County is all about: Take whatever you can get, however you can get it, and don't let anyone or anything (especially morals or ethics) stand in your way. The less competent you are, the more you deserve to have your ill-gotten gains.

      This is a sick, sick place.