Tuesday, November 25, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

Four vacancies on the Developmental Disabilities Advisory Board.

Six vacancies on the Permit Advisory Board.

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

And a whopping nine vacancies on the Homelessness task Force.

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

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

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

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

34 comments:

  1. And yet, it is from people posting anonymously on blogs like these that actually keep beating down those citizens who step up to serve their communities on boards, committees and by running for public office. Sad, but so very true!

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    1. Oh, please! This blog exists, yes, but it exists very much to expose and challenge the ELECTED officials and their rotten minions who have held this place back for their own reasons and their own gain. This is hardly a forum to attack citizens on advisory committees. I can't remember ever even seeing such a thing here, frankly, and the fact is, most of us don't know who the people are who are on these boards in the first place.

      So let's place the blame where it deserves to be placed, and not on blogs or trolls or other nonsensical fantasies.

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    2. While I can buy that it's a bad sign to have a disengaged population that isn't in the least interested in committing to committees and boards, I have a great deal of difficulty believing that the reason for this lack is the presence of...blogs. It's the kind of baseless, pass the buck reason that someone like Jim Jones or Karen Rogers or Russ Veenema might offer. THEY get attacked on blogs, and rightly so. I don't recall any such attacks on citizen members of these groups being posted here.

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    3. You have obviously never sat on any of these advisory committees, like I have, the Planning Commission, the Lodging Tax Advisory Board, the Parks, Recreation & Beautification Commission...We are " the rotten minions" you so easily dismiss. People who won't get off the couch, gripe loudest about those who give up their TV time to try and help the community, but won't do anything themselves...

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    4. Anonymous 11:32 AM: The rotten minions I was referring to are paid employees like Jim Jones, Glenn Cutler, Jeff Robb, etc. Just for clarity.

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    5. And the troll is himself 'anonymous'.

      Irony?

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    6. WOW anonys 11:32am, and 6:44am (which I suspect are the same person). DO YOU Have your panties in a wad or what? No, these blogs do not hurt, they help. I would enjoy serving on a board, but after the collective "you're not from here" cold shoulder I received from the members, I decided that I didn't want to waste my time being ignored. This is the least welcoming town I've ever been in. Look in the mirror buddy, and you'll see what's wrong. Finger pointers are the crummy old culture of this town. Xenophobic's!

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    7. I do agree that some mirror gazing is in order around here. It seems that the preferred way to respond to comments is to attack and ridicule the commenter. Sad. In any case, to all you thoughtful posters, and even you haters and baiters: Happy Thanksgiving!

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  2. Advisory committees are in place to catch flack for the poor decision making of the elected officials. When the elected get heat they put it off on the advisory committee. "Well the Lodging Tax Committee thought Russ was doing a heck of a job so we gave him 3 and a half million."

    Here's an idea. Put together an "Annexation Committee" have them bring all the good reasons to annex the car dealerships out east of town. The city provides them with sewer service. They should be paying city taxes too.

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    1. No.

      Absolutely not.

      The people in the eastern urban growth area don't WANT annexation. We don't want our utilities to skyrocket for a bunch of stupid projects the city pushes through. We don't want to pay an outrageous amount on an LID that's pushed through and we don't want liens put against our houses if we can't afford that, sometimes worth more than our houses. (Research the golf course area annexation sometime if you really want to be pissed off.) And we especially don't want to be part of a city that will shut down our water or other utilities to push through a political agenda.

      You might note that many of those car delearships and other businesses moved away from the city, deliberately... Price, Wilder, Safeway all used to be there and they left. For a reason.

      As for paying on the sewer, I forgot the exact details but the sewer line was a joint project between the city and clallam PUD. So those dealerships ARE paying for the sewer lines. And no one is getting their water shut off. So I think that's a good thing. You people in the city seem to forget these are people whose lives are playing with.

      Finally there is a ten year moratorium on annexation. It is set to expire soon and you can bet that the city is salivating at getting all that extra tax revenue to pay for all their failed projects and all the ones to come. Sure they're going bankrupt but that's okay! Let's get more projects going! We'll have a new unlimited revenue someday!

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    2. That is precisely the reason to do it, cuz you don't want it. With enough motivated people we actually can throw the bums out but we don't have enough pist off people. Bring in a few more to share the pain and we get some change.

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    3. All it takes is four votes on the city council and we could, in theory, annex the entire county. Of course we would then have to be able to provide infrastructure for all. Sheriff Bill would be without a county to enforce as all law enforcement would go city and hemmed in only by the county line, which then become the metro city limits

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  3. Our elected "leaders" have spent the last ten or fifteen years making it crystal clear that they do not value or want input from citizens.

    That being the case, it's no surprise to see these vacancies. Why waste your time?

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  4. Your comments and observations are right on target. Why bother? What's the point?

    But, it isn't just Port Angeles. Was listening to a clip about a group that had an event to raise donations for abused aboriginal children. 6 people showed up (mostly existing supporters). When asked for comment, the organizer said " I don't know why people didn't show up, the bar next door was packed!"

    Look in the parking lot of the movie theatre. Packed. Walmart parking lot. Almost always full.

    It isn't that people don't have the time to help out. It isn't that they can't afford to take the time out of heir lives.

    Like you say, they don't see the point.

    And, we end up with a town like Port Angeles, where anyone with a bit of motivation can game the system. Who cares?

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  5. I tie this one in with your previous post, CK. No one, businesses or people, seems willing to invest in Clallam County. Which is perfectly understandable.

    But it does create a vicious cycle of public apathy, bad government and a shaky to failing economy. Each reinforces the other, and at times it seems like we're almost in a sort of final death spiral downward. Every new possibility, whether a politician or a potential new employer, turns out to just be yet another heartbreak.

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    1. We end up with "heartbreaks" because only people who are stupid enough to think Port Angeles is a viable place to do business, show up here. The people who do their research first, locate anywhere but here.

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    2. I agree that most firms do indeed do their research, and do not just leap into a community blindly because some old crackpot like Bill Greenwood, Russ Veenema or Nathan West say it's a "great place to do business!" That's a given. All sensible people know that.

      But there must be more than a few insensible people around here, because the folks listed above, plus our elected officials, keep making these "here they come!" pronouncements, and apparently enough people must believe them, because someone has to be voting these rubes back into office, right?

      In other words, I can't help but think the gullible nature of our so-called leaders is a reflection of the gullible nature of our local citizenry. Even with our local population shrinking, there's one born every minute in Clallam county.

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    3. So word on Front Street is the PADA blew up ..... yesterday? maybe today?.
      Candy Man and poor Barb (Cookie Jar) Fredericks stepped away!
      YEAH! Light at the end of the tunnel.
      Hope Russ Eneema is next!

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    4. While we probably all agree that it's a plus to get rid of Bozo Barb and Fuzzy Bear Bob, it's hardly the light at the end of the tunnel. Look at downtown, their legacy. It's a shambles, a graveyard. Empty streets, empty storefronts. Who wants to do their Christmas shopping at a flea market "antique mall"?

      In other words, there is still plenty of work, and lots and lots of heavy lifting, to do.

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    5. What comes next is the long knives come out to carve out the spoils. What are the spoils you ask. First, there are many grants available for a bona fide "Main Street" town. Then there is up to $150,000 on the table for anyone who can go out and capture the B&O money available here in Port Angeles. Several big businesses said they would not contribute as long as Barb was in the mix. Now that she is gone First Fed and others will be only too willing to put the CEO group in charge of the downtown association. All them bylaws are coming out of the same law firm and Platt Irwinn knows how to subdue a membership better than anybody. Look no further than the PAU, Chamber and coming soon, PADA.

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  6. It is good for local folks to see these upsets in the way things have been for all these years. People can see that "change" is not only possible, but happening.

    Yep, a LOT of work still to do.

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  7. And, we see unemployment rises, while the rest of the country moves forward. Dow, etc set new record highs, day after day.

    It is in this environment we evaluate Greenwood, West, McEntire, Pillings, and the rest. For years, we've heard how THEIR focus was going to be jobs, jobs, jobs. Nothing else was more important than "growing the economy" (Boy, do I hate that phrase!)

    And here we are. Conditions could hardly be better for them to accomplish their stated goals. Energy is cheap, interest rates low, etc.

    But, nope. Not in Port Angeles.

    If ever there was a need for a community to "throw the bums out", here and now is one of them!

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  8. As we approach Thanksgiving, my wife and I are giving thanks that we're planning to be out of Port Angeles in 2015. The house is sold, and we're renting it back until January, then we're off for Oregon. Living here (5+ years) has been too difficult, too disappointing, and too painful.

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    1. Can't blame you. Best of luck.

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    2. Good luck. I hope to join you.

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  9. Speaking of the Downtown Assc., I know the Board met on Monday and supposedly, some sort of "shake up" happened that will be announced on Dec. 8th. Are Fudge Boy and Barb really gone? Does anyone else have information that confirms this? If this is true, then this is the first step in turning the downtown around. What needed to happen?: The whole Board and Barb resigning and a total rewrite of the Bylaws so that this organization is transparent and accountable to its membership. Secondly, measurable goals need to become the framework of the organization. I agree with the person who said there is lots of work still to come, but this new development, if it is true, is a start. The remaining board members, however well intentioned, are clueless and need to go. This board has essentially said to its membership, "Let them eat cake. We will rule by fiat." The people and City have some cleaning up to do yet. Viva la downtown Port Angeles . . . .

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    1. Given the dismal, long year+ long record, I would suggest not casting away the newest of the Board just yet.
      After all, they signed in knowing the "old Board", Fudgy, Beady, Barbie, the Brownie Bros, Smuggler Ricky, Seasun and maybe some others where total screw ups.
      Still, the newbies signed into try and make a difference and maybe be the beginning of a leadership.
      YES, do "can" all the rest who have been there since 2012 or more! Put the newest on parole and to a test to help make the bylaws more membership driven!.

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    2. Insiders say the few newbies haven't been getting any traction against the old guard. There was already an election coming up for 5 of the 13 positions. Need to change that balance.

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  10. Did Platt Irwin run a special on Bylaws? Everyone is getting themselves new bylaws. The chamber, the downtown assn, the EDC, all are trotting out new bylaws. Well that is not exactly right. All are adopting new bylaws but the chamber and the EDC do'n't want you to see them, not even their own members.

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    1. I've seen PADA's old ones. They are a recipe for top-down management. How do you think that's gonna work with a mandatory membership of independent owners? Right. Change is good.

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  11. Happy Black Friday, everyone! See you in Silverdale for some shopping!

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  12. Too bad people in Port Angeles can't sit back and wait for some discussion on where to go from here, before pulling out the "long knives" to carve up the remains of the PADA.

    I know, I know. The powers-that-be want to be sure they retain control. Those wanting to change things want to jump in, and take advantage of the upset to get a seat at the table. But, maybe a bit of real community planning might make sense at this point, given the history of Port Angeles over the last 15 years or more.

    Yeah, there is grant money to be had. As always. Look where it has gotten us: in big debt.

    With any luck, the "accountability" that is now out there will slow a few folks down. It isn't JUST "new people" we need.

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    1. While you do make a partial point about grant money the rest of your argument is pure BS.
      Most of the "people" in Port Angeles, especially MOST of the business owners, DO sit back and wait..........THAT IS the problem.
      And, news flash, there are no real "powers that be" .... that's just an arm chair quarterback's excuse for sitting back and whining about the few that do try to "jump in" to make a difference, rather than trying to help.
      Meanwhile, the monkey's that have had control, "retain control".
      And the real problem with grant money, especially government grant money, are the strings attached that have a delayed reaction that always transfers sonme aspect of ocal control to State or Federal control.

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    2. Did you actually read your post before pushing "Post"? Or the rest of the thread? It hardly makes sense, given what you're supposedly responding to.

      Most of the thread is about the PADA Board members being removed or resigning, new members of the board not getting any traction against "the old guard", " the long knives come out to carve out the spoils", and the "Main Street" grant program.

      And then the suggestion that a pause be taken, before rushing in to simply fill the void made by those who have held supposedly leadership positions that have resulted in the problems we see today.

      Yes, you're right. Far too many people sit back. I agree. But the rushing to fill vacated positions by others of the same mindset that have created and perpetuated the problems that have been killing the downtown does seem to make any sense, nor solve the very problem you identify. Most are not involved, because there is not point, with the so-called leadership we've had, FOR them to be involved. Why bother?

      You say there are no real "powers that be", but instead call those who have run this town for years "the monkey's that have had control". Okay. Use what ever name you wish, the reality remains the same: there is a group that has control over what happens in Port Angeles.

      And your comments about grants? While true about the strings often attached, do not acknowledge the fact and reality that Port Angeles relies on grants to function.



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