Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Lots of Zeroes in Public Money...Lots of Zeroes Handling Public Money (UPDATED!)

What's the difference between $50,000 and $500,000? Is it just one zero? Or is it several zeroes?
Well, those zeroes at the Port of Port Angeles are all onboard to spend $50,000 - just to get off the ground - to hire consultants to yada yada yada the airport. Yes, they want to pour more money into the airport by way of "studying" whether or not it's economically feasible for an airline to service Port Angeles.
Not to bum you out or anything Port Commissioners, but, uh, you've already had that study, in the form of multiple airlines who pulled out because it wasn't economically feasible for them to be there. There weren't even enough passengers to keep Kenmore aloft, and their planes didn't even seat ten people.
Still, it's only money, right? So why let stupid be an impediment to spending? Cue the Commissioners:
John Calhoun said the port was taking the lead on behalf of all Clallam County for restoring air service but that other private and public agencies must participate, perhaps by establishing a "ticket bank" of guaranteed air fares.
"We could potentially spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on capital improvements to try and get air service back," said Colleen McAleer, only to have the carrier quit after several months. "We can't allow that to happen."
Well duh, Colleen, the only way that could happen is if you were stupid enough to spend those hundreds of thousands of dollars on maintaining an unneeded facility. Mind you, you are all stupid enough to do that. I have faith in that.
Hey, Commissioners - Your feasibility study is here!

As for Calhoun...What a slimeball. His grandiosity - "taking the lead on behalf of all Clallam County" - is exceeded only by his naked greed. Yes, John, a ticket bank - more funds! - is a GREAT idea. Now let me guess which public agencies would be most likely to make withdrawals from that bank. Hmmm...
Meanwhile, up at the Courthouse...King Jim McEntire is moving fast to consolidate hold on the reins of power. Which, in his case, looks a lot like sticking his pudgy fingers in the cookie jar.
Yes, one-upping the Port, the County Commissioners are moving ahead with giving a whopping $500,000 to the new, unimproved EDC. Yes, the same EDC that has such a dismal track record. The same EDC that King Jim has so carefully remade in his own image. And the same EDC that no one seems to support - not even their own board members - other than the unholy trinity of King Jim, Bill Peach, and the dependably slimy Jim Jones.
Poor Norma Turner summed it up: "You're going to move it (the money) from county plans that require a lot of public comment and oversight to a private entity that created this plan around the table with a select group of individuals, and then use tax dollars to fund whatever they come up with."
Former County Commissioner Mike Doherty, after pointing out the utter lack of information available about the EDC on their own website, stated: "Basic economic development planning, and any kind of planning, involves the public. Clearly, you've heard today this is not a well-documented, public process."
In response to these allegations of waste, stupidity and mendacity, the right and honorable King Jim was nothing if not contrite: "I have no conflicts of interest whatsoever...And I will have no conflicts of interest. It is thoroughly consistent with my duties that I was elected to perform to make decisions on monies that go to private sector organizations. I think I know a little bit about strategic planning."
And so it was, with this royal decree, that the hogs of King Jim were set loose upon the public troughs. In response, there was a notable lack of rejoicing throughout the kingdom.
"I think I know a little bit about strategic planning.
I even dress myself and everything."


A comment came in that provides so much more information on the County Commissioners' meeting that I felt it was important to include it in the body of the post itself. (Needless to say it can also be found below.) Full text of the comment is cut and pasted here...

Anonymous January 28, 2015 at 9:36 AM:
Interestingly, the PDN article you rely on for your post omitted the content of the last hour of the meeting, where Master Jim and County Prosecutor tried to change the wording of the motion they had just passed!

Because people in the audience had pointed out so many flaws and problems, after the two Commissioners (McEntire and his hand puppet Peach) had made the motion, seconded it and passed it, County Prosecutor Mark Nichols came to the podium to tell McEntire that the wording needed to be changed to more accurately reflect what the discussion had brought forward. With obvious amazement at what was being proposed, and rumblings in the audience, Chapman said " You already passed the motion. You can't after-the-fact go back and make substantive changes. You have to start over, take public comment for the proposed amendments, and vote again!"

Two former Commissioners who were in the audience stood to say they had never witnessed such an attempt . To his credit, Commissioner Mike Chapman kept jumping in saying angrily "You can't do that!" and correcting what Mark Nichols was telling the Board.

The audience abandoned the mikes, and spoke from their places in the room, which the Chair, McEntire allowed! (Usually, people are told they must speak via the mike to address the Board.)

McEntire tried a number of ways to proceed, with Chapman angrily jumping in saying "What is the rush? I know you guys have an agenda and everything, but if you two are going to do this, you need to do it right. You've just messed this all up."

Nichols at one point admitted he made a mistake. But, in the end, McEntire announced he had decided to let things stay as they had evolved, that staff will review the wording of the motion they passed, and they would take action if needed at a later date.

In other words, he got to do what he wanted to do.

But, as we see, the PDN keeps the public in the dark. Changes the reality of the event to make it sound all normal and proper. With so few that attend public meetings, they know they can get away with this type of so-called reporting.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Welcomeness to the Jungle AKA Dans in the News

I could have done this post as UPDATES to earlier posts, but they were long enough already, and, frankly, the new news on one of these represents enough change to warrant a new post.
Well now, this is interesting.
The City moved ahead with their (lame, lame, lame and indefensible) choice of the Chamber of Horrors to continue their (lame, lame, lame and non-existent and ineffective and indefensible) "marketing" of Port Angeles. They did this even though it was a truly lame and indefensible thing to do. And they did it despite knowing that Dale Wilson was likely to challenge them on it.
But the City jumped, so Dale responded, which put the sleazy slide back to the Chamber on hold temporarily.
Now, Dale has stated he'll withdraw his request for an injunction if the City publically interviews the top three finalists. I didn't see this one coming, but it's a simple and kind of wonderful way to go with this. I like it because it puts the City Council on the spot, as well as the Chamber. Given all the money they've been given, what does the Chamber of Snorers have to show for it? I LOVE the idea of the Chamber having to justify themselves publically, and I LOVE the idea of the Council having to explain their reasons for supporting the lame and indefensible Chamber in public, too.
Of course, it's not hard to imagine that the City would like to avoid this spectacle, this embarrassment. So they would, naturally enough, want to have some sort of reason to say no to this reasonable and quick-resolution offer. Enter the Mayor, who said the interviews would "delay implementation of tourism marketing and visitor center contracts." Well, duh, Dan. They've already been delayed. Is this lame excuse the best you could come up with? That a couple of weeks more delay will somehow cripple the Chamber's "marketing" efforts? Please, Dan - your desperation is showing. You're grasping at straws, Mayor McBungler.

The Mayor will defend the contract with the Chamber!
He will fight fire with liar! Or something!

I look forward to the next chapter of this one...
Hey, for once, the PDN got something right. Their headline for their you-knew-it-was-coming coverage of the other Dan's Magic Tram reads: Entrepreneur's idea for tram to Hurricane Ridge would face huge federal, state hurdles.
Well, the headline is mostly right, anyway. I wouldn't call Dan Williams an entrepreneur, since his "entrepreneurial" efforts over the last decade haven't resulted in a single concrete thing.
Anyway, the article makes it clear that Dan's Magic Tram isn't coming anytime soon - despite his insistence that he hopes to see it up and running by 2020. That and his other statements all make it clear, as if it wasn't already, that this guy is a crackpot.
How does Dan hope to over come these many hurdles, which include numerous environmental issues, shoreline issues, the aforementioned federal and state issues, and could require an act of Congress? "We are looking for the welcomeness of the community to get behind this," says Williams.
This guy sounds like he's been cribbing notes from Scott Nagel, then twisting them all up. He has funding - really! - and he has big movers and shakers behind this project - really! - but he just can't tell you who they are. He couldn't get a $2 million dollar zipline built, but now there's no doubt - none at all! - that he can get this $200 million dollar (his figure) tram built. With even more hurdles in place. By 2020.
If you aren't interested in buying a tram, could I
interest you in a clock?

I'll tell you what...If Dan Williams can actually scrape up just a quarter of a million dollars, I'd suggest that he and Scott Nagel get together, buy the Lincoln Theater (with real money and everything), and then convert it into a cuckoo clock factory. Now that's a business both these guys seem perfectly suited to.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

What Rhymes with Scam? Tram!

So I guess that Dan Williams, unlike Larry Williams, is still knocking around Port Angeles.
You may remember Dan from his previous stints as head of something called the Overhead Door Corporation, which was followed by his years flogging the idea for a zipline run in Clallam County as the head of Green Planet Zipline, Inc. No doubt many of you have been up and enjoyed a ride on one of Dan's ziplines, right?
In other words, given his propensity for acting crazy in Clallam County, Dan may be the business community equivalent of the political scene's David R. Fox.
Now, apparently, Dan is the "CEO at Port Angeles Aerial Tram," and is proposing building an aerial tram from the "shoreline area" to "just outside the ONP," with a final goal of going all the way to Hurricane Ridge. In the National Park. On Federal land. In the National Park.

You can point all you want, Dan, but I don't see
a tram. Maybe you do, but I don't.

Now, given his track record of pursuing hopeless causes, I personally don't think Dan Williams is a conman so much as he is a hapless (and probably hopeless) dreamer. If he were a conman, he'd be pitching things that were a little more to scale for the Port Angeles area.
But an aerial tram? From downtown all the way to Hurricane Ridge? Please.
I'm not even going to go into the permitting and environmental hoops he'd have to jump through to do such a thing in a National Park. Life is too short. Suffice to say, it would be an extremely arduous and lengthy process.
It would also be expensive - as would building the damned thing. This is a community that can't afford to fix up an athletic field, Dan. This is a town too poor to support and/or save a movie theater (STILL FOR SALE), Dan. This is a city that announces that it can't afford enough police officers to enforce the laws on the books, and is drowning in debt. In other words, you're talking about a community that has what might be called a poverty problem.
NO ONE is pouring money into Port Angeles, Dan. So where would the money come from to build your tram? I'm going to guess that such a thing, just from downtown to the edge of the ONP, would cost at least, what, $100 million? That's a big chunk, Dan, the equivalent of two Turd Tanks - at minimum. I just don't see it.
Maybe you could partner with Clallam Transit, Dan?

Let me put it another way: You're talking about a community that can't afford a workable route across town to alleviate the occasional traffic congestion on Race Street in the summer. Yet you're proposing to alleviate the same traffic by building an aerial tram that costs tens or hundreds of millions of dollars? Huh?
So, show me the money, Dan. In the meantime, do take a moment to check out his LinkedIn page here:
Next stop, the Land of Oz!


Monday, January 19, 2015

2015: Business As Usual (UPDATED)

It's just a small, passing notice in the PDN, the kind of thing you'd barely glance at. I'm talking about the published agenda for the next Port Angeles City Council meeting. It's just thrown in there with all the other meeting announcements, and isn't even the first one listed.
It's just business as usual.
But when you look at it, you're reminded of why business as usual in Port Angeles is so destructive.
The meeting...will be preceded by a 5 p.m open meeting to conduct an interview with and possibly appoint Chad Aubin to the Planning Commission, followed by a closed-door executive session to discuss contract negotiations and potential litigation.
The Planning Commission is so important. There is one applicant. Council members, in a daze, will ask a few questions given to them by staff, and then - surprise! - vote to appoint Aubin. Now, I'm not saying anything about Aubin himself, because that's not the point. The point is, Council members, you've nurtured a system which gives you no choices, there's no real involvement or real questions from you, and no "possibly" - it's a done deal. It's rubber-stamping honed to a fine, dull edge.

"Decision making" like that leads to that other item on there, one that seems to be showing up more and more, discussing "potential litigation." Put another way, "duh" decision making puts the "u" in "sue." And there sure is a lot of suing going on lately, isn't there?
The Port Angeles City Council will consider awarding 2015 tourism marketing and visitor center contracts to the Port Angeles Regional Chamber of Commerce when it meets Tuesday.
Oh come one. We all know "will consider" means "will vote to do it." Never mind the Chamber of Horrors has a long, dismal track record of failure. Never mind that there were other choices. Never mind that one of those choices is still challenging the selection and the system. No, this will be approved with that same well-worn rubber stamp that is also good for stamping out new ideas.
The council will also consider issuing a $1 million change order to the landfill stabilization project for additional removal costs due to contractor Magnus Pacific Corp. encountering more asbestos than the amount specified in the bid award.
Another week, another million dollar change order for another poorly conceived and optimistically budgeted project. The City let this problem happen, and grow. The City chose to spend money foolishly on a half-assed (on) solution a few years back. Now the City is literally pouring money over the garbage bluff, in this case a million bucks in a week. How much would some foresight have cost you, PA? Would you please "consider" that sometime Council members?
Council members will consider awarding a $49,451 contract to Carlson Sales Metering Solutions of Vancouver, Wash., for the purchase of 1,536 electric meters.
Another "consideration" that is the result of not considering anything during the recent "Smart Meter" debacle. Again, how much does your lack of "considered" foresight cost you, City of Port Angeles? How much does it cost your rate payers, your tax payers, your business owners? How much does it cost your reputation as a city? How much does it serve to lower the regard in which you Council members are held?

In short, how much does it cost you to cling to business as usual Port Angeles, when your "usual" is totally broken, impervious to facts, and extremely expensive? How much?


The city of Port Angeles will ante up an additional $1 million to dispose of asbestos it didn't expect to find as it stabilized its closed landfill.

The change order in the amount of $1,034,524 will bring the project's cost to at least $14.4 million.

Most of the asbestos work already has been performed by contractor Magnus Pacific Corp. of Everett, which trucked away more than three times the asbestos it anticipated — some 49 tons — under a contract that called for it to dispose of about 15 tons.

The contractor and the city remain “very far apart” — to the tune of $2,075,508 — he added, over the added cost of the asbestos removal. Magnus Pacific wants an adjustment of $3,110,032.

“It's ironic that we can't see what's underground,” said Councilman Lee Whetham. "But that's part of construction, and that has to be anticipated. We haven't even hit bottom yet.”

According to Craig Fulton, city public works and utilities director...the total bill for moving the refuse and stabilizing the area could top $21 million.

While I'm not so sure that Lee Whetham knows what "ironic" means, it certainly is remarkable to see just how much of a mess the Garbage Bluff is, and how much it's going to cost to deal with it. This is the cost of business as usual in Port Angeles. And it all could have been avoided if the City hadn't allowed people to dump there for so long...If the City had started planning years ago to deal with this...If the City hadn't wasted millions already on a pointless seawall...If, if, if...

Contracts for tourism marketing and operation of the Port Angeles Visitor Center have been delayed pending a motion for injunction. Port Angeles City Attorney Bill Bloor told City Council members Tuesday that a hearing is scheduled at 1:30 p.m. Friday.

The motion for a temporary injunction was filed Jan. 14 in Clallam County Superior Court by Dale Wilson, publisher of the free monthly newspaper Port O Call, along with Jessica Elliott, an unsuccessful bidder for the visitor center contract.

The motion alleges the city picked “the highest, worst bidder” to run the visitor center — namely, the Port Angeles Regional Chamber of Commerce.

The council decided in split votes Dec. 16 to award the visitor center and tourism marketing contract to the Chamber of Commerce.

The city's Lodging Tax Advisory Committee placed Wilson's and Elliott's proposal last in the three visitor center bids, after the chamber and Necessities and Temptations gift shop through Soroptimist International Port Angeles Jet Set.

The chamber received 314 points in the committee's ranking; Necessities and Temptations, 306 points, and Wilson and Jessica Elliott, 208 points.

First of all, kudos to Dale Wilson for using the phrase "highest, worst bidder." Second, the City Council would have known ahead of time that Dale was going to be challenging them on this, if they were simply paying attention to the news in their own community. Finally, how can anyone - anyone - with a straight face rank the current Chamber of Horrors first in anything to do with marketing, publicity or economic growth? That's an outright denial of reality - which, as we know, is a Clallam County classic.

And what's the classic response from a Clallam County resident to all these shenanigans and the wasting of public funds? Here's the first comment on the PDN story about this: Bruce Mick says "Dale Wilson needs to go back where he came from."

Classic! Go get 'em, Dale.


Saturday, January 17, 2015

Took a Peak Behind the Scenes

Below you'll find a recent posting from Peter Ripley's blog, titled "Big Thanks to My International Readership!" Which is kind of a funny headline to put next to a map that only has the United States highlighted, but...Anyway, these numbers don't so much tell you who is reading your blog, or where they're reading it from, so much as they simply tell you that A) Most of your actual readers are, in fact in the United States, and B) Other countries have trolling search engines that, for whatever reason, touched down on your blog once or twice. (In other words, I don't think that Peter actually has a loyal reader in Burundi, for instance.)

Then, below that you'll see the corresponding numbers for this blog, for this last week. Thanks to my international readership! Well, to those few people in Canada who check in here, anyway.

As for the rest...I assure you that I'm under no illusion that people in the places listed actually come here and read anything - it's just those ever-trolling search engines. (Though, admittedly, some people in Ukraine may be looking for news from a place that's worse off than they are, to try and cheer themselves up...)

Anyway, since there have been some questions about the size of the readership of this blog, and since Peter had posted his stats, I thought I'd do the same. This lets you know that if you're commenting here, you are reaching people, you are part of a larger discussion. Sure, some of it is sarcastic or off topic (or even off color), but, overall, this blog is serving the purpose it was intended to - offering a free flow of information, background and context to help navigate the insanity that is POrt Angeles and Clallam County.

So, thanks to everyone, whether foreign or domestic. (Domestic, let's face it. Not that there's anything wrong with that!) Speak up, and listen up. There's some good stuff that gets shared here.


Graph of most popular countries among blog viewers

United States












Peter goes on to say:
Now, not to brag or anything it amazes me how folks all over the world is checking out my little publication! WOW! Thanks all those who took a peak at this blog! 

Pageviews by Countries
Graph of most popular countries among blog viewers

United States








United Kingdom