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.



  1. You've done a good job of stating the problem. Staff runs the show. People run for office to "serve the public," but don't have the brains/spines/balls to do anything on their own. So they end up doing whatever staff "recommends." The town crumbles, but staff still get paid, so what do they care? As others have pointed out here, it's entirely possible that the grant-focused culture staff has created leads them to want to make things worse here, because then we're more pathetic subjects for grant applications. "Oh, those poor people in Port Angeles..." So they toss more money at the town, staff absorbs most of it one way or another, and Port Angeles continues its slide into insolvency and oblivion.

  2. You make an important point, which gets back to the reality that it is un-elected staff that really run this town. Dig a little deeper to find out who and how staff is "motivated" to "recommend" what they do.

    Landfill fiasco is a great example. A couple of people brought up the fact that the first project spent millions to put up a seawall to prevent wave action from continuing to undermine the wall of garbage that had been falling into the Strait, and that wave action would continue to undermine the areas where the seawall ended. Which is exactly what happened only a few years after the project was completed.

    Planning for that seawall probably took longer than the wall lasted!

    During the public hearings before the planning commission, a couple of the people (one of them lived near the bluffs) tried to submit pictures and written information to support their views that removing the garbage was more cost effective than building the seawall. The Chair of the planning commission would not allow the materials to be given to commission members prior to the vote being made!

    Of course, staff assured the planning commission, and then the city council that building a wall to stop coastal erosion was the smart plan. And, the decision makers at each level did what they were asked to do, and approved spending millions trying to stop the waters from doing what they have for millions of years.

    Despite the numerous examples that staff doesn't get it right very often, nothing changes. Go to the city council meeting Tuesday night, and listen to staff, and watch the council do as they are asked.

    1. The arrogance here, as you note - thinking that a city council could essentially trump tidal energy - is astonishing. Equally amazing is the lack of ability to see where they've gone wrong, once things have indeed gone wrong. They fall back on versions of, "It seemed like a good idea at the time," and let it go at that. Needless to say, no one ever remembers or bothers to call staff on the carpet when things go south.

      No apologies, no learning curve that I can see. Just spending and stupidity. I'd like to think that someday the money will in fact run out, and the spending will have to stop. Which will leave us with just the stupidity. Oh joy.

    2. Our city council paid millions of dollars to pour concrete into the water. I mean, isn't that essentially what that retaining seawall was?

      Hey, here's an idea for next time, city council: Take the millions of dollars, and simply pay locals to come out and haul away the trash a pound or two at a time. Why not? If you're going to spend millions, and you know you are, then my idea would at least get a lot of the trash removed, and stimulate the local economy.

      Maybe we could haul a ton or two to council chambers, just for kicks.

  3. Making costly mistake after costly mistake after embarrassing mistake should, at the very least, cost politicians their seats.

    In Port Angeles, these bozos make endless mistakes and cost us MILLIONS and then get to run for reelection without opponents.

    This is an insane place.

  4. CK, if it could be read in three minutes, your posting would make a perfect public comment for tomorrow night's city council meeting. They need to hear just how burned out and disgusted people are with their idiocy. I don't know if they ever hear a countervailing point of view from staff's and the status quo, but it would serve them well to listen to the people they are supposed to be serving. They are not feeling well served, to say the least.

  5. I look forward to seeing the battle between the incompetent Chamber of Commerce, the clueless City Council, and the quite possibly kind of nutty Dale Wilson play out. If the City Council chose the COC because they were allowed to chose "the best" applicant, I'd love to hear them have to justify how the deadwood COC was "the best" choice. Go, fight, spin!

    1. "The only thing worse than being talked about--not being talked about."

  6. Well, well! Look who's copying you, CK, and including pictures on his blog. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery! Keep up the good work.

    1. Thanks for the kind words, and the update. Both are appreciated.

  7. Replies
    1. Tom Harper is obviously trying to copy the format that CK has been using, but to much lesser effect. The photo he posted is really, really unpleasant to look at. It's meant to be funny, but really - UGH.

    2. Ugly, like so much else on his crazy, race baiting blog.

    3. I don't think the new format is a hit. Two days, one comment. The crowd has passed you by, Tom.

    4. I think it was the one cares about ag bills.

    5. Harper's blog just went from bad to worse. Now it seems to be pretty meaningless. If I wanna know what BBC is doing, I'll ask him. Other than that, it serves no legitimate purpose I can see, other than giving Tom a reason to get out of bed by 10am.

    6. Struggling to remain relevant...

    7. Looks like Tom Harper sleeps even later on Sundays. He didn't get a new, boring subject up until 11:30am today. Why does he even bother?

      Go back to sleep, Tom. You're obviously all tired out from...what, not working for a living?

    8. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  8. Back to those PDN polls for a minute...Today's is about where your dream vacation is. North America is the top choice, followed by Europe, then Australia. Geez, afraid of brown skinned people much, PDN readers? More of you want to visit Antarctica than Africa. So small and narrow minded...

    1. You likely missed seeing the idiot on the other blog that is saying he needs Muslims for "target practice"!!!

      I know, this is Port Angeles. Stupidity and bigotry are the norm.

    2. The racism of this place is really quite naked. Look at some of the out-there and hateful comments on the other blog. Racist nuts venting their impotent rage. Ick.

    3. It's a little cold up here for those racists to be naked. Maybe the sheer number of them huddled together and the intimate friction keep them warm? Gay Racist Sex Port Angeles!

  9. The council doesn't actually MAKE any decisions. They're just like trophy wives -- supposed to sit there to look pretty and shut up. (Actually, it's STFU.) Why else would they, in turn, do the same thing (so obviously) with people who try to speak up?

    Our form of governing is the weakest, of the weak mayor form of government.

    In many small towns, it was decided to rid themselves of a Boss Hog mayor, who could get in the way and, perhaps, respond to the town's people. There was a massive campaign mounted to promote the myth that strong mayors don't work in a small town because they can't really offer real leadership, because these (dumb) small town mayors have no training/education to really lead the town, and couldn't do any real long range planning, or understand the really complicated needs of the town, like budgets and policy, and laws, and all that. They couldn't be effective like a college educated, city manager, anyway.

    The reasons MOST city governments of small towns moved this way is because of a pack of lies, and the promotion that it would be an advantage, a way to insulate day-to-day management from the intrusion of politics because there would be no benefit of ‘greasing’ decisions with the mayor or with individual council members, because they would not have that sort of power.

    Except it didn't work out that way in an area that has little city government turnover, and not in any areas that are isolated (as our city is).

    The dark-side of weak mayor, is that there is a risk that this influence greasing would move over to the bureaucracy, which is what we've seen. Our city is corrupt inside the city, at the employee level.

    That is how one explains the actions of Cutler, and other key people (like the wife of the guy who was granted the exclusive rights to our city fiber optic cable -- which has since been sold to Wave, the idiots of the cable world).

    In order to perpetuate inside deals for an eternity, they had to: a.) get a city manager who would play along (and we've had a long string of them), and b.) change the culture of the council so that they would shut up and play along, or be ousted or ostracized as an example to the others (Max Mania is a good example), and c.) make the people stop paying attention.

    The other, well researched problem/benefit (depending on your point of view), is that weak mayor form of government results in low voter turnout. What's the point? A weak mayor has no real power or legal authority to influence policies, programs or be responsive to the needs of citizens.

    Weak mayor might work other places, with more turn-over at city hall, but here, it's one of the few good paying jobs in town. People stay in their positions for lifetimes. They amass power within the city. The "professional" city manager is hired by unknown persons in city hall, who have established empires within, further their agendas, push the decisions on the council/mayor, and, in our case, keep steering the ship towards the rocks.

    What we need to do is change back to a Strong Mayor government, because there will be more fluctuation, and need to appeal to the populace. We'll have more say if the mayor is hired by the people.

    1. Thanks for your thoughtful and detailed comments. You seem to understand all too well how Port Angeles operates. Operates, but fails to function.

    2. I disagree with your conclusions. Imagine a Strong Mayor in the form of Dan Gase or McEntire.

      You make a lot of correct points, but it isn't the system of a "weak mayor" that is the problem, or that a "Strong mayor" is the solution. The idea that we rely on one "strong" person to lead us out of the wilderness is fantasy.

      The problem is that our council is gut-less. None dare to take a strong position on anything, or to be held accountable. It is easier and safer to just "go along to get along". And they all do just that.

      Imagine a council of educated people with strong opinions, who actively debate the merits of an agenda item, and what staff tells them. Who ALL listen to public input, and balance that with what the studies and reports provided to them suggest. Who, at the end of real questioning and resulting understanding of the issues, vote. And, majority opinion takes the day.

      Have you been to a council meeting, lately?

    3. The last council member with qualities like you describe, Anon 10:33, was Max Mania, and they spied on him, tried to smear him, and finally ran him (and his wife) out of town. I think the problem is that there are many, many people on the dark side here, and they can swamp those who aren't.

    4. The nail that sticks up, must be hammered down. Well, Max stood up, and they sure did hammer him down. Now we have Sissi, who sort of stands up , some of the time, but is also too inclined towards going along to get along. There's not an actual leader in the bunch of the current City Council.

  10. Not afraid of brown skinned...TERRIFIED!

  11. Chumps of Commerce should not have gotten that sweetheart deal, again. They did a piss-poor job with the "visitors center" and should not have been re-rewarded with it. Get rid of the gorilla in the room (RV) and his monkeyshines. He has a terrible reputation amongst other chambers. He's a joke.

  12. Typical Bill Bloor...Ignore a looming. obvious problem...Then, when it finally explodes into view, "recommend" that the Council fork out some funds for their REAL attorney from Seattle to handle the situation.

    After all, why pay once when you can pay two or three times? And that's typical Port Angeles...

  13. Where do you think all that asbestos came from? 49 tons (if that was correctly reported) is a LOT of asbestos! Did anyone ask that question?

    Was it dumped in the City landfill by a former mill? And now the taxpayers get to pay for it's proper disposal?

    Another sweetheart deal like Munro's "Logs for China" deals? Locals pay for him to profit?

    1. I had the same thought about the reported HUGE amount of asbestos. Where'd it all come from? Seems a topic (sorry!) worth digging into.

    2. unless you consider how downtown "underground" is lousy with asbestos. I'm sure a chunk of it came when some of the older downtown buildings were torn down to make parking lots. And, that old high school (Roosevelt) must have been jammed with it (judging from when it was built, and when it was torn down).

    3. Here is a PDN clip from 2013:

      " Utility Advisory Committee members voted unanimously Tuesday to recommend that council members approve a $931,000 amendment to the city's contract with Seattle-based Herrera Environmental Consultants.

      Seawall design

      The money is to complete designs for reinforcing a seawall built at the base of the failing bluff in west Port Angeles and moving about 250,000 cubic yards of accumulated waste back from the edge of the bluff to another area of the landfill.

      Puntenney said Wednesday the amendment to Herrera's contract, which will increase Herrera's contract amount to $2,498,771, likely will come before the full City Council for approval this Tuesday.

      The council is expected to meet at 6 p.m. at City Hall, 321 E. Fifth St.

      Of the total amount of the project, some $15 million has been tapped for construction, an amount Puntenney said has decreased since council members last heard an update from Herrera on the project in March."

      They just keep adding a million here, a million there.

      Anon3:48 Think about how far a TON of asbestos will go. In this small town?

  14. Oh goodie.....the City of PA has hired more consultants.

    City of PA wants new input on cable franchise

    January 22nd, 2015 - 5:46am

    (PORT ANGELES) If you are a Port Angeles resident, you could have an impact on the future of television cable service over the next 10 to 15 years.

    Two focus group meeting dates are coming up for Port Angeles residents on February 24th and 25th. These focus groups will provide information to the community on how the cable renewal process works, and will allow public feedback about future services.

    The meetings will be conducted by the Buske Group, a telecommunications consulting firm out of Sacramento, California.

    Gregg King,Power Resource Manager at City of Port Angeles, says its important the city gets a better idea of what local residents want from local cable service.

    What we want out of local cable service? You mean like NOT WAVE jacking up prices for less services? Especially now that they've purchased our locally installed fiber optic monopoly, Capacity Provisioning.

    "Wave announced today it is acquiring Port Angeles-based Capacity Provisioning Inc. (CPI), the largest privately owned fiber-based metro Ethernet provider on the Olympic Peninsula. The terms of the deal were not disclosed." (last March)

    So the city did a sweetheart, incestuous deal, the services were bought by WAVE, and now they want to see what we want? Waste of money. Total waste of cash and time.

    1. I think we should get the Community Television channel back. All local government meetings should be broadcast/ And, an archive made available so that we can review who said what, when WE have the time.

  15. The Lincoln Center, run by the school system and Peninsula College have a perfectly good television station capable of covering public meetings. The right wing in this town will not let that happen. We bought and paid for it but won't let the kids use it to prepare for jobs in the broadcast industry because the powers that be would not be able to control the message as they can with John Brewer and Todd Oddlott.

  16. Live Stream and archive. Cheap technology in today's world. Even kids under 10 are posting their own You-Tube videos these days.