Wednesday, March 11, 2015


So, it seems that the official percentage of unemployed people in Clallam County is now at 10.3%. Meanwhile, the snowpack in the Olympics is at 8% of normal.
In other words, it's clearly a period of both economic and literal drought in Clallam County. This is probably all close to what "the new normal" will look like.
My questions: Do you think the official unemployment numbers are accurate? Does it paint a true picture of the employment situation in Clallam County? As for the snowpack, or lack thereof, do you think this "new normal" situation will enter the heads of City Council members when they (in the not-so-distant future) are set to renegotiate Nippon's water contract with the City? Do you think they'll recognize water as the precious, rare and valuable commodity it is, and charge accordingly? Or..?
Welcome back, salmon!


  1. No, Nippon will utter the magic word "jobs," causing all traces of rationality to leave the council chambers. Drought or no drought, "jobs" will trump anything, and we can expect the completely unsustainable status quo to be reaffirmed.

    Meanwhile, ironically, it seems almost impossible that Nippon will no be shedding even more of those same "jobs" due to changes in their industry, and the fact that they clearly are looking for an out.

    But it sure would be nice to have those sweet, cheap water rates as an enticement for whoever they sell their plant to, wouldn't it?

  2. Nippon has an eleven million dollar interest bearing account in escrow. If they maintain some level of operation for the rest of this year the money will be all theirs. Then they will take the money and run. They won't need nearly as much water to provide cheap electricity to their customers in northern California. However, there are others looking at the waters of the peninsula. Remember the brewers who wanted to locate in Forks? They want to land the water rights, allegedly for brewing a "Rain Forest Beer" but as soon as the water rights are obtained it will be bottled and sent to areas where this same company has ruined the local water supply with their fracking partners. Also in the tea leaves--my prediction is the city will sell its water rights to some corporation for use in a like manner with the argument that this will get the city out of debt. Only the city will not service their hundred fifty million debt but spend on more crazy ideas--always promising jobs that never seem to materialize. Man the taxpayers here are a bunch of chumps.

  3. "But it sure would be nice to have those sweet, cheap water rates as an enticement for whoever they sell their plant to, wouldn't it?"

    Cheap water rates won't account for much, if there is no water because of the "new normal" of persistent drought.

    No, I don't think the Unemployment numbers cited even come close to accurately representing the true number of employable people who are not working. So many gave up trying to find work, long ago. Most of the people I know who are not working gave up after years of trying to find work. They are not entered into any governmental system. They aren't counted.

    This is validated by the City Finance Officer Olson who said recently his research showed the city residents income levels are way lower than "other cities in Washington State of comparable size". And, his research is suspect, as the city has such a clear record of producing self-serving facts.

    Yes, CK, you're right. The decision maker will bow to the people who will say the drought conditions are only transitory, and everything will return to "normal" next year, therefore no need to go and change anything.

    Just as Americans are doing in regards to seeing the writing on the wall concerning fossil fuels. Ignore and deny. And, keep doing the very things that are causing our own decline.

    Do I hear calls to fund the EDC, again?

    1. Locally, government jobs with the city, county, schools, hospital etc pay two to four times as much as the pay for private sector jobs.
      How long can this go on?
      Our city attorney makes more than 41 of the 50 state governors.
      Then he lays off all the heavy lifting onto the Cascadia Law Firm. The city pays Cascadia Law firm over $300,000 per year. What a racket.

  4. Well, as you kind of point out here, CK, if this is the new normal, then the water rights the city will have to sell might be drastically different than what they have had in the past. Even now, at certain times of the year, it's possible for Nippon to exercise their full water "rights" and drain the river dry. If current trends continue, then those dry months will be more frequent. In the worst of all worlds, this puts the plant in a bind (can't get water, or can't sell it because there's no water), and the city in a bind (no water to sell, maybe not enough water for residents).

    It'll be interesting to see how long the climate change deniers hold out in the face of such unavoidable and worrisome local evidence. Meanwhile, let's watch those water utility rates...

  5. Depends on how they arrived at that percentage rate. If they take into account all of the people who have exhausted unemployment benefits and have given up, it is much higher. It is still a shameful rate though.

  6. Here's a typical Clallam County comment on the story with the word DROUGHT in the headline in today's PDN:

    "What a beautiful winter it was and early spring. Ask anybody who has lived here there whole life and they will tell you this is typical. The real threat to our water supply was closing our ditches that fed all of are wells. It doesn't matter how much snow pack we get if it doesn't get to the wells. Bring on summer!"

    Shows a real deep understanding of the way the natural world works, doesn't it? (He obviously doesn't have a great grasp of spelling, either.) And people with moronic views like this? That's a huge chunk of the local voting base.

    1. If they can't spell, then it's entirely possible they can't read. If they can't read, then the PDN is the newspaper for them.

    2. You must have missed the last part of the comment where he (?) tries to sell his house to all those out of area folks who are now expecting a "typical" winter like this one. Typical? No, anyone who's lived here for more than two years can look up at the mountains and plainly see a decreased snowfall. I mean, yeah, it happens, but it's nowhere near "typical". He's either blind or trying to scam someone.

  7. Our unemployment rates are bogus for a variety of reasons...the first obvious one is that just because someone is classified as employed doesn’t mean they can survive off their income. They are the “under-employed” and are not represented in the federal unemployment rate. People are classified as employed as long as they “technically” still have a job -- so seasonal workers, or those on medical or other leave, are still employed and not counted. Students, and recent graduates, are normally left out of the work force numbers. The homeless aren't counted. Those on disability and social security aren't counted. Those on welfare aren't counted. Anyone over the retirement age (62) aren't counted. The unemployment numbers are the same as the tooth fairy --- only there to make us feel all warm and bubbly when we hear the news "oh goodie, things are getting better". This county probably has a real "unemployed" rate of about 35%

  8. This is the season to have a tizzy. They do it every year. We have tourism and forestry in the base, they are lousy in Feb/Mar. It'll fall below 8% for a while Aug-Sep, all things being the same. Maybe even 7.5%. Yeah still too high.

  9. Too bad the Feds didn't think about/anticipate climate change when they shelled out the millions and millions of dollars to restore the river and take the dams out. Looks like the poor salmon may lose in the long run anyway.

    Of course, if the river dries up, so does Port Angeles. Literally, and financially. Dustbowl.

  10. Meanwhile, the City Council isn't even going to discuss putting water conservation measures in place. Lee Whetham, apparently clueless about the racial undertones of his statement, said the REAL problem in Port Angeles is "We've got a problem of a brown community."

    Also meanwhile, today's PDN poll about concern over the possibility of drought this summer has "UNCONCERNED" as the top vote-getter.

    So, the snowpack is at 8% of normal, but the stupidity of Port Angeles is clearly still near 100%.


    1. The PDN article and City Council ignore other important water statistics that would help frame water shortage discussions.
      The drinking water treatment plant at the end of 18th St.was built to treat and process 10 million gallons of drinking water a day. Average daily water consumption of all customers, including the PUD customers using water from that system: under 3 million gallons/day.
      Capacity of the Industrial Water Line that serves the Nippon mill: 64 million gallons/day.
      Water storage capacity at the Elwha Water Treatment Plant built by the Federal Government alongside the river to filter sediment from the river water: 60 million gallons, in four 15 million gallon tanks.
      Nippon's water contract with the City, which expires in 2019: The right to use of up to 20 million gallons/day at a cost of $15,500 a year.
      The amount of water Nippon is actually using and has used in the past? Estimated at around 12 mgd currently, but not discoverable via public records, because the city doesn't meter the industrial water supply line at the point where the water enters the mill property.
      The amount of water leaking from the industrial water line, along its six mile length from the river to the mill? Also unknown, due to the lack of a meter at the point of consumption at the mill. Historic estimates, based upon visual observations of leakages: as high as 2 million gallons/day.
      It's clear that some members of the community care about water conservation and protecting aquatic resources in the Elwha, but city officials scorn such ideas and always have. Shameful, but true.

    2. The "Mill Water" is not filtered or treated, the intake is outside the city treatment system, and the transport pipes are 100% owned and maintained by the Mill, not by the city.

    3. Untruths and misrepresentations on all counts, Anon 6:40 AM. I am so sick of misinformation being spread by the likes of who-ever you are.

      Nippon's water is treated at the Elwha Water Treatment Plant (located alongside the river) before the water goes into the industrial line; this is spelled out in settlement documents between Nippon and the National Park Service. Anyone can also easily see tanks holding treatment chemicals that sit alongside the screen house where water is diverted into the pipeline. There are plenty of public records that confirm this industrial water treatment scenario.

      The industrial water is now treated to requirements that Nippon insisted-upon. However, all of that water could instead go to the 18th Street water treatment plant and be used for the drinking water supply. It is matter of the EWTP operators simply throwing a few switches or opening/shutting a few valves.

      Shutting off the mill's industrial water supply and diverting the millions of gallons a day for drinking water use instead would be mechanically feasible and quite simple. Or, some might even prefer to see the complete dismantling of the industrial water line, and allowing all of that precious water to remain in the river! Wow! Let's all pull for that result starting no later than the expiration of the mill's sweetheart water contract in 2019!

      The City of Port Angeles owns the miles-long industrial water line; it always has. In recent years, Nippon has reimbursed the city for "maintaining" it. Average annual reimbursements for maintenance were less than $40,000 when a public records request a few years ago obtained several years of this information.

      Please knock off the misrepresentations about the city's water wheeling and dealing. The true story is quite shocking and shameful; but the public deserves to know it and be misled no longer.

  11. On only a slightly different different topic.

    During the propaganda campaign the City staff engaged in to create support for their $50 million “CSO” plan, they repeatedly told the public that the soils in the area, “cement’like” Glacial till, prevented water from soaking into the ground.. and therefore using raingardens was not a viable approach.

    In todays’ PDN, we see the following rationale from the city:

    “The city’s “flat rate” experiment will run through 2016.

    Last summer, “only a handful” of homeowners used more than 1,000 cubic feet of water on their lawns and gardens, said Whetham, who supports the program.

    The City Council adopted it to “green up” the city. Lusk said the “flat rate” was “an effort brought by citizens to bring a different look to how the city presents itself.”

    “We’ve got a problem of a brown community,” Whetham said Tuesday.

    Coarse glacier soils don’t retain the region’s plenteous rainfall but allow it to drain away.”

    They are telling us something like this. During the summer, the soils are so "coarse" as to let water soak through too quickly, so we need to have a flat rate and encourage residents to water the hell out of their lawns to avoid a "brown community",

    But when it rains, the rain can't soak into the soils because it is really ISN"T "coarse", doesn't "allow it to drain away", but it's like cement, therefore we have to build Cutler's wet dream for $50 million, and use up the City's funding/taxing resources for the foreseeable future?

    As with so many things, City staff come up with completely opposing "facts", depending on what they are trying to get the Council and residents to support.

    And, get away with it. As the quote shows, Council member Whetham sees no contridictions as he parrots what staff tells him.

    Also in todays’ PDN, we see a story about the “dozen or so” residents who bothered to show up to the city's “listening session”, to voice opinions about what city services to cut because :

    ” “We face diminishing resources,” Mayor Dan Di Guilio said at the meeting’s outset.

    “We’ve got to find a way to distribute those resources in a way that is most important to the city of Port Angeles.”

    City officials have said they have reached the limit on raising fees and utility rates.

    And council members have expressed no appetite for asking voters for an increase in property taxes beyond the 1 percent threshold.”

    Now what? Down hill from now on out, because City Staff, the City's Financial Officer, and our wonderful leadership were so busy building themselves legacy projects like the $50 million CSO project and the fake beaches downtown, that they couldn't think ahead?

    These people should be held accountable. Personally liable for dereliction of duty. They were PAID by us to manage our resources. They held PAID, PROFESSIONAL positions, taking the job assuring us they knew what they were doing.

    This is just craziness!

    1. Lee Whetham is so out of touch, such a joke. It hurts to think that we lost a smart, mouthy, fighter like Max Mania and got this tool in his place. Going from Brooke Nelson to Dan Gase was just switching from one right wing realtor to another. But from Max to Lee? Ouch.

    2. Hey, what's more important, preserving water or realtors selling homes with green lawns. C''mon now.

    3. No worries, Lee Whetham is going to move up to the port commission so we get to elect/appoint a replacement. Now we must get some new council members on whom we can depend to appoint a forward thinking person to finish Lee's two years.

    4. "We" don't get to appoint anyone if he leaves before his term is done. "They" do, as in the other members of the City Council. Do you really trust them to make a wise choice? Hell, do you really think they will have good candidates/volunteers to choose from? Really?

    5. "Do you really trust them to make a wise choice?"

      For example, see what happened ex-mayor Hendricks was voted out of office. As I remember it was a landslide election kicking him out. And he got right back in again thanks in part to Karen Rogers.

    6. The appointment of Rich Headrick to serve on the city council again just a few months after he had been soundly defeated was indeed one of the typical dirty tricks perpetrated during the Rogers - Williams council era.
      I can understand why our memories might confuse the surnames of local political scoundrels. Hendricks = connected to the Port of PA.

    7. I think the operative sentence in the concept was "Now we must get some new council members on whom we can depend to appoint a forward thinking person to finish Lee's two years."

      That is different than assuming we have Rogers et al on council, still, or in the future.

      Of course, we can do nothing, and allow Rogers et al to come back, or do what ever they want. Our choice.

  12. Hey, CK, in case you didn't see it already, the PDN has completely stolen your linking of these two subjects in their "Top of the News" section" that was just posted today. I'm not surprised that people from the PDN come to this site, frankly. Hi, Paul! We all think you're a swine!

    1. Thanks for the tip. Too bad the PDN didn't credit the source for "their" idea.

    2. When it comes to the PDN, I think you can stop at just "too bad," CK.

  13. It is incredibly wasteful and expensive to use water that is filtered and treated to drinking water standards on a lawn.

  14. This study gives some insight into what it takes to succeed in starting up businesses. Maybe the EDC should read it.

  15. It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

    Although the City and others have water rights, they can't drain the river dry. Legally, there comes a point where there has to be enough water in the river for the listed fish.

    So, although the City says it won't be an issue until Fall, we don't know that, for sure. Already, this week, we face abnormally warm weather. If it continues through the summer, with virtually no snow pack to keep the water replenished, we may see the river levels drop significantly. And, sooner than "Fall".

    We see the City has no ability to plan ahead. Look at the financial situation. Last year, there were millions to build fake beaches. Right now, the workmen are down on Front Street spending $20 million to continue with Cutler's "CSO" project. And the City says it is out of money.

    Plan ahead? What if we need to do something, anything in the future? Where is the money going to come from?

    Back to the water situation. Suppose we have scorching hot weather from now on, and the river does drop below levels that the City can draw water from it.
    What are area residents going to do?

    Any plans out there?

    Think it can't happen? Check out what is happening in Sao Paulo.

    "Mar 3, 2015 - Extreme water shortage in Sao Paulo, Brazil's water-rich city.." and " ... complete collapse of Sao Paulo's water supplies for 2015, the long term situation looks increasingly dire. .."

  16. Nope, can't be bothered with thinking about solutions to any of these problems. There are mysterious booms in the West! There is no way these booms could be caused by explosive metal bonding that is actually happening in the West End. No, it's a government conspiracy, like chem trails AND OBAMA WON'T ADMIT TO IT! It's much easier to focus on MYSTERIOUS BOOMS then try to understand the root cause of problems that can actually be solved. Note: Drudge's hyenas have discovered the boom story and are contorting themselves at this moment placing the blame on Obama/Hillary.

  17. too bad our local newspaper can't do some research. There are strange noises all over the world.