Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Is It Still A News Roundup When Everything Seems To Be Going DOWN?

A quick follow-up on several local stories that have been the topics of discussion...

Serenity House is short $350,000 of its annual $2.7 million dollar budget. Bills aren't getting paid, and people are being kicked out of the places they've been housed.

At the "telephone town hall," Steve Tharinger - surprise! - touted biomass, and expressed his support for more jobs on the Peninsula. But, "jobs are tricky," said Tharinger. "There is no real silver bullet."

Meanwhile, his cohorts in the Courthouse approved $150,000 of silver bullets per King Jim's wishes. Formerly contentious Commissioner Mike Chapman is now singing with the choir. At a meeting with the Port, they were also asked to sing along with King Jim's tune.

The only "good news" is that the official unemployment rate in Clallam County fell from 10.2% to 10%. Washington State's unemployment rate remains at 6.3%, while the national rate dropped from 5.7% to 5.5%. Only in Clallam County is a 10% unemployment rate good news.

Meanwhile, surprising absolutely no one, the Lincoln Theater is...STILL...FOR...SALE. Says Scott Nagel, dream weaver:

“Our Lincoln is still there and we are still here. This is Port Angeles. Our town doesn't quit. We still have a theater to save."

Nagel did not return calls Monday or Tuesday. In an email Tuesday night, Nagel said he was ill and "has no voice."


  1. Going to be very interesting to see who gets hired at the EDC. Will they go shameless in your face cronyism or will they go all subterfuge?

    1. Yes, but either way, the people of Clallam County lose, don't they? And get to pay for the privilege.

  2. To sum all these stories up, the exact same people who got us into this mess - unemployment, homelessness, dying downtown, etc. - are supposedly now going to be the ones who lead us out of the wilderness.

    That seems...unlikely.

  3. Anyone else notice that the people in need (even the Lincoln Theater people) have pretty specific things they need to pay for: Buildings, rent, utility bills, etc.

    Meanwhile, the people who want to spend on "economic development" seem to have a bit of trouble being specific. "Hire staff" - but what kind of staff? "Economic development" - which means what exactly?

    Mind you, I'm not very warm and fuzzy for the homeless or Scott Nagel, but damn, at least I know what they want to spend money on. I get way more worried by the vagueness coming out of our supposedly informed elected leaders. My checkbook is on full alert.

  4. Time for a voter revolt. Change can happen at the polls. Sure it may come in fits and false starts but getting the entrenched idiots out of office is the first part. Electing a few dim bulbs to replace them may be an unpleasant side effect but honest folks making honest mistakes is better than the entrenched elite stealing us blind and laughing at the rest of us at their Karen Rogers inspired soirees.

    1. Yes, but...My guess is that a lot of the people who are smart enough to see all that's wrong here, and who might be good to have in an elected position, are A) Not willing to sign up for the abuse, and/or B) Making plans to leave.

      Port Angeles can no longer be thought of as a sinking ship. It has sunk, to the bottom. You can't blame people for being reluctant to sign up as the captain and crew of a sunken ship.

      And to continue with that analogy, it's pretty easy to understand why people would want to get into a lifeboat instead. If you can't save the town, you can at least try to save yourself, right?

      I personally know at least a dozen people who have left, or are gearing up to leave. If property values here ever rise up even a little, I think we'll see a great exodus of people who currently feel trapped here by underwater mortgages and other factors.

    2. Yes, you're right, in some contexts. Yes, the city has been run into the ground by its full time highly paid City staff who have not had any long range vision, and part-time council members who have voted to support city staff in what it proposes. Yes, people have left in frustration over this situation.

      But, this situation is not unique to Port Angeles. Most recently, the City announced it realized it had taxed the residents "to the limits". At about the same time, the national press announced the Federal government had reached it's debt ceiling. Pretty much the same situation.

      In todays' paper, we are told the Port Angeles city council is now "setting priorities" in trying to figure how to balance service needs of the community, with the ability of the population to pay for them. The national press tells us that national budget issues will be discussed for the next number of months leading up to this Fall's deadlines for a decision.

      Maybe this is about responsibility, more than anything else. Maybe we need to understand we can't abandon our responsibilities to be involved in our communities and it's governance to "somebody else" to take care of for us.

      In the context of pollution, some believe bad stuff just "goes away". We see Kilmer in todays' paper urging Victoria to stop dumping sewage in the Strait, where some think it just "goes away". But as world renown environmentalist David Suzuki says "There is no "away"".

      Similarly, I'm not so sure we can just move away, leaving our "polluted" communities for someone else to deal with. I'm not so sure that taking the attitude that "we vote for them to deal with the problems" is an adequate rationale. Obviously, that approach isn't working very well, is it?

      "Garbage in, garbage out", as we used to say in the early days of the technology revolution. If we didn't put in quality information into the computer, we knew we couldn't expect any meaningful results.

      We know the problem in Port Angeles. We've had a series of "go along to get along" people sitting in council seats. Virtually none have dared to seriously question, challenge or resist the efforts of city staff and what it has proposed.

      Yes, people can (and will continue to) leave Port Angeles. With any luck, they will find better places than Port Angeles. Wonderful for them. But Port Angeles isn't going away. It will be here, in some form or another.

      Half of Detroit's 1.8 million residents left, and there are now 80,000 empty houses there. You could move 4 entire Port Angeles to those empty houses, in that one city! But, Detroit is still there, working through its' problems.

      So, those of us that remain here need to accept our responsibilities, get involved, and take over City Hall.

  5. So the commissioners, including Mike Chapman, approved $150,000 for the EDC, without specifying how it will be spent, and without there even being a governing board in place for the EDC yet, thanks to the reorganization.

    Most places in the developed world, that would be seen as crazy, as naked cronyism, as corrupt. But here in Clallam County, it's just business as usual.

    Hmmmm....Could that have any connection to our persistently sky-high unemployment rates? Hmmmm....

  6. A couple things I think need to be pointed out, gleaned from todays "news".

    "Serenity House served nearly 4,000 people in 2014.."

    Serenity House served more than 20% of Port Angeles' entire population, by itself. As in, not including those served by all the OTHER agencies and organizations in Port Angeles. 20% !!! And, there are a lot of other organizations and agencies in Port Angeles dedicated to helping the needy.

    So, What is the total percentage of residents in Port Angeles that receive help, because they cannot make it on their own? How do these high numbers impact other efforts in the community, like economic development, airline service, the Lincoln, downtown revitalization, the new high school, etc? If people can't afford their own lives, how are they going to contribute funds or effort for these other projects?

    Then, also in that article, we see the following: "Electricity for its subsidized apartments totals $88,000.

    Garbage collection costs $6,000, and water and sewer utilities in Port Angeles and Sequim run up another $165,000.

    Schaefer said the agency has sought utilities forbearance from the city of Port Angeles but has been refused..."

    So, as we see, the City has money for fake beaches, money for Cutlers' Turd Tank, and money to pay people NOT to use Glenn Cutlers' Turd Tank, but doesn't have money to give the homeless shelter a break on the high utility costs. And, those utility costs are so high, because of the City's insistence on building these crazy projects.

    Next, we have Scott Nagel, and the Lincoln. As noted, his Crab Fest event still isn't profitable after all these years. The City has $60,000 for a tent for an event that cannot generate enough money to support itself, but doesn't have enough money to give a break in the costs of utilities for the homeless shelter, or to continue funding the assistance to victims of domestic violence program.

    After 2 months of a highly publicized fundraising effort, Nagel failed to raise the money to buy the Lincoln. He also failed (so far) to disclose how much money actually WAS pledged. Did he get close? From published accounts, it seemed he lost money, from $70,000 at first accounting to $20,000 by the last statement.

    Big surprise in a community with so many needing services to get by each month.

    To add to the "big picture" in todays' news is the article about the consultants report to the Port Commissioners about airline service from Port Angeles to Seattle.

    "Forecast’s “true market demand estimate” predicts 147 passengers could fly to Sea-Tac and beyond each day with an average fare of $253 — including distant connections — and total potential revenue of $27.2 million."

    And: " Port Commissioner Jim Hallett asked Munson, “Do you mean we can make the case that a scheduled airline can be viable here?”

    “Absolutely,” Munson answered."

    Umm. If regularly scheduled air service out of Port Angeles were so "absolutely" viable, why have all the other air lines that have actually tried to BE viable here, failed? You know, like, real life experience is more valid than a paid consultants' opinion?

    As has been said previously, it looks like one of the biggest problems in Port Angeles is this pattern of approaching issues with a view of what they want Port Angeles to be, and not seeing the situation for what it really is. The City went ahead and spent millions on projects, seemingly thinking residents were rich and able to pay for all these things, only to find out after the fact that residents are "below average in incomes". Thus driving even more residents to needing the services of Serenity House, and others.

    Scott Nagel and Meth ner both happily ran campaigns to raise money for projects the community couldn't afford. And the Port spends money on consultants to re-visit an issue they have been shown repeatedly is not economically viable.

    All in todays' news.

    1. Thank you for your comments. I should simply insert them in place of my own, being that yours were both comprehensive and eloquent. Thanks again.

    2. Thank YOU. We're doing what we can, and you do the lion's share. It's your hard work that allows our views to be shared.

      With any luck, the decision makers will wake up and see how crazy this has all become.

      Thanks again.

    3. Remember: This blog averages around 3-400 pageviews per day, with those numbers dropping a bit on Friday and Saturday. Certainly some people come here more than once a day, but still, I think it's safe to say that, on any given day, you're speaking to 2-300 of your fellow citizens here. I think that's pretty good.

      And think about this...It sure seems like this blog averages at least fifteen to twenty-five comments per day, usually spread out over the most recent two or three topics. If you look at ALL the articles on the PDN's website on any given day, it's not unusual to only see five or six comments total. So this sure seems like much more of a public forum than the PDN's website. I think that's pretty good, too.

      Now, obviously, this blog isn't anywhere near as popular as, say, Scott T. Collins' blog (who has world leaders reading it, don't ya know), but still, I think it's pretty good.

      Thanks for the kind words, and thanks for participating.

    4. 2-300 people IS pretty good. The level of intellegence seems higher than average (as judged by spelling, syntax and sentence structure), but the predominent theme is a negative slant on everything. No suggestions for doing it better, just anti-everything. I understand that was CK's stated purpose for starting this blog, and it has certainly attracted people of similar inclination (most of the 10 - 15 consistent commenters). I believe things are turning around, and the best way for that to happen is for people to pick one of three choices: Lead; Follow; or get out of the way.

    5. Well, I would argue that. Somewhat. I definitely agree that there needs to be leadership in Port Angeles. But it needs to be different from the leadership we've had so far. Much, much different.

      But CK's blog and Dale's paper are necessary to point out WHY we need different leadership, what problems have led us to this mess and, yes, what leaders need to avoid in the future.

      I've always thought of PAU and PoC as muckraking. Not so much about leading forward as exposing those who are holding us back. And there are those holding this town back, never doubt that. We need something to keep tabs on those people, to make sure that we CAN move forward.

      That's a fourth choice, or fourth estate if you will, that I think this town sorely needs.

    6. There are, obviously, more than 10-15 consistent commenters.
      Meanwhile, maybe if the rah-rah group would let people be heard, and not insist that all is smelling of roses in the shit dump, perhaps, those of us frustrated with the state of affairs, would start offering up some suggestions, and pitch in.
      The PROBLEM IS, and always has been, that the leaders, and those who keep pushing that they are the leaders, have no vision, little worldly experience, and are arrogant xenophobes.

  7. Older than average. Poorer than average. Higher unemployment than average. Higher rates of substance abuse than average.

    Clearly, Clallam County and Port Angeles stand out for all the wrong reasons. Some of that is due to location and demographics, sure. But a lot of it - A LOT - has to do with the so-called leaders we wind up with here.

    Generally speaking, they're 5 watt bulbs in a 100 watt world.

  8. You missed one other story today, CK. There's yet another rumor of yet another airline that might, maybe, possibly, service Port Angeles.

    Which would be great, because then it'd be possible to fly away from this sad place...

  9. "jobs are tricky," said Tharinger. "There is no real silver bullet."

    Wow. A local politician is actually acknowledging that? Usually they just run around in circles talking about all the jobs that will magically appear if they spend more money. After all, if we go bankrupt grabbing and cleaning the Rayonier land we'll get a high-end car showroom. Right?

    I think what happened is politicians finally realized we're tapped out. What taxpayers that haven't fled are unable to fund much more. The well's gone dry. Not all have acknowledged this yet, but more are realizing it. It's amazing what happens when politicians realize they aren't getting all the money they want.

  10. Every other time they ran an article about the Lincoln Theater, at least a few people would chime in with "Oh boys!" and "This will be greats!" There was even that lonely poster here who stated in no uncertain terms that "the Lincoln is going to happen."

    Now that it hasn't, it's total silence. I noticed that even Diane Urbani gave up, and the PDN has Arwyn Rice writing the Lincoln's obit article.

    Is anyone REALLY surprised?

    1. That's very perceptive...

  11. That IS funny, in a sad kinda way.

  12. Meanwhile the Sequim grain elevator has been purchased and business will soon be happening again at that location. Showing that somebody knows how to save a town historical landmark building.

    1. But compare the two... The person who bought the grain elevator already has a tenant for it. She knows what kind of restoration it will take to get Baja Cantina up and running, and a timeline for that to happen. In the meantime she's working with the museum for a longer-term restoration of the grain elevator itself. She hasn't released budget figures, but I suspect she's figured out how much restoration will cost. She also funded this herself.

      We haven't seen any financial figures for restoration of the Lincoln, we don't even know what kind of restoration is being planned. There's little mention of what the use will be, except for a vague "community theater". One suspects the JFFA will use it, but since they lose money every year I doubt they could pay for it. How much will this cost? How will it generate revenue? And yet we're supposed to pay for it without hearing the specifics?

      Maybe Nagel could take a few pointers.

  13. Breaking (bad) news: Port Angeles City Council member Lee Whetham has announced he's running for Port Commissioner.

    Here's Whetham's record, in brief:

    Claims to be a progressive, yet signed up to run against the person who was the most progressive member of the City Council, Max Mania. This left three more conservative candidates/incumbents without challengers. Since being elected, Whetham has displayed no pronounced progressive tendencies, nor has he seriously pushed back at staff and/or their ongoing slew of bad ideas.

    Claims in his press release to have "defeated online publisher" Peter Ripley in the election for his seat. Left unsaid is that Peter is a lunatic, serial candidate, and comes pre-defeated.

    Claims to be "a proven problem solver and consensus builder," though he provides no details, perhaps owing to the fact that he has, in actuality, solved no problems and built no consensus. See comments above. Lee Whetham has filled a seat, and that's about it.

    Whetham hasn't even been on the City Council a year and a half, and is already bailing out for bigger and better things. Of course, he was prodded into running for the City Council, and his handlers are no doubt moving him along up the ladder this time, too. Ever wonder who those handlers are? So do I.

    If he wins, he will resign his City Council seat, which will leave it up to the rest of the City Council to appoint his replacement. We all know how well that's gone in the past, don't we?

    To mix my metaphors, this is like playing musical chairs on the deck of the Titanic. The same few people cycling around and around while the ship goes down.

  14. Oh, great. Now there may be another chance for the Port Angeles City Council to appoint yet another blockhead crony to fill Lee Whetham's place, since he's running for Port Commissioner now.

    What is it with these people who can't even finish ONE term before trying to run for something else? First Sissi runs for County Commissioner, now this. It'd be nice if they told us when they ran for the first spot that they were REALLY angling to run for something else soon. But then, that would involve honesty.

  15. It's like the so-called powers that be can't put two facts together. We have - at least - 10% unemployment here. We're poor, folks. So why, why, would you be thinking an air carrier is going to make it here? Especially since several have tried, and failed.

    Meanwhile, the consultant who is spinning this hogwash to the Port is getting more than a lot of families here make in a year. It's insanity. It's also cruel.