Sunday, April 26, 2015

When Is a Deficit NOT a Deficit?

It seems like a riddle, but it's not: When is a deficit NOT a deficit? Well, I think it's not a deficit when it's the result of a shortfall that you should have seen coming. That's sure the case with the City's latest plea of poverty. "Oh! Nippon isn't producing as much paper as before! Which means they aren't using as much power as before! Which means we aren't getting as much in utility taxes as before! Oh, woe is us!"
And so the cry goes forth to cut, cut, cut, all blamed on the deficit, currently estimated to be in the range of $250-350,000.
But the only real deficit on hand is a deficit of City Council members with working eyes and/or brains.
Between seven City Council members, they didn't even have
a single eye open to see this coming.

Hey, City Council morons, listen up: This state of affairs should be no surprise. Harold Norlund spent his past couple of years at Nippon talking about how their production levels were down, and continuing to fall. And Harold has been gone for some time now.
In other words, you should have known this was coming, and planned accordingly. I seem to remember Max Mania talking about his desire to have a City budget that didn't include or rely on Nippon utility taxes in any way - just in case. Given the current state of affairs, that might have been a prudent way to go, eh?
Oh, and in case all this STILL hasn't sunk in, let's have another little reminder, shall we? Remember: Nippon produces paper for newspapers and phonebooks, both of which are shrinking markets. So, going forward, it would be wise not to depend on any sort of big comeback from Nippon's production.
But, since that would be the wise thing to do, I don't think I'll hold my breath waiting for you all to do it. We all know that facts have never really gotten in the way of decision-making in Port Angeles, have they?

Friday, April 24, 2015

Is Clallam County Smarter Than Boeing? Or Just a Good Place to Make a Scam Fly High?

The recipe is pretty basic: Stupid, cooked up in a base of no hard facts, smothered in a thick sauce of nepotism, and served with a side of "jobs, jobs, jobs" for the suckers in the audience...

A proposed composites recycling center in Port Angeles will move $1 million closer to construction if a Clallam County advisory panel gets its way.

The Opportunity Fund Advisory Board voted 4-1 Thursday to recommend that county commissioners advance that amount to finish a 25,000-square-foot shell building at William R. Fairchild International Airport.

If the port receives the Opportunity Fund money and another $2 million from a federal grant, construction could start in July, with operations opening in January.

The center initially would employ six people, with 111 working there within five years at annual incomes ranging from $35,000 to $72,000, its backers told the advisory board.

Companies that include aerospace firms in the Puget Sound region could spool their trimmed material like ribbon and store it in refrigerated semi-trailers parked at their factories.

The port would ship the trimmings to Port Angeles — initially about six truckloads a month — where it would be wound onto mandrels for reforming or be chopped or ground into pieces suitable for making new sheets of material and eventually manufactured items for the cycling, water sports or agriculture markets.

Including the cost of refrigerated shipping, the port could acquire composite material — worth $44 a pound in its raw form — for $10 a pound and turn the savings into family-wage paychecks.

The proposal wasn’t without its critics.

In a letter supporting her “no” vote, OFAB member Sharon DelaBarre questioned whether the materials could be transported easily to Port Angeles, and whether a skilled workforce could be recruited in Clallam County. 

Sequim resident Bob Lynette said he worries whenever academic institutions partnered with governmental agencies on projects like the recycling center because, he said, they seldom do adequate research.

“Why hasn’t Boeing and these other companies said, ‘Yeah, we’ll put in hard cash to get this going’?” he asked.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

No Need to Send in the Clowns - They're Already Here

Thanks to a poster for the following account of the City Council meeting from last night. It's dysfunctional and insane, but, for a Port Angeles City Council meeting, not out of the ordinary...
City Council was a circus this evening.

After an emotional back-and-forth over a request by Cherie Kidd to go by herself and find funding for suicide barriers for the 8th Street bridges, and after spending another $1.16 million on the waterfront project, she later said " The community should be excited with what we're giving them. This is a great day for Port Angeles."

They also passed an ordinance to allow them to take tens of thousands (might have been hundreds of thousands, they sure were not clear on the total numbers!) out of reserves for a stormwater and sewer project on Georgiana. When asked, staff admitted this was not planned for, and might have benefits for future developments in the area.

Wasn't it just a few weeks ago they invited the public to chose which social services they wanted cut, because the city didn't have enough money for programs like domestic violence assistance? 
Pennywise and pound foolish...

There was also an "emergency" request for funding to replace the cooling system for the Pen Com system, which apparently broke. How much? "I don't know" replied city staff. How long to get repairs lined up? 60 to 90 days. Or more. They asked for a waiver of the competitive bidding process, too.

When asked for more details, little was available, guessing at the size of the room, and such. "We're trying to be proactive." Hmmm. What does that mean? Is it really an emergency, or another "creative" way to get things done?

Oh, the meeting started with a proclamation given to Revitalize group, proclaiming May "Beautify Port Angeles Month".

Somebody got up during public comment to say having a huge oil derrick in the harbor didn't do much for beautifying Port Angeles, and that drilling for oil in the Arctic wasn't very beautiful, either.
The Clallam County jobless rate dropped from a revised 9.9 percent in February to a preliminary 8.3 percent in March, the state Employment Security Department reported Tuesday.
Jobless rates do not factor those who are underemployed, commute to other counties or have quit looking for work.
According to the March report, Clallam County had 220 more employed citizens — from 24,810 in February to 25,030 in March — while the size of its workforce shrank by 240 to 27,300.
Statewide unemployment dipped from 6.3 percent to 5.9 percent last month, while seasonally adjusted national unemployment remained at 5.5 percent.
If the workforce shrank more than it grew...Did it really grow? Or did more people just go?

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Why Do They Do It? Audacious or Obnoxious?

It's good to try and grow personally and professionally.
It's good to set standards.
It's good to have goals.
But it's foolish to open your mouth and let random numbers come tumbling out with nothing to support them. Especially when those numbers are attached to the word "jobs." And especially when those numbers, and that word "jobs" are being bandied about in Clallam County.
So it's foolish, yes, but the hot air-filled egos in charge of various governing bodies just can't seem to help themselves. If you run into a politician at the coffee shop and say hello, they're likely to respond with something like "Creating twelve new jobs by noon today!" It's a sad, counterproductive epidemic.
Said epidemic is currently raging through the Port of Port Angeles...
Port of Port Angeles Commissioners have committed themselves to increasing Clallam County employment by 1,250 jobs by 2020. That figure tops the Port's vision of a "prosperous Clallam County" that's part of the strategic plan Commissioners discussed at their meeting last week.
“That's an audacious goal, but it's not impossible,” said Commissioner Jim Hallett, repeating his contention that the port should be the county's lead economic development agency. "Some of that we'd darn well better do, or the public should vote us out," he said.
“We need to be the lead on this. The other agencies, the EDC [Economic Development Council], they're fine, but this is our exclusive domain."
CCO stands for Corrupt, Creepy and Obnoxious.
Sigh...Which part of this is most idiotic? The random number? The fact that it tops their own previous number from just last week? Is it the part where, after setting this goal, Hallett says they better do "some" of it? Or is it the part when he says people should vote them out - at some future date when they may not be holding that office anymore anyway? Maybe it's the part where he claims this is the Port's "exclusive domain."
Or maybe the whole thing is idiotic. I'd even go so far as to suggest that, if we drilled down into Jim Hallett's feverish pinhead, we'd discover that it's empty, and that he himself is idiotic.
Idiotic, yes, but holding a position of authority. A position he gained in an uncontested election. Proving once again that in Clallam County, you don't have to be smart, you don't have to be honest, and you don't have to be legitimate. You just have to take what you want, and the hell with the public.
Jobs! Jobs! Jobs! By this time tomorrow! I PROMISE!

Thursday, April 16, 2015


Sometimes, a headline really does tell the whole tale. Such is the case with the following headline:
Port Angeles Regional Chamber of Commerce can't muster enough voters to reorganize, so it'll stay the same

So what if the Chamber has been a dismal failure? Whatever.
So what if it's clear the present model and leadership isn't working? Eh.
So what if it sends the worst possible signal that your organization doesn't even care enough to vote on its own future? Double eh.

Hell, COC members didn't even care enough to vote "no" to the reorganization. They couldn't muster even 15% of their members to vote. Since the ballots didn't come with a plate of shitty chicken and a sleep-inducing presentation, maybe they didn't know they were supposed to do something? Who knows? And who cares? Apparently not the members of the COC. You know, the ones who are Captains of Industry and Stewards of the Economy.
Meanwhile, Russ Venalmaw is all set to get his totally undeserved $42,000 golden parachute. Considering how little Russ has to show for his tenure - which is to say, nothing - that's a pretty big chunk of change to shell out just for the pleasure of having him leave.
Meanwhile, speaking of shells...How about that shell game with tax dollars to build the fabled composites recycling center? Basically all the parties are agreeing to waste, er, invest, their money if everyone else is.
Forget the suicide railings on the bridge; Port Angeles needs suicide railings at public meetings, to keep the people in charge of economic development from jumping into every hare-brained scheme and lunatic venture that passes by.


Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Brother, Can You Spare Two Dimes?*

I know that I get bashed by some readers for being too cynical, too hard on governing bodies who are "trying" to make things better. So I know full well that some of you will disagree with what I'm about to say...But really, how excited should anyone get about the "economic development tax break" the County has just approved?
A $100 purchase in unincorporated Clallam County will cost 20 cents less when an open-ended sales tax holiday takes effect July 1.
Let me repeat that underwhelming news for you, in case the scale of it escaped you the first time.
A $100 purchase in unincorporated Clallam County will cost 20 cents less when an open-ended sales tax holiday takes effect July 1.
Clallam County is really Ka-ching a break!
Gosh! What will people do with all those savings? Attention Scott Nagel: Get ready for a flood of 20 cent donations.
Are these guys kidding? Really? This is it? This is the best you could do?
Yep. Let's go to Commissioner Mike Chapman, who has put the flipped in flip-flop, for an enthusiastic explanation of this grand plan:
"It's obviously not going to change anybody's life, but it might help. It might help. I don't know. I don't have the answer."
Points for honesty, Mike ("I don't know."), but demerits for you for voting for something you don't seem to understand, believe in, or are able to actually endorse.
Meanwhile, back on planet Facts and Figures...Stan Creasey, the chief accountant in the County's own Auditor's Office, had this to say about the plan to spend down the County's reserves:
The commissioners’ spending plan would reduce the general fund balance to perhaps $9.5 million by the end of the year and could result in a $1.8 million deficit for 2016, Creasey said.

Spending down reserves would put the general fund “back into a position of financial panic” that could be exacerbated by another recession, he added.
Save those dimes, folks. You're gonna need them.
Clallam County: Doubling Down on the Depression.
*Thanks to The Simpsons for letting me borrow their title.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Send Out the Search Terms

Just a few of the search terms that have brought people to this blog in the past few days...

"olympic medical center bluff erosion"...

"rich sill clallam county"...

"angeles composite technologies"...

"esprit port angeles 2015"...

And five people have landed here after searching for pprt angeles unearthed. Read (and type) that one carefully.

However, no one, apparently, has landed here after searching for "lincoln theater port angeles"...Which, by the way, is still for sale.

Scott? Hello? Skills Center? Anyone? Hello?

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Lame by Association

I know, I know...This isn't exactly a Life or Death issue, but I still think it tells something about the troubles (cultural and otherwise) that Port Angeles faces.
Not that the worship of youth for its own sake is healthy, but, realistically, without young people around, there is no future. They are the workers, leaders, artists and customers of tomorrow and beyond.
Generally speaking, music festivals and pop or rock concerts have a youthful air about them. I mean, the phrase is, "Hey kids, let's put on a show!"
So here we have Clallam County's leading music festival, the Juan De Fuca Festival, holding one of their "rockin'" pre-JFFA concerts, and the headline act is...The Association. The PDN article about the group, rightly, focuses on the fact that the band is old - very old. The two original members still in it are 71 and 75 years old, respectively. Their heyday was around 50 years ago.
PLEASE NOTE: I'm not picking on The Association, or older people, or any combo thereof. I'm merely noting how appropriate this choice is for the demographics of Clallam County. It is, overall, a very old place. The school age population is shrinking. Sequim has the highest median age in the entire state. The broad picture is not one of youthful energy and dynamism. Rather, it's one of crumbling, grumbling and decline. The old people in charge - including those in charge of the JFFA - aren't just unable to change this, they're unable to even admit there might be a problem in the first place.
Here's another hot platter you Clallam kids might enjoy...

But there is a problem, of course. Cultures and economies both grow and thrive in great part based on youthful energy and ideas and consumption. But in Clallam County, "Hey kids, let's put on a show!" has been totally eclipsed by "Hey Old Man, let's cook up another scam!"
Therefore, since (generally speaking) it's young people who go to the movies, the Lincoln Theater didn't make financial sense to keep open. In other words, no show. Which has leant itself naturally to the Nagel and Gase sham show scam.
There are lots of ways to change this dynamic, and at least try to get back on track, at least try to create a community that is welcoming to and nurturing of young people, young ideas. But it's literally a tough sell in Clallam County. Which is one of the main reasons that one of its nicknames is "God's Waiting Room."