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?

48 comments:

  1. This is a horse and buggy City Council in a smart car world.

    And here we are.

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  2. If the city had been budgeting like Max suggested, and then Nippon produced paper, well then, you've got a pleasant surprise SURPLUS in your budget at the end of the year. But doing it the way the city does it, you wind up with these "unexpected" DEFICITS. One way is, in my opinion, preferable to the other...

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  3. Yes, here we see again the way the staff frames and twists information to suit their goals. We're not broke, we just have more bills than money. Okay.

    The big problem is that so many take what staff says as fact, from the beginning. How many examples, over how many years do we need to have before we see the pattern? Before we see the truth? We see repeatedly that staff will say completely contradictory things at the same time.

    So, the first thing is not to accept what staff says, without checking it out for yourself. Assuming they are mis-representing the situation until you know otherwise.

    You know, like Council member Whetham saying Clallam is the suicide capital of the State to get support for funding the bridge fences, when in fact, Clallam ranks 6th in the State for suicides.

    Or, as we saw at the last council meeting, where the city literally spent millions of dollars on un-needed projects (like the waterfront project), but only a few days later, repeats that the city has no money, and programs needs to be cut.

    How clearly do we need to see what they do, before we object to the blatant manipulations? Are we all so doped up, cynical and or asleep as to just nod and smile as they lie straight to our faces?

    Haven't we had enough examples of how they so adeptly phrase issues in "government speak" so as to make it sound like black is white, night is day, and bad is good?

    How pointless is it to discuss the situation when the information being used is obviously self-serving manipulations?

    Yet, this is exactly what happens at city council, and other governmental decision making meetings. The conversation is guided by staff to support their predetermined objectives and conclusions.

    And most everyone just plays along.

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  4. Here's a plan to move forward. Elect new city council. Fire city manager and city attorney. Then dare the remaining futha muckers to bring anything to council that is not 100% provable and incontrovertible. If there are two ways to look at information inform our dimwitted council there are two ways to look at it and let them decide. First things first, get rid of the existing council and start over from scratch. We cannot possibly do any worse than we are now. Dan McKeen has been on the gravy train so long he feels entitled. All these department heads need a shake-up. As Lee Whetham said we are way too top-heavy with mid-level personnel. Let the department heads get their hands dirty for a while. Let them earn their obscene salaries. Let a few heads roll and it will do wonders for productivity. Morale will slump for a while but overall they will come back with renewed attention to detail and an aversion to the bullshit they serve up so readily to the imbecilic egg-sucking council.

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  5. Why does this sound a lot like what the EDC is saying about the timber industry? Timber industry isn't providing jobs like they used to, most of the product goes overseas rather than being processed by locals and the timber market is declining... But by gum that's what the EDC is going to focus on! Who needs a diverse economy that is better able to withstand economic downturns? We sure don't!

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    Replies
    1. But it IS diverse! They'd like to cut down all sorts of trees! Isn't that diverse enough for you?

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  6. I think the city will have lots and lots of time to ponder this particular deficit going forward, since I don't think the Nippon mill will be coming back online at all, or, if it does, at anything close to what it was doing before. The end is near, but the deficit is (already) here!

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  7. Randy Johnson of Green Crow is the new president of the EDC. No doubt where their economic development interests remain. Bill Greenwood, executive director of EDC is burning bridges with everyone who is not all about timber. Eric Lewis, Exec. Director of the OMC has his nose so far up Jim McEntire's ass all he can see is sawdust. I guess that is what it takes to get more and more funding for OMC. They are not content with a tap on the property taxes they just want more and more and more. At the same time, if you bring in a medical problem which they are not capable of making money off of they will send you back on the street to die like a dog. What we allow to pass for leadership is abysmal. If folks don't get out and vote at this next election the existing dysfunction may become endemic and forever place us in the "distressed" county category for years to come. We have some bright, intelligent, capable people who can run this place much better than what we've got. All that is necessary is to get out and get involved. Inform yourself and get your name on a ballot. If you can set your bullshit meter to real sensitive you can make a difference. Right now "staff" make all the decisions and elected officials just vote as they are told by the overpaid staff and all go their merry way. Presently the city of port angeles is over one hundred million in debt and no permanent jobs were created while putting the population on the hook for this outrageous debt. A new broom sweeps clean and we need a house cleaning.

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  8. Hey CK, see if you can get together a list of lies told to taxpayers by city staff. I think that would be instructive to anyone reading this blog. I bet most readers have been lied to if they ever brought a question to city staff. We should pass an ordinance to wit: Any staff member who lies or in anyway purposefully misinforms a taxpayer will be fired on the spot. Same goes for any council member with the addition of a public flogging on the steps of the court house.

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  9. News Flash; The Nippon Mill will close sooner than we realize.
    For a while, some will cry while others will be jumping for joy.
    The former mill will never start up again and yet another (do nothing but talk) State Ecology overseen Clean-up Plan will drag on for decades.
    Unfortunately, the reality will be skyrocketing utility rates, escalating local/regional taxes, massive small business closures, ever declining local social and welfare services, more drug addition, and even broader based local infrastructure and public service decay.
    Port Angeles, no vision, no hope, no future.

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    1. Sounds like you're pretty sure. (And I agree with you, by the way.) Are you hearing this from inside the mill, or just watching reality from outside?

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    2. "Unfortunately, the reality will be skyrocketing utility rates, escalating local/regional taxes, massive small business closures, ever declining local social and welfare services, more drug addition, and even broader based local infrastructure and public service decay."

      So, business as usual then?

      As for Nippon, I believe I read on here that they have a grant that's contingent on them staying open until 2017? I can't remember the details however.

      After that I'm pretty certain they'll close up. If the city was smart they'd prepare for this.

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    3. Yes, they just need to "produce" paper until then, even if it's only one roll of paper towels a year, to get the money. At which point, said money will go back to Japan, and the Nippon workers can go back to their homes, because their jobs will be no more.

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  10. A lot of smoke coming out of the stacks at Nippon over the last couple days.I did find that comment the other day in the PDN saying the mill wouldn't comment on anything to do with the mill and it's future, interesting.

    Why not continue with the usual " Everything is wonderful in Port Angeles" line? Instead " No comments"??

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  11. There are a lot of big changes on the horizon that our local leadership is neglecting to face. They, along with our leadership on the Federal level.

    Locally, we saw what happened to the fiscal planning of Port Angeles when Nippon closed down one of it's two paper machines a few months ago. Even today, the city is re-evaluating what programs to cut (if you can believe them) specifically as a result of the loss of tax revenue from that one event.

    Also recently, we heard from the Port of Port Angeles that they expect "declining revenues" as well, as log shipments to China diminish.

    But, if you pay attention to what the state and federal governments are saying, you will hear a similar refrain. On the Federal level, is the ever growing debt that our fearless leadership avoid dealing with, and who keep passing stop-gap legislation to put off facing. But, it isn't going away. Next go-round is coming up in a few months, and don't expect much action during election campaigning.

    State also speaks of declining revenues, and the need to cut the budget.

    In fact, all levels of government are speaking of cutting programs and reducing their budgets.

    So, we don't need to have Nippon closing down, to know our community, which is so dependent on hand-outs from the State and Feds, is facing serious changes ahead. We may be a "distressed" county, but if they don't have money, we're not going to be getting the handouts this local government has structured itself upon.

    Time to look for local solutions to our situation. The tax/grant gravy train is going out of business.

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  12. So...A "surprise" "deficit" on one hand, and continued spending on Nathan West's Beach and Boardwalk on the other. Now the Opportunity Fund Advisory Board (OFAB) is recommending that the County spend $285,952 on Nathan's little ego-boosting BS.

    Meanwhile, you tell me...Are there any streets in Port Angeles that could use repairing or repaving? Are there any light or telephone poles that look like they're on their last legs? How's downtown doing? Looking good? Per the flexible Terry Gallagher, isn't the City still short of police officers?

    In other words, does Port Angeles have anything at all resembling PRIORITIES? No, of course not. It's a cobbled together, piecemeal approach to sucking up grant dollars that drives the City staff. No vision, other than getting the next handout. No goals, other than retaining their jobs.

    Related to water and development...Neither of which the City of Port Angeles does right...There's a pending penalty that will (in theory) be leveled against Dimwit Dan Morrison, the sprint boat land rapist. More on that later...

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    1. The fact that Brad Collins characterizes this wasteful and useless spending as "the city's primary economic development effort" is shameful and stupid. As has been pointed out before, who in the world is going to make a special trip here to sit on Nathan's beach and watch the log yard, or Nippon's smokestack? That would be no one. No one is going to do that.

      But, even if someone did do that, to get to that beach, they'd have to drive over our lousy roads, past our empty storefronts, and through the generally blighted town. And hopefully they won't be here on a weekend or after 5pm, because then everything downtown will be closed, and they can simply go home hungry.

      In other words, what do we have to offer, other than a new, small, artificial beach with a horrible view and too much wind? We have nothing to offer, that's what. Maybe Brad Collins and the City Council should work on that before pouring millions of dollars they can't afford into vanity projects. Maybe they should work on making this a functional town first, and then let the pretty take care of itself.

      Maybe?

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    2. For $285,000, you could buy the Lincoln Theater (which is still for sale!) AND have fifty grand left over to pay Scott Nagel to strut around badgering people for a year. That MIGHT have a lasting effect, who knows?

      But that expensive new beach? All I see are maintenance costs and the city having to buy sand to feed it...forever.

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    3. I really am of two minds on the waterfront projects. On the one hand I've been saying for years that Railroad Ave is a shithole that scares off tourists and locals alike. That it breaks up the ODT, one of the few tourist attractions bringing people in. That the town has few walkable areas outside the sidewalk grid, that there isn't a good promenade for food trucks or events. That there's a massive difference between arriving in Victoria and arriving in Port Angeles.

      On the other hand, this project is expensive. Massively expensive. And I can't help but feel the ship has sailed, so to speak. The ferry traffic ain't like it was. Tourists are bypassing downtown for Hurricane Ridge and Forks. Is this really going to help?

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    4. Tourists are not bypassing downtown for Forks. Please. If you think we have troubles hanging on to visitors, take look at the visitor count in Forks.

      The waterfront project would actually make sense if it were tied into an upgrade at the tired, rundown Red Lion, in addition to a realistic plan for a few festivals besides the Crab Fest. Several food trucks, some kayak and kite rental stands, and a flower kiosk would not go amiss, either. Contrary to the oft stated opinion here that our harbor has an ugly view, it really doesn't. The mill will go away soon. The logs and the working ships have a certain rugged appeal. We don't stink the way Port Townsend does when the wind blows off their paper mill. Tourists goggling at the recent Behemoth squatting in our harbor were actually enjoying the view, as were the many people strolling along the waterfront on the day of the kayak festival.

      The problem is that the waterfront development is not being accompanied by the amenities mentioned above, and there is no clear way to provide them. Our lack of a good hotel is a fatal problem, not just bad, fatal. The kind of people with money to spend who would enjoy strolling along the water and the pier and looking into shops, wine bars, and restaurants, are being given no reason to walk that stretch of waterfront and no comfortable, pleasant place to stay along the water.

      Everything down there is just half-assed. The hotel is poor. The design of the buildings, from the ferry terminal to the absolute mess that houses Wine on the Waterfront, an otherwise tourist friendly wine bar, is totally unwelcoming and awkward. The Feiro Center is tiny and not very appealing. It's as if someone handed a group of landowners, planners, architects, and developers a sack of gold and told them to do whatever it took to turn it to lead.

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    5. Just because the mill is almost certainly going to CLOSE soon, doesn't mean it will GO AWAY. That eyesore will be there for years and years to come. Just couldn't let that comment pass...

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    6. You all probably saw the news article in the PDN that visitors to Hurricane Ridge were up 10% last year? Clearly Port Angeles is incapable of getting it's act together to attract any of those tourist dollars. They'd rather just continue with the infighting between all the local economic development and business association groups. Very sad that there are obviously visitors coming here for the Park, literally being handed to us, and still there's no reason for them to linger in the downtown district.

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    7. Leaving aside your extreme optimism about Nippon "going away"... Why would the Red Lion spend money upgrading their hotel? Why would any other hotel build downtown? And where? Kayaking sounds great but where would they launch? Hollywood beach? It's disgusting there, and usually flooded with sewage, oil and God knows what else.

      There is no reason for private enterprise to grow in Port Angeles without cleaning up the town, and there's no reason for Port Angeles to clean up the town without private growth. So we have a chicken or the egg situation with the rest of us caught in the middle.

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    8. the owners of the hotel "upgrade" to take the costs off their taxes. They might be upgrading in preparation of selling it. Please, it's not a rosy outlook.

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    9. The view of Port Angeles is not that bad? Are you kidding?

      I was on my way into town this afternoon, and was at that point by Peabody where you are just coming down into downtown, and can see all of Port Angeles. The log yards and smokestacks are the most dominant things I saw. And then, the non-descript buildings. The harbor had the oil derrick in it, with it's support ships.

      There was nothing attractive or appealing to be seen.

      Really, if you're "on vacation", with everything so many other places have to offer, why would ANYONE choose to come to Port Angeles?

      And, after being here for 150 years, and still struggling, clearly nobody IS coming here. Get a clue, folks.

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  13. The people here need jobs, and can't pay their utility bills, and send their kids to failing schools, and drugs are everywhere....and the city says "Let them eat beach."

    Or was it pound sand? Either way, great, just great.

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  14. Elections are coming up, register and vote. Be heard or be herded, your choice.

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  15. I was downtown most of the day, and the wind, that constant blowing wind just wore me out.

    Made me think about the city's plan to spend something like $200,000 for WIND generators to power the lights for the new waterfront project. Now, I'm all for wind generators and alternative power. No problem with that. So, the city understands the waterfront is a windy area. A place where people have gone to fly kites.

    If we know it is a windy area, in the Pacific Northwest, with waters so cold you literally will die in a few minutes if you fall in them, why do we think tourists are going to be fooled into thinking Port Angeles is Bora Bora or Maui?

    "Economic development"? It is like spending millions building beaches in the arctic, thinking " If we build it, they will come".

    Where did we get to vote on this? Were we ever given a choice between spending millions building fake beaches with wind turbines, or fixing our streets, lowering taxes, or any other choices?

    The city council had "listening sessions" a few weeks ago, to offer us the opportunity to tell them which programs we wanted to see cut, because they say they can't continue to pay for everything. Where were the "listening sessions" that were held to give us the choices between vanity projects, and things we really need?.

    Things are really getting out of control.

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    Replies
    1. we don't get to vote on things. If we vote down something (like building a very expensive new high school, for an ever dropping number of students) "they" (meaning those who run this place) will keep putting it on special ballots, and special ballots, and special ballots until there is enough voter fatigue, and it is passed.
      When the city wants to do something, it does the same thing, it talks about it, and then has the PDN talk about it, and then asks for comments, and then, does whatever it pleases.
      Things aren't GETTING out of control, they've always been out of control, it's just there are enough new people to notice, and make a fuss.

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  16. Were any real economic related studies actually done, that found any actual data supporting this waterfront project? Or, was it just something a few staff in the city thought would be a great idea, based upon, exactly, what?

    As somebody else said, fix the things that need to be done first, and pretty will follow. Any visitor will easily recognize lipstick smeared on a pig.

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    Replies
    1. It was a grant that the city could chase, to pump up the general fund.
      The city is insolvent, if not for chasing grants, and playing a 3-card-monte game with a $20 dollar bill.

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    2. I'm guessing it's based on the AIA recommendations.

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    3. No, I don't remember this being a priority. I thought changed Front/First to two way streets, and routing the trucks on Front, was the plan to help the town. That was just ignored. Would have been cheaper, and a good investment, however, no grants for traffic lights or signs.

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  17. Cherie Kidd "gave you" these amenities so SHE wouldn't be so depressed when she returns from Victoria. No, really.

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    1. On the other hand, think how depressed Victoria must get when Cherie ARRIVES...

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    2. CK: I recommend we start a fund raise effort aimed at providing local match $ toward the grant funds Cherie and the PA Council think (er LOL wish!) they can find for suicide barriers on the Street Bridges. The hook would be that this particular local match can only be used to provide a locked gate through the suicide barrier - at the longest drop off point on each bridge. Cherie and each Council member hold the only keys to the locked gates. That way, when Nippon does close, and it will soon, all the Council can escape responsibility for not preparing the community for what will be the obvious aftermath. I do hereby PLEDGE $10.

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    3. the only thing Cherie gives me is a headache.

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    4. Anon 5/1/15, 8 58AM.
      WE like your idea!
      We do hereby pledge One Hundred Dollars!

      Delete
  18. ...we need to use a different shade of lipstick on the pig. The color is clashing with the skin tone.
    Quick, bring in a consultant.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks, I needed that...

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  19. And on a somewhat related note...When is a Cherry Hill not either a cherry or a hill?

    I see that the Cherry Hill flower shop, you know, the one that used to be located in Port Angeles on Cherry Hill, has now moved to a new location...Outside the city limits. Away from the dysfunction and decay of Port Angeles, and closer to the healthier, more prosperous market of Sequim.

    How many businesses does that make now that have moved out of Port Angeles onto County locations or elsewhere? I can think of a lot...And I can't blame them a bit.

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    Replies
    1. You could almost see this whole stupid "tax break" thing the county commissioners have shoved through as a kind of bribe to businesses to move out to county property. "See how business-friendly we are?" But no matter how you slice it, there's no real reason to keep your business in Port Angeles, at least not if you hope to grow it or make an actual living from it.

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    2. Meanwhile, Sequim is expanding residential and commercial construction to accommodate the growth. Port Angeles, meanwhile, hollows out the commercial and residential areas leaving nothing but empty storefronts and block after block of homes for sale.

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  20. Here is a fun little factoid for people to consider, as they navigate the construction traffic in Port Angeles, endure the noise and vibration of that pile driver, and pay their high utility bills.

    That average flow of treated water coming out of the Port Angeles sewage plant is 2.3 million gallons a day. That average includes rainy days.

    The $20 million dollar pump station being installed will upgrade the flow capacity from 8 million gallons a day, to 24 million gallons a day. 12 times the average daily flow coming out of the city plant.

    That average daily flow of 2.3 million gallons a day is everything from the entire city. All houses, apartments, hotels, stores etc. and averages in the storm overflow events, too.

    If you consider how much rain water is put into the sewer system, the amount of actual sewage residents are producing is a mere fraction of what they are paying millions to treat.

    So, as you pass by all that construction downtown, you can think about how ridiculous and needless it all is, and how staff conned decision makers into doing it. And, how you get to pay for it all.


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  21. Remember when Tom Harper thought all of you people were non-existent? Thanks to everyone for participating. Have a good weekend.

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    1. Tom Harper is a mouth-breather, wife beater, wannabe political player who clearly doesn't know his head from a hole in the ground. He has no more credibility than Grant Munro. Jealousy probably just makes him act out even more, sadly.

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    2. Tom Harper is a lazy creep who can't get out of bed until nearly noon. Yet one of his favorite putdowns of people is that they're "lazy."

      Tom Harper married his wife to get access to her family money, yet likes to pretend to be a regular "working class" kind of guy.

      Tom Harper fancies himself a politically savvy guy, yet he believes the most baseless lies from some of the creepiest and/or most hopeless losers in Clallam County. He was a big Randazzo booster, for instance, and backed that fifth-place loser Sandy Long for County Commissioner.

      And Tom, who also fancies himself a truth teller, will readily believe all sorts of lies and bogus information if those presenting it to him simply stroke his ego a little in the process. Taking his gullibility a step further, he then uses his little blog to disseminate said lies, without ever having a clue he's being used.

      In other words, Tom Harper is like Ed Chadd only without a job, a clue or a friend. He's a hypocrite, a liar, and an abuser of the truth and other things.

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    3. Supposedly there's some sort of pissing match going on now between Harper and Steve Tharinger. That's the rumor I've heard, anyway. More dysfunction out of the Democrats.

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