Sunday, May 24, 2015

A Candid Date

What follows is a cut and paste of a back and forth Q&A session with Port Angeles City Council candidate Marolee Smith. In the comments section below, I will first copy the question I sent to her, and then, as comments below each of those, cut and paste the responses Marolee sent in. Yours comments and questions will, I hope, follow those.

Thanks to Marolee for participating. And, one more time, let me extend an invitation to all you other candidates out there. This blog is a forum to talk directly to several hundred voters in Port Angeles and Clallam County. (The readership of this blog is certainly more than the margin of victory - or defeat - in many recent elections. That's something to think about candidates...)


  1. Please tell us a little about yourself and your background, and how you think your overall life experience relates to your being the best choice for City Council. Include whatever details you think are relevant, and don't be afraid to be creative or express unconventional thoughts/perspectives.

    1. I was born in California, raised in Nevada, until my family moved to Tehran, Iran. Returned to the states and lived in California (with a brief time back in Nevada, and Hawaii). I have traveled, too. I'm not, fully, sure how I ended up here. Serendipity.

      In fact, much of my life can be summed up as serendipitous.

      Out of high school started out taking community college classes in Administration of Justice. I modeled (runway and fitting, mostly) to support myself in college. I really wanted to be was a police officer. (It was just when affirmative action was foisting women on male oriented positions.) I became an ambulance attendant (pre-EMT) as a woman in a very-masculine world. Went through special women-in-law-enforcement academy workshops. I passed tests, and oral boards and was on many waiting lists for police departments around the SF Bay Area. I took up, as a hobby, lobbying in Sacramento to pass consumer protection laws. I worked to get petitions signed. I made thousands, upon thousands of phone calls. (And, it really pisses me off that nearly all the laws I worked on have since been neutered.)

      While waiting for a police department opening, I worked for corporations. Mostly in the computer rooms, online centers, etc., and, moved up, eventually as department manager, and analyst. I did research, and wrote volumes of reports for the upper management. At the point when I was finally called up to be hired on with a police department, I decided to stay in the corporate world.

      Then, whole business community was hit hard hit by the Carter Administration recession. I ended up unemployed. I must have sent out a thousand resumes, and went to a hundred interviews. I worked multiple jobs: waitress; dishwasher; bar back; bartender; house painter; janitor; gardener; maid; temp office worker; valet; name it. Usually several different jobs the same week, some two part-time jobs in a day. For a few months, I cleaned rest rooms for twelve hours, four nights a week -- dusk to dawn -- in a high rise office building. (One of the circles of hell, undoubtedly, involves toilet scrubbing.) I still couldn't make enough money to keep up with bills. I became homeless for a year (couch surfing, camping, living in a 68 VW bug, only resorting to shelters on the coldest of nights). Oh yeah, I was a single mom (divorced), too. It was a real struggle. I was was the homeless/working. I kept my son in school, and in after-school programs. I juggled child care, laundry, food and work -- it was a such a blur. I can remember being so tired that the greatest luxury in the world was five-more-minutes of sleep.

    2. In my scarce "free time", I hung out in the SF comedy scene (most of my closest friends are still comedians). I wrote jokes for a few dollars, sometimes, and picked up other writing gigs as I could get them. I found my community. I got the idea to start a stand-up comedy circuit in the San Joaquin Valley -- to get my friends (comics) booked at community colleges, interviewed in newspapers, on radio stations, and in some clubs that I contracted with. I did a few big shows (with outside investors). Never made much money, but that was never the point. I wrote an inside comedy column for the local Hearst Newspaper. I was also working with a friend (full-time) who had opened a software distribution company (out of a garage, back when Microsoft was also in a garage). Our company sold 3/4 of all the product Microsoft produced in those early years. I did it all: sales, marketing; advertising; answering tech calls; shipping; returns; bookkeeping, etc. I was moonlighting, too. Nights and weekends I did business consulting for software garage start-ups (corporate image, product package design, how to set up the books, and write business plans to get funding, getting receipts together to file back taxes, etc.) and weekends I worked in a comedy club as a bartender. When I left the distribution company had more than seventy employees. I had written the organization's manuals, organized the books and taxes, and helped build our first office space.

      I started working for a computer magazine columnist. I did research, bookkeeping, and then started writing, editing and organizing books. We did more than a dozen books, together. I did marketing and booked his speaking engagements. Somewhere in there we married, had kids -- all while working together 24/7 - 365 days a year. I decided I was sick of living in the San Francisco Bay Area. I went searching for somewhere that "spoke to me". Port Angeles did. I bought a house in town 20+ years ago. It was a fixer-upper. Some years I would live up here, but travel weekly to the SF Bay Area. Others years, I would split my time between the states in multiple-month chunks. About 9 years ago, I moved up here full-time.

      (Still married. We prefer different states. It works for us.)

    3. I opened a downtown business -- Spicer's Deli. It began just as the Gateway Center's building began (I had asked the city a few weeks earlier about the project and was told "we don't know when it will start". Joke was on me.) I endured through **surprise** street closures, pounding that would shake the glass spice jars off the shelves, and other city-fueled insanity. I had a few run-ins with city hall (with me screaming at Cutler and him telling me I was on a "need to know basis, and I didn't need to know" when the street would be closed). Didn't help that was the same time that the ferry had passport restrictions, and the economy tanked. Bad timing, but we made great sandwiches. It was a frustrating and costly experiment.

      I petitioned -- paid, and received -- a permit to use the Gateway's transit lanes for a Port Angeles Community Market on Sundays, which I ran for two years. Then my brother committed suicide. (My parents had long since passed. I only had one sibling.) I just didn't have the heart to keep pushing. I turned inward. I focused on life at home. I completed a 4-year project: a dense, single subject, 500 page cookbook on eggs (Too Many Eggs). It's being shopped to publishers. I am working on the definitive "dog treat" cookbook. I do research, occasional odd writing jobs, and read. I mow my lawn, battle moss, and wild blackberries. (I'm not very social. I don't belong to clubs. Never really enjoyed that stuff.) I tend to stay home and hang out with my dogs. I have very little ambition of a political nature. I've spent most of my life working behind the scenes (comedy producer, consultant, ghost writer), so being out-there is not my comfort zone.

      But, here I am. I'm a hard worker. I am resourceful. I believe I can make a difference because I believe in community.

      I'm doing this because I can't understand "leadership" we have. I don't like the decisions they have made. I am tired of not answers to question. I'm tired of the city balancing their budget by taking money out of MY wallet. I'm sick to death of insincere happy-talk. I'm fed up.

      I've had a lot of experiences in my life. Some very rough times. The way I got out was by being creative, and fearless.

      I think the city council needs someone who is both of those things.

  2. What was it that motivated you to run for City Council? Was it a slow burn that finally boiled over, or was there one larger catalytic event that got you to sign up?

    1. When things collide. The planets aligned. It is unfathomable, even to me.
      I had "toyed" with the idea for the last two elections, but I don't like politics. I don't care about popularity contests. I don't have that kind of personality (or ego). I figured it was hopeless, like everything else around here. (Note: failed businesses...frustration...can't fight city hall. Been there, done that.)

      Port Angeles Unearthed had a huge impact.

      Seeing that other people are as frustrated as I am -- helped.

      What really threw me over the edge was when the city council snubbed the young woman who came to speak about heroin problems. That enraged me. I wanted to confront them all, probably with a few profanities thrown in. (oops).

      I fought with myself for the week.

      Here I am.

  3. For question number three...What do you see as the main three issues facing the city that you'd like to talk about during your campaign? Feel free to be as detailed as you need to be.

    1. 1.) The City Council needs to do more independent research, be better informed, and to look beyond what the staff presents. I think the lax and, perhaps, naivete culture needs to come to an end. The Council needs to start THINKING. The Council should represent the Citizens and direct the staff. The Council should fully understand the long term ramifications, the responsibility, of every action they take.

      It is a solemn undertaking, period.

      Right now, I don't see that reflected in the meetings themselves, or the actions they take, or even the way they speak to each other. Sure, they SAY nice things to each other, but it comes across as hollow and insincere. There is no humility. There is a disconnect. It is evident in the attitudes at meetings where the overall attitude is patronizing superiority over the mere town-folk. It's mealy-mouthed saying how our input is important, but then, not listening.

      Lines of communication need to be opened. We need town meetings, and working council sessions, and citizen advisory groups. Just showing up at the farmers market, or reciting the email address shouldn't be grand example of "see we do something". The City Council needs to address the needs of the citizens by reaching out to them, asking questions, and listening.The citizens need to speak up, step up, and show up. Stop quashing discussion. We need to disagree. WE need to shout and spit, and rage and get out all the things we've repressed. We need to stop being afraid, and start speaking up. We need to cooperate, and coordinate, and compromise. We need to have all the information. Take us out of the dark, and lay it all on the table.
      Let the sun shine in.

    2. 2.) Lets face it, this city is stuck in an illusion. We are no longer a "mill town". We will never, again, have that industry dominate. We lack an identity.

      Who are we? We don't know how to market ourselves. (A lot of happy talk and online stuffing of a ballot box won't make people like us more.) We change our b.s. slogans too often. We are flailing about. "We're this, we're that. Look how pretty we spruced things up..."

      Lets face it: We are boring. We aren't FUN. We come off as insecure, insincere, wet blankets. ("Oh, please, please like us...")

      The town has forgotten (or never valued) the small-town charm that we used to exude. And, it wasn't to whore ourselves out to lure elusive tourists. (But people came, because it was fun). We used to have festivals, and downtown parades. We had really great special events for children. We had FUN. We closed off First street with art events, lined Front street with antique cars on display, and, we had a thriving, beautiful farmers market on Laurel where it belonged (not cramped in the dark shadows, off to the side). Most importantly: We supported our small businesses. We shopped downtown. We went out to dinner. We were a community. We engaged with our neighbors. We shopped locally. We celebrated our community.

      Now? We point to the mountains, to the ferry, and bitch about why no one comes to see US. It's like going to visit those old relatives who just talk about how much their feet hurt, and complain about the weather. Boring.
      We need to come together with an identity.
      We need to stop being so dull.

    3. I'd like to see a children's play area, a babbling brook or some fun water feature on the "esplande" for children to play in. I'd like to see more festivals. I'd like the Farmer's Market to be on Laurel in the summers. I'd like to see sidewalk chalk art and art cars, a fire festival, a big motorcycle and antique car rally (and cruise...we have the best downtown for an old fashioned cruise), I'd like to see a soap box derby, and a cartoon festival. I'd like to see plays and street performers, have parades every month all summer long. I'd like to see outdoor movies in the Gateway cavern. Heck, I'd like a big wooden roller coaster along our newly minted beaches. I'd like a carousel with carved wooden horses. I'd like to see a place full of life. I'd like to see people laughing, again, downtown.

      a.) I think that every time the economic development types start talking about getting in some big business, they are slapping our existing small/medium sized businesses. Chances are no one is asking what they need to be more profitable. Instead, we chase the illusion of a "big employer". Heck, these "leaders" bend over very, very far to ass-kiss the "big employers" but, fail to recognize the many self-employed, small- and medium-sized businesses that are the real majority employers in town. (Just think what would happen if every small business in town could hire one more person.)

      Face it: There is not going to be a tornado set a fully working factory in the center of town (while killing the evil witch).

    4. b.) We put our trust in outside consultants, and in magic thinking about magic money -- grants and free hand-outs. We keep wishing that something will come and be our economic windfall, free-and-clear, with no investment and a "no-brainer" on our part. I'm tired of being seen as a consumer, when I'm really a citizen. I'm sick of the all mighty dollar trumping human decency.

      We need to tighten the city belt, and stick with priorities and budgets.

    5. 3.) We are a bunch of crabs sitting in a nice pot of water. Temperature rises, and although we might notice, it's not hot enough to be uncomfortable until it's too late, and we're all cooked. What's the problem? The water? The entity controlling the stove? Nope. The problem is all of US.

      We each need to do our part to make our community. That's big things, that's little things, every bit counts. We need to be unified. Right now, we are splintered up, hiding out, keeping to ourselves, and hope that voting is enough. We point at each other, we call each other names. We divide via religion. We divide by age. We need to ONE GROUP. Right now, we assume that whom-ever we elected will make miracles happen because we did our part, "we voted". So, when a new person is elected, and then when they fail to sway the sitting group, it's "off with their heads." This is bullshit. Our town is falling apart because of ALL OF US. Every single one of us can do more to make our community work. We need to care. It's our community. It's our town. It's not just electing someone, it's about YOU. It is about growing a spine, standing upright, speaking out. We have to stop being afraid and join together.

      The water is getting hot... it is time to get out of the damn pot.
      I'd like to see Town Hall meetings, and the town carved up into neighborhoods -- with neighborhood watches and representatives, and block-long garage sales and barbeques. We can own our community. I'd like to see a town picnic, and cook-offs, and contests for the most reduced water usage, or the most recycling, or collecting the most pennies to donate to a local cause. I'd like to see a town concerned about the homeless who are amongst us. The bored kids. The drug addicted. The struggling people -- the sick, the old. They are part of our town, too. (Let's all repeat: "there, but for the grace of god, go I".)

      We need to become one community. Connection. Caring. Compassion.

      We're sitting here at the intersection of one road in, one road out. We're in a tsunami zone, in an earthquake zone. In the flash of a second we can be cut off, (and, low priority for the rest of the world). What do we do then? What do we do if we are alone, stranded, out here on the peninsula, for what may be many months? I wonder. We live with this every day, every moment of our lives, but we walk around acting like we're all islands in the stream, apart and independent.

      I'd like to see this town work as a community, to the envy of every other small town in America.
      Yeah, that's it, KUMBAYA. (I know. I know.)

      But, all it takes is 10% and everything changes.

  4. (Question and response edited at request of the candidate.) Recent City Council history...Larry Williams left town as soon as his third term was over. Larry Little only served a couple of days before resigning. Max Mania left town before his term was up. Sissi Bruch tried to jump ship to the County Courthouse before her first term was up. Now Lee Whetham is trying to jump ship for the Port before his first term is up. Given all that, and given the well documented dysfunction and frustration associated with the Port Angeles City Council…What would you say to a voter who may support your candidacy, but has concerns about your own longevity in City Hall if elected?

    1. My whole family has wanted me to leave here, for years.

      I like my home. I like my land. I find life here, mostly, conducive to my work. (I like where I am, aside from the politics in this berg.)
      The dysfunction goes back, much further than that recent history. I have some grasp on the legacy crazy that has infected this area. The only hopeful light on the horizon is that a number of the power brokers are aging, or have already passed on.

      I have no desire to move onto a higher office.

    2. If your whole family has wanted you to leave "for years," which isn't a crazy notion at all, that seems like a lot of pressure. I know I wouldn't want to risk alienating or losing members of my family over this town. So why stay? I really struggle with that myself. Why stay? What happens when you get old, Marolee, or a family member gets old, and there's a real, urgent, functional need for more proximity? Do you stay here? Do you really plan to just spend the rest of your life here, no matter what?

    3. When there was a real, urgent, functional need for proximity I split my time between here and there. My mother passed. My brother did himself in. I figure I have zero to 30 more years to keep dancing on top of the dirt (again, the optimist).
      I didn't see myself here 30 years ago -- so who knows what I'll do in the next 30.
      I know I can be HERE for the next 4, if elected. (I'd need, at least that, to get my house read to sell, anyway.)
      I'll swing for the fences, and then see how the inning works out.

  5. In your other responses, you describe yourself as "creative and fearless," and say that you're "too idealistic for this job." So, as a creative and fearless person, how do you see yourself working with other Council members who are not at all creative, and who are very clearly afraid of many things? And as an idealistic person, how do you see yourself working with Council members who are cynical, self-serving, or otherwise there for less than idealistic reasons? In other words, how do you see yourself changing/affecting the dynamic of the City Council?

    1. I think Sissi has good ideas. I really like Dan Bateham, he's a good guy, and have had coffee with him. I'd hope he is elected. I like the comments that Lee Whetham bring up. I think that Brad Collins is, ultimately, rational. ( -- those are the things that come to mind, not meaning to slam anyone, else)
      I've spent years working with difficult people. I worked in the corporate world -- and it was the typical engineers v.s. the salespeople/workers v.s. the management. It was shocking to find how when I stepped from worker to management, how I was suddenly "the enemy".
      I have worked for some pretty darn cantankerous people, and managed to get along, sometimes diplomatically, sometimes through sheer force of will, smarts and persistence. (Sometimes people like me, sometimes people don't. That never matters. It's not about me -- its about getting things done.)
      Cynical is a state of mind, just like unhappy, just like lazy. I like to find the best in people, and encourage that.
      What I always bring to the table is that I do my research. I think questions are vital. Following through on actions is much more important than mere words.
      I believe in the system (how it should work) and loath corruption and secrets. But, let be realistic. We are never going to have a "perfect system" -- because people and money are involved -- but we can have a better one. We can give more weight to the people who are trying to look out for the town (on the staff).
      I think there are some great staff members. I just don't see why the City Council is burdening the staff with doing their job (the research). That is shameful.

    2. Brad Collins is, ultimately, coopted by the dark forces in City Hall. Sorry, Marolee, but I don't share your view of Collins. He's not to be trusted. Too many times he's voted the wrong way, the staff way, even when he clearly does know better. (So yes, maybe I'd say he knows better, but it's not exactly "rational" to vote against the smart option.)

    3. Brad Collins was formerly the long-time director of community and economic development for the city of PA. He would probably still be there were it not for Karen & Company. How did he distinguish himself in that highly paid position? Not well, as evidenced by the current state of economic development in town. Now, despite a master's degree in planning he never brings up anything on his own but relies on staff to spoon-feed the council their latest soul-sucking proposals.
      Why doesn't he call "Bullshit" on some of the stuff that passes his desk at city council? Watching him at council reveals he hardly ever starts a conversation at council meetings but only chimes in after determining which way the wind is blowing. This ain't leadership. I think he's capable of it but hasn't shown it lately.
      Brad was right in there amongst Gase, Downie and Kidd in shutting down feedback from taxpayers in the audience.

    4. You may be right about Mr. Collins. Perhaps the best I can do is shine lights in the corners so the cockroaches scurry. Maybe the legacy is more than one council election can fix.

      I found that last year the PDN said, regarding Collins, he was unaware of how a 5-year plan (impacted) rate payers, but he voted for it, anyway. Meanwhile the city council insisted "we have a much stronger council support for low-income households". (So the burden is on the wage earners, and small businesses, in this town.)

      After spending the weekend researching, I see that I was wrong about our CFO saying no rise in utilities, he was saying no rise in property tax rates by the city (they got their 1%). OOPS.

      Most of our utility rates aren't utilities at all. We are staggering under tremendous debt load (legacy garbage/cliff nonsense, and the combined sewer thing). And, Fulton insisted, that "It doesn't make sense to stretch the 5 years of increases over 10 years". (How is that, again?)

      Without a crystal ball wholesale power costs are going to rise. Fun fact: Bonneville has raised wholesale rates 560% since 1980.

      The BPA (Bonneville) has been crying "poor" "no water" since, at least, 1993.
      1993: "Drought conditions for the past 6 years and minimal snowpack have cut the supply of generating capacity..." result: 15% increase.
      2001: crisis only 58 million acre feet of water to produce power
      2005: "drought may be threatening PNW and hydro electric capacities. Run off 65% of normal. Driest year in 77 years." 71 million acre feet.
      2009: Low water for hydro plants, industry spokesperson said, "looks like we may need to raise prices for 15-20%" (no acre feet numbers I could find)

      You see where this is going, right? Now we're in a real "snow pack" drought. Now what?

      Other funny fact: we cut back, and then prices needed to rise because of decreased demand.

      (Lets all remember, there was a 46% increase in 2001, due to the Enron manipulation of the market, which was never rolled back, even though it was bogus.)

      So, the city and council enacted a five-year plan of adding on $936. more per year by 2019, that is $78 dollars more a month, with increases in five steps. They seem to be blaming it on power costs, which is part of it, but it's really in the service fees, right? So, for the next 4 years, we'll see an adjustment on our bills (which doesn't include the recently imposed tiered-water-rate). Last winter was a mild one. What happens this next winter?

      PDN reported: "Phil Lusk was not aware of the 5-year impact of the increase on taxpayers". Is Mr. Lusk is Marie Antoinette reincarnated? (the peasants have no bread, "so, let them eat cake") "Rate payers having difficulties paying their bills can take advantage of the city weatherization and heat pump programs." ('s a "rebate", meaning the homeowner needs to outlay the cash, not make over 200% of the Federal Poverty Rate, and the home must be "structurally sound" and "other restrictions may apply".

      Has anyone taken advantage of these rebates?

      Tomorrow night there is a "special" city council meeting. According to the city website: public comments WILL NOT be taken at the meeting (as all city council work sessions).

      So, if you show up, wear tape over your mouths.

      (just to be clear, this is unlike many other communities that take the time to have public involvement during the work sessions.)

    5. I think he's an introvert...and after years of getting his nad's snapped at by those who sought to control him, has learned to sit quietly. I have noticed that Gase, Downie and Kidd mostly ignore him.

    6. Thanks Marolee. I appreciate the research.

      Maybe there should be a bunch of us that show up with tape across our mouths. Sit in the front row.

      I think I'll do just that. See you there?

    7. I think I'm going to be sitting this one out. I have a glut of work to get done (last week of month, and a short week).

  6. The Doomsday Question. First, let's say there's some sort of revolt at the ballot box, and two new people get elected. At the same time, Sissi Bruch grows a spine, and another Council member suddenly grows a brain. So you have four votes to "do things" or "change things." If all this were to come to pass, how much room to maneuver would the Council have given, A) The HUGE debt-load the City is carrying, and will carry for years to come, and B) An entrenched staff that is, at best, self-serving and unresponsive to the community? In other words, how much change can is it realistic to hope for, given there will be no money, and a change-resistant culture in City Hall?

    1. I respect the city CFO. I think he is talented and has a good grasp on the financial pickle our city is in because of past "drunken sailor" spending. I trust him to make the hard decisions. It's not going to be pretty, though. We have made some very, very bad decisions and some of those were purely ego/greed based. Some were simply naive and wishful thinking.
      But, I don't think "the staff" is solely to blame. The staff are doing their jobs. They are doing the City Council's job, as well.
      The Council should be doing THEIR research on every topic that shows up. I don't think just getting a packet of information and a quick run down by the staff is ever going to be enough for a really informed decision. It is lazy. The Council should be asking the staff questions, asking for research, using the staff the way that MOST City Councils, across the country do things. The Council should be engaging the citizens -- reaching out, not passively waiting for them to show up at a meeting.
      (Without a voice, I'm shocked there are so many people at the meetings to begin with. The public comments are met with indifference, and the wrong people are praised as if they were newly anointed saints.)

    2. The problem is not the staff. They go to work. They do their jobs. They do what is expected of them. They're filling the void.
      The problem is that the system is not working the way it was designed. There should be a balance. It's a dance -- both partners need to do their part.
      The city staff will ALWAYS want to have more. Bigger, better, FUN projects, nicer tools, newer equipment, and have more money for their departments, bigger raises, and whatever else that employees always want. That is just how it is. Can't blame them for taking over where the Council fails.
      The Council is supposed to be looking out for the people, and acting like the good parent. "No cookies, it's too close to dinner." I just can't decide if the Council is more of the overly-passive, insecure parent "Oh, if you want it...okay." or, the absentee alcoholic one.
      My biggest complaint is that the Council is just going through the motions, passively, instead of thinking things through and being engaged. There is no vision for the future. It's as if showing up at the meetings is enough.
      Some of this is, indeed, a carry-over from the legacy "how it has always been done". For 20 years I've watched the Council, and I can say, it's better than when it was at it's worst. Over the last few years things have been changing -- change never happens overnight. It's a two steps forward, one step back kind of thing. The biggest change starts with a goal.
      I think that Mr. Mania made some positive inroads, and shook things up enough to crack the facade. I don't think that what people called "failure" was that at all. It was the first step. He was the martyr.
      Simply electing one, or two, new faces is not going to affect the kind of change that needs to happen. The danger is that they, too, become sacrificial lambs. It's a start. But it's not the whole picture. The citizens need to become involved. I understand the fear about stepping up (because we're a town full of anonymous), but we need to step up and back the candidates we do elect -- and push. Get loud and vocal. We need our own, Port Angeles, version of the Arab Spring.
      A single voice is a very eerie sound. Many voices can shake the earth itself.

    3. Max Mania was hardly a martyr. He tried to do his best, and, as a lone voice of sanity, was unable to move the City Council in a more sensible or sustainable direction. (This despite being proven right on issue after issue.) He also got Sissi to run, which was a good thing. How, she should take a page from his book and be more of a fighter, speak up more, and louder. The city is on a crash course, there's no use denying that. Max just got out before the crash. Sissi still thinks she can somehow stop the crash, but, like Max, she's just one voice.

      We need more than one sensible voice at a time. Thanks for running, Marolee, and good luck. No matter what, keep speaking up, and speaking the truth. The powers that be and the go-along-to-get-along crowd will tell you it's not a wise thing to do. But for the people of Port Angeles, for the voters, honesty and candor will be a refreshing change.

    4. Max a failure? Not at all. He displayed intelligence and vision. The rest of the council didn't, and didn't even come close to admitting it the many times they ended up being dead wrong.

      The failure was the city council as a governing body, not Max as a member of that body.

      But Marolee, be prepared to suffer the same punishments and marginalization that Max did if you win. The majority of the council doesn't appreciate real vision, real leadership, or real facts. Staff will be even more resistant.

      So good luck, but be cautious, ever cautious.

  7. Really nice work, on both parts. Thanks CK for bringing this forward and thanks Mimi for your candid and astute remarks. I re posted it on POC website. I hope it serves as a "primer" for all candidates in all the local races. Well done.

  8. Thank you, Marolee .

    Clearly, you are an intelligent, experienced and thoughtful person. I agree with most every thing you said, and do agree it is a bit idealistic. "Idealistic" is not "wrong". Striving for better is not wrong.

    We may well be faced with that unifying event, as the water issues become more urgent. Perhaps, as the election campaign weaves it's way towards the fall, the effects of the new reality of climate changes (what they are calling "The Drought"), will spur conversations about our community's sustainability, and we can find reasons to get off our butts, and get involved.

    I especially like and agree with your views about supporting local, existing businesses, instead of think we have to have some outside bid industry come in and fix everything for us. Ignoring existing businesses IS a major slap in our community's collective face.

    Enough of the "happy talk".

    Best wishes for your successes.

  9. I hope those that want to work to get Port Angeles to move ahead, and get unstuck from the downward spiral it has been in for the last 10 years look around this weekend. It is telling.

    In driving through town yesterday, I was amazed that on a major holiday weekend, on a sunny Sunday afternoon, the streets and sidewalks of down town Port Angeles were all but vacant.

    The waterfront, after millions being spent on it, was empty. Okay, to be fair, the parking lots for the ferry to Victoria were virtually full.

    Looking down First street, no one on the sidewalks, although businesses had chairs out for non-existent patrons.

    Oh, that's right. There was the Juan de Fuca Festival happening. There were empty parking spaces all over. Sure, there were attendees, but if anyone in this town thinks the number of people that attended that fair is going to save this town, they are dreaming.

    There were lots of cars on 101 going through town throughout the day. Not downtown. The parking lots for the hotels and motels were virtually empty.

    So, the questions and problems remain, year after year. Even on a sunny holiday weekend, the town is empty.

    Marolee suggests the town isn't "fun". I don't disagree. But I am amazed that with a festival taking place in a remote town, the hotels and motels are not full.

    It appears people who make the trek out to the Olympic Peninsula have a preconception of what it is they are driving hours to find. The first view of Port Angeles (as a town) is coming down from the rise by Peabody. From there, visitors see stacks of logs dominating the foreground, and smoke billowing from the mill in the background.

    When most of these visitors are leaving their homes, I doubt their goals are to spend their vacation hours looking at those kinds of views. I suspect they had pristine views of natural beauty in mind, as they drove for hours to get "out west".

    I doubt the industrial areas of Tacoma are tourist hot spots, either.

    The town just can't keep ignoring it's problems. Spending millions to build "pocket beaches" next to industrially zoned uses is questionable, at best. That the artists renditions of these projects omits to show or mention the land uses directly adjoining is telling. Typical Port Angeles. Just ignore it.

    1. I wasn't going to jump in here, but...I spent yesterday in Silverton, Oregon, a town nearish to Salem, with a population of less than 10,000. There's no one big draw there, no big in-town attraction, but the town itself is extremely nice, with well preserved historic buildings downtown, and it was hopping. From mid afternoon on into early evening, the sidewalks were fairly bustling.

      Again, they don't have a big draw, other than being a nice place to visit and walk around in. There's a creek running through town, and they have a great 500 seat movie theater right downtown. It was showing "Tomorrowland," and we walked by when a show was letting out - it was a flood of people coming out of the theater!

      I couldn't help but contrast it with Port Angeles, which already has (as the commenter above noted) thousands upon thousands of people passing through it day after day, year after year, and yet, has never figured out in even a small way how to "capture" some of that traffic. It just keeps going on through.

      Silverton had murals downtown; so does Port Angeles. Silverton is off the beaten path; so is Port Angeles. Silverton has a scenic, historic downtown; Port Angeles, not so much. Silverton has a nice wide creek running through it; Port Angeles has a coastal shoreline - and the Turd Tank. Silverton has a preserved and functional movie theater; Port Angeles has the Lincoln - which is STILL FOR SALE.

      And both Silverton and Port Angeles have empty storefronts downtown. But only Silverton had PEOPLE downtown.

      What makes the difference? I'd say a mix of vision, leadership and aesthetic appeal. If anything, with all that traffic already coming through, Port Angeles has a built-in, natural advantage. But they just have never, ever figured out how to maximize it. Even with decades of time to do so.

      Anyway, good luck to Marolee, and I'll just shut up now.

    2. We have a place like that around here -- it's called Port Townsend.
      Port Angeles is the ugly sister of the two. Doesn't mean that she still can't get a date to the prom. She just needs to do it differently.

    3. I was in downtown Port Townsend over Memorial weekend, and shocked to find no parking, lots of people, and many businesses open for business. The people on the street corners asking for money were buskers playing music.
      Such a contrast to Port Angeles. It was nice to see a thriving downtown area without any big business or big draws. Just a nice place to walk.

  10. If you go to and look up Juan de Fuca Festival..all I see are PDN articles. How is this thing promoted?
    I don't think the views matter (logs, etc) if there is a draw. After all, Burning Man draws more than 50k people, and it's in the middle of a the Black Rock Desert -- with is great if you like dirt, rocks and sage brush.
    People come to something because it sounds like a kick. In this case, with the lack of real draw (no "headliner" acts) and the fact the event hasn't changed -- or grown, hell, even the merchants are the same ones, same places, blah blah, boring. BORING.
    Small towns, even ugly ones, are "hot" right now in the minds of a bunch of wistful millennials. Are we marketing to them? NO.

    1. Oh boy! The Dusty 45s! AGAIN! Can't wait to...ZZZZZZZ...

    2. This is the same refrain, that misses the point.

      We HAVE hundreds and thousands passing through Port Angeles, every day. The Coho alone drops 400,000 a year right into the middle of downtown Port Angeles.

      Look at the last couple of weeks. The cruise ship with a couple thousand people on board comes to Port Angeles. Few bother to get off the ship, and even fewer bother to patronize any of the stores,

      The Festival comes to town, and the streets, sidewalks and hotels are empty. On a long holiday weekend.

      Years ago, a consultant suggested just bulldozing the downtown. Even then, it was dead. Hotels and motels can't get much above an average of 50% occupancy. The on-line reviews are horrible.

      Add it up, and what do you get?

      Finding new ways to bring more people here isn't going to get different results. That has been the focus for years. People see that it is a pig with lipstick, no matter how much advertising you do. The year after year results show that.

    3. "...even the merchants are the same ones..."

      I disagree!

      I went through the food vendor aisle and I would say there were half the number there were five years ago. Clearly the vendors are changing!

    4. Yeah. This year's festival bombed. So many fewer people than years past.

      I can see that the "new" PADA and Revitalize people that the City is fawning all over really are turning things around!

    5. Dan Maguire is the perfect example of embracing failed, old ideas. His selection to run the JFFA was, intentionally or not, the death blow to the JFFA.

      Way to go board members!

  11. It's all about the money. It's about the venues you offer. It's about risk and ideas. It's about clinging to the past or embracing the future. It's about greed for a few. It's about identity. It's about investments into the right things. In a capitalistic society you are either growing or dying. Port Angeles has been dying for quite awhile. No money. No ideas. No risk. No future. No identity. No investments.
    No leaders. The greatest thing about Port Angeles is there are so many challenges, meaning there are so many opportunities. But, without money you have nothing. Period.

    1. This is not entirely true. Millions are spent on "economic development" every year. Money is spent on consultants, all year long.

      The problem is the so-called leadership in this town. The leadership on city staff, the city council, the civic groups, all of them. They are all locked into their views, and won't listen to anything different.

      City Council and all the civic and business "leadership" ignores the young woman that shows up to plead "Don't sell us out, give us hope" on behalf of the community's youth. What better example of how "they" don't listen, than that?

      The representatives from Revitalize Port Angeles kick you out if you say things about the city or things going on they don't want to hear. They blame the consumers and the needy for their lack of success. Another great example of not listening.

      As pointed out above, the people on the cruise ship didn't even bother to get off the ship. There are hundreds and thousands of people passing by Port Angeles everyday, with virtually none patronizing Port Angeles. Year after year.

      Who thinks those cruise ship and ferry passengers or park visitors have ANY knowledge of the brain dead ego-centric "leadership" in Port Angeles? They react to what they see. And, obviously they don't like what they see.

      But, the "leadership" sees the region as still being about "timber". The business community still envisions Port Angeles' salvation being in industrial development. So, you have two visions and realities. The region as a natural beauty/tourism based economy, or as a timber and industrial based economy. Both cannot exist in the same place.

      So, neither do.

    2. Most people visiting the area come to see live trees in their own natural habitat. When they are confronted with thousands of dead trees awaiting shipment to Asia to build concrete forms--well there is a disconnect. About one percent of the community is destroying the future of this town. Get the timber barons out of town or at least out of sight and folks may linger longer. Get the timber baron enablers like Rod Fleck and others out of sight and we can build upon the natural beauty enticing many who come here to "convene with nature." Plus, visitors can tell more readily when a town is run by greed-heads. The locals cannot detect it so readily since they have lived with it so long it is just a backdrop like elevator music. Visitors see the truth in one sweeping glance and move on as fast as possible.

    3. Hey, "Anonymous" 9:10 AM...Please, just sign your name, Dale. You're the only person who uses the phrase "greed heads" (constantly).

    4. Thank you!! Finally someone said it. There's "anonymous" (not really) Dale Wilson throw up all over this blog.

  12. What we are experiencing here in Port Angeles is a very fundamental law of nature whereby the parasites are consuming the host. 60% of those employed here are on the government payroll. Totally unsustainable equation. Risk takers and dreamers are a rare commodity. When you have so many controlling so few you have a rabid parasitic event.
    Toxic garbage waste in, toxic garbage waste out.

  13. I love that line, "the parasites are eating the host." That should be on the Welcome to Port Angeles signs.