Thursday, July 30, 2015

Low Standards Come from Higher Places

You'll all be SO excited to read the following press release, which was sent out yesterday:
The City’s Wastewater Treatment Plant has earned the 2014 “Wastewater Treatment Plant Outstanding Performance” award from the Washington State Department of Ecology (DOE).  Of approximately 300 wastewater treatment plants statewide, ours is one of 127 that achieved full compliance with its National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit in 2014.
Heather Bartlett, DOE Water Quality Program Manager, said, “It takes diligent operators and a strong management team, working effectively together, to achieve this high level of compliance.  It is not easy to operate a wastewater treatment plant 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, without violations.  This is the second consecutive year the Port Angeles Wastewater Treatment Plant received this award. Your excellent record is a credit to the dedicated operators who are responsible for operating this award-winning plant.”
The Plant passed all tests for compliance with effluent limits, monitoring and reporting requirements, spill prevention planning, pretreatment, and overall operational demands of the NPDES permit. 
I always pictured Hollywood as being a little more
glamorous than this...
I guess the DOE is hunky dory with the CSO overflows now? With the City's well-known leaky water pipes? With the City's underwhelming response to the drying up rivers and drought? With all those utility customers who can't pay their bills each month? Heck of a job, PA!
Yes, it's thanks to the great, thorough oversight like this that Port Angeles has become the modern, thriving and sustainable model city that it is. Because no matter how low the State sets the bar, the City will find a way to slither under it.
If Port Angeles is doing so well on wastewater issues...
How come these signs get so much use there?

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

A City of Two Tales

The poor, clueless, schizophrenic PDN...They're really a fascinating study in psychology. On one hand, they are right in there with the rah rah boosters, the "Best Town EVER" crowd, pimping Port Angeles like it is something other than a run of the (closed) mill former timber town. On the other hand, though, sometimes they can't help but rub people's faces in how dysfunctional and nasty things can be there.

Today offers a classic case of these contrasts, which can be pretty much summed up by their headlines. One headline comes from a letter to the editor that is being prominently displayed and - shocking! - made available online and everything. It's meant to show just what a nice place Port Angeles is:

'Thank you, Port Angeles' - a letter to the editor about 'the honest and good citizenship displayed by Port Angeles'

The other headline shows that Port Angeles, like so many other places, isn't always a very nice place at all:

Port Angeles man charged with raping woman confined to wheelchair

Now, I'm not trying to say or imply that that aren't honest and good people in Port Angeles, or that everyone in Port Angeles is a rapist. (Though there is land rapist Dan Morrison to contend with...) No, I was just struck by the PDN's compulsive need to try to present Port Angeles as some sort of down home, folksy Shangri-La, despite loads of evidence to the contrary.

In other words, while it's nice to focus on the good deeds of a few people, that doesn't change the fact that Port Angeles and Clallam County are governed by a completely corrupt and (to be charitable) inefficient power structure, one that hurts far more people than it helps.

So, gee whiz, maybe the "honest and good" citizens at the PDN could tell a little more truth about that dysfunctional and often criminal system? Jeepers, that'd be swell!

The ball's in your court, PDN. Now, try taking a swing at it.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Are You Board of This Subject Yet?

Port Angeles forum set Wednesday on shuttered Lincoln Theater board formation

As they strive to raise the remaining $60,000 to purchase downtown Port Angeles’ shuttered Lincoln Theater, Scott Nagel and Karen Powell are also planning how to run it as a nonprofit arts center.

Nagel and Powell, married business partners who also produce the Dungeness Crab & Seafood Festival every October, made an offer of $235,000 last winter to Sun Basin Theatres, the Wenatchee owner of the Lincoln.

The pair have raised $175,000 in pledged donations and are now seeking foundation grants, major sponsors — and people to serve on the board of directors.

This week, Powell will host the first of three forums on Lincoln Theater board development.

“This process not only enfranchises people,” Powell said, “but helps others see how a board can make or break an organization.”

The flow of individual pledges has slowed, Nagel said. He’s turned his energies toward major gifts, from local companies on up to the U.S. Department of Commerce’s rural economic development division.

First: Let's observe that, to no one's great surprise, the "flow" of "individual pledges" has not just slowed, it's come to a halt. These figures have been static for quite a stretch now.

Second: Let's remember that pledges are easy to make, but harder to collect. It's not uncommon for efforts like this to have "default" rates of up to 20% - which means you really need to raise more than 100% of your goal just to make sure you make your goal.

Third: And most crucial...Just because you might be able to scrape together enough funds to buy this white elephant, doesn't mean you have the funds to do anything with it. There still doesn't seem to be any real talk of renovation costs, or who is going to pay them. (Those costs will be much more than the purchase price.) This is like a teenager spending every last penny they can save or borrow to buy a car - leaving them without any funds at all to buy gas, insurance, windshield wiper fluid, etc. In other words, the first step, as difficult as it is, is actually the easy part.

Fourth: Has anyone associated with this done any of the studies that would show if this project is likely to succeed? Is there a business plan? A market analysis? A traffic study? Or...

Fifth: Or...Is the plan to just hope for the best and let Scott and Karen run this? The same Scott and Karen whose one signature event still runs in the red every year? Again, that doesn't exactly inspire confidence, or seem like a roadmap to success.

It sure seems like Port Angeles would benefit from less effort on private pipe dreams like this, and more effort on, say, public (water) pipes that would truly serve a need, and the entire community. So don't forget to vote, folks, and don't hold your breath waiting for the next show at the Lincoln.

Friday, July 24, 2015

It's the Water, but Dan Morrison is a Land Rapist

It always seems to come back to the water in Port Angeles...

Fluoride in the water...

The City possibly running out of water...

And now, land rapist and environmental thug Dan Morrison is, as previously discussed here, being "fined" the less than whopping amount of $14,000 for destroying wetlands...In order to build his stupid, stupid sprint boat track.

City staff are so amazingly complicit in all of this, and so much more. They lead the dolts on the City Council around like little dogs on leashes, and the citizens suffer.

Think about it: The City has committed to spending tens of millions of dollars on the Turd Tank, to hold waste water, sewage water. They have that monstrosity right on the shoreline, on the water. Meanwhile, how many dollars have they spent to protect or expand the City's water supply? How many hours have they spent pondering climate change and responses to (soon-to-be-normal) drought?

Water, water everywhere, and not a drop to drink...Or a thought to think. SHAME ON CITY STAFF. And SHAME ON THE CITY COUNCIL for so easily and willingly abdicating their sworn duty to serve the public.

Of course, the public is doing their part in all this as well, by responding to the City's "suggestion" that they conserve water by...Increasing their water use.

So...Who really is to blame?

What a mess.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Putting Teeth Into the Law

Or, to fluoride, or not to fluoride.

Personally, I am still waiting for someone to show me where in either the State and/or Federal constitution governing bodies are given the authority to forcibly medicate the population. In other words, I don't believe the subject is one to be debated medically, but rather constitutionally.

But whatever way you look at it, it's a good idea to have the people weigh in on the subject. Rather obviously, a great many people care about this issue, so shame on those City Council members who voted against allowing the citizens to vote on their own fate.

Meanwhile, over at the County Courthouse...It sure seems like Mike Chapman has something stronger than fluoride in his water. Talk about, "This time it's personal..."

Monday, July 20, 2015

Money is Speech

And the happy, honest, open times continue at Clallam County...

A union representing Clallam County employees has won a grievance against the county and a significant award in arbitration.

County officials say they won't honor the award to Teamsters Local 589 because it is illegal to pay hourly employees for time they did not work and that if forced to do so, layoffs are possible.

Arbitrator James Lundberg ruled May 27 that Clallam County violated a collective bargaining agreement when it placed about 45 union employees on a 37½-hour work week in January of 2014 and again in January 2015.

Lundberg ordered the county to “cease and desist” from departing from a normal 40-hour work week and ordered the county to back-pay the affected workers with interest from Jan. 13, 2014.

“Although we have not precisely calculated that amount, we certainly believe it to be in excess of $150,000,” Teamsters Local 589 representative Dan Taylor told commissioners in the public comment period of Tuesday's business meeting.

“This is unfortunate, because during the last contract negotiations the county's negotiating team proposed to settle the grievance for just $33,000,” Taylor continued.

"The union negotiating team accepted the proposal and the membership ratified it, only to have the...(County) Commissioners repudiate the settlement and force the union to proceed with arbitration."

According to Taylor, County Administrator Jim Jones testified under oath that the county would not honor the arbitrator's award and would “simply lay off enough Teamsters to pay for the award” if a court ruled in the union's favor.

Jones confirmed Friday that the county is filing an appeal to overturn the arbitrator's award on the advice of legal counsel.

“In no way, shape, or form is anybody, least of all me, intending to do anything to hurt any of our employees," said Jones. " We respect the heck of them.”

Sure, Jim. You respect the heck out of them. That's why you bully them. That's why you cut their hours. That's why you try to bust their union. That's why you allow the courthouse to continue to be a hotbed of dysfunction and dishonesty. It's all because you just respect them so much, and know they can take your abuse - or find the nearest exit.

If this is how you show respect for your own employees, then you must really, really respect your cronies - I mean associates - at the City, the Port, the EDC, etc. After all, Jim Jones and Dim King Jim have been fighting equally hard to give the County's money away to those folks, even when some have cried foul, and said it was illegal. Still, that fight continues.

Now, I know these are different pots of money, and have different sources, different rules attached to them. But still...Symbolically, it sure does make it look like the people running the County have it in for their own employees, while simultaneously wanting nothing more than to give away the store to well-connected cronies and fellow travelers.

Symbols count for a lot to people. So, really, if (as the Supreme Court says) money is speech, this sure does make it look like Clallam County is telling their own workers to fuck off, drop dead and pound sand.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Nursing a Grudge?

This one's a mystery to me...

Peninsula College has hired a new nursing faculty following the abrupt retirement of three of its instructors and one faculty member's resignation. Motives for the departures, which took effect following the college's spring graduation June 20, were not immediately clear.

The former instructors did not answer Peninsula Daily News' requests for explanation, and the college said their letters of retirement or resignation stated no reasons. Kathy Craven, former director of the program, and instructors Bonnie Rathod and Cheryl McCurdy retired, said college spokeswoman Kari Desser. Instructor Bonnie Bulach resigned.

Now, I know that the County has trouble a-plenty with their nurses, and the bully in charge of them. A mass exodus like this from the employ of Clallam County wouldn't surprise me at all. But this? What gives? What's going on up on the hill? Anyone have any inside information on this sudden rush for the exit?

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Well, Assuming You Don't Want Tweedle DUMB...

The article about the League of Women Voters debate between the candidates for County Commissioner today was timely. I've been meaning to post a bit about that (primary) race, and gosh, the PDN beat me to it.
Well, sort of. I mean, wow, could that article have been shorter, less informative, and contained fewer details? Once you eliminate the boilerplate about when the election is, how much a Commissioner makes, etc., the actual article is probably about 250 words - like a letter to the editor. No wonder the PDN's slogan is, "We report, you deride!" We wouldn't want them to break a sweat or anything, right?
Anyway...I'm writing from the perspective and assumption that, if you're reading this, you're probably not a gung ho, let's re-elect Dim King Jim kinda person. So, if that's a given, then who will you be supporting in the primary election, and why? Will it be Mark Ozias or Bryan D. Frazier? (Feel free to tell us who you'll be writing in, if that's your plan.)
From my perspective, Ozias clearly seems like a genuine, progressive, well-meaning person. I'd probably say something similar about Sissi Bruch - and we all know how well her campaign for County Commissioner turned out. In other words, is Mark Ozias the kind of person you'd like to have in a public office, but he's probably too nice to win (what is sure to be) a rough and tumble election?
Or, is Mark Ozias too nice a person to have in office? If he did win, could he take what would surely be near-constant abuse? Might he be inclined to follow the path of Sissi Bruch (as a City Council member), and play too nice, try too hard to get along with his fellow Commissioners?
That sure doesn't seem like it would be a worry to have about Bryan D. Frazier - for a number of reasons. One is that he seems like an in-your-face kind of guy, which is fine. But I don't know that he'd have much call for getting in anyone's face, since it seems like he's a lot closer to the conservative side of the aisle than the progressive one. He also seems way too comfortable with the fantasy-based perspective many elected officials in Clallam County have. See his whacky comments right her on blog about Dan's Fantasy Tram, and then think about the County budget.
"...And furthermore, my fellow citizens,
I will make the trams run on time!"

Of course, I give Frazier points for posting here. Hopefully he's still checking in and will see your comments on this race. In any case, it seems clear to me that, if it's change you're after, Mark Ozias is the way to go. But, hey, convince me that I'm wrong. Both candidates doubtlessly have strengths and weaknesses that most of us aren't aware of, so do share your knowledge.
BUT...I must caution you...Anyone posting any nonsense about "knocking McEntire out in the primary" had better do so with something stronger than wishful thinking to back up such a long-shot notion. If you really, really think that such a thing is possible, please provide a detailed vision of how that might happen. And please make sure that vision conforms to reality, not just (as stated above) wishful thinking. Yes, we'd all like to see Dim King Jim take his act on the road, but he won't go easily.
We'll just shut up, sit down,
and let you drive, Dim King Jim!

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Round Up of Square Heads

Several items kind of caught my eye today, one from each of the Big Three governing entities in Port Angeles, as it turns out.

Needless to say, I have to note how the current no snowpack/low river flows/extremely high fire danger drought conditions facing Port Angeles are described as "impending" by the PDN. Given the City's why-run-when-we-can-stroll response to the reality of the situation, they doubtlessly appreciate the PDN's reinforcement of their own fantasy-based viewpoint. The entire West Coast has been facing a drought for years now. There's a giant, mysterious "blob" of warm water off of the West Coast. Farmers are fighting fish for water. Tom Selleck is stealing water. There is no "impending" here, other than the City Council's impending decision about how little they should do in the face of climate change and potential catastrophe.
There is a plentitude of water for all!
So says Immagnum Tom!

Meanwhile, across the street at the County Courthouse, I guess the word of the day is "depending." As in, who you think won the pissing match between Selinda Barkhuis and the three Republican Commissioners is a view that is probably shaped by your own political leanings, depending on what those might be. If nothing else, Selinda forced - yes, forced - the three brainless monkeys in charge to jump through some hoops (nice show) and to promise to bring their spendthrift, crackpot ideas to a real, live public hearing (nice process). It will be interesting to see where this all goes from here. But for now, Selinda, you better lock those doors and look both ways - twice- before dashing across any and all streets.

But the thing that really stood out for me today was the Port's upcoming "consideration" of "approval of a million dollar airport apron grant." Now, I have no idea what that even means, really. All I know is that it sure seems like foolishness to spend even a million pennies on an airport that is without an air carrier. I mean, the restaurant is closed, you know? So why keep spending money to have food delivered?

Oh, that's right. Because it's not their money. And whether it's spending or "impending," the vast majority of elected officials in Clallam County and Port Angeles don't ever seem to really think about the fact that they are spending other people's hopes and dreams right down a rat hole. A very, very dry one, at that...

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Water Update: What, Me Hurry?

Port Angeles considering stricter city water curbs to protect fish; other sources studied

City officials are pondering imposition of stricter, Stage 3 water conservation measures within the next three weeks as the Elwha River flows slower and slower during the North Olympic Peninsula’s rainless summer, Craig Fulton, city public works and utilities director, said Wednesday.

Fulton said the river is flowing at 340 cubic feet per second (cfs) two months ahead of schedule.

Stage 3 measures, under which the council could limit lawn and garden watering to specific hours and days, could be implemented as the waterway approaches 300 cfs, Fulton said.

Fulton said Wednesday there is a 50-50 chance he will recommend at the next council meeting July 21 that council members impose the Stage 3 emergency.

I mean, yeah, why hurry, right? Why do anything to create a sense of urgency around something that's only essential for life and safety?

So, anyway, let's discuss this again - maybe, possibly - in a couple of weeks, shall we?