Thursday, November 19, 2015

Fill the Barrel - Then Toss Russ In and Seal It Up Tight

Because I just know you all will want to be there...

A farewell party Friday will celebrate retiring Russ Veenema's 15 years as executive director of the Port Angeles Regional Chamber of Commerce.

The event will run from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. in the Red Lion Hotel, 221 N. Lincoln St. at the foot of Lincoln Street, and will feature snacks, beverages and a no-host bar.

Although not required, participants are invited to bring bottles of wine to “Fill the Barrel” as a gift for Veenema.

Hired in the fall of 2000, he earns $89,000 a year.

During Veenema's tenure, Port Angeles captured national attention as the second-place finisher in a nationwide Web-based “Best City Ever” competition run by Outside magazine and kudos in a survey of small towns by Livability magazine, plus mention as one of the country's “coolest towns” by the Matador Network travel website.

Holding on to a job he was no good at for way, way too long? Check.

Getting paid way, way more than he ever earned? Paycheck.

Taking credit for things he had nothing to do with and/or that had no actual, verifiable meaning? Check.

Taking money for all those years to represent Port Angeles while never actually living there? Check.

Practicing the most obvious forms of nepotism in hiring? Check.

Having a haughty, rude manner and alienating many of the very people (business owners) that he was supposedly representing? Check.

So yes, Russ Venalmaw really does represent so many of the finest aspects of Port Angeles. That being so, don't piss away this opportunity to put something extra special in his bye bye barrel.


  1. If Russ was "worth" $89,000 a year, with all his weaknesses and fatal flaws, I shudder to think how much they'll pay whatever yahoo comes along to replace him.

  2. Osama bin Laden was taken out during Veenema's time at the Chamber, does he get credit for that too? I wondered why this reporter put all that shit in as if Russ had one iota of influence on any of it. Looks like ole Russ is attempting to pad his resume for the next suckers who may hire him as their supercilious schill. My guess he will begin selling advertising for PDN. Then he can call on all those business owners for whom he did so much while at the helm of the chamber. Some owners may even recognize him when he comes to their door--something he hasn't done since 2000.

  3. When Veenemaw's predecessor, Erl Hansen, retired from the C of C, he received a fully-trained bird hunting dog as a going away gift. This uniquely thoughtful surprise for Erl required a lot of advance planning, and about $3000 in donations to pay for the dog and its delivery from eastern WA.
    Are community members plotting a parting gift for Russ of anything greater than a BYOB barrel?

    1. I suggest either Boone Farm or Ripple for the bastard.

  4. Don't forget Russ also has a golden parachute, worth tens of thousands of dollars. All in payment for his years of so-called service.

  5. Pretty funny. Other articles talk about two different (I'm assuming) groups of people in Port Angeles holding protests and awareness raising marches to highlight Port Angeles' problems with drugs and crime. Yet, this party for Veenma suggests EVERYONE bring a bottle of alcohol to "fill the barrel" for the retiring Ex. Dir. of the Chamber of Commerce! Is this guy really known for being such a boozer?

    In 2000, when Russ took over the biggest and most influential business group in Port Angeles, were there multiple groups holding simultaneous public protest to protest crime and drug problems in Port Angeles? " Best City, Ever"?

    Revitalize Port Angeles leadership quickly says that none of the problems we see in Port Angeles are the result of anything local leadership has done. It is all about "The Great Recession", and communities all over have been impacted. Don't look to those responsible, because they are not responsible. Unless it is an opportunity to take credit for something somebody else did that could be construed as positive.

    But, we see other nearby communities growing and booming. While Port Angeles holds protests about it's rampant drug and crime problems. "They're dealing drugs right out in the open."

    So, the well heeled and fellow travelers will shower Russ Venema with praises as they party in self delusion. Everything is great, and getting better.

  6. Finally we're just about rid of him! Hooray!!.
    Veenma's been a stellar failure that caused what was once routine, weekly, packed- house Chamber Luncheon crowds dwindle to 10 -12-maybe 15 people twice a month.
    He made the Chamber Director before him look like a super star.
    Veenema failed the Port Angeles business community like a pro.
    Prediction: He will quickly pack up and leave town, taking his undeserved severance pay that Chamber members and City of PA finally scraped together only to get rid of him.
    Hope the door hits Veenema in the ass on the way out and the wine barrel rolls down the Crabhouse stairway and bowls him over!
    Veenema has been a true jackass's "perfect jackass".

  7. Good riddance to Russ Veenema. His arrogant (mis)management of the Chamber set that organization back 15 years.

    Even the Port Angeles Downtown Association has (albeit just recently) excelled far beyond the community influence of that of the PA Chamber today. And, the Chamber has Russ to thank for that downfall.

    Mr Veenema, go east or go west old man, just PLEASE leave this community as soon as possible. We'll be better off.

  8. Meanwhile, the Lincoln Theater is...STILL FOR SALE. And Don Perry has cut the number of "heritage" tours he offers down to just one a day.

    1. And, the streets, sidewalks and million dollar new "park" are empty. No one. Was downtown around noon for two hours, and I just sat there, watching. It was amazing. Even the new million dollar beaches didn't have any footprints in the sand! I took pictures.

      No wonder Don Perry has cut back his "heritage" tours. No wonder Jack Harmon discontinued the other ferries to Victoria.

      Yes, we can see Russ has done such a great job.

    2. What? You mean that prime piece of downtown Port Angeles real estate is FOR SALE?!? Thanks for the breaking news flash!

    3. When Nathan West looks into the mirror ten or twenty years from now, he'll be seeing Russ Veenema.

  9. Did anybody here go to the Flush Russ event?

    1. I really wish I had thought of that phrase when I was coming up with a headline for this...Nice!

    2. YEAH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      Yes yes yes! Flush Russ Veenema directly down the Port Angeles, Washington sewer!
      Down the sewer tubes and into the Glenn Cutler Turd Tank!
      Unfortunately Russ Veenema will then end up in the Salish Sea.
      Oh well, at least we're rid of the ARROGANT JERK
      Too bad for the Salish Sea though...........That's sorta sad..
      But then again, at least. Russ Veenema is finally gone!
      And (maybe???) the PA Chamber can move on???
      Yeah OK, Probably wishful thinking, we know, but we still hope for better...........
      Anyone could do better than Russ Veenema ........ if they (at least) TALK and MEET with the ACTIVE Port Angeles BUSINESS COMMUNITY MEMBERS.
      Too bad (for the Port Angeles, Clallam County, Olympic Peninsula, Washington State, Olympic Peninsula National Park community), that the Port Angeles Washington Chamber of Commerce BOD refuses to adhere to that simple truth.

    3. Anonymous 5:16 PM...Your ENTHUSIASM is NOTED.


  10. Waking up this morning, it looked pretty white out.

    No, I hadn't attended the Russ event, and thought I was still there, although I'm sure it was pretty white there.

    And, no, the anti-drug-and-crime protests haven't happened yet, and I'm sure those will be pretty white, too. Port Angeles is pretty white, all year long, dontcha know.

    I woke up thankful that I wasn't out on the streets as I saw the frost everywhere.

    Sure, two groups of concerned people in Port Angeles can find the time and energy to decry having drugs and crime happening in their communities, today. Like the downtown merchants who want to see the homeless and poor removed from "their" streets, these residents are offended that such terrible things exist in "their" neighborhoods.

    And, we remember the Port Angeles police response to the closure of the overnight shelters in Port Angeles a few weeks ago. "Oh, it doesn't get that cold out at night here in Port Angeles, anyways". Yeah, it must have been downright joyful out on the streets last night, judging by how white it was outside this morning.

    So, a shelter was set up with a few beds, miles away from downtown. What a perfect solution! The merchants and Port Angeles residents get "those people" removed from "their" streets and neighborhoods, and get to say shelter is available. Of course, never mind the location of Dept Health and Human Services is located downtown. Never mind the "shelter" doesn't open it's doors until 10 pm, and the sun goes down 5 hours earlier. Never mind no public transportation runs to the shelter at those hours. And, what are the homeless using for money, to buy a bus ticket, even if it DID run then?

    But, the concerned white folk of Port Angeles will be out later today, marching in protest, and cleaning up trash. That humans are suffering outside in subfreezing weather is not worth any effort. Picking up trash, so "our" community looks better, is.

    1. Welcome to the "new and improved" Downtown Association. Take a bow Josh. If you really want to thank him in person he runs the health foods store directly across from the Health and Human Services Office. I guess that is why he wants them moved. Bear in mind this is more from the folks who almost brought you "Port Angeles United" last year.
      Thanks Mr. Haguewood. Your son-in-law is going to grow up to be just like you.

    2. Josh is nowhere near as smart as he'd like to think he is. I can't wait for him to run for City Council - and lose!

    3. He's typical of Port Angeles: a big fish in a very little pond, one possessed of an over inflated ego and a bullying demeanor. He knows more than you ever will and he's come to save us all.

      But, his accomplishments are minimal. He presides over a foundering business in a foundering down town in a foundering small town.

      But never mind that. The next time you see him strutting and swaggering around down town, be sure to bow down and kiss the ground his feet have sanctified. He might even cast a glance your way. "Yes, sir! Thank you, sir! May I have another Arts and Draughts festival, sir?"

    4. He'd better hurry and get something - anything - else lined up before Country Aire goes under.

    5. Maybe he can get a job with DHHS.

  11. Rumor has it Russ has accepted a temporary modeling job for some web based "illustrated dictionary" project.
    Not so surprising, they think his photo will perfectly illustrate the word .... arrogant.

  12. Speaking of Great Men who have recently left their Position of Power...Someone landed here today by searching for "john brewer of port angeles, washington."

    John, are you out shopping your resume around?

    1. Not funny CK...or even anywhere on topic. Consider his retirement. ?

  13. Recap: For each of the past 15 years The chamber paid russ 90,000, the downtown assn paid Barb 50,000, the city gave the chamber half a million a year--all for marketing poor angeles. Now add to that the same amounts spent by the county to lure unsuspecting visitors. Where did the money go? What are the results? Where is the prosperity they promise year after year? Now Laurel Black, spokesperson for the Port of Port Angeles, has hooked up with the new marketing firm hired by the city. what could go wrong there? So, expect your marketing dollars to buy 25 year old logos and slogans and watch the local sucker-fish line up.

    1. A LOT of these people are retiring. These people, who developed this culture of living off the public's money and producing very little, are terming out. As we saw, Laurel Black signed up to partner with most of those that applied for the lodging tax/promotional contract this year, pretty much guaranteeing she'd be working, no matter who was selected.

      It will be interesting to see who steps up top fill their shoes. Will it be the airhead spawn of those that preceded them, the born and bred here that will continue what their rape-plunder-and-pillage parents wrought on the area? Or, new people with new ideas.

      We'll see.

    2. What new people with new ideas? You mean the ones who have been chased off by the good ol' boy network? Or the ones who gave up because the old guard was so entrenched? Or the ones who left Port Angeles for better economies?

      PA's had too many years where new ideas, and new growth, were outright discouraged. PA's had too many years of a "brain drain" where our kids went to where their talents are appreciated and financially rewarded. I doubt there are many talented people left to come up with new ideas.

  14. Right. Venema is given credit for the lame on-line magazines that list Port Angeles as being a desirable place to live. How absurd! All of it.

    First, Flushmeister Russ had nothing to do with any of those magazines. And to be fair, the article doesn't really say he did anything, just that it happened while he was collecting all that money for supposedly doing something.

    Second, it is the narrative. Take every opportunity to try to convince readers that Port Angeles is "The Best Town Ever". This way, people will keep investing their money in opening new businesses here, thinking there is actually something happening here. Contractors get paid, building owners get some bucks, and the PDN gets advertising bucks.

    Of the hundreds and thousands of magazines, polls and surveys out there, Port Angeles gets mentioned by a few. As we saw with the "Best Town Ever", it wasn't a real, objective assessment. Just a few people sitting at their computer, voting over and over for themselves.

    But, the reality on the streets is as empty as the sidewalks and stores are.