Monday, July 4, 2016

Correcting the Correction: $550,000 - It's Only (Your) Money

Oh, oops! Did the County FUCK UP? Did they do so in a way that was originally touted as costing (you, the taxpayers) $550,000? Yes they certainly did.

Then, aided and abetted by the Peninsula Daily News, did they briefly try to spin said FUCK UP by lowballing it down to "only" $300,000? Yes they did.

But say, isn't the reality that dealing with this public records FUCK UP, the one that violates State law, will, in fact cost (you, the taxpayer) $550,000? Yes, that is the case. (That's what happens when you have a "systemic failure" with your records keeping.)

Do you know how big a fireworks display you could
have for $550,000?

So, when does the PDN run the big, tell it all and close the case story about this massive, avoidable and expensive FUCK UP? In a Monday paper. On Monday, the 4th of July. When, let's face it, even fewer people than usual will be paying attention. It's not quite a COVER UP of the County's FUCK UP, but it's the closest the PDN could get.

Fireworks anyone? Say, at the public hearing on all of this mess tomorrow? The one that's at 10:30 AM at the County Courthouse? Anyone?


30 comments:

  1. Yep. Everyone in power here does their part to make sure this place stays as backwards and inbred as ever. They can't compete in the real world, so they maintain this dysfunctional fantasy land of grants and graft. This is a sick, sick place.

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  2. The county government has for almost 20 years attempted to screw Scott Lange as he attempted to make the county enforce its own codes. Instead, the county started on a campaign to discredit him, deny him public records to which he had every right to obtain from the county and even change county codes to coverup the bullshit they were slinging. Back in the late 90's of the last century Lange inquired about the possibility of anyone developing a piece of land adjacent to his in Clallam Bay. The county told him it could never be developed because of setback requirements. A building would have to be a certain distance from the county road and the Official High Water Mark, the highest of high tides.
    Lange accepted the county's assessment and did not purchase the property knowing it would never be developed. Except it was developed. Bob Martin, then director of community development allegedly wrote a letter which "officially" moved the accepted high water mark about 20 feet seaward so now, with the stroke of a pen the lot is now eligible for development. David Celebak buys the property and begins the permit process to build. Fortified with Bob Martin's letter the county issues a permit. Right then Lange began challenging the permit--before the home was built. The county put up obstructions in his path all the way. When Lange would paint the county into a legal corner the county would simply change the code to deflect any further scrutiny to their behaviors. Lange's objections provided several "off ramps" the county could have taken. If they rescinded the building permit in the beginning they could have gotten off by repaying Celebak the $40,000 purchase price of the lot. Instead they doubled down and provided him with more and more permits--all illegal according to Lange. Even after the home was built and a permit to build a bulkhead was issued and contested by Lange the county could then have gotten off with maybe $100,000 off ramp. The county dug in and created this labyrinth of conflicting exclusions which they could point to to make their previous decisions look legal. IN fact there were so many conflicts in the new code that they could tell opposing parties opposing stories and both be right. All this while Lange is attempting to get public records to prove his case. Instead of releasing the requested records they were taken down off the county server and put into a box and locked up in the basement of the court house where only the CDC could access them. Finally, some courageous person found the hidden records and day lighted them. Now the county must pay over half a million dollars of taxpayer money because they finally failed to keep it all hidden. Now, because of the settlement being approved without a trial the malefactors will never be outed and there will be no record of the many many bad actions coming out of several county offices. You the taxpayer will pay to cover up all the bad faith decisions and possible criminal actions surrounding this deal. Now they are attempting to package it as a swell deal to purchase the land for a new county park. So, to make a long story short, the county could have purchased this property for a park for $40,000 in the late 90's. Now, after this hellish mess the taxpayers will be out half a million and the county employees who brought us to this sorry station get off scott free with their publicly paid pension in tack.

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  3. Great post @9:15!

    This is yet another shining example of the corruption and cover-up mindset of certain public officials. The county should have never taken the bribe(s) to issue the illegal permits in the first place.

    There are some things that could begin to address this. The only way to deal with corruption is to put a downside on it, on the front end. So as a condition precedent to taking office, each department official should agree to possible loss of his or her pension for substantive legal violations. Kind of like posting your pension or other personal assets as a performance bond for the job. Then deal with the standards for immunity. Things like this can be done at county level.

    But the real problem is us, we who don't care enough to demand ethical local government. We who don't ask hard questions of candidates and city/county managers.

    So we go down to this hearing tomorrow and what? Object to settlement and say "go to trial", where the final bill could well be even more? It may be a botter pill to swallow, but ask yourself why you object to giving past due compensation to Lange, who seems to have been forgotten here. Do you pay him or the state?

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  4. We need placards and fliers. Enough of this sitting back. How can it be any worse?

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  5. I have it on good authority that Leah Leach, editor of the Peninsula Daily News, has been bombarded with information and details of this wretched case and never printed a word of it until Port O Call brought it out in the open. This is not a business decision on her part because the county must publish legal notices and PDN is the only paper that publishes often enough to be eligible to run the notices. (leave alone for now the fact that advertising should never affect the news side of a newspaper)
    So, the only other explanation is that the Peninsula Daily News CHOOSES to keep unflattering stories about government lapses or misconduct out of the news. Shame on you Leah and shame on the advertisers who continue to feed this egg-sucking dog of a newspaper.

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    Replies
    1. Yeh, the Peninsula Daily Nuisance treats readers like a bunch of hick wood choppers who don't deserve the truth and will settle for a pack of lies lies lies. It is time to take them to task. Please call up Swains, Price Ford, Wilder Auto, all the bigger advertisers and tell them they are riding a plug mule and need to get off. They are sending all that advertising revenue to Canada and don't even pay their reporters enough to keep them off the dole. What a sad excuse for a news paper.

      Delete
    2. Country Aire runs a large weekly ad and frequently takes out full page ads. Call the store's GM, Josh Rancourt (who is buddies with Paul Gottleib) and tell him what you think of Country Aire's continual support of the community's source of misinformation, distortion and blatant lies - The Perfidious Daily News.

      Delete
    3. I agree. The PDN is such a bad representative of the community. Right up there with the radio station I never listen to, KONP.

      Hey, Mr. Wilson, any interest in starting a new radio station, to offer listeners an alternative to the poor excuse for radio KONP offers? I know you must be terribly busy with all you're already doing to try to counter the crap we endure, but, KONP is just more of the same as the PDN.

      If you look at the other community newspapers Black Press owns (and they own most of them, in the region), they have very little actual content, and are almost totally wads of ads. In some towns, the Black Press owned papers are delivered to doorsteps once a week for free, but few pay much attention to them, because it is happy news and ads. It just gets thrown in the recycle bin without being looked at.

      I bring this up to warn the current reporters and workers at the PDN. If they think the decline in the size, and content of the PDN is temporary, they are mistaken. It is only the continuing path to oblivion.

      Some really good papers have gone out of business due to current market conditions. The PDN is doing one hell of a job putting itself out of business!

      Delete
    4. KONP has control of ALL the radio frequencies available here. Some sit idle but you cannot buy them. No competition ya know--like the EDC

      Delete
    5. If this is true, and KONP has bought up all the frequencies in order to prevent any competition, this sounds like something to make an issue of. I don't know if it is technically "illegal", and the FCC or? can be alerted, or is it just a matter of contacting NPR, or? to shine the public awareness light on KONP.

      "Free the airwaves" and "Unfair Monopoly" pickets at KONP offices, with a call to Seattle area news agencies might be a way. There ARE organizations that exist specifically because of and in defense of these types of issues.

      We have to stop just accepting all this.

      Delete
  6. Good info in the 9:15 AM post. I was pretty sure I already knew the general scenario just from the here, the POC and PDN. Frankly, the county is getting a good deal with the Langes after their years of anguish and the obvious cover-up. Mr. Nichols knows this so is doing his part to hurry it along.

    Looking forward to tomorrow's hearing. I'll be there.

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  7. This is such a non-event. Seriously this is blown way out of proportion. A zoning change someone isn't happy about? Faulty construction? Records requests get lost all the time. And yes you settle rather than litigate.

    do you live in some bubble wrapped world?

    go to the meeting rant and rave have your blood pressure rise and realize errors will be made again tomorrow.

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    Replies
    1. Here you are again, saying the same tired things.

      How bad does it have to get, before you'll stand up for your children, and their future?

      Oh! Maybe you don't have any children, and you're one of those other fine examples in Port Angeles that campaign against funding school improvements for the towns' children. Because, Geeez, they aren't YOUR children, so why spend any money on them?

      Corruption? Who cares? Wasting money? Who cares?

      Maybe you'll wake up one day, and realize you died a long time ago.

      Delete
    2. Troll @3:34 - you are exactly what is wrong. You are no better than the offenders, trying to marginalise wthe screwing of the taxpayers. This is far beyond your simple minded concept that this is just about a code change, and no, neither public records requests, and certainly not publc records get "lost all the time". Not in competent organizations. I certainly hope you have no oversight or responsibility for records in your position.

      Delete
    3. Eleven people showed up, some spoke more than once-so much for rallying the troops.

      Delete
  8. This just in: Mark Nichols had an opportunity to settle this case for the price of a postage stamp as recently as 3 months ago. Lange was in his office and offered to settle if the county would merely write a letter testamentary to the truth of all we now know. Nichols balked and cost us half a million in that one decision.

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  9. Even with yesterday being the 4th of July, this blog still had over 300 pageviews yesterday. You've got the numbers, folks. Now get some of those numbers to that meeting today - the one at the really inconvenient time.

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  10. Associated PressJuly 5, 2016 at 6:33 AM


    From The Associated Press:
    Clallam County may pay $550K after files for public records request found in basement
    Originally published July 4, 2016 at 3:16 pm Updated July 4, 2016 at 5:32 pm

    County Prosecuting Attorney Mark Nichols wrote that officials this year discovered thousands of pages of documents related to a land-use dispute in the basement of the Clallam County Courthouse.
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    By The Associated Press


    PORT ANGELES — Clallam County officials have negotiated a settlement with a couple who sued for public records in 2014, after officials this year discovered thousands of pages of documents in a basement that should have been provided earlier.

    The proposed settlement with Scott and Elizabeth Lange will cost the county about $550,000, The Peninsula Daily News reported.

    The couple has been in a long-running dispute with the county over building permits issued to the owners of an adjacent property on Clallam Bay.
    Related: $503K in fines upheld against L&I for delaying release of lead-poisoning records to Times

    The Langes sued in Kitsap County Superior Court in 2014, alleging violations of the state Public Records Act in the processing of public records filed between 2009 and 2013. They argued the county improperly redacted emails as attorney-client privilege and didn’t provide records connected to land-use code amendments.

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    Clallam County Prosecuting Attorney Mark Nichols wrote in a memo last week that officials this year discovered thousands of pages of documents in a box in a locked storage room in the basement of the Clallam County Courthouse, as well as on a secured electronic file folder.

    The officials were responding to a more recent public-records request filed by the Langes, the newspaper reported.

    Nichols said the discovered records “fundamentally altered” the county’s ability to defend itself against the public-records lawsuit.

    “The county will be required to pay a significant amount of money regardless of whether it resolves the lawsuit consistent with the mediated settlement agreement or pushes the matter to trial,” Nichols told the newspaper.

    Under the proposed settlement negotiated in May and recently posted on the county’s website, the county will buy three waterfront properties, including $210,000 for two of the Langes’ lots and $300,000 for the neighboring property, whose building permits the Langes had challenged.

    County officials plan to use the properties for a public waterfront park. Among other conditions in the proposed settlement, the Langes would drop their claims against the county.

    Commissioners have discussed the proposed settlement in a series of closed-door executive sessions. Last week, they voted 2-1 to buy the neighboring property. Commissioner Mike Chapman voted no, citing concerns about the public process.


    The Associated Press

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  11. The problem is it's not the county that should be paying these costs Mr Nichols..It's the responsible parties that messed up by showing favoritism to Celebak by granting the building permit, fudging the high-water mark and hiding the public records,etc etc...It should not cost the county taxpayers a dime..It should cost the bond insurer of the responsible parties!

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    Replies
    1. Rumor has it Celebak had a sister who was clerk of the county commission at the time this all went down. They sure went to the extreme to protect their own...

      Delete
  12. As to be expected, Ozias and Peach voted to do the deal and keep all the crimes from coming into focus.
    Peach was phoning in his appearance from somewhere else. You could tell he was not paying attention, every time someone asked him a question the line was silent for several seconds while he scurried back to the phone, took it off mute and uttered something inane. Peach could not wait to get this handled. He made the motion to approve the settlement while the hearing was still in progress. You know he wasn't going to be "moved" by those silly hayseeds come to the commission to tell them the error of their ways. Let's start beating the bushes for a replacement for Peach in the next election. Anyone know a good candidate to replace Peach. Might as well run the table and toss Ozias too. He is not much improvement from the last one representing the first district. There were several calls for Mark Nichols resignation. Don't expect that to happen. The Fager brothers attended to remind the county how much Nichols has already cost the county in their case. Over $300,000 and counting.

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    1. Run the table - yes! Mark Ozias is a shameful disappointment.

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  13. FWIW, at the commissioner's hearing today, many people spoke openly about the corruption within the county administration. Not just this case. Corruption has infested this county for too long.

    As one speaker pointed out, the county "elites" can get anything done they want, but the people have to abide the law. Too many county employees simply belong behind bars.

    The department directors were asked many questions (by the public, not the commissioners) for which there were no answers. These people have no concept of what it means to serve the public.

    I know this is a long sad story of what this place is like, but not everywhere is this corrupt. Take a look around, see what kind of leaders you CAN have. If Mr. Richards is the best of the current bunch, so be it. But we have to start grooming people for candidacy, just like the big boys, but do it right without having to resort to criminal intent.

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    1. I have to disagree.

      I have been watching different political scenes for quite a few years now, and the single biggest problem I've identified is the people's reliance on politicians to do the right thing. This is what causes all the troubles.

      The only times I've seen any real success stories is when the politicians have been forced by public pressure to do what is right.

      Thinking "if ONLY we could find the right guy" leads us down a fruitless path. Even if we found a decent person, as we've seen over and over, they soon side with staff, and the established way of doing things.

      The real problem is that for 99% of the time, if not more, we leave these public representatives to their own devices (and vices). We don't stay with them for the ride. We put them on the bus, and walk away.

      The recent debacle is a great example of what happens when enough people confront local representatives. And what happens when people sit back down again.

      With enough people involved, the Council had no choice but to appear to be concerned about what people wanted, and to appear to be responsive. They held hearings, conducted an advisory vote, deliberated, and tried to appear like they cared. When people got upset with the outcome, the Council made attempts to look like they were concerned. Ultimately, Gavelin' Cherie got so upset by the people, she had her very public melt down, and lied.

      Cherie and the Council did not change the laws to silence the public because they had nothing better to do. They did it because they saw clearly how effective a group of the public can be in terms of steering the towns' agenda.

      But what happened? Enough people believed the politicians actually drive policy, and tried to play nicey-nice with them. Participated in "compromise negotiations" to see if there was some way one or two of the council could be persuaded to change their votes. Others, seeing this, became disappointed and disillusioned.

      And in doing so, the momentum for change was lost.

      The lessons to be gleaned from this episode are many. The reality is that "we the people" do, in fact, have the power to dictate what ever we want to see in the town, if only we stand up for ourselves. There are no politicians that can do anything, if enough people are vocal enough.

      (part one)

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    2. (part two)

      We undermine our own efforts far more effectively than any politician does. We convince ourselves with a wide variety of reasons, why we can't or shouldn't be involved and vocal. We say "It's not my job, that's what I elect them to do", as one of many excuses for not being actively involved.

      But, voice an opinion? We all hear how the politicians are corrupt and don't listen. Over the last 30 years, I've attended more meetings of the City Council and Planning Commission than I can count, and in most all, I've been the only member of the public present that didn't have a permit or some other personal benefit issue being decided upon. So, who do you think the staff and council are listening to? Not you, because I was there, and I didn't see you.

      But, in so many other instances, I've seen where a group of very vocal people, concerned about a specific issue, have completely turned things around. The more visible, vocal and persistent, the more successful.

      It isn't rocket science. Sitting back, complaining, and voting once every few years isn't the recipe for creating the neighborhood or town you want to live in. Thinking some other person is going to be a great mind reader, know everything you want, will speak words that would come out of your mouth, and make the decisions you would, without you having to do anything, just is not realistic.

      This is our town. Not theirs. But we allow them to trash it, and us, day after day. Besides our children, our homes and neighborhoods are the biggest investments we make in our lives, yet we allow a few people to devalue it all.

      Don't tell me people don't have time. Everyone can make plenty of time for football, movies, TV and video games. The parking lot at Civic Field has many more cars in it, than City Hall during council or planning meetings.

      It isn't about child care, or money. The parking lot at Deer Park Cinema is full at most showings, and the Walmart is full most days, too.

      The machine of politics today relies on a peaceful, compliant, non involved public that might show up once in a while, like today, and then go home. They rely on the public accepting no response to questions asked. Politicians rely on people that accept being told how it is, what is happening, and how it is going to be. And they all rely on the people politely going home.

      Look where it gets us.

      Tyler

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    3. Indeed, Tyler.
      We elect, then we ignore. That's the political system in the United States, today.

      Delete
    4. Maybe we need some fresh ideas for how to get more folks involved. Obviously we aren't going to have a "million" person type march on city hall (or whatever they call it these days).

      But maybe these council meetings should be marketed to the public. By that I mean anyone can promote the twice-monthly meetings to the public as a form of community entertainment (and free at that). Re-form these meetings into a source of community-sharing information, meet your neighbors, etc. By that I mean have groups show up in the hallways to answer questions about what they do, hand out brochures, provide background on that evening's agenda items, all starting a half-hour before the meeting starts, as a means to mingle and introduce each other. In other words, the citizens "take back" these meetings and get to know who's focusing on what issues, or who is going to speak about what. As if it were a social event and everyone is personally invited.

      Then when the council meetings get underway (the "main event"), more folks will already be there to support each other. Again, market the community interaction, as well as the spectacle of the meetings, in order to pique more interest in how the local government directly affects YOUR life, your opportunities, and your personal choices.

      So give these meetings a "spiff" in the form of being about more than just the council. If more citizens use it as a "meet & greet" kind of thing, then maybe more will show up and speak their minds. After all, hearing your neighbors and fellow citizens speak up, and getting the courage to do it yourself, is truly amazing and empowering.

      I attended meetings in the past when the fluoride fervor was reaching its peak, but lately they've gotten better at hiding what the real issues before the council are.
      Pre-meeting I'd like to see reps from Port O Call, political action groups of any flavor, corruption exposers, even candidates show up beforehand and meet us. I bet that acid-tongued Dale can get folks motivated!

      Anyway just a small thought off the top of my little head. Make it entertaining, get the word out, and they will come.

      Flame on!

      Delete
  14. Is it normal procedure for your county to use hand scribbled contracts to settle $300,000+ lawsuits?

    ReplyDelete