Saturday, October 1, 2016

When is a Puff Piece NOT a Puff Piece?

In case you haven't heard, Ron Judd over at the Seattle Times did what is clearly supposed to be a warm, huggable, puff piece on Port Angeles a few days ago - one of those, "Is Port Angeles on the cusp of greatness at long last?" type things. Only it didn't really turn out that way...You can read the piece for yourself here:

It seems pretty clear that Mr. Judd has a soft spot in his heart for Port Angeles, but maybe he doesn't see all the soft spots in his story, the ones that let the unvarnished truth come through all too blightly. A sampling follows:

These treasures make PA a true Port of Angels for outdoor lovers of all stripes. More than 3 million per year venture onto national park lands; most of them drive through — alas, often straight through — Port Angeles on the way.
Was it a sign…Might it be an omen that Port Angeles was finally about to become something more than, as a local pub server put it recently, “a somewhat nicer Forks”?
Maybe. A better question for a town long struggling with low household incomes, high unemployment and a population that stubbornly clings below 20,000: Does it even want to be?
(Downie’s) optimism is shared, perhaps not quite so exuberantly, by local economic development officials who acknowledge the accompanying challenges. The same unfinished, out-there persona that makes Port Angeles attractive to residents can be a challenge to businesses that must operate in something of an economic bubble.
To date: Numerous nibblers, few big biters.
Low wages. Worrisome levels of drug abuse. A lack of skilled workers.
There are other tells as well, in this attempt to promote Port Angeles as not being as old, out of date and out of touch as it is. No pictures of elderly Mayor Downie, for instance, and no mention at all of daffy Deputy Mayor Cherie Kidd. (She must be heartbroken!) No mention of the City's mountain of debt. They refer to the rundown and moldy Lincoln Theater as "stately," which is a lie Donald Trump would be proud of. You get the picture - but those from elsewhere might not.
That is, unless they read the comments piling up at the end of the article. Those, for the most part, tell a darker, more hopeless tale of Port Angeles...
PA seems to be bigger and uglier every time I visit. Maybe the population is stable but the sprawl of car lots and strip malls only gets worse...And seriously, that whole county needs an intervention for the drug problem.
PA sucks and always has. Such a beautiful setting wasted on a crappy town full of ugly, hateful people.
What PA is on the cusp of is destroying any beauty it has left...Now it's miles of strip malls and traffic.
Land of the redneck. Very unwelcoming to outsiders.
The biggest problem with PA is that it is literally infested with drug addicts and rampant crime. I'd wager 5% or more of the population is deep in the heroin/meth and theft scene. Until the community wakes up and makes a concerted effort to change things, PA will just be a good place to come and get robbed or have your kids get hooked on drugs if you're fool enough to bring a family here. (Please note the use of "here" here. Apparently a local wrote this comment.)
(Responding to the comment above.) You have hit the biggest problem with PA. I wonder if residents actually walk around downtown, or go to the parks, or walk the waterfront, to find the dirty needles and heroin foils lying around everywhere! Do they not see the empty buildings everywhere? Even though many communities across the nation are experiencing the heroin epidemic, this community is as rampant with the problem, more so than many others. City officials and others act as if there is no problem and don't want to recognize it.
I looked at PA as a possible place to relocate. Druggies and homeless on the streets downtown spooked me. I understand that Clallam County has one of the state's worst overdose rates per capita.
Mind you, these are but a few of the comments that follow the article...



  1. Oh! But we hear how wonderful everything is. The only problem in Port Angeles is the haters and nay-sayers.

    Hmmm. Maybe not, if the column writer AND the comments of visitors are to be believed.

    Will the leadership of this town EVER wake up, and honestly look around?

  2. Notice the big lie told by Bill Greenwood, Director of Randy Johnson's Economic Development Council, "Port Angeles is a timber town, always has been." No it isn't Bill. Only a half dozen men make any money on timber here. They make money by sending our precious resources to Asia to build their economy. The EDC constantly sucks up half a million a year on economic development which it spends right here in town at Greenwood's favorite restaurants. Then they spend thousands of taxpayer dollars to promote only their membership and to hell with all the other businesses in town. When the county commissioners and the city council quit paying into this anti-competition scheme the town might grow. Taxpayers are doing their fair share and the leadership is squandering the funds on this bunch of clowns at EDC. What a croc of shit.

  3. Most of the tourists who come here are tree-huggers. The reason they drive on through is because they see the mountains of dead trees on the waterfront and at the airport and they realize this community does not share their eco-friendly attitude so they drive on. If you want to get tree-loving people to stick around and spend their money hide the log yards and stop with the "Timber-Town" mentality. That is long gone and never to return.

    1. If you have clicked on the link to read the article, then you'll have seen the big, welcome to Port Angeles money shot they have as a photo, when you come over the crest of the hill...See downtown...And then see the friggin' mill in all its (non) glory.

      So, yeah, there's work to be done to make the town attractive to tree hugging tourists, and to everyone else as well. Remember: Even Cherie Kidd gets depressed when coming back into Port Angeles...

    2. And, that photo of downtown Port Angeles features the ship being loaded up with logs to be sent to Asia. Between the mill spewing smoke, the logyards in it's foreground, and the log ship being loaded, is it any wonder people drive straight through Port Angeles?

      Why would people leave their cozy homes, drive hours, and then spend their recreation time in a town full of dead logs?

  4. When will the people of Port Angeles throw their so-called leadership out? What more do they need for evidence, to see their leaders have failed them?

    All the current leadership should step down, now.

    Acknowledge that by all means of accounting, they have failed.

    Enough is enough.

  5. I just figured out the new "Crime" section of the PDN. Like Trump they want everyone to think we need a strict law and order type approach. This will scare anyone thinking of throwing out this city government and creating a new one. The point to remember--nothing has changed except the reporting. It has always been here and will be here as long as this city governing elite are in charge. Change is coming in '17.

  6. When a supposedly positive piece like this one has to acknowledge SO MANY negatives, there are major problems within the community. And when the comments on an article like this have SO MANY that are negative, it also shows there are major problems in how the town is seen by those from outside.

    Compounding these very, very real problems is the utter unwillingness of our so-called local leaders to even acknowledge there's a problem at all. Their actions (or inactions, as the case may be) only make the disaster that is Port Angeles even more of a tragedy.

  7. As is said, you can't fix a problem until you understand what it is. In Port Angeles, the morons can't even see there IS a problem. For the few, everything IS great. The rest of you can "pound sand".

    This is not a new dynamic. All over the world, those that are fat and happy are content with the status quo. There is a reason that 50 families have half the world's wealth. They make sure laws and regulations are put in place to make sure everything works to their benefit. Scale that to Port Angeles, and you have the same situation.

    If we are to believe the article and comments, Port Angeles is crime central. What have our area's leaders done to address this?

    Oh! I remember. Last year, when the last shelter for the needy closed, the police chief said "Well, it doesn't get that cold around here during the winter, anyways."

    And people wonder why there is a crime problem. People are breaking into buildings just to get out of the weather!

  8. This article is, unintentionally, a scathing indictment of the failed leadership here. Hundreds of thousands of people coming through town FOR DECADES, and they haven't been smart or capable enough to leverage that into anything, ever.

    The voters keep sending in the clowns. And the clowns pave the way for the junkies. It really is that simple.

    1. You and CK have it pegged. The article is supposed to be a puff piece, but it, and the comments from readers, give anything but a positive impression of Port Angeles.

      The curve of the fangs of a rattlesnake are beautiful. Many of the most dangerous and beautiful animals and plants are beautiful. Finding positive things to say about Port Angeles doesn't make it a great place to live or raise a family. And, there were very few positive things, actually, said about Port Angeles in that article. That it is two hours drive from pretty parts of the peninsula? So are the outhouses are the rest stops!

      As we see in the article, Downie and Greenwood are still looking for those Knights in Shining White Armor to ride into town, and make it all work for us. Not that Downie or Greenwood themselves have been able to accomplish anything, after all those years of sitting in leadership positions.

      And Gastro Pub? Our town's salvation rests in a pub? We'll just build more pubs and theaters, and the town's problems will be solved? What is generating the income for that burger and beer? For that night out on the town? A welfare check? Proceeds from selling heroin?

      On the cusp? After all these years, what is different now? The "natural beauty" has been here for many years, many years before the Europeans even showed up.

      Are our so-called leaders doing anything, other than keeping seats warm?

  9. As negative as the truth may be, this blog has become the ONLY source of real facts and local news. Think about it. Aside from POC, no other site has posts that inform like right here.

    Of course the pocket-liners and reality-deniers have no use for thought-provoking instigations, but how else are we to have real public debate about a new direction for this place? You won't get it at city hall, or even in a coffee house.

    Yes, the message usually focuses in on how f-ed up this place is politically and economically, but it seems we are still in a mode where folks have to get motivated to have a vision. A vision of better civic planning, better sources of revenue, real accountability, and a voice in all such matters, rather than back-room deals and timber-town stupidity every single day. All for a better quality of life, which is the indisputable goal.

    In reading these threads, the only thing I'd like to see is more solutions offered up. It's easy to rant all day long, but it's meaningless unless people step up and present agreeable solutions. Most of which involve getting qualified people into public office at all levels. Not that the public sector is the answer (it ain't), but for private money to come here and fuel some fun projects, there has to be a shared vision in the public sector that rejects or allows the development. This is why next year's municipal election will be critical (unless Trump presses the button...).

    So it is intriguing that the Times would even print such an article. But it's a good thing, because any PR is PR. We absolutely need new money here as a starting point in order to change anything. And frankly I'd prefer outside nouveau-riche enterprising youth over asshole timber barons any day.

  10. Keeping things in perspective, folks...Tom Harper thinks all your comments are made up by me. Is it really that much of a stretch to believe that, say, Pat Downie would also believe that all the negative comments on the Seattle Times article are from just "one or two disgruntled" people? In other words, how deep in denial are the people in charge? Remember that woman crying in front of the City Council about the drug problem. In response, they couldn't even rise to the level of "Your call is important to us."

    For those tracking and willing to listen, these comments are a pretty good diagnosis (or autopsy) for what ails Port Angeles. Any bets on how many City Council or EDC members are going to listen?

    Speaking of which...It's kind of interesting that there's been no mention of this Seattle Times piece in the PDN. Maybe the flood of negative comments scared them off from even mentioning it? (So don't tell OUTSIDE magazine, whatever you do...)

    1. You make a good and valid point, CK. Another analogy is that whole "Saddam has weapons of mass destruction" thing, or that the US is experiencing a massive crime wave. Neither are true, but the people who believe the propaganda won't listen to anybody who says otherwise.

      As long as Downie, Greenwood or any of the civic leaders continue hold positions of leadership, they will be in a position of defending their records. They will point to anything that can be construed to be positive, like an increase in "heads on beds". Never mind the increases have nothing to do with any of their initiatives, they will use anything they can to deceive the public, and keep things the same.

      If they really did care about the community, they would get out of the way.

  11. If you escaped from prison in Alabama, why would you head all the way up to the Olympic Peninsula? Why, to hide out with the rest of the losers and crooks already here. All those drug and crime comments after the article really do tell you all you need to know about this place. The black lagoon at the end of the dead end road.

  12. And still the comments keep coming on the original article:

    "Used to own property in P.A. and there is a large percentage of residents that resist progress. Very backward town with a big drug problem."

    Whoever this person is, they nailed it. "A large percentage of residents that resist progress." It really makes me wonder why I'm staying, frankly. Progress is good, right? But so many here don't want it in any form.

    1. More new comments:

      "But the rest of the downtown is boarded up and what stores exists don't draw business. The book store you speak of has an owner so rude I never shopped there again. The approach to town through the slow drive of clutter, billboards and dirty junky locales would make anyone want to keep driving. Until the local leaders pay attention and see what they've allowed their town to become, it will continue to die a tortured death as the drug addicts take over."

    2. And:

      "Is Sequim perfect? No town is. But I think it's a pretty good base for a lot of travel and opportunity and light years ahead of dank, dark, miserable Port Angeles. I think Port Angeles has potential, but it's going to take a lot of work and the local leaders seem to actively go out of their way to prevent growth and keep wages low, so the old guard fat cats stay rich at the expense of everyone else."

    3. And, in reply to a commenter that said, "Good luck finding a doctor!":

      "I'm glad you mentioned that. That is a very real problem here. Plus, I don't understand why they keeping expanding the hospital at its Port Angeles location which will fall into the sea right off the bluff when the big one hits. With the population shifting towards Sequim, why wouldn't they put their resources into the hospital branches and locations at Sequim? Yes the Sequim locations are increasing, but why not make the primary hospital be in Sequim? Again, not looking to the future. Or maybe they're tenaciously trying to hang on to one of the largest employers in Port Angeles, even though it's a terrible location."

  13. As long as the few are in charge why would they want any "progress?" Progress means losing control of the economy. Progress means dumping the Economic Development Council. Progress means no taxpayer funds to questionable entities that do not serve the public good. Progress means throwing off the city council a member who commits perjury. Progress means, well, you get the message.

  14. It seems the local Port Angeles Happy Talk facebook sites are all bubbly about this article. They see it as some kind of vindication that Port Angeles is actually "right on the cusp of greatness", despite the reality they overlook.

    1. So...They can read the article...But are unable to read the comments following the article.

      Yep. Sounds about right. "Look! It's ANOTHER GREAT DAY in Port Angeles!"

      Now...Where'd I put my meth?!?

  15. Maybe the blog tagline should read: Telling the truth about one of the dumbest places on Earth."

  16. Meth is so last year, now it's Heroin, haven't you heard?