Monday, April 10, 2017

The Properties of a Community, Chapter 2

The headline: Sequim, Port Townsend in Top 10 of online contest for best Northwestern small town

The response from the Port Angeles (Regional!) Chamber of Commerce, City Hall, etc: "But, but, but..."

The headline: Health study ranks counties: Jefferson No. 4 for health outcomes, Clallam No. 21

The response from Port Angeles and Clallam County? "But, but, but..." And then someone shoots up and drops their needle in a park.

In other words, once again, the World of Facts seems intent on showing that, by almost any measure, Jefferson County is a nicer, prettier, more prosperous place to live. (Or to visit.) Now, given that whole World of Facts sitting out there, just an hour away, how many times have you heard of efforts by local (Clallam County) officials to reach out to their counterparts in Jefferson County to learn what they're doing right? How often do you hear of any initiatives to emulate, replicate or copy the community-building formula for success that is located just an hour away?

Hell, let's make it simpler. How often do you think any of the "power brokers" in City Hall and/or the County Courthouse even go over to Port Townsend to shop, eat, or see a movie? I'd guess it's not often, if ever. I'd guess that having to do so would be the emotional equivalent of Cherie Kidd's classic comments about coming back from Victoria on the ferry and...Seeing Port Angeles waiting for you.

Ugh. Depressing.

And so, Port Angeles continues to turn away from beauty, turn away from success, and turn away from health. Acknowledge any problems or deficits? Nope. They're like the cliché cop, shooing off people looking at an accident with "Nothing to see here, nothing to see, move along..."

Which creates the hard reality of Port Angeles: Nothing to see here, nothing to see. And the world moves along...


  1. Oh I think there will be allot to see here locally. Most of it bloodshed. I have my portable camping chair with its handy beverage holder ready to roll for a few front row seats. I loved today's article in the city butt kisser where all of our concerns about the new cardboard plant being closed for the next 18 months were allayed. Thankfully no city employee will lose a job or have their hours cut. Even with the almost half million dollar shortfall in city utility taxes. If I'm not mistaken I believe we have another scheduled city utility rate increase coming up soon! If only we had known months and months before they scheduled the rate increases that the city didn't need these scheduled rate increases. They just have to tighten their belts and everything will be dandy! I'm certain by tightening their belt's they don't mean spending less cash for lawyering up to protect themselves from the citizens. I wonder if they are factoring in the likely loss in revenue from federal and state funded citizen utility subsidies that almost 25 percent of the locals need to access to keep their lights and heat on every year? No word of concern was mentioned from our relieved city manager about the long term mill employees and their coming 18 months of minimum wage job searches.

  2. Oh, but CK, you're not quite right here. The leadership of Port Angeles is PROUD of the state of the city.

    Remember all the efforts by the city staff and boosters to vote as many times as possible, in that on-line contest a couple years ago to get Port Angeles listed as the BEST TOWN EVER?

    No shame about the homeless or needy, then.

    And, rumor has it the city is embarking on an effort to promote all it's wonderful accomplishments to it residents. So the residents can learn to love their city.

    The city is proud of all it is. The powers-that-be are busy making sure the status quo remains, and nothing changes.

  3. All valid points CK, but despite that, at this point I can't believe anyone gets excited about these click bait "best town" scams to begin with. Stuff the ballots (virtually) and win and then they all get to pat themselves on the back but it's meaningless. That the PDN devotes any time to this continues to demonstrate their ineptness and lack of relevant content.

  4. Very, very jaded here, but hopeful that the future will come to PA, unstoppable. The population pressures originating in Seattle will ensure that more folks will inevitably settle here, and bring with them some business savvy, community vision, & sanity. That's the only way the white collar skim thieves & greedy loggers will be pushed aside. Let them move further westward to stay out of the "sunshine" of real community development.
    Which doesn't mean a bigger town, it means a better town than a village of idiots.

  5. Port Townsend represents a quality of life that is literally so close...and yet so far away. They're making a go of it in the 21st century, while the people here just want to stay stuck in some mythical 1950s dream state.

  6. Something doesn't add up about the mill sale. The biomass incinerator cost $91 million according to the PDN. The mill sold for about $20 million and the county assessor website only shows the property at about $8 million. Where did all that money go?

    1. Don't forget that new water line to the mill. And the water rights attached to the mill. There is a lot of value there, and as you so correctly query...Where does it all go?

    2. Yes, but the Co-Gen plant is still running. Isn't it? Or is all that smoke coming out just for giggles?

    3. burning the evidence of where the money went?

  7. You know what's going on. About two dozen people are making big money by keeping Poor Angles poor. The EDC actively works to keep out competition and to keep wages at the poverty level so the larger employers can pay slave wages because there is nowhere to go to improve your income so long as all wages are kept low. If ever we acknowledged the strangle hold the various agencies have over our local economy then we would have to do something about it. Hand in hand with the EDC is the Port of Port Angeles which spends millions of dollars in support of the dying timber industry but as long as enablers like Colleen McAleer and Connie Beauvais approve the spending they will continue to prop up a dying industry at the expense of anything else happening in the community. Keep in mind there are less than a half-dozen people making anything like a living wage off the timber industry but almost every elective body still treats them as if they are the economic driver of the local economy. Thus they are able to externalize most of their costs onto the taxpayer so all their profits go into private pockets. The port is about to spend upwards of 5 million to build a storm water infrastructure serving only one or two timber companies. Already they provide all the multi-million-dollar log-moving machinery down on the waterfront used by only one or two timber companies. As long as the taxpayers foot the bill then yes, the timber companies look all fat and flush. If they had to pay their own way they would move on and find another community from which to sap their hope of prosperity. The upcoming election can change a lot of this equation if only people will get involved and get behind a progressive minded candidate who wants to see infrastructure that benefits everyone instead of just a couple of wealthy timber barons.

  8. The Jefferson County version of the EDC opened the Quimper Mercantile -- where Swain's departed from. After two years they had some profit, but more importantly, the EDC actually INVESTED money (i.e. put their money where their mouths were) in Port Townsend. They got 840 community investors involved (7,400 shares) and did something right.
    Meanwhile OUR EDC keeps flapping its lips, shoving lunches down their throats, and cashing those payroll checks -- for what? Three EMPLOYEES?
    Clallam county is corrupt. Face it. We're run by a bunch of good'ol'boys lining their pockets, and stealing from the people.
    BEWARE who you vote for -- for the port and the city council because if they have ANY good'ol'boy connections ( guy and ex Chamber prez) we're in for more of the same.

    1. Excellent background and contextual information there. Thank you!

    2. So very true 11:10. It's not about being mean or digging up dirt on a candidate, it is simply ascertaining their affiliations and disclosing them so people know who these characters really are. People like Moran have had their day and failed, miserably. They are not even relevant. Give the new people their chance.

  9. It drives me nuts when the long time entitled people here (both PA and Sequim) get nasty about longing for the good old days and hating what (mostly Sequim) has become with the growth and big box stores and farms being bought up and developed. They don't want newcomers to the area and are downright hostile about it. I do appreciate what the land trust is doing to preserve farm land but as for growth - it's inevitable. The world population is continuing to grow and you can either try do accommodate it and have certain quality of life controls over it, or you can be...just Port Angeles.

    1. Growth is inevitable? Says who?

      Look at Detroit. Yes, it isn't as bad as it was a few years ago, but people left that city by the thousands.

      There are many places around America that have declined dramatically because of poor economic conditions. The "go-go" years of the 50s and 60s were replaced with the greedy years of the recent past, where wealth has been consolidated by a very small percentage of the population.

      Here in Port Angeles, the timber industry used to employ a lot of people in the different mills. When the Rayonier mill closed almost 20 years ago, that was a really big hit to the local labor sector. Hundreds lost their jobs, directly, and hundreds more that were employed in supporting businesses. Now, around 200 lost their jobs as Nippon shut down it's operations over the last year or two.

      And, nothing replaced those jobs. Many of the Rayonier workers moved on, looking for work. The population of Port Angeles has been essentially stagnant since 1990.

      In 1990, the population of Port Angeles was 18,132. Now? 19,421. Barely an increase of a thousand people over almost 30 years.

      Compare that to the Seattle area.

      And how is Port Angeles rated as a place to live, by those that do that kind of analysis?

      " When you think of Washington, you normally think of Seattle, rain, and beautiful mountains.

      What you don’t normally think about are the potential stink holes that are around the mountains.

      So we dug in and did the dirty work for you to figure out where the worst places to live are in the Evergreen State."

      Growth is not inevitable.

    2. I see about a quarter million people have read that article saying Port Angeles ranks in the top ten worst places in Washington to live!

      "Based on scientific data analysis".

      A quarter million!

    3. Perhaps I should have clarified that the country as a whole is increasing in population and we have the choice to manage it well and benefit from it (i.e. Sequim or PT) or die a stagnant death (PA). But there seems to be a lot of people in this area that want them to stay the quaint little communities that they were when they were kids, yet still want all the prosperity, safety, and entitlement that they think they have just because they were born here. I see PA as having potential but the powers that be do everything they can to keep change at bay. They fear losing what they perceive as big-fish-in-a-little-pond status and don't realize they're barely the tapeworm in the cesspool.

    4. " ..stink holes that are around the mountains". Now does that ever describe Port Angeles, or what?

      On a related note, I was talking with a friend who retired out of the timber industry earlier today about cardboard mills. A couple observations. The first is that they require a lot of fiber, and he wondered if the area had enough to support that kind of operation.

      The other was the smell. He said cardboard operations are "very stinky".

      Perfect for a stink hole by the mountains.

    5. A big reason why jobs don't start here is that the EDC feels it's their paid "job" to stop jobs and growth.

      But the jist of this article seems to be more about the quality of people, not the quantity. And it does seem to be a village of idiots, with the biggest idiots in charge of keeping the quality of life fairly low. Why? Again because of fear of growth and new ideas.

      Well screw that. The new ideas are going to come. And they don't include timber barons or log exporters. Growth on both counts (quantity and quality) is inevitable. Sorry, but the 50s cannot be replicated, no matter how nice your nostalgic cars are.

      BTW, when's the next population count?

    6. Anon 5:27 I don't think you are looking at the situation very clearly, or maybe objectively.

      After 30 years of history to draw from, we see the population in Port Angeles has barely increased. Plenty of time for the millions spent by the EDC and so many others promoting the area, to show any plausible results.

      By the 2015 analyses of the statistics, Port Angeles was shown to be among the top 10 "worst places to live in Washington State".

      What is different tomorrow? Really?

      At some point, you have to look at, and acknowledge reality.

    7. The reality is that population is increasing everywhere. It is already happening here. May not be a boom town, but it's happening due to bigger issues than PA.

    8. @ Anon 9:49
      "The reality is that population is increasing everywhere. It is already happening here." Really? The Nippon Mill just laid off a hundred or so employees, and another 100 or so last year.

      The population of Port Angeles in 2015 was 19,448. So far, in 2017, Port Angeles population is stated at 19,421. Two years later, during the same growth years that see surrounding areas booming.

      How can you see that as "growth"? In two years, the population declined. And, that was before the Nippon shut down.

      Come on. Rah-rah boosterism doesn't solve the problems.

  10. Almost on that subject: