- Subscriber Center
- Green Editions
- About Us
- Sign Out
Times are tough right now. But for just a few dollars, and a little bit of your time, you can bolster cancer research and help provide services for local cancer patients. The kickoff for Relay for Life is today — Feb. 23 — from, 5:30-7:30 p.m. in the San Juan Island Library. The kickoff is open to the public.
Voters did the right thing when they approved property tax levy renewals for San Juan Island EMS and San Juan Island School District maintenance and operations. You will continue to pay a property tax of 35 cents per $1,000 of assessed property valuation for EMS services. If your home is worth $300,000, that’s $105 a year – no out of pocket. It’s a great investment in the health and security of you and every member of your household.
The Voting Rights Act of 1964 shored up the 15th Amendment to the Constitution because of literacy tests and poll taxes specifically targeting Blacks. My article in 2009 noted that many white Americans had more optimism about race relations than they’d ever had. I still don’t.
We know that protecting and restoring habitat are the keys to wild salmon recovery. But how are we really doing on that front? Puget Sound chinook and steelhead, Hood Canal summer chum and Lake Ozette sockeye are listed as “threatened” under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA). Meanwhile, our culture, treaty rights and way of life – everything that makes us Indian people – are disappearing a little every day, just like the salmon.
A new superintendent of schools has been hired for the San Juan Island School District. We welcome Lynden School Superintendent Rick Thompson to our district. But our warmest applause must go to Walt Wegener. Our interim superintendent handled the search for his successor with class. We hope to see him in the position he desires in time for the 2010-11 school year.
Jan. 11 marked the beginning of our 2010 session in Olympia, and every indication tells us we are in for a bumpy ride. Just a year after tackling a $9 billion budget deficit — the largest in our state’s history — we’re faced with another $2.6 billion shortfall. This means we’ll be forced to look at even more program cuts and savings enhancements to keep Washington fiscally sound as well as keep our well-established social safety net in place for our most vulnerable.
Until government spending is brought under control, small businesses will be uncertain about the economy and will not begin to hire new employees or borrow money for expansion. That will keep the economy in limbo for some time to come.
We can protect our community’s natural resources and beauty while streamlining our local land-use regulations to make the rules and processes effective and efficient. These efforts will enable our community of businesses and citizens to maintain their quality of life and sustainability.
In 2010, I am also hoping to finally get my official button: “I’m from the government and I’m here to help!” Seriously, please contact me if I can answer any questions about safe chemical handling and disposal, and keeping pollutants out of the environment.
The stakes are high. Island citizens are engaged in tasks that are leading to salmon recovery. Continued support is needed for salmon recovery efforts to be successful and we must make a long-term commitment toward completion of this work.
Our town isn’t just about whales and ferries. It’s about neighbor helping neighbor, children growing up and creating families of their own, small businesses serving the community and thriving, and a shared feeling of security and well-being.
My predictions for 2010 are that this community’s deeply rooted educational values will not waver, and together we will achieve success for our children and preserve hope for our future.
At this time of year, as seasonal rains quench these thirsty islands, our drives and dirt roads look more like a satellite view of the Minnesota lake country and rubber boots are strategically positioned on every porch just to retrieve the mail.
generate controversy as we struggle to identify regulations that both protect the environment and preserve the rights and interests of our citizens. There are obvious areas of common ground but there are also differences of opinion on the regulations needed. The likelihood of reaching broad public consensus on the multitude of details associated with this seems remote but I believe it can be obtained with cooperation, mutual respect, and reason.
Mayor Carrie Lacher said during her campaign that one of her goals is to establish an independent funding source for streets. Our recommendation: The Friday Harbor Town Council should place an advisory vote on the town ballot, asking town property owners if they would support Friday Harbor Fire Department becoming part of the San Juan County District 3 Fire Department.
In a talk with a leader of CAPR (Citizens’ Alliance for Property Rights) it was suggested that I stick to facts, and not philosophy. That is advice that I will take in this letter. I am arguing in favor of leaving as much protection as possible between households and the shoreline. Certainly more than is suggested by CAPR. The reference to “canaries” refers to the canary that dies in an unsafe mine, providing a warning signal. Animals dying in the Spring Street Aquarium may be offering a similar warning.
Our hearts go out to the people of Haiti. As they have when disaster has struck other parts of the nation and world, islanders are responding to assist relief efforts. Here are ways that you can help.
Tuesday, Jan. 12, the San Juan Lions Club hosted San Juan Island School District Superintendent Walt Wegener and school board member Brent Snow to present their views on the M&O Levy coming up for vote on Feb. 9. Snow, who is manager of Roche Harbor when he is not devoting time to family and all sorts of community causes, kicked off what he called the "pony and dog show." He was most persuasive.
2010 is an important year. We will participate in the 23rd U.S. Census to determine our nation’s population. The census is mandated every 10 years by the U.S. Constitution; the results are used to allocate congressional seats, electoral votes and government program funding. Census documents will be mailed March 15. Until then, local census workers will be spreading the word, on the street and through this newspaper, to encourage islanders to complete their census forms — all islanders, regardless of citizenship or legal residency.
Sometimes when something very bad happens it can, in fact, be a blessing in disguise. Such was the case the Saturday after Thanksgiving, Nov. 28, when Lyle Mann, not feeling well, drove himself to the clinic. They immediately airlifted him to St. Joseph Hospital in Bellingham for observation by the cardiac team. An angiogram the next morning revealed his center artery was nearly totally blocked and a side vein off of that artery was half blocked! His surgeon, Dr. Richard Leone, immediately scheduled him for open heart, double bypass surgery the very next morning on Monday, Nov. 30, 7:30 a.m. Dr. Leone did this immediately to prevent a massive heart attack that imminently threatened to end Lyle's life.
Ballots will soon arrive by mail for the renewal of the San Juan Island School District’s Maintenance and Operations (M&O) levy. Nearly 20 percent of our schools’ annual budget depends upon the M&O levy. M&O levy dollars flow directly to our classrooms and after-school programs, providing additional teachers and instructional staff. M&O levy funds support reasonable class sizes; staffing for music, visual arts, libraries, advanced placement, and vocational tech; online classes; and alternative options for all our students. These are the same programs that are subject to budget cuts when the district is pressed for funds, yet they are also the very programs that often help students succeed overall in school.
The status quo jeopardizes wild salmon recovery. That’s what NOAA Fisheries, the federal agency in charge of implementing the Endangered Species Act regarding salmon, told the Federal Emergency Management Agency in reviewing FEMA’s floodplain management plan. If status quo development, pollution and other ongoing factors damaging and destroying salmon habitat are allowed to continue, ESA-protected species such as threatened Puget Sound chinook and steelhead will not recover.
The endangered Southern Resident orca whales need our help. They need less pollution and many more salmon to eat and they need fewer boats disturbing them and making underwater noise. For more than 30 years, The Whale Museum has been observing the Southern Residents and has operated the Soundwatch “on-the-water-boater-education” program for nearly 20 years. Soundwatch has worked with the whale-watch industry and the U.S. and Canadian governments to collaboratively develop “Be Whale Wise Guidelines” (www.bewhalewise.org). Some of these guidelines have already become Washington state law. Now, the federal government is seeking to create federal vessel regulations, based in part on these industry supported guidelines. Monitoring research by Soundwatch illustrates that voluntary guidelines don’t work and that the 2008 Washington state vessel regulation also is not working, especially when applied to private boaters.
Like any community, San Juan Island is a community of people with different cultural traditions and different religious beliefs. December is an important time. These different observances, by virtue of being near the close of a year, come at a time for reflection on all our common bonds.
Life on our islands was once described by a local writer as similar to living on a ship at sea. We are largely on our own out here in the northwesternmost county in the continental United States. With that in mind, “shop local” takes on new meaning. Money we spend here stays here. It helps pay local wages, support local public services, pay local wages, put food on local tables, pay local rents and mortgages. And it funnels through to the many non-profits by the generous donations of local businesses.
When a public person dies, discussions usually center on that person’s accomplishments in their field. Superior Court Judge John O. Linde will also be so remembered, and there is a lot to remember: San Juan County District Court judge for 21 years (at one time the youngest in the state). Principal of a well-established and well-respected law firm. First judge of the San Juan County Superior Court. Member of the boards of directors of the Friday Harbor Athletic Association, Inter Island Medical Center, San Juan Community Theatre, San Juan Golf and Country Club, and San Juan Little League.
Thursday night, as every night before retiring, I check my e-mails and the online Journal of the San Juans for messages and late news. Helen and I had returned from a great night of trivia at the Ale House when our team, the Hellbox, took second place among 10 teams, after never getting one of the top three prizes in months. We were happy at our resurrection. Then the hammer fell: News of the tragic loss of Superior Court Judge John Linde, 62, in Hawaii. My attorney and friend for some 30 years.
Our five senses combine in another sense that is important to all of us as human beings: a sense of place. It is a powerful sense, it takes time to develop and can be lost when folks move around a lot from place to place and job to job. I have been blessed with a strong sense of place for my home, the Nisqually River. I know my place, my home. It’s where I feel the best. Place is an important part of treaty tribal fishing rights, too. Our rights are place-based.
In honor of Veterans Day, Spring Street International School invited two speakers to come and be part of a forum that honored veterans and engaged students in the meaning behind this national holiday. Some families were likely asking why we don’t just give everyone the day off as most schools do. While I would have loved a day off just about then, I think it is much more important that as educators we use holidays like Veterans Day to pause, reflect, honor, and remember why this is such an important day.
There has been no public panic, and for that we are thankful. But there has been and is cause for concern: H1N1 has arrived on the islands. As of Friday, there have been five confirmed cases of swine flu on the islands, but officials believe there have been more. One child has been hospitalized with H1N1. Health officials will try to determine whether H1N1 was a cause of a young woman’s unexpected death last week.
It is often pointed out that one of the spinoffs from locating the permanent farmers market on Nichols Street will be the rescue and restoration of the last remaining industrial building in Friday Harbor. There is also another important spinoff: The creation of a Downtown Commons — part small park, and part town square.
Congratulations to Mayor-elect Carrie Lacher. As the first woman elected mayor of Friday Harbor, she completes an important chapter in the town’s history. Now the hard work begins. Major challenges loom, particularly how to meet infrastructure needs amid declining revenues. Programs, services and employee hours are proposed to be cut to make the 2010 town budget balance. If she follows through on her campaign pledges, and continues a collaborative approach to tough issues, her mayoralty could be distinguished by its successes. But she’ll have to be courageous. Here’s a course we’d like the new mayor to take.
The San Juan County Council wants to take you on a field trip. The council is preparing to update the county’s environmental regulations, beginning with codes covering upland wetlands and fish and wildlife habitat areas, followed by marine shoreline regulations.
The Friday Harbor Town Council meets today at 5:30 p.m. for a budget work session. The meeting is open to the public. This meeting is a continuation of an earlier meeting, in which the Town Council discussed ways to cut personnel expenses 20 percent in order to help balance the 2010 budget. Cuts to programs and projects are proposed. One alternative to cutting hours has not been considered: The council should help shoulder some of the burden.
The rules for election of water district commissioners are a good example of why we should change the rules for cemetery districts. Water districts are municipal governments, but the rules for election to district commissions are different than for other junior taxing districts.
Now there are so many veterans, lost and found, that the whole world is again changed just as it had been altered in previous wars. The thing I know and the thing I want to tell you is this: I want us to give them love. I want us to give them respect. I want us to help them as much as we can. As much as they CAN let us. Because they are OUR HEROES. Now and forever, veterans from all wars.
Some compelling facts are that the fairgrounds is already owned by the county, meets the conditions for hotel/motel money and capital funding for both local and state, and has a historic building on the grounds that would be perfect for developing. If the proposed site for the Farmers Market is approved, the market will compete with the fair, parks, theater, and all the other entities needing and qualifying for those funds. Why keep cutting the pie at the peril of other established departments? Why not go for the larger view of sustainable communities and instead of purchasing additional sites needing more tax dollars and funding?
From ancient times, markets have been in cities, towns and villages because they are a vibrant part of the landscape that connects farmers with their customers. To relegate the farmers’ market in this community to the fairgrounds like another entertainment, sideshow or traveling antique show will damage the relationship between the town, the country and our visitors.
It is way past time for the council to make ferry matters among its highest priorities, to inform itself, and to advocate strongly and clearly on behalf of our interests. It could start by demanding that the lost Capron funds either be returned to the county or, at the very least, be credited toward lowering our interisland fares rather than used to make up for overall ferry financing.
Gordy Petersen and other committed critics of the County Council and administration have developed a technique of piling on so many partial facts and misleading conclusions that they collectively portray a county government run by reckless spenders and incompetents. I would like to respond to some of their deceptive arguments in the following paragraphs.