April 7th, 2013, by slmcbain
By Susan McBain
Yesterday afternoon I attended the Eagle Forum’s candidate forum to hear all six County Council candidates answer questions on a variety of subjects. I thought all gave good answers and showed impressive knowledge of different aspects of the issues. But my main impression was, these are all good, smart, concerned people who would do their best for the county as a whole. At one point I thought, I wish we could have all six of them, as together they represent almost all the constituencies in San Juan County.
I’m concerned and saddened at the over-the-top negative feelings being expressed in this election. Yes, the candidates have different perspectives, but there wasn’t a wild-eyed radical of any stripe at that table. They’ve all got common sense and experience in how our society works, and they respect how it works. I had the sense they all respected each other too. I fear we’ve let the current ugly national temper of all-or-nothing intolerance infect our island culture. It’s not right, it’s not useful, and it’s not the way to reach good outcomes for the whole community. Civility isn’t just pleasant, it’s necessary for a wholesome society. It’s easy really: we all just need to follow the Golden Rule.
March 26th, 2013, by Margie Doyle
By Margie Doyle
Tomorrow evening, the League of Women Voters will hold its Candidates Forum for the April 23 election of County Council Candidates. (Disclosure: I am the LWV of the San Juans Board Member at Large for Orcas Island).
By voter approval last November, it was decided that all county registered voters, regardless of residence, will cast votes for all three Council positions. The primary election held on Feb. 12 of this year determined that those candidates are:
- Brian McClerren vs. Jamie Stephens (currently a “Winter” Council member) for the Lopez residency district;
- Lisa Byers vs. Rick Hughes (currently a “Winter” Council member) for the Orcas residency district;
- Bob Jarman (currently a “Winter” Council member) vs. Lovel Pratt for the San Juan residency district.
At the Orcas LWV election forum tomorrow night (Wednesday, March 27) the introductions and questions will be entertained from all six candidates sequentially, as was done at the Eagle Forum debate on Orcas last February. So it is less likely that people will leave the forum in the middle of it.
However, it’s worth emphasizing that in this election, every county voter will cast a vote for every residency district — that is, Lopez, Orcas and San Juan Islands. This is, to our knowledge, the only opportunity for people to form in-person decisions about which candidate to vote for. Questions to all candidates will be taken from the audience, as well as a few prepared questions by members of the League of Women Voters.
In the interests of serving yourself, your island community and your county community, it behooves you to attend the Candidates Forum at 5 p.m. at the Senior Center and to decide after hearing them out, which candidates will best represent your interests and values.
March 22nd, 2013, by Margie Doyle
By Sharon Kvisto, Editor, sanjuanislander.com
“Anonymous writing is an effective and societally beneficial form of dissent when a culture of fear pervades a society” writes the host – reportedly Ed Kilduff of Lopez Island – of a local blog. This culture of fear is so invasive in the county it is dangerous for the people commenting on his site to use their names.
The vitriolic, libelous catalog of cowardice on his site illustrates the level of accuracy and informed discourse achieved with anonymous commentary. The personal attacks, lies stated as facts do nothing but undermine the fabric of our community.
The signers of the Declaration of Independence put their lives and their signatures on the line. A 15-year-old girl, Malala Yousafzai, had the courage to speak out against the Taliban. And we are to believe, in San Juan County in the 21st century in the United States of America people are in danger if they own up to their opinions.
So what is the evidence? Writers on the blog say, people who speak out will find their property rights attacked by people filing complaints against them. The site points to Errol Speed, Charles Dalton, Nick Jones as examples. No nexus between complaints and any comments are supplied.
In these cases property rights apparently means – for Dalton – the ability to build a single-family residence without permits and violate state wetland regulations. In the case of Jones, the ability to sell food to the public in a structure which violated building and health and safety codes. And for Speed the ability to (allegedly — the case is in court) live in and not pay property taxes on a single-family residence built without permits.
Or another one of their examples – Helen King’s bed and breakfast. She built it in an area it wasn’t allowed. The other residents on the private road vehemently opposed it. The compromise was a conditional use permit (CUP) issued with the caveat it would be void when she sold the property.
Fifteen years later, she decides she wants to ignore what she signed. She wants to sell the property with the CUP. Kilduff’s blog spins the story as the case of a poor elderly woman who cannot sell her home because of the onerous government regulations which took away her property rights.
Apparently property rights as defined by the blog, don’t extend to the others on Hannah Heights road. The property owners who have put up with King’s business for 15 years and expect the rules to be followed don’t factor into the equation.
And apparently the rights of all county property owners who have to pay more when others avoid paying their share by lying to the assessor – apparently their rights don’t count either.
If you believe, the islands are a place where fear is rampant, opinions are dangerous and government is out to get us, at least you have a place to air your views. Kilduff’s blog has plenty of space.
The rest of us, who deal in facts, who believe this is a free nation and not a fascist state, who have the courage of our beliefs – we’ll continue to act accordingly as responsible adult members of this community. And we’ll do our best to clean up the messes created by the rock-throwers.
March 7th, 2013, by Margie Doyle
Orcas Issues States Election Season Policy
Readers who scroll down the sidebar (Patience, please, a redesign is coming this spring) will find a link “About” that describes the guiding spirits behind Orcas Issues, News and Views. It reads, in part, Orcas Issues “promotes internet citizen journalism that adheres to journalistic ethics of accuracy, accessibility and transparency and to editorial ethics of impartiality, fairness, courage and questioning. Through the Orcas Issues model, citizen journalists and contributors are monitored by editors, with all participants responsible for a new model of journalistic notice, debate and depth.”
This political season, with a primary election in February, a court challenge, and a general election in April deciding who will seat on our new, three-member County Council, has stirred civic involvement and discourse to a new level. The editorial staff at Orcas Issues questions: “Is the publication of letters and comments furthering this “new model of journalistic notice, debate and depth”?”
In last week’s straw poll (another sidebar feature) 49 percent of poll respondents completed the statement “I find the tone of our current county election… is getting too over-the-top in personal attacks.”
We concur. At Orcas Issues, we pride ourselves on being fair, airing views from differing viewpoints and providing background and depth to shared issues. We believe that politics is the art of keeping people happy while implementing your vision for the greater community AND that all politics is personal.
We also feel duty-bound to the community to set a standard for respectful communication that encourages engagement.We believe that, as a community, county residents are intelligent and kind enough to state our opinions, preferences and conclusions in a way that allows for a back-and-forth of opinions. The alternative is often disengaging in disgust. We also respect that people may decline to answer continued charges.
Recently, some of the letters we’ve received have more the tone of a personal vendetta and inconsiderate domination.
With the intention of providing a forum for respectful political discussion in this election season, Orcas Issues is implementing some policies to keep the letters and commentary informative, considerate and thereby engaging:
- We re-state our policy that all comments and letters be signed with the full name and not with a pseudonyms;
- We will remove comments, and not publish letters containing statements that we know to be factually untrue;
- We will limit comments to one response per post, and will remove additional comments from the same person
- We will allow Council candidates to respond to each others’ statements and to comment on these exchanges more than one time if they choose to do so; we will restrict all others to one comment as stated above.
It may be difficult to separate the person from the policies, but our frustration and anger must be tempered by respect … and kindness. In all these policies, we ask that our readers and contributors respect the standards that we have set for Orcas Issues to “adhere to journalistic ethics of accuracy, accessibility and transparency” and beyond that, to address our audience, including opponents, in a tone of respect, if not geniality.
Whatever the election outcome, moving on, we have to work with each other. That will be possible only if we view debate and discussion as something we are building together, not tearing down each others’ walls as fast and emphatically as we can.
February 4th, 2013, by Margie Doyle
By Tom Reeve
This morning I found on my Facebook newsfeed a paid (sponsored) posting ridiculing a County Council candidate and showing them in a Nazi uniform. The ad and picture were from a Facebook page that comments on San Juan County politics. The page itself is anonymous – the author’s name does not appear. The posting was later removed by Facebook for violating its community standards on hate speech.
I believe that the state doesn’t require campaign reporting by people who place campaign ads below a certain dollar threshold. But just because it is legal doesn’t mean it is right. Our community deserves better.
A person is making offensive attacks on our community members while hidden behind an anonymous “journalistic” web identity, gladly tarnishing the names of people with whom they disagree while hiding their own name. This happens in blogs, websites and social media. That anonymity is now used to hide the source of paid and offensive attacks ads against candidates during our local election.
That’s not how we are or want to be in the San Juans. We are neighbors. We come to each others’ aid – on fire calls, serving as mentors at school, providing medical evacuation flights, helping out at fundraisers, and volunteering hours for causes from hospice care to oil spill response preparedness. We do not promote hate speech, we are a community where we accept differences and still get along. We can discuss the issues. We can disagree. We cannot stoop to anonymous offensive paid attacks. Please join me in asking that all political dialogue be truthful, mature, open and civil.
Tom Reeve lives on Lopez Island
February 4th, 2013, by Lin
Orcas Has Talent Jr. and Auditions were both A HUGE SUCCESS!
On behalf of Orcas Island Prevention Coalition and Point Blank Leadership group we would like to thank everyone who helped to make Orcas Has Talent Jr and Orcas Has Talent auditions one of our BEST years EVER!!!
It’s mind boggling the amount of time invested, the work that needs to get done, the attention to details, and the energy that is required to bring this event to the stage. None of it would happen without our fearless leader Donna Laslo’s guidance and encouragement.
Nor could we have offered such a great show without the mentors (formally know as our judges) Bob Shipstad, Susan Osborn and Gene Nery. The entertaining MC’s John Clancy and Julia Bailey were wonderful, the media support from Islands Sounder and Orcas Issues, the ticket printers and cutters Office Cupboard and Grindstone Ink, ticket sales with Darvill’s Bookstore, the prize awards from White Construction and Pinardi’s Classic Body and Paint, all the behind the scenes crew and volunteers, and of course our brave and talented contestants.
It’s astounding how many people are needed for these productions and these were the small shows! Wait until you see all the people who are involved with the Finale on Feb. 9th at 6:30pm at the Orcas Center.
Thank you to EVERYONE involved for helping us with this fundraiser. The proceeds allows us to build youth leadership and prevention work in our community. We truly appreciate ALL of you.
Julie Pinardi and the members of our coalition
January 1st, 2013, by Margie Doyle
By Margie Doyle
1) Orcas Islanders will continue their support of recycling resources by working with Orcas Recycling Services/The Exchange and local businesses to reduce waste and make a long-term disposal/recycle facilitywith compost building, metals and construction recycling, and trucking-disposal being transferred to resource-hauling.
2) OrcasNOCOALition, joined with other local entities, will prevail in the decision to maintain Salish Sea health by prohibiting expansion of the Cherry Point rail and shipping terminal. Their efforts will motivate other west coast ports.
3) The County Council, unconstrained by dictates to develop a Growth Management Act or Critical Areas Ordinance Update, will form a strong partnership with a new County Manager to make government work well AFTER the 3-member Council Elections and the selection of a new manager.
4) A new County Manager will come forward from San Juan, Skagit, Islands or Whatcom County.
5) The County Council will consider their paramount duty to keep the budget policies developed in recent years continuing.
6) Lawyers and judges will argue ad infinatum the suits filed in the aftermath of the CAO and Charter Proposition decisions; no decision will come forward in 2013.
7) The Orcas Island economy will benefit from the 2012 school bond and tech levy passage with jobs and contracts.
8) The Orcas Island School Board will continue to make powerful statements in support of public education to legislators in Olympia, as representatives from a non-urban, remote school district.
9) The second Annual Shakespeare Festival in March will build on the success of the initial Festival to benefit island business, dining, entertainment and lodging establishments during the shoulder season.
10) Island farm production will become more profitable and sustainable through the continual efforts, success and acknowledgment of the Farmers Market, the Farm to Cafeteria Committee, and the FEAST (Farming Education and Sustainability for Teens) program.
11) Boomers interested in maintaining their health, involvement and athleticism will turn from personal achievements towards volunteering to lead programs administered and overseen by the Orcas Park and Recreation District.
12) Winter storms will close the road between town and the tank corner; repair of the road will become an emergency budget item.
13) The popularity of running on the island will lead to opening more trails and a new slogan: “Orcas — the island that runs!”
December 27th, 2012, by Margie Doyle
- You know more people who own boats than air conditioners.
- You feel guilty throwing aluminum cans or paper in the trash.
- You know more than ten ways to order coffee.
- You know the names of the new Orca whale pod babies.
- You feel overdressed wearing a suit to a nice restaurant or an event at Orcas Center.
- You consider that if it has no snow or has not recently erupted, it’s not a real mountain.
- You can taste the difference between Starbucks, Café Jamma, or “Across the Street” coffee.
- You know the difference between Chinook, Coho, and Sockeye salmon.
- You know how to pronounce Sequim, Puyallup, Issaquah, Oregon, and Willamette.
- You drive through a state park on your way to “town.”
- You consider swimming an indoor sport.
- You never go camping without waterproof matches and a poncho.
- You cannot wait for a day with “showers and sun breaks.”
- You have no concept of humidity without precipitation.
- You consider it to be “prime time reading” while in the ferry line.
- You can point to at least two mountain ranges, even if you cannot see them through the cloud cover.
- You put on shorts if the temperature gets above 50 degrees, but still wear your hiking boots and parka.
- You switch to sandals when it gets above 60 degrees, but keep your socks on.
- You share your hiking trails with mountain bikes and horses.
- You think people who use umbrellas are either wimps or tourists.
- You buy new sunglasses every year, because you can’t find the old ones after such a long time.
- You often switch from “heat” to “fan” in the same day.
- You use a down comforter in the summer.
- You carry jumper cables in your car, and know how to use them.
- You design your kid’s Halloween costume to fit under a raincoat.
- You know all the important seasons: Almost Winter, Winter, Still Raining, and Road Construction.
- Your important real estate documents are hand-delivered from escrow and title companies.
- You have to remind yourself to stop at traffic lights on the mainland.
- You actually understand most of these statements.
Please share yours in the comments…
December 24th, 2012, by Madie Murray
This undated 2010 handout photo provided by AquaBounty Technologies shows two same-age salmon, a genetically modified salmon, rear, and a non-genetically modified salmon, foreground.
By Madie Murray
To me, this is very scary. The Washington Post and other major news outlets broke a story this weekend saying the FDA released its findings that the fish do not pose a threat to the environment and “are as safe as food from conventional Atlantic salmon.” Read the entire article by clicking here.
On top of that, if we don’t start demanding the labeling of genetically altered foods, we won’t even know we’re eating genetically engineered (GE) salmon.
If this doesn’t bother you, then do nothing.
If this basically under-tested and dangerous technology in the hands of major corporations for profit does bother you, I urge you to take some kind of action against this trend of tampering with our food supply. There are ways…here is a good start:
December 21st, 2012, by Margie Doyle
By Margie Doyle
Going through these wild and windy and sad days, it can be harder than usual to bear the slings and arrows of daily forutne (or misfortune). We feel tired and ineffectual and yet are in the season that pushes us to be merry, be grateful, be busy and make gifts, make edible treats, made decorations, make traditions.
One tradition that has been all but forgotten in these times of 24/7 productivity is observance of the Holy Dark, that time between sunset and sleep, when sunlight is gone from the sky, and we turn on the electrical “conveniences” of our home in order to prolong productivity.
John Staudenmaier is a technological historian, a Jesuit priest who teaches at Boston College, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and at the University of Detroit Mercy; he is the editor of Technology and Culture, The International Quarterly of the Society for the History of Technology, author of Technology’s Storytellers: Reweaving the Human Fabric and numerous other publications. As a student of how we embrace technology and allow it to change our lives, Fr. Staudenmaier urges people to question the innovations and changes of technology, rather than considering them “predestined inevitabilities.”
“For example, what was it about the emergence of electric lights that encouraged us to think it wise to squeeze out our after-dusk human activity, de-legitimize it, and render it second class status?”
Staudenmaier presents an alternative, observing that time of day called ‘the Holy Dark,’” “a part of the day that every generation in human history experienced until the early part of the 20th century, at which time the advent of electric lights changed our world. Until then, when darkness came, we ceased our daily strategic work (business and other activities that fill the hours of natural light).
“We experienced a whole frame of time for non-strategic activities,” such as reflection, storytelling, singing, prayer, and rest. “We had time for these things. We enjoyed that time. It was an essential part of our lives that helped us in the forming of our selves and our relationships,” he says.
When people regard technological advancements as options, they are capable of weighing the strengths and weaknesses of a particular discovery of breakthrough and balancing its benefits with its pitfalls. If our culture is faced with a change, it makes sense to ask, what are the benefits and what are the detriments to such a change? “I could argue that an unquestioning love of what we accept as progress is a form of idolatry,” says Staudenmaier.
“As individuals, we each own a very small, but very real amount of influence in the process. Finding a way to exercise that influence is hard work. It’s hared to imagine, and it’s harder still to do, which returns us to the concept of the Holy Dark and the process of reclaiming it. In time, in small steps, the harder work gets done.”
Here are suggestions from Fr. John Staudenmaier, SJ, for starting this work:
Three ways to make time for the Holy Dark: Read more…