Letters | Oct. 14 edition

Vote no for levy lift and rec district

Studies have shown time and time again that children do best when their parents are involved in their lives. As a society, we should do everything we can to encourage parents to spend more time with their children, for the good of all society.

There are two measures on the ballot this fall which would decrease a parent’s time with their children. The county levy lift (tax increase) and the Orcas Rec measure either are or will be demanding more taxes, thus causing parents to spend more time earning income to pay for these new taxes, and thus away from their family more.

Orcas Island has the most benevolent people who generously support all types of excellent endeavors. When a program is truly worthwhile, it receives their support. If it is not worthwhile, the program fails, as it should. Putting the program on the public dole would allow a worthless program to continue forever. Keeping it OFF the tax roles ensures top quality programs as directors seek the support of the benevolent patrons.

If people are really concerned about the welfare of the children on the island, they must vote NO on both the Parks and Recreation District and the county tax increase.

Cindy Carter


Vote no for levy lift

Vote against the county’s proposed levy lift. Let’s face it, we’re now living in the former United States. Since the collapse, the old ways don’t work any more. (They never did really.) We need to start to learn how live without constant handouts of cash.

The County Council worships at the altar of “development,” but as their co-religionists in Wall Street have found “endless expansion” is a tapeworm-like parasite that eventually destroys its host. Rewarding the CC’s vandalism will only speed the decline.

Yes, they will cut your favorite programs. It should come as no surprise that people who routinely impose their will on others, seemingly without regret, are vindictive. Let them threaten, we have something better than money – the ability to work with our hearts and hands to help each other. We don’t need their money, and they don’t deserve ours.

Steve Ludwig


Vote yes for levy lift

It is in the interest of all San Juan County voters to vote for the proposed real estate tax levy lift. The failure to pass this lift will result in the loss of many county services. Other letters to the editor have eloquently described the numerous crucial community services on the cutting block. These are important existing services which will be eliminated without the lift.

Many of us voters have a knee-jerk reaction of opposition to real estate taxes without realizing how it hurts us to do so. Real estate taxes are necessary to ensure a vibrant community. These taxes remain the best way to raise funds for local activities that affect elders, children and those in between. The real estate tax has been a source of revenue for local activities since Colonial times. It was not until after 1900 that income taxes and sales taxes became major sources of tax revenue. In fact, the Federal income tax required a constitutional amendment before it became a major source of revenue.

The property tax is not regressive. According to Wikipedia, one-third of all households own no real property and, thus, are not subject to the tax. Furthermore, the tax is based on the fair market value of property. This insures that there is a correspondence between the amount of the tax assessed and the resources of the taxpayers. In addition, real estate taxes are much more subject to local control when compared against sales taxes and income taxes.

A vote for the levy lift will continue vitally needed services. In addition, it will make it less likely that Washington will have to enact a state income tax to provide local services.

David Sarver

Deer Harbor

Party at Oddfellows disrupted

Something needs looking into regarding people’s freedom, especially on Orcas Island, to play live music and to dance.

I had just left a great community birthday part at Odds Hall, for two island guys. One turned 60, the other around 38. Bruce Harvie and his band were playing great music. It was an enlivened, feel good island gathering. Kids were there in the beginning.

At around 10:30 p.m. a police car pulled up. One officer came out and informed those in earshot that a neighbor had “complained about the noise.”

We were also told there may be some new ordinance that states there is no live music played loudly.

The policeman said something like, “If the live music didn’t stop, and he got a complaint, there would be a $50 fine.”

A second time, I believe a $150 fine. And a third, $200.

We were also told to keep our voices down.

Can you imagine, good folks having a celebration (on Orcas at Odds Hall) getting hauled off for disturbing the peace?

I don’t get the mindset that allows guns to kill, and calls it “(the) politics (of war),” but does not allow music and dancing. That apparently disturbs some people.

I think Orcas Islanders need to understand the facts. Oddfellows Hall has been in existence for ages. Parties are part of community life.

Is there a “Grandfather Clause” for Oddfellows Hall that allows community gatherings?

Where is it okay to play music; where is it not? Didn’t the neighbor realize where they moved?

Also, the officer said something like, a permit must be obtained to have a party or music, and he was, “just telling us the law.”

(“Just carrying out orders,” in the bigger picture, brings some scary thoughts to mind.)

The knock of fascism hit vividly here that night.

When I got home at 11:15 p.m., I hope the band continued to play. That was the plan and I hear they did continue. This dictatorial seed can’t be allowed to grow.

Susan Slapin

Orcas Island

Response to editorial

A big thank you to Walter O’Toole for responding to the Sounder’s September 23 editorial regarding the Lopez vehicular homicide. I was exasperated at the strong stance the Sounder took against an unwise young man.

Teens should NOT be tried as adults. Although they need to be better thinkers before acting, often they are not; impatience rules.

This episode is strongly imprinted on many Lopez teens’ and children’s minds. Regarding your ideas for sentencing, detention time is in addition to the remorse and pain (probably lifelong) felt by inflicting injury or death when one acts wrongly. I believe the need for caution and care is now understood by everyone. Young people (and adults) on the island saw how quickly tragedy occurs when someone acts impulsively.

I remember an island newspaper staff person. While driving and using a cell phone, she took her eyes off the road for “just three seconds.” Slam-bang into the ditch she went – car destroyed. To her credit, she printed that story.

We are so human. God gives us power to be merciful and help others to redirect their lives, but too often we choose instead to snipe and judge and grind people down. Let’s change ourselves to be more understanding as those who are in trouble pay the consequences for their actions.

Lois Ludwig


Support for Ayers

Greg Ayers is a candidate for the Eastsound Sewer and Water Commission in the fall election. We recommend a vote for him.

Greg is a nearby neighbor. We share a road and the fact of unfinished houses. We have seen his willingness to do the physically hard work on his house, loan tools back and forth, and trade expertise in the various skills of house-building.

We have also seen his focus on problem solving. He is much more interested in reaching a solution than in who gets credit. He is not interested in backbiting or in grandstanding. He is upbeat. We have not seen him conclude that something can’t be done or isn’t his job. We also have been learning from him about the complexities of the problems facing local sewage control in the next few years, as he has been studying the issues that the commissioners must resolve. His background in science and engineering, as well as in business management, helps him grasp the technological problems quickly.

We need more people of Greg Ayers’ temperament and abilities in every level of government.

Vaughn Ploeger

Rebecca Earnest

Support for Ghazel

The reasons that I am voting for Tony Ghazel for the Orcas School Board are that he has: worked with others to reduce expenses in many areas to balance the budget; provided leadership to establish a budget advisory committee to analyze expenditures; worked to establish a financial reserve of $340,000; gained experience having served on the board since 2004; been involved in the community with many organizations to advocate strong education programs; worked with state legislators and education boards to ensure funding for the schools; worked with diligence to create a positive learning environment; been the leader in preparation of a strategic plan to provide long-term direction of the schools; strong commitment for basic education to enhance the future of our community and society.

Tony Ghazel is the person to ensure wise use of your tax dollars, demand strong education programs, and provide an educational foundation for the future.

Tom Ritter


Support for Bedell

We on Orcas are very fortunate to have Barbara Bedell running to continue being a fire commissioner position #3. She is a logical thinker, is committed to the fire department staff and the goals she has stated in her campaign. Her experience and qualifications on various boards on this island make her an outstanding candidate who will work tirelessly to achieve what the department and the island needs. As the president of Spring Point Homeowners Association for six years she dealt with numerous challenges with intelligence and fairness that made many friends of all persuasions. Please join me in voting for Barbara on Nov. 3rd.

Bill Hagen

West Beach

Aldort is a better choice

I am a candidate for commissioner of the Eastsound Sewer and Water District. I could not help but be struck by the fact that my opponent Gregory Ayers is unsure of the position he is running for.

In the voters guide online he never once mentions sewer. It sounds like he is running for water commissioner. In the recent questions posed by the Sounder, he refers to ESWD six times. This would be laughable if the position were not so important. While it is true that operating a sewer system effectively will lead to less ground water contamination thus by protecting the ground water from contamination, the District is essentially operating a sewer treatment plant. Perhaps Mr. Ayers would like to withdraw before he embarrasses himself further.

I think that my qualifications, as laid out in the Sounder candidate profile, and my dealings with and understanding of the operation of the District are far more in line with what is needed to be a competent commissioner than my opponent. Mr. Ayers, while living in the district, has never had any dealings with the district and is not connected to the system.

Harvey Aldort

Orcas Island

Concern about school board candidate

I am troubled by an apparent conflict of interest regarding a school board candidate. Jim Sullivan is running for position #1, and since his wife is a teacher at the school he would have to excuse himself regarding any discussions about staff negotiations, budgets, salaries, contracts and any other matters affecting his wife, resulting in a four member board.

Boards are usually odd numbered to eliminate a tie when voting. Even though the rules say it is legal, it sets up an awkward situation, when decisions have to be made. Has Mr. Sullivan thought this through?

Steve Kline

Orcas Island

Kudos to Orcas School

Congratulations to the Orcas Island School Board for selecting the highly gifted Mahlum team under the leadership of our own Butch Reifert to hold the design process for the creation of a community learning center for our island. It will take an island to design this school, so we will all be included on the team. Everyone should plan on contributing ideas. Even harsh critics bring value added insight into sometimes difficult issues that need attention in the design.

We will not suffer some cookie cutter brick box to warehouse our young. No, the built works of Mahlum demonstrate unique reflection of the people and place that each school serves. Each one a genius resolution of form and function. When the greatest utility is delivered with the highest design standards, true beauty emerges. One might call it beautility. And this is what we may expect on Orcas – an effective multi-functional set of spaces that support learning for all ages and a timeless treasured landmark that speaks of where and who we are.

And the frosting on the cake is that good design does not cost more. The best design is creative response to existing constraints – like a budget. So let creativity flow!

Stephen Guy


Thank you to the Exchange

We at Salmonberry School would like to extend our gratitude to The Exchange. Salmonberry received the “Exchange Change” that was compiled during the month of July. Each month, The Exchange gathers change and donates it to a non-profit organization. We are thankful for this donation, as it helps support our tuition assistance program.

In appreciation for supporting Orcas Island children.

The Salmonberry community


Dear Orcas Island friends and neighbors, I’m writing to invite you to consider applying to LSJI, an amazing community program I had the pleasure of completing more than a year ago. The Leadership San Juan Islands course offers a broad overview of all the county systems along with practical leadership training. Local specialists with expertise in group dynamics, facilitation skills, conflict management, communication, and community and economic development and more provided a varied and fun learning environment for the cohort.

Highly recommend for people newer to the islands, as well as old timers!

On completion of the course my “give back” was being the volunteer coordinator for the September 2008 first-ever San Juan County Transportation Summit at the fairgrounds, where hundreds of people came together for discussion about improving how we get around the islands and the region. Discussion topics were held “World Café” style and included inter-island and freight mobility, ferry funding, non-motorized transportation, passenger ferries, and tourism transportation management.

In the passenger ferry forum we found out there is some talks going on about the possibility on the idea of a Bellingham to Friday Harbor passenger-only ferry service – a fast, more environmentally friendly, passenger ferry would allow a commute between Friday Harbor and Bellingham in 50 minutes. Furthermore arrival at the Bellingham Cruise terminal would allow a near seamless connection to the WTA bus system, Greyhound Bus service, Am-Track, Bellingham Airport and the Alaska Marine Highway system. Folks from Orcas fantasized about the passenger ferry being able to stop at Brandt’s Landing – in walking distance to Eastsound.

Ed Masters shuttled a bus full of enthusiastic Orcas change agents amid lively conversation and great energy! www.youtube.com/watch?v=kGkfFRfW-Ok

LSJI Orcas Alumni are: Owen Cheevers; Lerner Limbach; Margie Doyle; Louise Carnachan; Marta-Maria Nielson; Ethna Fianagan; Barbara LaBrash; Steve Gresham; Jeff Bossler; Bonnie Bossler; Kathy Ciskowski; Michael Greenberg; Steve Hussey; Paul King; Gretchen Krampf; Matthew Maher; Mieka Neenan; Rena Patty; Anji Ringzin; Kim Skarda Anderson; Sandy Thompson; Dacia Youngren and Dana Kinnsey.

Join us!

Anji Ringzin

LSJI Alumni Liaison

LSJI is a great opportunity

In 2004-2005, I had the opportunity to join the inaugural class of Leadership San Juan Islands. Leadership classes like this are offered in many other areas of the United States and I was grateful to be able to attend in my own county. I was particularly looking forward to meeting a variety of community people from other islands, learning how different aspects of our local infrastructure operate, and practicing new ways to approach community involvement.

All of those goals were met in a rejuvenating and energetic manner. Now I feel more knowledgeable when I approach different community agencies with questions or concerns. I have learned more about how healthy groups operate. But I especially cherish the times I see the other course participant … especially when I ran into a fellow LSJI “other island” classmate at a concert in a small café on rural Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia!

I urge anyone with an interest in immersing themselves in the heart of the islands to look into this program. The registration deadline for this year is Nov. 7. Classes run approximately two days per month from January through May. There will be an open house on Oct. 18 from 10:30 to noon at Heartwood House on Orcas Island for interested participants.

For more information you can check out: http://www.leadershipsanjuanislands.org.

Kathi Ciskowski

Orcas Island

Fortunate to have LSJI

Leadership San Juan Islands is looking for 20 great islanders to become LSJI Cohort VI in January. As a graduate of Cohort V this past spring, I want to encourage your readers to consider being a part of this community building and skills development program.

How fortunate we are to have a community leadership program right here in the islands! As a newcomer (Orcas resident since 2007), I found the leadership program invaluable in multiple ways. I met seven other Orcasians, eight San Juan Islanders and four Lopezians, all of whom are interested in contributing their time and talent to the islands. We had varied interests and ideas of how we want to positively affect our communities, but shared a desire to learn from each other and our wonderful presenters. The Challenge days give a depth of information on how our county works, the issues we are currently facing, and how our past is playing out today. Out of the experience new collaborations have been formed and I know I have 19 others I can count on to advise me and perhaps join me in community projects. Even those who have lived on the islands for a long time learned things they didn’t know before and appreciated the network we developed.

The application form can be found at www.leadershipsanjuanislands.org. The program runs from January to May. The 2010 LSJI Coordinator is alum Amy Windrope who can be contacted at awindrope@yahoo.com. There will be an LSJI Open House on Orcas to provide an overview of the program and answer your questions on Sunday, Oct. 18, 10:30 a.m. to noon at Heartwood House (70 Langell Lane).

Louise Carnachan


Before you criticize, get the facts right

This letter is in response to Mr. Curtiss’ question of what happened to the Village Green lawn. To set the record straight, the county spent no money to seed, not sod, the Village Green. A private group of Orcas residents made the decision to seed last fall in order to provide some stability to the soil on the green. This was done knowing full well that it would have to be redone once the Farmers Market was over. In fact, of the funds spent on providing the stage, the county contributed only 39 percent of the cost. The remaining 61 percent of the funds were raised by the community of Orcas Island. A majority of the labor to build the stage was donated by various workers on the island, and perhaps you have noticed that lone worker out there on Sunday watering the lawn, trying to save what grass we had after the Saturday Market and Sunday concerts were done. So before you are so fast to criticize, please check your facts and don’t insult the efforts of your community to provide a venue for all of our residents’ and visitors’ enjoyment. Get involved in your community and help keep Orcas the supportive, giving community we have all come to know.

Jim Biddick


Support Orcas Parks and Recreation District

In these trying times the proposed Orcas Parks and Recreation District is truly a positive possibility. The ability to define and control our own programs like San Juan Island Park and Rec has done over the last 25 years is very enticing.

In a typically cooperative Orcas fashion, the district commissioners would collaboratively work with the community to come up with a universally beneficial plan and budget. The commissioners would be accountable to the community for all aspects of the program and their hard work, along with the goodwill of the people, could produce a fantastic program for kids and adults alike.

Please support the formation and staffing of the district this November.

Bob Connell


Save Orcas Rec

I am writing to voice my very strong support for the Orcas Island Rec ballot initiative.

As your county sheriff and as a 12-year Island Rec commissioner on San Juan Island, I know firsthand how important for the health of a community organized leisure activities are. Orcas Rec has shown time and time again how receptive the community is to activities that have been offered by its excellent use of volunteers, fundraising and island wide participation.

Now is the time to take this programming to another level by recognizing the need to have community-wide support. Orcas Rec will be able to provide services to toddlers and seniors, teens and families alike by knowing support is firm in the community. I am sure that few, if any, would argue that without recreational opportunities some people, young people in particular, will find ways to occupy their time in ways that are less than desirable. Healthy communities have shown that organized recreation promotes attitudes of teamwork, individual responsibility, and a strong sense of well being. I know this to be true. I’ve seen it, I work with it, and I have experienced it. Please vote for a healthy community. Please vote to support Orcas Rec this November.

Sheriff Bill Cumming

San Juan Island

Ask council to fully fund 4H

The recession means that things are tight across the economy. Families are concerned. Seniors are concerned. Home values are down. Local tax receipts are down. County revenues from fees are down. The County Council, like many families, has had to reduce expenses to balance the budget.

One area that should not be cut is the support for the County’s 4H program. The 4H program brings parents, children and our community together in a positive manner that is not duplicated by any other program. At a time when children face many challenges, some of which lead down a destructive path, a positive program that is so beneficial for our youth, families and community should not be set aside.

4H builds and strengthens a young person’s character, fosters constructive relationships between children, strengthens families and establishes a foundation from which children grow to become successful adults in our community.

The council has the budget authority and can choose to spend a little less on roads, less on consultants, less on administration, less on attorneys or less on employee overtime and, in turn, fully fund the 4H program. Please contact the County Council and encourage them to give our local 4H program the support it needs to serve the children and families in San Juan County, whether or not the levy lid tax increase is passed by county voters.

John Evans

Doe Bay

EWUA needs to hold an annual meeting

The most recent issue of the Islands’ Sounder reports an interesting crisis in that the state Department of Health has declared a moratorium on water memberships in Eastsound because the EWUA is in non-compliance with state regulations for a water system plan. If a property owner can’t connect to the water system, then a building permit can’t be issued for that property. That would suggest that Eastsound would also be unable to meet the planning needs detailed in the Growth Management Act for future development.

This could be explained as a temporary situation except that the EWUA has not had an approved plan for at least six YEARS. When I resigned from the Association board in 2006, the organization was already two to three years late in providing DOH with a required update to its previous plan. We are now three to four years further out of compliance and EWUA has expensed some $100,000 of members funds to have an 800-page plan prepared by an engineering firm.

At its July meeting, the EWUA board opted NOT to have an annual meeting this year, ostensibly because attendance in recent years has been low. Given the questions that should be answered for the membership, I suggest that the board schedule an annual meeting as quickly as possible. If necessary, Association policies allow 25 members to petition that such a meeting be held. The issue of non-

compliance plus the issues on the protection of the aquifer from contamination, applications for future water rights, the critical areas ordinance, nd financial reports all need detailed explanation and discussion with the membership.

The members of the Association need and deserve a detailed review of recent actions by the organization.

Ed Sutton

Orcas Island

Vote for Ghazel

It is my pleasure to write in support of Tony Ghazel’s candidacy for school board. The best reason to vote for Tony in this election can be summed up in one word: experience.

Tony has served our community as a board member for five years. New school board members have a steep learning curve. They must come up to speed on a huge amount of information about budgeting, legislation, lobbying, personnel, curriculum, collective bargaining, and a host of other areas. Not only must they assimilate and understand a lot of data, they must become savvy about local and state-level funding and politics.

It takes time to become an informed, effective leader and advocate for our students. Tony has put in that time and is now is an excellent position to represent Orcas’s needs. In addition to on-island duties, Tony has made productive contacts with school board members and legislators throughout Washington. He has attended many sessions off-island to strategize and learn about efforts to increase state-level funding for education, as well as how we can use our resources most effectively. This experience will be of paramount importance as Orcas and Washington grapple with crucial new funding models for public education.

Tony has been an OISD parent for more than ten years. Two of his sons have graduated and a third is in high school. He knows our schools as a parent, as a very involved community member, and from the school board perspective. In addition to experience, Tony brings wisdom, a professional perspective, financial expertise and personal involvement.

Please join me in supporting Tony Ghazel.

Moana Kutsche


Vote for Andrews and Guimond

There has been some confusion about the fire commissioner’s race. We have two positions that are open. Position #3 is a two-year term to complete Harvey Olson five-year term that he resigned from last February. Barbara Bedell and Pierrette Guimond are running for this position. Position #2 that Duff Andrews and Clyde Duke are running for is the standard five-year term.

We as a community are lucky to have such good people that are willing to run for a fairly thankless job. It truly is a public service. All of these people have proven their dedication to our community through their considerable donations of time, energy and money.

This election is not about their character or personalities. It is about selecting individuals who will be good shepherds of our hard earned tax dollars.

We respect the hard working, dedicated volunteers and staff of our local fire department and we expect a level of service commensurate with a volunteer fire department. We fully accept that as part of our rural life on Orcas Island and we do not expect municipal level service living here. However, currently we are paying for municipal level services. As citizens we expect fiscal responsibility and restraint from our elected officials who are charged with spending our tax dollars. It has been disappointing that the commission has strayed so far from the recommendations of several citizen advisory committees with current expenditures. We cannot sit by quietly and watch the proposed expenditure of $1 million to build a fire station in a hamlet of 800 people. Common sense and a respect for an economy of scale must be employed.

I urge you to vote for a change in this commission. Please join me and vote for Duff Andrews and Pierrette Guimond.

Leith Templin

Orcas Island

Support for Parks and Rec District

On Saturday, Lance and I went to the Farmers’ Market at the Oddfellows Hall. As I was going in, I noticed my friend Madison Pollock across the street. Madison, a first grader, and her buddy had built a little stand and seemed to be selling a used guitar and some art. Maybe some rocks as well. But I couldn’t tell. Lance and I stopped by on the way out, whereupon Madison offered to do an imitation of a jaguar for a donation. I asked her what the donation would go for – she told me Orcas Rec. Madison and her friend were afraid that Orcas Rec would no longer exist; they were dedicating a spectacularly beautiful Saturday trying to raise money to keep it going. April, Madison’s mom, was there as well. She told me how important Orcas Rec was to her as a mother. A safe place she could leave Madison; a place Madison could find creative and fun activities.

Every year our Village Green and Rec programs are subjected to cuts at a county level. We need to bring local control back to Orcas. On your November ballot you will find an initiative to form an Orcas Parks and Recreation district. I reiterate – this vote is only to support the CREATION of the district. You are not voting on ANY levy. Any proposed levy amount will be determined in the future, by five well informed commissioners, who have had community input. You will then get to vote on that levy in a separate campaign. The levy amount will be clear, precise, and the process to determine it will be transparent.

Right now, it is essential to create the entity Orcas Parks and Rec to even consider all the possibilities. And the possibilities are endless. Recreation is for any Orcas resident no matter your age. One of our greatest virtues on Orcas is that we are deeply committed to each other as a community. The Parks and Rec program is a community solution to so many needs. Please join us in supporting the Orcas Parks and Rec initiative. Although, I must say – I will miss seeing

Madison out in front of the Oddfellows Hall, and if you ever get a chance – you have to hear her jaguar roar. That girl is fierce!

Janet Brownell

Lance Evans