Save handmade toys and clothing Letters to the?editor

Despite all of the economic turmoil in recent months, the United States Congress has passed an act that will effectively eliminate thousands of national, home-based businesses.

Could this be true? Yes. The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) was passed due to the tragic injuries and deaths caused by lead contaminated toys produced in China. The CPSIA is meant to apply more stringent safety measures for products intended for children. Unfortunately, the act also has unintended and far reaching consequences. While trying to enforce compliance from multinational toy manufacturers, the act also imposes impossibly steep testing fees on small handmade toy and clothing businesses, even those that work with all-natural materials. As a result, many small businesses like ours will be lost, and fewer choices will be available for families who are looking for natural, handcrafted alternatives to mass marketed imports.

Orcas Island is a community that loves all things handmade, and that acts when something is not right. The CPSIA is set to go into effect on February 10, 2009. Please see for more information, including a petition, links to our local representative and senators, as well as a sample letter.

We thank you for your support.

Amy Lum, Mandy Troxel, Kari Van Gelder

Bossy’s Feltworks


Not in favor of noxious weed tax

On Jan. 5 at a special meeting, outgoing council members Alan Lichter and Kevin Ranker were able to vote for a tax increase to the new proposed Noxious Weed Assessment.

When the original Noxious Weed Tax was voted in, it was to fund part-time employees, and the cost to the taxpayers for 2008 was budgeted at $69,896 for salaries and benefits, with a total budget of $78,750.

The approved increase will fund two employees at 32 hours per week for the full year. This will now cost us $98,340 in the future, with a yearly budget of $154,200.

I did not support this increase at this time. I guess you can call me a scrooge.

Pierrette Guimond


Quilt raffle a


Jeff and Bonnie Bossler are the lucky winners of the Orcas Island Recreation Program quilt raffle.

Many thanks to the people who braved the weather to sell tickets on Saturdays, to all who bought tickets, and to Monique Gincig and Kari Stone for designing and creating the beautiful quilt to raise funds towards youth programs.

Didier Gincig


Orcas Island Recreation Program

Public should vote on noxious weed levy

The spirit of change starts right here in the county and should not absolve landowners of their responsibility to take care of the noxious weeds on their property and put it on the backs of those that are more responsible caretakers. Also land that abuts county right-of-way can easily be controlled by those landowners or by community work groups. And I cannot emphasize how important that com munity effort is in keeping communities in touch with one another. The state law reads that all landowners are responsible for the control of noxious weeds on their property and the county has the right to notify a landowner of any infraction and if not corrected remove such weeds at the land owner’s expense. That fee would be more than enough to pay for enforcement. Now I know the council has already passed the levy, but council members Gene Knapp and Rich Peterson said that in these times this was not a responsible levy. They wanted the citizens to vote on it. So how about it? Do you want to vote against the levy and help your community and county control costs? Well then, let’s hear from you and we will get a referendum circulating.



CAO needed to be determined earlier

I attended the Critical Area Committee work session on Lopez last Tuesday and was impressed with the efforts being extended to turn boiler-plate-cover-all-the-bases language into something manageable for island circumstances.

I was less impressed that the county had assigned the talent assembled to work backwards through pages upon pages of jargon to create something understandable and useful. I am convinced that had they been allowed to ask what our goals are and how those goals can best be achieved they would be a long ways further down the road and a lot less stressed. Many people tend to forget that our system is essentially based on the consent of the governed. A former commissioner once declared at a hearing: “We were elected to make the hard decisions.” Not so. They are elected to represent the governed.

Protection depends upon consent. The governed need to see how compliance benefits their existence. Fears of costs, delays, and denials created by regulations may result in any protected flora or fauna being destroyed before those regulations can interfere. The county would gain by providing the data base to facilitate protection. When a citizen or developer proposed a development the county could then provide the maps, probably including a satellite image of the parcel, and those areas or creatures that might need consideration. The county could probably even provide suggestions of organizations that could assist. There are good models.

The sad truth is that critical area ordinances should have been determined and adopted along with vision statements in the 90s, critical areas being the foundation of visions.

James Alfred Smith



to domestic

violence letter

Editor’s note: The Sounder’s policy is to only run signed letters. We are making an exception with the following letter in order to protect the privacy of the writer.

DVSAS helps many

I am writing this in response to the letter by Suzan Chamberlayne regarding the Domestic Violence/Sexual Assault organization in our county. How is awareness sensationalizing? Knowledge is the only way victims will ever learn to leave a dangerous situation and that is what DVSAS provides: the knowledge and tools so victims can learn to leave bad relationships and raise healthy children. If you thought the statistics were wrong, you are mistaken. An agency like DVSAS can’t publish names or exhibit ‘poster children’ for the services they provide, as anonymity is required for the work they do to succeed.

They DO focus on “healthy behaviors, circumstances and mindsets” that prevent people from staying in harmful relationships. And where did it say in the article that “violence is only perpetrated by men?”

Anyone in an abusive relationship is served by this organization. I just don’t see where you thought the article exhibited “absolutist thinking.”

Why would I bother even commenting on your letter? Because as someone who was helped by DVSAS and able to turn my life around, I will be forever grateful that this agency was here.

I doubt that the people we serve would walk into an agency called “The Coalition for Peace, Respect, and Compassion.” A lovely name, but not at all descriptive of what gets done behind the doors of DVSAS.

Don’t criticize what you don’t understand.

A Victim

Orcas Island

Don’t blame the victim

For more than 17 years now, I’ve been an active part of community-based recovery programs, which offer support for addicts and alcoholics on Orcas Island. I also come from a history of physical and sexual abuse in my family of origin. I write this in order to address at least one of several mischaracterizations raised in a letter to the editor regarding Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Services (DV-SAS).

The letter began: “To headline a national statistic (rather than local), to focus on the negativity of victimization (rather than the healthy behaviors, circumstances and mindsets that can prevent it), and to intimate that violence is only ‘perpetrated’ by men is misleading and/or inaccurate journalism, regrettably beneath our standards.”

National statistics are used because we don’t have up to date, accurate, local statistics. There was absolutely no intimation that only men perpetrate violence.

It is patently absurd to exhort the victim of sexual/physical assault to somehow or another “take responsibility” along with “the abusers and those who do nothing.” The writer adds “Until we cease our victim mentality, we maintain the phenomenon of victimhood.”

Domestic violence is against the law. It is illegal. Nobody looks at other victims of crime, whether from purse snatchings or assaults and demands they “take responsibility” along with “the abusers and those who do nothing.” Nobody asks the victim of a carjacking to “cease their victim mentality.”

The writer continues: “Instead of shunning and branding them with labels like ‘terrorist,’ let’s find ways to help them not feel so desperate.” That’s like asking the police to help a mugger feel less needy or a fireman to help an arsonist feel less volatile. Here’s the simple truth: any person – man or woman – who engages in domestic violence, commits a crime. DV-SAS deals with the victims of crime.

In our recovery groups, we don’t look to those we may have terrorized by our words and actions to support us, make us feel “less desperate.” It is up to us to take responsibility for our past actions and embark upon whatever program of amends and restitution we can possibly undertake.

David Johnson


Sustainable transportation in SJC

I am reaching out to the community trying to attract support for implementing a program that will start the process of developing sustainable transportation systems in San Juan County. The initial phase involves starting a used bicycle shop or bike recycling center (BRC).

The BRC is an inexpensive operation requiring very little capital with most of the inventory already locally available. Once set up and running (two weeks per month) it can support itself within the first couple of months of being open. I say this with confidence based on starting one in a town smaller than Eastsound that has a bike shop, This shop will also be converting used bicycles to electric assist (hybrids).

Winter is the best time of year to gather and organize before the busy spring/summer season. I see the BRC as the hub of something much bigger and comprehensive; it’s a low risk, hands on, quick return on an investment of time and money, and more importantly an opportunity to immediately provide affordable sustainable transportation county-wide and beyond.

If you are interested in getting involved please contact me via website or

Mikial Denker


Thank you to Ed Sutton

Hey everybody, listen up! For three plus years I’ve been sending comment cards to Amtrack regarding their morning train rescheduled to go south from Mt. Vernon too early for Washington State Ferries’ earliest departure from Orcas. My comments even travelled to Washington D.C. Yes, I know Amtrack is #2 priority using Burlington Northern’s tracks, thereby having little clout regarding their schedule, but the comment cards are directed to DOT in Olympia. Nothing was ever done to the WSF schedules to accommodate this problem, but I always got polite letters in response.

In fact, all WSF scheduling was in favor of visitors to Orcas. Seven a.m. was the earliest departure, even with a clock change in summer when daylight comes nice and early. Then, it even went later: 7:15 a.m.

HOORAY! “Shop local” worked. I sent both RR and WSF schedules to Ed Sutton, and the dear fellow…

Notice, you all, the first ferry east on weekends departs Orcas at 6:45 a.m.! Barring mishaps, one can get to the Mt. Vernon RR station in time to catch the 9:04 a.m. train south. No over-night on the mainland first! This schedule, #211, saves us that. Thank you, thank you, thank you, Mr. Sutton!

Carol Clark


Fictional stormwater

After 20 years of living with the fictional stormwater problems in Eastsound, I have reached the conclusion that the real sandbagging is occurring in Friday Harbor.

Mike Stolmeier

Orcas Island

Thanks to road crews

I’ve been listening to the horrible condition of the roads in Seattle during the December storms, and witnessed them in person on Christmas day. They truly were treacherous! Contrast them with the wonderful job our road crews did during that same time. We had to go to town almost every day, and with care and chains sometimes, we made it because the road crews were out early and often, plowing and sanding. I heard that one crewman had 36 overtime hours. Thanks to those who left their cozy homes to ensure that our roads were passable. You did a great job!

Janice and Alan Wiemeyer

Orcas island