Sunday, February 5, 2012

Sunday Funnies

The comics didn’t hold my attention for long today, and most of the rest of the Sunday Herald was about the Superbowl.  Now, if Green Bay were in the fray, I might have shown some team spirit out of empathy with the Outside Man and his cheesehead heritage.  As it is – meh. 

So what was there to do but look at that other foolproof source of entertainment:  the Herald on-line.

The Herald ran a front-page story about the Growth Management Hearings Board’s recent decision, which came out on January 9.  We’ve blogged about it a few times.  Part I; Part II; Part III; more; even more.  

This Growth Management story was posted on-line, and commentators get to post anonymously.  This does not tend to bring out the best in people.

My favorite comment was by a local developers’ consultant who posts anonymously under the moniker “sosad.” The anonymity policy is helpful to sosad because it allows him to hide the interest that he has in the matters that he discusses.  And he can make personal attacks without seeming mean.

His funny comment today probably was intended as a personal attack on the authors of this blog, but as we deconstruct it, we’ll see that it was actually a compliment.  He said:  "This is what happens when a fired planning director and a rejected planning commissioner want revenge."

Aw, shucks, sosad, this result was nothing that any competent planner or attorney couldn’t have predicted.  Don’t give us so much credit!

Let’s also look at the terminology.  “Revenge” is an interesting way to characterize an interest in the County’s compliance with the law.  According to sosad, I personally hate Whatcom County so much that I want it to –

wait for it –

have to comply with the law!  OMG!  What dastardly revenge to wreak on this good County!

Of course, dedicating thousands of pro bono hours to the cause of good planning is an interesting form of hate.  Toughlove, I’d call it.

Now, to set the record straight, David Stalheim, who started this blog, was Whatcom County’s planning director.  He was not fired.  But I most assuredly was “rejected” as a Planning Commissioner.  And that raises a funny, and interesting, point about appointed decision-makers.

At the end of 2010, I was up for reappointment after one partial term on the Planning Commission.  I was the sitting Chair of the Planning Commission, and had been elected Chair for the last two out of the three years that I had been on the Commission.  So I had some institutional knowledge, and also some background and training in land use.

When it came time for reappointment, I was the first Whatcom County Planning Commissioner ever whose reappointment application was voted down.  Tony Larson, who had defeated me in my race for County Council, voted against my reappointment.  Kathy Kershner, Bill Knutzen, and Sam Crawford also voted against me.

No reason was given.  It was widely accepted that this was pure, raw politics.  I didn’t share the political ideology of those doing the appointment, so of course I wouldn’t be appointed. 

Here’s what is funny about this.

The very same folks who voted against my reappointment are the ones who complain loudly that the Growth Management Hearings Board should be disregarded because it is an appointed body.  Political hacks.  I hear that Sam Crawford publicly groused about the “political” appointment of Hearings Board members. 


As it happens, the Hearings Board members have ample qualifications for their role. Qualifications for Planning Commission?  Agreeing with the politics and preferences of the County Council.

It’s a funny world.Have a funny Sunday!


  1. There is so much wrong with this, Jean. It really does make me so sad. I support you and thank you so many times for being in our world; I know it isn't easy for you. The comments in the Herald are from crackpots and they don't deserve response. Please keep up the good work.
    Shannon P.

  2. I guess that sosad is still reading our blog. He changed his comment from:

    "This is what happens when a fired planning director and a rejected planning commissioner want revenge."


    "This is what happens when an upset former County planner and Commissioner are out to get revenge."

    Thanks for removing the inaccurate statement that David was "fired." My "rejection" is also removed, perhaps so people won't raise inconvenient questions about that "political" appointment process. But now we're on the prowl: "out to get revenge." Revenge against whom, I wonder? Perhaps sosad's next version of his comment will specify.

  3. "By giving us the opinions of the uneducated, journalism keeps us in touch with the ignorance of the community." Oscar Wilde

  4. I am utterly amused by the idea of you and David as supervillians in your secret Futurewise lair (beneath a volcano, or hidden behind a waterfall?) plotting with the tilted Batman camera angle just so everyone knows there is something eeeeevil going on.

    And then Sam Crawford jumps out in spandex and says "Stop in the name of ignoring the law!!"

  5. The Council confederacy of dunces did not consider the consequences of their action in removing you. (I know, I know..when do they ever?) Besides freeing you up to sue the County for its failure to comply with law, they have now established a precedent for removing the incompetent Planning Commissioners that they appointed. Commissioner Honcoop squeaked by with one vote in his recent reapplication to the Planning Commission. I hope this trend continues.
    Wendy Harris

  6. "they have now established a precedent for removing the incompetent Planning Commissioners . . ." I'm glad to have set such a shining example! :)

    Aaaah, I know what you mean. Made me chuckle. Truly.