Letter from Ron Whalen
In the SJ Update Mailbag this morning we have this letter from Ron Whalen…
I request posting of the following;
June 7th Amanda Azous posted a letter titled Fact Check of Whalen Petition. Therein Amanda alleges I request signing a petition to eliminate the Land Bank (LB). She alleges I have spread falsehoods and attempted to dupe the community with the language of the petition. She says with a little bit of research and reading I’d understand the facts like she does. Amanda ends her letter with the hope I can get my facts straight, I stop trying to dupe the community with falsehoods and deceptive initiatives.
Soooo….Lets go over Amanda’s allegations. Lets see who is spreading falsehoods. Lets see who needs to do a little reading and research.
- Amanda states I request signatures to a petition to eliminate the Land Bank.Not true. The initiative states Reduce Duration of Conservation Area Real Estate Excise Tax (REET). The words ending and eliminate are no where tobe found in either the petition or the initiative. Passage of the ballot measure would not end the Land Bank. That’s because the LB has multiple sourcesof funding. The initiative concerns just the funding from the REET.
- Amanda states I have outrageously attempted to dupe our community into thinking that a yes or no answer on the petition meant something other than toput the petition on the fall ballot.Not true. Amanda needs to heed her own advise and do some reading and research before making allegations. The yes or no section of thepetition is required. It has nothing to do with some plan for deception. Anyone doubting this should confer with the county prosecuting attorney. I’ll sayit as nicely as I can Amanda. You don’t know what you’re talking about! This accusation of trying to dupe the community is easily dispelled. Theimportant takeaway from Amanda’s hyper allegation is what is says about her credibility. She’ll write anything she believes might shore up her perspectives. This is worth remembering as you read Amanda’s diatribe of what she says are facts.
- Amanda wrote, Unfortunately, there is ongoing litigation with two neighbors disputing the County’s right to use road easements to access Land Bankowned preserves. In both cases, the Land Bank purchased the subject property prior to the neighbor and the court has ruled in both cases that such accessis allowed.Reply I can tell you the parties involved in litigation with the LB have quit different perspectives than Amanda. Once again Amandahas little knowledge of the subject she writes about. She simply a copies and pastes the argument put out by the Land Bank.
- Amanda states to fulfill their mandate the Land Bank has purchased lands that protect agricultural uses.Reply After 5 years of effort the LB finally gave up on a grant on the Zylstra Lake acquisition. That grant included provisions that would have prohibit agriculture. How does that equate with protecting of agriculture? But it wasn’t protection of agriculture that finally lead the LB to give up on the grant.They gave up because the original grant for a million dollars got reduced to $150,000. The reason it got reduced is because LB administration hadn’t done due diligence of reviewing the provisions of the grant. All the grant was ever about was an avenue to get more money. Which illustrates the LB’s MO (modus operandi): A B C D;1. Get the money (however, wherever you can…never mind the details)
2. Spend the money
3. Ask for more
4. Repeat A, B, & C
Prior to the LB acquisition the Zylstra Lake property was over 500 acres of farmland. The first thing the LB did after buying it is sub-dived it into 4parcels. All under the banner of preservation of open space and helping to protect farmland.
- Amanda states the LB Acquires lands to protect watersheds (such as land protecting Friday Harbor’s water supply).Reply Friday Harbors water supply is Trout Lake. There’s public access restriction around Trout Lake to protect that water supply. One of the LB arguments made for the Zylstra Lake acquisition was to preserve and protect a possible important water supply. But then the LB acts to make public access to that important water supply. That effort continues. How does that jive with the argument for the protection of a water supply? The LB’s initial big selling point for the Zylstra Lake acquisition was it’s potential use for swimming, until they discovered Blue Algae in the lake. Suddenly no more talk of swimming. Then there was the grant to help restore salmon runs. How does blue algae, public swimming and recreation, protecting water resource, and restoring salmon runs all get thrown in the same pot and work? It doesn’t! It exemplifies how the LB goes about preserving and protecting the San Juan’s. Float grand ideas….. Promotion of tourism, Seed banks, trails, salmon runs, public swimming, boating, trails, farmers markets, protection of water resources, preservation of historical and cultural sites….Whatever!! Promote all of it under the banner of conservation. Deal with any details or conflicts of interests later if they come up. Need examples? How about the 5 year effort for the recreation grant on Zylstra Lake that went squat. How about the ongoing litigation over easements.
- Amanda wrote..All these acquisitions and endeavors are in complete alignment with the Land Bank Mandate approved by voters each time it has come up for renewal.Reply On the Land Bank web site under FAQ’s is posed the question How do support taking land off the tax rolls? It’s answered;
Public land is a huge benefit for the county in that it:
1. Preserves the island’s character, and gives us places to go.
2. Plays a key role in keeping us competitive in the real estate market.
3. Helps maintain our property values.
4. Is the underlying driver of our tourism/service businesses.
5. Does not create a need for additional taxes as does development (EMS/hospital/schools/roads/library/fire district).
Tax dollars are being used to promote tourism? Since when did the voters approve a mandate for the Land Bank to promote tourism?
- Amanda wrote..the Real Estate Excise Tax (REET) that funds San Juan County’s Conservation Land Bank is paid once by the purchaser.
Reply The perception is the buyer pays so it’s at no expense to the seller. Anyone that’s ever bought property knows in the negotiation of price and costs, everything is on the table. To just say the excise tax is designated the responsibility of the buyer sidesteps the reality that all costs are part of the negotiation process.
Amanda ended noting spreading falsehoods wasn’t very respectful. I agree. Spreading an allegation that I attempted to dupe the community with the language of the petition was a falsehood.