Ask the Angry Citizen
The "Angry Citizen" label came from a presentation I once gave in which I expressed my sincere displeasure with a government official over how he and his agency was handling the Skagit River flood issue. Another member of government leaned over and stated, "Now there goes an Angry Citizen." From that day forward I have been introduced by receptionists in government offices as "The Angry Citizen is here to see you." Truth be known, I am not so much angry as I am disappointed and frustrated that we (as in federal, state and local government) have not been able to solve this issue for over a century. This page, as is this entire web site, is an attempt to try and do what I can to help resolve the Skagit River flood issue in my lifetime.
The editorials are meant to be provocative, controversial and hopefully will make you think about things in another perspective. It is a column where political correctness is neither sought after nor desired. Truth is its only motivator. When things are not as they appear to be then they usually are not in the public's best interest. This is not an exercise in the right or left side of issues but right vs. wrong. Portions of the editorial will anger some while other portions will please the same individuals. To me that makes for a well balanced editorial. Please let me know your thoughts, and if you are so moved to write your own editorial, I would be happy to publish it.
Only the most current editorial will be kept on this page. All other Angry Citizens will have their own webpage.
|Table of Contents|
|December 2012||2012 - A Year End Review of the Year the GI Became DOA|
|October 2012||Making No Decision Is Still Making A Decision!|
|August 2012||Tethys Bottling Plant: The Public's Right to Know, Participate and Decide|
|July 2012||The Hypocrisy Continues: Fish for Me, Not for Thee|
|May 2012||ANGRY CITIZEN EDITORIAL: HYPOCRISY DEFINED|
|May 2011||SHORT STORY: “ONE DAY”|
|December 2010||Editorial: 2010 - A YEAR END REVIEW|
|August 2010||Some Red Flags About Burlington's Strategic Program for Comprehensive Flood Hazard Mitigation FEIS|
|May 2010||Hypocrites, Hidden Agendas, and Follow the Money|
|December 2009||THE PARALYSIS OF ANALYSIS DECADE|
|November 2009||Discussions Nobody Wants to Have|
|September 2009||ALLOCATED OR NOT A DEAD FISH IS A DEAD FISH!|
|July 2009||They Just Don't Get It!|
|June 2009||Editorial: Heckofavajob FEMA - Where Is The Outrage?|
|April 2009||Three Issues|
|March 2009||Comments on Burlington Draft Environmental Impact Statement|
|December 2008||Editorial: 2008 - A YEAR END REVIEW|
|August 2008||Editorial: The Legacy – I Wonder|
|May 2008||Editorial: INTERVIEW FOR THE SKAGIT CFHMP|
|April 2008||Editorial: The Skagit FACT Nine Scenarios|
|March 2008||E-mail discussion re: Plan B|
|December 2007||2007 – A YEAR END REVIEW|
|November 2007||Q&A With Ted Cook|
|August 2007||DOES ANYBODY REALLY CARE?|
|May 2007||HERE WE GO AGAIN!|
|April 2007||COMMENTS IN RESPONSE TO QUESTIONS AND CONCERNS|
|February 2007||THE THREE FORKS IN THE ROAD: Have we reached a lose lose situation or is there another alternative?|
|October 2006||Response to Last Month’s Editorial|
|September 2006||The Realities of Flood Control in Skagit County|
|May 2006||A current Corps of Engineer employee writes the Angry Citizen|
|April 2006||Ted Cook writes the Angry Citizen|
2012 – A YEAR END REVIEW OF THE YEAR THE GI BECAME DOA.
THE WEB PAGE
In 2012 we published 146 historical documents and 78 documents dated in 2012 for a total of 224 documents. The web page continued on par with 2011 figures (0ver 27,000 visits), however the big change was in the amount of documents downloaded which jumped from 70 gigabytes to over 107.93 gigabytes. That’s a lot of information and information is what this web page strives to provide. As we state on the home page, “knowledge is only knowledge when knowledge is shared.” So given that kind of interest we have decided to commit to this project for at least one more year. It really is a labor of love and being able to form opinions on documented facts instead of gossip and word of mouth (i.e. they used to dredge the river) is very satisfying.
Thank you one and all who take the time out of your busy lives to stay abreast of the flood issue, its history, present and future.
QUOTE OF THE YEAR
Two years ago we added a new feature to the end of the year Angry Citizen. It is called the “Quote of the Year. While we like to think that all the “Quotes of the Month” are worthy, after an extensive review and discussion with my webmaster (my son Josef) we feel that the one quote that stands out would be the following:
“Building a levee is initially an economic decision. A levee may not always eliminate the misery, it may only delay it until that point of time when nature's forces exceed man's willingness to invest in greater risk protection.”
(Source: January 20, 2012 FEMA Levee Approach for Public Review Online Forum Presentation)
It is worth noting that the runner-up was:
“We need only remind ourselves that Skagit County is valued, for tax purposes, over one billion dollars, a large part of which is subject to flood damage, and that the City of Burlington is valued, for tax purposes, over fifty-five million dollars all of which is subject to flood damage.”
(Source: August 22, 1978 - Burlington Mayor Letter to Corps of Engineers re Flood Project Alternatives)
AC Note: According to the City of Burlington the current 2012 total property valuation is $1,202,840,174. So how much did the flood threat influence/stop development? Obviously very little if at all. The commercial development alone ("all of which is subject to flood damage") is $805,453,934 million dollars. How serious can the flood threat be when this kind of development is allowed? And more importantly why should all the taxpayers reward this kind of irresponsible land use development with a flood project?
2012 – THE YEAR THE GI BECAME DOA.
I just spent all of Christmas week working on the Skagit River Flood Risk Management General Investigation Comments Received (April 2012-June 2012 Outreach) LJK Responses document, so why would I be spending the last day of the year writing an editorial if I truly believe that the GI Study is Dead On Arrival? Someone has to keep the players honest. Since being appointed to the Skagit County Flood Control Zone District Advisory Committee (“FCZDAC”) in June of 2008 I have consistently stated to the committee members not to present any proposal that resembles the 1979 project that went down in flames in 1979. See 11/7/79 SVH – “Decisive Defeat at Polls”. Sadly the Dike Districts did not listen to that advice. (See Comments by D. Lefeber of Dike District 12 here and Letter to Corps fm Skagit County Dike District #17 . I feel very strongly that these two dike districts who have caused everyone else’s damages in the lower valley both upstream and downstream of their districts, have done more to guarantee that the GI Study no matter what alternative they come up with will be dead on arrival. Their solution is to artificially induce flooding of the Samish River Valley east of I-5 with their water just like the 60,000 cfs that Burlington with its mouthpiece government Dike 12 is sending towards Mt Vernon and Fir Island. That philosophy of bigger levees and flooding someone else’s land in order to save themselves to cover up their 100 years of mistakes, is exactly what killed the 1979 levee project, that and raising property taxes to pay for it.
In the last 4 years besides telling the FCZD AC not to endorse any project that resembles anything like 1979 I have worked very hard to show the committee some of the historical mistakes that have been made. (See Sterling Dam Presentation which showed how Dike 12 cut off Gages Slough from the Skagit River in 1897. See also Graphic Summary of Increases in 1990 Flood Levels Due to Levee System (a graphic which shows the induced flooding of Dike 12 and Dike 17 on upstream property owners including Sedro-Woolley).
I worked over 200 hours helping the County put together draft chapters of the Countywide Flood Hazard Management Plan (“CFHMP”) along with one county employee not paid enough for her work who did an excellent job (See ) only to see the County and the FCZDAC not do anything with it since 2010. The one thing the County Commissioners directed the committee to accomplish and they have not or would not do so in the last 4 years. It’s just a plan people and like so many other documents written in this county no one besides a small select group of people are going to read it, so get off your collective asses and get r done.
I have also submitted an alternative plan for financing any alternative that the County would wish to pursue. (See ) County staff and the FCZDAC have not even discussed financing of any plan. It doesn’t matter what the plan is it still has to be financed. The only financing plan currently in place is to have the County Commissioners raise your property taxes without a vote of the people. That is the power they have under the FCZD statute. (See ) Two of our County Commissioners have stated that they would never do that without a vote of the people and that is good. However, as was clearly demonstrated in the last election those commissioners may not always be there, their replacements may not feel the same respect for the voters that the current Board does. So financing should be put to a vote of the people as soon as possible given the irresponsible opinions submitted by Dike District 12 and 17. Why waste 13 million dollars on a study when you know the voters will not approve it?
I also submitted a document to the committee and the Corps of Engineers that shows the Corps when they determined the amount of dam storage behind Ross Dam that they used Stewart’s figures for Sedro-Woolley. (See 8/14/1953 Corps document) If Skagit County cannot utilize Stewart’s Sedro-Woolley figures for determining flood flows and have been told so by USGS, FEMA and the Corps, why can the Corps and Seattle City Light use them for determining storage behind Ross Dam? Both the Corps and the committee have ignored this issue hoping it will go away. It’s not going away. And if I have to send the issues to Headquarters in DC I will. The committee should take the document and submit it to the County Commissioners to be forwarded to the Corps for a correct determination of the amount of storage behind Ross Dam.
Lastly another presentation that the Corps has refused to address and the committee also did nothing with was when USGS and the Corps switched from using Low Low Water in Puget Sound to Mean Sea Level did they fail to adjust the gage readings appropriately which would change the hydraulics for the Skagit River? (See Low Low Water in Puget Sound vs. Mean Sea Level) Both issues could impact the GI Study and Alternative selected not to mention the price of the Alternative. Like I stated the issues are not going to go away and if I have to I will submit them to Corps headquarters for review. They tried to ignore the hydrology issue, that didn’t go away and ultimately USGS lowered the figures although not low enough they did eventually take action. The same will be for these two issues.
The Ostrich Award
Our yearly Ostrich award goes for the first time to multiple players. The FCZD AC again for being completely without leadership and doing nothing in 2012.; the Seattle District Corps of Engineers for trying to pull the wool over the public’s/government agencies with trying to show how great their public outreach was by publishing a document that showed over 300 comments when in reality they only received 15 written comments and perhaps no more than 75 different individuals and then they didn’t get the comments right (See Public Outreach Comments Received Report then see the same report with Angry Citizen responses Skagit River Flood Risk Management General Investigation Comments Received (April 2012-June 2012 Outreach—LJK Comments); Mt. Vernon and Burlington City staffs for convincing their City councils to fool around with the sales tax money, the one possibility for real funding to be approved by the voters for flood risk reduction; Mt. Vernon actually gets two votes to show their hypocrisy concerning the flood issue---See City of Mount Vernon Letter RE: Scoping of Proposed Gateway Pacific Terminal Project wherein they state “Mount Vernon is located along the banks of the Skagit River. There is a substantial and well-documented risk of flooding. River flooding has the potential to cripple key infrastructure, transportation, water, residential areas, and farmland as well as injure life and property.” I wonder if they put that in writing to every developer that comes to town or the City Council ask the developer if they are aware of that before they approve their permits. If it all wasn’t so sad it would actually be funny.
2012 – Report Card on Flood Control
Since 2006 we have been giving grades to the various agencies and local government entities for what they did or more appropriately did not do during that year. In order to save some time and space this year everyone received a failing grade. The Corps was going to get a passing grade of a C until they tried to pull a fast one with their Public Outreach program BS document. The fact that they forced a citizen to file a FOIA request for the documentation, misquoted and cherry picked the comments both in written format and verbal at public meetings gives them a well earned F. By the time this process is concluded they will have spent over 13 million dollars for a document that is both unscientific and non-factual.
2013—What Must Be Done?
The Corps needs to start listening to the people of Skagit County and accept no comments that do not have a written document accompanying them. Speakers at public hearings must submit a copy of their comments like they were required to do in 1924 (See Notice and Minutes of Public Hearing) or at a minimum have the speakers state their name for the record and have a minimum of two recording devices going during the hearing so a transcript of the hearing can be prepared. It’s pretty obvious that the Corps note takers are not all that accurate.
I think we need to change the focus of the GI to no more levees being built due to poor soil conditions (See Neal Hamburg May 1992 Testimony Before Joint Select Committee on Flood Damage Reduction) to putting the water on the floodplain and building a substantial drainage system that could get rid of the floodwaters as well as drain the fields for the farmers in the Spring rains. Alternative #2 (Nonstructural + Dam Storage) would go a long way towards undoing the harm done by Dike Districts 12 & 17 while reducing the Skagit River Flood Risk for all.
LETS DO IT OURSELVES!! LETS DO IT NOW!! LETS DO IT WITH VOTER APPROVAL!!
May your fields be ripe and budding and your rivers full and flooding (because its the only time people pay attention).
The Angry Citizen
Back to the top