Cheers and Jeers

Short takes on local matters

Posted 11/20/19

Leader Editor Dean Miller talks bite sized chunks of local issues

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Cheers and Jeers

Short takes on local matters


“Losers” Serve democracy

Cheers to those who ran for local elected office...and lost.

Let Vince “Winning is the only thing” Lombardi spin in his grave. Fact is, there’s almost nothing more important to democracy than the candidate who gives us a choice, even if they don’t attract a majority.

From Brinnon to Port Townsend, Jefferson County voters were fortunate to have alternatives in a dozen local races, where folks piped up with their proposals to improve schools, manage fire districts, guide our port system and run City Hall.

Given that public speaking and conflict are among the most common phobias, it’s hard enough just to stand up and speak your piece. These folks then got voted on, with results for all the world to see.

So if you ran and lost, hold your head high. Our democracy is in your debt, Deborah Stinson, Bernie Arthur, Chuck Fauls, Cheri Van Hoover, Harold Sherwood, Steve Martin, Michael Raymond, Mike Aman, Jenelle Cleland, Laura Beck, Cortney Beck and Jolene Elkins.

Paying it forward

Cheers to Kronos Quartet co-founder David Harrington for pausing in his globe-trotting concert schedule to coach local high school musicians.

Any music school from Juilliard to the Conservatoire de Paris would be honored to offer students the chance to learn from Harrington, whose quartet has sold a million albums, carried out ground-breaking collaborations across a dozen musical genres and has inspired composers across the world to write pieces specifically for Kronos.

Yet, there we were the morning of Nov. 5, with Harrington coaching Port Townsend High School music teacher Daniel Ferland’s students how to make full use of their body in coaxing music from their instruments. More importantly, he was teaching all of us how to pay back our good fortune by giving the next generation a hand up.

Unelected, yet governing

Cheers to plain old citizens who get up from their easy chairs to show up at public hearings on difficult matters such as how to make affordable housing a reality in Jefferson County.

With housing costs spiking 30% in the last four years, there is an urgent need for private and government partnerships to house people of all economic types, from the disadvantaged to working families.

With enrollment falling at Chimacum schools, there’s an urgent need to decide whether and how to collaborate with neighboring school districts.

The buck stops with elected officials and paid government staff, but they make better decisions when they solicit, and listen to, the electorate.

So, if you are going to meetings and giving government the benefit of your wisdom, you’re a vital part of our experiment in self-governance.

Knocking down a hoax page

Cheers to local activists who took it on themselves to clear up confusion about Jefferson County’s official Facebook page.

This area is a subatomic particle in Facebook’s two-billion-member universe, so it’s remarkable complaints about the “Jefferson County Washington” spoof page got any response at all.

Owned by local businessman Joe D’Amico, it has long sported one of Facebook’s coveted blue checkmarks, which were intended to show that Facebook’s geniuses had checked for hoaxing.

To be clear: D’Amico has every right to publish his views on Jefferson County doings and to promote his businesses and political views.

But impersonating county government long ago went from a funny hoax to irresponsible, given that our earthquake-prone area may one day be in urgent need of evacuation advice, for example. If the time comes, people won’t need to be stumbling around online trying to cypher out which one’s the real Jefferson County page.

So, a local group calling itself “Port Townsend Troll Control” urged supporters to simultaneously complain to Facebook at 11:11 a.m on Nov. 11, to point out his “government and public service” page was devoted to private interests and was not the actual Jefferson County, Washington page.

On the appointed morning, D’Amico’s page disappeared for a few minutes, then reappeared with no blue checkmark.

It’s notable his page type has also been changed from “government and public service” to just plain “page.”

Neither he nor Facebook have replied to several questions about who did what, but the subtle and important change is that his domain-squatting page no longer bears the little blue “Facebook verified” checkmark.


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