Today the intrepid Skagit Leeks team visited some local Porta-Potties. Why would we do this distasteful task? To keep taxpayers informed on how dollars are spent, and how "honest" elected officials, agency people, and county/state employees are when reporting "accomplishments."
This particular report concerns Skagit County, but is relevant to any county in any state. It pays to keep a close watch on those folks who handle our money: for clean water activities or windmills or bridges to nowhere.
Here, the Clean Samish Initiative (CSI) is shelling out our tax dollars for Porta-Potties to the tune of $95.50 a month for weekly maintenance on each one CSI has installed. We've been told the number of installations will "continue to be enhanced." The sites were apparently selected for the benefit of fishermen, bikers, walkers, or ... anyone who happens to notice them.
The amount of pollution they've prevented is undoubtedly HUGE since people fish in the Samish River during August, September and October. And only a few brave souls bike or go on long treks around here when it's cold or wet.
Everyone associated with this Clean Samish Initiative -- whether elected or employed -- is incorrectly reporting on their successes when it comes to these receptacles of human waste. They're counting ones that have been in place for years -- some bolted onto cement slabs -- and were situated and paid for by other (non-CSI) organizations.
So this is a deception on so many levels: few people use these things (so most are a waste of funds), and it's misleading at best for CSI folks to take credit for all the ones installed by someone else. This project has already spent half of the nearly-one-million-dollar EPA Grant money they received. Are members so desperate to show results they would stoop this low?
The person(s) in the CSI Group who inflated the number of Porta-Potties credited to the CSI effort should be identified and reined in before everyone on the team suffers from a loss of credibility. These misleading accomplishments were referenced four times in the colorful CSI Newsletter coming soon to thousands of mailboxes belonging to residents of the Samish Watershed.
Our three Commissioners - Wesen, Dillon, and Dahlstedt - are quoted as saying, "In recent months, we have installed waste facilities for ... humans within the Samish watershed ..." Do any of them know exactly how many CSI installed? Skagit Leeks suggests they validate their sources before quoting accomplishments in widely distributed colorful newsletters.
In the same publication, Dan Berentson writes about the success of action agenda item #7 (out of 10): "Provide sani-cans for recreationalists in the Samish Basin. This action item has been completed and will continue to be enhanced. 17 pet waste stations and 12 portable toilets have been installed." Well, sure they have, Dan, but when and by whom?
The key role of these Porta-Potties in preventing pollution of the Samish River justifies their being mentioned a third time by the editor of the colorful newsletter mentioned above: "In recent months, we have ... installed waste facilities for ... humans within the Samish Watershed ..." A helpful link has been included: Clean Samish Initiative Page at www.skagitcounty.net/csi which contains " ... a helpful map of all the designated ... human waste facilities in the Samish Basin."
Those familiar with Skagit County should by all means take a peek at the map showing the locations. This is a great (and challenging) tool for counting the exact number of existing (bolted to concrete slabs) Honey Buckets, as they're called by the supplier, compared to the ones CSI actually added and can justifiably count as accomplishments.
On today's outing we visited four sites: one by Edison Slough where no one fishes; one by the Bow Post Office on a road where the speed limit is 55 mph and is nowhere near the Samish River; one just outside the little town of Edison, located on private property right behind a sign that says: "Absolutely No Trespassing" and "Trespassers will be Prosecuted."
The fourth one was located on the other side of a grassy field and park on the corner of Allen-West and Chuckanut. Oddly enough, on the nifty CSI map, they don't count this one that CSI actually installed, but they do count the big green one on the other side of the grassy field that was bolted to a concrete slab years ago.
It sounds like sloppy work and misleading reporting to Skagit Leeks. Elected officials and county managers, who value their credibility and accountability in the eyes of taxpayers, would most certainly want to cultivate reliable sources before being quoted in reports or publications. Especially when those quotes are touting too many CSI illusionary accomplishments.
In his essay on Bulls---, Princeton philosophy professor Harry G. Frankfurt distinguished between lies and B.S. "It is impossible for someone to lie unless he thinks he knows the truth," wrote Frankfurt. "Producing bulls--- requires no such conviction."