Category Archives: Eco Criminals

Ferguson v. Port of Olympia, Part II

Ok, jumping back in on the Port of Olympia. If you want to start at the beginning, go here for Part I.Logs Oly port 2011July1 (3)

If you want to start with Part II and not look back, the story is that former finance director Kevin Ferguson has sued the Port of Olympia and Edward Galligan for wrongful discharge, violation of whistleblower law and other tortious conduct.

So, working from the lawsuit Ferguson v. Port of Olympia again, I note/quote from the lawsuit:

  • “In approximately late June/early July, 2011, plaintiff (Ferguson) met with two Commissioners to alert them to what plaintiff considered to be some of the serious issues that he had reported to Galligan (Port Executive Director Edward Galligan) , and advised them that Galligan had failed to take any remedial action.  The issues that plaintiff reported at that time included the failure of Galligan to follow Port personnel policies, and the apparent nepotism and increased technology expenses in a potentially unlawful awarding of a technology contract.”


  • “on August 16, 2011, plaintiff was compelled to submit a written report via email to Port Commissioner Jeff Davis, which laid out plaintiff’s reasonable belief about violations of law or policy and waste of Port funds, most of which implicated Galligan.  The written report identified a variety of matters with details information, including but not limited to the following:

(a.) Nepotism in the award of the Port’s IT contract to the brother-in-law of Galligan’s former secretary and the Port’s HR Manager, who was directly responsible for all information technology at the Port, which appeared in conflict with Port Policy 108.

(b.) Change of the IT award/oversight from the HR Manager to a staff person, who was nevertheless supervised by the HR Manager, continuing to appear in conflict with Port Policy 108.

(c.) Waste of Port funds in paying an excessive amount of $10,000 per month to maintain the IT system, and payment of such amounts with lack of adequate service by the IT consultants – one who resided in Vermont most of the year and the other who left the Port without local technology support while out of the area.

(d.) Award of the IT contract to an entity which has a statutory two year ban from public work due to previously operating without a license

(e.) Payment to the IT contractor after the contract expired, and renewal of an expired contract without first requesting new proposals for qualifications or bids.”

In reading through the 17 page Ferguson complaint, it becomes clear that the IT contract is a somewhat central thread that should be subject to public scrutiny for the purposes of deciding if the Port is operating in an ethical and forthright manner.

So, how would we start to get to the heart of this story?   Why not start with a quick look at the contracting entity and the contract?

Sorry, need to go to work, will be back with a look at the contracting entity and the contract in a day or two.

Ferguson v. Port of Olympia, Part I

What is going on at the Port of Olympia?proppant ship

The Daily Olympian carried a story on May 21, 2013 about a lawsuit filed by the Port’s former finance director, Kevin Ferguson, against the Port and the Port’s Exec Director, Edward Galligan. .  Among other things, Ferguson’s lawsuit alleges that the Port’s contract for IT services is not quite right.

That’s an interesting allegation and one that might be easy to sort out.

Here are specific passages and allegations from the Ferguson lawsuit:

  • “In approximately January, 2011, Galligan directed plaintiff (Ferguson) to write a leter or recommendation to the Port Commissioners in support of a pay raise for Galligan.  Although he was not comfortable with this directive, plaintiff was compelled to follow Galligan’s instruction.  Plaintiff wrote the letter, but only after informing two commissioners in advance as to the directive he had been given.”

A little bit of context for this bit: Galligan was Ferguson’s direct supervisor at the time and the commissioners are charged with supervising the executive director.  Is there a cause of action here?  Probably not, but I think lots of us understand that this type of request from a direct supervisor would feel coercive and manipulative.

  • “Throughout plaintiff’s employment he observed and discovered a variety of matters which adversely impacted the financial status of the Port and which he reasonabley believed to constitute mismanagement, waste or violations of law…  Many of the items plaintiff was discovering and observing included acts or omissions by the office of the Executive Director, Galligan.”

A little bit of context for this item:  The Port belongs to all of us.  The Port holds title to property with a value in the range of 300 million dollars.  The management of these holdings require that the tax payers of Thurston County ante up 4.8 million dollars per year to keep the Port afloat.  These simple facts do raise questions about the financial management at the Port.  Couldn’t we simply hire a property management firm and get a better return on investment?

The Port likes to tout its role in job creation, but I think a hard look at the jobs that would actually disappear if the port property was operated by a property management firm instead of a quasi-public agency would reveal that the public is buying very few good local jobs with the investment of 4.8 million per year.

That’s enough for today, back in a few days with more from the Port on questions about the IT contract and the Port’s environmental record.


Scanning the News

A few items jumped out at me.

  •  WAPO says Obama is looking ahead to the 2014 congressional election because the current GOP house is hopeless. Our situation on the shore of the Salish Sea is the same, but it’s the Repub senate in WA State that is the big problem on the local level.  It worth noting that the US popular vote for House of Reps went solidly to the dems in 2012 despite a lot of vote suppression work, but thanks to successful district gerrymandering by the Republican Party.  I am not sanguine about the legislative results that derive from the Democratic Congress that Barack might dream about.  I am thinking we need to elect the climate congress at State and Federal level in 2014.  That would be a group who would actually act on global warming.  The dems talk the talk.  The Repubs talk denial by and large.  We need elected bodies who will walk the walk.  That would be a peaceful revolution to elect Climate Congress in 2014.  I am down with that.
  • Alternet reports that some important assumptions that underly the “science” of economics and human nature are probably wrong.  The study is controversial in several regards, but the results seem to indicate that economists and psychologists have viewed the world through the lens provided by studying human nature as it exists in industrialized communities and making an assumption about how the dominant paradigm of industrialized communities is human nature.  Oops.

  • More human nature stuff from Alternet and
    Could feelings of disgust be the key to saving the planet from global warming? Strange as it might seem, the answer may be yes.

    Concern over environmental harm is disproportionately a liberal phenomena, but concern over violating the purity and sanctity of nature cuts across ideological lines. What’s more, it’s not an abstract concern. Violations of morality of the purity/sanctity kind are linked to a visceral disgust.

    This isn’t just idle speculation. A new series of studies suggests a potential way out of the polarized gridlock that’s crippled our national response to the threat of global warming. ” The Moral Roots of Environmental Attitudes,” by Matthew Feinberg and Robb Willer, published in Psychological Science in December, studied the impact of framing environmental communication in terms of different moral frameworks, and concluded that messaging based on the moral value of purity, which appeals primarily to conservatives, can help bridge the ideological divide on environmental issues—including global warming.

Spike Lee is correct:  Do the right thing.

Paul Cienfuegos on Community Rights Ordinances

Five minutes and 20 seconds.  Grab a cup of coffee and give Paul a listen.

Paul and I agree on a lot of things, but we both start from the point that single issue activism is not going to get the work done.

Paul is a TESC (The Evergreen State College) alum, here is Paul’s website. He has done trainings in Olympia and Shelton on community rights and helped Salish Sea activists shut down the biomass projects a couple of years ago.

Extreme Weather Events! Get Used to Them.

Lots of news coverage of Frankenstorm, but not much mention of the role that our carbon economy plays in the production of this storm.

Hey, mainstream media,  can you say Global Warming?

Here is what Joe Romm has to say about Hurricane Sandy:

Why Hurricane Sandy Has Morphed into a ‘Frankenstorm’ — And Why We Should Get Used to Catastrophic Weather

Here’s how manmade carbon pollution is making many of the most destructive kinds of extreme weather events — Frankenstorms — more frequent and more intense.

October 28, 2012  |


This GOES-13 satellite image provided by the US Naval Research Laboratory shows the eye of Hurricane Sandy it churns just off the eastern coast of the US.
Photo Credit: AFP




What would you call an “ unprecedented and bizarre “ storm that is:

  • The “largest hurricane in Atlantic history measured by diameter of gale force winds (1,040mi)” [ Capital Weather Gang ]
  • “A Storm Like No Other” [National Weather Service via  AP]. NWS“I cannot recall ever seeing model forecasts of such an expansive areal wind field with values so high for so long a time. We are breaking new ground here.”
  • “Transitioning from a warm-core (ocean-powered) hurricane into an extra-tropical low pressure system, a classic Nor’easter, fed by powerful temperature extremes and swirling jet stream winds aloft to amplify and focus the storm’s fury” [meteorologist  Paul Douglas ]
  • Being fueled in part by “ocean temperatures along the Northeast U.S. coast [] about 5°F above average,” so “there will be an unusually large amount of water vapor available to make heavy rain” [former Hurricane Hunter  Jeff Masters ]
  • Also being driven by a high pressure blocking pattern near Greenland “forecast to be three standard deviations from the average” [ Climate Central  and CWG]
  • “Stitched together from some spooky combination of the natural and the unnatural.” [ Bill McKibben ]

Read the whole thing?  Good idea.    Alternet is carrying the story, but Joe Romm sets up shop at Climate Progress.

Big Storm Coming to the East Coast

Global warming?  Sure.  More storms, bigger storms.   Talk to folks who can vote in 2014 to elect the Climate Congress.  I don’t care if the folks you talk to are republicans, democrats or have never bothered to vote.  If they know in their gut that global warming is real and not good news, then we need to mobilize them.  The quadrennial electoral show is staggering to a finish, but at that finish we will not have a president or congress that understands that we need to address global warming.  Our next chance is the midterm election in 2014.  That campaign is underway.  I started.

Climate Congress 2013 – the Contract with Climate

  1. Carbon tax
  2. what else belong on the contract with the climate that a carbon tax does not address?

from WAPO:




Hurricane Sandy continues its march to the East Coast


View Photo Gallery — Hurricane Sandy: The storm has been raging up the coast after leaving more than 40 people dead in the Caribbean. A state of emergency has been declared in Virginia, Maryland, the District of Columbia, Pennsylvania, New York, Maine, New Jersey and Connecticut.





By ,   Published: October 27 | Updated: Sunday, October 28, 7:47 AM


 A hurricane of enormous force continues to march north today, ready to hammer the D.C. region sometime on Monday and disrupt life for millions as it sweeps across eight states toward Canada.

From North Carolina to the coastal edges of Maine, public officials are urging residents to fortify themselves against Hurricane Sandy, which is expected to unleash torrential rains and winds of up to 75 mph, even for those residing as far as 100 miles from the storm’s center.

Read the whole piece?  Why not?  See if you can find any mention of global warming in the piece on Hurricane Sandy.  I scanned it quickly, lots of talk about shopping in advance of the storm, the campaigns adjusting to be elsewhere, nothing on global warming that I spotted.  It’s like Where’s Waldo?  Where is the mention of global warming in this article?  Let me know if you see it.

New Economics? Is there another way?

I like some aspects of free markets.  As a craftsman who has made a living at times in my life building and remodeling houses, I like the idea that I can trade my time and skills in a relatively free manner for money or other goods that I want or need.  More and more I find I don’t really want too much stuff.  I have a houseful of stuff.  It comes and goes.  I don’t buy much in the way of new stuff.  We are awash in consumer goods in the US and if you turn off regular television and cable and stop reading the newspaper, your consumer programming falls away pretty fast in my experience, so I just am not all that familiar with the stuff that the consumer culture thinks I should be craving.

I think consumer culture and rampant capitalism is the downside of the free market.  I like Medicare.  I like Social Security.  I like public education.  I think it should be free and include higher education.  I think that means I like socialism.

But try to sell socialism to the US electorate with the consumer capitalists in charge of the media.  It’s going to be a tough sell.

I am throwing up this piece by Gar Alperovitz.  I will watch it in a day or two.   Maybe he has some thoughts about new economic systems that I will find appealing. Maybe you will find something here also. Hope so.

Gar Alperovitz – Our Time in History: The Possibility of Fundamental System Change from New Economics Institute on Vimeo.

Ocean Report

A couple of items on things oceanic came to my attention this week.

NYT had a story on collapse of the cod fishery:

The Shocking News About Cod

The ideal fish for human consumption would mature quickly and reproduce in staggering numbers.

Courtesy Wiki Commons NOAA

This does not describe the Atlantic cod. Cod mature late — at 4 to 6 years old — and they can live as long as 25 years. Female cod do, in fact, produce astonishing numbers of eggs. But older cod lay two or three times as many eggs as younger cod. This means that a healthy cod population must include relatively large numbers of older fish.

For Op-Ed, follow @nytopinion and to hear from the editorial page editor, Andrew Rosenthal, follow @andyrNYT.

A recent survey of cod catches in Northern Europe shows exactly the opposite. Extrapolating from survey numbers, scientists at a British government fisheries agency estimate that there are nearly 200 million 1-year-old cod in the North Sea but only 18 million 3-year-olds. As for older cod, the numbers are shocking. The survey team estimates that in 2011 there were only 600 12- to 13-year-old cod, a third of which were caught, and not a single fish older than 13 has been caught in the past year.

Read the whole article?  Important stuff.

Paul Pickett in Oly shared this new NOAA app that shows sea level rise and coastal impacts. We have been talking in Oly about actions by the Washington State Department of Ecology.  DOE has blocked a shoreline plan in Jefferson County that prohibited pen fish farming.  This is the industrial practice of raising fish such as Atlantic salmon in pens.  We don’t healthy fisheries if we can raise fish to eat in pens.  Ecology is also stepping in on the the Olympia shoreline plan in ways that may help the Port of Olympia and thwart environmental action that has wide public support.  We are talking in Olympia about how regulatory agencies can be captured by the industries they regulate and what we can do about it.

I think we have to ask the right question and that question is “why would regulatory agencies thwart reasonable environmental actions?”  The answer is profit, capitalism; economic interests are in control and dictate to us all.  Disaster capitalism.  Disaster, capitalism.  Disaster. Capitalism.

Here is the sea level rise app.  NOAA is not a regulatory agency per ser, more of a pure science agency.  It’s harder to capture science agencies than it is to capture regulatory agencies who are able to weigh science against economic interests.

It’s kind of tragic and ironic that we are both depleting the ocean and increasing the ocean’s coverage of the planet at the same time. The Greenland ice cap is melting.  Start looking hard at the sea level rise application and plan accordingly.  There are going to be some opportunities for profit in the coming troubles.

Sea Level Rise and Coastal Flooding Impacts Viewer

NOAA Coastal Services Center


  • Displays potential future sea levels
  • Provides simulations of sea level rise at local landmarks
  • Communicates the spatial uncertainty of mapped sea levels
  • Models potential marsh migration due to sea level rise
  • Overlays social and economic data onto potential sea level rise
  • Examines how tidal flooding will become more frequent with sea level rise


View the current status of the tool.

Being able to visualize potential impacts from sea level rise is a powerful teaching and planning tool, and the Sea Level Rise Viewer brings this capability to coastal communities. A slider bar is used to show how various levels of sea level rise will impact coastal communities. Completed areas include Mississippi, Alabama, Texas, Florida, and Georgia, with additional coastal counties to be added in the near future. Visuals and the accompanying data and information cover sea level rise inundation, uncertainty, flood frequency, marsh impacts, and socioeconomics.

Launch Now


The NOAA Coastal Services Center would like to acknowledge those organizations that provided direct content used in this tool or feedback, ideas, and reviews over the course of the tool’s development. Specifically the Center would like to acknowledge the following groups.

Here is the link to the main page for this NOAA app.

PUD or Macquarie PSE Power?

Power for the people?  or  Power for Profit?  That’s the other regular election issue that I am really geared up to work on for the next few months. 

We have a chance in Thurston County to assert local control through the ballot to establish local power, local accountability, and local jobs.

The Thurston Public Power Initiative is on the ballot.  This a very simple measure that opens the door for competition for efficient power generation.  The Macquarie Group PSE is pulling out all the stops to defeat the Initiative and it’s easy to figure out why.  I think the figure is 17 million dollars in profits that were take out of Thurston County last year and deposited in the coffers of the Australian banking giant – the Macquarie Group.

I notice that an R Castaneda was posting in the Daily Zero with a letter in favor of the The Macquarie Group PSE yesterday.  Castaneda says he(?) lost power for one day last winter with the ice storm.  and his recommendation to folks who lost power for many days is simple:  buy a generator.

Who needs local jobs maintaining the lines, trimming the trees, restoring the power.  Just ship the profits to a struggling international bank and buy a generator set.

I am not sure what to say about that, but I am not planning to buy a generator set.

Here is some history to consider:

Puget Sound Energy was a locally developed  energy company that formed with the 1997 merger of Washington Energy and Puget Sound Power & Light.  You can get a possibly factual primer on PSE at  Wikipedia.

Here is an interesting set of newspaper articles that provide a longer term look at questions about Puget Sound Energy and the takover by the Macquarie Group.

Take special notice of these particular articles:

from the last article:

Referred to as “the millionaire’s factory” before the onset of the financial crisis, Macquarie’s net profit fell 25% in fiscal 2012 to an eight-year low of A$730 million Australian dollars as a slump in deal volumes and volatility in global markets cut earnings at Australia’s only listed investment bank.

A Macquarie spokeswomen wasn’t immediately available for comment.

So, we have a decision to make in Thurston County about power.  Do we continue to buy our electricity from the millionaires factory or should we establish a public power option to keep the private sector competitive?  This does not seem like a hard decision.

Posterity Economics v. Austerity Economics

Are we keynesians or would we prefer to be serfs?  It’s an election year, soCourtesty Billy Hathorn Wiki Commons we get to weigh on this and other questions.  I really think we need to be thinking about creative economics.  Market-based economics that are sustainable, that create useful commons instead of quarterly profits, dividends and obscene bonuses.  We all get to decide how to make that happen.

As for me, I will be voting for posterity economics.  Raise taxes and reinstate the steeply progressive tax rates that discourage bald-faced greed and encourage investment in useful infrastructure.  You will hear that taxing the rich won’t raise the funds that we need, that we will have to tax the middle class.  That is a calculated threat by the rich to discourage taxing the rich. And besides, look at the demographics, where is this vaunted middle class?

Where are the middle class jobs?

Time to downsize? Ouch!  Click me please

A couple of stories from the Washington Post this morning caught my attention:

The Mittster is chillin’ in Israel for a few days after his tour of the London Olympics where he wowed them.    well, maybe not.  but anyway, he’s out to Israel now.  Checking the real estate in Jerusalem.  Making contacts with car elevator contractors in case he decides to build a get away place in the Other Holy Land (not salt lake).

Mittster did have kind words for the Israeli health care system.  Unfortunately that health care system is exactly the kind of big government interference that the right wing is certain will destroy the soul of a great nation.  Here is a piece of the WAPO article on that:

Romney praises health care in Israel, where research says ‘strong government influence’ has driven down costs

Posted by Sarah Kliff on July 30, 2012 at 11:10 am

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney had some very kind things to say about the Israeli health care system at a fundraiser there Monday. He praised Israel for spending just 8 percent of its GDP on health care and still remaining a “pretty healthy nation:”

 When our health care costs are completely out of control. Do you realize what health care spending is as a percentage of the GDP in Israel? 8 percent. You spend 8 percent of GDP on health care. And you’re a pretty healthy nation. We spend 18 percent of our GDP on health care. 10 percentage points more. That gap, that 10 percent cost, let me compare that with the size of our military. Our military budget is 4 percent. Our gap with Israel is 10 points of GDP. We have to find ways, not just to provide health care to more people, but to find ways to finally manage our health care costs.

Romney’s point about Israel’s success in controlling health care costs is spot on: Its health care system has seen health care costs grow much slower than other industrialized nations.

How it has gotten there, however, may not be to the Republican candidate’s liking: Israel regulates its health care system aggressively, requiring all residents to carry insurance and capping revenue for various parts of the country’s health care system.

Israel created a national health care system in 1995, largely funded through payroll and general tax revenue. The government provides all citizens with health insurance: They get to pick from one of four competing, nonprofit plans. Those insurance plans have to accept all customers—including people with pre-existing conditions—and provide residents with a broad set of government-mandated benefits.

Read the whole article?  Go for it. 

It’s too bad that the conservatives have no sense of humor or appreciation of irony.  They really miss out on the best that their leaders have to offer.

Second piece from the WA Post that jumped out at me:

As ‘fiscal cliff’ looms, debate over pre-Election Day layoff notices heats up



By , Published: July 30

  The deep federal spending cuts scheduled to take effect at the start of next year may trigger dismissal notices for tens of thousands of employees of government contractors, companies and analysts say, and the warnings may start going out at a particularly sensitive time:

Days before the presidential election.

Read the whole piece.  I dare you. 

I hope that the Dems find a semblance of spinal material and will hold certain feet to the fire.  Imagine a budget cut so severe, so fair that it would even cut into defense jobs.  Well, try to imagine that.  What are the chances?

Each moment we are faced again with the choice of austerity politics or posterity politics. Think on.