TRO expires; Request for an injunction denied

The Town of Friday Harbor can proceed with the removal of fencing and vegetation, including a large fir, at the corner of Perry Place and Tucker Avenue. A temporary restraining order expired after a two-hour hearing  June 22 which included references to butterflies and pot-bellied pigs.  Visiting Superior Court Judge Cindy Larsen denied a request by Carla Higginson for an injunction at the hearing in San Juan County Superior Court. 

Judge Stewart Andrew had issued the TRO June 11, temporarily shutting down work at the corner until a hearing regarding an injunction could be held. 

The tree on Perry Place, wrapped in orange tape,  will be cut down for installation of a partial sidewalk that will wrap around from Tucker Avenue. The fence encroaches 8 feet into the right-of-way.  Photo by Sharon Kivisto

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No Sale: Buyer withdraws offer to purchase IIMC building

MCS Association, a non-profit formed in 1970,  has withdrawn its offer to buy the former Inter Island Medical Center Building.  According to Realtor Bill Giesy, the decision was made the day after the meeting with the San Juan County Hospital District Board where the purchase price of $925,000 was agreed to. At the end of the June 13 meeting, it was agreed that the sale was contingent upon one more market valuation. That turned out not to be necessary. 

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Nick Power's reaction to Judge Andrew's rejection of petition to prosecute Det. Parker

Why exactly is the San Juan County prosecutor’s office celebrating? That should be the question on the forefront of everyone’s mind.

Here we have a San Juan County Detective, Stephen Parker, who had “non-consensual sex” with an alleged crime victim and then lied about it. Shouldn’t that person be brought to justice?

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State upholds San Juan County's Shoreline Master Program

San Juan County adopted a new Shoreline Master Program (SMP) in November 2017. Friends of the San Juans appealed the SMP to the Growth Management Hearings Board (Board) alleging seven issues Friends claimed did not meet the requirements of state law. Friends asked the Board to invalidate the SMP.

The Board held a hearing in Friday Harbor on May 4, 2018. San Juan County was represented by Deputy Prosecutor Amy Vira, Department of Ecology was represented by Assistant Attorney General Emily Nelson and Friends of the San Juans was represented by its former staff attorney Kyle Loring.

The Board issued its decision on June 13, 2018 declining to declare the SMP invalid and finding in favor of the County on four of the seven issues.

Three minor issues were sent back to County for correction. These include a requirement that mitigation measures occur in the same watershed as the project requiring the mitigation, a requirement that property owners demonstrate “conclusive evidence” that a primary structure is in danger before shoreline stabilization measures are approved and a requirement that the County formalize a process for tracking and evaluating cumulative impacts resulting from project actions.

“Council and staff did a great job of balancing the many requirements of the state Shoreline Management Act and the substantial amount of public input received to craft regulations that fit San Juan County best,” said County Manager Mike Thomas.

“Overall, we are pleased with the decision as it upholds the bigger issues of shoreline environmental designations and the process used including the science and the County’s Inventory and Characterization Report,” said Council Chair Bill Watson. The Council will review the decision and formulate a plan for addressing the three issues identified by the Board in the coming weeks.

Either party may appeal the Board’s decision within 30 days.

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Teacher’s petition for criminal charge against Detective Parker rejected

PRESS RELEASE: Former Orcas Island High School teacher Gerald Grellet-Tinner’s petition for a citizen complaint for a misdemeanor charge against former Detective Stephen Parker was rejected Wednesday, June 20, 2018 by San Juan County District Court Judge Stewart Andrew.

Judge Stewart Andrew wrote that the “Prosecutor’s office has shown no bad faith or inappropriate reasons for not filing charges against Mr. Parker. In short, the court finds there is no abuse of prosecutorial discretion. After considering the seven factors described in CrRLJ 2.1(c), the court concludes the prosecutor’s decision to not file charges is justified. The Petition to file a Citizen’s Complaint against Mr. Parker is denied.”

Grellet-Tinner was seeking the charges based upon a written statement delivered to Deputy Lori Sigman of the Skagit County Sheriff’s Office at her office in Mount Vernon regarding the lack of a relationship between Mr. Parker and the victim/student being investigated in a case regarding the teacher on charges of sexual misconduct in the first degree.

Judge Andrew’s decision is consistent with the decision made by the Skagit County Prosecutor’s Office. That office was asked to make charging decisions by San Juan County Prosecuting Attorney Randall Gaylord. The Skagit Prosecutors declined to file charges in January 2017.

At a hearing on May 30, 2018, San Juan County Prosecutors expressed concern for the student/victim with going through another trial. “She has been victimized enough. There is so little to be gained and so much to lose. It really would be remarkable if this were allowed to happen at the request of the teacher,” said Gaylord.

Prosecutors also said that Grellet-Tinner and his attorney, Nick Power, had a financial motive that tainted the entire process. Judge Andrew said, “Presumably the pending tort claim against the county skews the Petitioner’s judgment. Mr. Parker’s conviction would benefit the Petitioner as Plaintiff in the tort lawsuit. This motive is improper.”

Other complexities were also considered by the court including the long delay since the incident and the fact that Mr. Parker now lives in Florida. “San Juan County has never extradited from another state on a misdemeanor charge, not even from Oregon or Idaho,” Mr. Gaylord explained.

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