A recent editorial in the San Juan Islander about County Manager Mike Thomas's lack of concern about the Park Plan contract misrepresents the situation.
Cascadia Consulting Group, a Seattle-based company specializing in natural resource management, convened a team of local advisors - one for each of the ferry-served islands - to ensure our planning work incorporates views from local community members. We included Jennifer Thomas, owner of Water & Land Natural Resources Consulting, and a local resident and professional with 27 years of experience. Jennifer is well-regarded in this field and would have been an asset to the team.
Her hourly rate of $115 is well under the market value for a highly qualified, technical consultant. In addition, Jennifer brought experience from her volunteer work with local organizations – a true asset for connecting with the community. In fact, it was Jennifer who suggested we include local island liaisons from each of the ferry-served islands because of their unique connections to each community.
Jennifer’s husband, County Manager Mike Thomas, had zero involvement in proposal development, the selection of team members, or the approach. And Mike dutifully disclosed Jennifer's involvement in advance of proposal review.
Mike Thomas was neither "oblivious" as the editorial asserts, nor does he show a lack of concern. Claims like these are misleading, and result in a missed opportunity for the County to benefit from the valuable contributions of a respected local professional and islander.
Ruth Bell, Owner & Principal
Cascadia Consulting Group