Letters to the Editor

Letter to the Editor | What exactly are the ‘scare tactics?’

Posted on April 22nd, 2024 By: Craig McLaughlin

This may surprise some people, but I am impressed with Heather Maher’s Letter to the Editor and with her dedication to our community.  I also agree with much of what Heather has to say, and I thank her for sharing her thoughts.  I have always been an advocate for everyone having their say on issues that impact all of us.

I seldom go on Facebook, but I was informed that my name has popped up in several comments on Gig Harbor Now’s Facebook page.  Those comments relate to Heather’s letter which obviously struck a chord with many.  Some support Heather and others take issue.  Having read that thread, I think now is a good time to clarify a few things.

First, I have always been an advocate for PenMet employees who are hardworking, dedicated, and doing their very best.  The programs and events put on by PenMet are terrific and the community is a better place because of these hardworking people.  I know and have spoken with several current and former PenMet employees, and I am impressed with them as individuals and employees.  The programs, events, and services created, staffed, and conducted by these employees are terrific and a true benefit to the greater Gig Harbor Community.  I’ve never said otherwise.  A Facebook poster, however, mistakenly assumed that I’m “…not happy with anything PenMet does.”  That’s an assumption which could not be further from the truth, but thankfully, facts are more important than mistaken assumptions.

Second, this Facebook chain (and Letters to the Editor regarding the levy lid lift) contain statements from current and former PenMet Commissioners and a park resident directly aimed at me:

  • “The scare tactics and hype he creates are ridiculous.”
  • “Craig’s false hype and scare tactics…”
  • “He’s also spread a lot of misinformation.”
  • “I can tell you he is misinformed.”
  • “…there has been some misleading and misguided messages surrounding the (levy lid lift)…”
  • “I am writing regarding Craig McLaughlin’s October 12, 2023, Letter to the Editor, which contains several factual inaccuracies and misleading statements.”
  • “I encourage you…to not rely on Mr. McLaughlin’s letters as credible information.”

Notice that not one of these comments contains any factual information nor do any of them dispute any statement I’ve said.  They are opinions to which the speakers are entitled, but they are also accusations that are easy to make and, obviously, hard to prove.  One example:  Almost 60% voted against the levy lid lift…the truth wins.

I challenged the two Commissioners who commented on my levy lid lift letters to a debate anytime and anyplace and I also requested they provide specifics.  Their responses:  Total silence.  Also, both PenMet’s Executive Director and I were invited and we both agreed to attend a meeting of the Gig Harbor Republicans to present our levy lid lift PowerPoints.  When the Executive Director found out I was also invited she backed out at the last minute.  I was told by a Commissioner that she could not attend because PenMet cannot advocate on the levy lid lift, but only educate.  Interesting since she made the same presentation at three information sessions held on PenMet property and to, I believe, the Gig Harbor Chamber of Commerce.  Why was she able to do those presentations, but not the one for the Gig Harbor Republicans?  Were those also impermissible advocacy-related presentations?

I am now challenging those on Facebook to state with specifics what you believe are “scare tactics,” “hype,” “misinformation” (their favorite word), “misguided,” “inaccurate,” or “misleading.”  I will be happy to provide the backup information for every statement I’ve made—much of which comes directly from PenMet records through Freedom of Information Act requests.  Some even come directly from PenMet commissioners.

One final comment:  A former Commissioner made this comment about the Park Host Program:  “The park host program is long gone and any perceived issue with it going away is much ado about nothing.”  I would challenge that former Commissioner to come to Fox Island to tell those living next to the DeMolay and Fishing Pier properties that their concerns are much ado about nothing.  This simple statement clearly shows the Board’s disrespectful attitude towards those living in the PenMet park district.  I would also challenge the former Commissioner to explain why a program that was costing PenMet $12,000 annually has been replaced with overtime for the maintenance staff (on a job they do not want) that, according to the Teamsters Union, has been costing PenMet about $60,000 annually?  Or, why PenMet is now spending tens of thousands of dollars for outside security that they did not need when the Park Host Program was in place?  Or, why is PenMet now considering automated gates that will cost six figures easily and won’t work?  Can PenMet spend taxpayer dollars in any way they want or must they be held accountable?

Craig McLaughlin

Fox Island

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