Only On Vashon – The Weekly Rundown 05/21/2023

We start with a weather report. An islander says,  “Woke up at 2am to the sounds of thunder but no rain.”

We then all tag up to give the hyper local weather report.

Gold Beach had rain, and this just in from our southern correspondents, so did North Maury and Point Robinson. Our meteorologists inform us that there was no rain at Tramp Harbor.

There was no rain at my place mid-island, but the thunder scared my dog, and he jumped on my bed and laid down on my legs. I then had to make the agonizing decision whether to allow him to stay and slowly lose all sensation in my legs and possibly cause bruising and irreversible nerve damage or disturb the dog by moving my legs out from under him. 

“Does anyone rehab birds? I have a barn swallow that isn’t using his left wing. Doesn’t look broken.  He is chilling in my hay cart at barn.”


Look at this bird. He doesn’t need to be rehabilitated. He looks like he’s about to lead his troops into battle. This bird should run for mayor. 

Speaking of cool pictures, we have this photo accompanied by a post that says, “Where is this?” 

One helpful poster says, “This photo is taken from the NW looking SE”. Thanks, that clears it all up.

Another islander gives us a more concrete description, “This photo is taken from the front door of student link, so yes on the roof of whatever building was there if it wasn’t student link.”

So it was the old high school. Someone posts a current photo from the same location. 

Ah, what a historic parking lot.

We have a rather long post about the many issues caused by the deteriorating ferry service that ends by suggesting we should have a class action lawsuit. 

The poster points out: “Other places can drive around— We are an island— they don’t run the boats WE ARE STUCK— no other options!!! No one in the state government seems to get this!!!!”

This is a reasonable question. If meeting with WSF and filing complaints hasn’t worked, maybe there’s another avenue. 

Someone once said on Twitter, , “Each day on twitter there is one main character. The goal is to never be it.” I think the same thing applies to Facebook threads. One person shows up with some totally bonkers opinion, doubles down, triples down, and becomes the main character that we all argue against. The main character this week was someone who, in the thread about the ferries, said,  “I have a different perspective. I realize the ferries are a public entity but all public services are based on availability of resources, including personnel. I think if people choose a lifestyle that depends on ferries, and those same people don’t want a bridge, then there are accommodations that those residents have to make.”

 One person arguing against the main character puts it succinctly: “We do not have to accept that they are unreliable when they haven’t always been. My taxes go up and service goes down. That is not acceptable and I will not accept it. “

This is a discussion we have often — what is the price of living on an island without a bridge? We know we’re reliant on ferries, and some things will just take longer. But when the ferry system breaks down, should we just acquiesce? Should we move off island after building a life here and investing in the community? 

If that’s the attitude all people took, we’d constantly shift around, never finding a place with the services we need, because no one would be pushing for those services. 

This leads to a discussion about what it means to be privileged and entitled. Because we live somewhere beautiful and peaceful, is asking for reliable public services a sign of privilege?

I honestly hate the negative use of the word entitled when paired with public service. We are entitled to public services. They exist for us, the public. We pay for them with taxes. It’s not selfish or whiney to want mobility, reliability, and safety. The whole point of coming together as a society is to provide those things. 

The main character points out that the state subsidizes 60% of the ferry rides. Another islander counters that the ferries are part of the highway system. And, beyond the toll to ride on galloping Gertie and the once a year car tab fee, we’re not paying per use on public roads. 

Also, when we talk about  the state subsidizing a public service, that’s us. We’re the state. We subsidize fighting wildfires in eastern Washington and controlled avalanches on the mountain pass. 

Two people put it best when they describe the reason we shouldn’t acquiesce to bad service. The first person says:  “I was talking to someone who’s boyfriend works in Seattle— took the bus to the Fauntleroy terminal to walk on to go home after working at night— The last 2 boats were canceled so he SLEPT on a bench until he could take the 5:50 ferry in the morning…They had no crew… and 20 minute notice that the ferries were canceled… If you all think this is OK— There is something wrong with you!!!???!!”

Another says, “I’ve been fighting cancer for almost 4 years now. After a long day of blood work, appointments, chemo, etc, I just want to get home. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve ended up having to stay in a hotel though because of the poor ferry service. Too many islanders have been forced off this island because of cost. The rest of us shouldn’t be forced off because of poor ferry service. I’m all in on a class action lawsuit. It may be the only way to get their attention.“

There is a split that happens in our own selves– on the one hand, we want to have a relaxed, living on island time, attitude. On the other hand, we get so pissed off at those damn ferries. It’s such a pain having the person you want to be in conflict with the person you are. If the ferries would just run reliably, we wouldn’t have this problem. 

Someone rains on our parade with legal knowledge. They say, “Unless tort law varies drastically from federal to state, you can’t form a class action lawsuit against the government. You also cannot sue the government for failing to provide a service. You could attempt to file individual tort claims against WashDOT for damages caused by a canceled sailing incident, but I doubt it would succeed.  The way to fix this is almost certainly political action, not legal action.”

Wait, the government made a law that you can’t sue the government? Those bastards! Let’s do it anyway. 

I nominate this guy to lead our charge:

Anna Shomsky
Author: Anna Shomsky

I'm a former teacher and a data engineer living on Vashon Island. My writing has appeared in Five on the Fifth, Women on Writing and on the Post-Culture Podcast. I wrote and produced the radio show Whispers of Vashon for 101.9 KVSH. I’ve had short stories published in the anthologies Island Stories and Chicken Scratchings, as well as through the Open Space Literary Project.

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