Commissioner Price-Johnson Invites Public and Press to a Private Party Luncheon

Don’t ever invite 2 Island County Commissioners to a private luncheon with you and your associates because if you do Commissioner Chair Helen Price Johnson will probably declare your gathering a County Commissioner “Special Session” without your permission

She will then provide a public notice of her decree to the newspapers, and extend an invitation to attend to all interested citizens by including time, date and location of your luncheon. This is not a fantasy; it really happened!

Commissioner Chair Price Johnson made a questionable and very controversial decision that, because two of “her” Commissioners might be attending a private luncheon it would be a quorum of the County commissioners and therefore she published to the public and local newspapers an official notice that the private group’s lunch meeting was now a County Commissioner “Special Session”

Her notice even encouraged interested members of the public and press to attend. It included the time, date and location of the luncheon

Fortunately, only two uninvited people showed up; one a newspaper reporter who was duped into attending by Price-Johnson’s “Special Session” pronouncement

Both were graciously accepted by our group and I am sure the newspaper reporter will witness to the fact for Price Johnson that no County business was discussed by us

You’d think with all the serious problems/citizen needs on our Commissioners agenda that Price-Johnson would focus her energies on those instead of sticking her nose into the lives of private citizens which resulted in creating unwanted problems

That is not included as a part of our County Commissioner‘s job description;

This was a big mistake on her part; the public took her bogus “Special Session” notice at face value, which is all the public can do and all it accomplished was a flurry of anger and frustration by the citizens involved.

Price-Johnson’s ill fated attempt to impose her will and take control a private group’s gathering demonstrates that our County officials are not well informed as to the laws of the State of Washington.

The entire episode was poorly handled and probably a violation of, or at least a lack of respect for the value of Washington State Laws by Commissioner Price Johnson

The Revised Code of Washington (RCWs) states::

“The legislature finds and declares that all public commissions, boards, councils, committees, subcommittees, departments, divisions, offices, and all other public agencies of this state and subdivisions thereof exist to aid in the conduct of the people’s business. It is the intent of this chapter that their actions be taken openly and that their deliberations be conducted openly.
The people of this state do not yield their sovereignty to the agencies which serve them. The people, in delegating authority, do not give their public servants the right to decide what is good for the people to know and what is not good for them to know. The people insist on remaining informed so that they may retain control over the instruments they have created.”

This is not a new law. It was put into place in 1971. That was 42 long years ago.

Obviously Commissioner Price Johnson didn’t understand both the simplicity, and the depth, of this major law in her bogus public notice of a “ County Commissioner Special Session” meeting that wasn’t really a Special Session of anything requiring County involvement

Since winning a second term, Price-Johnson has taken on the demeanor of a BOSS anointed with the authority of fear, intimidation and abject ignorance of those who reelected her. She lifts her arrogant nose in the air and challenges the other elected officials to take her on

With the liberal bias of local newspapers and the slight majority of County voters that reelected her, she struts around like the only rooster in a giant hen house.

Her strength lies, not in the power of her office or the foundation of her executive power, but in the ignorance of those who follow her like dazed, brainwashed groupies.

But like the bank robber who keeps robbing banks and eventually gets caught, Price-Johnson is beginning to let her narcissism and arrogance get the best of her. She was overreaching well beyond State laws and her job description in the recent “Special Session” fiasco

Those that have historically propped Price-Johnson up will ultimately abandon her as more of her evil materializes. The more she overreaches, the more she will expose the devious political animal that she is.

It is quite possible she will not last a second term.



  1. Using Helen Price-Johnson’s erroneous logic, no two Island County Commissioners could ever speak to one another outside of a previously published Open Public Meeting, since doing so would constitute a meeting quorum of the County Commissioners.

    This luncheon simply falls under guidelines long-ago provided by the WA State Attorney General for such situations. For example:

    An excerpt:

    “Case example: The five member School Board attend the annual convention of the State School Association. Over dinner, three members discuss some of the ideas presented during the convention, but refrain from any conversation about how they might apply them to the school district. All five travel together to and from the convention and the only discussion is over whether they are lost.

    Resolution: No violation occurred but the board members must be careful. The example is offered to highlight the level of awareness members of a governing body must have. It is not unusual for such situations to arise. For instance, the dinner discussion was between a majority of the members so a discussion about school district business would have been “action” and, without the required notice, would be in violation of the OPMA.”

    Is Helen Price-Johnson really THAT ignorant of our WA State laws, or is she just trying to harass her “fellow” Commissioners and private citizens?

    1. Helen just wants control. She will do anything to drive a wedge between Commissioners Jill Johnson and Commissioner Kelly Emerson.

      As chair she receives no control over the other commissioners actions but she will bully her way into controlling them if given the chance and if the other commissioners allow it.

      They needed to turn to Commissioner Helen Johnson and tell her to bugger off when she oversteps her bounds.

      This is what happens when the Commissioners give the Chairmanship to a partisan hack like Helen Price Johnson who will do anything to cause trouble for the othe commissioners.

      1. Then there’s the HPJ fan club to worry about…

        Somehow I don’t see the Kelly Emerson fan club showing up. Oh that’s right most work regular hours and not from home.

  2. I think in this day and age of state auditors, partially at MY prompting, throwing the flag on public meetings violations Commish Helen Price-Johnson was being cautious. I applaud her for doing so solely as a Washington Coalition for Open Gov’t member who is seeing my hometown mayor an award for walking out of a closed meeting –

    That said, I’m just a Skagitonian. I also will not give HPJ any slack whatsoever and since most of you know me, you know what and where I mean.

    1. The way to be cautious as an elected official is simply to know the law, and then abide by the law by reminding your colleagues if a conversation strays into areas that are work-related when they should not be doing so. Then, if they don’t heed your sage advice, sure, leave and report them as having violated the law.

      However, caution is effected by personal responsibility: not by creating the illusion that people are having a special meeting when they just having lunch.

      If the luncheon conversation HAD strayed off course, I’d expect and two or three Commissioners to call “foul” on themselves immediately and get back on track. However, in this case, Helen Price-Johnson’s actions were harassment – not an attempt at caution, and having lunch does not compare with a planned meeting for “hiring a new executive director” as occurred in that OTHER county where you reside.

  3. How many meetings were held by HPJ and AH on their car trips together on the way to visit the Legislature members in Olympia? Would like to have been a mouse in a well hidden corner when those two cats were chatting …

    1. Mary Jane, better than HPJ and AH’s trips together together on the way to visit the Legislature members in Olympia is this rumor that’s floating around that Jill Johnson and Price-Johnson made a trip to Olympia together in the same car a couple weeks ago???


        1. Thanks for your quick response. I just sent the following PDR to HPJ and Jill to see what and why…

          Commissioner Price-Johnson and Johnson

          Pursuant to the Public Disclosure Act, RCW 42.56, this correspondence is an official request to you for access to and copies of any and all information pertaining to the following:
          Your recent trip to Olympia to meet with State Government officials, especially the Date, purpose, officials you met with, results of those meetings and expenses incurred

          Also please provide County documents and procedures and RCWs for all of the actions and decisions relating to this trip and any other County employees involved

          Please notify me via the following email address: when said documents are assembled and available for my review.

          I look forward to your response within five working (5) days
          If you choose to deny this request, please provide a written explanation for the denial including a reference to the specific statutory exemption(s) upon which you rely, and provide a listing of all segregated portions of exempt material.

          Thank you for your assistance.
          Bill Strowbridge

  4. By the way, Kelly Emerson did not attend. So, all the ruckus caused by HPJ was foolish and ignorant at best.

  5. When Phil Bakke took office as County Commissioner he found 3 sealed envelopes in his desk drawer with and a note from his predecessor
    The note read “When you have a great crisis that you can’t solve, open an envelop starting with envelop #1
    He had a serious crisis and remembered the envelopes
    He opened #1 and it said, “Blame it on your predecessor’
    He did and life was good

    About 3 years into his term he had need to open envelop #2
    It read, “Blame it on the staff”
    He did and life was good

    In his 4 th year he was facing Price-Johnson in an election to replace him
    He then opened envelop #3
    It read, “Make 3 envelops “
    He did and life is good for him as a humble citizen

    When Price-Johnson defeated Phil Bakke as Commissioner in November 2008, she too found a note and 3 envelops in her desk
    When budget problems hit and layoffs were necessary HPJ remembered and opened envelop #1
    It too read, “Blame it on your predecessor’
    She did and life was good

    Then she faced voter rejection of Prop1 and the commissioners approved the Clean water PUD without voter approval which angered the citizens
    She again remembered the envelops and opened #2
    It too read, “Blame it on Staff”
    She did and live was good

    Now she is facing citizen wrath for declaring a private luncheon to be a Commissioner “Special Session” meeting and invited the press and public to attend

    Give us a break Helen; It’s time for you to open envelop #3

    1. At the Old Goats luncheon JillJohnson was quick to defend her Democratic colleague (Price-Johnson), saying the genesis of the notice LIKELY STEMMED (DUH) from a protective office staff and not with the board’s appointed chairwoman.

      Sure that’s what happened…we all know we can beleive that gem of political BS

      Maybe Price-Johnson had already opened Envelop #3 but can’t figure out how to spin her way out and prepare 3 new envelops…
      Or did her “Colleague” Jill Johnson open the #3 envelop for HPJ and used it to absolve HPJ of guilt in the luncheon fiasco
      Comrades DO protect each other

      “If you didn’t get caught, did you really do it and if you try and don’t succeed, cheat. Repeat until caught. Then lie”

  6. Here is your answer. I have never been to Olympia since I have been sworn in as commissioner…or in a car with Commissioner Price Johnson. Once again, I am subject to this site’s unfounded and untruthful gossip. I don’t know how you expect people to believe anything you post when I am continually amazed at how many mis-truths you have posted about me. If you have questions….ask. And as for your reliable source…I think it might be time for you to check that person’s motivations.

    1. Thanks Jill for the clarification.

      There are a couple of things that were mentioned during the recent commissioners meetings that, by Helen Price Johnson’s new standards, would require a public notice of a “Special Session.” One segment with Kelly Emerson talking at a high school, and she perhaps thought you might be interested in attending Another segment where HPJ had something going on (don’t recall what exactly), and she too thought you might be interested in attending.

      1. Ken, HPJ’s words and actions sounds like HYPOCRITICAL to me ie
        artificial, backhanded, counterfeit, double, double-dealing, double-faced, fake, feigned, insincere, Janus-faced, jive [slang], left-handed, lip, mealy, mealymouthed, Pecksniffian, phony (also phoney), phony-baloney (or phoney-baloney), pretended, two-faced, unctuous


    2. Jill Johnson, Thanks for your response, especially the “…never been to Olympia SINCE I have been sworn in as commissioner…or in a car with Commissioner Price Johnson. ”
      To make sure I had facts and didn’t perpetuate a rumor is why I submitted a Public Document Request to both you and HPJ today
      When I get the official response to my PDR, I will publish it as a comment on this Island Politics article about Price-Johnson’s “Commissioners Special Session ” fiasco
      My PDR was for “RECENT” trip; Not just “SINCE being sworn in”… big difference

      1. My Public Document Requests confirmed that both Commissioners made trips to Olympia, but for separate reasons; they never traveled together

        The only trip that Commissioner Johnson has made to Olympia is when she attended the WSAC Newly Elected Officials Orientation, December 4-6, 2012.

        Commissioner Price-Johnson made two recent trips to Olympia.
        One on December 5th, 2012 to participate on December 6, 2012 in a panel for the Newly Elected Officials, as requested by Eric Johnson, Washington State Association of Counties
        That was also the class that Commissioner Johnson was attending

        Commissioner Price Johnson’s 2nd trip to Olympia was on January 9-10, 2013 to attend a Legislative Steering Committee meeting.

        Documentation provided for Jill’s trip included…
        Johnson traveled with her husband.
        reimbursed for mileage and lodging of $352.94
        Newly Elected Officials agenda,
        mileage verification.

        AND for Price-Johnson it was…
        Newly Elected Officials meeting agenda
        request from Eric Johnson, for Price Johnson’s participation
        Price Johnson’s Personal Expense Voucher and corresponding documents.
        email from WSAC dated 1/7/13 regarding the meeting minutes
        did not submit a Personal Expense Voucher

        The LSC will continue to meet though April 18 2013
        No othercounty employees were involved.

        This info obtained via PDR should put this ugly rumor to bed

  7. Jill, much of this conversation would not have taken place if you’d been more forthcoming about your positions. As Bill picked up on, in your post on January 21, you were vague and omitted the fact that you had been to Olympia prior to being sworn in, December 4-6. On the 6th, both you and Commissioner Price-Johnson attended the same class – arriving separately, but attending together. I doubt that you ignored each other and I don’t believe you engaged in conversation that would not have been deemed appropriate.
    So, that much is easy to explain and you have it well documented.
    One thing that bothers me though is tabling the vote to elect Commissioner Emerson as Chairman of the BOICC. This action keeps Commissioner Price-Johnson in the limelight and in a position to rule, dictate and tailor the Commissioner meetings to her specifications. It also keeps her the target and she takes a lot of jabs because of her superiority attitude that people are tired of. You commented that you would like to persuade HPJ to join you in voting for Kelly as Chairman of the BOD. If you think there’s any chance of that, maybe you think you can put Humpty Dumpty back together again as good as new. It isn’t going to happen if you wait for Helen to vote for Kelly. You and Kelly have the majority vote – use it! In the meantime, the BOICC is ineffective and playing in its own mess. Somebody, you, needs to take the reins and tell HPJ that the charade has played long enough. It’s time for the Board of Island County Commissioners to unite, visit the Planning Director and tell him to get off his rump. He needs to act on the Emersons’ Permit Application which he’s had on his desk since January 4, 2011. Really, two years?? Is this how the Planning Department treats citizens that certain commissioners don’t like? Or do they treat all the peon property owners that way? In the interim, Commissioners HPJ and Angie Homola, have held this inaction over Kelly’s head like she’s some kind of a bad person and not as worthy as the other Commissioners. For the past two years, Commissioner Emerson has been swinging in the wind while the two other Commissioners took whacks and cheap shots at her. Now you are sitting in Homola’s chair and nothing is changing! This is wrong. We, the People are tired! Folks on Camano and the 3rd Commissioner District do not have a voice at this table! I really wish you’d direct some of that “Jill’s way of doing things” into a channel that could get rid of this garbage and let the BOICC begin doing the people’s work.
    I wish you well, Jill. I believe you have it in you to be a very effective Commissioner as you know your District and its people. You know the business climate and what it takes to give it a shot in the arm. You can be a very great Commissioner and make us proud to vote for you again. Please do! :)

    1. I think many of us feel exactly as you do. Jill had a chance to work with the people that supported her and elected her. She has instead chosen to stick a finger in those people’s eyes in such a manner that it is rather apparent that she doesn’t care about them or what they stand for. It is too bad she did not let everyone know before the election that we would “not know who we voted for” after the election. We thought we voted for a Republican as that is what Jill claimed to be and now she tells us that we did not know who we voted for. What gall…

      So far she has led from a position of blind ignorance instead of blind loyalty and now she wants to make it appear that she is doing the right thing. No one expected “Blind Loyalty” from Jill as she alleges, what they did expect is for her to look at the facts before making her decisions and if she did not have all the facts not to make decisions. In the case of Kelly Emerson she chose to take the path of continueing to marginalize a sitting Island County Commissioner, a member of her own party who was duly elected and is an equal to her in all respects as one of our representatives. This was not a blind loyalty issue, this is an issue of another sitting commissioner attempting to marginalize another duly elected equal and she has been made a fool of by Helen Johnson.

      Jill has chosen this path on her own free accord. It is obvious she owes no loyalty either to the party that supported her or the people that supported her. She is truely a politician without a party and will soon find out that that party consists of people. I don’t think Jill will be receiving the support or the votes from those people in the future and maybe in the next election she will be a lot more truthful to the people that voted for her by running as an independant or a Democrat.

  8. Wishful thinking….Jill has made it pretty clear she is going to do things HER way:

    “Commissioner Johnson rams message home to Old Goats”

    An excerpt:

    “And for the “more conservative” members of the audience, she had a special message.

    “I’m disappointed in you, just like you’re disappointed in me. I’ve been on this job two and a half weeks and you expected what, some kind of blind loyalty, some kind of no thought behind my decisions? That’s what you thought you were going to get? I don’t think you know who you voted for,” Johnson said. “I’m going to think it through and do what’s right. You have four years to vote for somebody else who will blindly follow your cause. I’m going to make good decisions for Island County.””

  9. Mary Jane,
    Jill knows all about the Emerson’s bogus wetlands litigation.
    It was expalined to her in a letter Emerson’s attorney sent to her, Helen Price-Johnson. and Bob Pederson that in effect said Sheet or get off the pot; make a decision one way or another
    That letter was sent Jan 15 and to date little that we know of, if anything, has been done by the Commissioners, Pederson, or Bank’s office

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