Keeping secrets

Jack Kintner kintner at
Wed Mar 6 09:34:55 PST 2002

We have a man in Birch Bay who sold a working boat launch to a neighboring state park and then pushed for its closure as a "nuisance." He made a handsome profit in part because the presence of an active and useable boat launch raised the appraised value. His intent to get the state to close the launch was initially successful and is now being appealed to a hearing examiner.
I don't know if it's his immense wealth that keeps him from feeling any shame or just plain greed, but not many people in the area are terribly sympathetic to his problem with the noise of people using the launch, having seen him trade it for something over $80,000 in public money with which he is now paying an attorney to deny the public appropriate use of what was purchased in good faith.
Had he approached things a little differently, less belligerence and more cooperation, he would have found an entire community behind him. But no one knew his real intentions, assuming that he was simply selling the launch to the park, its primary user, to avoid liability issues. But evidently his plan all along had been to sell the launch and then sue to close it, knowing the permit structure for its use was weak and probably couldn't pass shoreline regs. But, as Gene said, the truth has since come out.
We still do not know as of this writing whether or not the lone public launch for a state park that sees a million visits a year plus lots of local use plus the support it helps maintain for summer commerce will remain open. The landowner is lucky people don't spit on him at the grocery.

"Now that I'm here, pull up the drawbridge."

At 06:12 AM 3/6/02 -0800, you wrote:

>Dear Fellow Birders,


>Sometimes we're confronted with a dilemma. By happenstance perhaps we hear

>of a rare and beautiful bird, so we decide we'd like to go have a look. Sure

>enough! There it is. A wonderful sight to behold.


>But, here's the dilemma. Should we just enjoy it privately and go on about

>our business? Should we share the secret with a few trusted friends? Or,

>should we let everybody know so that they might enjoy it too?


>It's a tough choice sometimes, as a rare and beautiful bird can draw a

>crowd. So we need to consider the circumstances.


>Would the revelation harm the bird? Would a bunch of birders disturb it

>feeding or nesting? Or degrade its habitat?


>Would the revelation harm someone, violate their right to be secure in their

>property, or create a public hazard or nuisance?


>If so, perhaps it's best kept secret. If not, I say, share the wealth.


>Well, we arrived at the specified location (there were three of us). It was

>the middle of a beautiful day, on a quiet residential street in one of

>Seattle's nicer neighborhoods. People were out gardening in their front

>yards, walking their dogs, jogging by. We found what we thought must be the

>spot where the bird could be readily seen, a patch of grass just off the

>sidewalk, on the corner. We stood around for sometime studying the House



>We saw a lady gardening at a house kitty-korner across the street and went

>over to chat her up, to let her know what we were about. We told her we'd

>heard there was a rare and beautiful bird coming to her neighbor's feeder.

>She said, "Really! What sort of bird?" So we showed her the picture in the

>book. "Wow!" she said. "I'd like to see one of those myself. And my friend,

>who's a real avid birdwatcher, would too."


>At that moment the bird in question popped up out of the ivy and began to

>feed out in the open on the ground. The neighbor lady came over with her

>husband and young son and we showed them the bird in our scope. They were

>most impressed. Soon, their friend arrived with her son. Meanwhile the bird

>fed contentedly with his junco friends.


>We apologized if we were causing any problems. The neighbor lady's husband

>assured us that it was a wonderful bird, "Thanks for showing it to us."

>Also, that we were standing on city property, that there was a street

>right-of-way directly below our vantage point.


>We wondered why anyone should have kept this a secret. No danger to the

>bird, certainly. No trespass. No real nuisance. So I decided to post it on

>tweeters with all the usual cautionary notes. Some people got upset about



>I must admit, I'm no good at keeping secrets. In fact, in principle, I abhor

>secrets. A character flaw, perhaps, but I can't help it.


>Why should I abhor secrets?


>Keeping a secret is like telling a lie.

>Telling a lie distorts the truth.

>Keeping a secret hides the truth.

>Lies and secrets are deceitful.


>Of course, there are many kinds of lies, and many kinds of secrets.

>There are little white lies, and dirty little secrets.

>Sometimes one should lie or hide the truth.

>For example, if the truth is too painful.

>If the truth is too dangerous.

>But if the truth is simply inconvenient for someone?


>Kenneth Lay knew the truth; his employees didn't; but now they do.

>Richard Nixon knew the truth; the American Public didn't; but we found out.

>John Ashworth knows the truth; the Congress doesn't, but would like to find


>Bill Clinton knew the truth; Hillary didn't, but now she does.

>The truth will out, eventually, and usually it's ugly.


>Secrets make for bad government.

>Secrets make for bad science.

> Did Galileo keep it secret?

> Did Darwin keep it secret?

> Did Einstein keep it secret?

>And, more to the point, secrets make for bad friends.

>Secrets kill Community.


>So, I don't keep secrets lightly.


>Birders belong to a community of people who share a passion for birds. That

>community thrives on information that we freely share. I've seen the

>Washington birding community grow during the past thirty years from a few

>isolated individuals to an exciting crowd. We now know much more about the

>bird life of our state than we did then. The main reason is that we freely

>share what we learn about birds. Now we have tweeters, WOS News, Washington

>Birder, North American Birds, and our community is thriving.


>Some people think there are too many birders. They fear the crowds. I don't

>think there can ever be too many birders. Birders derive great pleasure from

>learning about birds, admiring birds, contemplating birds. So birders are

>passionate defenders of birds. So how can we have too many of us?


>So, if you have a secret flower in your garden.

>If you have a secret bird at your feeder.

>And you're afraid of crowds.

>Don't tell a soul.


>Gene Hunn.

Jack Kintner <kintner at> Blaine, WA

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