Does anyone remember the "Leave Britney Alone Rant"? Apparently, the County has similar feelings about the beleaguered CAOs. How dare anyone criticize the CAOs! After all they've been through!
Yesterday, the Council gave the nod to an official County communications effort to oppose the "misinformation" being spread about the CAOs. The County has hired new staff to fulfill public records requests, allowing Stan Matthews, who used to be the public records officer, to devote his time to properly informing the public about the CAOs.
The County already puts out its own version of government-sponsored "news". The Department of Ecology, too, even has its own blog. These are not just examples of impartial sources of unbiased information to assist citizens with government services, but they also have been used as communications channels for government opinions designed to influence the community towards a cause or position. They've been used to "message". When private individuals exercise the right of free speech using their own time and money (as with the Trojan Heron, for example), that's the First Amendment. When governments use tax-payer money to sway the public, that's propaganda.
All along, many have suspected that the Council has been biased in favor of the CAO draft, but yesterday, it seems they completely came out of the closet when they approved communications efforts to promote something they haven't even officially voted on yet. They haven't even had a first touch on the wetlands CAO, but despite that, they apparently know what messages they want to send to the citizenry about it. Instead of listening, they decided to focus on telling.
Every day, increasing numbers of our fellow islanders are speaking out about the senselessness of the proposed CAOs. Tom Starr has an excellent piece in the Island Guardian. Ron Keeshan makes his usual great points in his rebuttal to a Friends Board member. Citizens of every stripe are trying to connect with the Council: old-time islanders, contractors, farmers, working people, businessmen, environmentalists, young, old, Democrats, and Republicans. The public sees the errors. They recognize the CAO drafts are built on sand and are pointlessly complicated and harmful.
Will the Council show respect or contempt for these views? Yesterday, I think we got our answer.