One of the more descriptive metaphors used for ecosystem degradation is "rivet popping," the idea being that the loss of a single species may not be that noticeable, but is comparable nonetheless to rivets popping on a spacecraft or an airplane wing. Lose enough of them, and you risk catastrophe.
The last few days have seen some County news items that may represent a different kind of rivet popping, not for our island ecosystem (which seems to be doing relatively well), but for the County's CAO/SMP process, assuming there was anything holding it together in the first place.
Today, we learned that County Administrator, Pete Rose, has accepted a new position elsewhere, and his last day will be June 8. Plans for a replacement have yet to be announced, but with the Charter Review underway, one has to wonder about the wisdom of anything more than an interim replacement appointment. Pete Rose steps away from our County government and leaves a void at a crucial time in the CAO/SMP process.
Second, on April 26, our County Prosecutor provided an opinion that Council subcommittee meetings should be public. That's a very intriguing opinion since the CAO Implementation Committee, which has spearheaded the CAO effort, has been meeting in private for months. Although technically not a Council subcommittee, the CAO Implementation Committee includes three Council members, and as such, it is covered by Gaylord's April 26th opinion. The Implementation Committee consists of Richard Fralick, Patty Miller, Lovel Pratt, Pete Rose, Shireene Hale, Colin Maycock, and Jon Cain. If the Implementation Committee reduces its Council membership to two or less, it could continue to meet in private, so we will just have to see how the plan for future meetings shakes out. Regardless of how the Implementation Committee moves forward, the Committee cannot hide from the fact that it has been meeting privately for many months already, and that would now appear to present some fundamental procedural, and possibly legal, issues for our CAO for which there is no easy remedy.
Lastly, yesterday was the County-imposed deadline for comments on the Shoreline I&C Report, and many people successfully submitted comments. In an earlier blog post, I had highlighted that a local community group was trying to assist citizens in responding to the County. Despite being announced on this blog, on the website for the community group, and elsewhere; the self-organized community response blindsided the County, and the County chose to react with a special announcement calling the commenting effort (and specifically the form being used) a "hoax." While the "hoax" allegation caused great confusion for several hours yesterday, fortunately, it may not have had a serious effect on the level of reporting to the County.
But I have to wonder about the collective jumpy state of the County given that whenever they encounter vigorous public sentiment they react with words like "hoax" and "uncivil." I wonder if it's an indication of the County hearing their rivets popping too.