Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Countdown To CAOmageddon: Flaw #20 - Politician's Syllogism

At the combined hearing for Wetland and Fish & Wildlife CAOs this past Tuesday, Councilman Howie Rosenfeld said that he didn't have sympathy for citizens who previously had asked for a site-specific buffer procedure but who now complain that the latest County buffer method is too complicated. Forgive me, but if the County had ever developed a site-specific buffer procedure, maybe there would be less need to complain. As it is, we've seen neither hide nor hair of a site-specific method.

Howie is suffering from politician's logic.
The first buffer proposal developed by the County was one-size-fits-all.
The current proposal is not the first proposal.
Therefore, the current proposal must be site-specific.
Other examples of this mode of thinking include:
Something must be done. This is something. Therefore, we must do it.
All cats have four legs. My dog has four legs. Therefore, my dog is a cat
The truth is that neither the first nor the second County proposal involved any evaluation of site-specific factors related to risk, particularly evaluation of the concentrations of presumed site-specific "contaminants." Without that, no mitigation, regardless of the label "site specific," can be considered to have been tailored to a site-specific source. It is the identification of actual on-site sources and quantification of on-site contaminant concentrations that allows for site-specific mitigation. The County has consistently rejected pleas for such an approach, insisting instead that we rely on baseless generalized assumptions about the presence of contamination on each inhabited parcel, at de manifestis levels that require presumptive and pointlessly-complex mitigation.

The County first proposed that we should all wear the same thick coat of armor. Now, they're proposing that we should each wear our own clown costume with its own special size and shape, which they insist is really a custom-tailored suit. However, being different from one another doesn't imply being tailored to our situation, but that point is apparently lost on Howie and probably others too. Howie's comments only serve to spotlight how our misguided County proves the Anna Karenina principle: there are many ways to get it wrong, but only one elusive way to get it right.

A proper site-specific approach still eludes our County, and maybe our readers can point that out to Howie if they see him around Town. Using politician's logic, maybe he's over at the Friday Harbor dog park playing fetch with his cat.


  1. Advice to Howie, take a rest on this one and let your wife do her job.

  2. We need a CAO.
    Here's Shireene's incredibly-complicated and unscientific CAO.
    Let's adopt Shireene's CAO and "get this behind us."

  3. We'll feel better if we do something.
    This hairball CAO sure is something, ain't it?
    We'll all feel better if we do something and pass this thing.