In many ways, today's hearing was typical of the standard public participation events occurring throughout the CAOs. We heard from the tribes (the Tulalip). We heard from the Friends multiple times. During public access time we also heard from staff, such as Barbara Rosenkotter who is a County employee serving as the Salmon Lead Entity Coordinator. In customary zoomorphic and theomorphic style, she claimed that she spoke for the salmon who are not able to speak for themselves. I wonder how many salmon know that? We heard from the Common Sense Alliance (CSA), and we heard from CSA supporters too. And oh yeah, I suppose somewhere in there was a non-affiliated person or two, but I honesty couldn't tell you.
We heard the usual environmental hysteria talk. The San Juans are unprotected. The CAOs are the weakest in the state. We have to be more careful with an island. We have to ... we have to ... we have to ... blah blah blah.
Surprisingly, there were some curious parallels between the testimony of the Friends and CSA. Both organizations feel that the CAOs are deeply flawed. The Friends, for example, say the proposed CAOs are the weakest in the state. They say the CAOs amount to no protection at all. Then in the next breath, with no concern for their self-contradiction, the Friends urge the Council to pass the CAOs. That puts the Friends in the peculiar position of openly supporting the passage of laws which they allege do nothing in terms of environmental protection.
CSA also thinks the CAOs do nothing, except place lots of restrictions on homeowners, trap them with incomprehensible formulas and rules, and potentially restrict nearly every aspect of property use.
However, the Friends apparently like the part about abusing homeowners, so they urged the Council not to kick the can down the road to the next Council. Buoyed by such bold encouragement and despite the Council's repudiation during the recent election, the Council members have convinced themselves they are on a mission from God to pass the CAOs. We heard Lovel Pratt today refute the notion that the elections were a referendum on her performance relative to the CAOs. She claimed that she lost the election because she was outspent and because we voters were confused. We heard other self-puffery and deflection from other Council members too. They flattered themselves with their knowledge and hard work on the CAOs. The bottom line is that this Council is going to pass the CAOs come hell or high water. No more kicking the can down the road.
Kicking the can down the road? The Council fully admits that these CAOs will be appealed to the Growth Management Hearings Board (GMHB). Instead of kicking the can down the road to the next Council, they're kicking the can upstairs to the GMHB.
In written testimony to the Council today, here is how CSA summed up the Council's position relative to the CAOs:
We have supported this Council’s intent not to “kick the can down the road.” However, if Council adopts a seriously defective CAO just to “get 'er done” and satisfy those who keep saying it is taking too long, YOU WILL BE “KICKING THE CAN DOWN THE ROAD” and leaving a toxic mess for our community, by elevating form over substance and failing to properly protect our critical areas, our economy, or our community. Much hard work has been done, and significant progress has been made, but this is not the time for analytical shortcuts or legislative horse-trading. The fundamental defects we have identified are not new – they are not 11th hour delaying tactics. We urge you to keep working to either cure these defects or consider the alternative approach, “A Reasonable Way Forward for the County and the CAO Process” submitted by CSA on September 10, 2012.But in typical fashion, the County isn't listening.
P.S. Don't miss Nick Power's article in the Island Guardian because we should be ashamed of ourselves.