His friend tells him, "Take another road without a hole."
This could be a parable about the CAOs. The County continues to fall in the same hole every time. The latest 78-page draft of the CAOs is no different from any previous approach. Like all previous Councils, this Council just doesn't get it. They don't understand "protection." They don't understand "risk." They are trying to follow what they believe are State mandates. They timidly react to every letter from the Department of Ecology as if they were in the presence of the burning bush.
Protection is inextricably linked to an exposure scenario. Football helmets provide protection during a football game, but they offer no protection if you wear them at a cocktail party. The risk of getting bonked on the head at a cocktail party is de minimis anyway, so the extra cost of wearing a football helmet is wasted. For the same reason, you would be foolish to undergo chemo therapy just because you might be afraid of cancer ... or just because you might have been exposed to de minimis levels of carcinogens. The cost and side effects are high whereas the benefits are non-existent.
We have a 78-page CAO that explains in great detail how to wear a football helmet at a cocktail party. It tells us what color the helmet should be ... how thick it should be ... what the internal padding should be ... how the chinstrap should be worn ... and on and on. It references Best Available Science (BAS) by experts who proclaim that football helmets prevent concussions. The Friends and their allies at the State say that, without the biggest football helmets in the universe, our risk of dying from a concussion is extremely high.
No. The absence of a "protective" measure (i.e., a helmet) does not create risk. Risk arises from our behavior and ambient factors (i.e., cocktail party versus football game). The absence of a remedy may fail to mitigate risk, but the absence of a remedy does not "create" risk.
Regarding the CAOs, we occasionally hear public officials say, "Tell us what needs to be fixed and we will fix it." To those officials, listen carefully ... it is unfixable because you have chosen the wrong path. If you do not first evaluate exposure scenarios, it is pointless to prescribe a remedy.
The perennial complaints about the CAOs fall in the following general categories:
- The County is imposing protective measures without providing county-specific evidence of an exposure scenario justifying those measures.
- The State and County habitually (and erroneously) say we are in a high-risk situation only because of the absence of their favorite purported "protections," not because there is any evidence that our behavior is creating an exposure scenario with excess risk.
- The "protections" being foisted upon us, land use restrictions, would not be protective anyway. If we did find ourselves in a high-risk exposure scenario, land use restrictions would be the least effective way of mitigating the risk. Other, less-costly remedies would likely be vastly more effective.
Unless our public officials can get some simple concepts through their thick heads, we will always find ourselves in the same hole.