In a hotly contested 4-3 vote, they decided to turn-down a motion proffered by council member Barbara Brenner that one of our elected representatives should participate with other interests on the Planning Unit in local watershed planning. What she suggested was that council, which serves as our countywide Flood Control Zone District Board of Supervisors, should take a government seat on this state-recognized local effort which has serious work on its plate. The Flood Control Zone District gets millions in taxpayer money annually that drains into the county "natural resources" budget, and it's a government agency in its own right. (WRIA Watchers long since discovered that most of this water related money drains into the county executive's staff salaries and to consultants, with only a pittance directed to actual flood control anything.)
Back to the story. When Brenner's idea was defeated (voted down by wafflers Carl Weimer and Ken Mann, plus the notoriously feckless Sam Crawford and lame duck Kathy Kershner), council then voted to ask permission – permission! – of the "IG's" to participate. What or who are the IG's? They're the Joint Board, made up of the Mayor of Bellingham, the manager of Whatcom County PUD #1, the two tribes (Lummi and Nooksack shake-down artists) and Whatcom County’s head boy, executive Jack Louws. Council has been told they would have to ask their permission, and maybe get to sit with the JB's "staff" people.
This is a far cry from what state law says about local watershed planning. It's supposed “to provide local citizens with the maximum possible input concerning their goals and objectives for water resource management and development," "ensuring that the state's water resources are used wisely, by protecting existing water rights, by protecting instream flows for fish, and by providing for the economic well-being of the state's citizenry and communities."
Council as the Board of Supervisors has been picking up the tab for the lion's share of expenditures for years. Council used to say it wanted an open, inclusive process that favored no special interest or to favor some individuals over others.
Fast forward (through incremental usurpations of authority) to now: Council has become so weak it was told to come on bended knee, that they have to ask to be involved in business central to life as we know it, and they accepted the slap-down. Louws said they might be allowed to participate if it suits the Joint Board's goals, whatever those are.
We – the people – can’t rely on this county council. They've been sidelined, with no role in water planning. Most of this council doesn't have the horse sense to understand their most important duty of all, which is to guarantee due process, defensible work, and fair handedness.
They’ve abandoned the public to the whims of the five hungry wolves, who've been draining millions in tax money from county citizens every year and achieved zilch, zero, nada, bupkis in the way of a real water plan.
You might think that the lousy treatment given Kathy Kershner by the left after her reconveyance vote (strategically intended to secure her re-election?), should have been an object lesson in playing hardball on the council. She should get behind the idea that the council is supposed to represent the people's interest against the increasingly insular and bureaucratic executive branches and lawsuit-happy enviro-trolls.
Stop and consider what this latest council put-down means to citizens. Our legislators were told point-blank that they have to go to Kelli and Jack and Jilk and the tribes when for ten years or more that group has refused to let their deals be known or for their "staff's" work to be reality checked. The last thing they want is checks and balances.
Do we have a completed watershed plan, solid information in hand that everyone can rely on? Is there any empirical evidence of how much water there is, where it is, or how it should be put to best use? More important, should the public have any confidence that our water resources will be fairly allocated when all the power's in the hands of this unrestrained little oligarchy? Heck no. The JB or IG's (the wolves) control the testing, the numbers, the works. No peeking behind the curtain!
Open, fair-handed, and realistic watershed planning has been thwarted once again, and Louws made it clear tonight that the "IG's" as they call themselves have no intention of giving up their greedy monopoly. Clearly, the public has not a snowball's chance of being heard.
Power is a very dangerous commodity in the hands of an unaccountable few. Council made it clear tonight they have neither the appetite nor the savvy to confront the status quo. King Jack let them know who rules this county. The citizens are S.O.L.
WE have quoted Thomas Sowell more than once, and its time to reflect on this priceless quote again: