The Whatcom County Council had a big day yesterday. Or so I hear, as reports from shell-shocked survivors trickle in.
The Council voted to give its Seattle law firm $40,000 more for the Council's crusade against the Growth Management Act. As the County cuts its budget in other areas, there's always enough money to pay Seattle lawyers up to $375 per hour to defend the County's decisions to flout the law.
Rather than deciding to buckle down and plan to protect its water resources, the County voted to appeal the Growth Management Hearings Board's recent decision, which found that the County has not adequately protected water quality and quantity. And that will be another few hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Speaking of not defending water quality and quanitity, the Council decided not to adopt an ordinance that would give some indication that the County cared, even a little bit, about Lake Whatcom water quality. Rather than saying that new development should not increase Lake Whatcom pollution, the Council sent the ordinance back to committee.
Why? Because it was shocked, SHOCKED to hear that the Department of Ecology is serious about wanting phosphorus pollution to be reduced by 87%. This is NEWS requiring more SITTING IN COMMITTEE!
Never mind the fact that the County promised Ecology, two years ago, that it would adopt regulations resulting in zero increase in phosphorus pollution in the Lake from new development.
And last but not least, the County voted to flagrantly violate state law by refusing to come into compliance with another Growth Management Hearings Board decision. I'm not even sure what to say about this one, because I've never worked in a jursidiction that had the gall to thumb its nose -- openly -- at a tribunal.
To make a complicated story short, the County has taken a couple of shots at coming up with a valid plan for its "Rural" area. After its second shot, the Growth Management Hearings Board found that the County still wasn't in compliance with state law in a number of areas.
The County appealed some of these decision in court. It didn't appeal others. That means that the time for going to court to say "The Hearings Board is wrong" is over.
The County now has to show the Board what it did to comply with state law.
All the County can say on several issues is: We decided not to comply.
So how will your tax dollars -- the $375 per hour that you and I are paying the County's lawyers -- be used to defend the County's decision to go outlaw?
First, the County will go before the Hearings Board. It will have to argue that "We complied with your order by defying your order." The Hearings Board could well decide that outright defiance is not compliance.
Then the Seattle lawyers can appeal that decision to court. Will they be able to argue that the Hearings Board is illegitimate, that my clients and I and Futurewise are bad, bad, bad, bad, awful people (disparaging us is a huge part of the County's decision-making process), and that the Board made a wrong decision?
All that they'll be able to argue is that the Hearings Board was wrong to decide that defiance is not the same as compliance.
Is that how you want your tax dollars used?
If so, please do ignore County politics. If not, I hope that people start paying attention.