Sunday, April 27, 2014

Still Outlaws

The Bellingham Herald reported today that County Council Chair Carl Weimer said "Happy Earth Day."  

This is a stunning development.  After all, Council Chair Weimer's remark stands in stark contrast to the official Whatcom County moniker for Earth Day:  as [County Executive] Louws called it, National Jellybean Day.” 

Therefore, Q.E.D., the environmentalists are winning.  Everyone, please go back to sleep until the next election.

I wish that I could join the happy siesta.  Truly.  The past four years of County Council mismanagement have worn us all down.  

But the thing is, there's this pending case addressing Whatcom County’s failure to plan for the protection of its water resources in rural areas.  Yes, that case, the one where the Growth Management Hearings Board found that the County had not protected water quality or quantity.

The case that the County lost, although you wouldn’t know it from the folks vigorously asserting the sanctity of the County’s right to continue not to plan.  

These saber-rattlers neglected to address one salient fact:  not only did Whatcom County lose, but it has a current legal obligation to comply with the GMA.    

On April 15, 2014, the Growth Management Hearings Board found that the County remains in noncompliance with the Growth Management Act, because it still has not implemented the planning needed to protect its water resources.  The Board’s “Second Order on Noncompliance” states: 
"Whatcom County is in continuing non-compliance with the Growth Management Act as found in the Board’s June 7, 2013, FDO. This matter is remanded to the County to take action to comply with the Growth Management Act. . .”
The Board requires the County to file a status report in early October 2014, with compliance due on November 21, 2014.

How does the County plan to comply?  Nobody talked about that in the Herald article.

Republican Party leader and Tea Party activist Charlie Crabtree talked about how Whatcom County ought to fight in court because that's what "the party and conservatives" across the state want the County to do.  If the County Council believes that it is under an obligation to uphold the statewide conservative agenda, then so be it  -- and does that mean that the County will continue to thumb its nose at the Growth Management Hearings Board?

Council member Ken Mann asserted that my clients and Futurewise would need to come up with a "profound settlement proposal"  to avoid court.  No word on the County's plans to "take action to comply" with Board's order on water quantity.

Whatcom County is in charge of planning. The County has staff.  The County is the entity that is required “to take action.”

Whatcom County is [still] the outlaw.

I hope that optimism over the new County Council will be justified by words and actions demonstrating that the Council takes its own obligations seriously.   

The responsibility for “profound” proposals to address the County’s ongoing noncompliance with state law ought to be a two-way street.


  1. Ken Mann has proudly posted the Herald article asserting new glory days for environmentalists, and used the opportunity to take a dig at the "extremists" on left and right, (because really, what is the difference between Futurewise, public interest law suits, and the Tea Party?), as well as people who blog. Hmmm.... people who blog.....Jean, I think you have been served. Perhaps Ken could have been more succinct and stated.. "Ha, Ha, Ha to everyone who disagrees with me." Sadly, this is the reality of how environmentalists are treated, even under the new county council, and suggests how unlikely it is that the new council will seriously address its noncompliance problems.

    1. Oh well, Ken's entitled to his opinions, and I deserve it for disturbing the peace.

      And it's possible that I'm the only person in Whatcom County old enough to remember a time when a County Council that received Sam Crawford's seal of approval would not be viewed as "progressive."

      The County's baseline has shifted so far to the right that the "left fringe" includes the center. But at least maybe there is a "right fringe" now, as opposed to before, when the Council WAS the "right fringe." That's progress, I suppose, although "progress" and "progressive" aren't the same thing.

  2. Probably Ken Mann will agree that a lot of new slaughterhouses will make it all right. The only problem is that after the thousands of dairy culls are slaughtered in the spring to provide localvores the 'premium local meat products' Ken finds so important, and after the couple hundred hobby farm animals are slaughtered in the fall, the 'packinghouse' lobby will need to urge further measures to encourage increased animal production to keep the Council's unlimited number of facilities running. There will still be plenty of water. Just with more poop and blood.