|The crowd about 10 minutes before the meeting started.|
As if anticipating a heated, blistering evening of rhetoric, Carl Weimer and Ken Mann opened the Council meeting with an announcement that a closed door decision had not been made during the immediately preceding executive session. They then promptly moved to continue funding for the appeal. Carl Wiemer generously acknowledged that a court ruling in this situation would provide certainty that would be good for all. Great guy, Carl Wiemer. Council voted 7 to 0 to continue funding the appeal. Then open session testimony began.
Testimony largely ran unchecked in favor of challenging the growth management hearings board ruling. There were several who chided council and landowners for seeking financial gain over wellness or good will. There were also two sizable groups that spoke in favor of 1) local regulation of marijuana growing or processing business locations and 2) creating taxing authority (another progressive funding stream) for arts groups in local settings.
Having watched the acrimony of the past election season, and seen the predominance of progressive minded testimony on local issues in the last year, the silence from the local progressive organizers last night was deafening. Adding that to the strong campaign promises of Mann and Wiemer with their pre-election votes to scuttle the GMHB well appeal, I said to myself, “What is up? Is this another charade? Why the tight lipped silence from the progressives? Something is fishy here.”
After a prolonged release of air from the emotional balloon, the open session ended and 75% of the people went home. Then came the selection of appointees to various commissions and boards. I said to myself, “Perhaps this change of course for Mann and Wiemer on the well appeal is calculated to clear the air, to suggest a spirit of good will and coming together. Perhaps, but keep watching, John.”
Sure enough, a different tack was taken with appointment of planning commissioners. Incumbents Jeff Rainey and Rod Erickson, having a track record of supporting existing property rights and landowners and challenging progressive initiatives from planning department staff, were decisively replaced with three progressively oriented commissioners. Michelle Luke did not re-apply.
One of the “new” planning commission appointees, (having served two prior terms on the planning commission), lawyer David Hunter, has a reputation as being extremely verbally abusive, a gifted and biting cross examiner of property and business owners that “enter his private court” during planning commission sessions.
The David Hunter appointment, to me is instructive of where things will go with this council. Ken Mann and Barry Buchanan first preferred a more moderate progressive, (there is the engaging smile) while Carl Weimer and Rud Browne voted for Hunter (the finger in the eye). Brenner, Crawford and Kremen voted for Jeff Rainey. In the second vote, Mann and Buchanan came together with Weimer and Browne to appoint David Hunter.
The impact of the planning commissioners, in my view, will have a far greater impact on ongoing county policy than the exempt wells ruling appeal. Smart, hungry progressives. Sleepy, sheepy conservatives. The fairy tales of The Three Little Pigs and Little Red Riding Hood are playing again.
Good cop, bad cop. Limiting choices. Move county policy and citizens left, left, left.
How does Saul Alinsky advise his disciples to operate? Only moderate in appearance. Always go for the kill. Keep the fight going. If they bring a knife, you bring a gun. Alinsky’s dedication of his book, Rules for Radicals, to Lucifer is fitting. Once upon a time there was a cruel king named Herod. No means were too violent, too evil if they kept him in power. Watch out, Whatcom County!!
One last thought. What if the exempt wells ruling appeal went to negotiation? What if the appeals court or the supreme court never had to validate the rule of law here? What if Mann and Wiemer met with the lawyer for the exempt wells litigants behind closed doors and worked out some concessions from the county for a measure of peace and joint progressive advance? RE Sources (Weimer) and Futurewise (Melious) both have the same basic playbook.
What if the same pattern that got the Lummis off the hook in the ground water dispute several years ago was used here? In that setting, when the judge was indicating that the Washington State supported Lummi claims were without grounds, the Lummi’s withdrew their suit and filed for negotiation. In the end, they got a large measure of what they wanted, outside the courts, and their claims were held in abeyance, never ruled against.
Good cop, Bad cop. The game is on.
What is the next stage? Just as the national Republican Establishment is at war with the Tea Party over stripping away entitlements and K Street influence, so local individual conservative activists will likely end up ground between the progressive upper mill stone, and the corporate business lower stone.
An example of this is the proposed WID system that farmers are considering. To maintain some self determination, farmers are realizing that they have to organize like their tribal and governmental bureaucracy adversaries. It is not just enough to show up, you have to have taxation authority (funding), and be able to threaten serious damage to the other side.
What a great place to live. Behind the tall cedars and glorious vistas of Whatcom County is this war. Will local corporate interests stand up for their historical neighbors? Most likely not. Survival of the business will supersede survival of traditional local values.
Case in point? Again, from last night, it is a local corporate name, Lautenbach, that has applied for a marijuana license in a building in the middle of Clearbrook community in north Whatcom County. After considering an appeal from the Clearbrook families to grow/process marijuana with some setbacks from the homes, the applicant has decided his hot business prospects trump local family values and safety concerns.
Good cop, bad cop. The only winners will be those whose endgame is multi-generational. After this “cold, socialist war” plays itself out, in thirty or fifty or one hundred years, (think USSR 1916-1989) some one’s descendants will rebuild something here.
What does the future hold? The future is the children!