Observations from the recent Water Rights Exchange Trust Forum
I started writing this early Monday morning, my chest ripped with the painful coughs of a common cold. With time, rest, nutrition and exercise, breathing will return to normal.
I am finishing this Friday morning. This is draft #5. This post got longer, and then shorter. Thank you for reading it.
The cold is almost gone, and I am wondering what will be the new normal of this new day. There is work, there is family, and there are the hard-to-pin-down public policy service opportunities. I suppose community involvement never was a linear thing. The more I learn, the more holes and frayed edges and dangling threads I see.
My used-to-be-tidy life is more and more ripped with the spasms of water and land use conflict in Whatcom County. PSNERP. Meat packing on farms. Lawsuits over rural wells. Shellfish bed closures. Lynden water withdrawals. Small farm plans. Cycling paths. Wetlands. Water Improvement Districts. Senior water rights. Salmon and herring. Pacific Rim shipping.
Fresh cheeked youth spill into hearings to berate grizzled farmers. White haired seniors argue with each other over natural resources for the future. Planning technicians and planning commissioners redline out each others copy. Managers of parks and land trusts silently build empires. Volunteers snoop behind farms while distant lawyers and globalists unload on local elections. News editors and profs pull strings and spin the fresh cheeked youth, hawking this thing called “progress”. The racking spasms go on.
Progressives. Last night I viewed a lecture by the former progressive community organizer and publisher, David Horowitz. A key leader in the 1970’s leftist movement, Horowitz turned on his progressive peers in the early ‘80’s, abandoning the “fight for justice”, arrested by the long list of civic destructions generations of progressives had wrought.
Born to card carrying American Communists, Horowitz was shocked out of the “dream” by
San Francisco’s hot anger when he confronted ‘80’s gays over sending AIDS throughout America from the SF gay bath houses. Pressed with feeding his four children, he abandoned the donors of the new left and became a capitalist, working in the traditional American free market economy.
What was Horowitz’ message? Don’t make deals with progressives when they are in the driver’s seat. They cannot be trusted.
But do not most key water players in Whatcom County call themselves progressives?
Why would Horowitz so vehemently accuse progressives? Who is a progressive? What makes a person progressive? Is this truly relevant to Whatcom County? To water rights?
Last Thursday afternoon, Jan 8, I saw my face in the public mirror. I went to a water forum in Lynden examining the idea of a trust to facilitate local water rights exchange. I use water to feed livestock. The issues of tribal senior water rights on the Nooksack River, the current urgency to prove a hydrological flow between river and ground water, and the resulting attachment of groundwater rights to tribal salmon management is a critical concern.
I went to hear what the heavy lifters would say.
After a 2.5 hour survey of laws and water rights exchange trusts in other places, things were very quiet in the room. When an informal survey of audience affiliation was taken, at least one half of those present declined to identify themselves with any group—agriculture, government, NGO or citizens. This was hardly a gregarious day.
In the last hour, six agency leaders talked for three minutes each about how they might relate to a water rights exchange trust. Lynden’s representative was very positive. The PUD was warm to the idea. Bellingham talked about things that had failed, and Whatcom County was quite guarded, notably qualifying ideas with questions. A local water services manager shared his perspectives, and a county staffer tried to decopage the natural resources marketplace model onto water rights.
I was amazed at the meekness of normally quite self-assured local government water managers when the lawyers interviewed them, pointing out gaps in their understanding of water rights exchanges. As I watched and listened, I began making my own list of trust breakers that I have observed in Whatcom County.
1) 6+ highly polarized scientific issues that kill water policy consensus.
2) 8+ agency motivations that divide rather than build cooperation in water use policy.
3) 12+ events or interveners that have shredded trust between water users.
The lawyers gave a very concise, easy to understand, helpful presentation of water rights law. The DOE expert gave multiple, interesting examples of water rights exchange trusts. A full video of the afternoon maybe viewed by going here.
I learned several new things.
1. WA state law treats water rights as property rights.
2. Water rights are extremely valuable.
3. Water rights are guarded intensely. Legislators are very unwilling to risk any fix of RCW problems.
4. Water rights transfers are very expensive. Water rights exchange trusts could offer scales of economy.
5. Current Washington water banking models use free market pricing principles.
6. WA state government does not currently set water rights pricing.
7. Water rights banks can ease water shortages with no grants needed.
8. Government grants have been used to buy and resell water rights to preserve existing water users who have no or faulty water rights.
9. Other property rights such as stream buffers and fish habitat, have extremely little market value compared to water rights. It seems grants and donations, not free markets is the only funding stream a Natural Resources Marketplace could swim in.
10. Selling water rights as property rights could force progressive light persons to see the historical value of property rights. Such a trust could provide some very teachable moments, reversing the Democrat / progressive choice to forecast no personal property rights in the future—IF Olympia leaves pricing alone.
After this forum, my first question was not
“Could a water rights exchange trust help here?”, BUT
“Who locally could be trusted to search out if a water rights exchange trust would work, AND
“Who could be trusted to manage it?”.
Let me illustrate. Several days earlier, a sharp observer pointed out to me a $20,000.00 line item in a recent WRIA1 joint board budget for hosting this forum. Having been involved in putting on forums, I know that amount is much, much more than what is needed to rent a room for up to 150 people, buy some cookies, and pay even high priced lawyers to speak for 3-4 hours. So, who might be getting all that dough?
I brought up this line item in a meeting a couple of days earlier, offending a colleague who really liked this forum. I decided to go straight to the organizers, and found out that the budget line item was based on a prior event that was 16 hours long, with multiple meals. It was a budget number, not a disbursement.
(Was a two day forum planned? Then reduced to one day? Then reduced to one afternoon? Are water rights, property rights too explosive for local water use gurus to unpack?)
Now why not just trust the government bean counters? (See item #4 below).
David Horowitz, a formernational progressive heavyweight, identifies four trust busters that define today’s progressive leaders from his 1960s group. Saul Alinsky is their prophet, and Bill Ayers, Hillary Clinton, David Axelrod, Valerie Jarrett and Barack Obama are the “born with a progressive spoon” rulers who inherited the 1930-50 communist progressive legacy.
1) Progressive leaders are dialectic contrarians. Progressives work a cycle of institutional destruction to “set innocents free”. This is the opposite of America’s founders, who “checked and balanced sinners” against eternal, unchanging laws.
2) Progressive leaders are arrogant. They are jihadi-envangelists of a never before seen, soon to be seen utopia that common sense does not confirm.
3) Progressive leaders hate Judeo-Christian America. America’s sins are magnified, and her excellences are discredited. Progressives create class warfare to conquer Americans and destroy their institutions.
4) Progressive leaders are liars. Spin, argument, denial is the habituated progressive yellow brick road to the future.
But, you ask, what does this have to do with our green, verdant Whatcom County home? Who dares to class the fine friends and children of conservative Lynden with Lenin, Stalin or Mao. Even Alinsky, nasty god son of the Chicago Mafia, has passed away. Are not today’s progressives gentle and benevolent and totally approachable?
Horowitz answers this linking question. His 1960s, Vietnam War busting, Che Guevarra and Castro loving generation broke a progessive rule. They refused to deceive. They openly spit on the returning soldiers. They openly spilled blood on American streets. They openly called themselves communists.
The young left despised the double standard their Jewish New York parents had lived. The parents claimed to be “Jeffersonian Democrats”, yet collaborated secretly with Moscow’s KGB handlers. The children rebelled against their parent’s cautions, sowing open, violent, bloody revolution, and it failed. America ignored them, and they had to abandon revolution for jobs.
Hence, Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals. Put on suits and heels. Penetrate American institutions. Slowly, steadily create the largest army of tactic proxies possible, winning America’s next generations to socialism through the public schools and universities.
Alinsky and his core group have succeeded beyond their wildest dreams. Two generations of Americans have become progressive light, are proud of it, and gladly move the progressive dream “forward”.
Are you a progressive? Give yourself a test. Evaluate the idea of a water rights exchange trust using the following grid, adapted from historical American values of freedom.
- Do water rights exchange trusts protect individual liberty?
- Do water rights exchange trusts promote personal responsibility?
- Do water rights exchange trusts protect property rights?
- Do water rights exchange trusts promote free markets?
- Do water rights exchange trusts maintain limited government?
- Do water rights exchange trusts protect local powers from state or federal over reach?
- Do water rights exchange trusts promote fiscal responsibility?
- Do water rights exchange trusts provide equal protections for all under the rule of law?
If my guess is right, the above issues seem strange or irrelevant or bothersome to you, don’t they. If so, you are likely “progressive light.” If you have a multiple reasons why the above nine values are moral faults to absolutely obliterate, you are more than progressive light.
Frankly, in spite of my “conservative” education, I have had to bend my mind to think about the above issues in the last several years. Why is that?
Probably the greatest tool for transforming Americans from being a free, motivated, sharing nation into a stagflated two tier model of progressive socialism (elites and masses) has been easy money. Loans, and grants.
Why would I say that? Do we not need an active WIT, Whatcom Integration Team, pulling in the maximum in outside grants as an approved “local integrating organization”? (WIT was rebuked sharply by County Council a number of months ago for classifying rural values that did not represent a majority of Whatcom County citizens.)
Good financial management is uncommon. Financial failure, in business and government and NGO/church groups is the norm. Easy loans and grants make freefall unnoticeable and turn shattering landings into an irrelevant dream that disappears in summer mornings of ease.
What better way to use an enemy’s strengths against him. Make economic hyperwarp growth the norm, turn the debt load and grant streams into a dagger, and the traditional American Judeo Christian moralist will fall to his knees, begging to drink this pure water at the progressive fountain.
Let me relate this to the forum on water rights exchange trusts.
Why must a WRIA region with too much water talk about a trust to transfer “scarce” water rights?
When is there scarcity of water? Answer: July and August, as relates to certain salmon spawning cycles.
Why would a majority of people need a trust to exchange a minority portion of water rights?
Answer: because unusual favor has been granted to a minority people to sue and win the majority portion.
Who decided this? Why?
Answer One: The progressives. Innocents must be set free from debilitating institutions. And, the most innocent “environment” is the “original, natural one”, where there were no roads, no planes, no farms, no sawmills… …just wild animals roaming free, and first nations foraging and hunting.
Answer Two: The progressives. Rich oppressors must be forced to share, being moved from consumptive suburban lifestyles and homes to high density urban enclaves, using only public transit, not owning property, but sharing only what local cooperative soviets determine is good for one and all equally.
Answer Three: The progressives. Fathers and mothers saw the nice homes and cars and vacations and chose the mortgage and the second job. Public schools, being well funded, well staffed models of American decorum, could be trusted with the children. Now, sixty years later, generation x rocks to a progressive beat, and progressive teachers wink and smile as the core American values lie bound and gagged on an altar built to salmon, cycling viewsheds, organic chocolate and boundless sex.
Who is the progressive in the mirror?
It is me. My generation. My parents generation. The public servants I have delegated my citizen responsibilities to so I need not be stressed. Tell me, does Whatcom still work?
Should I resist the public policy of whoever I call a progressive? Maybe. Maybe not. There are the far left progressives that want me to burn out fighting their nasty machine. Then, there are the ‘progressive lights” who are just doing the job they are being paid to do, watching to see if I can eat humble pie, make the leader of the day successful, and carry a load wherever possible.
How does one make worthy local leaders successful, regardless of conservative or progressive orientation?
Shine the light. Lend a hand. Ask before blaming. Gather the facts. Interpret the choices. Don’t beintimidated. Tell the world about both good and bad public polices. Do it again.
America still requires its citizens to choose their leaders. Are you concerned about public policy abuse? In the next few months you may have a chance to get involved up close in shining the lights. Stay tuned.
And, thank you, facilitators of this water rights exchange forum for putting on a very informative afternoon, and… … for not spending the whole $20,000.00 on we who attended.
Time will tell if a water rights exchange trust is a good idea. It may very well be a next step in re-engaging true civic service and public policy awareness.
JK – Whatcom Works