Rosenfeld misses the mark in CAO debate | Guest Column

Howie Rosenfeld’s statement in support of his quest for re-election presents what those in education call a “teachable moment.” (Reasonable rules guard islands’ way of life,” July 4, pg. 9)

Not because it lucidly discusses the critical issues confronting the county to enable an informed electorate; but, rather, because it tosses about the usual deceptive “sound bites” that politicians find so helpful in shutting down discussion of the real issues.

For example, Mr. Rosenfeld suggests that county citizens who question the current CAO fiasco must not understand that our islands are special and should be protected. The notion that only Mr. Rosenfeld and his political brethren respect the land is nonsense, and is belied by our well-stewarded surroundings.

Mr. Rosenfeld's rhetorical concern for the citizenry’s continued commitment is purportedly based upon what he characterizes as “well-organized opposition” to the CAO and SMP. How he considers a handful of unfunded private citizen and civic groups as “well-organized opposition” in this context is troubling: either he has no idea of the nature of this controversy or he is dissembling.

First, I have yet to meet anyone who opposes the CAO and SMP; indeed, most people seem to think that our existing CAO and SMP regulations are working quite well.

Second, the average islander keeps asking—quite logically—what is wrong with our existing CAO and SMP regulations? Because the law doesn’t require wholesale re-writing of our CAO and SMP; it requires us to review our existing rules and fix anything that’s broken.

But our county leaders rather petulantly maintain that “they don’t have to tell us” what’s wrong—and that we can’t make them. Yes, it really has gotten that bad. What is the county afraid of?

Third, the people that I meet are gravely concerned about the radically restrictive new CAO and SMP schemes being jammed through by “our” planners and “our” state government, not to mention the assorted and sundry non-profits, tribes and quasi-governmental entities funded with our tax dollars who believe that they know best about—well—everything.

At the cost of millions of dollars a year, the self-described “environmentalists” (planners, big consulting firms, ‘Friends’, Ecology, tribes, the Puget Sound “Partnership,” for some examples) all struggle valiantly to expand the reach of the CAO against what Mr. Rosenfeld sees as the “organized opposition”: a handful of volunteers struggling to expose the backroom machinations that have characterized this process from its inception.

We agree that the county should have “sensible protections.” We believe that it already has.

There is nothing sensible about the complex and burdensome proposals now pending before the County Council. Read them at http://www.sanjuanco.com/cao/documents.aspx and weep.

— Editor's note: Peg Manning of Orcas Island is member of locally based Common Sense Alliance.


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