Letters to the Editor

Contract with the Puget Sound Partnership: Just say no

These comments to the San Juan County Council, dated May 18, were submitted by David Cable of Friday Harbor.

The purpose of my comments today is to reiterate my concerns expressed in my e-mail of Feb. 22, 2010, to Chairman Fralick, regarding the proposed adoption of a resolution to form a Local Integrating Organization (LIO).

I am uncomfortable with the LIO, its lack of clear purpose, and its sponsorship by the Puget Sound Partnership (PSP). Further, the implication that the LIO has the authority to "Ensure implementation of priorities," etc. in San Juan County, as well as the PSP’s agenda to participate (meddle) in the development of our local regulations and regulatory processes is intrusive and extremely worrisome to me.

Most of all, my concerns focus on the potential for the County Council to abdicate its governing authority under the home rule charter to an outside agency, such as the PSP.

Moreover, recent information regarding certain improprieties of the PSP, as revealed in the “Accountability Audit Report,” issued, just days ago, on May 12, 2010, by the Washington State Auditor’s Office (a copy of which the council and the prosecuting attorney have received), adds even more fuel to the fire.

For example, in summarizing one of its findings, the Audit Report states, “Partnership (PSP) management has not placed a priority on adhering to state rules and regulations over expenditures of public funds.” Further, the report goes on to say, “Public funds set aside for the restoration of Puget Sound were improperly spent. If the Partnership continues to make accountability over public resources a low priority, additional money will be at risk.”

I must ask, why would the council want to enter into an agreement with an organization that has demonstrated such a lack of proper process and disregard for the law (particularly in the area that is the basis for the PSP’s involvement)?

The record shows that, during the Jan. 5, 2010 meeting, the council concluded that a lawful process had not been followed; that there had been no proper review of the existing regulations; and that best available science must be obtained for San Juan County. Subsequently, on Feb. 16, the council signed Resolution 12-2010 "Regarding Next Steps in Reviewing and Revising Comprehensive Plan and Development Regulations to Protect Critical Areas Using Best Available Science."

Why would the council affiliate with an agency that has already published an agenda contrary to the council’s? It’s also puzzling that the PSP Action Agenda presupposes an outcome based upon its own foregone conclusions (and mission) while having had no local, relevant or peer-reviewed best available science to properly guide the development of the Action Agenda.

Moreover, I’m appalled at the notion that county employees such as the Director of Public Works, the Director of Planning and three council members would be resources committed to the LIO — and to more meetings! Apparently, I’m not alone in that concern as Councilman Peterson expressed his feelings about increasing the size of San Juan County’s government bureaucracy during the earlier LIO discussion on Jan. 26, 2010.  

In contemplating a contract with the PSP, I implore the council to “just say no” until you have considered the many critical implications of such an affiliation, including and most importantly, the confidence and trust of the citizens of San Juan County.

David Cable
Golf Course Road
Friday Harbor

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