As someone concerned about protecting the islands from detrimental development, I am perplexed by a recent council appointment. At the first opportunity to appoint someone to the Planning Commission, this new council’s choice was a prominent spokesperson and attorney for the Common Sense Alliance, their vice president, Tim Blanchard.
Yes, it is difficult to find people willing to serve on any advisory body, with its demands of time and energy. But the announcement of an open position only appeared on the county website and in December only.
Now, with Mr. Blanchard’s appointment, three of the nine- member commission are officers or board members of the CSA. That has me concerned. A single board member of a land-use advocacy group would not be remarkable. However, three CSA board members on a commission closely involved in land-use issues seems unusual at the very least, particularly when the CSA is in active litigation against the county.
Having one third of the PC composed of people who are suing the county does not seem sensible, transparent, or accountable. With the PC soon working on our Shoreline Master Program, to which these three members likely have strong objections, can we then trust the PC to make responsive, appropriate recommendations to the council?
The council needs to assure citizens and advocacy groups of their ability to be publicly heard and their concerns recognized. Advocacy is accommodated in public hearings; it should not be imbedded within this commission formally charged with advising the county.
Disappointed and puzzled by the council’s appointment, I fear that the PC’s advice to council will not reflect the concerns of our citizenry, but rather the desires of one small, well-funded group. Let’s hope this appointment and the way it was orchestrated was only poor judgment and not a politically motivated decision.