Where are the council members when we really need them?

I would like to comment on the pertinent editorial last week about a collective failure to focus on the important aspects of the various issues that are confronting us. Another way to say that is we need to “keep our eye on the ball.” Too often we worry about “galley service” on the ferries rather than whether we will have ferry service in the future to meet our needs.

The members of the Ferry Advisory Committee were disappointed two weeks ago when not one member of the Council chose to participate in the joint meeting with WSF officials to discuss planning issues. Three members of the Transportation Commission were in attendance as was Rep. Jeff Morris. In defense of Council Chair Howie Rosenfeld, he had a commitment to meet with the Deputy Border Agent to further discuss that agency’s “gestapo” searches in Anacortes, and in that effort I fully support his decision to absent himself from the ferry meeting. However, there are five other members of the Council and it is hard to imagine that all of them were unable to participate in the discussions with WSF. Mr. Moseley, the new head of WSF, has stated a key goal for WSF is to re-establish trust and confidence in the system and communicate with the ferry-served communities. It takes two parties to have a dialogue.

On a different topic in the same context of the editorial, there is a broadening perception within the community that efforts to deal with GMA issues such as the Eastsound UGA boundaries and stormwater planning are being driven principally by compliance legalities. That is to say that there is limited confidence that plans and proposals from County planners are more than an effort to satisfy the compliance demands of the State in order to get money from the “public trough.” Are the plans and proposals a good reflection of the desires of the community? I don’t know. What I do know is that it is very difficult for the average citizen to follow and understand the evolution of these various plans that will have such a dramatic impact on the daily life of each person. There seem to be enough questions being asked that there should be some cause for concern within our community.

Once again, at a key meeting, that being the Planning Commission’s discussions recently on creation of an urban-growth area for Eastsound, there were no Councilmen present. Mssrs. Lichter and Knapp are our representatives and should have been in attendance to hear the concerns of their constituents. We need active involvement by all of our Council members in the development of the plans for the future of our islands whether they be for transportation, stormwater, sewers, or affordable housing. I don’t believe that the citizens will be satisfied with a “rubber stamp” approval of plans that are presented to the Council on our behalf. There has been an interesting inconsistency lately in the Council’s insistence that a councilman participate on the Ferry Advisory Committee. If that is a good idea, then why are the councilmen not participating on all of the key County committees to insure that they are conversant on the proposals that will be presented to them?

Ed Sutton lives in Eastsound. He serves as a Commissioner with the Eastsound Sewer and Water District and as the Chair of the San Juan County Ferry Advisory Committee.