Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Campaign Rhetoric Versus Institutional Memory: A Litany of Concerns - Part 1

Esse Quam Videri - "to be rather than to seem"
Sometimes there are discrepancies between what candidates claim -or choose to ignore- and what a more comprehensive recollection of history reveals.

If you want to prove a point, or get elected, you choose carefully what you want to talk about.

And, you know what subjects are to be avoided!

That is the subject of today's blog.

Yesterday's blog listed some reasons why I have chosen to support Dan Pike as our next Mayor.

This one lists some specific reasons that make it difficult for me to support Dan McShane as Mayor.

All of these relate directly to positions he has taken -or not taken- on some important issues, while serving on the County Council.
Here is a synopsis of these concerns as related to:

1. Growth Management Policy - From Inconsistency to Intransigence:

• Dan McShane initially advocated for highest State [OFM] population projection estimate!

His position was modified only after when the City of Bellingham and other concerned groups demanded a more moderate estimate closer to the mid-range.

A high growth projection would have meant unduly spurring growth at greater expense to current residents of Whatcom County.

I'm glad, Dan changed his mind on this, because a much more moderate growth policy, is what most Whatcom County citizens want.

• But now, he has also actively opposed the City's request for sufficient additional new Urban Growth Area land, despite the agreed clear goal of reducing sprawl in unicorporated Whatcom County!

This particular point may not ultimately make a lot of difference that people will notice, but I will!

That is because the apportionment of projected growth was undertaken in what I thought was a good faith effort between the City and the County.

The City did a very detailed. public analysis over 3 years, based on what history has shown to be possible without significant changes in zoning or control of it.

That effort identified an approximate 1400 acre shortage of new UGA land over the next 20 years.

The County did very little analysis, yet is being persuaded by McShane and others that the City's request is excessive!

While it is certainly the County's right to set whatever additional UGA land will be granted, the position taken by McShane and others essentially dismisses the City's effort in favor of its own wishes!

That, my friends, is not what I call a 'collaborative' effort. Would you?

This type if arrogance and lack of follow-through typifies what is wrong with the so-called 'collaborative' effort between the City and County.

I am very tired of that, but this is not about me.

Of course, absorbing more sprawl also does provide more short-term revenue for the County, but at what cost?

And, the County already has enough 5-acre vested lots in rural areas to take all the anticipated growth for Whatcom County over the next 20 years!

That is without another home being built in any established City.

So, what's the problem you might ask?

There is no problem according to the County's history and current situation, unless one is really serious about meeting the goals of the Growth Management Act in both spirit and deed!

• Also troubling is the failure of the County Council to enact any meaningful Purchase of Development Rights [PDR] program with the funding to substantially save valuble farmland.

Where was Dan M. in that discussion?
What was the result?
Anything to report?

• And, McShane's tenative support of very questionable rezones of forested land on Galbraith Mountain and near Cherry Point, is a concern.

• Over the last few years the County Planning Staff has been seriously decimated, leading one to wonder why did the County Council allow this happen?
It didn't happen overnight, did it?

The excuses given were that private industry lured all these talented folks away for more money.
I hear different reasons.

Like working for the County and under Pete isn't exactly a rewarding experience?
Like ad hoc direction from the top via their appointed 'at will' employees?
Am I getting warm?

Why wasn't more forceful action taken to require the Executive to hire and retain adequate staff?
And, to set better wages & benefits, work standards, performance reviews and working conditions that value competent employees?

There are some additional sub-topics to this general area of concern, but these will be addressed later, in another blog.
Part 2 will be on a different issue, probably tomorrow.

'The Peter Principle is bad enough, but the Peter, Paul & mary Principle is much worse!'