Wednesday, August 5, 2009

N.O.A.A: Crying In Our Beer?

I'm sure there will be some disagreement with these views, but what's new about that?
While it is a disappointment for NOAA to decide against relocating to Bellingham, it never was a certainty.
And, to set our expectations unrealistically high only invites more disappointment at a time when what is needed is resiliency and rededication to the formidable task of seriously rejuvenating our waterfront.
So, if Plan A doesn't pan out, what is our Plan B?
If no Plan B exists, THAT is a problem!

If things hold to form, many folks will feel honest pain, but some may use this as an excuse to say things like 'I told you so', and cheer for degrees of failure out of jealousy, spite or just, old-fashioned, plain ill-will.
Remember those folks who have nay-sayed waterfront redevelopment all along?
Or, those who make a hobby out of second-guessing everyone, including the Port?
It may be a temporary field day for some of these folks, but it will be temporary.

Bellingham is capable of achieving good results in whatever it sets its mind to do.
If you don't believe that, check out what happened with the Olympic Pipe Line explosion.
Of course, for the waterfront, it may take a little longer, require a different mix of politicians, more mature ideas, and an improved economy with a little unexpected good luck throw in.
But, we will get there.
Believe it!

Yesterday and again today, articles on the NOAA decision appeared in Crosscut, authored by Floyd Mackay and Bob Simmons.
Both have interesting takes, which readers can access through the links provided.
One other Crosscut article by Jean Godden.

Today's Herald article combines some of this info with local reactions.

It is fascinating how the NOAA development coincides so closely with the upcoming elections, especially since the Port incumbents can't deny some of the inherent weakness of their suppositions.
Of course, they can also blame the failure to land NOAA on 'vocal locals', their loud and outspoken opposition.
But, will that help?
I don't think so.

One way or the other, it won't affect my voting for John Blethen and Mike McAuley as new Port Commissioners.
Nothing personal, but it is definitely time for new blood and new thinking at the Port of Bellingham!
And, that is true -in my opinion- of ALL elected offices, local and otherwise.

One other point, which does not exclusively relate to the Port, concerns the continued beefs expressed about the legitimate use of executive sessions and/or lawyer/client privilege.
Neither of these are, of themselves, inherently illegal, no matter what may be claimed, suspected or spoken by those who enjoy using 'guvmint' for target practice sport.
In fact, as citizens, business owners or government entities, executive sessions and lawyer/client privilege are essential elements in our system of laws and representative government.
To be without them entirely would constitute real stupidity that would not be in anyone's best interest.
It would essentially paralyze many government decisions we generally take for granted, and that would not be a good thing!

If excesses or improprieties are suspected, then by all means we need to take the appropriate legal steps, especially if a government entity and/or monies are involved.
Of course, as citizens in this country, we are always entitled to freedom of expression, including speech and written statements.
But as RESPONSIBLE citizens, it is preferable that we are careful not to MISUSE this freedom either.

If more open public meetings and discussions are desired, let's require that our local governments record them for airing in public, whether people will choose to watch these or not.
That way, we actually get to see and hear what is said.
BTW, even though most City meetings are being televised, its hard to see many more people paying anymore attention to what's going on.
It seems it may be more fun for some to continue to speculate, listen to somebody else's biased opinion, or remain blissfully ignorant.
But, that's just my opinion.

Regarding the adverse NOAA decision, there is no use to cry over spilt milk, especially when it didn't belong to us anyway.
But, its probably OK to cry in our beer, at least for a few days.
Then, it will be time to buckle down, suck it up and get on with the real work of figuring out where we go from here.
That's a job better undertaken with with fresh Port Commissioners and executive Director.

It may also be instructive to examine the reasons why Newport, OR was selected, and how that may have differed from what Bellingham had to offer.
Things like a more central location on the Pacific coast, direct access to the ocean- without excessive water traffic, proximity to major league, existing technical expertise, a less congested and growing area, and just possibly a more coordinated approach by local, regional, state and federal authorities, more certainty about what incentives are offered, etc.
Just a few things like that.