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Home » Archives » July 2005 » Letter On "So Who Needs A Committee" Dialog

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07/29/2005: "Letter On "So Who Needs A Committee" Dialog"


Dear Editor,

You and Joanruth did attend the same meeting "So Who Needs A Committee Anyway?". You just observed it from very different points of view. You've explained your point of view in your response. Joanruth explained hers in her signature. She saw it from a "(Yes, Public Works)" point of view. From that vantage point the meeting was a great success. Public Works was essentially given control of drafting the ordinance that controls its expansion and operation. It is very much like the fox getting to guard the hen house. The citizen was relegated to a sideline observer/commenter role instead of an active participant.

The BOCC missed a big opportunity here. It had enough applicants to form a viable Citizens Advisory Committee. It could have included all those who expressed interest in working on this issue. And, it could have truly provided for the Public Process recommended by the consultant. Regrettably, they chose to minimize that process. County staff will draft the changes under the direction of present and former Public Works employees. These changes will then be presented for comment through the Planning Commission. We have come full circle. The previous failure of this approach is one reason a consultant was hired in the first place.

The question is if "all three commissioners called the applicants intelligent, well qualified applicants", why did the BOCC reject the applications it had solicited? Joanruth is right. This is an important project. Therefore, it is more important to do it correctly than quickly. I have asked that the BOCC reconsider its decision.

Chris Clarke
(Editor's Note: Dr. Clarke was one of applicants
for the for the Citizens Advisory Committee)


Click on link below right to read the Joanruth Letter:



Reader Critical of Story on BOCC

Dear Editor,

In regard to your reporting of the EPF "So Who Needs A Committee Anyway?" meeting yesterday at the BOCC, I'm not sure we attended the same meeting. You report a wanton disregard for public opinion, a casual discarding of the opportunity to form a committee; I watched both the CDPD and the Board agonize for over 20 minutes about the lack of response to their months of calls for a public committee. Your headline "So Who Needs a Committee Anyway?" misleads your readers, omitting 20 minutes of discussion about the desire to have a committee but the ineffectualness of going forward with one so small and non-representative. It also omits the reasons for the quotes you took out of context that the project has been delayed for over 5 months while trying to get an effective committee together. You leave out the reason there was concern about delaying even further on such an important project. You offer quotes that seem to denigrate citizen input but left out the quotes where all three commissioners called the applicants intelligent, well qualified applicants.
This is what I heard. I hope you will share this reporting of the meeting with your readers.
Joanruth Baumann
Friday Harbor
(Yes, Public Works)

An Editorial Response by The Island Guardian:

With respect to the "non-representative" excuse for not appointing, Baumann is correct in stating there were no applicants from Lopez or Shaw. Also none from a number of other islands. The Board stated they wanted 9 to 15 committee members. The Board had seven to appoint. Miller started off with saying they would appoint only five of the seven. In the end they appointed none.

Seven can be a very effective number (that is how many were on the UDC committee that wrote all of the regulations for the Uniform Development Code).

The applicants were:

King Fitch, Representing the Town of Friday Harbor;
Teri Williams, Beatrice Von Tobel, Mike Stolmeier and Fred Klein from Orcas;
Jim Slocomb and Dr. Chris Clarke from San Juan.

Based on 30+ years experience in San Juan County, and knowing the applicants, and having worked on committees and boards with a number of them, we maintain that the balance, the representational abilities of the group, would be hard to match.

We have been involved with County government in one form or another for decades now, and in the last two or three years (that goes back to the last BOCC) we have seen a continuing sliding away from the BOCC asking for citizen involvement in Board actions, or asking the opinion of those that may be effected by Board decisions. Last Tuesday's actions by the BOCC is but another example of this: it is hard to buy the explanation or excuses that Miller and Ranker used for not appointing those experienced and hard working applicants. Others disagree with that assessment, while others do agree. And so it will always be.

Submitted on 07/28/05 @ 06:01 AM PST

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