Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Lessons From The Lake

This was posted today at GoLakeChelan.com. The comparisons between Defenders of Small Town Chelan and PARD are startling:

Thanks again for providing this forum.

I did some research on the public development authorities as they have been used in this state. They are narrowly focused and project specific i.e. they are put in place, usually temporarily, to plan and fund a museum, a low income housing project, etc. I have never seen one envisioned to replace the planning process in any jurisdiction which is accountable to the local government and populace. They are public/private partnerships which can obtain funding a local government cannot and are not an appropriate replacement for a planning department and planning commission.

We currently have a public process, including a planning commission, that does our planning and is staffed by the folks we elect to run the city. Why would we want to replace that with a bunch of folks who are not accountable like the Defenders group?

The Defenders have gone out of their way to eliminate public input in all of their actions. Their initial lawsuit sought to replace the City's planning process with a judge's rule. That failed (even though Defenders claim they won) when their baseless claims of fraud and collusion were thrown out.
They did find an inconsistency in a planned development document, which the judge properly remanded to the City to correct. In a passive aggressive way, while Lars talks gently about the importance of public process, Laurel is out there trying to kill it. Of course, they have to try to eliminate the public process since the public doesn't want the same things this small group does.

After it must have been abundantly clear, even to the Defenders, that the public supported the City and Wal-Mart, they once again tried to influence the judge to close the store or tear it down against public wishes. The issue of unfair enforcement of the laws is hogwash, and the judge has already given us insight that she should rule in Wal-Mart's favor. If a typical business opened without permits, it would be because they did construction without permits and did not have the required inspections that assure public safety. In such a case, a business should be closed until permits are issued and inspections are made. That is not the case for Wal-Mart, who built with valid permits and complied with all inspections. There is no potential public hazard in letting Wal-Mart operate and they have paid all required fees. As the judge already said, the damages for 200 employees who would be out of work would be substantial while the Defenders suffer no damage if Wal-Mart operates while this is corrected.

I am surprised by the Defenders' latest action. I know many of these folks and, except for the whole Defenders deal, know them as caring thoughtful folks. However, like their earlier actions, this is a baseless publicity stunt. Just like "bait & switch, collusion, tear it down, close it" and the other ridiculous public positions taken by this group. I encourage the City to continue to treat it as such and, unfortunately, continue to spend the resources to defend itself against a group that has demeaned themselves to the point of becoming development terrorists with their ludicrous "settlement" offer. I don't doubt that there are folks who contributed to and supported this group's action who now wish they could apologize for this latest insult. The Defenders lack the grace to know when to quit.

How about this for a settlement? The Defenders publicly apologize for taking such divisive, adversarial and provocative actions to try to derail the public planning process. They disband. The Defenders learn that just because the City doesn't take their advice doesn't mean they weren't heard, just that they are not speaking for the broader community. Sounds reasonable to me.

Al Lorenz
To the Wal-Mart haters, it's a lot more than a baseless publicity stunt. The Chelan Wal-Mart story was trumpeted nationally. It was on Fox News and carried by the AP. And why not? The Defenders were threatening to have the store torn down before it even opened. The union thugs at Wal-Mart Watch, Wake Up Wal-Mart and Sprawl-Busters all had their juicy negative headline. Lost in all the brouhaha, of course, was the fact that the store opened as scheduled amidst wide public support. But who cares? Perception is reality.

It should come as no surprise that Laurel Jamtgaard, the attorney who heads Defenders of Small Town Chelan, is the Democratic Precinct Committee Officer for Precinct 182 in Chelan County.

As far as Lars Clausen, he has ridden 9,136 miles through all 50 states on a unicycle and holds 2 Guinness World Records. He is also an ordained pastor in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, a Berkeley grad, a gay rights activist, and an author who has published two books (by the way TV, when is your next book coming out?). All this publicity can't hurt any and only gives him more liberal street cred as an activist.

No, the only people suffering are the poor average citizens of Chelan, caught in the middle of force they can't control. Just like in Pullman.

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1 comment:

Satanic Mechanic said...

Development Terrorists has a nice ring. I think PARD fits into that category.