Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

“Corridor forum missing key player”

Talk about timing. This editorial from Murf Raquet appeared in today’s Moscow-Pullman Daily News:
Development of the Pullman-Moscow Corridor was the topic of a forum sponsored by the University of Idaho Economics Club.

The discussion was not the first one on the subject and certainly not the last. The community dialogue looks to continue for some time on this important and, in many ways, divisive issue.

The forum, though, was marked by the absence of the one player that actually will influence the development of the area along the Pullman-Moscow Highway.

Whitman County was not represented at the forum.

The land in question is in Whitman County - not Moscow or Pullman.

The Whitman County Board of Commissioners will be the ones making the decision on how the land is developed. As such, a representative of the county should have participated.

That's not to say the forum was useless without the county. Mark Solomon, a Moscow environmental activist, and Jeff Harkins, a UI accounting professor, presented opposing sides of the issue.

Both men, speaking as concerned residents, acknowledged the need for growth in the area but differed on how that could come about.

The corridor issue is shaping up as a larger debate on development in general and how to best manage it.

Solomon proposes Whitman and Latah counties work together and select businesses that combine low-impact practices with high-paying jobs.

Harkins advocates a "market-take-charge" approach, with the consumer's pocketbook deciding what businesses locate on the Palouse.

And there are myriad opinions in between.

There's no one, surefire plan to develop the corridor and other areas of the two counties. Each area has its own set of strengths and limitations to consider.

The development debate has been going on since the first plow broke through the native prairie grasses on the Palouse.

Development is an evolving process that demands debate from interested parties.

But for that debate to be legitimate it must include all entities, especially those that have an integral role in the final decision.
Murf’s editorial proves what I stated earlier today: My presence would have legitimized the forum and given Mark Solomon the credibility, power, and relevance he so desperately craves. I wasn’t about to do that. And I think I can speak for the Whitman County Commissioners when I say that NO ONE from the Whitman County government was going to participate either.

I agree with Murf that Whitman County will be making the decision. I disagree with Murf that someone from Whitman County should have participated. Development only demands debate from interested parties WITHIN THAT JURISDICTION.

Whitman County has never had a say in the development in Moscow along Pullman Road that costs Whitman County nearly $150 million a year in taxable revenue. Whitman County has never had a say in Moscow’s shoddy water treatment that resulted in 930 EPA violations flowing downstream into Whitman County over a four year period. And Whitman County has had no say in Moscow’s over usage of the aquifer by 600 million gallons over the past 14 years. So Moscow is not going to have a say in Whitman County’s corridor development.

Think of the presidential debates we are going to have soon in this country. Canadians and Mexicans could argue, with some validity, that as they border the United States, they have a vested interest in who becomes president. Perhaps they would like to have a representative present to participate in the debate along with the American candidates. Sorry, it doesn’t work that way.

Mark Solomon will get his day in court, literally. If he wants to debate Whitman County, he is going to have pay for that privilege by hiring legal representation to pursue his complaint against the Hawkins Companies development before the Water Rights Board, the Department of Ecology, and ultimately I’m sure, the Whitman County Superior Court.

1 comment:

April E. Coggins said...

The arrogance of Mark Solomon and now Murph Raquet is amazing. There is no reason for Whitman County or it's residents to justify it's decisions to Latah County residents.