Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Saturday, November 10, 2007

"Moscow's appeals are about more than water"

It hasn't been a very good week for the Queen. First, her policies were repudiated when she lost two out of her three political allies on the Moscow City Council in the election on Tuesday. Chaney now becomes essentially a lame duck for the next two years facing a 5-1 margin against her. And it has become painfully apparent to one and all that she is one-term and done.

Now, her latest appeal against the Hawkins Companies retail development in the Pullman-Moscow corridor has gone over like a fart in a an elevator. This is what the Moscow-Pullman Daily News editorial board had to say in today's issue, as written by Steve McClure:
It came as no surprise that Hawkins Companies filed an appeal Thursday to get approval on the lone water right transfer the Department of Ecology denied.

What was surprising, was Moscow Mayor Nancy Chaney's decision to have the city appeal the three transfers that were approved.

It's becoming apparent that Chaney's approach to commercial development on the eastern edge of the Pullman-Moscow Highway corridor is not pushing the area any closer to a comprehensive, regional discussion of water resources.

In fact, it seems to be creating more animosity with the city's neighbors to the west rather than less.

News of the latest appeal so rankled Whitman County Commissioner Jerry Finch that he told the Whitman County Gazette, "If they don't start cooperating, hell will freeze over before I let them do something that comes into Whitman County while I'm commissioner."

Chaney's version of collaboration doesn't seem to be working.

The city of Moscow had filed letters of protest on the four water right transfers earlier in the process. Despite those protests, the Whitman County Water Conservancy Board gave the requests the green light. When the Washington State Department of Ecology approved three of the four water right transfers in early October, it appeared the issue was settled from the Idaho side of the state line.

It should have been.

Then the issue was appealed again.

"It has nothing to do with economic development, and it has everything to do with water," Chaney said this week. "This would set a precedent that we cannot sustain."

The same could be said for the city's appeal. If Moscow protests the transfer of these water rights and effectively stops the Hawkins project, then it's setting the city up to protest those same water rights - including the water right just outside Pullman - when the original holder of the right decides it's time to tap the well.

We don't think that's Moscow's intent, nor should it be.

That seems to poke a hole in Moscow's appeal and illustrates that, to many of us, it just doesn't hold water.

No comments: