Last Thursday, members of the Washington State Senate convened in Sumner to discuss the damaging effects of the Shoreline Management Act (SMA) on property rights. We referenced this hearing here. Of particular interest in this discussion was the role the Department of Ecology plays in the SMP update process.
Fortunately, for all those unable to attend, you can see the complete TVW coverage of this hearing here, and I would strongly recommend anyone who cares about property rights, or who wants to see citizens point out the many problems with the Department of Ecology, to watch and share this video.
Legislators in attendance were Sen. Pam Roach (R-31st), Sen. Bruce Dammeir (R-25th), Sen. Jan Angel (R-26th), Sen. Doug Ericksen (R-42nd), Sen. Bob Hasegawa (D-11th), and Rep. Graham Hunt (R-2nd). Pierce County Councilmembers Dan Roach, Jim McCune and Joyce McDonald also came to ask questions and listen to public comment.
Approximately 150 residents attended the hearing. Many of them also testified.
The meeting was initiated due to the concerns raised by many residents of Pierce County about the Department of Ecology imposing significant changes to the current Pierce County Shoreline Master Plan that are not supported by the public.
The required seven-year update is taking place right now in Pierce County, and the façade of the SMP update being a “locally driven process” is quickly fading away. Nobody really believes there is much local control over the process. The public had a big laugh at the Department of Ecology during the hearing when its representatives made this claim.
Instead of these decisions being made by local elected officials, the Department of Ecology uses its position of authority to bully local jurisdictions and dominate the process — despite what Gordon White, Shorelands and Environmental Assistance Program Manager for DOE (current salary $102,767) stated at the hearing (see 14:38).
In my testimony (at 1:03:00), I highlighted examples (obtained through public records requests) of Ecology’s negative attitude towards citizens and the dismissive attitude they have towards those who disagree with them. Here they are, as promised:
1) DOE Water Quality Program Manager Bill Moore (current salary $92,592) referring to property owners who participated in the public process at a public hearing in Asotin County in 2011 with contempt, specifically calling them “rable” (the misspelling is his). Download file Citizens are rable according to DOE Bill Moore
2) DOE Supervisor Erik Stockdale (current salary $69,588) refusing to recognize scientific studies that disprove long-held Ecology dogma and suggesting other Ecology employees hide e-mail records from the public by deleting them. See this classic Youtube video from the San Juans. It is unknown how successful Stockdale and other DOE employees have been at violating state law by deleting other public records. Download file DOE Erik Stockdale lets delete these public records
3) Creating “messaging-guides” that recommend government officials avoid talking about the impacts the SMP has on property values, property rights and personal freedom. Instead, the guide says, they should appeal to fear. The guide goes on to recommend local government officials create a “compelling SMP story,” which includes “villains” (we can safely assume this means shoreline property owners). “Opponents” are defined as people who support “freedom and prosperity” (page 4) and the Freedom Foundation as an example of an opponent (page 5). Our tax dollars funded this. Download file SMP Messaging guide for bureaucrats and pro-SMP 2012
4) Ecology Director Ted Sturdevant (salary was $138,523 before he went to work in Gov. Jay Inslee’s administration as executive director of the Legislative and Policy Office) referring to arguments against proposed Ecology rules as “right-wing propaganda b******t,” and calling Republican politicians who disagree with his agency’s position: “f******s.” Download file DOE director Sturdevant calls Republicans fkrs Download file DOE director Sturdevant calls WPC rwbullsht Download file DOE director Sturdevant oddly attacks tea party
Of the various attendees from all over Washington state who attended and testified at this hearing, nobody wants to see the health of the shorelines be degraded. However, there was clearly no confidence that DOE is an honest player in this process.
This was certainly the case for residents of Lake Tapps, where Ecology is trying to force Pierce County to apply a 50-foot buffer around the shoreline of this manmade lake.
Unfortunately, when it comes to the SMP updates, it is clear the Department of Ecology is not an honest participant in the process. Unfortunately, the evidence shows the Department of Ecology doesn’t regulate the environment, but it clearly does attempt to regulate people, dissenters and the message.
We are thankful that some of our elected officials are starting to look into this situation, and last Thursday’s hearing was a great start towards exposing the truth about the abuse by state government agencies.