A letter I received today from Port Commissioner Fred Felleman in reply to my letter to the Port Commissioners yesterday. And my reply (cc’ed to the Commissioner) follows.
> JC I have only heard of claims of port “interference” with the bill’s development from members of the community. While I don’t know other what has been said, I don’t understand why you would think it odd that the agency under scrutiny would not have the opportunity, no less be requested by the legislature, to be involved in the crafting of the bill.
> Regardless of your perception of that process, as I said at the meeting Tuesday, the scoping for the SAMP is the most direct way you could seek inclusion of “quality of life” or whatever other analysis for the EIS to reflect.
Before we get to my reply, I have to admit he skirts around the edges of making one very good point: Where are the legislators on this? On any level. Why didn’t Representatives. Orwall or Pelliciotti express their objections in public–or at least with the Port Commissioners directly? And I would ask the same of our own City Councils? Why don’t we hear them screaming about this?
A big reason the Port gets away with so much crap is because our electeds don’t complain IN PUBLIC. What I am totally SICK OF is how absolutely two-faced our city, county, state and federal legislators are when it comes to the Port. This is only one of a hundred examples I could cite. It’s what I call “Teenage Slumber Party”.
Sound familiar? There is never a real confrontation where Legislator X talks openly with the Port Commission on the record, “You’ve gotta cut this shit out. Now.” Doesn’t happen.
On virtually every issue the Port Commission can rightly say to us, “If the issue was so bad, why isn’t your legislator as upset as you are? That is the proper avenue for relief: your electeds.” Absolutely correct. But it’s clear that our electeds do not present our case with the necessary passion. They seem to want to have their cake and eat it too, get relief for us if possible. But definitely continue to have pleasant relations with the Port. That is a huge part of our problem.
I no longer believe that any legislator has our back because it’s clear that what they say to us about the Port does not match the way they talk to the Port in private. And I won’t believe it until I see any public official (City, County, State, Federal) begin to confront the Port for bad acts like this on the record. I understand the value of everyone getting along, but sometimes, ya gotta stand up to the bully.
Thank your for your reply.
First of all, I am sorry if my tone seems constantly harsh. I don’t know how to interact with you guys in a more congenial manner when I see no substantial change to the Port’s approach versus 1996. I’m not trying to compare you with any previous commissioners, but you must understand: you’re treating us in exactly the same unfair ways as 20 years ago. And I am genuinely puzzled that you can’t seem to recognise the unfairness of your lobbyist’s actions.
And at the risk of sounding flip, besides concerned residents who else would you expect to hear complaints from? I don’t understand exactly why my City Manager did not raise objections until residents showed up but that does not surprise me. As I’ve told you since the day we met, my city is not properly representing the residents when it comes to the airport. It is why I have begged you to put on your Environmental Steward hat when you deal with your neighbours (us) because our city governments simply do not. In any event, that is for me to take up with the city.
As to your comment about ‘the agency under scrutiny’, The Port Of Seattle will not be under scrutiny with this study. The environment will be under scrutiny. All I am asking is that the Port not be allowed to help ‘craft’ the bill for the simple reason that the bill was introduced by Tina Orwall and Mike Pelliciotti specifically to exclude the Port’s influence. This was supposed to be the one study that the Port would not be involved with in any way.
You do not understand the fully justifiable level of mistrust in the community. Since the 3rd Runway, the Port has influenced the results of every document in every context that was meant to study the impacts to our cities and environment from your airport. We have almost never had objective tests on a whole range of impacts. This creates an insidious vicious circle where the Port can never be held to account simply because there is a dearth of data in which to refer.
If you cannot see how the changes your lobbyist ‘negotiated’ are unfair to the spirit of the bill and how they will render it incapable of providing the results it was intended to, then it puts the lie to your claims of being an ‘environmentalist’. You can’t show concern for orcas on a Monday but then approve of your lobbyist’s efforts on a Tuesday. Our communities are ‘the environment’ and we have a right to know what is going on–especially when we paid for that study, not you.
As to the SAMP? The SAMP is under your (and the FAA’s) auspices. Both SEPA and NEPA are limited to specific areas of inquiry and at the end of the day, the two agencies the airport communities mistrust the most will help determine their results. Your choosing Landrum & Brown brings up a whole other range of PTSD feelings for residents. All of us who have studied their work have found it to be heavily slanted in the Port’s favour, leaving out many critical details. In short, we wanted the budget proviso so that we would be free to study the items we care about and know that we were getting objective results.
I respectfully ask you, once again, to do the following, by resolution if necessary, at the next meeting:
Instruct your representatives to have their changes removed and the original language of the law reinstated in full. They should be instructed to make no further attempts to alter the process in any way, either at those meetings or in any other context.
Thanks in advance for your help.