A Letter To Earnest Thompson

Mr. Thompson is a member of the StART Committee for Normandy Park and a candidate for City Council in that town. This letter is in regard to a failed Resolution #944 voted on at their City Council Meeting 09/10/2019.

Hi Earnest,

Again, I’m sorry that I was unable to make the Normandy Park City Council meeting. And I’m also sorry the Resolution failed to pass.  I watched the video and the good news is that my input would have been both unnecessary and most likely unwelcome.

I thought the StART was dumb from day one and I said so. But like pretty much everything I say about the Port Of Seattle, my comments are not considered (cough) ‘positive’.

So why change now! 😀  You should know that I discouraged Burien from ‘seceding’ from StART. And the reason I did so is not because it accomplishes any goals for reducing noise and pollution, of course. I get the need to ‘make a statement’. But I’m making something of a ‘sunk cost’ argument: it’s there, so keep showing up and maybe learn some things. But do so going forward with eyes open and with much different expectations.

At the risk of sounding melodramatic, I view the StART a bit like how it was always a good idea to keep talking with the Russkies during the Cold War. The only thing worse than pointless talking was not talking at all. And this is a Cold War. With the StART, messed up as it is, you get to engage at a finer level of detail than with the generalistic and even boring-er Highline Forum.

But to the point at hand, if you felt like your City Council needed ‘lobbying’ in order to do the right thing on this resolution, then I submit that your battle was lost even before y’all walked in.

That said, as I told you, I wouldn’t sweat it at all. If the airport really is a salient issue for NP voters, I couldn’t imagine a better piece of content to use in your campaign. Hell, my City Council left StART and my opponent can use that gesture to show her fake bona fides on the issue. So be of good cheer.

I want to close with the two points I would have made if I had been there, one to my fellow activists and one to your City Council:

What is frustrating to me about activists in the area is that they continually try to fight their war based on merit.  You of all people should recognise that this is one of the most common failings of protesters; the notion that, “If we only give them the facts, they will surely see reason!” Noooobody changes their minds based on ‘facts’. Sharyn Parker alluded to this in her comment: we keep getting the same ‘facts’ generation after generation with no practical effect. And yet what do all the speakers do? Provide more facts! Apparently, this tendency is so irresistible that nobody can help themselves! (I too get seizures of righteous indignation from time to time.) But it’s all pointless. As I’m fond of saying, if a Fred Felleman doesn’t respond to ‘facts’, no one will.

And to your Council: the StART was another trick by the Port Of Seattle, which we’ve all fallen for many times before. It gave them tremendous PR value. And it was terribly alluring to City Councils because it allowed them to not really do anything, but to look like they were doing something. It was a bit like going to Physical Therapy, where you can say you’re rehabbing yer knee, but you’re really not because actually fixing your busted knee would require you to do all the real work away from the clinic. And who wants to do that? 😀 In short, as so often is the case with the Port, it gave the appearance of engagement. It was something for nothing, which was irresistible to councils like yours and mine who would actually prefer to do zip.

My unasked for advice is this: Get elected. Then use your position to leverage informing and organizing your residents. I don’t see how we can win until we get more of the public on board. You can help to do that when you win. The biggest advantage the Port currently has is that they (and our city governments) have convinced everyone (including so many activists) that there is literally nothing we can do at a municipal level. When in fact, it is a cultural change at the Council level that will finally flip this bitch.



PS: You’ll notice I haven’t mentioned a ‘reconstituted StART’. I’m having trouble understanding what that might look like because frankly, if we had a relationship with the Port that was healthy enough to have the StART Sheila Brush described, we wouldn’t really need the StART. (That actually does make sense. 😀 ) And I also wonder what difference a ‘StART With Electeds’ makes until we actually have electeds who know what they’re talking about. So win.

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