A pet peeve of mine. This is something I often see when protesters get in front of some politician for one of these three minute Public Comments. The person comes in with a seriously researched argument. They’re really making a great point. And then they reach the end and their big finish is:
“And in conclusion, I demand that [insert politician or institution here] immediately begin siting a second regional airport!”
Now don’t get me wrong, we obviously need a second regional airport. But look, there are a whole bunch of politicians who are thinking about this already. You don’t need to convince them! In fact, a second airport is the one thing they all agree on! It’s soooooo far off in the future that they can happily make such a commitment without actually having to make any tough calls (like helping you today.)
Now the people at the Port Of Seattle are another story. You cannot expect them to throw their backing behind this–especially if your fantastic idea is to move cargo flights away from Sea-Tac. Why? Because the Port Of Seattle is a competitor of any other regional airport. A big part of their expansion is to encourage more cargo flights from Sea-Tac.
So back to the above protester. She makes this fantastic speech and then turns it into nothing by either a) pushing on an open door (meaning the politicians who already think its a good idea) or b) demanding it be done by a competitor (The Port Of Seattle.) When she does this she’s not only wasting her moment, but she’s letting the politicians off the hook!
Every time you protest, you should definitely ask for something real. But you should ask for something in the now, not for something fifteen or twenty years down the road. When you do this, you’re demanding that your leaders really commit to something concrete–not something abstract and nebulous that may never benefit you or your neighbourhood.
And when you ask for something today you’re helping everyone far into the future by changing the power dynamic. Which means this: We have never had a relationship with the Port or the FAA that was responsive to our needs. Our first and most important goal should be to make it normal for them to hear our complaints and respond. We have to make it normative for them to bargain with us (the community). And we do this, as with any new skill that needs to be learned, by starting small. Remember: neither side has any practice in this; we’re used to being stomped on and they’re used to not listening. We have to change that pattern before we can attack big issues.
Thought for the day: We’re going to be living with the airport for-ehhhhver. We can’t keep having these fights to the death with them every ten years or so. It kills us and it’s ridiculously expensive for the Port. It’s in everyone’s best interest to figure out some way to work out these problems together.
What should you ask for? I’ve ranted about that a bunch of times. I’ll rant about it a few more 😀
1. Fair property buyouts for the poor souls nearest the runways.
2. Changing the flight paths on Runway #1 to avoid all the schools.
3. Compensating home owners with ‘The Port Package’ who have failed windows and moldy insulation.
4. Expanding the DNL65 Noise Boundary so that thousands of people can get noise mitigation.
5. Working towards a curfew.
That’s just for starters. There are many more possibilities. If you need ideas, you can read about my wants and needs in my other rants. But for now, recognize that it benefits you to ask for things to be fixed now.
So when you make that big speech to whatever leaders you are speaking to, wind it up by asking for something real and something now. Don’t let them off the hook by asking for something other people are already working on. They are not used to answering direct questions and responding to simple, common sense ideas. Ask for something that they know is simple fairness. Make them squirm.