The system does not work when there are no checks on state agencies

St. Joe’s Hospital will probably be facing fines for venting toxic gas into the construction area of their new addition. Our Bellingham Herald has not reported a bit of this. Rumor has it that one or more contractors will also be fined. For our hospital to be so careless and sloppy as to vent cancer-causing gases into an area of workers is just appalling. Wonder if the Herald will bury the story when St. Joe’s is fined. Well, I’ll link you to the story in the Seattle papers when it breaks.

And here is an issue involving our state government agencies.

We have learned the State Department of Natural Resources is very slow to release emails and memos in response to a public disclosure request sent weeks ago. Our state agencies are trying to do the “Landscaping” plan for Lake Whatcom between themselves - in violation of state law that requires public process.

Here is an internal Department of Fish and Wildlife email that NW Citizen has gotten a copy of. It was leaked. This is smoking-gun evidence of state agencies working together to circumvent public comment by citizens and stonewall any issues that may be raised by the public. I am printing this now because the state has finally mailed the emails requested, but they have not arrived yet. When they do arrive, we will see if this one is included.

Jeff Koenings is Director of WDFW, Dept of Fish and Wildlife.
Doug is Doug Sutherland, Director of DNR, Dept of Natural Resources.
Jack is Jack Hulsey, Doug’s senior manager at DNR
Everide is a manager in Olympia WDFW
Fish and Forest is the 50-year-old Forest and Fish compromise agreement
HCP is the Habitat Conservation Plan.
PDEIS is the Preliminary Draft Environmental Impact Statement

Here is the email:

From: Jeff Koenings
Sent: Thursday, October 31, 2002 3:55 PM
Subject: Lake Whatcom PDEIS

Talked with folks at DNR ie, Doug and Jack and went through the DFW comments to a degree and DNR’s reaction. To sum it up it was a Christmas Tree discussion. For example, it DFW supports Fish and Forest why question or demand things in excess of that statue. IF Ecology signs off on the water quality section of the PDEIS why does DFW think they have something to say about it. If the DNR HCP was agreed to by DFW why question provisions in the PDEIS that implement that HCP. In other words, live with the Christmas tree and don’t try to add ornaments onto it.

There is a valid point here! That is why I stressed to Doug that we will have policy oversite going on over the DEIS comments that will be consistent with agreements already in place. I don’t know if the tree or the ornaments as set forth by DNR are in the right categories—but the point was close enough to make some sense.

Jeff K.

So - citizens may raise valid issues at a public meeting, but the state agencies will support each other and quash anything another agency does not like. Keep the christmas tree decorated as the agencies first decorated it. Public input is made meaningless.

You should know the state Attorney General never looks into violations of state laws by state agencies. The AG only defends state agencies against charges they have violated the law. The Auditor has limited authority to look into violations, but they never do. It is pretty much up to citizens. The system does not work when there are no checks on state agencies.

Gentle reader, if you want evidence of how the AG and Auditor ignore abuses of state law by state agencies, try bringing this to the attention of anyone in state government. Try a state senator. Try anyone. And listen to that sucking sound. It is them putting distance between you and them.

About John Servais

Citizen Journalist and Editor • Fairhaven, Washington USA • Member since Feb 26, 2008

John started Northwest Citizen in 1995 to inform fellow citizens of serious local political issues that the Bellingham Herald was ignoring. With the help of donors from the beginning, he has [...]

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