Islander, Eileen Martin, forwarded this e-mail response from Attorney General McKenna’s office to PLIC. Eileen said the response came to her within several days of her contacting the AG’s office in regard to that office’s rendering an opinion relating to the ferry. With Eileen’s permission, PLIC forwarded this to the Forum to share with community members. Thanks to Eileen!
Subject: Lummi Island Ferry
Date: Fri, 29 Jan 2010 16:28:43 -0800
Dear Ms. Martin,
Thank you for your recent e-mail to Attorney General McKenna regarding the Lummi Island Ferry. I am one of Attorney General McKenna’s deputies and have been asked to respond to your message.
Let me begin by saying that I am acutely aware of the importance of this issue to all concerned. Island residents and businesses rely on the ferry as their vital connection to the mainland. The County is committed to trying to meet the transportation and service needs of its citizens. The Tribe, in turn, appears to have concerns about the impacts of the ferry and an interest in alternative uses for the land.
To this point, these potentially competing interests have been reconciled via a lease agreement that was negotiated between the County and the Tribe. The State was not involved in those negotiations, nor is it party to the lease agreement. This was and is a bi-lateral agreement between two separate governments in which the State does not have a direct role.
Some want the State to weigh into the legal aspects of this matter on the side of the County. I don’t believe there is a basis for the State to do so at this time, nor do I believe it would be helpful. Were the State to try to intercede in this matter on behalf of the County, I have no doubt that the United States would feel compelled to intercede on behalf of the Tribe. Having two more governments and two more teams of lawyers involved may serve to complicate rather than expedite a resolution.
Both the County and the Tribe are represented by caring and responsible leaders who are trying to find a solution this matter. These County and Tribal leaders are supported by able and knowledgeable lawyers who are capable of identifying the legal issues involved and of zealously advocating for the respective interests of the Tribe and the County. I believe that the best chance for a successful outcome continues to reside with the tribal and county leaders, without the intervention of State or federal lawyers at this time.
(note sender was only identified by the email address)