Kremen response re: LIBC ‘mediation letter’

Pete Kremen called this morning in response to my email query last night asking for follow-up information to Henry Cagey’s (LIBC chair) 10/12/2010 letter about the (non-binding) mediation process.  In that email, which I shared as a comment to last night’s report of Sam Crawford’s receiving the LIBC letter, I promised to report County responses here on the ferry forum.

Below is the gist of Pete’s comments during our phone conversation today, including some information that goes a bit beyond what was asked in the email.  Thanks to Pete for providing us with this information so quickly.     Wynne

Who will be doing the mediation alluded to?

Pete: The County and LIBC have agreed to Richard Manning, a lawyer from Seattle and past president of the Washington State Bar Association as the mediator for the negotiations.  (Manning’s website)

The County suggested three names 4-5 weeks ago. The LIBC rejected all three and suggested two new names, one of whom was Richard Manning. After interviewing Mr. Manning, the County agreed he was acceptable.

The County mediation team will be Dan Gibson, Pete Kremen, Ken Mann, Sam Crawford and Bill Knutzen. Mr. Cagey asked specifically that Mr. Knutzen be part of the County team.

Apparently, Mr. Manning has become ill, so the first mediation session will not take place before the end of October, as had originally been planned and was described in Mr. Cagey’s letter.  Hopefully a first meeting can be held before the end of November.

Any successful mediation, from Pete’s perspective, must include an agreement about parking, which is not currently part of the negotiation or planned mediation. His current position is strong opposition to any mediated agreement that doesn’t include parking, because that would leave the County and islanders open to another costly ‘negotiation’ situation next year.

(WL note:  The September Squol Quol, the Lummi newspaper, reported (p. 10) proposed amendments to the official Lummi Nation zoning map. One proposed amendment included zoning changes for the back-beach lands east of the “fish dock” to enable potential marine, commercial and recreational uses. It’s not clear if or how that would influence ferry operations, including parking. Squol Quol is available at the Island Library and elsewhere.)

What is the ‘litigation’ that the LIBC letter alludes to?

Pete: Since Henry Cagey’s letter only alludes to litigation, I don’t know for sure but think it concerns possible litigation related to the road right-of-way issue. Some County Councilors think that the road right-of-way from the mainland to Lummi Island exists despite the LIBC assertion that there is no such right-of-way over the tidelands. He thinks perhaps that some County Councilors may support litigation regarding this issue, and that may be what Mr. Cagey’s letter was alluding to.

Even if a road right-of-way existed or were re-established, Pete’s understanding is that the County would still be responsible for compensating the Lummi Nation for use of their property.

Has the County received any written or oral disposition from the PLIC lawyers concerning issues related to the ferry lease? (apology: this should have read deposition or brief, not disposition.)

Pete: PLIC attorneys have had numerous phones calls and some face-to-face meetings with Dan Gibson.  To date, Dan Gibson does not think that the information the PLIC attorneys have conveyed in those meetings differs from the County’s legal positions.

The County Council asked the PLIC attorneys to meet during the scheduled October 12, 2010 Committee of the Whole, in executive session, but that didn’t work out.  The PLIC attorneys have been re-invited to meet with the Committee of the Whole council next week, Tuesday October 26, 2010, again in executive session.  Pete does not think that that the meeting will include any of the attorneys’ clients (i.e., the PLIC Board).

The County has not received any written brief from PLIC or its attorneys.  The PLIC attorneys have so far advised their clients, the PLIC Board, against providing such information.

Pete said he thinks that any information submitted to the County legal team or in executive session to the Council, whether orally or in writing, would not be subject to public disclosure. He repeated several times that he wasn’t sure about this, though, as he’s not a lawyer.

If the PLIC attorneys provide any crucial information that would help resolve any piece of the current negotiation process or issues, Pete said that the County would definitely not ignore that information.

Two other questions were covered during our conversation:

Do you think that the Lummi Nation has the right to block ferry service to Lummi Island?

Pete: I think that only federal officials would have the right to do that and it seems highly unlikely they would do so.

The LIBC informed the County several weeks ago that the LIBC would not insist on their October 15 deadline for ending ferry service, but they asked the County not to make that information public.  The County chose to respect that request.

Is secrecy about ferry service not being interrupted really necessary, especially since only federal officials have the power to shut down ferry service?

Pete: I know this continued uncertainty makes islanders very anxious and uncertain. This continued stress is unacceptable. I know it hurts people’s plans and even health. The County was trying to smooth the path of the negotiations, to hasten their conclusion.

6 thoughts on “Kremen response re: LIBC ‘mediation letter’

  1. forwarded email from Barbara, in response to my query yesterday about the LIBC letter and mediation process, including selecting a mediator. Wynne

    —– Original Message —–
    Sent: 10/20/2010 12:55:29 PM
    Subject: Re: 10.12 letter from Mr. Cagey


    I cannot say what happened in executive session but I can give you my public answers.

    1. I am copying Dan Gibson because this was completely done in executive session.

    2. I have never heard any council members say or write anything in any way indicating they prefer litigation. It is and has been my understanding that the council prefers mediation. However I cannot and do not speak for any other council members. I think your question would be better asked of Chairman Cagey.

    3. I cannot repeat what happened in executive session. However, I can tell you my public position remains the same as it has been. I have never believed we should pick a mediator until we have received information from the outside attorneys because I believe it is important we go into a mediation with as much information as possible. To me that information would include the decision of who does the mediation. We have not yet received any information from any outside attorneys.

    I also do not like being put in the position of not being able to answer all your questions. I was extremely surprised at what happened in executive session.

    Barbara Brenner

    • Good idea to ask Mr. Cagey, Barbara. As he lives in the 3rd District and is a Whatcom County citizen who votes for County Council candidates (3rd district primary as well as full election), why not call and ask him about this — in your capacity as one of his two district representatives.

  2. Very strange that no councilperson from the 3rd county district (district that represents LI) is not on the negotiating team. Make me even a little more nervous about this process.

  3. In regards to the LIBC telling the county that it would not insist on the October 15th deadline for ending ferry service, but asking the council to not make that information public, it raises the question of who they are keeping it a secret from and why. The only other effected party is the islanders. So, the tribe wants the islanders to think that they are going to close the ferry, but not really. Are they trying to bluff the islanders? But we have no negotiating ability in this game. I can’t quite work out why the LIBC is trying to cause anxiety to the islanders, and the county council agrees to go along with it. Any Ideas, anyone? This is sounding more and more like a mystery novel.

  4. If the mediation will be non-binding, and the PLIC lawyers claim to have information that is so sensitive that they can not even tell the PLIC board, then maybe that information should not be used in the mediation. You don’t show all your cards before the bets are placed. Therefore, what good will the non-binding mediation be if we can not play our full hand. And what good will it be to let this non-binding mediation play out, delay ofter delay into next year, wasting time and money with nothing to show for it in the end?

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