Ferry Negotiation Progress + Another Session Monday

9:10 p.m., March 24th – Mike McKenzie just put out a general email updating us on today’s negotiations and related developments, as well as a conversation he had this evening with Pete Kremen, County Executive.

From Mike:
THIS JUST IN — HERALD STORY, AND A CALL FROM COUNTY EXEC PETE KREMEN

A story will appear on The Bellingham Herald website ( http://www.bellinghamherald.com/2011/03/25/1933849/kremen-reports-progress-in-lummi.html ) any minute now reporting on today’s negotiation session between Whatcom County officials and Lummi Indian Business Council (LIBC) representatives. They met almost 7 hours in a meeting room at the Silver Reef Hotel and Casino, and reporter John Stark quotes Executive Kremen saying they made “real progress.”

As a result, the two governing councils scheduled a follow-up meeting for Monday morning at 9 o’clock in County Government chambers, downtown Bellingham.

Meanwhile, County Council amended Tuesday’s agenda to include an executive session (closed to public) at 1 o’clock for a briefing by County Attorney Dan Gibson on the status of ferry negotiations. (posted below)

Stark reported, AND KREMEN AFFIRMED IN HIS CALL TONIGHT, that if a proposal is formulated from the session Monday, County Council is prepared to consider it Tuesday night in its regularly-scheduled public meeting (starts at 7 o’clock). Council could even approve the proposal that night.

Stark’s story and Kremen both emphasized that there is no guarantee that a proposal will come together that quickly (for deliberation Tuesday night by Council). Stark quoted Kremen, “The fact that we’re having another meeting on Monday is a sign that we’re making progress, and I am hopeful for a resolution.”

In his telephone conversation, Pete added, “I feel much more optimistic after our session than before we had a meeting. We made a great deal of progress and will meet again Monday in my conference room at the courthouse to continue work on an agreement. The hope is to arrive at a proposal that we could present to County Council for consideration, perhaps even approval, in the near future — possibly even Tuesday night.”

The County’s representatives at the meeting today were Kremen, Gibson, Public Works Director Frank Abart (for 2 hours), Council Chair Sam Crawford, and Council members Bill Knutzen and Ken Mann.

* * *

Stuart Rich and Fred Kinney from the PLIC Board met in Seattle today with the top aides of Sen. Maria Cantwell, and characterized the meeting as very productive. After the visit with US Representative Rick Larsen and his Bellingham-based aide yesterday, and the visit with Cantwell aides today, it is apparent that positive actions have come from the Congressional delegation’s joint outreach to all parties involved in the ferry lease issues.

This is based on comments from every direction about the ferry not shutting down (LIBC attorney said “no plan (for that”)…Kremen said County planned to keep it running…BIA said it wouldn’t interfere with ferry operation…Larsen said nobody will stop the ferry…

And, based on comments from various sources referring to “creative solutions” and “low-cost improvements that can be put in place quickly….” (in the Herald Wednesday)…and “commitment from both parties to get a settlement”….

* * *

The County Council announcement today:
AGENDA REVISION FOR MARCH 29, 2011
(DISTRIBUTED AT 4:30 P.M. ON MARCH 24, 2011)

PLEASE ADD TO THE 1:00 P.M. SPECIAL COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE:

(Council Conference Room)

3.      Discussion with Assistant Chief Deputy Prosecutor Daniel Gibson regarding ferry issues (AB2011-018)
[Discussion of this item may take place in executive session (closed to the public) pursuant to RCW42.30.110]

* * *

More as we get it….

Mike McKenzie
on behalf of PLIC Board of Directors

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