Tip Johnson submitted his view on the negotiations and possible deal as a comment to the latest ‘negotiation progress‘ post, but they seem more appropriate as a separate post. Tip includes (not for the first time) a link to the petition to Congress to re-confirm (‘perfect’) the federal road right-of-way from the mainland at Gooseberry Pt to Lummi Island, with a call to action from islanders. Wynne
Please forgive my impatience.
I don’t believe that any “deal” on terms such as have been discussed is worth approving. I would just say, “No, thank you.”
This is a very slippery slope, as should have been discovered in 1963 when the County agreed to lease payments of $150 per year for the dock as an expedient to end interminable negotiations with the Tribe.
They would have been well advised to make the effort to permanently settle the matter then. Instead, the lease set a precedent that led to the 1982 consent decree, which emerged from a civil action that originally had nothing to do with the ferry. Now it is established habit that the County pay the Tribe to use a right-of-way approved by the federal government in 1920.
A lease along the present terms will oblige the County and islanders to forever negotiate future rates on any terms the Lummi Nation chooses to assert. The structural problem of what authority applies remains intact and can be used again and again.
Islanders should now be aware that the County has no capability, or even interest, in defending the islanders’ rights. Islanders should have perceived by now that our congressional delegation has elected to leave the matter for the Lummi Nation to decide. Think of it. Only two agencies have the authority to affirm the right-of-way: Congress and the Tribe. Our Congressfolk have said they won’t. The Tribe certainly won’t. That leaves the Tribe in the catbirds seat, capable of dictating any terms they wish. Thank you, Larsen, Cantwell and Murray.
That doesn’t mean that islanders don’t have a right. It just means that no one is willing to take up the fight. But there are many members of congress who might be interested and concerned because the precedents sought by the Lummi Nation have far reaching implications across many states.
For well over a year, I have been amazed at islanders’ unbridled willingness to sit idle and see what happens, to hope for a solution without personal costs, to accept secret negotiations with outcomes they will pay for, but have no say in. Islanders should be driving this issue, not watching it in despair.
So if you find yourself biting your nails in anticipation of results you don’t relish, stop! Chew on Congress instead. It is time islanders let Congress know their perspectives on the issue. So far they have mainly heard from Tribal lobbies. There is no point in talking to our delegation. Their positions are clear. But that leaves five hundred and a score or more to contact.
At www.skookum.us, I have assembled contact information for all members of Congress, and provided directions for how to simplify multiple contacts and the message.
But islanders must understand the importance of message discipline. This is not an opportunity to promote a foot ferry to Fairhaven, high-speed catamarans, moving trucks with two canoes or a thousand other alternatives. It is simply about a right established in 1920, in which the sole authority of the time noted that all requirements had been met.
Corollary points of interest regarding schools, emergency and medical care, the survival of essential services and the community of Lummi Island all can ring true to the core of this issue . . .
Only Congress can affirm the right-of-way and our representatives won’t help, so other members must be asked and informed. They cannot be expected to act without being informed. No one but islanders can genuinely accomplish that end. And if islanders choose not to make the effort, they should not complain about the results.
But a flurry of paper from fax machines must be noted and recorded. The likelihood of our delegation being asked tough questions from their colleagues can only increase. The possibility of a simple resolution affirming the right-of way becomes more likely and a result reflecting the will of the people on Lummi Island has the potential to arise.
It is worth a try.