Yesterday I received the most current (Aug 3, 2011) draft of the Gooseberry Pt agreement/lease from Marina Engels, County Council clerk (emails here). Other revisions may be forthcoming before next Tuesday, August 9, when the Council plans on introducing whatever version of the document they happen to have then, which the public and press may or may not have reasonable access to prior to its introduction. I will email again on Monday (County offices are closed today, Aug. 5 ), asking for any new update that’s emerged. If I get an update, I will post it ASAP.
I don’t know how much has changed from the June 30, 2011 document, but I did see that Section 5 (the previous “unlimited free passage for all enrolled Lummis and their employees” clause is, as indicated by Pete Kremen and Barbara Brenner, still in the works).
I urge anyone who is concerned about the agreement and leases to compare the Aug. 3 and June 30 versions and share with us any differences you find. The more eyes on this, the better — and we don’t have much time. It appears that our County officials won’t do that for us, since the updated version lacks highlights of edits.
At the PLIC meeting last night, I heard Stuart Rich and Lisa Wochos say that the PLIC Board was concerned about three main areas in the June 30, 2011 version. One area was the ‘unlimited free ride’ clause, which the PLIC Board thinks isn’t apt to be a ‘deal breaker’ but needs revision. The other two areas were the ‘escalation clause’ (how annual increases in payments will be calculated) and sections related to the ‘transparency’ of all future negotiations (all the wording that tries to prevent citizens of Whatcom County will, over the next 35 years, get any information about potential changes until after the process is basically done, making it hard for the public to have useful, effective or timely input ).
According to Lisa and Stuart (both lawyers) and others, the anti-transparency stipulations probably are inconsistent with Washington state law ensuring open, transparent government. Whether or not that inconsistency is of serious concern to our County government is questionable in light of the fact that the County executive, County legal staff and County Councils (for at least 10 years) have consistently withheld substantive information from the public about on-going discussions the Gooseberry Pt lease/agreement.
Stuart said that the PLIC Board will soon submit a letter to the Council asking for changes to the transparency and ‘free passage’ sections. He also said that Fred Kinney (who has now resigned from the PLIC Board) has been talking with Dan Gibson and Pete Kremen about changing the formula for computing annual lease payments to something that Fred/the PLIC Board thinks is better. Chandler Johnson said that he’d found two errors in the June 30 annual adjustment formulas. Chuck Antholt raised questions about the particular CPI (consumer price index) adjustment to use, that it’s important — and odd that an ‘urban’ CPI is to be used since this is a rural area.