October 28: Tell County Councilors if You Want a Ferry Advisory Committee

At the Wedneday Oct. 27, 2011 LICA meeting (Grange Hall),
Barbara Brenner and Carl Weimer will attend to hear what we need and want for a new ferry advisory committee.
Please attend and tell them what you want, why and when
(LICA potluck dinner starts at 6:30 PM, program at 7:15 PM).

So far, as a community we’ve heard nothing official from County Council about whether or not they will adopt any, all, or none of the well-reasoned, well-informed and community-vetted recommendations of the Ferry Task Force, including setting up some longer-term ferry advisory committee.

A while back, Carl Weimer posted several questions to help him and the council understand what we would like to see in an advisory council. At the end of his post, there’s a link to a template for a county ordinance for setting up an advisory committee.  (It’s not unusual for one or more citizens or groups to write a draft ordinance that a councilor then submits to Council for consideration, though of course Council can modify it however they wish or ignore it entirely. That’s what the PLIC Board did last November for the ordinance setting up the task force.)

If no one attends the LICA meeting or lets the Council know an advisory committee is a high priority for the island, then it probably won’t happen any time soon. (Carl has said that written responses to his questions are especially useful since then he doesn’t have to try to remember what people said, though direct conversation often has considerable impact.)

In late September, Carl met with three PLIC Board members (Rhayma, Stuart and Mike), Bill Lee and myself (at PLIC Board’s request) to respond to his post on the Ferry Forum about what a new advisory committee should look like and how it should be constituted.   We batted around numerous ideas — things like a special short-term group for w0rking with the county in developing a long-term strategic plan for ferry re0placement,  including providing citizen input on various taxing district options, improved assessment of ridership, reviewing and reporting to community about ferry finances, actively integrating with other county transportation agencies (i.e., WTA, Whatcom County of Governments, Lummi Transportation system).

Other items that we discussed were the constitution of an advisory committee like the number of people and requirements for selection All agreed that membership from various island organizations would not result in a particularly ‘representative’ group. We agreed that it would much be better to have requirements like particular skills (meeting facilitation, financial, maritime, communications) and/or stakeholder categories (parents with children, daily commuters, retired, business owners, etc), plus perhaps a member from Public Works and the County Council or county transportation official.

There was no final thought about whether setting up an advisory committee should be tried this year or next, although Carl and the PLIC Board members seemed to think next year would be ok.

Thanks to the LICA Board for setting up the program tomorrow night. Hopefully a lot of islanders will be able to attend and give their input, and hear what our Councilors have to say.

One thought on “October 28: Tell County Councilors if You Want a Ferry Advisory Committee

  1. Our need for a Ferry Advisory Committee to deal with ferry issues in the future cannot be overstated, but I do not want the the Ferry Task Force recommendations to be lost in a new focus on the Advisory Committee. We need County government to approve the Task Force recommendations as a first priority. I hear from people almost daily how difficult it is to budget for the existing ferry fares. Fares need to go down, and the Task Force found a way to make that happen. Let’s start writing and calling Councilmembers, as well as attending the LICA meeting tomorrow night.

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