Archive for the ‘PLIC Blog’ Category
A presentation of the task force findings on ferry financials is followed by a lively discussion where citizen input was invited on issues such as Gooseberry Point parking, potential personnel savings, needs-based fares, the possible creation of a taxing district, and the introduction of an interactive fare simulator model. Task Force Observations 5-2-11
PLIC PLAIN TALK on APPROVING THE FERRY LEASE
Greetings, Friends, on this gorgeous 9-10-11.
We have reached the end game. You are needed. Tuesday night, Sept. 13—just 3 days out— Whatcom County Council will hold a public hearing on the proposed lease agreement with Lummi Indian Business Council (LIBC) for ferry service at Gooseberry Point. The Council might vote to approve or reject the proposal that night. And their vote is hanging in the balance.
We need to get this deal done now. No more delays. No more uncertainty. Now is the time. Please participate in getting it signed.
Two calls to action are extremely urgent:
1. Write now. Right now. Write a short, to-the-point email or letter to County Council asking for their ‘yes’ vote to approve the lease. Councilman Ken Mann has requested this in writing, so the Council will know that it is the consensus position of Lummi Island stakeholders. There is no other viable option. Send your email to: email@example.com (it will be distributed to each Council member).
2. Attend the County Council meeting Tuesday night. PLIC Board of Directors is organizing car pools and renting a bus. PLIC Board also is preparing speakers for the public hearing, to stress that this lease agreement is the ONLY and best assurance for reliable access to the mainland and to prevent further major delays, disruptions, and costs.
Approval of this lease agreement is best for Whatcom County as a whole, for many reasons tied to costs and economic impact, and obviously it is best for its Lummi Island constituents for safety and stability.
Our Ferry Task Force ran the numbers for us. We can afford the lease if the County Council acts on their final report. The lease and the Ferry Task Force recommendations provide the best options for Whatcom County.
When the County Council last met, August 9, and discussed the lease proposal in a Committee of the Whole, PLIC Board had, through personal contact and discussion, assurances that the Council favored the proposal, 5-2.
As of Friday, Sept. 9, again through person-to-person conversations and email exchanges, we know that some circumstances have caused some Council members to reconsider their approval. The result is that our ferry transportation once again could continue unresolved and leave the County and us in further, protracted, extremely costly turmoil – with no immediate resolution available.
The reasons that the proposed lease agreement is the best choice for the County and for Lummi Island:
- It is the least costly of other possibilities (e.g., litigation, ferry to Fairhaven, newer ferry, economic impact, and more).
- There is no Plan B in place. The only other possibility discussed has been Fairhaven, and thorough studies have shown clearly this would be dangerous, more expensive, and not provide adequate service.
- By rejecting the proposal, the County becomes vulnerable to legal action – either or both through individual or public law suits and through brinksmanship if the ferry kept running to Gooseberry without a lease.
PLIC membership and the PLIC Board have spent countless hours and tens of thousands of dollars researching what would be in the best interest of Whatcom County as a whole, and Lummi Island within that framework.
Through two years of public meetings, on island and at County Council, of face-to-face meetings with County government, and of seeking research and the best advice from some of the best legal resources in the country, the conclusion comes back to the No. 1 mission of PLIC since its formation:
Long-term ferry service at Gooseberry Point.
PLIC’s legal team concurs. Our Congressional delegation concurs. We need County Council to concur.
Voices have been raised to County government about rejecting the proposal and pursuing legal entitlements involving the federally-mandated Right of Way (ROW) and the consent decree attached to the last lease, which expired in February 2010. PLIC neither disputes nor discount these issues, and we respect the right to all opinions.
The PLIC Board, on behalf of its membership of about 500, vigorously pursued those avenues. The feedback, after exhaustive research and discovery, was clear: going to court with no assurance of a favorable ruling is a terrible option. It would cost the County and the public millions, and take many years. Those attorneys worked hand-in-hand with County government attorneys throughout the negotiation process to arrive at the best possible resolution through negotiation.
Heeding the best legal advice available, with deep experience in tribal law and work with the Dept. of Interior and the BIA, the County’s best and only financially-viable resolution to transportation for Lummi Island is a negotiated lease for continued, long-term service to Gooseberry Point.
PLIC’s legal team concurs. Our Congressional delegation concurs. We need County Council to concur.
Please make your voice heard on this.
- Write now.
- Attend Tuesday.
Let us know by email if you have special needs requirements to get to the public hearing Tuesday.
Each of you who lives off the island, please arrange to join us Tuesday night at County Council.
Thank you for your continued interest and support.
The PLIC Board of Directors:
Stuart Rich, President
Mark Sexton, Vice President
Joan Moye, Treasurer
Rhayma Blake, Secretary
PLIC urges you to mark your calendars for attendance at County Council sessions July 12 and 26. Council will introduce the proposed lease agreement for our ferry service at Gooseberry Point next Tuesday, and probably will schedule a public hearing for the 26th.
You can read the complete version of the lease agreement here. Ferry Lease Agreement
The PLIC Board learned from sources some helpful tips about the dinner invitation from Lummi Nation scheduled at its community center on Monday, March 28, and was told the following helpful tips:
1. Do not take food. This is not pot luck, it is a dinner hosted by Lummi Nation. (See note below from an Islander about taking pies.)
2. Do not take gifts.
3. Please RSVP at firstname.lastname@example.org
4. Questions will be accepted, written on a note card, upon arrival.
5. Please car pool as much as possible.
* * *
PLIC Board member Rhayma Blake reported on one source:
I talked with A.J. Barse, director of communications for Lummi Nation. He said the event will be much like the event at Beach School in February 2010. ”It’s very much like you heard…Y’all come,” he said. “We’re cooking. Don’t bring anything. It’s a neighborhood sit-down. No press is invited. The ferry will be discussed. Our Ferry Task Force will do a presentation explaining the time line you saw in the Bellingham Herald and what to expect after the drop-dead date. We’ll invite comments and questions on note cards that evening, nothing scripted beforehand like at the Beach School.”
A small group of volunteers wants your help to make it a large group. They went out last weekend (March 4-6) and all this week to circulate a petition to Congressional delegates for support resolution of our ferry issues. The group would welcome you to do any or all of the following to help:
1. Print and carry the petition with you at all times. Collect signatures wherever you go. Petition to WA Congressional Delegation
2. Join the volunteer force with any amount of time you can help, on the island or off, to gather signatures. Contact Jeff at email@example.com
3. Sign the on-line petition. GO TO IT HERE. Then, you can post it to Facebook, Twitter, or email it to anyone. We have thoroughly vetted the petition site for privacy. It contains an option to omit your name from viewing on the Internet. It does not post either your address or email (required for sending to Congress).
After it went live Sunday (3/6), by mid-morning Monday it had gathered more than 110 signatures from 17 states, a state union (Serbia & Montenegro), a commonwealth (Bahamas), a federation (Canada), a republic (India), and a federal republic (Germany). The goal is 5,000 signatures, quickly.
Thanks for helping.
BRINKSMANSHIP, AGAIN…ENOUGH IS ENOUGH
For the third time in just over a year, the Lummi Nation has imposed yet another deadline to end ferry services to Lummi Island. The chairman of Lummi Indian Business Council, Clifford Cultee, sent a letter to Whatcom County Council Chairman Sam Crawford dated 2/10/11 that rejected the County’s monthly rent check of $16,667 and told the County to “terminate its ferry operations” within 60 days.
Why? The simple answer is money. The County’s best offer was $200,000 a year for 25 years, plus an annual consumer price index (CPI) adjustment potentially worth millions more. This was still not enough, despite the fair-market rental appraisal of $65,000 a year on the tidelands property in question where the ferry dock is located at Gooseberry Point..
What will it take to end this cycle of brinksmanship which holds Lummi Island hostage? Here’s a message to the County: Just run the ferry! The Lummi Nation accepted the benefits of the expired lease for 25 years, and now wants to take an unfair advantage by ignoring a legal obligation to renew the lease for fair market value for another 25 years.
Perhaps it’s time for a court of law to determine the legal rights of Whatcom County and Lummi Nation. At the heart of the problem lie federal issues much bigger and more complex than a small county government with depleted resources can be expected to handle on its own. There is no parity between Whatcom County and the sovereign Lummi Nation, which depends upon and is accountable to the federal government.
The Department of Interior, through the Bureau of Indian Affairs, specifically granted the right-of-way for the road to Lummi Island (i.e., the ferry run) as a matter of public necessity more than 80 years ago. The BIA holds the disputed tidelands in trust for the Lummi Nation. The BIA has the authority to grant easements and approve leases, which it generally does only with the tribe’s approval .
Yet the BIA has steadfastly refused to consider the ferry lease extension and has stonewalled requests for intervention from both County Executive Pete Kremen and from representatives of Protect Lummi Island Community (PLIC). For an agency of the United States government to fail to recognize the existence of a right-of-way it previously granted is unconscionable.
We need our Congressional delegates to step up and help solve this federal problem. The citizens of Whatcom County must speak out clearly to our representatives and say, “Enough is enough, fix this.”
To our Lummi Nation neighbors, our message is also clear: your long-term interests, community development, and public good will are better served by finding workable compromises and solutions.
As a community in danger, the time is critical for Lummi Island residents to take action and send a strong message for help to our Congressional delegates. Whatever your position is, we can all agree that we need the Gooseberry Point ferry terminal to maintain our lives and the well-being of our community.
Please join us Tuesday, February 22 at 6:30 p.m. at the Grange to develop an action plan. The time is now.
Stuart Rich, President
On behalf of the Board of PLIC
You have until the afternoon of Tuesday, Jan. 11, to let Whatcom County Council know your opinions about its selection of the Lummi Island Ferry Task Force that night at its first regularly scheduled meeting of the new year.
Go to the Links on the left side of our home page and link to Whatcom County Council, and all contact information is located on their site.
They will select at least four Lummi Island residents to the 7-person task force, and will consider your opinions in determining who those four, or more, will join the initiative established to determine a cost/revenue analysis for use in adjusting ferry fares.
PLIC has labored long and hard toward a goal of participatory government and transparency from the Council, and this is your opportunity to take advantage of those privileges.
An Open Letter To The Lummi Island Community:
The Lummi Island Ferry Task Force
Dear Fellow Islanders,
Despite the many challenges of the past year, we Islanders have persevered in making our voices heard and we now have a unique opportunity to help fix our fiscally vulnerable ferry with the upcoming appointments to the Lummi Island Ferry Task Force by the Whatcom County Council.
- Our community has responded positively to the stalled lease negotiations, to threatened ferry closures, to proposed dock relocation, and to the largest fare increase ever.
- We have created a community based organization – PLIC – with more than 500 members.
- Islanders have participated in community dialogue through on-line forums and websites and through a public media campaign.
- We have provided legal information to the County, and successfully urged for mediation and the formation of the Ferry Task Force.
* * *
The language of the Ferry Task Force County Resolution is intended “…to promote a collaborative process and transparency in governance…,” by giving the Lummi Island residents “…an opportunity to participate….in decisions regarding Lummi Island ferry service and fares.”
The task force represents our community’s best opportunity to preserve our vital transportation link to the mainland and to protect the social fabric of Lummi Island.
The mission of the short-term Ferry Task Force is to examine the ferry’s finances in order to reduce costs and increase revenue. The group will provide the County with a written report by August 1, 2011 with recommendations on how to efficiently serve the transportation needs of ferry users.
The task force is not charged with addressing all of the ferry’s long-term problems, but rather to focus on the financial problems which have led to the latest fare increase and the threat of a drastic reduction in service.
The task force will consist of seven members (at least four residents of Lummi Island, and as many as three members from elsewhere in Whatcom County). The selected members will have the authority to decide how best to:
- Organize the task force,
- Delegate specific work,
- Consult with experts, and
- Receive input from Whatcom County citizens.
To successfully analyze the ferry’s finances and operations, the task force needs qualified applicants with, as defined by the resolution, “expertise in governmental affairs, transportation, economics, finances, other business areas, and community experience.”
The job of motivated and skilled task force members is challenging, but manageable, if they are supported both financially and with human resources. Already, commitments of support are forthcoming from County Council members, sources at Western Washington University, consulting firms, and several island organizations.
The Lummi Island community repeatedly has rallied to the cause during other crises. With this opportunity to impact the restructuring of our ferry operations, each of us can contribute in some way by:
- Applying or encouraging interested and qualified people (both islanders and mainlanders) to apply for Ferry Task Force membership. The deadline is December 30 for inclusion in the Council packet, or 4 p.m. on January 11, 2011 just before the selection at the County Council meeting that night.
The County application form appears here on the Whatcom County Council website.
- Encouraging others to contribute time, effort, and money, as needed and when feasible, to support Task Force efforts from January through July 2011 so that those who apply or get appointed to the Task Force know they will have strong islander support throughout the project.
- Contributions by those of us not appointed to the Task Force can be large or small, short- or long-term, time or money, skills or grunt work. The most important thing is that as many of us as possible contribute whatever we can to the effort.
- Fostering informed, open, and civil dialogue on ferry issues through the Task Force process.
Thank you and Happy Holidays!
Opportunity for Lummi Islanders to help identify outstanding task force candidates
Lummi Island Organizations:
Citing the County Council Resolution to form a Lummi Island Ferry Task Force — “…The County encourages representatives of Lummi Island organizations to cooperatively provide the Council with recommendations for possible task force members….”
A search group meeting was held on 12/7/10 among persons both independent and representing island organizations. Present were David Thorn (UCC), Jerry Andersen (LICA), Bud Jewel (Grange) Angie Dixon (independent), Cathy Goohan (PTO), and Stuart Rich (PLIC). Additionally, Dan Johnson (Island business), Paul Davis (LICA) and Wynne Lee (Lummi Island Ferry Forum) attended an initial meeting 12/2 with Dave Thorn (independent) and Stuart Rich (PLIC).
The group at the first meeting concluded that more input was needed, and a second meeting was set up. During that second meeting, the attendees identified some island residents as possible applicants task force who should be contacted and encouraged to apply.
However, the group recognized that several people in the applicant pool have previous commitments that may preclude them from applying. Jerry Anderson suggested that we contact mainland civic organizations such as the Rotary Clubs, Whatcom County Boys & Girls Club Corporate Board, and Western Washington University for suggestions of persons on the mainland to serve on the task force.
The next and final meeting before Christmas of the search group will be Tuesday, Dec. 14, at 6:30 p.m. It will be in the home of Jerry Anderson, 4030 Legoe Bay Rd, because the church basement flooded. Your organizations are encouraged to send a representative to the meeting with the names of possible applicants, both on and off island.
Councilman Tony Larsen stated in a recent conversation that he sees the Task Force as needing to focus on two main objectives:
1. Revenue — fare levels and fare structure options; and
2. Costs — expenditures and efficiencies. COUNCILMAN LARSON on FERRY TASK FORCE
Please encourage people with the necessary skills and experience to address these issues to apply.
Our Plain Talk newsletter outlines a couple of short-term recommended alternatives to Whatcom County Council’s ordinance introduced to raise rates drastically for Lummi Island ferry service. A public hearing is scheduled on this ordinance (Option 6 – $2 surcharge, and just 10% discount on multi-ride cards) Tuesday, November 23 at 7 p. m.
[Plan to attend. Sign up here to either obtain or offer a ride.]
At the PLIC Community Meeting on 11/11, a full house at the Grange agreed that the process is moving too rapidly. To slow it for a more thorough study and more effective long-term solution to County’s drain on the ferry funds and overall budget, our neighborhood alliance recommends (a.) a temporary $2 surcharge that can be easily implemented with no administrative burden, and (b.) formation in cooperation with County Council an immediate and interim blue-ribbon Ferry Task Force.
This offers a means to apply a tourniquet to an increasing deficit, to allow for a mediated lease agreement, and to ease the Council’s overload on time and resources to undertake a complete, thorough review of all Lummi Island ferry costs, revenues, accounting, and administrative procedures in search of permanent, long-term fixes to a broken system that is draining money.
Read PLIC’s PLAIN TALK on Ferry Fares, Task Force