BOO: Olympia Council

February 11, 2013 

The Olympia City Council just loves process. And when it comes to adopting a Shoreline Management Plan, it seems they just can’t get enough of it.

The city is already more than a year late delivering a plan to the state Department of Ecology. The city’s planning commission spent three long, turbulent years on the issue, including numerous opportunities for citizens to provide input, without finding consensus. The council took back plan development last July and has spent the last seven months gathering even more input.

Now, the council wants to spend $16,000 for visualization software it isn’t sure will work, and which might trigger more debate and public hearings.

Enough, already.

Mayor Stephen Buxbaum is right. The visualization software is going to add cost and time in an already lengthy process, and it will simply result in council going over the same tired ground.

Worse, basing any decisions on the visualization software blurs the line between planning requirements and development realities.

Are council members simply afraid to take a vote? Do they fear upsetting their most staunch supporters by complying with a statewide requirement?

Can anybody besides the mayor show a little leadership?

YAY: PILING REMOVAL

Another piece of Budd Inlet is being cleaned up. The removal of 400 old wood pilings leaching creosote into Puget Sound waters began this week in West Bay.

The project continues the transformation of West Bay Drive from its industrial past and the drive to clean up Puget Sound by 2020, an initiative championed by former Gov. Chris Gregoire.

While benefiting the environment, the state Department of Natural Resources is also creating private sector jobs to complete the $278,000 project.

It’s a win-win.

YAY: PEACE CORPS

Students at Washington’s colleges and universities lead the nation in volunteering for the Peace Corps. The University of Washington, Western Washington University and Gonzaga University produced more volunteers than another other schools in their categories. The Evergreen State College and Seattle University also placed high in the Peace Corps’ rankings.

BOO: BOY SCOUTS

The Boy Scouts of America just couldn’t do it. A week ago, the BSA indicated it was close to reversing last summer’s affirmation of its anti-gay policy. But the Scouts’ national council decided last week to bow to anti-gay pressures.

It’s a shame. The BSA raised the issue itself by hinting it would welcome gays into its membership, but it fumbled the ball. Now, the organization appears struggling for direction and leadership.

The Scouts missed a grand opportunity to repair the brand of an important but declining, national youth program.

BOO: SHELTER SPACE

More than 1,000 children in South Sound schools are homeless, and that number is rising across the state. But the area’s serious shortage of shelter space means young people are turned away every day.

As the community works toward a reasonable shelter strategy, priority should be given to space for homeless students and families.

YAY: INTERIOR PICK

President Barack Obama has placed our national parks, wildlife refugees and responsibility for offshore oil drilling in good hands. By picking REI CEO Sally Jewel, the president found a tough manager who understands the issues and will bring a perspective from outside the Washington, D.C., beltway.

Having a Northwest voice in the other Washington will be good for this state.

BOO: TOLL WHINERS

The rich folks over on Mercer Island are whining about having to pay tolls on the Interstate 90 bridge. Island residents want a lifetime toll exemption.

In other words, they want other people to pay for the transportation infrastructure that enables them to live on the island, and from which they personally will benefit the most.

The Department of Transportation should think about that for, oh, 10 seconds before answering, “no.”

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