Another (Follow-up) Viewpoint viewpoint
The following “follow-up viewpoint” was emailed to me from Gail McPherson (who had a Viewpoint in the Tribune recently, also posted here) with a request to post. So far, there’s been three “Viewpoints,” from Bill Garfinkle, the Sustainability Group and Gail.
On a personal note, I feel that Bill Garfinkle’s Viewpoint was a mistake insofar as he expresed a preference as to type of system this early in the Process. As head of the TAC, he knows full well that he carries with him a mantle of “authority,” and as such, should have refrained from expressing any preference, since it is simply human nature for many to assume that that preference has official sanction since Mr. Garfinkle was a County- appointed “official.” And before some of you start yelling about free speech, it isn’t about free speech, it’s about Caesar’s Wife. Everyone on the TAC needed (and needs) to remain bipartisan on this whole issue while this critical Process is still moving ahead. Any publicly stated preference for whatever system is being considered that is made by "official" folks will end up being divisive and counterproductive. In short, Official Personages need to stay above the fray while the non-Official second string enters the field and thrashes it out in the public theatre.
An added note, in an email from John Waddell ,is that the County Surveys were “anonymous” so there’s no way to know who responded or failed to respond (and why, or whether they even got the survey, & etc.) and so the county’s encouraging people to keep an eye out and if they didn’t get the survey, to call the County. The final count of how many surveys get returned will be interesting. Especially as compared to the last “survey.”
My intent has always been to highlight the water issues, and to move a project forward based on a good design and the community having a vote. In hindsight, it is hard to deny that the 2000-2004 CSD had lost control which resulted in the over-priced, over-designed, badly sited, and underfunded project. I saw a lack transparency and accountability in late 2004 as they steam rolled the community. I found errors in their process. I understand that in addition to pride, they had spent all the bond money and were at a point of no return. Thank goodness the project was halted, and we won’t know the final tally, if it costs us more or less for all that mess, resulting from 20 years of obstructions from all stripes until this process is completed and the valves to the plant open.
A few clarifications; the repeated misinformation on the blog about the lack of a plan- A draft project report was written and several wastewater professionals helped peer review it. Ironically, Stan stated publicly he would not allow it to be accepted unless it was stamped by a engineer. (recall MWH failed to stamp theirs) LOTTF did have an engineer that passed the work on to Blakeslee and Rob Miller to use after the recall. (I still have most of it in electronic format and the binder) The revised project was used in the October 2005 first Blakeslee compromise. The SRF engineers use the information to develop verifications of property sites, lower cost technology, and developed time schedules. Rob presented the plan in November 2005 publicly.
Another correction: I have never promised $100 a month for a sewer (that was CASE) and I was criticized bitterly for not providing or endorsing a fixed cost or circulating the draft report to the public. The vote was against the board and project. Something else pops up from time to time- the ABC regional plan, which was Joey Racano. I have been willing to look at many ideas for what might work, and the county thought it was worth exploring too, if the costs could be shared. Blakeslee agreed that we needed to take the time to explore all options. The County is doing that. Whatever is said about the TriW project, it is clear from the record that the CSD didn't have time to develop the best alternatives. They didn't have the judgment or industry expertise to counter the water board, consultant’s greed, special interests or political agendas at work. And last, rules for crossing creeks aren’t new, that was another lie.
I believe from a position of trust and leadership Bill's exhorting the close-mindedness just as the county and community most needs open-mindedness was a wrong move. He certainly has the right to speak his mind. My wrong move was to make personal references to his character. I have long suspected Paavo’s job of keeping the project for being hijacked back to TRI W was made more difficult by supervisor Gibson's close affiliation and friendship with the Taxpayers Watch.
My hope in the coming weeks is that everyone can take a deep breath and read the entire county status report word for word. You will see that we are at the apex of possibilities and we owe it to our community to begin to open a dialogue among representatives from all sides, and stop speaking past one another. This is especially important in weighing in on the definition of terms like minimal, affordable, green, sustainable, reuse, disposal, maximum benefit etc. and try for measurable criteria. Then let the short listed teams put the best and brightest to work developing competitive proposals with a guaranteed maximum price, including full life cycle operation and maintenance costs. Let them include both collection systems and treatment works and get creative in the process.