September 14, 2016 Sandy Robson
“Beyond that I want to go on record, most of all what I was writing about – I felt was really important – is that our county administration, Jack Louws and his administration, have refused to put correspondence and documents related to the GPT project on the GPT page of the county website. They had two documents, only, on there for the entirety of 2016 until myself and a few handful of people started writing them on – I believe it was July 29th – and asked them: where are those documents?
“It’s not about the reports and the EIS, it’s basic correspondence, like what’s been happening with the suspensions that have been granted, all of these three, at least, now, suspensions since April 1st when the 45 day suspension was invoked per its clause by PIT in the contract. Now there’s been months of additional suspensions. I believe, not only does the public deserve to know what was in those correspondence emails. The only emails that then were subsequently then posted on there were coming from – there were three: a July 22 letter from, I’m sorry, a July 20th letter from CH2M HILL, and then a May 10 letter from PIT, and an April 1st letter first invoking the suspension from PIT.
“No letters form the county at all, any responses, posted on there, and you all are asked to be making this decision with no information other – to my knowledge – to base that on other than what the administration is telling you is their version of what’s happening. None of us really know, because we have not been made privy to those documents, those correspondence, at least and I’ve asked numerous times and they still haven’t been put on and there’s no good reason they’re not on. And a couple of those documents were sent to me -not even in a public disclosure – just sent to me after I asked multiple times and those were sent by Mr. Schroeder and he still refused to even put those on the public website.”
Commentary, Dena Jensen
I can tell you that Sandy made her public comment in open session at the September 13, 2016, 7 p.m. Whatcom County Council meeting, and that Council Member Ken Mann, a few minutes after her comment, partially misinterpreted it in directing a related inquiry to Deputy Whatcom County Executive Tyler Schroeder and County Executive Jack Louws.
Here is Council Member Mann’s inquiry:
“There is one issue that was brought up today by Ms. Robson just now, which is about transparency, which is something that’s very, very important, especially in this issue. And I was hoping we could ask Tyler and Mr. Louws to just respond to what, to me, was a pretty serious accusation, in that, there’s somehow hidden documents that you have, that you are keeping from the public and that somehow, not approving this – er, this permit extension somehow keeps those hidden.”
You will note in the second paragraph of Sandy’s comment presented above, she states, “It’s not about the reports and the EIS, it’s basic correspondence, like what’s been happening with the suspensions that have been granted, all of these three, at least, now, suspensions since April 1st when the 45 day suspension was invoked per its clause by PIT in the contract.” (emphasis mine) Sandy’s point is that documents are not being made publicly available on the county’s GPT webpage for citizens and county council members (who need to make sure that the public is included on what they are seeing and hearing about GPT), in order for them to make properly informed decisions on issues like the one being discussed and voted on at last night’s county council meeting. You can watch that discussion here: https://youtu.be/SzdpjJMibcs?t=1h14m7s
When Deputy Executive Schroeder responded it was almost entirely focused on public records requests, which is not the point that Sandy was raising. You can view Deputy Executive Schroeder’s response here: https://youtu.be/SzdpjJMibcs?t=1h10m37s
The fact remains that Sandy has received email correspondence from Deputy Executive Schroeder between the county and GPT proponents, related to EIS contract suspensions, that the county has not yet posted, as of 11 a.m. 9/14/2016. Also, in case you think that there could be some valid reason (someway, somehow) for why the county has not yet provided some of the GPT-related documents when asked, on the county GPT webpage (even though they have been provided to Sandy Robson in an email), – there’s this: the emails regarding GPT that Whatcom County finally provided on the county’s GPT webpage on August 5th, after not having posted them all year, have not been added to since July 31, 2016. That’s about a month and a half since an update, during a time when decisions have been required related to GPT by the Whatcom County Council. Personally, I have addressed or copied five emails to the county administration regarding the GPT EIS preparation contract extension and/or requesting GPT related documents and correspondence being made available to the public. I know Sandy and some others have written as well, and of course that does not include emails that the county or GPT proponents or consultants have sent: Where are those documents???