Complaint to Grays Harbor County

Dave and Judith Palmer
7475 State Route 12
Oakville, Wa. 98568

September 5, 2002

Grays Harbor Planning Commission
Chairman and Members

The commission decision has been made. But I am a poor loser and an unhappy opponent of the Chehalis Tribe Anderson Road shorelines permit application process. I want my opinions heard and noted.

Since the September 3 Grays Harbor County Planning Commission meeting was a "Public Hearing" I am concerned about the process that was followed. The agenda called for 1) staff report, 2) a presentation and statement by the applicant, 3) public testimony, and 4) action.

It was hard to lose. Especially so because a former executive of Grays Harbor County was allowed to speak last after the public testimony. He spoke as a proponent of the project. He spoke as an employee of the project who is opposed to the public comments and the public concerns.

Mr. Daniels, who is not an engineer, was asked to answer an engineering question by the commission. In response to the question Mr. Daniels was given total, unrestricted, freedom to endorse and speak in sponsorship of the project. Many of Mr. Daniels statements were in conflict with earlier public comments and there was no opportunity to rebut his commentary. Really shouldn't the question have been directed to County staff members?

It seems inappropriate, and quite possibly a conflict of interest, for Grays Harbor County to allow a former executive employee to appear before any boards or commissions as a project sponsor. Mr. Daniels obviously trades on his reputation (public trust) with the board, and county employees. He was frequently addressed by his first name. Unlike members of the public Mr. Daniels sat with county employees in what seemed to be a staff area of the hearing room.

This project is key to and part of a piecemeal development. The County is ignoring evidence which showed that the Chehalis Tribe was already piecemealing development in the Anderson Road project area. The new adjoining gas station mini-mart development, with thousands of yards of additional fill, was conveniently left out of the permit being considered. Yet this gas station and mini-mart, along with the raising of Anderson Road, will significantly alter the flood patterns of this small valley. I feel the only appropriate solution was to require the applicant to perform a complete EIS.

Pacific International Engineering (P.I.E.) must be criticized for using Mr. Daniels as a corporate representative to county government. P.I.E. no doubt has skilled engineers and representatives who could speak at public hearings. They could do so without invoking or trading on the "public trust" which Mr. Daniels earned when he was a public employee of Grays Harbor County.

After Enron, etc., in 2002 ethics demand a higher standard than the "legality" of a professional employee or lobbyist. The apparent use or misuse of political power cast a dark shadow of questionableness over the decision process.

Finally, we want to thank the Commission Chair and Commission members for the stand they took on oath swearing. We were surprised by the comment (at the start of the meeting, from the unidentified person in the staff area) that presentations at this hearing might be part of a future lawsuit. We appreciate your sense of fairness and your willingness to turn down what appeared to be an attempt at intimidation of opponents.

We would hope that Grays Harbor County and in particular this commission takes the necessary steps to protect the rights of future proponents and opponents who might appear in a county run hearing or meeting.

This page created and maintained by Dave Palmer