Department of Ecology mistreats some citizens, says Freedom Foundation

By Neal McNamara | April 22, 2014
Mount_Rainier_and_Lake_Tapps

Can the state Department of Ecology be trusted to be involved in the overhaul of a major land use planning document?

That’s the question the Washington Freedom Foundation is asking as Pierce County begins its seven-year review of the county Shoreline Master Plan, which guides land use along waterfront areas.

Freedom Foundation property right director Glen Morgan spoke to host David Boze on Tuesday about troubling documents he uncovered that show high-ranking Department of Ecology officials mocking state residents.

“The [Department of Ecology] always claim they encourage public participation, but they really want public conformity,” Morgan said.

For example, in 2011, documents show that Water Quality Program Manager Bill Moore referred to residents from Asotin County as “rable” in an email exchange; another official in the exchange insinuated that a “Tea Party meeting” might cause trouble for public officials.

The department has hired messaging firms to help government officials talk about shoreline master planning, including a guide that talked about how officials can talk around anti-shoreline master plan citizens whose core values are “freedom and prosperity.”

Finally, former department director Ted Sturdevant – now working in Gov. Jay Inslee’s administration – referred to arguments against new department rules with profanity [contains expletives], specifically calling Republicans a nasty epithet.

“You can tell there’s a preordained conclusion,” Boze said. “There’s no real concern.”

“It’s not a lack of concern, there’s a total disdain and contempt for citizenry who won’t be passive peasants,” Morgan said.

At a meeting last Thursday in Sumner, Morgan brought his concerns about the behavior of the department to state legislators. He stopped short of reading the profane documents the Washington Policy Center had uncovered.

One contentious piece of the plan for Pierce County residents calls for creating a 50-foot buffer along the shoreline of man-made Lake Tapps.

More than 150 Pierce County residents joined Morgan to speak to state Sens. Jan Angel, R-26, Pam Roach, R-31, Doug Ericksen, R-42, and Bob Hasegawa, D-11, and state Rep. Graham Hunt, R-2, about their concerns. At one point, many residents laugh as the claim is made that the department of Ecology cares about Pierce County residents’ opinions.

“The Department of Ecology doesn’t regulate the environment. What they’re really about is the regulations of the citizenry and controlling the message of whatever their current agenda is,” Morgan said.

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