This Week's View

by Deanna Lee Birkholm

November 4th, 2002



What? Have you seen that one before? It's alphabet soup for "Not In My Back Yard."

Pretty common. We don't like problems, but when it does come to solutions, we don't want them applied to us. A series of comments on our Bulletin Board has to do with closure of what was public water, No Trespassing signs appeared when a new owner bought stream-side property. Laws obviously vary from state to state - but once again, if the water itself is not public the state has allowed something to happen which really is wrong. Can it be fixed? Maybe with court action - the problem is someone allowed it to happen in the first place. Public access to water is a problem nearly everywhere. Who allowed it to happen?

In my opinion all waters should be public, with the exception of land-locked ponds, lakes and spring creeks which emanate on private property.

There has to be a covenant added to that. The property owners should not be held liable for the stupidity of those using the waters. We have a sewer society - people file frivolous or harassment lawsuits because they can. That should also change. The losing party should be held liable for the costs and attorney fees of the winning party. There are places where that is the law, and trust me it cuts down on the backlog of court cases in a hurry.

The front-page headline in last week's The Sun newspaper still has my head ringing.

Ferry security plan raises alarm

Here's the deal. Remember 9/11? The U.S. Department of Transportation which oversees the Coast Guard has new guidelines to protect our coastlines. We here in Washington state use the ferry system to get around. The ferries from Bainbridge Island on any given work-week morning transport 2,000 people per ferry to Seattle, and that is for several morning sailings. Blowing one up and sinking it certainly wouldn't be as spectacular as the World Trade Towers, but it's right in there.

What's the problem? Quoting the The Sun the guidelines "spells out a comprehensive system of tough new homeland security measures that could require examination of luggage, passengers, and vehicles boarding the ferry, as well as roving patrols of armed guards aboard the ferry vessels." (These new restrictions will apply to all ferries anywhere in the United States that carry more than 500 passengers, including all auto ferries in the Washington fleet. The security measures would become stricter as the perceived terrorist threat increases from Marine Security Level 1 to Level 3.)

You know what? We have local government officials and the ferry system (state employees) fighting it! It will be inconvenient! It could cause delays! It might invade one's privacy! There are people complaining now about the State Police walking through the lines of cars waiting to drive onto the ferries.

One of the responses to the new guidelines was "Where is the measurable evidence that it's necessary to search one in four cars or half of all the trucks boarding vessels (at Level 2)."

There were supposed to be 12 armed Sea Marshalls (Coast Guards) at the ferry terminals and aboard the ferries starting on October 12. Get this, "That plan, set to be enacted without public notice, was temporarily halted when questions were raised by state ferry officials concerning what procedures the sea marshalls would follow in dealing with passengers."

Let's see, the Congress did not pass a Homeland Security Bill, the locals don't want to be inconvenienced, and "ferry officials" don't think the military is properly trained to handle passengers. The locals certainly are much more informed on how Sea Marshall should be trained. Oh, and yes we must be notified of such things in advance!

What is wrong with this picture?


It's ok to have security at the borders on land, or at airports - but don't bother me with it when I want to use the ferry system? But then how do we have between 8 and 11 MILLION illegal aliens in this country? Looks like someone didn't do their job there either. (It's so bad they don't really know the numbers.)

Get real.

If you chew on it a bit you can probably add to my list too. Stream closures? Changes in regulations without any seeming reasons? Userptment of public water? Pollution dumps or spills? A gutless Fish and Game which allows rampant over-fishing? Laws made for the lawyers not the people? Funding of utterly stupid stuff with your tax money when there is no money for a stream/river clean up? Or to fund kids programs for the out of doors? Not to even mention the lack of education in our schools!

So why did I write this?

Because tomorrow is Tuesday, November 5th. In the United States it is voting day. One email correspondence I received heartily suggested all of us not re-elect anyone. Good point. Did they get the job done you sent them to do? Do you feel your government is working for you? Or against you?

Folks, I don't care if you are liberal, conservative, independent, green or purple. If you are a citizen of this country you have the responsibility to vote. Just maybe if the number of people who turn out for this mid-tern election is large the politicians will get the message that we are taking their inactivity and failure to do their job seriously.

I am taking it very seriously, and I've already voted by Absentee Ballot. Do your duty! Don't be a NIMBY! ~ LadyFisher

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