Tarboo Ridge Coalition Update

Opinion: Peter Newland

September 15, 2019— Day 887 of the resistance

Thank you for joining us today for an update on the Tarboo Ridge Coalition’s efforts to prevent a paramilitary training compound from being sited at Tarboo Lake. Jefferson County government thinks of Fort Discovery’s proposal as “a commercial shooting facility”. Our research indicates Fort Discovery Inc. has far more ominous plans and dreams.

I’ve been asked to spend 10 minutes briefing you on legal and county government matters.
As many of you know and Saturday’s PDN article confirmed, “Mr D’Amico has a history of
abusing the legal process to bully local governments whenever our community wants him to play by the same rules everyone else is expected to follow.” And I would add he employs the same tactics towards citizen groups and individuals who oppose his plans. That has been a hallmark of Mr D’Amico’s behavior for nearly 15 years. Hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars have been wasted. Like the County, TRC’s coffers have also been diminished defending spurious lawsuits and threats. In all our cases, when push came to shove Mr. D’Amico folded, afraid to sit for a deposition. We have a lot of questions he did and does not want to answer.

Tomorrow we will receive the GMHB decision on our challenge to Jefferson County’s Title 8
ordinance passed in December 2018, regulating “commercial shooting facilities”. We are hopeful the Board will side with TRC and instruct the County to issue a State Environmental Policy Act checklist and give the planning commission and the public a chance to weigh in on substantial changes to the zoning code that were erroneously couched in Title 8 as “health and safety” matters. If TRC does not prevail then any application will be processed under a wide open katy bar the door ordinance that allows shooting facilities to be built in 76% of unincorporated Jefferson County with no limits on size, number of firing positions, type of weapons or who can train. There are absolutely no bright line rules. If we do prevail, we will all have the chance to work for a sensible and fair ordinance that includes specific siting criteria and does not allow a popular public Jefferson County Lake to be usurped for corporate use and private profit. Please stay tuned. To date our expenses for legal defense are approaching $50.00 per day. This is day 887.

We have said from the beginning, TRC’s task will be long, arduous and expensive but we will not be deterred. How long you ask? If history is any guide, recall that Richard Butler set up his Aryan Nations compound at Hayden Lake, Idaho in the early 1970’s. In 2001 the compound was shuttered, bankrupted by litigation by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Far better to resist one being built than to try and shut one down.

Speaking of the Southern Poverty Law Center they recently mapped 1020 active Hate Groups all across America including ones that are active on the Olympic Peninsula. You may have seen the news report about the noose hanging in a local storefront. Slowly the dots are being connected.

Let talk a minute about Jefferson County government. They likely mean well but have not done well. They say they are intimidated by continued threats from Mr. D’Amico and his attorney, Greg Overstreet, including one spurious claim for $100,000,000. One Commissioner said they were being “blackmailed”. It has never been disclosed to the public what the threat, if any, is. Thus, we have no ability to judge the accuracy of county officials’ fear.

I can think of a lot of words beginning with “C” that apply here. Courageous is not one of them. Conflicted might be one, Complicit and Complacent definitely are. At the other end of the alphabet is “S” which stands for Secretive so let’s start there.

On December 18, 2017 the County declared a moratorium on gun ranges and announced an
intent for a citizen’s committee to study the matter and make recommendations to the County. On January 15, 2018, twenty- one days before officially establishing the moratorium, the County entered into a “mediation agreement” with Fort Discovery Inc. “over what the moratorium on new shooting ranges means for Joe D’Amico’s proposed facility near Tarboo Lake.” A $435 an hour mediator was hired and thus began what is now 608 days with no appearance before the mediator but continued communications between the parties. Those communications remain secret because the County says that they are in discussions in preparation for mediation. State Law allows preparatory discussions to be withheld from the public.

18 months of preparation for mediation is hardly credible, and the continued secrecy raises all kinds of questions as to how much influence Fort Discovery had in shaping the new ordinance which is much less restrictive than what existed prior to the moratorium. Mr. D’Amico, in addition to participating in the secret meetings with the County, also served on the Citizen’s Committee that advised the County.

Apparently only a public records lawsuit stands a chance to get answers to the question of
whether there was any undue influence, or if the County has been complicit.

TRC, Department of Ecology, The Army Corp of Engineers, Jefferson County Department of Community Development and the Leader have all documented that the encampment at Tarboo Lake is under construction. A gun range has been built, toilets are being flushed, group training has commenced, wetlands have been filled, and buildings red tagged in 2005 have been moved onto the site and are in use. No permits have been granted and the County will not publicly divulge the status of any applications for permits or what, if any enforcement actions are being pursued. Our request for a briefing was denied and labeled as “political”. When notified of the danger posed to the public by the makeshift gun range, the County ignored the public safety ramifications, took Mr. D’Amico’s word that it is a private range for his friends’ recreational shooting and that no money changes hands. That is the essence of “Complacency

After nearly 15 years of Fort Discovery’s prevarication and routinely ignoring Jefferson County rules, the County continues to show great deference to the Corporation and continues a pattern of failing to enforce.

It raises the question; Is there is any rule that Fort Discovery Inc. will respect? Or in the
alternative, how flagrant does a violation need to be or how much danger to the public must be demonstrated before Jefferson County will choose to enforce its own ordinance?

To borrow a phrase, Let’s hope that past performance is no guarantee of future results!

Peter Newland, Board Member, Tarboo Ridge Coalition

Foreigners with Beards

Mike Regan

I’ve always been aware that something was amiss. Even when a child, I couldn’t accept the way conditions were. It didn’t have to be that way. Why were my parents failing to deal effectively with the way society was?

Why were the Boy Scouts so regimented? We were ordered around like little soldiers, taught to stand in lines and march. Treated with little respect as individuals.

Why was it that, walking up a long hill on my way home from school I had to breathe the stinky, poisonous fumes coming from diesel and gas vehicles? Why couldn’t “they” do something about this, and about that? Who was running the show, anyway?

The media and the politicians seemed to know the cause of all our problems: Foreigners with beards.

If it wasn’t Fidel Castro, it was Ho Chi Minh. Recently it was Osama Bin Laden, and a whole long list of bearded Middle-Easterners. Also apparently, the other the bad guys were the ones with mustaches: Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini, and more recently, Saddam Hussein.

But, anyone could tell that it wasn’t Ho Chi Minh that was making me choke. It was my own country that planned to send me off to kill or be killed in Viet Nam. It was our own corporations that produced these polluting vehicles and fuels, and our own government who failed to regulate them, and who colluded in the war-profiteering.

Was it really “our” government, who did this in Viet Nam, or “we” who sent support to the tyranny in El Salvadore? It didn’t feel like anyone I knew supported these things. It wasn’t “we” in Seattle who were selling so many Boeing jets this year. Who are “we”, and do we really own “our” government or “our” corporations?

Do corporations have the right to sell poisonous tobacco products or polluting vehicles and fuels indiscriminately? How do the pharmaceutical companies get away with a slap on the wrist after so many have suffered and died from their addictive drugs?
There is a common thread here: Big money rules, and you don’t have it. There is no one running things in the public interest. Just big money interests whose only interest is to make more and bigger money for their own interest.

Occasionally, rich philanthropists like to look like they are looking out for people, and this is good. But, do they give up control to truly democratic and better intended groups like the non-profits? Groups like Mothers Against Drunk Driving, or Mothers Against Guns, or environmental groups like Green America or World Wildlife Fund?

Not to be too cynical, but it just seems like whenever one of these grassroots organizations makes a little progress, the rug is jerked out from under them by the power of big money, buying Congressmen and Presidents, who change the rules.

The only real solution is to have a constant drumbeat of public pressure, from a very large majority of the people on all the major issues. To get this, we would have to have a much better level of public understanding and education . . . which we are not getting, because of the private and increasingly centralized control of the big media. But that’s OK… Most of the men there are clean-shaven, anyway.

There once was something called the “fairness doctrine”… A law that required all big media outlets to provide equal time to opposing points of view whenever a political issue was aired on their stations. How could they be required? Because they are using the public airwaves and public roads for the wires and cables to propagate their massages. And the corporations were not claiming they were “persons” with rights of free speech.

We can no longer blame foreigners with beards, women, gays, blacks or whoever. They are we, and it’s about time for us human persons to take back our rights and the power to control our own destiny.