Thursday, May 26, 2011

Finagling 401

Former Council candidate Mike Peters gets in a letter today about Council's work to "clarify" the successful initiative to require a vote of the people before approving expenditure on any project to cost more than $40  million.

The commenters variously want to go back and debate the value of the pipeline, the value of the initiative process, the venality of Council, and the qualifications of Mr Peters to speak. Another random food fight, in other words.What most seem to be missing is that this is an important issue of process.

I didn't favor the initiative myself, but it became law fairly and we have to respect that. The initiative didn't demand the end of the pipeline project. It requires a vote on it, that's all.

If we hold an election on the pipeline plan and it wins, it validates the value of the project and the process to get us there. It would put the issue permanently to bed -- or at least until it bankrupts us or gets us stuck for years in lawsuits over easements, etc.

But by dragging its feet on the clearly mandated election process, Council is only casting further doubt on the public value of the project as well as its own integrity. They may find a legal workaround, but that will inevitably lead to more court battles, citizen anger and delays. It may be tactically astute, but it's strategically stupid.

The developer combine pushing the pipeline seems to be  underestimating its ability to sell voters a bum steer -- we did wind up electing John Hanna, after all. That tells me that they really don't think they have the goods to win a popular vote, and need to try to get what they want the old-fashioned way: weasel tactics.