Thursday, October 15, 2015

Wow! “Clean Up Puget Sound— Now”

(PHOTO: Elaine Thompson/Associated Press)
Hadn’t heard that in a while so it got me excited last Friday when I saw the Seattle Times editorial headline, “Stop political inaction, clean up Puget Sound — now. The problem, according to its editorial board, is — guess what? -- politics.

The solution, according to its editorial board, is — guess what? -- more politics. Specifically passing federal legislation elevating Puget Sound to the status of having “national significance,” which would “align federal efforts and coordinate a united recovery strategy with the state.” And presumably bring more federal dollars to Puget Sound protection and recovery.

Strange to put progress towards cleaning up Puget Sound in hoped-for action from a Congress more skilled in deadlock and now in majority-party disarray. Disheartening to have the loudest editorial voice in the Puget Sound region shift focus to the Never-Never Land of Congressional politics and away from scrutiny of the State’s own efforts— that of the Puget Sound Partnership— and progress towards making Puget Sound “swimmable, fishable and diggable.”

Getting results in governance doesn’t come from having good ideas. It comes from having people, lots of people, supporting an idea. That’s called a constituency, something that causes like gay marriage and legal marijuana and $15 minimum wage have. That’s the kind of constituency cleaning up Puget Sound needs.

In the not-so old days we used to ask, “Who speaks for Puget Sound and who holds accountable all those who are responsible for its protection and restoration?” Does Governor Inslee? Does the Puget Sound Partnership? Does the Puget Soundkeeper Alliance?

A lot of money and social capital has been spent by the state on defining what “swimmable, fishable and diggable” means.  So I’m sure someone can give a report on progress to that end that maybe folks will listen to.  But, as the editorial points out, folks don’t know Puget Sound is ill. And even if they did, how would it make a difference?

An environmental group board member once punctuated a discussion about the need to educate people about Puget Sound by saying, “Is that what you want? A bunch of educated people watching Puget Sound go down the toilet?”

No, what Puget Sound needs is an organized constituency that speaks for the Sound and holds accountable all those responsible for its protection and restoration. It is a constituency that demands action by saying, loudly and clearly, “Clean up Puget Sound— now!”

--Mike Sato

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

When Drones Are Outlawed, Only Outlaws Will Have Drones

First of all, I won’t identify the drone operator in my neighborhood by name because I don’t want to inspire others by glorifying his actions. I’m sure he bought his drone legally and thinks he is exercising his God-given constitutional rights to fly it above my house. If someone’s going to take his drone away, they’ll most likely have to kill him first.

On the other hand, it may be as simple as his receiving an “accommodation” based on some religious grounds that allows buzzing over my house. No, the Pope is not going to have the last say in this matter.

Maybe nobody has the last say except the perpetrator. While I, Man of the House, stood in front of the barbecue grill fuming and shouting obscenities and raised the middle finger salute to the contraption whining back and forth over our back yard, the Woman of the House sat quietly nursing her gin tonic, looked upward and said, “That’s enough.”

With iron fist in velvet glove, she marched out to the street and, five minutes later, the whining whirr stopped and she returned home with her report:

“It was (name deleted),” she said. “I asked him to stop flying it.”

“’Why?’ he said. ‘Because I don’t like it flying over my house,’ I said.”

“’Where do you live?’ he said. ‘Down at the corner,’ I said. ‘You can fly it somewhere else.’”

Maybe (name deleted) will take personal responsibility and fly his toy where it won’t bother anyone, where it won’t crash and hurt someone. No different than responsible owners of firearms who take safety training and secure their weapons not because the constitution allows them to, but because they take responsibility for their health and safety and that of the people around them.

Those who are unable or incapable of being responsible for their health and safety and the health and safety of those around them should be guided by the iron fist: no drones, no weapons. And there are places and times where and when we just don’t take drones and weapons. [ FAA Proposes Nearly $2 Million Fine To Drone Operator For Restricted Flights ]

Was anyone in the 12th Man crowd filling the stadium last Monday night packing drones or weapons? No. Did those who could not bring drones or weapons feel like their God-given constitutional right was being violated? Nope. And you know what? Qwest Field was one of the safest places to be in Seattle during Monday Night Football.

--Mike Sato