Ted Sturdevant Leaving the Governor’s Office

The Governor’s policy advisor and legislative liaison, Ted Sturdevant, is stepping away from politics. Sturdevant, who also ran the Department of Ecology under Christine Gregoire, has decided it’s time for something new.  It’s a welcome change to see. While running the DOE not only did Sturdevant side with the net pen industry over the controversial regulations of the Shoreline Master Program in Jefferson County, he claimed total ignorance of the issue when I talked to him not long before he left that post. This after years of contentious battles between the Jefferson County Commissioners, especially Phil Johnson, who met with him on a number of occasions to discuss finding a way out of the impasse.  That he was then put in a key policy advisory role for the new Governor was extremely disappointing.  My perspective on him is that he either was simply an out of touch senior administrator or purposely deceptive to being in favor of allowing net pens wherever in the Sound they could be implemented.  No doubt he’ll be back, folks who have run larger bureaucracies surface in other political bureaucracies or in the ranks of lobbyists that get hired to come back in the revolving door.  Now we will better see what the governor’s newly hired coal lobbyist is going to offer. Sturdevant’s replacement at Ecology, Maia Bellon, essentially ignored the Jefferson County Commissioners that went to see her.

The issue that Ted and others at the State level have so clearly shown over the last few years, is that they are the first to run to the doors of those of us in the towns and counties who are working the hardest to make the real change happen, to implement laws and get them enforced. When these pols  want money to get elected, or seek support for appointment they show up.  But after the elections have died down, the same folks tend to conveniently miss appointments, or shun our elected officials when they come to see them. They become more interested in some middle of the road situation, even when the opposing parties don’t the slightest intention of meeting anyone halfway. Like Maia Bellon, they tend to view us as a possible lawsuit in waiting, or just an aggravation to their day.  Given the stalemate in government today, it would be quite more refreshing to see people such as Ted Sturdevant actually stand for implementing grass roots requests for improvement in the ecology, rather than bureaucratic stalemate. He and these others just might find that the grassroots are much more likely to support their efforts, when we aren’t fighting the very people we helped elect to implement progressive policies.

Here’s his resignation letter.

Dear legislators, I want to let you know that I’ve made the difficult decision to leave the Governor’s Office, effective June 30. You, more than most, understand how demanding these jobs are, and I’ve decided it’s time for a different pace and a different work-life balance. I know I’ll take the summer to catch up with family, friends and life in general. After that, we’ll see. But I hope we cross paths again as we work in our different ways for this wonderful state. I am a wholehearted supporter of Gov. Inslee’s values and vision for Washington, and I’m sure I’ll find a new way to contribute to realizing that vision. I leave knowing the Governor’s Policy Office is in good hands. We have developed a terrific group of policy advisors, and I am thrilled that Matt Steuerwalt has recently joined the team as Policy Director. Matt has the integrity, experience and talent to lead that strong team. As we bring on a new legislative director in the coming weeks to work with you all, the Governor will have a great team to tackle the challenges and opportunities ahead. On a personal note, I first volunteered for a local campaign in Oregon almost 35 years ago, and I took my first job with the Oregon Legislature just shy of 30 years ago. I have seen such change in that time, and most of it has made the job of being an elected official more difficult. The pace, the money, the shrinking media, the permanent campaign, the lack of privacy, public disclosure (oh that’s right, you don’t have that!) – if it weren’t for the enormous salaries you earn (that’s right, you don’t have those either!), I don’t know how you do it. I have an enormous amount of respect for those of you who are willing to surmount those obstacles and make the sacrifices required to serve the state as elected leaders. I have even more respect for those of you who do the hard and risky work of balancing the necessities of partisanship with the opportunities found in collaboration and compromise. So many sustainable solutions are available when we choose that path.

Thanks for all you do for this state and the people and values you represent. It’s been a real honor to work with you.

All the best, Ted

Jefferson County Commissioner John Austin decides against third run for seat – PDN and others

Jefferson County Commissioner John Austin has decided not to run for a third 4 year term. I have appreciated his strong stand on environmental issues over the last years, and will miss him on the Commission Board. He has been a very solid vote for environmental protection, health care for all county residents, and a man willing to deliberate over a position.  Politics is about trying to make everyone feel like they are being considered, and some in this county have not felt that way over the last few years, but that wasn’t for a lack of trying by John. Good luck John in all your future travels. I thank you for your friendship and consultations.

http://www.peninsuladailynews.com/article/20140318/NEWS/303189976/jefferson-county-commissioner-john-austin-decides-against-third-run#.UykC-RAYgoA.twitter

Sound Action expands staff and drives agenda in Olympia

Sound Action, the relative newcomer to the Salish Sea environmental action scene, continues to expand. Diane Tilstra  joined the team to help  expand fundraising and capacity. Diane is passionate about Puget Sound and has a long history of helping organizations thrive. She spent many years as the development director at People for Puget Sound and was a liaison to the Alliance for Puget Sound Shorelines, which worked to find establish and private funding for common environmental projects around Puget Sound shorelines. Diane also serves as a board member for the Seabury School in Tacoma and volunteers with the National Alliance to End Veteran Suicide. I worked with Diane at People For Puget Sound and can attest that she is a great asset to have brought on to S.A. They are rapidly becoming the new organization that is actually challenging the status quo around the Salish Sea. Lord knows it needs it. Far too many endless meetings and far too little action.

Here’s a wrap up from Sound Action on their Olympia efforts. Given the general ‘do nothing’ nature of this last session, this is good work for such a small organization like theirs.

  • We are happy to say that the derelict vessel removal bill we supported, which created new tools for the derelict vessel program an DNR, passed with flying colors. This program helps to ensure habitat protection by allowing DNR to remove derelict and abandoned vessels from Puget Sound, which can pollute nearshore and marine waters with fuel and oil spills.
  • We also worked to defend Puget Sound from the impacts that would arise as a result of a bill related to floating homes. This bill initially proposed to amend the Shorelines Management Act in ways that expanded the definition of water-dependent, setting a dangerous precedent and opening the door to many more over-water structures in the nearshore. While the bill itself pass, the final legislation did not include this damaging language we opposed and the general integrity of the Shoreline Management Act was supported.
  • The forage fish bill we told you about last month unfortunately died before getting a floor vote. But, there was good progress in helping to spotlight forage fish issues in the legislature and laying  groundwork for next year.

Representative Van De Wege signs onto bill to ban & label GMO Salmon

Republican State Representative Condotta (R) co-sponsored  by Representative Van de Wege, have put forward bill HB 2143,  to ban genetically modified salmon in the State. This would ban net pen operations in state waters from farming any genetically modified salmon. It does not ban raising them in upland closed container sites. Additionally it calls for identification of farmed GMO fish vs. commercially caught salmon. Background on this is that Washington was the first state in the country, in 1993,  to make it a law to label salmon as wild or farmed. It was heavily opposed by the same industry coalition back then. But it passed. We led the way in salmon labeling, and the arguments are again being made that labeling and banning of these fish should be a Federal issue, not a State issue. They also say it will cause consumer confusion. I  personally don’t know many consumers who are confused as to wild vs. farmed salmon labels. In fact, it seems to have spurred purchase of wild salmon, as consumers know that they are getting what they want, as opposed to not knowing if it is or isn’t. That confusion is more likely to lead to other choices of protein.

The reasons for this bill that have been put forward is to codify the rules on avoiding cross contamination on GMO salmon and to add a simple label on GMO fish when they are sold in Washington State stores.

At the January 17th Public Hearing, testimony was hot and heavy. Industry spokespeople were out in force to attempt to stop the bill. Also citizen activists testified in favor of it. Industry is attempting to muddy the waters by claiming that this will ban research and development of genetic fish, some of which could be hampering work on human disease development. To be clear, the bill does not ban that research. It bans farming GMO salmon in State Waters. That is defined as navigable waters in the state. The Sound, Strait, Outer Coasts and freshwater rivers and streams are usually what is meant by that term. 

Some of the testimony (pardon me if the names are spelled wrong, they were not always clearly identifiable):

A panel opposed to the bill showed up to testify:

Alan Cook of Icicle Seafoods. They opposed  the bill claiming that GMO salmon are already banned in State waters.

John Dentler Director of Troutlodge. They are the oldest company in aquaculture in America. They  grow Sable Fish (Black Cod) and Shellfish. He claimed they have no plans on rearing GMO salmon and trout.  They want to  carve out an exemption  specifically for triploid (sterile) fish in the bill. Labeling aspect is troubling to them. If we specifically label to this State, they are faced with labeling requirements. National and State environmental policy acts handle these issues, he said.

John Bialka Pacific Aquaculture on the Columbia. They produce triploid trout for restaurant business. Not interested in raising GMO salmon. Opposed the bill.

Also in opposition to the bill.

  • Dan Swecker ex-salmon farmer and ED Washington Salmon Growers Assoc.
  • JIm Jesernig ofWashington Association of Wheat Growers -
  • Tom Davis Farm Bureau
  • Heather Hansen – Friends of Farms and Forest.  “True intent is to stigmatize genetically modified food”
  • NW Grocery Association
  • James Curry NW Food Processors Assoc. – Opposed to the bill.
  • Dan Coin – Biotechnology Industry Association – Opposed.

Showing up in favor of the bill

  • The Yakima Nation
  • Doug Milholland of Port Townsend. He brought up Salmon Confidential and the work going on in British Columbia against farmed and GMO salmon.
  • Senator Marilyn Chase 32nd district (D)  testified in favor of the bill.
  • Ann Mossmiss – Ex-Alaska Fisherman. Food and Society Policy Fellow Institute of Agriculture and Trade Culture. Very concerned about the new genetically modfied  National Academy of Scientists are very skeptical and concerned on this. She was a very convincing speaker with a great deal of background on the subject.

The bill will encounter stiff opposition in the House and Senate,if it even passes out of committee. I highly recommend that any of you wanting to weigh in on this bill do so now. Send emails to Representative Kevin Van De Wege’s office.

Watch the whole testimony here:

http://www.tvw.org/index.php?option=com_tvwplayer&eventID=2014010063

The Bill itself:

http://apps.leg.wa.gov/documents/billdocs/2013-14/Pdf/Bills/House%20Bills/2143.pdf

Bill Analysis:
http://www.tvw.org/index.php?option=com_tvwplayer&eventID=2014010063

Republican Majority in State Senate Grows by One – Tacoma News Tribune

This will make things harder to get any environmental legislation done. Another year likely to have very little of substance accomplished.

A new alignment in the Washington state Senate calls for some new math.

“The difference between 25 and 26 isn’t one,” Senate Majority Leader Rodney Tom said Thursday. “It’s exponential.”

Read the whole story at

 

Inslee picks salmon recovery coordinator- The Olympian

The Governor moves to fill position on Salmon Recovery Board. 

A Littlerock man has been selected to lead Gov. Jay Inslee’s Salmon Recovery Office, which coordinates regional efforts to return salmon from the brink of extinction. Brian Abbott, the governor’s appointee, joined the state’s Recreation and Conservation Office in 2000 and now leads the salmon recovery grant section. Before that, he was the district manager for the Pierce Conservation District, where he created and coordinated the district’s salmon recovery programs. He also served as vice president and president of the nonprofit South Puget Sound Salmon Enhancement Group. 

Read the whole story here…

http://www.theolympian.com/2013/07/20/2630331/inslee-picks-salmon-recovery-coordinator.html

Legislature approves several Puget Sound priority bills

The fact that what did get put forward in the legislature this year did get passed is good news. Other bills that were important died in committee, some with very little help from even their sponsors (such as the bill allowing the banning of net pens that was sponsored by Representative Kevin Van De Wege and lightly supported by him). However, the rubber will meet the road in Olympia, this week and next, as the budget tries to get through. All these bills’ funding is stalled in the Senate, which, with a small Republican majority, is blocking a final budget. If you are so inclined, call your Representatives and Senator and tell them to get this done.  Kudos to NGO’s such as Washington Environmental Coalition, Puget Soundkeepers, Audubon, and companies such as Taylor Shellfish, who have stepped into a leadership role fighting Ocean Acidification, along with  many others who championed these bills.
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Gov. Jay Inslee has signed into law all of the Puget Sound priority bills. Most recently, partners celebrated the signing of bills that prevent derelict vessels (ESHB 1245), prevent aquatic invasive species (SB 5702), strengthen the management of our coastal resources and protect Washington waters from the effects of ocean acidification (SB 5603). Attention remains on the budget, where little progress is visible toward bridging the significant impasse between the House and Senate.
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