The DOE vs. Kittitas County Part II

“Surprise, surprise, surprise” was Gomer Pyle’s famous TV refrain. Mr. Pyle it appears should be working for Department of Ecology Director Jay Manning.  After completely ignoring the public input process, Mr. Manning has decided to leave in place the Kittitas County well moratorium even if the Kittitas County Commissioners sign his Memorandum of Understanding.  Yes, you read that right—Manning will not lift the moratorium even if the Commissioners give him everything he wants.

For months now, Mr. Manning has accused Kittitas County of negotiating in bad faith. He issued press release after press release telling our citizens that if the Commissioners sign his Memorandum of Understanding restricting exempt wells, the water will continue to flow but with his limitations.

Turns out that offer was a complete lie.

 At an August public hearing in Cle Elum, Jay Manning let it be known that he will not lift the well moratorium even if the Commissioners sign his Memorandum with all his demands. Turns out there was only one party negotiating in bad faith. Surprise, surprise—it was the State of Washington.  For two years our commissioners (past and present) have been working with DOE to hash out an agreement. It was not until last month that we learned all the negotiations were a waste of time. Mr. Manning had already decided to place a moratorium regardless of any of the negotiations. In a perfect world, the county should be allowed to sue him and his office to recoup our costs.

It is important that we set the record straight. Because Mr. Manning is an incredibly dishonest public official, many community business leaders are unaware of his responsibility for our situation. The pain of Mr. Manning’s decision is being felt across our community. Homeowners who are in the middle of building a house are taking a hit. Without water, they can’t move in. Realtors are taking a hit. Many of the deals they have put together are collapsing because, without water, one or both parties are withdrawing from agreements. Banks are taking a hit. Some banks in Kittitas County are refusing to make land or home loads in the upper county until the moratorium is lifted. Unfortunately, because of so much misinformation is being disseminated by our “liar-in-chief” many of these business leaders are directing their anger towards local officials.

 Here is an unfortunate fact. There is nothing our Commissioners can do to lift the moratorium. They did not put it in place and now, there are no concessions they can offer Manning that will get him to lift it. Manning has indicated that whether the moratorium stays or goes is between him and Attorney General Rob McKenna. Our local officials have been cut out of the loop.

In some respects, this should not come as a surprise, surprise to anyone. The Gregiore Administration has made a practice out of eliminating the input of local officials whether it is wind farms or water wells. In fact, her arrogant dismissal of any local input has so aggravated local officials that county commissioners from all over the state came to the hearing in Cle Elum to protest the behavior of Jay Manning and our current administration. These visiting officials realize that it may be Kittitas County that is getting beat up today, but they will be next.

Given these facts, I hope landowners, bankers, real estate agents, well-drillers, construction workers, local officials, and anyone who supports local control will direct their anger where it belongs—The Department of Ecology and the Governor. Give them a call, I’m sure they would love to hear from you.