As dark clouds gather on the horizon there is an odd quiet in Olympia in spite of the many people hustling up and down the halls.
Nerves were inevitable for everyone. It’s hard to stand in a building lined with columns at the entry and marble in the halls and people with power, real or imagined, walking by.
I’m wearing my suit of armor from JC Penney’s, ready to joust on the field of politics. For no other reason other than the fact that I’m wearing a suit and pretending to belong in this building I see people look at me as they pass wondering if I’m somebody they should be kissing up to. I’m not and somehow they sort that out and move on.
Today, a Senate Committee will hear about Lake Chelan and why it shouldn’t be ruled in the same fashion as Lake Washington or other murky waters in Western Washington. Our Mayor Bob along with Councilmembers Wendy and Skip will lead the initial assault. I will speak in between our City elected and the agency guys from Ecology and Fish and Wildlife.
Taking the role of the fearsome dragon is the Shoreline Master Plan, 380 pages of regulations that will slay fair maidens for picking the lovely flowers of the field. We need more time and the cooperation of the agency guys to tame the beast.
The old SMP was 27 pages that basically said “don’t mess things up”. That was a little too easy for mere mortals to understand so the dragon was fed until it became the beast we now face. It is like trying to rope a horse with kite string, you just end up with a wad of tangles and an irritated horse.
In the arena, which happens to be in the form of a hearing room, the parties assemble to prepare for battle.
The Senators take their places in the tiered rows of seats that seem to tower above us where they can look down upon the lesser beings. The room is a little too warm for those of us wearing JCP armor and the TV cameras look a bit too much like cannons.
I have done a lot of tilting at windmills in the last few years but the jousting today takes place with the builders of the windmills.
As the drama begins we look up to see the smiling face of Senator Linda Evans Parlette, wait, we know her, she’s a friend, maybe this isn’t so bad. Senator Pierson opens the hearing; he’s a friendly looking gentleman with a nice demeanor. Others are up there, one Senator looks like someone I’ve seen on a sitcom but he’s a redhead so he has to be a good guy. Another Senator is already on the brink of nodding off and then there is a lady Senator in the top row that appears to be doing some on-line shopping while we get ready to rumble. (In reality attending meeting after meeting takes enormous endurance).
Mayor Bob dives in first. Bob isn’t in this for glamor and just wants to go for the right thing, the setting isn’t where he would like to be but in spite of that he sets the stage for telling the story about why Chelan isn’t some run of the mill fish pond.
Wendy takes the stage next, quickly enchanting the Senators with her honest, open and sparkly effusiveness. Everyone is defenseless against her charm and powerpoint skills. I had to contain my mirth when Senator Pierson, upon seeing a picture of dead fruit trees in the lake asked “isn’t that kind of dangerous?” His powers of perception truly proclaim him to be a superior being.
Skip is next to mount his steed and enter the match. Slinging arrow after arrow of key points I wonder how the Senators and the Agency guys will be able to walk away from this withering onslaught. Skip finishes up and to my surprise nobody has melted into a gibbering pile of goo.
After the passing of forty-five minutes that seemed more like forty-six minutes our elected knights have retired from the field and I am called into the fray.
It took me a moment to realize my name had been called. I was focused on my preparations for battle which meant I was in the middle of an exciting game of stupid zombies on my Kindle. Having just saved the world from zombies in just two shots I knew I was ready for anything. Rising from my seat I couldn’t help but wonder why Mr. Penney didn’t install cooling fans in the armpits of his suits of armor.
I had spent many hours on my speech and was more than ready so when I sat in the inquisition seat and fixed the Senators with my best steely gaze and steaming armpits I launched into my speech without hesitation.
“What they said.” I stated it brilliantly and rushed to flee the field of battle. Looking back I could see the Senators fighting the urge to rise to their feet in applause. Before I could escape Senator Pierson struck out with a question. “You send a lot of e-mails to the Army Corps?”
Knowing he would instantly detect any duplicity on my part and the fact that the Corps has labeled me as the “ringleader of a cyber-bully gang” I knew I had to answer truthfully. (True story)
“Uh, yes?” Was my answer as I prepared for the bolt of lightning from on high.
“Please include me on those e-mails” Senator Pierson said. I was befuddled, that was like someone asking to be included on a spam list. He has no idea how pathetically prolific I am at banging my head against the wall via e-mail.
I rose and almost ran from the seat of inquisition thinking Mr. Penney is going to get a harsh letter about the lack of cooling systems in the armpits of his suits of armor.
Up next came the black knights, the agency guys. They looked like their suits had full on AC.
First from the Department of Ecology was Mr. White. I thought that was an odd name for a black knight. Mr. White the black knight didn’t really have much to say or rather he was having some trouble thinking up what the audience might want to hear and he quickly deferred to Jeffery Davis the black knight from Fish and Wildlife. I have fenced with Mr. Davis several times and know that he is actually a good guy but I don’t want the Mr. White black knight to know that.
Mr. Davis set about explaining that what used to be isn’t anymore. Docks really aren’t that bad and maybe the idea of dumping dead fruit trees in the lake wasn’t such a good one. Davis said that DFW used to be bad guys but after watching “Despicable me” they had been reborn with the mission to do good. Had Mr. Davis not revealed his secret knowledge to me previously they would have found an empty suit of sweaty JCP armor lying on the floor.
The battle had become a love fest but a new black knight had been revealed. One that everyone, Senators, Mayor and Council, and even the agency guys fear could ruin everything. All voiced the thought that the evil that must be overcome is the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
USACE had been invited to joust but in a typical display of cowardly spite they failed to dispatch their knight to the field of honor, thus the true battle has been delayed. One can only guess that they suffer from short lance syndrome and they don’t want everyone to know.
In all, the day was a victory for all but my armorer Mr. Penney and the cowardly Corps.
The villagers of Chelan should be proud that our Mayor and Councilmembers took the field, it was an exceptional undertaking. Too many other elected folks would have not have wanted to rock the boat but our team is an exception. The Senators directed the agency guys to work with us and give the amount of time needed to tame the beast of overregulation. The agency guys pledged to do just that although I kind of think Mr. White had his fingers crossed at the time.
How this story will end we cannot yet tell, but we can rest assured that we have some great warriors fighting for us on our council and with Senator Parlette.
In the meantime, don’t pick any flowers lest ye be thrown in the stocks.
To be continued…….