Sep 132011

If you follow the Ferry Forum you will have read Bill Fox’s comprehensive legal case against the proposed ferry lease and Jim Dickinson’s excellent common sense analysis plus Tip Johnson prediction that there could be a satisfactory political solution to the ferry crisis. I find I am in agreement with taking a position against this lease.

It’s just bad business to pay an unsustainable amount.

In the future, when the County is even in worse shape than it is now, when the Loonie has sunk back down below par and there aren’t as many of our Canadian brothers and sisters available to keep Whatcom County going, the politicos will looking for quick ways to cut costs. The ferry lease, with its excessive cost, will be a prime candidate.

John Robinson, on the ferry forum, has made the point that we need to think about Lummi Islanders of the future and not hamstring them with costs so onerous that it will be difficult if not impossible to consider a replacement boat for the Chief.

Chandler Johnson has demonstrated that the lease is so front end loaded with costs that the County will not have any wiggle room after the first few years.

If you are worried about being isolated, this lease should be your biggest worry. It takes away all the options leaving us with an aging boat and no money available for upgrades. The future alternative may include a private ferry system and a passenger boat at that.

My argument has always been that we need to maintain flexibility, particularly as to our destination, because of unknown future costs (such as severe increases in the cost of fuel or its unavailability). This lease undermines flexibility.

I commend PLIC for hiring a bus. It’s a rehearsal for getting to town or some distant parking lot in the future.


  4 Responses to “Not A Good Deal”

  1. Well if your aren’t going to be in the flash mob at the courthouse tomorrow night Randy, you are more than welcome to attend the Fire Commissioners meeting at the Fire Hall at 7pm. It will be quiet, non-controversial, and perhaps boring. (And it won’t cost you $7 to get home!) We have a slightly different take on protecting the Lummi Island community. We are very proud of the officers and volunteers that quietly serve us all here, and I continually feel privileged to be associated with them. Truly a GOOD DEAL.

  2. We disagree on this one, Randy. While I agree that the lease is a poor agreement, it is the best available after two years of effort. No matter how much we dislike it, it’s all we’ve got. Right now, there is no viable alternative to landing the ferry at Gooseberry. We need to have that assured for the next few years while we seek VIABLE alternatives. Judging by the Mood of many Councilmembers, if this lease is not approved, there will likely be no further negotiations. They will simply send us to Fairhaven and be done with it. And in case anyone hasn’t been paying attention to that discussion, fair haven would cost even more than the Lummi contract and would mean a drastic cut in service (not to mention completely disrupting school and mail service, and more).

    This lease would buy us time to work out other alternatives, and it has a simple escape clause. For now, at this moment, none of those other alternatives exist. I strongly support Council approving this lease now.

  3. I’ve already sent in my letter to the council, asking them to hold their nose and vote yes.
    I then went on to point out a new exec and council will have to deal with a parking lease, and unknown consequences of 5 and 10 percent CPI-U increases when inflation and overlying Nat’l debt drive our nation. Our $200k annual payment quickly rises to $5 mil/yr. I suggested they adopt a lot of the Ferry Task Force recommendations, form a Citizen Advisory Cmmte, and immediately begin to find viable alternatives to the Whatcom Chief and GB Pt (Plan B)., as neither is sustainable for the 35 year lease.
    One of the few clauses in the lease I like is the 90 day walk-away provision with no cost to the county with the exception of dock removal should the LIBC want that done (unlikely).

  4. Whatever happens with this lease, transportation to and from the island, on island transportation, jobs, fuel supplies, food security, water, real estate values, localization, self-reliance and sustainability will continue to be hot topics. In other words, we’ll still be talking about all this stuff because the lease won’t really settle anything or solve any problems. We should have started working on Plan 2.0 and Plan 3.0 a long time ago.

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