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‘Tree commies’ shirts chop at WEAN

PSSST, wanna buy a T-shirt?

Green T-shirts with “WEAN the tree commies” are sprouting up on Whidbey Island. Ads for the T-shirts have appeared in the classified section of the Whidbey News-Times and the South Whidbey Record.

According to Sound Publishing’s records, which is the parent company of both the News-Timeas and the Record, a Clinton resident named Myron Colson placed the ad for one week in both papers.

“I think it’s silly,” said Steve Erickson, spokesman for Whidbey Environmental Action Network. “I’m not sure what it is they’re trying to say.”

Messages left at the phone number on the ad were not immediately returned to the News-Times. A recording greets callers saying that sales of the shirts have been brisk.

“The funds raised from this go to protect our property rights,” the message states. “It’s not about profit, it’s about protecting our property rights.”

WEAN is an environmentally centered grass-roots group that has challenged the county on numerous growth and land-use issues, often times prevailing. It is most recently notorious for the removal of rural-zoned land from agricultural best management practices, which the county says threatens farming in some areas.

“I don’t know if I should be pissed off, amused or frustrated,” WEAN spokeswoman Maryanne Edain said.

Neither Erickson nor Edain had seen the ad until a News-Times reporter phoned them. They reacted with bemused confusion over the shirts.

“This should raise our stock with the commissioners,” Erickson said. “We are creating a spin-off industry — WEAN-bashing.”

WEAN has frequently sparred with the board of county commissioners over various environmental policies. Island County Commissioner Mac McDowell said he had heard of the shirts, but would not be ordering one.

“If it was something like ‘WEAN hates farmers’ or something, I would have jumped on it,” McDowell said. “I wish it said something different.”

Erickson said the move has him considering seeking a trademark for WEAN’s name. But for now, he will occupy himself trying to figure out what the shirts mean.

“What is it they’re trying to say?” he said. “Surely they can come up with something better than tree commies.”

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