Sound Off: WNT publisher relies on ‘hackneyed,’ ‘divisive’ arguments

  • Tuesday, September 24, 2019 3:51pm
  • Opinion

By Michael Monson

Mr. Graves’ Publisher’s Column from Sept. 21 was stifled by personal perspective and did nothing to advance a better understanding of the real damages attendant to Field Carrier Landing Practice, or FCLPs. Instead, he relied on an old hackneyed and divisive argument that falls well short on factual reality. Whidbey Islanders should expect more depth and insight from a “Publisher’s Column.”

Let’s correct the record.

His argument is threefold: 1. That folks knew what they were getting, so they should have no standing, 2. That history informed them about how many FCLPs to expect, and 3. given the above, the lawsuit pursuing military taking is “misguided.” Let’s look at those three rather sanctimonious assertions.

• They knew: No, not really. Some folks had no idea. Many were misled by the extraordinarily weak and uninformative disclosure statement, and about a third of the buyers did not receive or sign one. But most importantly, the Navy via its 2005 AICUZ (Air Installation and Compatible Use Zone) planning guide was the worst offender. That AICUZ informed buyers and land-use planners to plan on 6,120 Growler operations annually at the OLF. Buyers believed the Navy’s word was good as gold, and planners facilitated local development compatible with that 6,120 operations commitment.

• History: In the face of that 2005 AICUZ, the history of the last quarter of the last century became just that — history. The AICUZ displaced that old history with a new course, and the new quarter century of actual FCLP practice at the OLF reflected and branded-in trust in 6,120 operations. Then the Navy doltishly decided, “Let’s do 24,000 operations instead.”

• Conclusion: So, are the lawsuits and those in the wings “misguided,” as Mr. Graves concludes? Or, was it the community that was misguided and misled?

Before writing more fluff based on limited experience and personal tilt, Mr. Graves might consider judicious examination of the complex takings laws that afford citizen protections under the Constitution. He might start with the takings case in Virginia Beach.

  • Michael Monson is a past president and currently active on the board of directors for Citizens of Ebey’s Reserve.