Al Smith is a current Democrat Candidate for Grays Harbor County Commissioner District 3 WEBSITE NOTE: All candidates are welcome to post any material they wish. Montesano Today does not endorse any candidate.
Anti-oil train before it was cool
A lot of water has passed under the proverbial bridge since early spring of 2013 when many digital photos were taken of the deplorable condition of the Devonshire railroad bridge outside Montesano. Credit is due to this blog and its founder Tom Fredriksen who made many aware of it.
The lack of maintenance of this bridge for a good many decades was obvious – even to a lay person like me. What I saw was concerning to me, to say the least, especially when local officials were talking about bringing millions of barrels of Bakken Crude through our county along the river and over this very same railroad bridge, via mile+ long trains to our port- and to be stored in tank farms sitting on a mud flat!
Several concerned citizens spent a couple of hours that Saturday morning and took 100s of digital pictures of this bridge. About the same time the Grays Harbor Coalition for Infrastructure was meeting once a week and discussing safety issues and a strategy on how to stop this project.
Those of us that have said this Crude By Rail is bad business for Grays Harbor have been through a very long and stressful time. In short we have been the pissing post for those who are under the impression these mile long crude oil trains will bring jobs to our community. This is very far from the truth- the real question is: how many jobs will this provide as opposed to how many will it take away in the event of an accident? This question is the basic reasoning for raising the caution flag!
Too often we the people, who believe our elected officials, forget their actions can very well destroy 21,000 existing fish and shellfish jobs with one incident. In just one spill or roll over incident, the impact on this unique place and its Ecosystem would destroy that workforce’s hope of making a living off the Chehalis River System ever again. It would literally turn “our place” into “no place”.
On Monday May 19th, Grays Harbor Commissioner Frank Gordon, District 2, presented a resolution to his fellow Commissioners that was written with a double intent.
The first was to send a letter of comment to the Westway/Imperium EIS Scoping process and the second was a County resolution that no oil trains be permitted until the railroad, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and other responsible agencies could guarantee this project would be safe for our county and its people. During that regular Monday afternoon meeting’s public comment period, Vicki Raines, citizen, Cosmopolis expressed her displeasure with the resolution, saying it was not the Commissioner’s place to comment or take a stand against this issue while it was in the scoping process.
Prior to this meeting, in two recent work shop meetings held by Commissioners, she has taken issue with Commissioner Gordon for publicly voicing his opinion in public.
In the process which we have become accustomed to, the public frequently hears “I don’t know”, “I/we can’t do anything about it” and requests for us (the taxpaying public) to stand by and say or do nothing …..and everything will be OK. Leaders don’t have positions, and opt for the status quo.
This doesn’t work for me. I will support and defend elected officials who break rank and step out on the public’s behalf … much like Frank Gordon and Richard Pennant of Hoquiam have done. The public has to ask the question, why do we elect people to represent us if they won’t lead?? Or tell us where they stand?
As a concerned citizen I have spoken out on this: the fact that one takes an oath of office does not prevent them from speaking in defense of the community. This persistent mind-set is one of the reasons why I have chosen to run for county commissioner. I could not and will not support the mind-set of playing sheep following the corporate money pot.
The people of this county are fed-up with top-down nonsense. This county/ state/ nation started from the bottom -the people- and every election cycle it goes back to the people (ballot box) to ensure our democracy. If we lose faith, if trust is gone, we are lost. As a Commissioner I will work hard to bring that trust back.
Al Smith, Candidate
G.H. County Commissioner
ED NOTE: the photographs of the bridge referenced in the above editorial can be seen HERE. Vickie Raines, who is mentioned in the piece, is a non partisan candidate for the same office and current Mayor of the city of Cosmopolis Wa.