Thursday a federal court rejected a permit to build a 305 foot dock in an environmentally sensitive area on Maury Island, essentially halting Glacier Northwest’s controversial gravel and sand mine for years to come, and State Lands Commissioner Peter Goldmark deserves a huge “thank you” for helping to realize a key campaign promise:
Last year, the company gave $50,000 to a political action committee that supported former Republican State Lands Commissioner Doug Sutherland’s re-election bid. Sutherland lost, but signed a lease for the project days before leaving office. His successor, Democrat Peter Goldmark, who’s campaigned on a promise to try and stop the project, immediately announced plans to more thoroughly scrutinize the lease. In early July, he ordered the company to do no work until it could prove to him Puget Sound would see no harm. Earlier this week, the company responded with a 17-page letter — and a promise that it still planned to start work next week.
Now, the project is on indefinite hold, and a protest scheduled for Saturday on Maury Island instead will become a victory party.
I started writing this post while sitting in the audience of a health care forum with Gov. Howard Dean at Netroots Nation (just reasoned, rational discusion, FYI… no angry, disruptive teabaggers thus far), and was feeling a little nostalgic at this particular turn of events.
It was at last year’s Netroots Nation that I celebrated my biggest blogging accomplishment of the year, my success at forcing the Seattle Times and other media outlets to front-page then-incumbent State Lands Commissioner Doug Sutherland’s embarrassing sexual harassment scandal… a scandal I broke.
As a blogger, I know that I have made a difference over the past few years, but this was one of the few times that I could really quantify it. Despite being snugly in the pocket of mining and timber interests, Sutherland was a personable guy and a self-proclaimed moderate who appeared to be well liked by members of the press, and up until this point in the election cycle the Lands Commissioner race and the challenge from Goldmark had received very little media attention.
All that changed after the scandal, as journalists and voters started paying closer attention to both the candidates and the issues, with Goldmark eventually squeaking out a one percentage point victory… close enough for me to almost confidently say that my coverage likely helped swing the election.
Of course, one of the main issues in that election was the Maury Island gravel mine, and it’s tremendously gratifying to see Goldmark living up to his campaign promise to block it. This past legislative session notwithstanding, elections do matter, and thus what we all do to influence elections matters too. Yes, it’s hard to quantify, and so much easier just to be cynical, and no individual should pat themselves too hard on the back for the outcome of any election, as it’s the voters in the end who deserve most of the credit for making the right choice. But for those of us who devote ourselves to such things, there’s nothing wrong with a little self-congratulation if that’s what keeps us going.
How long that alone can keep me going, I don’t know. But I might as well enjoy the moment.