PRCAC disbands, rethinks waste subcommittee

The PRCAC meeting discussed changes to the subcommittee on June 12.       Photo by Meg Olson

By Meg Olson

The Point Roberts Community Advisory Committee (PRCAC) has voted unanimously to disband the solid waste subcommittee on the grounds the sub-committee had gone rogue.

At the June 12 PRCAC meeting, chair Jeff Christopher made a motion to dissolve the special committee on waste management that was formed at the committee’s May 8 meeting and reconstitute it “without prejudice to current members.” The reconstituted committee would mirror PRCAC’s composition, with one member from the taxpayers’ association, one from the voters’ association, one from the chamber of commerce and two at large. It was unanimously approved.

“The only thing more arrogant than the way it’s been handled so far is my own arrogance,” Christopher said, adding that he had “kind of rammed it through” at the May meeting when seven volunteers from the audience were named to the sub-committee. “It’s time to do it the way we should have done it in the first place.”

Several of those who had been appointed to the sub-committee were vocally opposed to proposed changes to the solid waste system, then headed to county council. “I knew when I set up the sub-committee most people (on the committee) wanted to stop it,” Christopher said, referring to code changes that would end exemptions to mandatory garbage collection.

The purpose of the sub-committee had been to look at other elements of solid waste management on the Point, separate from the issue of mandatory curbside collection, Christopher said. At the initial meeting of the sub-committee he said he had clarified “they could not put themselves between PRCAC and county council.”

By signing a petition “asking council to set aside PRCAC’s recommendation in favor of their own,” committee members had “effectively impeached themselves,” Christopher said. Subcommittee members Kimberly Butts and Samantha Scholefield spoke in opposition to PRCAC’s recommendation at the June 5 county council meeting. They and other committee members supported delaying changes to the garbage system until September so alternatives to mandatory curbside pickup could be considered, and signed a petition to that effect, which was presented to council.

Subcommittee member Allison Calder said committee members had acted as individuals at the June 5 county council meeting and not on behalf of the subcommittee. She said she would not seek a position on the reconstituted committee. “I don’t want to be in a committee that has to tow a line and can’t speak up on behalf of the community that it is supposed to represent,” she said.

PRCAC board members have given themselves 60 days to put the new special committee together. At its June 13 meeting, the taxpayers’ association took the first step, appointing Barbara Bradstock, a member of the original sub-committee, to represent them.

  1. Frances Miller June 16, 2018, 9:07 pm

    It seems that the PRCAC have missed the Point! They disband the Sub-committee they appointed because the Sub-committee stood with the majority of property owners and not with the PRCAC or the handful of owners that support mandatory curbside garbage pick up. The Sub-committee did not “mpeach themselves” or go “rogue”. They simply expressed the view of the majority of property owners. The County Council decision should be revisited.

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  2. Annette Madden June 16, 2018, 8:11 am

    The sub committee did not go rogue. They were working on and towards exactly what they were supposed to do; seek input from the residents/property owners, develop options that met the needs of all types of residents in our community. The individuals that spoke at county council have that legal right to freedom of speech; each of their personal views or positions are exactly that – their own. And those views were known when they were appointed to the sub-committee. In no way was the work they did as sub committee members compromised or less authentic or any less true to the purpose they were appointed to fulfill as a result of them speaking in opposition to the one size fits all proposal at county council. The sub committee was working, gathering input, developing options and all they asked for was 3 months to continue working with the community and the provider to form recommendations with options to meet the needs of our diverse community; not a one size fits all approach that we were being force fed without justification. To my amazement, the proposal was passed by County Council with no financial verification it was warranted, no plan from the provider for improved services to the community, no accountability required from the provider, mandatory collection pick up at a higher minimum standard than is set for the rest of Whatcom County. It baffles me that 5 of 7 council members would support this with no PROOF it was needed just lots of ‘we had crises in 2001 and 2009 and don’t want that to happen again’. Lots of opposition presented, facts such as: no audit to justify need, no rate review requested by provider, provider submitted reports to UTC show increased profit in curbside.

    A fact not presented to county council is the fact that the provider and his partner (named share holder on his business) are both board members of the Chamber of Commerce that supports this proposal and the provider is the appointed member from the Chamber of Commerce to the PRCAC, considering they each have a vested interest in the outcome it really is inappropriate for either of them to be participating in any recommendations from the Chamber of Commerce or the PRCAC or on behalf of any community organization on the garbage proposal; this garbage really STINKS!

    I wish I had been able to attend the meeting to witness Jeff Christopher admit he is very arrogant, I wasn’t sure he knew.

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