By David Anderson, Tillicum
The Washington Military Department’s “explanation” for moving its gate is absent without leave.
With two years and as many attempts to offer something substantive in its supposed authoritative and persuasive document – aka the Environmental Assessment (EA) – Camp Murray provides 268 pages of regurgitated justification for the same singular “Preferred Option”.
A year ago Dave Bugher, Lakewood Assistant City Manager of Community Development, chastised Camp Murray’s all-or-nothing, far-from-even-handed, “review” of gate relocate options as “self-fulfilling” (Sept.16, 2010 letter to Thomas Skjervold, Environmental Programs Manager, Division of Facilities & Grounds, p.3).
At that time, Camp Murray had removed from consideration any discussion of any gate alternative that was, in its view, not “reasonable.” At least Camp Murray was honest in describing what unreasonable meant. Sec.3:1 stated that alternatives were considered to be “reasonable” only if they “would allow Camp Murray to improve its ability to meet its military mission . . . in a cost-effective manner” while meeting certain criteria, number one among them: “providing more sustainable and environmentally-friendly surroundings.”
If the devil is in the details, where in the devil are the details? Why are we left to wonder where the other gates went? What is the basis for Camp Murray’s argument (from arguer – “to make clear”)?
Fast forward one year later – 365 days – for Camp Murray to provide the skeptical, tax-paying public (it’s a near $5 million dollar gate we’re talking about) with something more convincing and persuasive, and this is their new revised edition: “The SDP (Site Development Plan) moves Camp Murray towards a pedestrian-friendly campus with most vehicular traffic relocated to the perimeter of the campus.”
That’s page one.
Same song, second verse, should get better, only gets worse.
To Bugher’s complaint last year that Camp Murray’s existing gate could be set back further to accommodate vehicle stacking, Camp Murray responds this year: “The existing location was determined to not meet project objectives, including plans for making Camp Murray an exclusively administrative and pedestrian friendly campus” (p.216).
From the very first page of the 2011 Environmental Assessment (EA), to near the very last page, Camp Murray does make one thing clear – no option is acceptable that does not meet its overriding, self-serving purpose.
So then what are we to make of the middle? If, or rather since, the beginning and the ending of the so-called reasoning behind the gate relocate is a vision of what Camp Murray wants to be, then what are we to conclude about everything that lies in-between – the material that is offered as objectively analyzed, scrutinized, anatomized?
It’s all justification for a “preferred option.”
So while we can tinker with the traffic counts; or show why Camp Murray’s concern with “safety” is anything but (there hasn’t been an accident at the “dangerous” intersection Camp Murray wants to distance itself from since 2006 and only five accidents since 1976); or we can discuss “security” which is a bit like nailing Jell-O to the wall since while Camp Murray says “security” is an issue – and therefore the gate must be moved – Camp Murray doesn’t say why. It just is.
Despite acknowledging the self-mandated requirement “that all reasonable alternatives be rigorously explored and objectively evaluated” Camp Murray doesn’t.
Avowing its EA is objective, it isn’t.
Challenged to prove the need, Camp Murray can’t.
That’s because when you preempt discussion in order to gratify self-serving purposes; remove from the table objective analysis; and without explanation, much less substantive and honest inquiry, subvert the process to one of justification for a preferred option, you are left with one verdict: AWOL.