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Resistance grows due to heavy-hand of CAO | Guest Column

by Gordy Peterson
for San Juan Journal
APRIL 5, 2013 · 5:59 PM

San Juan Islands, WA – I enjoyed reading Judge John Darrah’s guest column “Deconstructing the CAO Campaign,” Journal, pg. 7, April 3.

It may help him understand the “Anti’s” if he had an inside look into the movement.

I’ve been embedded in what I call the “Rural Resistance” for about 25 years. At times I’ve felt alone but now there are many of us.

I’m certainly not the leader. This movement is made up of very independent folks who don’t follow orders very well. We do not receive grants like the Friends (Friends of the San Juans) who are paid to lobby for more government authority over land use. Well-funded State agencies like DOE and Puget Partnership are also allied against us.

The Resistance pays for the occasional advertisement or public forum by the fruits of our own labor. Letters to the Editor are random but sincere. We are all volunteers who are loosely organized and pitch in our own money and resources to defend what we see as a war against our rural way of life. Most of us are long time islanders.

How did this movement grow? The lies got bigger and more obvious.

We’ve been told that if we don’t support strict regulations, then we must want orcas and salmon to die. We have been told that a great catastrophe is looming over the islands because our homes are too close to the shoreline and that our mere presence in nature is something to be loathed.

If we don’t accept half-mile buffers for the Peregrine Falcon we must want them extinct. None of it is true. That’s why we are seeing a paradigm shift.

Judge Darrah had his office in downtown Seattle, where Peregrine Falcons nest on top of buildings. Imagine a half-mile buffer being imposed in that densely populated area. Ridiculous?

Then why does the CAO require it here? Where’s the common sense? The CAO cannot fix a problem that doesn’t exist in the first place.

According to the science these islands are pristine. The biggest lie is trying to justify these CAO prohibitions on the premise that increased protections are desperately needed. The fact is that our existing laws have done the job nicely. The evidence is all around us.

The division in our island society generally breaks down along the lines of authoritarianism versus libertarianism. It’s all about how people perceive the role of government in their lives. The authoritarians want to use the power of government to control the actions of the people, while the libertarians want to use the power of the people to control government.

The authoritarian nightmare has played out recently in an enforcement campaign. We have a situation now where neighbors turn in neighbors for building code violations. New regulations are used as tools to prosecute people in the most authoritarian manner.

I’ve visited a lot of homes in the islands and every one of them has some violation subject to fines and possibly jail. Do we really want to treat our neighbors like criminals when they plant blueberries near a wetland, or sell organic foods from their farm stand?

Many people have seen the authoritarian path that the CAO promoters want to take us down and have said, “Enough! We love nature but we don’t worship it.”

That’s why the Resistance is growing. Don’t be surprised if the authoritarian candidates are defeated again in the next election.

It’s not stealth. It’s not wealth. It’s about living free in this place we all love.

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