Editorial: A debate stifled

For more than an hour, a standing-room only crowd — probably 200 Islanders — waited patiently as the Vashon- Maury Island Community Council waded through committee reports and other business to get to the hot topic on hand: an emergency motion by Tom Bangasser about King County’s rezone of the K2 site.

Islanders filled every chair, sat on the floor and stood in the foyer craning their necks to hear the proceedings.

But when the issue finally came up, three people — one-third of the community council board members present — voted that the measure was not an emergency. And thus it ended, with scarcely a word on the topic spoken.

It was an unfortunate decision.

Did Islanders take time away from their families Monday night to express concern about the county’s decision? Did they come because they were angry at Bangasser and his alleged efforts to derail the K2 project? It’s impossible to know, because the greatest contribution the community council offers up — a forum for debate — was shut down.

Legislatively and procedurally, it may have made sense. Dan Asher, one of the board members who voted against the measure, said he did so because he did not believe Bangasser’s measure reached the threshold of “emergency.”

But clearly people wanted to talk about it. A crowd of this size is almost unheard of at community council meetings. Maybe these meetings would be better attended if the council board had its finger on the Island pulse. But who knows? At least in this case, we don’t know what a reading of that pulse would have revealed, since Islanders had no chance to speak.

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