09 September 2008

City of Olympia Nuclear Free Zone Act Repeal

The Olympia City Council just voted to repeal the 2005 Nuclear Free Zone Act. It seems that the City of Olympia no longer feels that it is important, or appropriate, to legislate against the nuclear weapons establishment. There were many arguments in opposition to the repeal, and many similar arguments in favor of retaining the ordinance. Many people turned out to express their opinion. I wasn't counting, but it seemed like there were about 40 who went on record in support of retaining the ordinance. There were exactly two people at the meeting who expressed approval for repealing ordinance.

Wow. I was shocked when I heard of the motion to recommend repealing the ordinance. Now I am shocked again by the seemingly sudden decision to repeal. Let me say to make it plain and clear that it is my opinion that the Council Members did not adequately address the arguments of the citizens whom were gathered to express opposition to the repeal.

The meeting got underway at about seven. There were a few items of business before public comment. And an interesting matter of note occurred before public comment. Two Council Members spoke up to express their concern over the new council's practice of limiting public comment to 30 minutes. With two contentious issues (the noise ordinance was also on the agenda to be decided) on the meeting agenda tonight, there were a lot of people who wanted to speak. Many people were turned away at the door, told that they would not be allowed into the council chambers.

Frankly, I am in shock. This new council seems bent on changing Olympia. It's not [only] the repeal. It's the special maneuvering to enter the motion to repeal on the consent calendar (i.e. to pass it without discussion). It's the Council Members' inadequate rebuttals of their constituency's statements of support for the ordinance. It's a lot of things.

I have a lot to say about this and I will probably write more. You may have already read the letter I sent to the Council last week. I also provided oral testimony at tonight's meeting, and submitted a written version of that testimony. Maybe I will post a copy of that tomorrow, but hopefully that will show up in the public record in relation to tonight's decision to repeal the NFZ ordinance. This meeting will definitely provide for your entertainment. It was riveting at many points. Almost non-stop great testimony, so much eloquence on the part of citizens for a City Zone Free of Nuclear Weapons.

I seriously wonder what is going on. What is going on with Olympia? I am pretty much ready to wonder if our Council Members are serving the public interest.

One of the things that Mayor Mah said is that if the people who support the NFZA ordinance were to put as much energy into it at the national level, that he thinks something might come of it. All I have to say is that believe me. Our elected officials at the national level are not hearing this argument. Nor are they interested in establishing a nuclear free zone. That's why the local aspect is important.

If enough localities take important stands against the immoral and unethical manufacture and maintenance of nuclear weapons, then it makes it more possible for those at the national and international levels to take action. This is about principled leadership. This is about setting an example. This is about empowerment, and education. This is about knowledge, and awareness. This is about respect for history and a desire to see a better tomorrow - to create a better world. A world that is rid of the subtle yet pervasive looming threat of nuclear Armageddon.

Lots of emotion. Lots more rebuttals. This is a rough draft. I am going to publish it now. But know, please, that there is a lot more. I want answers. I want to be represented.

Public officials at the national level are not doing their job. They are not promoting the important tasks of nonproliferation and disarmament. Instead of doing those things, they are actually using the threat of nuclear weapons to intimidate their adversaries. Hardly fulfilling the public interest. For three years we had representation at the local level here in the City of Olympia. Now this. Sad. Shocking. To whom or what can we now turn for representation on this important issue?

You'll be able to find a link to a page with a link to video of the meeting at this page: City of Olympia Council

Here's a more direct link to the video: City of Olympia September 9, 2008 City Council Meeting Video

plain url (maybe subject to change): http://olympia.granicus.com/mediaplayer.php?view_id=2&clip_id=386

[This move has aspects that are reminiscent of shock doctrine.]

[updated september 10th, 2008]


  1. Margaret Mead said, "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."

    you are doing it.

  2. Bert, you wondered eleswehere why more people didn't show up who (like myself) supported the repeal of the nuke free law.

    I emailed and contacted the council about the matter, and 7pm on a work night is not very accessible for me.

    I spoke with a few people who supported a repeal and we all had the same problems. Show up with what we perceived would be a room full of rabble rousers, and nutcases (the kind who usually show up and ruin mass gatherings in Olympia) or show up to work the next day somewhat groggy. We chose to voice our opinions elsewhere.

    The leftist activist community in this town has such a bad reputation that many will choose to avoid them when they gather. In other words the leftists have rightly or wrongly managed to get portrayed as a bunch of unstable unemployed nut cases who have nothing better to do than picket, wave signs, unroll ribbon, block freeways, break windows, shut down traffic and spraypaint buildings.

    So the "normal" people of Olympia express their views to the council via letter, email, and telephone, and leave the three ring circus to the far left protesters.

    So the very perceived image of the far left activists in this town is what guarantees few opposing people will show up at a council meeting. We don't like the circus acts, we don't like the potential for violence, we don't like the ethereal and vaporous notions that get bandied about, and we can only stomach so much of the conversation that goes on there.

  3. Steve, that's sad.

    Personally, I want to say that you should always feel welcome and comfortable around me. I do my best to avoid judging people. I might judge actions, but not people.

    I won't say anything about you that I would not be willing to say to your face.

    I also disagree with you. Why are there so many who show up with differing view points on the Olympia Rafah Sister City Project? Why are there so many with opposing views on the isthmus rezone?

    The nuclear free zone is different I think - because many people - perhaps not you - feel a degree of shame when they try to defend the nuclear weapons industry.

    People know in their heart of hearts that our national officials are engaged in a war of conquest - to maintain and further the interests of the largest and most powerful and influential corporations - that of global economic hegemony.

    It's about bottom line economics. The problem is that it is harmful and oppressive. People are suffering and hurting because of it.

    Hey- thanks for stopping by and commenting.

    I hope you're well.

  4. Bert,
    I didn't show up because I wasn't going to (literally) miss any sleep before work. I don't have a car, and have to walk from the Marina to downtown and then back. Too much time. I wrote to the council and did my part.

    Another interesting point is maybe a certain group of people (like myself) think this law is such a waste of time, that we expected the council to repeal it (as they already indicated) and so didn't show up.

    I talk with a broad swath of Olympia everyday at work, and the input I got on this repeal was very largely positive.

    Win, lose, or draw, I don't believe this is something that a small little town needs to be involved in, as it does not affect the day to day operation of the city.

    Instead all resources and energy need to be spent on more important issues that directly affect day to day life in Olympia.

    As a symbolic gesture the law did little and divided the town. It would have been better if it never had existed, but it did, and now it doesn't. Let's focus energy on something else that effects our daily existence in Olympia, such as homelessness.

    Nukes are owned by national governments. Those are the people to target, not small municipalities.

  5. Believe me Steve,

    I have been working on national officials. They aren't receptive to people like me. They don't listen to anything except power (which is either money or an electoral challenge.)

    Maybe I will take this as inspiration to mount my own campaign for public office.

  6. Well remember who inspired you to your higher aspirations in politics when as public official you have to deal with the issues of the Right to Keep and Bear Arms.